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segunda-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2016

Barbara Herman Launches Eris Parfums for the Fans of Animalic Florals

by: Miguel Matos

The pope of vintage perfumery, Barbara Herman - respected author of the book Scent and Subversion and the blog Yesterday's Perfume - is finally releasing her own fragrance line. Eris Parfums launches after two years of work with perfumer Antoine Lie, in a project that Barbara initiated on the Indiegogo platform as announced and explained by Fragrantica in THIS ARTICLE. We had an exclusive interview with Barbara who showed us the bottles for the first time and explained how the brand was developed. Floral animalics are brought back to our noses in sublime compositions that are not only about beauty. They also pack a dose of sex, danger and adrenaline.
Barbara Herman
The brand Eris Parfums celebrates unconventional beauty, and is named after Eris, the Greek goddess of troublemaking and disruption. The first three fragrances — Belle de JourNight Flower, and Ma Bête — comprise a collection called “La Belle et La Bête” (Beauty and the Beast), which is inspired by the beauty and eroticism of vintage, animalic, floral perfumes. I have been following Barbara's project from afar and was even sent some preliminary samples six months ago. I instantly fell in love with Ma Bête, but I am yet to smell the final versions, as they were improved since then.
Antoine Lie
“ERIS PARFUMS' first collection is inspired by vintage fragrances that used natural animalic ingredients. Of course you cannot use natural animalic notes anymore, so we tried in this collection to get the feeling of their warmth and sex appeal.” - Perfumer Antoine Lie
“Animalic perfumes create a feeling of intimacy and danger. The feeling of someone or something close. Of boundaries crossed and heart-racing desire," says Barbara. The theme of the first collection comes from the end of the 1946 premiere of Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et La Bête", when the Beast transforms into a handsome prince. Greta Garbo is said to have cried out from the audience, "Give me back my Beast (ma Bête)!" This episode represents an “allegory for my discovery that vintage perfumes had this dark, erotic, emotional element that I felt was missing in most contemporary perfumes and that I wanted to put back in," says Barbara Herman.
Jean Cocteau's film Beauty and the Beast
Now that animalic fragrances are having a comeback in the niche industry (see my article on the rise of the new animalics Part IPart II and Part III) this seems the perfect moment for Barbara to finally give the world what she was dreaming about.
Miguel: Can you tell me about the process of working with Antoine Lie?
Barbara: So, as you know, I interviewed him for my book. I love his perfume style: intense, subversive, but beautiful. And in the spring of 2014, I asked him if he would be interested in helping me create one fragrance. A vintage animalic. So I sent him vintage fragrances I loved as inspiration. Lanvin Rumeur, My SinChanel Cuir de RussieRobert Piguet Baghari. And said: Please pay attention to the base notes and how the fragrances seem to become "bass notes," to get heavy and powerful. And I knew the vintage fragrances had that powerful quality because of the quality of floral notes and also because of the animalic notes. And obviously we can't use them anymore (and I wouldn't want to; I'm an animal lover) but I said, I'd love for us to have that depth that these fragrances have. He began working on some bases that he had tucked away, and he sent me the first versions within a few months. At first, I picked one favorite, and we began working together on it: "More of this, less of that. Can we try this...?" etc
Miguel: Oh that's interesting, so he had been working on animalic bases... when you know his previous work it makes sense, of course.
Barbara: Sometimes, I wouldn't exactly know how to ask him for what I wanted, so I'd explain the effect I wanted. "Hey, Antoine. I would love it if this perfume made you feel like you were beginning to fall in love. That kind of scary feeling. Or like someone pulled the rug out from under you. Or punched you in the gut. Or you were at the top of a roller coaster, and began to go straight down..." After a while, I kept going back to a couple others. And I thought, this is going to be too hard to leave them behind! So he agreed to work on three. Another important thing. The word "beast" kept coming up. And I kept thinking about "Beauty and the Beast." Which you could say a floral animalic is... And then my friend from (Lucy Raubertas) reminded me of the Jean Cocteau film, "La Belle et La Bête" and I watched it again on YouTube and from there, it became a central literary/cinematic touchstone for the collection.
Miguel: That's a wonderful description. And the floral animalics are always in this tension between beauty and uglyness.
Barbara: Yes, I wanted the fragrances to play with the ideas of: beautiful/ugly, masculine/feminine, lightness/darkness, comfort/danger, flora/fauna, etc.
Flowers shot by Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki
Miguel: I know that you are a big fan of the animalis base. Did you ask for something like that?
Barbara: Yes. I told Antoine I had heard that some fragrances I really liked had this base with lots of the animalic notes combined in an interesting way, so yes, he devised his own animalic "cocktail." But as you know, Antoine's been into animalics for a while. One thing people who only read about Secretions Magnifiques and the crazier fragrances don't realize until they smell his other scents is that he's quite the romantic perfumer. I hope these Eris fragrances show that more.
Miguel: Yes and he is very versatile, too. He knows how to work with sheer beauty. I was wearing Burberry Brit Gold the other day. It's a beautiful, simple and cozy scent. He is really a double-minded perfumer.
Barbara: Also very easy to work with! He didn't mind having me say, "Please make it feel like someone punched you in the gut." So funny that after I said that, the next mod (modification) really had the "dip" in it. The scary roller coaster dip. I was thinking to myself, "How did he do that?"
Miguel: So he was really commited to giving you what you asked, instead of having a personal atitude?
Barbara: Yes, Antoine is the opposite of a diva. He's a total pro.
Miguel: Were you expecting that from him?
Barbara: I wasn't expecting it, but I was humble about the whole process. He would push back if I asked for something he didn't think would work, but he would always remind me, "You're the client." Here was this perfumer I had so much respect for, who agreed to work on this passion project with me (a mere blogger and author), but he showed me respect as a perfume lover. So it was surprising. I think it's easy to think of all creative people, especially in industries connected to fashion and beauty, as being a little "outré" and maybe arrogant. But he's not. He's so down-to-earth and funny and just genuinely nice.
Miguel: You are not a mere blogger and author. You are one of the most respected authors in the online perfume sphere and the expert to go to when it comes to vintage perfumes. I always refer to you in my articles and you are a great influence.
Barbara: Well, I'm just saying that the word "blogger" doesn't have a lot of respect in the perfume world. I've seen other perfumers look down on "perfumistas." I won't name names.
Miguel: You stopped publishing in your blog. Were you too busy with Eris?
Barbara: Yes, and full-time work.
Miguel: Are you stopping Yesterday's Perfume completely?
Barbara: I had a few years there where all I did was think about perfume! I work about 50-55 hours a week. And work on Eris. So, if I want to sleep or see anyone... Unfortunately the time and space you need to think about vintage perfume...isn't there. I'd spend 2 days sometimes thinking about one scent I wrote about on Yesterday's Perfume. You need time to live in it and dream. I don't have that time now, sadly.
Miguel: We miss your articles, but it's for a good cause...
Barbara: It will come back I think! In time...
Miguel: Now, back to Eris Parfums. I was expecting the line to have your name. How did you decide to call it Eris?
Barbara: This perfume line was originally going to be called Demimonde. Before the "beauty and the beast" motif became prevalent, I was thinking a lot about this idea (another contrast) between glamour/luxury and "underground" sensibilities. That for me, things are most glamorous when they're a little louche, undone, unconventional and subversive. So, this idea of slightly undone glamour. People like Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, Kate Moss after a night of partying, Catherine Deneuve in "Belle de Jour" etc. The bohemian worlds in Berlin, Paris, New York, etc. of the 20s- 70s... Basically, the idea that chic and beauty are an attitude and sensibility. Luxury is NOT about money. But it helps. And that perfection and playing by the rules are boring. That's why you see so much style in all subcultures. They're making it up as they go along...
Patti SmithKate MossRobert Mapplethorpe
Miguel: Can you tell us more about Eris?
Barbara: When I was writing my book on the subversive aspects of perfume “Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume” (2013), I was in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was there that I got to experience the full cycle of parading during Mardi Gras season, which I discovered is only slightly more torqued up than the beautifully decadent and languorous way New Orleanians live their day-to-day lives. One particular Mardi Gras parade krewe, which lies outside of the already subversive parading culture, is the anarchist Krewe of Eris. The parade was named after the Greek goddess Eris, who is the daughter of Nyx (Night). Maligned as so many rebellious, headstrong women are, Eris is described as the Goddess of War, Strife, and Chaos. But when I looked into her story, her founding myth, I saw a woman who wanted to be invited to a party. And when she wasn’t, she crashed it anyway and played some pranks. One involved throwing a golden apple, which was blamed for starting the Trojan War. Like Eve, it seemed to me that Eris was one of the original Bad Girls, and I liked her style. I saw her as the quintessential modern woman.
Eris on an Attic plate, ca 575–525 BC
Miguel: You risked a lot, exploring this theme. But somehow, there is an animalic trend now and brands like Anatole Lebreton, Bogue Profumo and Masque Milano... are doing vintage style floral animalics.
Barbara: I'm glad! But I don't know if it was risky. It's a beautiful style... We wear perfumes to be noticed, not to be polite, clean, and acceptable in the office, and although those fresh perfumes have a place in the world, the style I want to reintroduce into perfume is the va-va-voom vamp in a bottle.
Miguel: However, most new animalics are beastly without the beauty..
Barbara: Interesting. I think that there can be a temptation to just go dirty. There is a shock factor which is becoming interesting to see. But I really want to emphasize that for me, I wanted Antoine to explore the emotional quality animalic notes gave to those vintage perfumes that thrilled me. Because I noticed the "feeling" of those animalics, the effect they had on me, before I knew why. So, I think there can be an easy, literal way of approaching it, but then the more difficult way for a perfumer is to use those animalic notes to convey an emotional, a story, a message in the pairing with other notes. Belle de Jour, for example, is a very different animalic from Night Flower. Lighter, more like skin, but still sensuous. I didn't want these to scream out "CIVET" or anything. We worked on maybe 15 mods of each to get through to the end. I have drawers-full of little bottles in various stages.
Miguel: That's not too much, actually.
Barbara: He's in Paris...I'm in New York. An interesting way of creating something together! We met up a few times, of course. But most of it was via email and the postal service.
Miguel: And the final result, was it close to your initial dream or did you end up going in a different direction?
Barbara: My dream was to create a vintage style fragrance without any limitations. And "vintage-style" meant for me a perfume with a signature, with depth, with surprises. And I think Antoine did that, for sure. I'm happy every time I put one of these creatures on. They are very cuddly to me! Sexy and cuddly. Not a bad combination.
Miguel: You chose very minimal bottles, and maybe many people expected something more glamourous, but Lanvin, Piguet and Chanel used to have very simple bottles too.
Barbara: Yes, as much as I love some elaborate, over-the-top bottles, I was really inspired by those 30s, 40s and 50s bottles that were very reserved but then had mad-romantic scents inside.
Miguel: So what may seem as too contemporary is actually appropriate.
Barbara: Yes, that style is timeless. I like that contrast, too. It's subversive stylistically.
Miguel: Now you are going to get very busy promoting the line.
Barbara: I'm nervous because I still have so much to do. But excited, too. I've been working on this for almost 2 years. It's going to be so exciting to promote these. I can't wait for those in-store events. I already have my dresses picked out! Well, one of them.


Belle de Jour blooms with notes of orange flower and jasmine accented with coriander. It dries down to a sensuous base of incense, musks, and the depth of a surprising seaweed absolute note. “Belle de Jour is a study in contrasts: a very luminous floral that is salty, sexy and dirty.” - Antoine Lie
Top notes: Coriander oil, Pink peppercorn, Orange flower absolute
Middle notes: Ciste absolute, Egyptian Jasmine absolute, Pimento berries oil
Base notes: Cedarwood Atlas oil, Musk, Seaweed Absolute
Belle de Jour was inspired by Surrealist Luis Bunuel’s subversive film from 1967 starring a luminous Catherine Deneuve, a woman who strays from bourgeois banality to walk on the wild side of the erotic as a “lady of the day.” - Eris Parfums Press Release


Night Flower opens with a blast of fresh, aromatic cardamom. Animalic leather and suede wrap around a narcotic Indian tuberose, drying down to a cozy base of birch tar, patchouli, cinnamon and tonka. “Night Flower is a leathery, animalic floral fragrance. Spellbinding, sexual and addictive.” - Antoine Lie
Top notes: Bergamot oil, Birch tar oil, Cardamom oil
Middle notes: Suede accord, Indian Tuberose oil, Cinnamon bark oil
Base notes: Patchouli oil, Tonka bean absolute, Musk
If Kate Moss -- wearing a silk charmeuse gown and draped in vintage fur, smoking a cigarette, in perfect désabillé chic, stumbling home at 3 am in stilettos -- were bottled in a perfume, it would be a bottle of Night Flower. Night Flower is also inspired by artist Vali Myers, whose itinerary from the Australian Royal Ballet to the Parisian demimonde in the 1950s makes her another icon of bohemia. - Eris Parfums Press Release

        MA BÊTE

Ma Bête (My Beast) caresses you with the suggestiveness of perfumed fur. A collision of the floral and the animal, MA BÊTE combines a regal Tunisian Neroli with spices and a 50 percent overdose of Antoine Lie's own animalic cocktail. "Ma Bête is fiercely beasty with a raunchy elegance." - Antoine Lie.
Top notes: Neroli Tunisia oil, Aldehydes, Nutmeg oil
Middle notes: Cypriol oil, Styrax oil, Jasmine sambac oil
Base notes: Cedarwood Virginia oil, Patchouli oil, Animalic notes cocktail
Ma Bête was inspired by the Beast in Jean Cocteau’s 1946 poetic film “La Belle et La Bête,” There’s an anecdote that at the end of the film’s premiere, when the Beast transforms into a handsome prince, Greta Garbo is said to have cried out from the audience,“Give me back my Beast!" The vintage-modern theme reverberates in Eris Parfums’ packaging. The column-like bottle evokes the modernist chic simplicity of the 1930s, while its glossy, patent leather-like label perched on the bottle’s edge hints at the daringly erotic contents inside. Its minimalist white box is slashed with a glossy, even fetishistic black band, reminiscent of a lover’s blindfold. - Eris Parfums Press Release
The first collection of Eris Parfums is available as samples with Barbara Herman's book starting February 8th, and available as samples only and for pre-order atLuckyScent and ScentBar in Los Angeles, Feb. 8th. The three fragrances will be available in 50 ml / 1.69 Fl. Oz. atomizer bottles at Eau de Parfum concentration (US $150), exclusively retailing in-store at Scent Bar in Los Angeles and online atLuckyScent until March 30, 2016 (accepting pre-orders from today). As of April 1, the fragrances will also retail online at ErisParfums and at select US boutiques.

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