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The making of a French fragrance
A journey into the world of a Maitre-Parfumeur
My travels throughout the South of France have been nothing if not spectacular. The
pampering, the cuisine and now, as if to complete my oh-so-française experience, the fragrance. I visited the medieval village of Eze (a captivating enclave in Nice that sits on a rocky peak overlooking the Mediterranean sea) and discovered the prestigious
House of Galimard; a luxury parfumeur that, for 260 years, has celebrated the allure of creating your own fragrance. With a glass of champagne and a couple of canapes as my starting point, I sit down at my own "organ" (creation station) and embark on a three hour journey into the world of signature scents. Once complete, I will be the owner of a 100ml bottle of
Eau de Lara. Here’s how my dream became a reality…
There are 150 scents (like Praline, Oriental Rose, Jasmine Musque and Citron Doux) and each fit into one of three main categories:
Oriental Woodsy: You will find sweet, heavy and warm notes like cedarwood, patchouli and vanilla.
Chypre Fruity: Amber notes and fruits like bergamot on top and warm fruits in the heart like apricot and peach (Incidentally, after a blind test, this is the category I loved the most.)
Floral Fruity: Very fresh flavours like blackcurrant, praline and lily of the valley.
After many testers (and coffee bean sniffs to clear the nostril passage), you select the essences you love and those you don’t. In the ones you like, you decide on your Top Note, Heart Note and Bottom Note. The
Top Note is considered the lightest scent; it has a fresh character and is often associated to fruits. I gravitate towards Mandarine, Pamplemouuse and Fruits De Cassiss. The
Heart Note is the body of the perfume, the core of the composition which gives it its character (
romantique.) These scents lend themselves to florals such as Orange Blossom, Fleur de Grenadier and Jasmine. The
Bottom Note is the fragrance you smell the longest; the one that adds depth, lingers and hopefully leaves a blissful lasting impression. Oils are particular in this category (because they are less evaporative) like musk, sandalwood and patchouli.
After you swish and swirl your mixture and decide if the balance is pleasing to your senses (too fruity, not enough floral?), et voila! You have graduated with a Diplôme D’Élève-Parfumeur. Your unique formula is registered and kept confidential in the data bank so it can never be quite replicated (just like you) and you are able to re-order the scent in many different forms: Eau de Parfume, body lotions and shower gels. It is recommended that your customized juice (housed in a gorgeous gold-embossed flacon) wait two weeks to macerate before wearing, but my
E 07 1802 was a labour of love deserving of an immediate wrist douse. Surprisingly sweet with a not-so-unexpected hint of musk, each spritz will bring me right back to the rocky cliffs of
Eze and the romanticism of the French Riviera.
To see more photos of my journey through the South of France, check out the photo gallery below!