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Telling the Story of Luxury Fragrance

By: Abby Penning
Posted: November 3, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
Parfums d’Orsay Paris

The Tilleul fragrance from Parfums d’Orsay Paris’ Intemporelle range is the company’s best seller.

As the fragrance segment begins to bounce back from a downturn exasperated by market saturation and consumers’ shrinking discretionary spending, brand owners are again looking for a way to entice consumers to their scents. And for two perfume houses—Histoires de Parfums and Parfums d’Orsay Paris—playing up their traditions of history and storytelling, as well as closely knowing their consumers, has them seeing brighter days ahead.

“I am telling my stories in each fragrance, but every consumer can also tell their own story through my creations,” Gérald Ghislain, founder of Histoires de Parfums, explains of his line. “They can interpret the fragrances any way they choose, and the scents read differently on everyone’s skin.”

The Histoires de Parfums collection—which features fragrances inspired by famous characters, materials and years—is described as telling stories through scent, with the line being depicted as an “olfactive library.” “I found the most intimate way to speak with people was to create perfumes as a novelist would write stories,” Ghislain explains. “We try to convey a story more than a message, and our stories are most of all conveyed by our actual fragrances—the packaging even looks like an old book. Our displays also add to the brand image, but the essential component is the perfume. I love simplicity and I am looking for the bare essence of a perfume house: the fragrance.”

For Parfums d’Orsay Paris, a line initially created by the French count Alfred d’Orsay more than 200 years ago, the company is relying on its strengths of legacy, tradition and history to reach consumers. “It’s through this history that we want to transmit, through those great classics from the turn of the last century that remain absolutely contemporary,” explains Marie Huet, the company’s director general. To this end, Parfums d’Orsay still features a few of its original fragrances, though they have been re-edited through the years.

“We have created a range of passionately intense perfumes for those singular personalities who rise above the ordinary. I would say that the most beautiful and original thing about this range is the complexity of all the composition and the duality you will find in each fragrance,” Huet notes.