BUZZY LOCATION: It didn’t take more than the warm spring sun for independent perfume label Henry Jacques to attract the first visitors of its new Paris flagship — bees.
Located at a building at the very beginning of Avenue Montaigne, the two-level boutique that opened in May features a small garden at the front, a rarity even in this tony neighborhood.
But human visitors will be just as drawn to the colorful flagons that can be glimpsed in the lab-like space, visible through the street-level windows. By curiosity, if anything else, because much of the store’s 4,300 square feet — and 47-year history — are hidden in the lower level.
“I wanted the garden, a perfumer’s garden, to be our window on Avenue Montaigne,” said Anne-Lise Cremona, the brand’s chief executive officer and also the daughter of founders of Henry and Yvette Cremona.
But between the 2015 terror attacks and several years of demonstrations against unpopular social reforms, there were always plenty of reasons not to settle in Paris, even as a French brand.
A first boutique opened in Harrods in 2014, soon followed by addresses in Singapore, Dubai and Beverly Hills. Eight boutiques and 47 years later, Henry Jacques has finally made it to the capital for number nine.
Founded in 1975 in the southern French city of Draguignan, only 50 kilometers away from the perfume capital of Grasse, the brand made its mark by offering made-to-measure scents.
Over time, the requests of its clients amounted to some 3,000 creations with names like “Rose Snow,” “Merveilleuse” or “Et Pourtant” (or “and yet” in English).
When the younger Cremona, an executive who worked for a major beauty group before joining the family business, took up the helm of the brand in 2011, she selected 50 of these to form the bedrock of the brand’s retail offering, sold only through their own stores.
They take pride of place at the bottom of the steps, set in lit niches carved into the wall. QR codes lead to discovering an explanatory poem about each scent.
A few steps sideways lead into a completely different universe — a living space lined with wood bookshelves and paneled doors.
Ancient books and paintings cohabit with exotic-skin perfume cases and plush seating, with a few windows displaying vintage bottle designs, including those bearing the arms of Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the late sultan of Oman and an Henry Jacques client.
“Henry Jacques is [made of] many lives. When Henry and Yvette took up the brand, it already carried the patrimony of several generation,” said Cremona of this apparent collision of time periods, after further exploration uncovered a cozy private salon and a futuristic oval room dominated by a Corian table.
The idea behind these spaces was to recreate “a house, which mixes our memories, those of our ancestors, a background on which we live. That’s what we find with these objects, and perfume, which is part of our lives,” said architect Christophe Tollemer, who is also the brand’s artistic director.
Throughout the space, the three formats — a concentrated perfume, an extract and a solid format housed in a slimline case — are displayed as objects scattered in a home rather than products. Cases made from repurposed antique boxes continue this impression.
Creating this impression of a home is central to the brand’s long-term vision, which Cremona described as “multigenerational” while declining to give any figures on the brand.
“What I do want to say is that I didn’t want to be in [department store] corners to artificially inflate our figures,” she said. “What is certain is that we can live comfortably with our métier, our art. And we are quite nicely settled here.”
But the executive already has eyes on the next steps. Its 10th boutique is slated to open later in the year in Tokyo’s Ginza 6 mall.
Beyond that, in addition to developing on its French home turf, she plans on exploring the U.S. market, where the brand had a strong bespoke clientele with a further five addresses planned there in coming years.
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