It took 180 years for a woman to walk through the ornate doors of arguably the world’s most famous perfume house and imagine fragrances of unforgettable elegance and beauty.
Meet Sylvaine Delacourte, until recently the creative director of Guerlain fragrances.
Today she continues in the role of consultant to the revered perfumer, now owned by LVMH, while at the same time venturing out under her own name with a collection of truly extraordinary musk based eau de parfums.
I always think of musk as dark, deeply sultry essences, but in a recent interview she explained — and proved — that musk is far more interesting, versatile and complex.
Elegant seems to be the best adjective to describe her creations from her time chez Guerlain and in her eponymous collection. Each has a distinct personality, rich with nuances and unexpected finishes.
Sylvaine has blended irises from Tuscany, roses from Bulgaria, tonka beans from Venezuela, and spices from Kerala into her perfumes. All are named after women, although she says men as well as women are drawn to the scents.
Her bottles are sleek, sophisticated and feel sensuous in the hand. Each rests in a rosy copper metallic box, which means the box can be saved and repurposed.
As all perfume noses I have interviewed over the years always counsel, she agrees that one should live with a new fragrance — discover how it develops on the skin, see if it makes you happy and not incidentally, make certain that those with whom we live like our choice. Fragrance is not an impulse buy, nor, she says, should it be a gift unless one is replenishing a beloved parfum for someone you know well.
If, for example, you would like to see if you fall in love with one of her fragrance creations, which I did, she offers an envelope of five spray-on samples for a mere five dollars. Lots of fun.
Sylvaine was yet another interview for my book and as always whenever I talk with experts, I ask them to tell me some of their special tricks. Or, as my friend says, “actionable advice.”
Here are two of Sylvaine’s favorite immediately actionable secrets:
1.) “Spray the inside of your umbrella with perfume,” she said. “I like the idea of a one-note rose, for example. Then, when it rains you feel like rose petals are falling on you. It changes everything.”
2.) “Buy a neutral body lotion and add your perfume. In that way you get the maximum benefit from your fragrance.”
As I move through more interviews, I’ll share “actionable” tidbits with you.