Inès de la Fressange Brings Beauty To Roger Vivier
Inès de la Fressange has a pretty plum gig. As brand ambassador to Roger Vivier, the iconic French shoe label now designed by the fabulous Bruno Frisoni, the former model travels the world infusing cool into the popular perception of the brand. Her latest endeavor, though, found her hunkered down in the perfume lab alongside famed nose Rami Mekdachi. Vivier’s first collection of fragrances based around five single-notes made its debut at the Paris couture shows earlier this month. L’Iris, L’Ambre, Le Santal, Le Néroli, and La Rose will bow stateside in October. To hold you over until then, we had a few exclusive words with de la Fressange about putting “refinement, quality, and rarity” back into fragrance.
After nearly a century, why did you feel the Roger Vivier brand needed a fragrance now?
Today, it’s all about marketing and licenses, and often perfumes have little in common with the original house. We initially started with just a candle for all the Vivier boutiques in order to have a universal smell around the world; fragrance was an obvious next step. Real luxury is no market research. It’s all about desire, spontaneity, and frivolity. As you said, Roger Vivier is a brand. We wanted to give a little part of the brand to our customers as it used to be in the past with famous haute couture houses.
Do you see an inherent connection between fragrance and fashion—or accessories, as the case may be?
More with wine, actually! It’s all about know-how, refinement, and luxury. A beautiful house couldn’t look splendid if it smelled bad when you entered, right? But also, if you remember your granny or someone you loved that is not here anymore, from your childhood or whatever, you may remember a scarf, a piece of jewelry, a scent, or a perfume. What touches your soul is a music, a melody—not the way the person would keep her bank statement papers.
Seeing as fragrance is somewhat uncharted ground for you, what was the creative process like as far as conceptualizing all of the scents?
Personally, I hate all the recent, massive launches of new perfumes. I don’t recognize my taste in these new creations—especially when it seems that advertising and marketing are more important than the perfume itself. I felt bad at first, for not understanding this trend and in turn acting a little more conservative than usual. But it seems that many women feel the same way and are looking for more refinement, quality, and rarity within a fragrance. Elegance and beauty were the target. I know that these words seem a little “vintage,” but a little bit of honesty and sincerity is not bad. Also, you just have to find the right talent: I found Rami Mekdachi, who used to work with famous, big companies but couldn’t stand the system anymore—a little bit like Azzedine Alaïa, really…
Aside from your mantra that “luxury is choosing not to choose,” why did you ultimately launch with five scents instead of just one?
Some customers buy 20 pairs of shoes at the same time—so why not five fragrances? But, actually, the truth is, I couldn’t choose. After all, Vivier has been creating shoes for a century and a pair of sandals, a pair of embroidered pumps, and a pair of high boots are all completely different. We have customers like Lee Radziwill, Anh Duong, and Sarah Jessica Parker—how can we speak about the Vivier woman?!
As the Vivier muse, do you have a favorite scent?
Amber, no doubt! But the sandalwood (a very good name for a shoemaker!) is made with real sandalwood from India, and the Iris and Rose are the most exclusive essences on earth. We wouldn’t be able to find enough if we wanted to do a “normal” launch. The Néroli was a huge success when we presented [it] in Paris in the sunny days of July. For the moment, it’s impossible to say which one is going to be the “hit.” To tell you the truth, we are slightly nervous we won’t have enough quantities, since we weren’t expecting such a warm welcome!
What about other beauty-oriented ideas for the brand—future fragrances or otherwise?
The nice thing about [Roger Vivier chairman] Diego Della Valle is that I can start my sentences by, “I wish to do….” He knows that I only wish excellence for Vivier, and in that spirit he trusts me and allows me the freedom to turn my wishes into reality. He knows we make luxury with luxury. If we can do something special, we will. But making a soap or a cream just to “match” the perfume is not in the spirit of the house. What I know is that it only depends with whom you are doing what!—Celia Ellenberg
Photo: Courtesy of Roger Vivier