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Les Parfums Louis Vuitton Credit: Louis Vuitton

Introducing: Les Parfums Louis Vuitton

Born into a family of perfumers in Grasse, a place known to many as the capital of perfumery, it appears that Jacques Cavallier was destined to be the nose behind Louis Vuitton’s exhilarating new fragrance collection. Focused on pure floral notes with just a hint of leather in a nod to the House’s accessories heritage, the collection has been veiled in mystery until now. Celebrating the collection’s launch in-store at Harrods, Cavallier shares his thoughts on his childhood, travel and the importance of exquisite raw materials…

On growing up in Grasse…
"My childhood was like a dream, no,  it was a dream. We were living in Grasse in a very nice house, my school was around about 50 metres away, my mother wasn’t working at the time, she just finished working, she was just taking care of my brother and me, and so it was a very easy life. We used to go in the centre of Grasse every two or three days. Right at the top of Grasse, there was a factory at that time distilling incense. The smell was very strong, and the air was balancing between the incense, the lavender, the jasmine, the citrus. It was so full of smells, so enticing. That is the first smell that I have kept in my memory; it was the smell of the incense. "

On travel…
"My father travelled quite a lot and he was my hero, coming back from far-away places like Japan and Russia. I said to myself, one day I will do lots of travelling just like him. You cannot be a perfumer just staying in Grasse, it’s impossible. You need to be connected to the rest of the world. It’s not just the materials, perfume is also linked to the culture of a country; to what you eat, what you drink, what you smell."

On raw materials…
"My first contact with raw materials was when I was six years old. I was watching my father at home and he was aerating smelling strips. They each had a very red part which was rose absolute from Grasse. It was the passion my father had, and my mother too, that inspired me. Every day my father and mother talked about raw materials, about perfumes, so I was fascinated. That fascination very quickly became a passion of mine for the mystery of raw materials.

"The microclimate in Grasse and the quality of the soil make these exotic raw materials resistant. The plants that grow there come from India originally, the rose comes from Arabia, the osmanthus from China, so they are used to a very constant warmness. In Grasse it’s colder, of course, but the plants resist this and continue to grow with a unique smell. I used to say you have to suffer to be beautiful and for the plants, that’s true. The expression of the smell of the flower is much more intense, on the jasmine for example, and for the Rose de Mai, making these raw materials so special, so unique."

On flowers…
"I love rose, of course, because it was my first contact with raw materials in perfumery and you never forget your first love. And also because my mother used to apply my face with rose water every morning, so the smell of roses is very emotional for me. But I think it’s very emotional for a lot of people in the world, also. Rose is very complex, you have flowery, fruity, woody, spicy tones, it’s a very complex character, just like women.

"But I love all flowers, I love the smell of flowers. I love the smell of the jasmine fields, or smelling the osmanthus in China. I’m still amazed by the smell of the osmanthus tree, it always provokes my emotions."

On Les Fontaines Parfumée…
"I’m from the South of France so I'm very superstitious. In my first meetings with Louis Vuitton they showed me the plans for Les Fontaines Parfumée and I didn’t realise where it was, I was too full of emotion. But I realised that it was by my school, by my father’s factory; there are no coincidences, it was fate. So it was emotional, particularly because my school was 100 metres from there and I used to ask asked my father what is this house? It looked like a castle to me. And my father would answer that it was an old perfumery closed for years, that’s it. 

"The first time I actually went in to what is now our Atelier, it was with Louis Vuitton. Well I knew then that I would probably have the best job in the world, I mean in the perfume world. And I can confirm. It’s a lot of responsibility, pride and a lot of emotions. All those things were very concentrated in terms of feelings, but in a very positive way."  

On the inspiration behind Les Parfums Louis Vuitton…
"I wanted to celebrate femininity. The value of femininity crosses all cultures, whether it’s in the eyes of a woman or the smile, it’s something in common wherever you are born, so I wanted to celebrate those universal values of femininity. I’ve chosen to work with flowers and I wanted to put fresh flowers in the bottle. When you are in love with a woman you offer a bouquet, so I wanted to offer a bouquet of flowers in my perfume." 

On the creation process…
"We used a very special extraction process that I developed myself. I was obsessed with how I would put the smell of fresh flowers in a bottle. But the problem with the two current distillation techniques is that you boil the flower and you kill the most fragile and most volatile part of the smell. You lose that smell of flowers blooming in the field. So I worked on a technology using carbon dioxide and a low temperature to distil the flowers. Finally we found a way of keeping the most volatile and fragile part of the smell, for true beauty in perfume."

On what makes Les Parfums so special…
"What is so special? To me the collection is really about true emotions. I’m not trying to please everybody at the same time. It’s the originality of the fragrances, the expression of the natural raw materials themselves. The perfumes are radiant but at the same time have this beautiful fragility that makes them so original."

Discover Les Parfums Louis Vuitton in-store in the Harrods Perfumery Hall.

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