When I started Charenton Macerations in 2007, I knew the company needed to try and stretch the boundaries of the fragrance world to succeed. As a lover of all forms of scent, I was looking for opportunities to allow fragrances to showcase their full beauty. To achieve this effect, I oftentimes find myself looking beyond the boundaries of the bottle… experimenting in the world of relational scent design. This allows me to use scent’s full immersive impact… To use fragrance to make a statement.
“Make a Statement” has become a mantra for CM. I rely on it in every step of development. It is used to ensure that any fragrance project, regardless of application or intended audience, stays true to the company ideals: to challenge and inspire.
The whole “Make a Statement” process begins in the choice of story being told. If I am approached to do a project and the client asks for something “soft and pretty, just like…” before producing an already commercially available product, I politely shake their hand and decline the business. If there is no clear direction from the start, the final fragrance has little hope of surviving the competition. A fragrance needs a clear point of view from the start to distinguish itself from the crowd. More importantly, it needs a team that understand this.
Once I can grasp the intended direction, start to envision a brief, I’m quite methodical about my ingredient choices. Really, I am trying to avoid the cadaver effect. Even though fragrance oils sit in amber glass or aluminum tins, indistinguishable from their original form, every variation retains remnants of its original environment. Even the smell of synthetics can vary thanks to choices made during the synthesis process or final levels of chemical purity. In other words, each ingredient has a story of its own to contribute, if only given the opportunity. If you understand these variations, you can do a lot more with your creations. The decisions made during formulation help shape the impact of the final olfactive statement. A rose is never just a rose.
To further “Make a Statement,” I try to avoid standard formulation stereotypes and pitfalls. I’ve never been a fan of strictly following traditional gender scent palettes or archetypes. The story, not the stereotype, needs to drive the decisions made in formulation. The final fragrance is a well choreographed dance, and may require both masculine and feminine dancers to fully capture the emotion of the piece. Besides, how much time do people really spend looking for a penis or vagina on a flower or tree?
A lot of times, I am working on non-traditional projects who’s aim it is to go beyond the bottle. Not everything is about crafting traditional fine fragrance alcoholics. Sometimes a room, and not a person, can and does “Make a Statement.” Thanks to some amazing advancements in the tech sector and other ambitious creators looking to add scent to their products, the field of fragrance application has grown enormously. Just take a quick walk through PunchDrunk’s production of Sleep No More to understand how people are rethinking fragrance usage. Hecate’s Herbarium on the 4th Floor is especially inspirational, and truly adds to not just the immersive quality of the set design (Scotland meets 1930′s film noir), but also elevates the overall impact of her character. You not only feel, but can also smell, Hecate’s wickedly herbaceous, rosy presence.
“Make a Statement” is also connected to my own NYC activist roots. Because of this connection, I am always looking for ways that fragrance can do more… can be more. Giving back is not only the right thing to do, but also an important element in continuing the olfactive story. Sometimes this simply involves making environmentally conscious production decisions, but can also involve educated ingredient and packaging sourcing, as well as further charitable contributions. There is only one rule, where and how a fragrance can give back should logically stem from its own point of view. Towards these efforts, I commend Armani on their recent collaboration with the UNICEF Tap Project.
The final stage of “Making a Statement” involves bringing the fragrance concept home. Am I achieving the desired impression I set out to make? How do I see myself in relation to this fragrance? How do others see themselves? No statement is complete if it does not connect with its intended audience. That final scent needs to speak clearly and effectively, driving home the intended emotional effect. Going forward, it is this central harmony that will define the fragrance… it will shape how others respond. From here, the fragrance passes from your hands into the hands (and noses) of others.