Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 May 2019

Perfume is about trying to catch a memory, says Henry Jacques CEO

The Spinning Tops are the latest scents from the French perfumer, which launched a boutique in The Dubai Mall last year

Les Toupies fragrances by Henry Jacques 
Les Toupies fragrances by Henry Jacques 

It takes a good few years for an Henry Jacques perfume to make the journey from conception to crystal bottle. For the first scents in the perfumer’s Les Toupie, or Spinning Tops, line of fragrances, the curved-crystal flacons alone took three years to develop.

Named Mr H and Mrs Y, the two fragrances are personified as a couple who represent the idea that no matter what you’re faced with in life, a certain grace must persist. The former is composed of cedar, geranium, sandalwood, tobacco, amber and patchouli, and is priced at Dh30,500 for 50ml; while at Dh21,600 for 35ml, Mrs Y has notes of ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, tonka bean and iris.

For all the creative mixing that went into the two formulations, however, Henry Jacques chief executive Anne-Lise Cremona believes in the unisexuality of perfumes. “More and more we see everybody mixing scents. Some perfumes that were traditionally created for women are also very beautiful when worn by men. It’s not a question of being feminine or masculine; it’s a question of personality,” says the daughter of perfumer Henry Cremona, who launched the company in France nearly 50 years ago.

The Henry Jacques boutique in The Dubai Mall 
The Henry Jacques boutique in The Dubai Mall

Anne-Lise likens the brand to an haute couture house, given that until seven years ago, Henry Jacques only created bespoke perfumes for its clients. “It’s a blessing, this patrimony we have, but it takes immense work to upkeep that. For example, some of our perfumes are composed of 250 components, and all are created in our laboratory where we still do everything by hand,” she says.

After working with commercial perfume houses for a decade, Anne-Lise returned to the family business to try to grow the brand organically, without compromising the integrity of the scents, or the know-how of the noses who are trained in the Provence laboratory.

CEO Anne-Lise Cremona.
CEO Anne-Lise Cremona.

Inspired by an 18th-century French castle, the brand’s new boutique in The Dubai Mall is full of little nooks adorned with antique stones, opulent woodwork and panels that spring open to reveal the 50 bottled essences from the brand’s Les Classiques de HJ collection. Hiding behind the main lounge is a private chamber for seekers of bespoke fragrances.

“There are no traditional displays here; the idea is you spend some time with yourself because that’s what perfume is about – you and your notions. It’s about trying to catch a memory,” Anne-Lise explains.

Bespoke clients, meanwhile, sit down for a private consultation, where they are presented with trays full of aroma notes to help them navigate their way. A committee of perfumers then works to create sample scents until the client is happy, resulting in what Anne-Lise calls “a long-term relationship”.

The Private Lounge in the Henry Jacques boutique in Dubai, for bespoke clients 
The Private Lounge in the Henry Jacques boutique in Dubai, for bespoke clients

She is also a believer in curating one’s own perfume wardrobe. “I have five or six favourites, and what I wear depends on my mood, maybe the weather, the time of day and the occasion. Changing your perfume is part of the Henry Jacques concept, and with each composition you pick out for your perfume wardrobe, you acknowledge your emotions, and go back to or create your own memories.”


Updated: February 16, 2019 02:15 PM