Have you ever wished that you were someone’s muse? That you inspired a great work of art or maybe a really amazing dress? Writer Denyse Beaulieu got to do just that, when her memories of a night of passion Spain inspired a perfume.
It all came about when Beaulieu encountered acclaimed perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, who had read one of Beaulieu’s fragrance reviews online, at a trade fair. The two got to talking and Beaulieu began describing a vivid olfactory memory of a night in Seville.
‘I tell him about this very fragrant, beautiful night I’d had during Holy Week, under an orange tree in full blossom, in the arms of a beautiful Spanish boy with the processions passing through with the incense, and the crowd wafting these very fresh Spanish colognes that they have, and the beeswax candles burning.’ Duchaufour got rather excited: ‘He stares at me like a kid who’s listening to a fairy tale and he says “that would make a very good perfume. All the notes are there.”‘
So began the 18 month process that lead to Séville à l’Aube, the limited edition eau de parfum created for Parisian perfume house L’Artisan Parfumeur.
I learned all of this last Wednesday lunch time when I visited L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Covent Garden store to hear the pair tell the assembled press and bloggers how the perfume came about. After Beaulieu’s introduction, Duchaufour told us (in his wonderfully strong Gallic accent) about the three main ingredients of the formula: orange blossom, incense and lavender. He handed out samples of the those three scents, which all smelled pretty good to me. But it wasn’t job done as soon as the key notes were chosen.
‘It was a failure – it was a mess at the beginning,’ Beaulieu explained.
‘Denyse helped me,’ Duchaufour continued. ‘She gave me ideas, like what she was wearing at the time…but it was not enough.’ The solution came with the discovery that Andalusian lavender was what they needed, a scent, as I smelled for myself, that differs greatly from your regular purple lavender. ‘It became the perfect link.’ The result is a dramatically dark and heavy fragrance.
During the creative process, Beaulieu was working on a project of her own, a manuscript she called a ‘personal history of scent.’ Her partnership with Duchaufour wove it’s way in to her writing and the book, The Perfume Lover, became the story of Seville a l’Aube.