With the fashion houses that you are working with, what are their individual identifiers and what, according to you, is the unifying factor?
I have been very fortunate to work with very independent and individual designers who are different from each other. We don’t have to worry about overlapping ideas and fragrances, and they have their own vision of fragrances. The job is made a little less difficult because of their specific ideas and their specific challenges, which become opportunities for us. We follow what the designers want, what the image of the house is and we also follow what we have done before, so as not to alienate existing clients while we also try new things out to attract new customers. The personality of the house translates into the personality of scent. While Narciso is all about masculinity and sexuality, Mr. Miyake is all about nature. That is the emotive difference. On the chemical level, the juice is different based on this personality. With Narciso we know that musk is elementary, while for Miyake we use woods and tones of freshness. The ingredients and elements we use are all noble, whether the customer is buying a Narciso, Miyake or Ellie Saab, and we ensure that the quality is maintained in every bottle.
How has the perfume industry changed over the last decade?
For consumers and the fashion houses, the fragrance is now the gateway to the brand. People who cannot afford the cardigan can now afford the perfume. It is the starting off point for anyone, so that they can have a nibble of the brand. Hence, perfumes and accessories are taking more and more real estate in the fashion house. In turn, fashion houses have realised that the profitability and returns are much higher, while the cost of goods is much lower as opposed to creating a silk tie, for example. High end fashion houses who had said that they would never have a fragrance now have them.
The consumers have changed enormously too, and the most important reason is the internet and because more is available to them. Now, it is all about creating an image and being bespoke. It is all about competition and having that edge above others. So men are now shopping for fragrances just like woman would. They use fragrances to feel rich, feel tall, feel powerful and they also use fragrances to seduce. Earlier it was only women who would use them to seduce. Today, even for men, it has become a tool of power and opportunity.
Do you think different fragrances are meant for different personalities?
No, I think it is the other way round. I think the fragrance finds the wearer. The fragrance is there, it is just waiting to be opened and experienced. When the fragrance is worn, if the wearer likes what he is wearing and the story that it is telling, then it is a good match. Personality has more to do with the fragrance’s – which is the vessel or conduit of the personality the wearer wants to be – than the wearer’s
What are the basic mistakes men make while wearing fragrances?
Wearing too much. Men machine gun a fragrance on their bodies because they feel that if they don’t smell it, it’s not working. If you wear the same fragrance for a long period of time, you get olfactory fatigue and you don’t smell it any more. That does not mean other people are not smelling it. If you wear the perfume correctly, you will smell it. Wear it on the torso, on the skin and not on the clothes and just a couple of shots will do.
What is the importance of pulse points?
As humans, heat rises through our bodies and we lose about 80 per cent of our body heat from the top of our heads. Following that train of thought, if we wear the fragrance on the torso, the perfume will react with that heat and rise up. Which means we will smell it, during the day. So, as your body temperature goes up, you will smell it more, as it goes down, you will smell it less. Do not use it for your underarms like a deodorant, because sweat pores and bacteria mess up a fragrance. You should wear your perfume on your pecs, your core, the muscles of yours arms – areas which receive the most physical impact.
What are you favourite Indian aromas? And if you were creating an India-inspired fragrance, what would the top and base notes be?
Cardamom, pink pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and star anise. I like all the spices you get here. For the perfume, I would start with jasmine, sandalwood and star anise. Or I would go completely opposite and do something very cooling and citrusy, because of the humidity here. If I lived here, I would wear the deepest, darkest and heaviest fragrance, because they react best with heat.