The six first Pour Toujours fragrances smell like a personal success. Success of giving life to an idea that had been maturing for a long time in the head of Martine Denisot (in case that name sounds familiar, yes, she is the wife of Michel Denisot, a famous journalist and TV host down here). Actually, one might say these six fragrances feel like the accomplishment of a lifetime. A life that Martine, an elegant sixtyish woman, has yet spent doing something completely different – among others, head of the communication department at the Irish Tourist Information Office for 25 years. This said, when I met her in April for the launch of her line, it didn’t take me long to figure out I was in the presence of a genuine enthusiast. Not only of perfumes, but also of the smells that punctuate our lives, those olfactory memories that stay with us pour toujours (that is, forever), and are, as it happens, the ones that inspire her creations. Even better, Martine has a quite an impressive knowledge of raw materials for someone whose job it has never been to know them. That’s in part thanks to Chanel’s ex in-house perfumer Jacques Polge who, in 1989, let her come and spend time in the house’s perfumery lab in Neuilly for almost a year. There, she familiarized herself with the perfumer’s palette, learned the ropes of formulation and even went down to Grasse for the rose harvest at the Mul’s, a family of local growers whom Chanel has an exclusive contract with (the beautiful flowers in N°5 come from there). Thrilled by the experience, she brushed up her knowledge of perfumery at Cinquième Sens a few years later. A place where she also met perfumer Amélie Bourgeois, whom she ended up confounding the up-and-coming perfume creation company Flair with. Anyway, when she started working on her own perfumes, it was a very personnal project: first because they were inspired by her own story and memories, but mostly because she composed them herself. And the good surprise is, once they are pschitted out of their porcelain and glass bottles – a wink at her grand-parents who used to be porcelain makers in Limoges – the juices happen to quite well done.
My personal favorite is Pyrus, for its main accord blending a very realistic pear – you can almost feel the raspy flesh – and a beautiful vetiver. A green, soft freshness like I’d never smelled. There is also Khamsin, whom at first sniff felt to me like a little dirtier, more animalistic of Guerlain’s beautiful Après L’Ondée (which, fun facts, happens to be Martine’s perfume in real life). A warm fragrance with scents of narcissus, tuberose and jasmin, with a hint of grilled malted barley on the background. I love the smell of Boule de Gomme’s neroli and lavender accord, very comforting with powdery accents of violet and iris, evoking childhood and babies buttcheeks. There’s also Bootylicious, much less girly-sugary-Beyonce than the name would suggest, a leathery composition around quince, this fruit they used to perfume closets with in Martine’s native Berry region. I really like the alliance of iris and carrot (ever since I’ve liked Sienne d’Orange by The Different Company), and the recipe works wonders in Graines. A very original exercice de style around seeds, as an homage to Parisian seed merchants of days past, which also features barley, cocoa and cardamom. Finally, Tudo Bem takes us to Brazil with a fresh and seezing cocktail of bergamot and citron, mint, blue ginger and pepper. Six fragrances to discover at Le Bon Marché and Liquides in Paris and at Liberty in London.
Photographs taken by Sarah Bouasse at the Jardins du Luxembourg, Paris, May 2015.