Back to the beginning

Back to
the beginning

R comme reflet La règle, ici, pour que le roman s’invente : qu’un mot en reflète un autre et qu’il en brouille le contour. De billard à pillard1, le reflet trace la route.

1. Dans Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres, on apprend que c’est la transformation d’une première phrase, «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard» en cette autre «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard», qui a produit le roman Impressions d’Afrique.

R as in reflection A ground rule for constructing the novel: each word always has to reflect another, blurring the contours. From billard to pillard,1 the mirror effect paves the way.

1. In Roussel’s How I Wrote Certain of My Books, we learn that the novel Impressions of Africa is based on the transformation of the opening phrase“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard” into this other one“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard.”

A bottle of benzoin

R comme reflet La règle, ici, pour que le roman s’invente : qu’un mot en reflète un autre et qu’il en brouille le contour. De billard à pillard1, le reflet trace la route.

1. Dans Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres, on apprend que c’est la transformation d’une première phrase, «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard» en cette autre «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard», qui a produit le roman Impressions d’Afrique.

R as in reflection A ground rule for constructing the novel: each word always has to reflect another, blurring the contours. From billard to pillard,1 the mirror effect paves the way.

1. In Roussel’s How I Wrote Certain of My Books, we learn that the novel Impressions of Africa is based on the transformation of the opening phrase“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard” into this other one“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard.”

The new collection of Louis Vuitton perfumes

The new collection of Louis Vuitton perfumes in their sleek flacon designed by Marc Newson.

Jacques Cavallier in his office, under the gaze of Louis Vuitton’s founder.

R comme reflet La règle, ici, pour que le roman s’invente : qu’un mot en reflète un autre et qu’il en brouille le contour. De billard à pillard1, le reflet trace la route.

1. Dans Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres, on apprend que c’est la transformation d’une première phrase, «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard» en cette autre «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard», qui a produit le roman Impressions d’Afrique.

R as in reflection A ground rule for constructing the novel: each word always has to reflect another, blurring the contours. From billard to pillard,1 the mirror effect paves the way.

1. In Roussel’s How I Wrote Certain of My Books, we learn that the novel Impressions of Africa is based on the transformation of the opening phrase“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard” into this other one“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard.”

Fountain fed by water from the Foux, Grasse’s spring.

R comme reflet La règle, ici, pour que le roman s’invente : qu’un mot en reflète un autre et qu’il en brouille le contour. De billard à pillard1, le reflet trace la route.

1. Dans Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres, on apprend que c’est la transformation d’une première phrase, «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard» en cette autre «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard», qui a produit le roman Impressions d’Afrique.

R as in reflection A ground rule for constructing the novel: each word always has to reflect another, blurring the contours. From billard to pillard,1 the mirror effect paves the way.

1. In Roussel’s How I Wrote Certain of My Books, we learn that the novel Impressions of Africa is based on the transformation of the opening phrase“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard” into this other one“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard.”

Back to the beginning

R comme reflet La règle, ici, pour que le roman s’invente : qu’un mot en reflète un autre et qu’il en brouille le contour. De billard à pillard1, le reflet trace la route.

1. Dans Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres, on apprend que c’est la transformation d’une première phrase, «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard» en cette autre «les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard», qui a produit le roman Impressions d’Afrique.

R as in reflection A ground rule for constructing the novel: each word always has to reflect another, blurring the contours. From billard to pillard,1 the mirror effect paves the way.

1. In Roussel’s How I Wrote Certain of My Books, we learn that the novel Impressions of Africa is based on the transformation of the opening phrase“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du billard” into this other one“les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du pillard.”

Born in Grasse, perfumer Jacques Cavallier has returned like a prodigal son to launch Les Fontaines Parfumées, Vuitton’s perfume laboratory, while offering not one, but seven new fragrances.

How goes the most envied man in the perfume industry? “Good,” he smiles with charming affability. His arrival in 2012 at Louis Vuitton created quite a stir among fine perfume connoisseurs and rival luxury brands. What exactly was he going to do there? As you walk through the garden of this 1,000-square-meter country house in Grasse, you guess that Jacques Cavallier Belletrud’s job isn’t just about composing perfumes, however fabulous those may be. On this May morning, bearing a promise of summer at last, it feels remarkably cool. Ever attentive and courteous, dapper in an ultramarine suit, Cavallier serves as our guide as he tells us about the place. “When I was a small boy in Grasse, this 17th-century house always had an air of mystery about it. I would pass by the great wrought-iron gate on my way to school. All I knew was that they used to make perfume there.” He points out the famous perfume fountain under the rotunda, where water from the Foux, Grasse’s spring, still runs; it was formerly used for leather tanning, but is today scented with rosewater.

When he was approached for the position of Master Perfumer at Louis Vuitton and heard that the luxury brand was about to purchase the landmark house of his childhood, it seemed like destiny was calling: he would be Vuitton’s first perfumer, it had to be. He casts his eye fondly over the olfactory Garden of Eden designed by another local son, landscape architect Jean Mus; filled with a peaceful harmony of citron and bergamot orange, violet and Royal jasmine, the garden is home to an exceptional collection of 350 different varieties, which Cavallier describes one by one with barely concealed delight. With his unruly forelock and colorful eloquence, Cavallier is a model of professional enthusiasm informed by a deep-seated knowledge of the raw materials. “I wanted to pay tribute to the crafts and flowers of Grasse: Rose de Mai, local jasmine, tuberoses.” Biotope, soil and tradition are one thing, but never at the cost of inventiveness, innovation and modernity witness his magnificent leather infusion that is an extraordinarily soft and feminine “skin” extract.

Fragrant tales

With the story he wanted to tell in mind, the perfumer couldn’t wait to get started. “I joined Vuitton on January 2, 2012, and brought out my first compositions on January 20.” Expectations were high, commensurate with the fame and stature of the LVMH group. The way to reduce the pressure and avoid the arrogance sometimes prevalent in the large luxury houses was to work in a small team (no more than ten people) in start-up mode, away from the lures of marketing and global frenzy. Cavallier deciphers for us: “Flowers (a nod to the LV Monogram Canvas), light and fluidity form the theme of this first collection.” A gifted storyteller, he utters the word fluidité in a low voice. Seven perfumes, with an understated bottle design by Marc Newson, are available at just 150 sales outlets. They bear short, disconcertingly limpid names: a rose (Rose des Vents), a tuberose (Turbulences), a lily-of-the-valley (Apogée), two leathers (Mille Feux and Dans La Peau), an agarwood (Matière Noire) and a neo-oriental ode to vanilla (Contre Moi). A fine, balanced, classic signature perfume collectionin a word, elegant.

Even when standing in the midst of his gigantic workshop (which he’ll be sharing with Dior’s head perfumer, François Demachy), Cavallier remains understated. “He’s a genius and a true storyteller who can whisk you instantly away on his journey,” says Fabrice Pellegrin, perfumer at Firmenich. There’s nothing of the prima donna about the creator of Eau d’Issey and Lancôme’s Poême, just a simple and healthy attitude to perfume and perfume design. He is as discreet as he is modest, even though his success could have shot him to the ranks of the world’s most “bankable,” and therefore inaccessible, perfume designers. And when you ask him if Grasse, his refuge and emotional lodestone, is about to regain its throne as perfume capital of the world, he replies: “It’s the only place in existence that has everything you need to make a perfume”and speaks of his admiration and affection for the growers who, despite the challenges faced, continue to cultivate the flowers used in perfume.

Charlotte Cosby

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Charlotte Cosby