We chat to perfumer Camille Goutal on Annick Goutal's new "getting-ready-to-go-out" perfume
It’s safe to say Camille Goutal is partial to a pompom or two. Her last perfume for spring - Rose Pompon is a punchy floral inspired by the ‘pompom-like’ blooms of rose bushes – and her latest scent for autumn, Tenue de Soirée has an actual fluffy purple one adorning the bottle, complete with a gold charm bearing the initials of her company ‘AG’ (described in the press release as “clinking the bottle like two glasses of champagne”). The pompom is actually a fitting motif to capture the fun, laissez-faire glamour of Camille Goutal’s vision for the fragrance house that her mother founded in the 1980s.
I’ve recently discovered the world of Annick Goutal through my work with a client. They’d been vaguely on my radar – a pretty-looking French perfumery that I’d regretted not learning more about earlier. In fact they were one of the original ‘niche brands’ before perfumery became obsessed with the concept. Annick Goutal was a former pianist-turned-perfumer whose success was cemented with 1981’s L’Eau d’Hadrien (whose numerous celebrity fans apparently include Madonna, Sharon Stone, Oprah, the late Prince and Leonardo DiCaprio.). A delicate, sparkling, citrus number – it was worlds away from the bolshy, brassy shoulder pad-wearing scents of the era – such as YSL’s Opium that came out a few years earlier. One might go as far as saying Annick Goutal was instrumental in teaching us how to wear perfume properly – bringing the art of understated elegance – albeit in fragrance form - to the masses.
There of course are stronger scents among the range too, but nothing that goes over the top and knocks-you-over-the-head. “We were one of the first niche perfumeries, but now there are so many – it’s such a great thing, because at least now more and more people smell nice!” Camille notes with a wry smile. A perfumer herself, Annick’s daughter took the helm of the company alongside fellow ‘nose’ Isabelle Doyen (“my partner in crime!”) after her mother passed away. “I remember 15 years ago being in Paris, and everyone smelled so strongly – now when I take the Métro, I think ‘this smells good!’ People definitely smell better nowadays and I think it’s because we now have more choice. Yes, there are still those heavy fragrances, but not as much as there used to be.”
We’re nestled in a suite in The Savoy, here to celebrate the launch of Tenue de Soirée. Camille is impeccably chic with blonde locks and red lips, yet there’s a sensitivity about her too, in her considered, softly spoken replies. At the same time, she clearly has her finger on the pulse. Retaining that old-school Gallic glamour that her mother was so famous for, Camille’s latest scents have a somewhat ‘spiky’ element to charm a modern audience, reflected in their vividly hued bottles and striking bouquets.
For Tenue de Soirée they decided to work with perfumer Mathieu Nardin who created the actual scent itself, resulting in a rich gourmande chypre – and it’s definitely what you might call a ‘night-time fragrance’. “The inspiration for this perfume was more a moment in the day when you get dressed up. When someone has an important rendezvous, everyone is like ‘ah what shall I wear? What shoes? What bag?’ It’s a special moment for a lot of women and that’s what we tried to capture,” Goutal explains.
The company decline to give the ingredients suffice to say, it’s an enveloping and somewhat addictively sweet bouquet, with a powdery, musky base and maybe a hint of iris – there’s definitely something in there that smells ‘cosmetic’, echoing a puff of powder that rises into the hair as some 1930s starlet dusts herself with talc in front of a mirror. But in true Annick Goutal style, nothing is too OTT.
Tenue de Soirée is £135 from annickgoutal.com