ParfumPlus talks to perfumer of the Annick Goutal High Perfumery House, Camille Goutal and her on-going perfume journey
For over 30 years, the Annick Goutal High Perfumery House has been recognised for its inspired creations and unique olfactory signature, embodying the values of its founder, Annick Goutal. After her demise, Annick Goutal’s daughter Camille Goutal, continued the legacy of her mother in close collaboration with Isabelle Doyen, Annick Goutal’s faithful collaborator of ten years. From her passion in photography to the smooth transition into the world of fragrances, ParfumPlus talks to Camille Goutal, about her childhood, inspirations and what the perfume house has new in store for perfume lovers…
ParfumPlus (PP): Tell us something about your earliest scent memory?
Camille Goutal (CG): I have been surrounded by fragrances all my life, ever since I was a little girl. But if I had to recall one particular scent memory then it would be the Sunday breakfasts at our home. As a child, I have always seen my mother working and it would mostly be just Sundays that we would sit together and have toasts, cheese, coffee and that warm memories with my mother is something I reminisce even to this date.
PP: What does a perfume mean to you?
CG: Perfume for me is like a dream, a dream that you can smell and one that you can’t stop thinking about. It just keeps you wandering in its strong, feminine (for me) aroma and sillage.
PP: From photography to perfumery, what inspired you to make the shift?
CG: I have always been surrounded by fragrances right since childhood. As my mother’s laboratory was in our house itself, she would make me smell ingredients all the time. So for me photography and perfumery are just two different tools to express myself, and it was pretty easy to go from one to another.
PP: How far do you think have you been able to do justice to the legacy of perfumes that your mother left behind?
CG: I don’t know that… Why, because I focus on making a perfume that is honest and true to its inspiration. When I and Isabelle create a fragrance, we put our emotions in it, just like my mother did, so I hope that I have retained the same principles as she held in perfumery.
PP: How different is your approach to creating a fragrance when compared to your mother?
CG: The way we create a fragrance is the same, but of course we are two different individuals so our tastes do vary. Like my mother loved the rose and its varieties but I prefer white flowers. So for instance, I prefer more of simple ingredients and formulas which are direct but my mother would have preferred a softer and delicate approach in certain compositions.
PP: In the last sixteen years since your association to the House of Goutal, how do you think the brand has evolved?
CG: The essence of the Annick Goutal Perfumes still remains the same. But I think, when I stepped in 1999, the brand has since then evolved in sense that it’s become a bit younger or maybe a little colourful. I think I have added just a tinge of freshness to the brand.
PP: What were the challenges that you had to face when you took over the business from your mother?
CG: So the House of Goutal brand did not belong to my mother as she sold it away in around 1990, even though retaining the creative part of the brand. And when I came in the picture, it was quite easy for me because I was and still am responsible for the creation part of the fragrance, like the pretty and artistic part of the brand. Having said that, I did go through the entire process of learning how to actually create a fragrance, and difficult was memorising the formulas and its variations. Thankfully I had the support of Isabelle all throughout the way!
PP: What according to you are the signature traits of a perfume?
CG: For me every perfume will have a different signature trait. But what is common in all is the memory that evoked a particular composition. Like I mentioned earlier, fragrance is a dream, so it must bring out a happy feeling when you smell it.
PP: Of all the fragrances made by the House Of Goutal, which according to you best resonates the true identify of the brand?
CG: All of them, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the House. But if I had to choose, Eau d’Hadrien, it represents my mother, but also Ce Soir Ou Jamais (Tonight or Never), it’s the fragrance my mother and Isabelle had been working for almost 15 years until they achieved their desired composition – the perfect scent of rose – very mysterious and feminine.
PP: What are your favourite ingredients in perfumery and why?
CG: I like white flowers particularly because they are so different and dynamic, like jasmine – very feminine, round and mysterious… on the other hand frangipani is very fresh, delicate, light and elegant, so there’s a lot that you can bring out from them. I also like working with spices like pink pepper, ginger, cumin, etc.
PP: You also have a perfume in your name created by your mother, please elaborate a little on the idea and creation.
CG: I was around eight years old when my mother created Eau de Camille and it basically started out with my jealousy over my sister Charlotte having a fragrance by her name. I asked my mother that why don’t I have a perfume in my name and my mother said that she thought I was not interested. She then asked me what would I like in my fragrance and I replied to make me a perfume that smells like our terrace. Hence the creation of Eau de Camille that has ingredients like ivy, honeysuckle, etc. in its composition.
PP: From amongst the perfumes that you have been involved in creating, which is your favourite and why?
CG: My favourite one is Songes which means a day-dream. It took us, me and Isabelle, five years to create this perfume and it was right after my trip to Mauritius. The inspiration for this perfume was simply the smell of frangipani at night, combined with the scents of the sea, beach and wind when it’s warm at night and there’s a strong aroma of the night flowers.
PP: What is your take on the evolving taste of perfume lovers, globally and in the Middle East.
CG: On one hand it’s interesting as the clients are getting more inquisitive towards quality and what goes inside a fragrance. But on the other hand, me as an individual, when I smell a fragrance, I am not very much interested in what goes within or what the ingredients are but I focus on the end result – the scent of a perfume! So the evolving tastes and growing knowledge of people towards perfumery is also what harms the unknown dream or the pleasant surprise behind a fragrance.
PP: Tell us something about the fragrances from your collection that the Middle Eastern perfume connoisseurs should look forward to.
CG: We just launched a collection called Les Absolut and it centres around three ingredients amber, vanilla and oudh. So it’s three different fragrances that start with these ingredients in the centre and then we elaborate the fragrance around it. It’s a beautiful collection and I think it will please the Middle Eastern audience the most. Another favourite of mine, Encens Flamboyant by Isabelle Doyen has frankincense in it, as well as Rose Absolue, by my mother that has seven best quality roses in its composition… both of these are good options catering to Middle Eastern tastes. Also, for someone who likes fresher fragrances, we have the classic Petite Chérie, that is feminine and a delicate fragrance inducing a happy feeling when you smell it.
PP: Any new fragrances that you are currently working on and would want to share the details with our readers….
CG: It’s hard to say because we work on so many different formulas all the time, so I can’t really say which will make it and which will not at the moment. Let’s just say, it will be a pleasant surprise for all.
PP: Thank you Camille, it was lovely talking to you!