Gauri Garodia is a woman with a purpose. Her fragrance brand Code Deco wants to change your perception and misconceptions of what fragrances should smell like. Her inspirations can be as far ranging as a beautiful grey day or the tomboy character in an Enid Blyton story, but her ability to capture these ideas and bottle them in her unique and captivating scents is what makes this Singapore perfumer a force to be reckoned with. We find out more about how true beauty and creativity can flower from discontent.
Why did you start your fragrance brand? What was the niche that you saw in the market?
I have been working in the area of sensory design and fragrance since 1996. On the surface, the luxury perfume market seems saturated with exotic and lush new launches; and yet there is a lack of distinctiveness and individuality. As the world gets more interconnected, it also becomes more homogenous in terms of how we express ourselves through our choice of clothing and technology. Code Deco was born of this sense of disconnect and my discontent with the choices on offer.
Fragrances more than anything should be a source of joy and sophisticated self-expression. They allow you to create a little private island in a sea of homogeneity. Code Deco was founded with just this ambition. To create scents that connect and transform and serve as a means of self-expression.
I saw a small section of highly discerning consumers who were well-travelled, who understand quality and good design and who don't necessarily need the validation offered by a big brand. They have the confidence and a unique sense of style, a strong identity and these are the people we create for.
How is your brand different and unique and how do you inject your personality into it?
The answer lies in the creative process. We create in response to the moods, textures and colours that inspire us and are not driven by market trends. Perfumery is a chase, a chase of the ephemeral. We are constantly experimenting with new materials and novel combinations. Whether its big unexpected twists or subtle contradictions, we make sure our fragrances are always interesting.
In terms of aesthetic, I like fragrances structures that are non-linear, complex and tightly edited. These fragrances evolve over time, are multi-faceted and exude a subtle elegance, thus keeping the wearer engaged for longer.
If you browse our collections you will see that each fragrance evokes a sense of time, place or person. They all tell a rich open-ended story which the wearer then completes with his own personality and experiences.
Can you name us three of your signature scents?
1. Blanc One, $150
A very pure, radiant white floral in keeping with my decision to create a range series of 'white fragrances'. This collection called Series Blanc explores the many facets and emotional associations of this colour: purity, radiance, beauty, strength and stillness. We have also introduced a new material to perfumery — the butterfly lily or ginger lily. This flower and it's intoxicating fragrance is extremely dear to me. I have been somewhat obsessed with capturing the warm, sheer, delicate beauty of this fragile flower for years.
2. White Oud, $150
Our second in a series of white fragrances, and our latest new release. White Oud began with the idea of creating a radically new expression around oud. Oud is one of perfumery's oldest, most luxurious and difficult materials. Predominantly used to add a highly potent and animalic tone to fragrances, it is an extremely sensual material. We wanted to use the smooth, dark, warm facets of this material in our White Oud, which explores the idea of stillness. It's an extremely luxurious, understated signature.
3. Malabar, $150
Inspired by the tropical forest floor of Bukit Timah and a monsoon over the Malabar. This fragrance attempts to capture the great outdoors and is a call to adventure. Again, this is built around an indigenous, never-before-explored florality. The top notes consist of raw mango, mango blossoms and tropical wildflowers. There's an intense heart of zesty and mellow spices and a base that mimics the forest undergrowth with moss and patchouli.
Code Deco fragrances are available here.