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FRAGRANCE REVERIES

Louis Vuitton perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud looks back over the creation of seven fragrances. An intimate, sensual, fantastical adventure—the most poetic of journeys.

Photographer: Stephen Lewis

ROSE DES VENTS

“The languid fragrance of the rose, thanks to the summer breeze that blows, blends with the perfume that she wears.” Paul Verlaine

“The rose has everything: strength, flirtatiousness, fragility, pretence, passion, sweetness, temptation… May rose comes from Grasse. It has notes of musk, which gives it an extraordinary character, played out in the heart and base notes of the fragrance. There are overtones of honey, of beeswax, a spicy sweetness in this unique flower. And in this ode, where several different roses come together, peony is hidden. The peony is a rose with an animal note, delicious, almost like lily-of- the-valley. A flower that needs roses in order to dare to speak out, to express its unbelievable freshness. The fragrance begins in a woody ambiance of cedar from Virginia and Florentine iris, which structure the melody of roses and allow peony to exist on the skin.”

TURBULENCES

“Reverie has in it the mystery and subtlety of an odour. It is to thought what perfume is to the tuberose. It is at times the exudation of a venomous idea, and it penetrates like a vapour.” Victor Hugo

“A path, a summer’s night in August in my small village of Cabris, not far from Grasse. Suddenly, I stopped short, captivated by an extraordinary scent. There was a field of tuberose above me and a field of jasmine below. A tumult of sensuality amidst the calm of night. A sublime moment that I wanted to capture. Jasmine is the expression of a false fragility; its delicacy is its strength. I wanted the most tender jasmine of all—jasmine sambac, which is used in China to make tea. In a perfume, it reveals a feline power. Tuberose is a fragrant tigress that should not be hemmed in. Magnolia lends it the clarity and lightness it needs, supporting its desire for tenderness.”

DANS LA PEAU

“What is most profound in man is his skin.” Paul Valéry

“How can you convey the voluptuousness of leather? How can you capture that sensuality in a fragrance?  An infusion of leather, an extract never before created, speaks to the senses. This is a very noble, distinctive composition blossoming with flowers and musks. Jasmine from Grasse, for example—very rare, very precious, quite unique. This is a charismatic fragrance that will appeal to a powerful woman, but a woman who, secretly, nurtures great tenderness. You need to feel the caress of this fragrance to understand its dreamlike nature.”

APOGÉE

“Love is the complement of life, it is its apogee.” George Sand

“Lily-of-the-valley is the flower of unconditional love. I understand why the Japanese love lily-of-the-valley so much—it is delicate, discreet, ephemeral. It is a tremendous study in balance between animal notes and vibrant freshness. The scent of lily-of- the-valley, comforting like clean linens, enters into a duel with musk, which elevates it to new heights of sensuality.”

CONTRE MOI

“What a pleasure to feel her leaning against me, with her pill box hat and her scarf, reminding me that it is always thus, side by side, that we meet couples who are in love.” Marcel Proust

“All these vanillas in a fragrance! Vanilla from Tahiti is reminiscent of cakes, underscored by vanilla from Madagascar, so flavourful in cooking. But when vanilla is given the nobility of fragrance, it takes on leather accents, becomes more animal. This is a languorous composition with just a hint of perversity. You wouldn’t think vanilla could be like that, nor the lovely orange blossom, which accompanies it. But it, too, reveals a magnetic sensuality. This fragrance confuses, and yet the message is clear: it is a fragrance for a woman who lives for desire, and for being desired.”

MATIÈRE NOIRE

“Here comes the time when vibrating on its stem each flower diffuses like a censer; the sounds and the fragrances turn in the evening’s air; melancholy waltz and languorous vertigo!” Charles Baudelaire

“Agarwood is an extremely precious wood, which comes from Laos, crossing through India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Arabian Peninsula… It symbolizes the scents of the Orient, a rare and ancestral powder redolent of travel. When blended with narcissus, it creates a fragrance of extraordinary luxury. The strong, almost bitter, green note of narcissus gives energy to languorous agarwood. I wanted to pay homage to a fragrance that has been somewhat forgotten, whose character goes far beyond the candid scent of its flower… ”

MILLE FEUX

“Love is not a fire to be shut up in a soul. Everything betrays us: voice, silence, eyes; And half-covered fires burn all the brighter.” Jean Racine

“One day, when I was visiting Louis Vuitton’s Asnières workshop, I saw a leather craftsman working on a skin with an amazing colour, a dazzling red. I wanted to transpose that contrast between the suppleness of the leather and the intensity of the raspberry red in a fragrance. There is something extravagant about this fragrance. I added osmanthus from China. It was one of the first names I came across as an apprentice perfumer… I only had to hear the name, and I was already there in spirit! Its flowers are used to flavour tea, giving it a smoky aroma. And yet, when you pick this small flower, it has an apricot scent. It smells of fruit and joie de vivre.”

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