During this year’s Esxence we sat with Cérine Vasseur — one half the founding duo of Paris-based perfume house Evody. In 2008 Cérine and her mother, Régine Droin, launched their own perfume line, drawing on much experience from their eponymous store for selected niche fragrances. In Milan, the two of them presented their latest line extension, Collection d’Ailleur, comprising five creations that celebrate the diversity of cultures and nature around the globe. Find out more about the history of Evody and the story behind their brand. www.evodyparfums.com
“With our Collection d’Ailleurs we allow ourselves more freedom.”
SCENTURY: family has a history in fragrance — tell us more about this.
Cérine Vasseur:My mother had a perfumery when I was about 5 years old. As a child, I was her best salesman! I remember I sold Tartine & Chocolat — a fragrance for children that I loved — to all the young moms. I also used to play “merchant of perfumes” instead of playing with dolls, which was not really my thing.
SC: took the saying “early practice makes perfect” to heart, obviously. Has it always been a decided matter that you would enter into the fragrance business?
CV: First, I did not want to do the same job as my mother! I wanted a career in fashion. However, I’ve always loved fragrances. I liked the idea of having my own special scent. The perfumes I wore were always quite different from the ones my friends had. One day when I was on a shopping spree with my mom, the idea to create the perfumery of our dreams was born. We already had in mind the brands that we liked but were really difficult to find. Honestly, I had more the idea of having fun with my mother than to start a business.
Once 7 by Evody. Photo courtesy of Evody.
SC: But you were serious enough to transform this idea into action.
CV:Yes, we opened the shop Evody in 2006 and back then we were the only shop in Paris focusing on niche fragrances. Therefore, a lot of people from the perfume industry came to our shop. We became friends with a perfumer, Aglaé Nicolas, who one day proposed that we create our own fragrances. It all started as a game. We had so much pleasure creating our fragrances that we decided to launch our creations by the end of 2008. At the same time, we had two proposals from companies who wanted to buy the shop. We took it as a sign and we decided to focus on the brand.
SC: What exactly does the brand name Evody mean and where does it come from?
CV: The name Evody comes from a tree, the Evodia that you can see in Jardins de Bagatelle in Paris. The Evodia is also called the tree of a hundred thousand flowers, which we found very evocative. So we did some research and found out that the word Evody is etymologically closely tied to the meaning of the word perfume! Isn’t this a sign as well? I really do believe in signs!
Blanc de Sienne by Evody. Collage: SCENTURY. Original photo: Evody.
SC: Evody’s portfolio explores classic olfactive themes such as leather, amber, or orange blossom. Am I right in assuming you don’t see your role in perfumery as one of pushing the limits in a provocative or scandalous way?
CV: Yes and no. Collection Première is a rather classic collection indeed. However, with Collection d’Ailleurs, which is more mature, I think we allow ourselves more freedom. These perfumes are more complex. It’s a question of inspiration; we’re not ruling anything out. If one day something really provocative or outrageous takes shape, and it remains coherent, I will not forbid myself. But you are correct in that I’d never do anything scandalous just to create a buzz; it would be vulgar. But if it’s done with sincerity it can be very attractive and beautiful.
SC: How exactly do you and the perfumers collaborate?
CV: We always work on several tracks with the perfumers. First comes the idea, the inspiration. It can be images, photos, reflections of a mood. Next, we describe the main notes that will build the fragrance. The perfumer comes in to optimize the fragrance: we add materials that highlight the main notes. And finally, we adjust, we balance out until the result is — in our opinion — perfect.
SC: Do you work with different Noses for different creations? Who do you work with and how do you select them?
CV: Initially, we worked with Nicolas Aglaé and her team at Drom: Alexandra Monet, Corinne Cachen, Philippe Romano, and Barbara Zoebelein. Then we met this charismatic duo from Flair, Anne-Sophie Behaghel and Amélie Bourgeois; during a project with them for an exhibition we discovered their talent and how much of a pleasure it is to work with them. So we decided to team up for our latest two creations: Blanc de Sienne and Onde 7, and also on the reformulations of our existing fragrances. It’s about feeling, talent, and trust.
SC: Your latest launches from the Collection d’Ailleurs seem to be more riskseeking, in particular Onde 7 and Noir d’Orient.
CV: Onde 7 is all about the Kyphi ritual practiced by Egyptians, the offering of incense, woods, and spices to the Gods. It’s very inspiring because this is how perfume was born: the smoke from Kyphi brought us to the expression “per fumum” and this expression brought us to the word “perfume.” Kyphi always contained honey, cinnamon, and sandalwood, so we started with these raw materials to create this fragrance. We wanted it bright but also very sensual and comforting. The notes of ginger and bergamot give it its solar side, whereas animal notes such as hyraceum and castoreum add a sensual and mesmerizing power.
Onde 7 refers to the figure 7, which is supposed to bring luck — it’s literally a wave of luck that we wanted to bring with this perfume. Noir d’Orient is a very different story. We wanted to talk about India and its people. It’s a very complex country, full of colors and darkness at the same time. We tried to express both sides in the fragrance: incense evokes the spirituality of the people, spices bring many facets to this perfume. Plus it evolves and becomes more and more mysterious. We also added a note of amber and rum, a little wink as we discovered that the Indians were the first consumers of rum! Talking about multifaceted stories and interpreting them through raw materials is an approach that we find very exciting. This is why this collection is more complex.
SC: In which countries is Evody distributed right now, and are you planning to enter new markets soon?
CV: We are presently in Europe for the most part: UK, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain. Despite the crisis in Russia, we work very well with our partners there. Ukraine is also a country where the situation is very difficult but still it is a place that works very well for our brand. More recently we began to establish ourselves in the Middle East. The next step for us would be the US and Asia.
SC: What news is to be expected from Evody in the near future? Please share some secrets with us!
CV: I love this kind of question! Well let’s first focus on the launch of our novelty Onde 7, which is planned for September. Then I would just tell you that we already have some fragrances ready. But you’ll need a little more patience before you can discover them!
SC: Thank you, Cérine!