3 posts tagged "Thierry Wasser"
Current exhibitions at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris and the Milan furniture fair are celebrating the legendary Orient Express, which is poised to hit the rails anew after a five-year hiatus. For Moynat artistic director Ramesh Nair, it’s a comeback on a silver platter. “I’m really passionate about a return to the experience of travel, the journey rather than the destination as an end in itself,” he said the other day in the house’s Rue Saint-Honoré headquarters. A longtime rail traveler, Nair believes that the only way to truly see India, for example, is by train. “I’m always looking to revisit the past, but in a modern way,” he remarked.
In that spirit, the French heritage leather house, which is owned by Bernard Arnault separately from LVMH, will be offering up some deep-luxury designs created with the Orient Express in mind. For starters, Nair has signed a custom vanity case similar to those favored by well-heeled travelers back in the luxury railroad line’s heyday. It took seven hundred hours to craft this one-of-a-kind piece. Even so, Nair declined to take all the credit. “It really came together over lunch with [Guerlain perfumer] Thierry Wasser,” he explained. “He’s a constant traveler, he picks up inspiration everywhere, and he immediately sensed that Shalimar would be a perfect match for the Orient Express.” Inside the buttery blue trunk: swing-out trays in apple tree wood—a material favored by sculptors for its polish and resilience—that reveal a cascade of Guerlain makeup and four Baccarat bottles of Shalimar nestled at the bottom. Minus the beauty stash, the valise would work just as well as a jewelry box or watchcase. Its price? Let’s just say if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
Meanwhile, New York is about to get its own chance to check out Moynat’s wares: On April 24, “Le Trunk Show” will touch down on the ground floor of the Dover Street Market. Look for a breakfast trunk custom-designed for Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno, another designed to display Pierre Hermé’s macarons, and a retro bicycle mounted with a picnic trunk in lieu of a basic basket.
It’s been a busy season over at the landmark Guerlain flagship on the Champs-Elysées: A century after the building first opened, the French perfume house has unveiled a luxurious top-to-toe revamp courtesy of Peter Marino, a refresh that included annexing the old nightclub Montecristo next door and creating a restaurant called Le 68.
But that’s not all that’s new—or old, for that matter—chez Guerlain. The house is now celebrating the 160th anniversary of its famous gilded Bee bottle, which was created for the Empress Eugenie to contain her Eau de Cologne Impériale. It is also launching a Couture sequel (available in France March 2014) to its best-selling fragrance, La Petite Robe Noire. In a private walk-through, in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser discusses the storied brand’s new “homey” ambiance, from the food/fragrance connection to a heritage accessory revival—plus, what makes the newest Petite Robe Noire truly couture.
How do you describe the Guerlain flagship’s new ambiance?
When the Guerlain family built this building a century ago, it was a boutique, but it was also their home. We wanted the whole space to [feel] like a house: You can dine at the restaurant; write a postcard and mail it here; the perfume, beauty and skin care sections on the ground floor invite browsing; and the marble echoes the idea of wafts of fragrance—it just draws you in. Peter Marino’s attention to detail is amazing—there’s a shagreen banister that I love so much, I almost want to sleep next to it, right there on the stairs.
Upstairs, there’s still the tiered stand presenting the house library of creations, set amidst a rotating exhibition of historic perfume bottles and fragrance-inspired creations by contemporary artists. And if you want to take a nap, there’s always the spa on the third floor. It features an orchid garden, as well as works by Giacometti, Bérard and Jean-Michel Franck that were done for the original spa, which was the first in the world when it opened in 1939.
How did you and chef Guy Martin work together on the restaurant Le 68?
For the restaurant, there was just this instant connection: Guy is naturally curious and passionate about the seasons—at Guerlain we speak “seasons.” Basically, I said, this is who we are—185 years of fragrances—so just explore and do your thing. What I love is that with Shalimar, for example, everyone always talks about it as an oriental vanilla, but Guy seized on all its citrus notes and extrapolated it into a macaron with marmalade and a zing of bergamot. As it turns out, his mother wore Shalimar, so he understood immediately. He’s also [transformed] La Petite Robe Noire into a chocolate pastry. There are so many clever details—it’s a true feast.
What are the other new additions to the house?
Upstairs, there is a private salon for bespoke consultations, another space where bottles can be customized with ribbons, and a [room] where we’ve reintroduced limited-edition archival pieces like silk scarves, fans and perfumed gloves. When Guerlain was named official supplier to the Empress Eugenie, in 1853, it was also a gantier, or glove maker. I had to learn everything about leather treatment because if you miss the window for adding fragrance, it’s too late. My job was to find that moment. We did some gloves with Mitsouko, and others with La Petite Robe Noire, which is subtler.
Is there a story behind La Petite Robe Noire Couture?
This is La Petite Robe Noire’s glamorous sister; she’s the one who’s out there on the red carpet at night. She’s floral, fruity, bubbly, slightly eccentric and vivacious. You could say that the length has changed—there’s a different color and texture; it’s an evening gown. There’s still this gourmand and fruity character. The top note is sparkling because it’s like Oscar night, so I amped up the bergamot. But I emphasized its depth and presence with chypre to add mystery. My idea is not to create a collection, but rather, the woman who wears it has grown along with [the fragrance].
68 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris, France, +33 1 45 62 52 57
After hosting a few private dinners through the month of June in honor of its new fall scent Idylle, the House of Guerlain used the backdrop of couture week to invite selected members of the press to behold the fruits of its labor at its Champs-Élysées boutique last night—lest Armani’s grand-scale publicity efforts for its new Idole get all the glory. The rose-centric fragrance marks the first women’s offering from newly anointed nose Thierry Wasser, who is also the first house perfumer in the company’s illustrious history who does not bear its eponymous last name. “One of Guerlain’s signatures is to respect what is the most simple,” explains Wasser, who came on board last year when Jean-Paul Guerlain essentially adopted him after his own son chose law over beauty. “So I created an impressionistic expression,” Wasser continues, “a bouquet made of joy, love, and happiness.” Starting with a rose plucked from the private garden of Jean-Paul Guerlain himself, Wasser added seasonal flowers as he went along—peonies, lilac, freesia, jasmine, and lily of the valley—which he shaded with chypre, a nod to Mitsouko and Nahéma, his two favorite Guerlain creations. The result is a sensual yet light fragrance that is being marketed as “an ode to a moment in time, whether past, present, or future.” Rising French actress and singer Nora Arnezeder is the face of the ad campaign while bottle designer Ora-Ito marks a new chapter in the brand’s history with what he calls “simplexity”: a shape that is both simple and complex, recalling a golden droplet inspired by the myth of Zeus and Danae. The fragrance will be launched exclusively at Saks on September 21.