“In Grasse, it is natural to make perfume,” says Jacques Cavallier Belletrud, Maître Parfumeur at Louis Vuitton, and native of the little town on the French Riviera. Having hailed from what many consider to be the epicentre of fragrances, it isn’t hard to see why Belletrud went into the olfactory business, but the magic of Grasse is far from what inspired the vivid notes of Louis Vuitton’s latest fragrance line. Tailored to no specific gender in mind, Les Colognes takes us straight to California, a location that is synonymous with great beaches, carefree surfers, and an appetite for adventure.
The collection introduces three new scents that comprises of “the colours of summer” according to the French perfumer. “I created them with the same respect as great perfumes, with rare and natural raw materials whose qualities are exceptional,” says Belletrud, “These are perfumes of light, with notes that burst to reveal all their inherent naturalness.”
To understand more about the inspiration behind Les Colognes and how this unisex fragrance came about, we caught up with the Maître Parfumeur of Louis Vuitton to discuss Cali-feeling, and capturing that fleeting summer eau.
What was the inspiration for these new fragrances?
Los Angeles is a huge inspiration for this project. It’s a magical town and California is a fantastic place. The blue sky, especially in winter, has a special light that creates a special mood. My personal inspiration is also driven by contrast. In Grasse, you see both the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains. The same is true of California: the ocean and the desert aren’t far apart.
Why Los Angeles, more than any other place in the world?
Louis Vuitton Cologne Perfumes represent the optimistic and luxurious spirit of holidays. For me, California in general and Los Angeles in particular were ideal for this project. Cologne Perfumes are really inspired by the California culture and lifestyle.
What was your moodboard for Cologne Perfumes?
As a Master Perfumer, freshness is one of my obsessions. The concept of this collection is all about freshness. In the fragrance market, Colognes are fresh they’re not long lasting which can be a little frustrating. I was dreaming of creating a cologne collection with endless freshness and persistence. That’s why I call this collection “Cologne Perfumes”.
Did you develop new techniques for these three fragrances?
With all the techniques available today, it’s now possible to make various raw materials more long-lasting. At Louis Vuitton, we use exclusive raw materials I created in Calabria for citruses, for instance, or in Grasse for other ones. To be more precise, I can rework the freshness of bergamot, for example, depending on whether I want to emphasise bitterness or fruitiness. Which means I can use two or three different bergamots for different purposes.
Are these Colognes designed for the ‘California Girl’/’Boy’? And if not, who’s the audience?
Freshness is genderless – it’s for everybody. When we launched the first seven women’s perfumes, lots of men bought them for themselves. It taught me a lot I didn’t know. Japanese men took to Apogée, with lily-of-the-valley; Americans went for Turbulences, which is a tuberose with amber. I did not know I was putting so much masculinity into my fragrances. But even the concept of masculinity has evolved: men, and especially young ones, want to share in the experience when they wear perfume.