One-on-one with Amandine Clerc-Marie, FlowerByKenzo Eau Lumière's co-perfumer

One-on-one with Amandine Clerc-Marie, FlowerByKenzo Eau Lumière's co-perfumer

The power of a poppy

Text: Renée Batchelor

The first person to create a FlowerByKenzo fragrance with the legendary Alberto Morillas, find out how perfumer Amandine Clerc-Marie lent a feminine touch to the latest incarnation

The FlowerByKenzo range is one of the stalwarts of the brand. And we have seen many versions of the fragrance over the years. For the latest scent, FlowerByKenzo Eau de Lumière, the brand took a slightly different approach, with the perfumer's original creator Alberto Morillas working with perfumer Amandine Clerc-Marie. The duo said, "Like the poppy, light has no scent, but it evokes a sensation of beauty and strength; an emotion and a touch of magic. Light is life, it enables flowers to grow. To illustrate this magical flower, we chose two powerful feminine accords:  jasmine and rose. When we created the fragrance, we imagined the full spectrum of all lights. White light is expressed by bergamot from Calabria, which brings vibrancy and freshness. Daylight, which enables flowers to come alive and fill up with scents, radiates from this incredibly dynamic and feminine floral heart. Soft, subdued light comes from white musks, FlowerByKenzo's signature, which gives the fragrance its lingering trail and refined femininity." 

Tell us about the FlowerByKenzo Eau de Lumière? What was the brief you were given and your inspiration for you working on the scent? How to you does one translate the idea of light into a perfume?
In 2000, Kenzo broke the rules of the perfume world by inventing the scent of the poppy flower. After many successful reinterpretations, the brand wanted to herald a new chapter in the fabulous history of FlowerByKenzo with a modern fragrance that brings the flower "into the light". Thus the concept of a new Eau de Lumière, one that which evokes the luminous power of the poppy. I wanted to create a new dazzling Eau de Toilette bursting with energy, one that is like a flash of emotion on the skin. Like no other, the Eau de Lumière invents the radiant scent of light and is meant to continue cultivating its free-spiritedness.

What was it like working with Alberto Morillas who was responsible for all the past Kenzo fragrances? Was it an intimidating experience? What did you learn from him? How long did it take to create?
The idea of inviting me to bring a new vision into the successful FlowerbyKenzo saga came from Alberto. I had already worked with him on three other creations, all of which I enjoyed tremendously.

Alberto didn't share his original formula which will in a way limit imagination, but instead allowed me creative freedom to reinterpret and create what a luminous poppy feels to me. Then we worked in close collaboration, hand in hand, and in constant dialogue. He added key ingredients from FlowerByKenzo that in turn made up the Eau de Lumiere, and I truly admire his passionate, creative spirit that is full of light and energy.

FlowerByKenzo Eau Lumiere

With so many editions of Flower by Kenzo, how do you create a scent that is true to the range, but still unique? How is this scent different from the others in the range?
For all my creations, I look for the best quality and performance as I am constantly looking for something beautiful and want to achieve a perfect harmony for each olfactive story I write.  A fragrance must have a strong personality and provoke emotion. It should be 'offbeat' and bestow upon its wearer a particular standing, a sensation of beauty and strength, and a touch of magic. Creating the Eau De Lumière is no different.

FlowerbyKenzo's Eau De Lumière evokes a luminous energy - the luminous power of poppy - and like light, it is weightless and graceful. 

What are some unexpected touches in Flower by Kenzo in terms of the combination of ingredients or the way you have chosen to work with the ingredients?
FlowerByKenzo's original scent imprint is composed of white musks. In this new version, they are reinterpreted to unleash powdery, creamy, smooth and carnal facets. Like real light reflectors, they marry crystalline transparency with a magnetic power of seduction. 

Bulgarian Rose is at the heart of the FlowerByKenzo saga. It is the central theme in all fragrances in the series. Grown in Bulgaria, in the valley of roses, it is a unique and noble ingredient. Its rich, sensual and terribly feminine signature is identifiable among all others.

That said, one's creativity widens the fields of possibilities as the creation of a signature scent remains a constant, unique quest for aestheticism, beauty, balance, strength, harmony... getting to the point of being unforgettable.

Kenzo sign

What do you think are your strengths as a perfumer of over 15 years and what are the signatures of an Amandine Clerc-Marie scent? Are there notes that you particularly like to work with?
Experience is key for the perfumer craft. I am focused on creating impactful signatures and true vibrations. I am always seeking to build a kind of flair that may one day define my style as a perfumer. I keep an open mind. Any ideas are welcome. Everything is allowed. And then I pay much attention to a form of elegance that is intangible.

What to you is a modern scent and why?
What is totally new defines modern for me. However, new shouldn't mean it is 'easy' or unpleasant.

Flower by Kenzo is an extremely popular scent, do you feel pressure to create scents that many people will love, or is it more about your vision as a perfumer?
More about the latter, which I hope will spur the former!

By choosing not to disturb the perfect balance of the original FlowerByKenzo creation designed by Alberto, I was then free to impart my own fresh new writing of the mythical signature so I didn't feel any pressure. For a creator it is often easier to design something new, rather than reshaping a masterpiece.