Humanity has usually struggled to protect its information. Some accomplishments stay true mysteries right now as a result of Man has been unable to guard information over the ages. The trouble to maintain, preserve and share information should be a essential mission as a result of, in any other case, how are you aware the place to go if you happen to don’t know the place you come from? Of all human creations, perfumes are sometimes thought of essentially the most fragile. That is how the Osmothèque, the primary worldwide fragrance conservatory in Versailles, is its valiant protector. LuxuryActivist had the chance to contact Ms Anne-Cécile Pouant, Deputy Director at The Osmothèque She performed the sport of our unique interview which allowed us to study extra in regards to the superb work executed by such a prestigious establishment.
LuxuryActivist (LA): Pricey Anne-Cécile, it’s usually mentioned that our relationship with scents and perfumes is often one thing very private. What are your first olfactory recollections, and what triggered your vocation to this business?
Anne-Cécile Pouant (ACP): The extra I work on this world of fragrance, and primarily since I’ve been on the Worldwide Conservatory of Perfumes, the extra I see the significance that smells and fragrances have in our lives and in our recollections. Olfactory reminiscence is a robust car for time journey. Essentially the most distant olfactory reminiscence, which matches again to childhood, may be very clear to me: it’s a combination of ronéotype (this ancestor of the photocopier, utilized in colleges within the 70s which reproduced the texts in purple color) and Mercryl Laurylé, that disinfectant so helpful for skinned knees in playgrounds. Certainly, the college drugs cupboard was above the photocopy machine in a small cramped room. One should imagine that I used to go to that place usually as its reminiscence is so intense. I used to be in kindergarten. So it goes again fairly a great distance prior to now… and but, it is vitally a lot alive. And right now, I nonetheless love these smells of pharmacy and ink!
Though I’ve at all times been delicate to scents and appreciated perfumes from a really younger age, I believe what attracted me to perfumes was extra the picture this universe emanates: the magnificent ads, the home windows of conventional perfumeries with the large bottles, the sophistication exuded by the individuals who labored there, the spectacular make-up shows, and the powdery or chypre path of the ladies who got here out of them. This universe, which appeared aside, fascinated me and attracted me so I might keep on the exit of the one perfumery retailer within the metropolis the place I lived to seize some glitters.
LA: How would you sum up your skilled profession, particularly your beginnings? I really feel like all roads result in Rome relating to the fragrance business. What was your path?
ACP: My skilled orientation in the direction of fragrance was initially made by way of luxurious, with a specialization oriented in the direction of communication. I’ve devoted a number of particular coaching modules to this and analysis papers on the worth of luxurious manufacturers. One model haunted me amongst all these I studied: CHANEL. I studied it rather a lot, dissected, scrutinized and analyzed it. It nonetheless fascinates me as a lot right now because it embodies the perfection of name picture administration. Then, I entered luxurious and, extra notably, fragrance by way of an sudden door, design: after learning at Sciences Po and a primary expertise in Tahiti with the most important producer of black pearls, I had the possibility to be recruited by a inventive company specializing in design and packaging for fragrance manufacturers.
After the start of my second daughter, I created my company to advise and assist shoppers within the creation of their model identification and the deployment of their communication, providing a variety of providers to magnificence institutes and spas in addition to to natural manufacturers which appeared to me on the time to be the much less essential manufacturers of the sector.
I had the chance to affix the Osmothèque in 2015 to breathe new life into it. This distinctive establishment, created 25 years earlier on an initiative of perfumer Jean Kerléo and a bunch of passionate perfumers from the S.F.P. (French Society of Perfumers), was not sufficiently seen, didn’t occupy the place that an establishment representing the olfactory heritage of world perfumery ought to have.
LA: Your profession path has led you to fulfill and collaborate with famend companions in addition to dream manufacturers. What do you retain from these collaborations earlier than becoming a member of the Osmothèque?
ACP: From my coaching, as I instructed you, I studied CHANEL, and I’m lucky to have right now as Vice-President of the Osmothèque, one in all their eminent in-house perfumers: Christopher SHELDRAKE. In the present day, CHANEL is one in all our major sponsor contributors, with the discretion and class that characterizes the French luxurious home.
In my profession in an company, I’ve certainly had the possibility to work with the inventive groups of main homes and to accompany them within the very good developments of latest perfumes: Cartier, Dior, Guerlain, Mauboussin, Bulgari, Asprey… but in addition on worldwide tasks: Boticario and Natura in Brazil, Hera and Amore Pacific in Korea, or complete creations of ideas comparable to The Completely different Firm. Working with a designer like Thierry de Baschmakoff, I retain the significance of the coherence of an idea and its variation, the worth of indicators and codes inherited from historical past, and huge sources of inspiration for future creations.
LA: The Osmotheque is an establishment distinctive on the planet and of valuable utility. What image did you have got of the Osmothèque earlier than working there?
ACP: I had the chance to go to it once I was working in design for perfumery. I had not grasped its essence and its distinctive character, maybe on account of an unclear identification (hosted on the campus of a faculty, and not using a storefront), a little bit outdated and a reputation not very express: Osmothèque (osme: odor / theke: classification). A library of scents. And for me, who labored in branding, the absence of bottles, ornament and scripting made me miss out on the treasures contained on this one-of-a-kind assortment.
LA: What drives you right now to maintain such a wonderful establishment going?
ACP: Being within the first line right now to do justice and shine the legacy of the founders by making the Osmothèque a significant cultural establishment within the preservation of the olfactory heritage of fragrance. It’s a problem as it’s not but apparent for everybody! The concept of the founders was actually good: they had been actually pioneers, conscious that the heritage of fragrance is valuable however by definition evanescent and subsequently intrinsically doomed to vanish (a fragrance that you may not odor…is a fragrance that ends by dying). To protect them, we should subsequently proceed to have the ability to odor them and subsequently, protect them in optimum circumstances, be capable of redo them commonly: which turns into a problem if we shouldn’t have preserved formulation and components which are continuously evolving and specific know-how. Certainly, fragrance has not at all times been made in keeping with the requirements we all know.
A CONSERVATORY OF PERFUMES IS THEREFORE ALSO A CONSERVATORY OF EMOTIONS. THIS GIVES A HUMAN DIMENSION TO OUR MISSION WHICH PARTICULARLY MOVES ME.
Anne-Cécile Pouant, Deputy Director at L’Osmothèque
It’s a actual problem to protect this assortment, testimony to a singular relationship that has existed for 1000’s of years, to a really particular relationship of man with scents and fragrance: communication with the gods, adornment of the highly effective, anti-miasma defend, drugs, weapon of mass seduction, final accent of the picture that one needs to convey, or delicate factor of well-being. Fragrance accompanies the lifetime of males, their reminiscence, and their feelings … From one other perspective, we protect works which, for a few of them, have a significant influence on the historical past of this artwork of perfumery. As such, doing all the pieces we do to protect its olfactory dimension means contributing to the writing of its historical past and making it lasting. By preserving this heritage, we’re a car for future generations.
LA: With greater than 5,000 perfumes, a few of which have disappeared from the market, how do you outline the entry of a fragrance into your Osmothèque?
ACP: The entries within the assortment are executed primarily in 3 methods. To begin with, the manufacturers entrust us with their creations (in keeping with agreements that we now have put in place with them). It thus enriches the “modern” collections of the Conservatory. New manufacturers are solicited or seem spontaneously to complement the gathering. We’re very open as a result of nobody can predict the lifespan of those homes and their creations. No matter their future, future treasures could also be amongst them. We even have agreements with the massive composition homes that ship us their wins of the 12 months.
Then, for perfumes which have disappeared and have been recognized by us as “premium”, that’s to say, that they need to completely be current within the collections, a number of choices: if we now have the method deposited on the Osmothèque with the authorization of redo for our strict actions (no industrial exploitation behind and assure of the secrecy of the formulation) in addition to all of the uncooked supplies and bases permitting them to be redone, they’re “reweighed” on the premise of the unique method by our “cellar staff”. After we don’t have the method, we work in collaboration with the manufacturers or homes that personal them so as to have it redone by them. We typically make our distinctive collections of uncommon and extinct supplies out there to them.
Lastly, for very previous perfumes (earlier than the synthesis revolution on the finish of the nineteenth century), the work is extra complicated. It’s not a lot the method that makes issues difficult (they’re typically “public” in previous creations. It’s extra their decoding and their needed interpretation that make issues difficult: Discovering all of the unknown supplies, estimating proportions which are usually sketchy and making compromises and interpretations. Because of this the Osmothèque is extra cautious and circumspect about these very previous perfumes that are extra topic to warning.
Confronted with the keenness of assorted actors about these historic reconstructions, the Osmothèque intends to be a beacon of reference with its confirmed methodology and the information amassed over greater than 30 years. It focuses above all on disseminating a exact nomenclature, which might be authoritative and turn out to be an “official” nomenclature. This venture is supported by its Scientific Committee.
LA- Of all of the Osmothèque’s actions, which makes you the proudest?
ACP: The Osmothèque operates round these major missions: the preservation and improvement of its collections, transmission (these are all of the cultural mediations we do for all audiences), and analysis. Two missions make me notably proud: to have contributed with nice tenacity to seek out the hint of a significant fragrance so as to have it reintegrate into the gathering. That is the Trèfle Incarnat from Maison L.T Piver, an important French heritage home. In the present day, I’m on different tracks which are about to return to completion… My “In Search of Misplaced Perfumes” adventures proceed! I’m additionally very proud to work within the basic curiosity (in accordance with our standing as a non-profit Affiliation Regulation 1901) and to welcome younger folks, usually from the third 12 months internship, so as to permit them to set foot on this seemingly fairly closed world of fragrance. I try at my degree to open doorways and put a foot within the stirrup for individuals who shouldn’t have pre-existing networks or a well-known surname to make their job simpler. What satisfaction for me to see them then transfer ahead of their skilled venture
However I might additionally discuss to you about organising the “J’ADOPTE UN PARFUM” sponsorship marketing campaign that I imagined with my staff to compensate for the shortage of economic assets linked to the closure of the Osmothèque throughout confinement. It’s a marketing campaign that invitations patrons to affiliate their identify with a fragrance that they symbolically undertake. We share on our networks a brief textual content that they write to us and which explains their attachment to this fragrance. The testimonials are very touching and usually related to the reminiscence of a liked one. It is a very good venture of which I’m notably proud!
LA: Might you please inform us an essential reality or an anecdote that has marked you since your arrival on the Osmothèque?
ACP: One reality has notably marked me since my arrival on the Osmothèque: the day I discovered myself in jail, the primary time for me! In actual fact, I intervened with Isabelle Chazot (administrator and president of our scientific committee) for a cultural mediation on the Orient and perfumes on the girls’s jail in Versailles. A timeless second for all (inmates and employees) the place you understand the energy of the ability of evocation (and escape!) of perfumes in a closed universe. This expertise satisfied me that fragrance might be a common language, and that it might contribute to creating bridges and opening up marvellous horizons by avoiding on borders, and cultural, generational or bodily variations.
LA: How do you take into account the fragrance business right now? We see so many launches and finally so few chosen ones who stand the check of time.
ACP: I take a really relaxed have a look at it: we don’t know the place to show; one of the best creations stay alongside the worst. And the launches are so quite a few that I surrender on the thought of mastering all the pieces. So once I occur to return throughout “treasures”, I get excited and say it loud and clear! Go and uncover a Milky Dragon from Isabelle Larignon, or a Cri de la Lumière from Parfum d’Empire… you will note that one might be amazed by the present creation!
I even have the acute privilege of having the ability to dive into the marvels and masterpieces that represent the heritage of fragrance and likewise to take refuge there when the present cacophony is simply too sturdy. Put your nostril again on a Fruit Défendu from 1914 at Paul Poiret, an Emeraude from François Coty whose centenary we now have simply celebrated, or more moderen like an authentic from Mystère de Rochas from 1978 or a Coriandre from Jean Couturier from 1973: these perfumes that might be referred to as “classic” maintain up so effectively even right now! It’s a magnificent perfumery type that made folks of my era love fragrance.
LA: For a really very long time, the authorized side of the mental safety of perfumes has been a fragile topic. Does the Osmothèque have an official place on the topic? How one can defend the heritage of the fragrance business right now?
ACP: When it was created, the Osmothèque endeavoured to acquire the assist of manufacturers or rights holders to be entrusted with secret formulation and extremely delicate components. As you already know, you can’t defend a fragrance method in any other case, and that is nonetheless legitimate right now. We’ve got arrange on the conservatory a really supervised protocol which ensures depositors the strict confidentiality of the formulation entrusted to us. From Osmotheque’s perspective, it appears essential to us to not neglect, as our president Thomas Fontaine commonly reminds us: “The problems for us are above all cultural; because the Conservatory of Perfumes, we defend fragrance from this angle”.
LA: What query would you dream of being requested in regards to the Osmothèque and what can be its reply?
ACP: I might dream that an important patron asks me: how a lot assist do you might want to perform your tasks within the subsequent three years? And I might dream of answering him: all the pieces is ok, the entire occupation is behind us to assist its heritage, and the general public authorities subsidize us generously! It’s sadly solely a dream… so I’ll reply him that he can assist us right now whereas ready for this dream to return true!
LA: Do you have got any new upcoming tasks that you may inform us about right here?
ACP: We’re finishing up an formidable website venture to offer a extra appropriate setting for our collections and our actions, which have developed considerably in recent times. We need to present an actual place of tradition round fragrance. We need to supply our audiences an experiential place highlighting the treasures of our collections. On the identical time suggest a office for our groups, a spot of analysis and documentation, a laboratory for our re-formulation or our historic work and a spot of conservation for our collections of perfumes and uncooked supplies. It should be capable of permit our varied audiences to (re) uncover the massive olfactory heritage that’s fragrance.
LA: Are you able to inform us one thing about your self that few folks know that may be attention-grabbing to know?
ACP: As a part of my work, I’ve the posh of being nearer to historic perfumes and magical elixirs that nobody can take pleasure in anymore. These “sleeping beauties” are at midnight, in opaque bottles sheltered from the ravages of time, in the back of these temperature-controlled cupboards. Smelling them takes you far-off, elsewhere, to a different time… Typically, within the distinctive setting of the Osmothèque cellar, I open one in all these vials and discover myself transported to a different space-time. It’s Baudelairean: “Typically you discover an previous bottle, from which springs alive a soul that returns”.
I thus bear in mind an “virtually actual dialog” with Paul Poiret attempting to unravel the thriller of the well-known “Fruit Défendu” created in 1914 for his Rosine perfumes. One other time, I additionally discovered myself impromptu and imaginary on board the Orient Specific on the best way to Istanbul or Venice and met Sergey Diaghilev and his Russian ballets there, and even I obtained to know Marlène Dietrich just about by probability from a volute of Tabac Blond escaping from a bottle of uncooked materials. I fleetingly met Jean Patou on the deck of the primary class of the Normandie. What an opportunity to have the ability to strategy so carefully by way of fragrance these characters and these bygone instances…intimate and secret moments.
LA: What can we want you for the long run?
ACP: In the present day I’ve the possibility to have a one-of-a-kind job and the privilege of being chargeable for preserving one of many jewels of our cultural heritage. I meet essentially the most lovely works that perfumery has produced, in addition to the best creators. I make extraordinary human encounters. My each day life is stuffed with tasks. I wish to take this bridge between the world of fragrance and the cultural world. One step after the opposite, however past the wrestle, a hyperlink between these worlds.
As for the Osmothèque, it’s 30 years previous. It’s time for this establishment carefully linked to French heritage, acknowledged internationally, to unite the assist of public authorities round its actions. It is usually time for it to be strongly supported by the fragrance business and for it to offer actual monetary assist. Thus, the Conservatory will be capable of carry even increased and for the good thing about all the colors of this extraordinary embassy of fragrance!
Anne-Cécile Pouant is a passionate lady with a uncommon emotional intelligence. We might hearken to her for hours as the fervour flowed by way of her phrases. The Osmotheque is a uncommon place, even distinctive and its Deputy Director is the proper captain of such prestigious boat that can hopefully be round for good many years of navigation. The Osmothèque is 30 years previous, and we’re all wanting to know the marvels that can nonetheless be found and preserved for human pleasure and information.
L’Osmothèque – Conservatoire Worldwide des Parfums
36 rue du Parc de Clagny
Tel: +33 (0)1 39 55 46 99
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