Art de Parfum is Indigo’s newest fragrance line and exclusive in the U.S.! These popular unisex perfumes span the fragrance families and are very wearable, from the office to sultry nights out. And did we tell you that they are all perfume extraits?
Recently Ann caught up with Ruta Degutyte, Art de Parfum’s founder, to discover the inspirations behind the line. Here is what we found:
How did you decide on the name Sensual Oud as oud is not listed as a note.
Because of the ethical and technical difficulties of working with real oud oil in commercial perfumery, we chose instead to use a variety of other materials such as cypriol, an essential oil from a type of grass, to supply that sour, smoky animalic effect of real oud oil.
Don’t get me wrong, I love real oud oil. Love it! I have a small (but precious) collection of oils that I turn to for reference. But procuring a stable supply of the real stuff for commercial perfumery is almost impossible, unless you settle for procuring it from a plantation, which is of course a possibility for the future. If we can find some way to secure a stable supply without harming the economic interest of local people or endangering the environment, then we will.
But even if we used real oud oil, ensuring that the aroma is the same from batch to batch is difficult because oud oils are distilled from different groupings of wood and can smell completely different from one batch to another. Oud oil is a perfumer’s nightmare, actually, because we need to be 100% consistent and use formulas that will produce the same result every time. A good analogy for oud oil is naturally woven cloth where minute variations occur from one length to another.
I would say that the oud accord we use in Sensual Oud tends more towards the soft, sensual side than the overtly powerful, pungent side.
Please tell me a little about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?
I have a degree in International Business and an MBA, and my professional background is in marketing and consulting. In 2010 when the financial crisis hit I had savings and courage, and I just decided, yes – why not leave the corporate world and go to Australia regroup and start my own company afterwards? I had a dream and absolutely no fear at all. But, yes, it was not a methodical approach.
I think my upbringing has a lot to do with my ability to leap into things with full confidence. I was born in Lithuania to a family of academics. My father is a famous philosopher, Algirdas Degutis, who has authored books such as “Language, Thought, and Reality” and “Individualism and Social Order.” My mother, who sadly died when I was very young, was an interpreter, and my stepmother, Grazina Miniotaite was a famous political researcher. My family helped me to understand that my dreams were just ambitions waiting to be realized – and that nothing should be allowed to get in my way, let alone me!
Perfume has always been an interest of mine, since I was a small child. When I was about 8, I started trying to make tinctures of stones, leaves, daisies, and so on – using water, of course, because I didn’t understand about ethanol, perfumer’s alcohol, etc. They smelled awful, of course, but that didn’t stop me!:-)
My interest developed into passion when I visited Grasse for the first time, where I met with people working in the factories, spoke to old, retired workers, began to learn a bit about the real business of making perfume. Alas, I have no formal training as a perfumer beyond what I have taught myself. So I have engaged a young, super-talented perfumer working out of the South of France to help translate my vision into reality. If I could spend my days looking over her shoulder, I would – I find the work of a perfumer endlessly fascinating.
We make the perfumes in a small factory outside of Grasse, but our marketing and sales are all out of London, which is where I’m based.
What led you to launch a perfume company in this era of mega releases?
Partly because there is so much noise. I wanted my perfumes to cut across all that noise using a simple, streamlined type of beauty. In the hustle and bustle of modern day lives, I think we are all attracted to the notion of living more simply, paring back to the essentials, and investing only in objects that are both beautiful and useful. I wanted my perfumes to espouse that type of simplicity.
Also, my fragrances are smartly priced – they are luxurious extraits but in terms of price they buck against the trend of, like you said, mega releases where the focus is on the bling, the bottles, the dazzling marketing, and so on. At Art de Parfum, we keep the focus on the fragrances themselves.
Who are you inspired by?
In perfumery, there are a few perfumers who inspire me deeply and whose work has guided my own. For example, the great Edmond Roudnitska, who created Diorella and many of my favorites. His style unites the classical, citrusy French eau de cologne traditions with a sort of soft, decaying fruit undertone that injects a sultry sexiness. Diorella really is astonishing. When I spray it on, it feels fresh and summery, but as the day wears on, it develops into something a lot more human. Chandler Burr described it as “mint toothpaste rubbed onto fur”, which I think is accurate!
I also have to give a shout out to Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Maurice Roger, who are the largely unsung heroes behind my all-time favorite fragrance, Fahrenheit by Dior. I am a huge lover of Fahrenheit. But it has to be vintage! I hunt down small bottles of the vintage and stockpile them for my own personal use. I’m aware that it’s marketed to men, but I don’t believe in such arbitrary gender classifications. Luca Turin in The Guide said that perfumes can’t be masculine or feminine because perfumes don’t have genitalia – which makes me laugh, because it’s both true and funny!
Business-wise, I am inspired by the work of independent perfumers Andy Tauer, Vero Kern, and Liz Moore. They balance a fierce artistic independence with a good sense for what will still be commercial enough to sell. They are also excellent role models for how to build a friendly, engaging, and authentic relationship with followers and fans of their brands.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Streamlined, minimalist French chic! The French are never gaudy or flamboyant. In fact, their style relies on simplicity. Coco Chanel said that every woman must stand in front of the mirror and take one thing off. The idea is that only the essence of that woman’s style remains. And it is exactly this principle that my fragrances reflects.
What is your oldest olfactive memory?
Ah, my mother, of course! Even at a very early age I was conscious of the beautiful powdery smell of her make-up and perfume, which would brush off on me when she kissed me. She only ever had one bottle of perfume at a time, bought for her by my father once a year on birthdays or Christmas. The perfumes varied, but most of all I remember her wearing Joy, Chanel No. 22, Chanel No. 19…..they must have been the pure parfum because I remember the bottles as being very small and precious-looking.
I will never forget the pure rush of happiness I experienced when I would sneak into her bedroom, take the stopper out, and sniff the top of the bottle. Never on the skin, you understand! Even as a child, I knew just how important these small bottles of luxury were for my mother. She worked hard all her life and didn’t have much in the way of nice clothes or jewelry. That’s kind of how I’d like people to treat my perfumes – as little objects of pure luxury and indulgence for people who deserve a bit of beauty in their lives.
How did you choose your beautiful bottles?
Thank you for saying that they are beautiful! I also think they are lovely. I thought a lot about how I wanted my perfumes to be packaged. The most important thing, of course, is how the perfume smells. But I also wanted the presentation to send a message of simplicity and beauty. It is easier to hide aesthetic flaws in a gaudy bottle – mine are minimalist so they have to be perfect in every dimension. The box feels like textured linen and opens like a book, and the cap is of a cool, textured wood.
What do you have in store for the future?
First of all, I want to establish a warm, approachable, and friendly connection with our fans, clients, and buyers. That right there is our core base for operations – we will only survive and grow if we are making perfumes that strike a chord with our customers.
Meet the five perfumes:
Gin and Tonic Cologne