“One must smell a woman before even seeing her.”
— Marcel Rochas
Sometimes you need to go full circle to find — maybe even to accept — your true calling.
Before embarking on the exciting perfume journey that is The 7 Collection, Pauline Rochas, the granddaughter of Marcel and Hélène Rochas, has successfully worked as a product photographer in NYC. Her photography studio enlisted renowned industry clients, among others, the Estée Lauder Companies. One day, as close to a burn-out as any other urban dweller engaged in intense creative work, Pauline learned about Yogic and Ayurvedic healing methods. Once those methods helped her get back on track, this very experience inspired Pauline to embrace the Rochas family legacy as a perfume house by conceptualising her own perfumes and, eventually, by learning how to compose them herself. The result of this was the Coolife 7 Collection that now, in 2019, is being relaunched and rebranded under Pauline’s name.
The new design moves away from black labels and French names, embracing light colours and simple numbers corresponding to the seven chakras as they are known: 1 for root (stand your ground, have your needs met), 2 for sacral (sensuality and creativity), 3 for solar plexus chakra (vitality, confidence), 4 for heart chakra (love, charisma, empathy), 5 for throat (communication, clarity), 6 for the “third eye chakra” (intuition), and finally, 7 for crown chakra (higher self, life purpose). Pauline’s master perfumers include Luca Maffei, author of several recent Rançon and Carthusia perfumes, and Patricia Choux, known for such fabulous juices as No. 1 Clive Christian Men and No. 1 Clive Christian Women.
This June, team BEAUTYCALYPSE had the chance to sit down with Pauline for an interview during the preview of the rebranded perfume collection that took place in the swish rooms of Parfumsalon Berlin.
Nath: Pauline, the new bottle design is absolutely beautiful.
Pauline: Thank you!
N: It’s probably also more international now that people around the world don’t have to worry about reading French classifiers out loud? 😉 But jokes aside — what has inspired the relaunch?
Pauline: Indeed the names of the perfumes written in French didn’t necessarily register with people, except for those speaking French.
As I am very much into numerology & astrology, I found numbers to be more meaningful. Everyone associates to a number. I wanted to make the line accessible to all, and bring lightness to the collection. From shiny black labels to matte white with embossed shiny black lettering, what we would call a rebirth and also personalize the line with my name (rather than the company name I had for my studio in New York).
Going back to my roots and also moving back to Europe after twenty years in the USA was like turning a page, entering a new chapter. I brought luminosity to the collection to awaken emotions. The packaging is minimal, sophisticated. The box has an ultra soft touch reminiscent of the skin. A perfume after all is your second skin.
N: You told me earlier that you yourself have used 7 Collection fragrances for energy healing. Perfume as a remedy is a rather novel concept, so: what’s your experience with customers, are they rather drawn to the perfumes because of the chakra and energy concept — or because the scent aesthetic calls to them?
P: Both. But the decision happens intuitively I noticed. People are drawn to what they need, desire most at this moment, and what resonates with them. Because us living beings and life itself are in a constant flux. Our needs change from time to time. So, often after a person balances her energy, you will see her or him coming back for another scent responding to another quest or search to be fulfilled. The collection works like a navigation system.
It comes with a sense of discovery, joy, beauty, and mystery. As you explore these perfumes on your body, secret and innermost desires are unveiled. When I travel as I am in the air a lot, I do wear Parfum 1 (to bring me back to my roots, give me a sense of home), as well as Parfum 3 to give me energy. Parfum 2 is what I wear in the evening, it is a very sexy, provocative, carnal, and intoxicating elixir. Parfum 5 is also one that I wear a lot and layer with others.
N: Do you know any story where the Seven Collection would’ve played an important role in a customer’s life?
P: I know of Parfum 2 having activated libidinal energies to couples and re-engaging their intimate life. Stories of magnetic attraction. Parfum 2 has been called a sex magnet, to wear responsibly. It works as a pheromone. Even yesterday a lady who has been wearing it told me again she could not believe the effect this perfume had on people and it has never happened to her with any fragrance before. People always ask her what perfume she’s wearing. It even happened for people to follow her sillage through a department store, and to finally ask. There are stories of women wearing Parfum 4 and finding the love they were seeking. Of men starting to do meditation and feel more grounded with Parfum 1. Some radiating more confidence and energy through presentations with Parfum 3. And some whose voice was not heard, report being more vocal, creative, communicative after wearing Parfum 5 for a month.
N: A little while ago I did an interview with Kilian Hennessy and he talked a lot about the lack of language to describe smells — and we indeed rely mostly on words that have nothing to do directly with smell when describing a fragrance. And I hear consumers complain about scent pyramids over and over again (“I understand the single smells, but I can’t figure out the whole of it” — is just one typical quote from a fragrance review).
P: You are not necessarily meant to understand a smell. It is meant to awaken emotions, evoke, provoke something in you. It is your own interpretation. It is poetry! It should be described with your own words. People may be familiar with single notes, but scent pyramids should be kept for perfumers and not for the consumers. It is not the base of how a perfume should be described. A perfume is a language on its own and a personal journey.
N: Do you think the chakra concept builds a more successful bridge to grasp the very idea of a perfume?
P: The Seven Collection is a layered fragrant journey that awakens our spirit, body and soul, one Chakra at a time. Its alchemy is to transform what is sprayed onto the skin, but to awaken both inner and outer worlds. The wisdom of ancient healing rituals is at the heart of this concept.
N: You create bespoke fragrances as well — do you work with natural ingredients there, too? Are clients even aware of perfume ingredients (questionable versus free from toxins)?
P: I work with natural essences but not always, it depends on the project, the clients wishes, and what they want to communicate. There is a nuance, and an understanding of the differences that often needs to take place. A synthetic molecule doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad. There are sometimes more allergens in naturals than in synthetics. Exp. The Fragrance composition of a rose has chemical compounds which doesn’t make pure essence oil of Rose a toxic thing.
N: For the Seven Collection fragrances you said you work with essential oils and natural isolates but no synthetics. Would you consider streamlining the perfumes towards a more natural appearance even more by omitting the dyes? Would you consider disclosing the “fragrance” ingredient, like for example Abel Odor or AER Scents do?
P: I do work with luxurious precious essential oils sourced from around the world, and a very few synthetics & fixatives. But the formulas are minimal. Perfume 2 for example has only seven raw materials. As opposed to fifty and more in some mass market fragrances. The ingredients list is available and disclosed as per IFRA regulations. I have witnessed people who hadn’t worn perfume for 10-20 years, starting to wear mine and express their joy of wearing a perfume again without having any allergic reactions, like they would do with other perfumes, have skin redness or rashes.
N: Any perfume notes or perfume families you love or detest in particular?
P: I could not use the word detest. Like the collection itself, every day is different, each day inspires something different, depending where you are in life, how you feel within, where you are on earth, in which season, climate, and all of these factors. It is such a personal, individual thing. What I am looking to feel when I wear it. How I want to evoke or even provoke emotions.
N: Imagine you’re in a jury to nominate from all perfumes ever made for categories “The Great Classic”, “Everyday Elegance” and “Bold Innovation”… What perfumes would you choose?
P: Rochas Femme — The Great Women’s Classic, Christian Dior Eau Sauvage — The Great Men’s Classic. Everyday Elegance is your attitude. Bold Innovation: there is always room for bolder.
N: Tiny juice budgets, cookie cutter marketing briefs, hundreds over hundreds of new launches and “trends” each year… is there a bit of a creative crisis/ chaos going on in the perfume industry? Is stepping back to natural, eco-friendly ingredients one of the ways out?
P: I will answer by quoting this: “Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught. Then you will find that money cannot be eaten.” That is why an ecological approach is the only way forward.
Thank you, Pauline!