Friday, August 8, 2014

The perfume conference

Perfume as an inspiration for creation.

Creative director of Guerlain Paris, Madame Sylvaine Delacourte, founder of Puredistance, J.E. Vos on the left and University professor, prof. dr. sc. Zoran Kurelić during his talk

I do a lot about perfumes both on my blog, just over here, and outside of BL'eauOG. I need to admit that I actually do a much harder work on perfumes outside BL'eauOG, I write semi-academic articles which are not yet published, read books about perfumes and connected them to my profession. The result of all of that was TEDx talk on a TED conference in June 2013 and collaboration with architect studio. But I never envisioned one thing in particular, that I will organize the perfume event where creative director of Guerlain Paris and founder of private perfume brand (Puredistance) will be my guests. Madame Delacourte is simply a superstar and amazed me with her allure but other two guests are not the least important. The effect about Madame Delacourte is the name of the society for which she works. Other very special guest was Mister Jan Ewoud Vos, very charismatic founder of Puredistance luxurious perfumes. After few years of running his own perfume brand, he collected the experience that drives him to do more and he has a magnificient line of 5 perfumes which has only positive critics in the perfume community and that is very hard to achieve. The last guest was my tutor and Master thesis menthor, professor of political philosophy who is addicted to perfumes and with whom I talk about social aspect of perfumes. So, let me present you in short how it was like...

This is me, Juraj Sotošek Rihtarec

The guests; J.E. Vos (Puredistance), Mdm. Delacourte (Guerlain), Z. Kurelić (Faculty of political science)

It was extremely difficult to organize this event despite my own ambition and efforts but I finally did it and I need to admit I am very proud I did it completely on my own without any help from the outside. I need to say a massive thank you to all of my guest for accepting my invitation and without them, this kind of event wouldn't be anything special. The charm of the Madame Delacourte and Mister Jan Ewoud Vos made it special because their spirit intrigued the public even days later after the conference. They did an extra effort and showed their whole line of perfumes with enthusiasm, but that was very obvious during Jan's presentation and the public was very pleased to hear his personal thoughts and emotions.

The conference started by me and my own introduction to the understanding of the perfumery from its beginnings to contemporary epoch. It was necessary to open the conference like that because it would be much easier for public to understand other 3 speakers. I am very familiar to domestic public and therefore I am not interesting to them. I told a story that the roots of the modern and luxurious perfumery were in leather industry. Catharina de Medici had the most exquisite scented leather gloves. Later on synthetics were invented and finally, nowadays, we have completely synthetic perfumes. I talked about three completely different understandings of perfumery.

Jan Ewoud Vos is preparing his speech
Jan Ewoud Vos presents his very special Crystal Column by Swarovski

Few days after the event, one person left a big trace in Zagreb and that is Mister Jan Ewoud Vos, the founder of Puredistance perfumes. The following comments after the conference were that Jan's appearance was the absolute highlight of the event. I expected that Madame Delacourte will attract many becuase of her background company. Evidently, Jan could thank his success here, in Zagreb because of two things. First is the line of perfumes he has. Each perfume of the Puredistance line is very, very good and acclaimed by the perfume critics, perfume lovers and laymans. For example, Octavian Coifan appreciates Puredistance's creations. The largest part of the public were laymans, people who are not into perfumes so much but after his appearance, they are completely exploring scent world. Opardu left the biggest mark on Zagreb's audience and it is the most sold perfume here. Also, Puredistance became the most sold perfume brand in Zagreb's perfumery Lana. Second thing is his honesty. He was very frank and he started by admitting that he didn't know a lot about perfumery and that is what audience can always recognize. It was exciting to hear how he started from the scratch until he created very popular perfume brand.

Jan's talk was very interactive for the public because he brough many "gadgets" with himself. He started to talk of the early beginning of his career in the Puredistance and explained that Puredistance is not formed by many people. He is on the head of the brand and he only has few assisstants which preserves the authenticity of the image he wants to create. Each perfume has its own inspiration and he talked about those inspirations. Expressing the emotions about Antonia, both the perfume within the line and his mother was the part I personally liked the most. There were some fascinating facts like for instance, when he created the Crystal Column, everything needed to be until perfection. The precise measurements of the crystal needed to be made so the 17.5ml could fit inside and be sealed with a cap correctly. The inner sides of the cap and the top of the bottle are decorated by a real gold and each one is numerated making it a collectible. There is one thing I appreciate about Jan the most is his passion for photography. He presented only few photos to the public because there was no time nor space, but each photo also has its own motive and it is taken on different place. What is the most beautiful part, it is possible to connect them with perfumes so the story can be rounded, like a book. It is beautiful to see that Puredistance and Jan Ewoud Vos made a big trace in Zagreb and all I can say is that I'm honored that he was here and that I'm very happy I also contributed to bring Puredistance perfumes to Zagreb's perfumery.

Puredistance mini collection

prof. dr. sc. Zoran Kurelić during his speech

Third speaker was my Master thesis tutor and the professor at the Faculty of political science, University of Zagreb, prof. dr. sc. Zoran Kurelić. I invited him because of his passion for perfume but also because he is completely contrasted to other two guests because he deals with empirical data. He gives me a lot to think about when we talk outside of the Faculty about the perfumes and with whose help I'm trying to reach the academic level of writing about perfumes.

Zoran Kurelić had three important momentums durign his speech. The first and the most important one was his interpretation of Luca Turin's significance to the perfume world. For him, Luca Turin is the one who emerged the idea, atmosphere around the perfumes to the level of the common society. For Kurelić, Luca Turin leveled them as any other part of the pop culture and in the terms of the pop culture, he thinks we can talk about art forms, otherwise not. The idea of art in perfumes is next; it is necessary to avoid all the regulations of the IFRA and the EU in order to preserve the most beautiful part of the perfume. How we could do that, Luca Turin asked? When the companies create them they shouldn't call them "perfume" but rather "art" labeled as "fragrance". So, if the Guerlain releases original Jicky under the label of art and fragrance instead of perfume (not labelled for skin use), it could be preserved and recreated. I think that is a brilliant idea! Also, Kurelić highlighted that Luca Turin connected large massess with the culture of perfumes with his book by pulling down the "luxury" and "untouchable" label from them. Also, he compared the perfumes to the Cinema classics and compared two types of art forms. There was also questionnaire with 4 questions and 4 different perfumes. The public needed to decide which one is masculine or feminine. All 4 were masculine because those were the perfumes from the beginning of the century which we today percieve as unisex or feminine. It was very live and interesting lecture of academic style which was well accepted. 

The finale of the conference was Madame Delacourte of Guerlain

Sylvaine Delacourte in the middle of talk

The first time I met Sylvaine I said to myself; this is the spieces that is about to be extinguished. I never met more gracious woman with so much allure, natural beauty and charisma. She has typically Parisian attitude - very gracious moves, crystal look, eye contact and clean speech. When someone says "Parisienne", that is her. She is very warm and agreable and what is the most beautiful, she has the passion and drive like she is not in the industry for over 30 years. To have creative director of Guerlain as my guest was a big honor and happiness, especially because of the respect to the company she represents. I think that if anyone has a little knowledge about the perfumes, would appreciate the background of Guerlain.

It is also hard to catch all the important things of her talk because she was mentioning many perfumes, but in the fore was the L'Art et la Matiere line of perfumes that she created. She was telling her story of her collaborations with perfumers Francis Kurkdjian, Olivier Polge, Annick Menardo, Olivia Giacobetti and Maurice Roucel. I think that Annick Menardo and Maurice Roucel are the ones she appreciates the most because it is easy to work with them. One of the L'Art et la Matiere was also dedicated to her mother and the rest of the line is inspired by the persons she met and the surroundings she was living in. Only one has "neutral" inspiration, inspiration of luxury and that is Cuir Beluga by Olivier Polge. That is really wonderful perfume of vanilla, caviar and soft woods - aromatic and mild scent. Interesting enough, I always thought that Bois d'Armenie is actually using the woods from Armenia but that "armenie" is a part of the flower she used to get the particular note in that perfume. You wanna know something that shocked me? Jean Paul Guerlain was fired because he said on the French TV that he "worked in a field like a negro" for Samsara. LVMH board didn't tolerate that statement and after a while, Thierry Wasser was presented as the in-house perfumer who has 3 assisstants. Samsara was actually created in collaboration with Firmenich and not by the JPG so it is bit stupid to loose the job because of something you never did. I also have one more interesting fact for you, La Petite Robbe Noir was created by Sylvaine Delacourte as the Champs-Elysees exclusive scent but later they noticed how popular it is and started to produce it for mass market. There is a lot going on behind the scenes. One thing is for sure, that Slyvaine Delacourte is a woman of passion and inspiration. She has the drive to create new things and be completely professional. She is a woman of impeccable taste and gracious manners.

I would like to thank one more time to my special guest for coming here, to Zagreb, to present them to public, Madame Delacourte and Mister Jan Ewoud Vos. It was an honor and joyful few days. Also, a special thank you to Luka Travaš who did the amazing photos of the event!

Until the next time,

Juraj, BL'eauOG

Puredistance Crystal Column

Guerlain L'Art et la Matiere bottle


  1. Juraj, Hi, I finally saw your tweet and have just discovered your blog. What a treat! I 'm so pleased that you were able to put such a conference together and what an interesting talk about perfume and pop culture and the different opinions of Mme Delacourte and Mr Ewoud Vos.

    I'm going to be adding your blog to my line up and following you!

    1. Dear Allen,

      Thank you so much for this words! And for sure, the reading will be mutual, I usually do that but I really have a lots of things going on beside the blog :)
      The next conference is in excatly 7 days when my guest will be Ramon Monegal :)