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quinta-feira, 3 de março de 2016

The Smell of a New World: An Interview With Nicolas Bonneville

by: Serguey Borisov

It Was A Time That Was A Time...
What would you do if you survived the apocalypse? Only you and a few people? Would you build a new house, would you be looking for new friends, or compose a new language... British multimedia artist Shezad Dawood imagined a post-apocalyptic society after Hurricane Sandy and created an experimental film named It Was A Time That Was A Time. What would the world would smell like after a global catastrophe? Perfumer Nicolas Bonneville tried to imagine that – and his fragrance has been a sensory element for the film and the whole Shezad Dawood exhibition in Brooklyn. The eponymous fragrance debuted in Paris a week ago at Sens Unique. We haveseized the opportunity to talk to perfumer Nicolas Bonneville.
Sergey Borisov:
Dear Nicolas, thank you very much for the time and attention you give to perfume enthusiasts like me and the Fragrantica community. Maybe we could start with your personal story to tell our readers about your background?
Nicolas Bonneville:
I started my training when I was 14 years old, after I met a perfumer in Grasse when I was on holidays.
I was not born in Grasse though, my home town is Le Mans, 200 km west of Paris, so to pursue my dream I created my own home laboratory, and every day after school I could be found in my lab. And every holiday was filled with a trip to Grasse, where I spent most of the time in the fields or at supplier factories to understand all the extraction processes. So that is the reason why I am an addict to natural ingredients!
When my Master retired, I met Francis Kurkdjian and started to work for Takasago.
I was a student of Francis, and worked with Francoise Caron also. I worked with them for 5 years and now I`m in the Fragrance Resources creative team.
Nicolas Bonneville
Sergey Borisov:
I remember your name from my first encounter with the Histoires d`Eauxcollection at Exsence (read the article here). Do you remember the perfumeMaladie d’Amour, maybe? The perfume was named after a song of Michel Sardu that I heard for the first time while writing the reviews. I remember that I thought the idea of song-and-perfume pairing was fantastic and so refreshing! Could you tell us more about how you approached the idea – what were your thoughts, how did you get strawberry milk shake, banana, and coconut out of that ballade – were you going for the taste of a first date? Is there any logic or any common emotional feeling when you try to combine melodies with perfume components?
Nicolas Bonneville:
I have to be really honest with you. So, two years ago I worked for Takasago, and created some perfumes. The perfumes I made were just left in the Takasago library, so they used one of them for the Histoires d`Eaux project. It was just luck that they chose my already made perfume! So I know it’s something I have created in the past but I was not really involved in the project…
Sergey Borisov:
OK, then there was Lithium for Nu_Be. I remember it as an easy going metallic perfume of saffron upon rose and patchouli. And again it`s not the most evident idea to combine metal with perfume.
Nicolas Bonneville:
My first idea was to create a real contrast between all the elements of the formula.The metallic effect came from Saffron, Cumin and an “iron” effect from Patchouli. Then I was looking for something dry, sharp, and mineral and I found it in a Cedarwood & Orris accord. As a link between the two parts I used Rose notes: warm and sultry Rose absolute and cold metallic notes like Geranium and Rose Oxyde. It blends very well with Saffron, it was the perfect flower.
Кадр из фильма "It Was a Time That Was A Time", S.Dawood, 2015
Sergey Borisov:
And then your latest perfume – It Was A Time That Was A Time by ICONOfly. The conceptual starting point was the eponymous film by British artist Shezad Dawood. What was the starting point in perfumery sense – the starting note or accord, and what were the reasons? Had you met Mr. Dawood before you started the fragrance, or just watched the movie?
Nicolas Bonneville:
Ok, I met ICONOfly art director Olivia Bransbourg two months before Shezad’s exhibition in NY. She did show me the film and asked me if I was inspired by it, as she would like to create a perfume around it. The idea was to make something like an olfactive interpretation of the film, a kind of olfactory landscape which would be diffused during the movie.
The film was about a post-apocalyptic civilization, all the actors are Sandy hurricane survivors, it tells about how they create a new civilisation, new languages, new codes, new ideas of sexuality… a new way of life. It’s kind of a mix between Mad Max and Water World, people are washed ashore and they don’t really know where and who they are.
Olivia asked me not to try to create a standard perfume, but something very emotional and primitive that connected with Shezad’s film. We agreed not to communicate before the first perfume submission in order to have more spontaneous proposals. For me, Ambergris is the most primitive scent, and most of the time it`s found on seashores. So it became the starting point for the creation process of It Was A Time That Was A Time.
Sergey Borisov:
I am sure that as the perfume's creator you could explain every note and accord of the fragrance, emotionally or technically. So the Ambergris is chosen with the  post-flood community in mind, what about the development?
Nicolas Bonneville:
Well yes, I started with Ambergris. Therefore, you can smell a Grey Amber accord (Labdanum, Animalic and Leathery notes, Musks & Ambroxan) in the perfume, and also I decided to add some kind of mystery through a “Mystic accord” done with Olibanum, Myrrh, and Benzoin.
Then – to create a no gender perfume I needed to create confusion. So I blended all of that with a third accord, composed with a lot of contrast.
The third accord is a contrast of salt & sugar in order to disturb the senses and create mixed feelings. Saltiness is created with a mix of Patchouli & Oak Moss with some Calone for a “seaweed and water” aquatic effect. Sugar notes are created with a blend of Vanilla, Veltol and Immortelle (by the way, the French word Immortelle means “immortal”). Immortelle brings the idea of warm sand and a skin feeling to the perfume. What is more primitive than tanned skin & leather?
So I sent three perfumes with different proportions of these 3 accords to Shezad’s studio in London. He selected one and after a few modifications we started to work with Scentys Fragrance Systems to develop the diffusion system during the movie projection in NY. I believe it was a great experience to create a perfume without any “commercial” or marketing vision, like a pure emotional creation that reflects an artist's vision.
A shot from the film "It Was a Time That Was A Time", S.Dawood, 2015
Sergey Borisov:
“My love, my love, do you understand that you are neither man nor woman but all of it?” – the citation is not-so-easy for the world of parents, but for the perfumery world unisex or gender-free fragrances have been considered normal in the last few years. Is it easier or more complicated to create genderless perfumes?
Nicolas Bonneville:
Perfume is always about emotions, a perfumer’s job is to explore new associations beyond classic and cultural codes.
Sergey Borisov:
The pyramid in the press-release is written as Top, Drydown, Heart. Is it a mistake or a special feature to switch the heart notes and the drydown? Do we really need pyramids when the perfume is about emotions?
Nicolas Bonneville:
It Was A Time That Was A Time is more about emotions, so it is more an indication of the composition than a pyramid.
Sergey Borisov:
I believe that our readers would love the opportunity to see the film and to smell the perfume in order to make the connection themselves. But I am sure that apart from the artistic perfume It Was a Time That Was a Time you’ve made some other perfumes? Could you mention them?
Nicolas Bonneville: Yes, sure, I’ve made some more.
For the Russian brand Faberlic I have made the perfume Fantaisie in collaboration with Delphine Lebeau and I am happy to tell you this perfume has won two FIFI Russia awards last year! It`s a fresh perfume of a fruity Rose and a citrus blend (especially a lot of pink Grapefruit) on a bed of Musk and a light fraction of Cedarwood in the drydown.
I also created Muguet de Rosine for the brand Les Parfums de Rosine. It’s inspired by a classic Muguet accord, like Diorissimo, with a lot of Rose and Jasmine Absolute, but it`s been done in a modern way, with Pear and Musk.
For the new Parisian niche brand Affinessence (read more on the house here) founded by Sophie Bruno, I have created two perfumes: Cèdre-Iris and Patchouli-Oud.
As the collection is devoted to certain base notes, I decided to explore some special woody accords. The first is a creation based on a Cedarwood Oils accord (Virginia Cedar, Atlas Cedar & Texas Cedar), to find the perfect tonality with Orris Absolute. I like to work with these raw materials because of their textures. Olibanum and Ambroxan were added to bring a warm and dry resinous effect. The second perfume idea was “how to create an Oud in a new way”. Most of the Ouds are blended with Leather and Animalic notes. I always found a mossy effect in Oud, something a little bit wet and mossy, so I tried to create a new association with Patchouli, that also has a wet facet. I used a Patchouli & Oud accord as a New Moss and thus explored a new chypre area.
And last but not the least was our Givenchy win of the Eau Demoiselle flanker namedRose à la Folie. It was the first collaboration of three Fragrance Resources perfumers: with Joelle Lerioux Patris, Delphine Lebeau and me. The starting point of this perfume was a Mariage Freres tea (French gourmet tea) mixed with a caramelized apple from China called “Tanghulu“. It`s a really fresh, floral fruity fragrance with a lot of white musks.
So it was a really great year for me!
Sergey Borisov:
And the last question is about trends you are seeing nowadays, on the perfume shelves and in perfume briefs you are part of.
Nicolas Bonneville:
Of course, we always keep an eye on trends, for example, I would mention Gourmand Sweet for feminine fragrances and a lot of Citrus Colognes, like a new freshness, for masculine perfumes. Today we work on briefs that will be perfumes in 1 or 2 years, so we have to know about trends but also try to look even further forward and to be a little more creative! As a perfumer you need to have convictions and try to show to “our customers” (brands) that they can believe in our ideas…
Photos: Facebook Nicolas BonnevilleICONOfly, Affinessence, Givenchy

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