The phrase fil rouge is defined as the unifying thread that runs through an idea — the central theme or the common thread. If literally translated, the phrase means 'red thread'. Which reminds us of Giorgio Armani's spring/summer 2016 collection that had the colour red as the focus of it. Feminine and sensual, the elegant collection was reinterpreted into the sense-evoking Fil Rouge fragrance; bottled in beautifully handmade flaçons.
Just like the collection that inspired it, Fil Rouge also marks a silent revolution in the history of Armani fragrances. For the first time, iris germanica and musk unite to create the most beguiling olfactory sensation. Distancing from the usual buttery earthy notes, the iris is given an unexpected twist with the sharpness of red fruit: sparkling, floral and brilliant. The well-known white musk serves as the fil blanc; the white thread that runs through Fil Rouge. With utmost alchemical precision, the roundness of the white musk is enabled to achieve its full distinctiveness to diffuse the fruitiness of the iris. This precious new scent has that rare ability to transport you to a different time and place. And as with all precious objects, Armani Privé Fil Rouge is a limited edition of just one thousand bottles available worldwide. No one understands the allure of the exquisite iris flower or the enveloping musk that makes up each spray of the Fil Rouge better than those who spend their days distilling them in the world's largest fragrance company, Firmenich. Here, Firmenich's resident perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin talks about what goes on behind the making of this sensuous fragrance.
1. What was your 'fil rouge', the common thread, for this creation? What was your inspiration?
The guiding idea of this creation is iris, since the noble iris from Florence is the common thread found in all Armani Privé limited editions. The iris I chose here has a particular fruity raspberry aspect that comes from a new Irone-based speciality by Firmenich. Its red berry facet is another common thread, highly figurative, that marks this new signature with a lively and radiant stroke of red. Then the common thread of white is a mesh of musk.
2. This is your second Armani Privé limited edition: how does one renew its score?
In the same thought process as couturiers, perfumers are used to immersing themselves in the worlds that are proposed to them. My sensitivity as an artist naturally reacts to the expression of these creative forces that give rise to new collections. We are also fortunate at Firmenich to have such a rich and varied palette of ingredients that it is impossible to run
out of ideas.
3. What inspired you for the Giorgio Armani spring-summer collection?
This collection breaks new ground in a compelling way. For the Fil Rouge bottle, Mr Armani drew inspiration from one fabric in particular. He used the organza fabric as a white backdrop punctuated with red and blue. This highly colourful, sparkling, cheerful world is quite unexpected when compared to his more somber creations we had become more accustomed to, playing with different intensities of blue and black.
4. How would you describe this fragrance?
Pared down to the essence, a red thread and a white thread. An iris tinged with red against a backdrop of white musk.
5. Fil Rouge has a unique line of structure: the musk notes emerge upon contact with the skin, when they are traditionally used as a base. Why did you make this choice?
This choice is faithful to the fabric that inspired the bottle. The silky feel of organza evokes for me the caress of musk and, like the white of the fabric, it is dominant. I used a significant quantity of musk, a combination of all the white musk notes at Firmenich. They have countless complementary qualities: powdery, enveloping, soft, carnal, sensual or with a red berry fruitiness that mirrors the iris.
6. Is musk one of your revered ingredients?
I can't resist its caress! Seriously, I love rising to the challenge of working with musk in these proportions. Seeking the right balance for a harmonious expression is a challenge much like that of the couturier.
7. The combination of ingredients is very original: what are these pairs and what guided your intuition?
The top notes are bergamot and aldehydes, the heart notes are iris concrete and angelica, and the base notes are musk and grey amber. The choice of top note ingredients gives the brilliance of the texture to come, the sparkling and cheery radiance. In the heart and the base, one ingredient reveals the other, one enhances the other. Angelica gives vibrancy and strength to iris. Amber lends volume to the texture of musk.
8. The structure of Fil Rouge is based on a rather short formula, one of your signatures. What do you like about this way of working?
Yes, simplicity is my trademark. It aims to bring out the beauty of the ingredient. My way of structuring fragrances is simple — I choose the material and then work on the details to shape it.
9. More generally, what is the common thread in the work of a perfumer?
Working the materials, a quest for harmony.
10. And what is your own 'fil rouge', the one that runs through your daily work?
Simplicity and authenticity.
The limited edition Armani Privé Fil Rouge is available exclusively at the Tangs Orchard Armani Privé Enclave in June