On Europe’s side of the Atlantic, his name rings no bell. Yet, in Los Angeles, florist Eric Buterbaugh is a star, almost as famous as the stars (the real ones) he provides for. With over 15 years in the business, Eric Buterbaugh is – just so you get the picture – the man who covered La Fenice with flowers for the wedding of Salma Hayek and François Henri-Pinault in Venice. The one Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba or Demi Moore call when they are hosting a private party. Him again Tom Ford entrusts with preparing the bouquets he sends to his collaborators when he wants to say thank you. Especially renowned in the fashion and entertainment spheres, the floral designer regularly works for Dior, Cartier and Valentino or the Chateau Marmont – where he’s a regular himself.
An expert in the art of highlighting the beauty of flowers through his exquisite compositions – which he now creates in a suite of the Beverly Hills Four Seasons hotel, where he is resident florist – Eric Buterbaugh felt like exalting them in another way – this time addressing our olfactory sensibility. “Flowers today don’t smell like they used to”, he told me on the phone a few weeks ago. “The law of supply and demand has led to an increasing use of greenhouses. As a result, most roses you buy in stores today have lost their smell”. From there, slowly, emerged the idea of developing a line of floral fragrances bearing his name.
And thus in June, Eric Buterbaugh happily celebrated – imagine the guest list – the launch of 7 fragrances composed around 7 flowers he picked among his favorites. And as I was expecting nice little soliflores who didn’t need to be good to be a hit anyway, I was even more surprised by their richness and complexity. They were composed by 5 perfumers from Firmenich, whom Eric Buterbaugh and his French business partner Fabrice Croisé – an expert in fragrance marketing – decided to give carte blanche to. Giving us new evidence that perfumers thrive on more creative freedom. Encouraged to use beautiful raw materials – that is, not bothered by the usual costs constraints – some of them were even able to take a few dormant nuggets out of their personal library. That’s how Ilias Ermenidis introduced this rose, electrified by spices (pepper, saffron) and sweetened by vanilla: he’d first created it just like that, for himself. It became this Sultry Rose, oscillating between freshness and outrageous seduction. The perfumer also composed Celestial Jasmine, a perfume both innocent and fresh with its white flowers petals feel – jasmine, tuberose, freesia and narcissus – and at the same time very skin-like with its ambery-musky base. Speaking of white flowers, I was amazed by Regal Tuberose, a creation by Honorine Blanc opening on a slightly bitter freshness (grapefruit, white pepper) to unveil a beautiful jasmine-tuberose duo, to which patchouli leaves and oakmoss give a very original greenness. Fragile Violet, Eric told me, is Naomi Campbell’s favorite: a light violet whom a white tea accord and a watery note of lotus confer a delicate charm. It is signed by the great Alberto Morillas, just like Appolo Hyacinth, of which I loved the twists of pear, orange blossom and vetiver. My personal favorite is Velvet Lavender: Harry Frémont married lavender to sage and it works wonders. Laid out on a base of vanilla and sandalwood, it is soft, warm and enveloping (although too short-lived for my taste). As for Virgin Lily of the Valley, it’s a crystalline lily of the valley made by Pierre Negrin that beautifully took me back to a time when I wore my beloved Envy by Gucci to school every day (RIP).
So far, these perfumes can only be smelled at Eric Buterbaugh’s Los Angeles boutique. But he was very kind to offer to send fragrant ceramics to my readers: all you need to do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (subject: “Flair ceramics”) saying which perfume(s) you would like to discover. Otherwise, a set of samples (7x10ml) is available on his website for $250. Yes, expensive enough that going straight for a full bottle doesn’t seem so crazy after all ($300/100ml)…