A spinning top may be a childhood favourite of many, albeit one of an old school variety, but there’s nothing childish about the latest perfume duo from French luxury house Parfums Henry Jacques. Each perfume, Mr. H and Mrs. Y, is housed in a beautiful, intricately carved flacon designed by the brand’s artistic director Christophe Tollemer, and while the bottles may be mistaken for crystal (bottle) stoppers at first glance, there’s one difference — the flacons can be spun.
Each of the two fragrances is singular and sensational in its own way, striking the perfect balance between modernity and elegance. T Singapore spoke to Anne-Lise Cremona, the president of Parfums Henry Jacques, on how these perfumes were first conceived and the challenging process of producing these handblown bottles.
RENÉE BATCHELOR: The Les Toupies collection is a very original and intriguing collection. How did Parfums Henry Jacques come up with the idea of a top and what does it symbolise?
ANNE-LISE CREMONA: We wanted to make such a collection for a very long time. As you mentioned, they are spinning tops, and probably the first idea was to create a game, like those games that children have enjoyed for decades and centuries — simple but fascinating. The flacons had to look attractive and feel good in your hands. When the full collection will be revealed, step by step, the notion of collecting them will become obvious, each Toupie being a unique piece of art that you want to discover and possess.
Later in the development process, when the perfumes were ready, we started playing with the Toupies. They were different sizes, shapes and colours and we felt that there was more to it than a game. The flacons were simply stunning when in couples and it became obvious that there was a soul to it. This is how the Toupies turned out to be love stories. It was the missing link and our desire to create many characters, perfumes and bottles, was finally real.
The idea of “couples’ fragrances” was also very powerful, two perfumes completing each other and answering to each other’s notes — this is something truly beautiful and rare.
RB: The flacons you've created are beautiful objets d'art and yet functional. Tell us more about the design and production process and the challenges you faced when creating them?
AC: In terms of the technical challenges, the Toupies are outstanding because they are fully handblown objects, using the most noble crystal-making techniques. Their structure is studied not to have a single centre point but instead to be multifaceted. It lays on angles and not a flat surface. Looking for a structural equilibrium while preserving the hand-blowing technique was very hard and when you add perfume to this equation it is an incredible achievement. Of course, all of these factors needed to be subjected to the obsessional quest of Christophe [Tollemor] for visual balance and harmony.
Each Toupie has a different angle and a different structure, so the structural approach had to be reworked entirely each time. Once we managed to achieve the right balance, we worked for a very long time on making the crystal clear enough while not compromising on the flacon’s solidity.
There [were] many failures within the production process and about 50 per cent of the Toupies were rejected.
RB: Tell us about what inspired the female fragrance. How would you describe this scent?
AC: Mrs. Y is for us what should be French femininity and elegance. It is very floral, very noble, the iris brings a real depth to it. It is not attached to a certain season or time of the day but is an “unconditional” perfume. It is for women who understand that true grace is not something that should radiate all around but rather reveal itself through the details of one’s personality.
RB: What went into creating the male fragrance and what was the starting point for this scent? How do you think your fragrances appeal and connect to your male customers in a way that is different from the traditional scents?
AC: Mr. H is a very, very special fragrance. There will never be another like this one. It feels modern, young, audacious, and yet it is timeless. There is a certain wisdom or serenity emanating from it. It was actually created 40 years ago, and it is still as incredible as the first time I smelled it.
Mr. H is $10,890 for 50ml. Mrs. Y is $7,710 for 35ml. Available at Parfums Henry Jacques.
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