Even as a young man, Matts has always had a predilection for smells since childhood. After enjoying a stint behind the Aramis counter in New York, he jumped ranks to becoming Product Developer and liaised with perfumers at notable Fragrance & Flavor Houses, Firmenich and IFF where his real education took shape, refining his nose in the lab and familiarizing his technical chops to match his corporate skills in the fragrance industry.
He has held a prestigous position with the Estée Lauder Companies U.S., New York as Vice President of Estée Lauder Fragrances Worldwide whose umbrella brands included Aramis, Tommy Hilfiger, Clinique and Origin's fragrances and ancillaries.
In his role as Fragrance Designer, Matts was the silent force behind many international fragrance hits such as Clinique's “Happy” for her and him, Happy Heart, Simply, Tommy Hilfiger, True Star, Aramis Always for him and her, Tommy T, Tommy Bahama, Abercrombie & Fitch amongst many other notable launches that are still on fragrance counters around the world.
At Elizabeth Arden, he worked on the most successful celebrity fragrance to date, Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds and jewel collections, Nino Cerrutti 1881, Karl Lagerfeld's Sun Moon and Stars and Arden Spa lines.
His relationships with Perfumers evolved into a camarderie of respect and creation.
While we chatted on the phone one day, I mentioned that for me, a great perfume is an “Aura”, something that hangs in the air. A word that resonated with Matts as he too has articulated on numerous occasions over the years. In that moment, he announced his new style of fragrance would be called an “Aura” de Parfum” instead of the typical Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum etc. It would be a floating “Aura” that haunted the senses; a fresh, modern and eclectic concept in the fragrance industry.
As a visionary, Matts built his fragrances from the ground up but not in the typical structures that perfumers use today. The Raymond Matts Collection are scents that are heightened where many of the top notes hold their ground and don't land with a thumpy base note. He has found a way to infuse a bouyancy and modernity that is sorely lacking on the shelves today. By drawstringing the top notes in an open invisible net, his fragrances retain the fresh qualities without sacrificing other intricate accords that are woven without the typical framework of mainstream scents.
I envision Matts as a modern day “Monet” of fragrances, where classical oils became impressionist water colours. He is someone who maintains the artistry and integrity of perfumery but who has been able to build abstract accords into a cohesive, eclectic mix of alluring and intricate fragrances. The multi-layered kind that takes the nose on a creative journey which is personal and subjective, the ultimate edgy mix of blends but also created with pinpoint accuracy involving necessary but invisible notes to the nose to build up each accord.
Each fragrance in the collection possesses a unique aura which is ethereal with the finest oils and accords to break the molds of cookie cutter classifications and mainstream accords. No more fruity/floral orientals or overbearing musks in the bunch. His constructions of the top and heart notes are illuminated for a brighter experience without sacrificing the potency and quality of each scent. His won't reveal his secret formula on how this is accomplished but the proof is in the “Aura”, twenty-four hours later on mouilette and skin.
Matt's approach to testing is also unique. His fragrances evolve literally in mid- air and he is loathe for anyone to spray and sniff too quickly. Like uncorking a fine wine, the scent should develop mid-air first before skin application. This is very much akin to watching flower petals unfolding when filmed in time release technology.
Matts makes it clear he is not a perfumer and loathes to be referred as one. Rather, he is a Fragrance Designer with an original vision for the building and structure of how he envisions a scent to be. For his collection, he hand-picked and collaborated with some of the finest global perfumers who were like-minded in abstract expression: Master perfumer, Annie Buzantian, Master perfumer, Christophe Laudamiel, VP Executive perfumer, Oliveir Gillotin, and Creative perfumer, Jean-Claude Delville. Each perfumer contributed to creating “Aura”s with their own unique artistic marker in the coffret. Each journey reflects where brilliant minds brainstormed into the late hours and where creative leaps of faith were born.
Matts wanted his collection to be exclusive on every level, including the naming of each scent. I had the great honour of being asked to name (six out of the seven) fragrances which I based on onomatopoeia, to smell the sounds, to feel the textures, movements, colours and rhythms of each scent and I chose names that does not exist nor have any meaning but are sensual to pronounce and words I felt had intrigue buried beneath the bottle cap.
Now to meet the collection. I have included my interpretations of the names in parenthesis alongside Matt's original vision for each scent. Despite our initial methodologies, the collection is up for personal interpretation for the wearer, which can flow in many different directions, something Matts encourages his customers to do.
The Raymond Matts Collection
There are seven luxurious and remarkably unique scents that take the nose on a journey and play out on the skin and in the imagination for hours on end.
He shared his initial motivations for each creation which came to him as small moments in his life that mushroomed into abstract accords and “Auras”. I have also added my notes that I wrote when naming each scent during my own journey sniffing his Collection.
MB: Raymond Matts named this and is his tribute to the concept of marriage, the purity of love, intimacy, soft whites, beiges, taupes, ivory.
Maiaday is an abstract floral inspired by linden trees in bloom on a soft June day. A tactile bouquet of airy floralcy!
At first bloom, luminous brightness from a blend of citrus and watery green tones are combined with only the fresh qualities of muguet and lilac. The velvety depth of a flower petal is achieved through many green floral notes, all softened with a hint of saffron, vanilla, and soft woods. Uniquely feminine natural and light!
In a word, Dreamy
MB: Strength, a dagger of olfactory confidence. A leader with insight into many ideas. A spiritualist of twilight.
Sultry days! A sun-kissed Mediterranean shoulder caught my eye on a bus on Fifth Avenue. Alluring… captivating… a need arises to capture the grace of such beauty through a scent.
A fragrance of contrast… An edgy, opening with a golden hue of freshness from a citrus blend balanced with the green watery nuance of William pear. Marine notes of seaweed extract and kalamata olives enhance the beauty of Narcissus absolute… creating a daffodil impression. The sensuous depth is warmed with sandalwood and smoky traces of guaiac wood.
In a word, Sultry
MB: A repeated sssss-unah an undulating pulse, slow, sensual. A beauty with no ego.
A hand that traces the sinuous lines of beauty… sheets infused with the softness of her scent. Never a distant memory!
The tactile beauty of a flower is created from dew-laden muguet mingling with the green of mimosa and accents of apple creating the aroma of a wafting flower. The mysterious warmth of saffron combined with soft woods reveals a signature of sensual softness.
In a word, Addictive
MB: Tsiling..a high and low note that sparkles. The glint of something so incredible that is moving that catches the eye.
Flirtatious / Unexpected
Challenging the traditions of perfumery and Inspired by pop art, a plastic flower with nature's scent is born… an unexpected warmth will playfully appear.
A spray of crisp Asian pear introduces a natural wet green “Aura”, while orris and the freshness of honeysuckle create a plastic floral impression. A cozy creamy sensation saunters forward as milk, rice, and a pinch of patchouli bring a hint of comfort.
In a word, Teasing
MB: The teaser, the charmer who winks and makes you smile when you least expect it.
Tulile is a refreshing softer side to masculinity with an unexpected playfulness and sensual warmth. Deceptively deceiving with a pleasing alluring nuzzling quality.
Where initial predictability is soon replaced with intrigue. A watery-green impression is married to frosty crisp notes with a citrus twist.
The sensation of dew laden muguet petals creates the illusion of a lingering citrus freshness within the body. Polywood™ and ambrox provide an understated deep softness and intrigue.
In a word, Embracing
MB: The huge arc of a teal blue-green wave, stretching, arching but never folding. The rush of foam meets shaded aqua.
Revisiting the lingering scent of a shower aftermath to walking on a rainforest trail of green adventures.
The freshness of aldehydes married with an ozonic citrus blend meets a cooling eucalyptus and a hint of mint. An undefined floral heart is brightened with resinous green notes: juniper a touch of rum, warmed with milk and ambrox. A relaxing casual blend distinctively his!
In a word, Adventuress
MB: The distant rumble of slow sensuality. Bare feet on rough woven fabric, unusually alluring that intrigues, haunts, excites.
Humid vapors rise up inside a private villa on an exclusive tropical island. A daring unusual blend of sisal and the masculine spice of dying lilies emanates in the air.
Sun-kissed citrus notes play within a green melon accord, intermingling with the fresh volatile notes of labdanum and a watery green nuance of un-ripened hazelnuts. Orris provides richness softening the masculine spice of lilies and humid texture of hemp. A mysterious depth of exotic woods warm this fragrance while wrapped with touches of tobacco.
In a word, Mysterious
The flacon also represents the tactile modernity of understated elegance. Each fragrance has it's own unique wooden cap. The logo is stragically placed off-center with no marketing initials or logos. Visually, it is an understated pristine object d'art.
The carton has a tasteful approach. Says Matts “the blue represents a blue sky. It is a simple joy that reminds me to appreciate life... The fact I can see when life gets tough. It is the place I know my father is watching what I do. The orange represents levity a bit playful and the sun. The chocolate brown the ground we stand on! It is to remind me where I come from. White Is purity and balance where is something one will see in every fragrance of mine.”
Some will call it niche, others artisanal, others Indie. I call it the ultimate in Ultra Modern olfactory expression. A collection of unique, futuristic but very wearable “Aura”s that take the imagination on a ride that is forever changing oozing a soft sensuality that intrigues and challenges the nose for hours.
Size: 50ml “Aura” de Parfum: $200.00
Available now from Nordstroms U.S. www.nordstroms.com and order online: www.raymondmatts.com