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In Conversation..., Indigo Perfumery, New Releases, Perfumes

Behind the scenes with Art de Parfum

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:

Ruta Degutyte Art de Parfum creator

Ruta Degutyte Art de Parfum creator

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

Excentrique Moi

Sea Foam

Sensual Oud

Signature Wild

 

 

Blocked senses
Behind the Scenes, In Conversation..., Indigo Perfumery

Blocked Senses

Not one thing. No smell. No taste.

 

Salty nuts? Warm and tasty broth? Aromatic herbs? Spicy sauce?

 

No. Nothing came through these blocked senses.

 

We had just returned from a trip to Spain full of sensory gratification. Between the sweet flowering orange trees, mimosa blooms bursting and plenty of gourmand smells wafting out of the restaurants, our noses were working overtime. And, of course, we were also trying to avoid the smokers. Most of the country seems to ignore that smoking is not good for one’s health.

 

Within a few days after returning on the plane (otherwise known as a germ-laden tube), we both came down with a respiratory virus unlike any we had ever had before (which thankfully is very rare). It only took a couple of days before my clogged sinuses apparently crossed the line and all taste and smells diminished… diminished… and were gone.

 

Suddenly my food tasted like cardboard. Dry. Crumbled plaster came to mind. My mouth was… there. I could not eagerly anticipate the smells of dinner in the making. No basil in the sauce? No tomatoes, garlic or onions. Grilled meats on the barbie? Couldn’t tell- I just saw that the grill was on and an occasional plume of smoke escaped. Drinking a cold drink was not refreshing.

 

But the worst of it was I could no longer smell the perfumes in my perfume boutique. I opened the doors in the morning and knew that I should be met with the immediate need to air the store out before opening but no, nothing. I of course proceeded to open the two sets of doors for the cross breeze and turned the fans and vent on high, but it seemed for naught. Intellectually I knew it was needed.

 

After a week, I began to worry- what if this became a permanent loss? OMG! What would I do? I knew the perfumes in the shop pretty well by now so could still guide customers, but this was certainly not ideal. And we were having a well-known perfumer visit the boutique at the end of the week.

 

Anosmia (the absence of smell) and ageusia (the absence of taste), although not well known, are often responsible for lethargy and depression. Who knew how much we take the senses of smell and taste for granted? As a matter of fact, we usually do not even think about the sense of smell. The act of smelling is automatic, reflexive and immediate. When that is suddenly taken away, you feel a certain disconnect with the world. Cooking with your nose is not possible. Knowing something is burning is no longer available to you. How would I know if there was a fire?

 

Each day was a further reminder of how important the senses of smell and taste were. During the average day, every person takes more than 20,000 breaths. The anosmia meant I could no longer smell my husband wearing his favorite cologne. Or my dog. Or the fresh bunch of jasmine in the store. Each breath provides the opportunity to develop or recall a different memory or emotion. That is if you can smell.

 

Two days before Indigo Perfumery’s event, I thought I tasted the toothpaste for a second. An hour later I thought is that really the taste of oranges in the fresh orange juice that my husband prepared or my imagination?  I felt like the luckiest person alive as throughout the day, I slowly began to taste my food and even smell the new line of perfumes that had just arrived. The smoked salmon was almost overwhelming. A few times smells disappeared, only to return after blowing my nose.

 

A true blessing. With my smell and taste having fully returned, I am more aware than ever of their importance. I’ll take the good with the bad.

 

I am grateful. Spring’s renewal has taken on a new meaning!

 

 

Behind the Scenes, In Conversation..., New Releases

Meet Deco London Founder

Indigo recently welcomed the elegant perfumes of Deco London into Indigo Perfumery’s curated collection. And now it is time to introduce you to the lovely Sophia Fannon-Howell, its founder and creator, whom I’ve had the privilege of getting to know over the past few months.

 

   

Sophia sm     Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I am a mother of two children ages 9 and 7 (my greatest achievement!) I am a Dr of Geology, business owner, entrepreneur and have worked in industry for over 17 years.

I was born and raised in Surrey, England and am descended from poet, satirist and Restoration RakeJohn Wilmot

John Wilmot 2nd Earl of Rochester and Grace O’Malley the Irish ‘Pirate’ Queen.

Perhaps that’s where I get my love of history!

 

What led you decide to focus on perfumes? 

 

I’ve always been drawn to fragrance, but my journey really began when I became interested in essential oils, aromatherapy and perfumery back in 2004, when I began creating fragrances for skincare products.
I had a vision to create a brand to share my love of history and bring the elegance and glamour of times past to a modern audience. Using the medium of fragrance seemed the perfect way to do this and so the idea for Deco was born.

 

How did you come up with your particular scent ideas?

 

For me historical periods and characters are vivid in my imagination. The personalities of 1920s London were larger than life, glamorous, hedonistic, tragic and elegant, coming to terms with a new changing world. I wanted to capture those characters in the fragrances I created.

 

The 1920s was also a time of great advancements in perfumery when many classic perfumes and modern perfume families (oriental, chypre etc.) were created. I looked at the fashionable fragrances and fragrance notes and took inspiration from them.

 

How did you determine which fragrance house to go with?

 

As I was new to the fragrance industry I needed to find some experts to help me create my vision and who understood the challenges faced by a startup company.  deco party

 

I approached Robertet as they create perfumes for some of the biggest brands in the world and have a UK office near to London. Robertet were founded in 1850, so have a long history, which fitted very nicely with the Deco London brand.

They are also the world leader in natural, sustainable and organic ingredients and the only company to fully integrate every stage in the creative process “from Seed to Scent”. This really appealed to me as I have a particular interest in naturals.

 

Robertet enjoy working with new brands and their perfumers were really excited by my brief. They are also a lovely bunch of people!

 

Do you have a holy grail beauty / wellness product you like to use? 

lavender     I still have a love of essential oils. They not only smell great but they possess therapeutic          benefits. I always travel with a little bottle of lavender oil. If my skin is stressed I mix a drop of Lavender essential oil into my moisturizer before I apply it. If I can’t sleep, a few drops on my pillow at night or dabbed on my temples works wonders. I also put a few drops of lavender oil in my children’s bath every evening to calm them down!

 

What fragrances do you like to wear? 

 

I love lots of different fragrances, but I am a vintage Guerlain girl at heart. There is something about that slightly old fusty scent that I love. I also love Chanel No 5, but I don’t like the modern version. I buy vintage bottles on eBay!

 

Were there any especially helpful persons along the way?

 

Everyone I have met in my Deco London journey has been really helpful, but if I have to single someone out it would have to be Robertet. They have been so supportive of both my brand and me. It can be a lonely ride setting up a business, creating a product and taking it to market, but having experts like Robertet at my side has filled me with confidence.

 

In addition to working closely with me on my fragrances, they visit me twice a year at home to give me a personal preview of all the key perfume releases and trends, they give input for PR and marketing and they even give me little samples of the raw ingredients in my perfumes to show customers.

 

Which designers or artists do you look up to or are inspired by?

 

I love Alexander McQueen; his designs were so exciting, exotic and daring and the cut was impeccable. The recent ‘Savage Beauty’ Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London was absolutely mesmerising. He was a genius.

 

I love Ralph Steadman’s Gonzo art, my husband and I have a number of his prints and I also admire British guerrilla artist Banksy’s work. I think I like art with a rebellious edge to it!

Kerosene at Indigo 6-27-15 bl
In Conversation..., Upcoming Events

Kerosene Trunk Show

Indigo invites one and all to meet the incomparable John Pegg, the creative force and perfumer of Kerosene.

John will be bringing all of his creations (even the ones Indigo does not presently have in house).

Here is your chance to actually speak with a creator, find out a secret or two and appreciate the wide variety of fragrances that John creates.

We’ll have liquid refreshments and nosh…

Indigo Perfumery

Saturday, June 27th

1:30-3:30 p.m.

Floris new bl
In Conversation..., Indigo Perfumery

Floris: Into the Future

 

With Indigo Perfumery’s recent post on Floris and a bit of its illustrious history, it is obvious that Floris’ pedigree is both timeless and impeccable. But a company cannot rest on its laurels in today’s always changing, scented world.

It is evident that this ninth generation of the Floris family is passionate about perfume and is dedicated to craftsmanship and quality. Their understated and sophisticated style will continue to be reflected in the evolution of their 2015 launches. Stay tuned…

 

Indigo recently had the opportunity to chat with the new Managing Director of Floris, Jon Graham, one of the key members of the management team working directly with Edward Bodenham, the Floris Chairman.

 

 

Would you please tell us a little about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I have worked in retail and wholesale for over 25 years working primarily with British Heritage brands and over 10 years in the Beauty industry. I have worked in all the major overseas markets and have very little interest in working for the cookie-cutter brands and retailers we see populating the global high street. I have always had a keen interest in brands with soul and personality – brands like Floris – steeped in history and romance – hold particular interest for me.

 

Why did you agree to take on your new role at Floris?

The lure of fragrance and scent has always had great appeal. Dealing in emotion – sparking memories. It’s an incredibly powerful and exciting medium. The challenge of working in a Family business (this business is owned by the founding family who created Floris over 285 years ago) is also a great attraction and having spoken to the Chairman and the family we all shared the same vision for the brand. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with a brand with an authentic heritage, a truly proud London brand, only perfumers to HRH The Queen, a library of fragrances and history that is second-to-none. Being entrusted to manage the business is a great honour. It was an easy decision to make!

 

 

How do you plan to strike a balance between the success Floris has had for generations and innovations for today’s market?

It’s a very careful balance. We will never be a “path-finder brand” it’s not part of our DNA. We have a very loyal following – the brand is held in very high regard and with great affection and we recognize this – but we also have to generate the new Floris history – being mindful of the past – but looking to the future. Seduce, excite and delight the Floris customer of the future.

Everything we do will be sympathetically considered, from our products, our packaging, to the tone of voice we use, the social media we generate. To stand still and rely on former glories in todays’ fierce market-place would be fool-hardy. I am working with the 8th & 9th generation family members to impart centuries of fragrance knowledge and craftsmanship, through our passion and excitement for fragrance and perfumes, to the new generations of Floris devotees.

 

What is your favorite fragrance in the line?

Too difficult to choose just the one! I wear fragrance dependent on my mood, the season, the occasion, who I want to impress!

My top 3; Elite, Special 127, Leather Oud – but I honestly wear our whole collection at various times.

 

How do you feel about the pressure to release new fragrances often?

Newness brings excitement and brand exposure but there shouldn’t be newness for the sake of newness. If it’s trend driven (Saffron or Oud) then we should consider it. The market is moving constantly and though we shouldn’t be led by this blindly, we should be aware of it. We need to provide the customer with the fragrances that they want – this is what ultimately drives our new fragrance development. We have a relatively small number of fragrances in our collection but a huge library of historical fragrances housed in our archives – we need to mine these and blend in the new developments in the fragrance market to create collections that inspire and excite.

 

What are your plans for the future of Floris?

First and foremost our legacy must be to secure the brand and the business for the next generation of family members. The brand has been around for 285 years which is testament to its strength and an indication of how highly regarded it is by the customer. We will steer the business carefully through the sea of brands and retailers we see through our London window and introduce the brand to the new Floris customer. We want to share our secrets and our passion for fragrance. We’re a hidden gem. A secret. We will start to whisper our secret just a little bit louder.