Thierry Mugler Parfums' 'Le Coffret' (more information here) began as cultural experiment after Les Christoph's read Patrick Süskind's book Perfume, The Story of a Murderer. They explain their interpretations, olfactory lives and inspirations
Marian Bendeth: What was the basis for the coffret? When was it first conceived and by who?
Christophe Laudamiel: I read the book when I started perfumery in 1994, and right away I knew I had to do something. This book is quite incredible, it has to do with the history and the art of perfumery, the challenges of the perfumer and every page is full of odours and descriptives. In 2000, as a hobby, on nights and weekends, I read the book and the scenes, personally for me were just striking. It spoke of the history of perfumery or symbols in terms of challenges to create the odours of many scents, and I attempted to recreate those very odours. Christoph jumped in 2002 and we continued to work together on this project. Then 2 years ago on the Internet, we saw that Constantin (the studios in Germany) were going to shoot a movie and this inspired us.
MB: When you were reading the book, were you formulating what notes you would use or did this come afterwards?
Cristoph Hornetz: No, it came afterwards and after reading some scenes, were were inspired to say, use the notes of leather but the actual formulas took some time to develop. We originally had 25 or thirty odours in mind, and then we had to be selective and settled for fifteen.
MB: Which note or notes were you most challenged by?
CL: The notes for 'Baby' were difficult as everyone had a different representation on how it should smell. Süskind's interpretations were gourmand to us and we wanted mothers to really connect with the scent, then we smelled different babies and of course each mother thought their baby smelled the best.
We also felt 'Aura' had to be abstract and needed it to work with just about every single fragrance on the market. It had to be compatible and complement feminine, masculine, light, heavy, modern, old-fashioned, cheap, expensive fragrances; it had to fit everything out there. This scent can be worn either on it's own, or with your favourite fragrance and 'Aura' will give it more lightness, freshness and body.
'Aura' is the only fragrance in the coffret that is not directly tied in with the film or book. We were inspired by Grenouille's creation of virgin extract which created an aura around himself. Vera Strübi, Thierry Mugler Parfums, came up with the idea and challenged the two perfumers to create more of a feeling or aura for a person who will wear the fragrance and one who will wear it alone, or with their favourite scent.
MB: Was this the only scent that you worked with Vera on?
CH: No, along with 'Aura', there was 'Boutique Baldini' which we started with her in January, 2006 and 'Baby' which became a collaborative effort. She really respected our work and wanted to develop new scents with us.
MB: Have any of the actors been able to smell the coffret yet?
CL: We haven't heard anything about the actors but we have heard from the Director of the movie, 'Perfume,the story of a Murderer' who at first was a bit dubious. We then showed him our most esoteric scents, 'Paris 1738' and 'Human Existence' and he said we had a realistic impression of the scenes.
MB: Have either of you been able to sit through the movie sniffing the scent strips?
CL: No, not the strips but we were aware of some scent technology and experimented with it in Paris which needed some polishing, but the end result was fantastic. Walking through the streets of Paris, then this fabulous music and then this virgin scent, it was fabulous.
MB: Are you thinking of doing this anywhere else in the world?
CH: The technology isn't quite ready yet but it probably will not be available until we have worked out the kinks.
MB: Which odours in your lives, do you really loathe? What turns you off?
CL: I hate the smell of cooked red beets. The kind that have been cooked for about three hours.
CH: Some human body odours, not sweat etc. but certain odours I used to be a nurse.
MB: But a lot of these odours in the coffret have to do with negative odours such as urine, fecal notes.
CL: But these also involve the circle of life! Something degrading, decomposing, that is life and death.
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