5 Minutes With: Alaïa Perfumer Marie Salamagne
Over the last few decades Azzedine Alaïa has firmly established himself in the fashion world. Renowned for his impeccable cuts and form-flattering silhouettes, his collections artfully blend technical skill with creativity. The designer now adds to his repertoire with the launch of the brand’s first ever fragrance, available exclusively at Harrods. We spoke to Marie Salamagne, the perfumer behind the scent to learn more about this exciting project.
When did you first become interested in the world of perfumery?
I grew up in a family of doctors for whom work and passion were inseparable. When I was studying medicine, I heard about a perfumery school so I followed my intuition and decided to change direction and study perfume. I have always been sensitive to smell: from a teacher's perfume to the smell of a house. I immediately felt at home in the world of fragrance - everything made sense to me.
What were your first memories of scent?
My parents are both anaesthetists. As a child, they would come and give me a hug in bed, and I could smell Shalimar by Guerlain, the fragrance my mother wore, and a number of anaesthetic products.
What attracted you to the Alaïa project?
It was Mr. Alaïa who chose a note I had created because he liked it. It evoked what he himself was thinking of. You can imagine how fantastic it is for a perfumer to have the opportunity to enter the world of a designer of his calibre.
Did Azzedine Alaïa have a strong vision for the fragrance?
Not only strong but very precise and constructed. I can't really talk about a traditional brief in this case. Throughout the time we were developing the fragrance, we worked in his studio and he was always there. He brought Carla Sozzani, his closest colleague, to the table, as well as Martin Szekely, the famous designer, and Paolo Roversi, the extraordinary photographer. We worked by exchanging ideas with each other, listening to their advice, remarks and comments. Everyone sought to reflect the Alaïa woman in Mr Alaïa's olfactory idea. Nothing oriental, no identifiable flowers, but freshness and minerals - the olfactory research was fascinating.
Tell us more about the creation progress…
Azzedine Alaïa's leitmotiv for his perfume was the “smell of cold water splashed on burningly hot whitewashed walls.” We used this as a guideline. At every session, we worked to reach an olfactory chiaroscuro – an abstraction constructed as an Alaïa dress would be, with its elegance, its subtle highlights, its contrasts, poetic power, mystery and aura.
Why do you think fashion and fragrance is such a successful partnership?
This is often the case to reassert the designer's style. And in this case, it is even truer. Mr. Alaïa had given it a lot of thought before he began to create his first fragrance, which is the essence of the timeless Alaïa woman.
Did you have a particular woman in mind when creating the scent?
We all joined Mr. Alaïa's world. The Alaïa woman is universal. She is beyond fashion. Alaïa's clothes are like a casket that sublimates the woman's body. The perfume, in its own way, meets those same aspirations.
Describe the fragrance in three words.
Abstract, well-shaped, different.
Shop Alaïa Paris below.
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