Endless summer travel with Louis Vuitton Les Colognes to conquer new sensorial territories
Bringing California to Singapore
New territories, new concepts. Meet Jacques Cavallier Belletrud. The master of perfumery has extended Louis Vuitton's olfactory family with three new gender-neutral scents following last year's release of the men's collection and its first seven fragrances.
Wild about the West Coast way of life, Belletrud had a personal challenge. He wanted to create a fresh scent that would last on skins. "I dreamt of creating a perfume with airiness, locating the sensitive frontier between a pleasant but fleeting summer eau," he says. He used to visit California as a child, and has fond memories it reminds him of Grasse on the French Riviera — the mountains, sky, and greenery; the deep contrast between the blues and the greens.
Using that memory, and celebrating a notion of summer vacation capturing the sun, sky, gardens, and sea, Belletrud created three new scents to evoke emotions and 'the art of perfumery'.
"All perfumes are unisex because freshness has no gender," he says. I raise my eyebrow. He sees it and continues, "Well, there is a gender difference in fragrances. But if a man would like to wear a women's fragrance, it's ok!" Subsequently, he also names the scents in English: Sun Song, Cactus Garden, and Afternoon Swim. Yes, you read it right, in English, not French.
Refining these striking colognes, Belletrud unveils an enchanting triptych of pop colours in three bottles, where the purity of each oil note brings out the essence of the juices. "Oils are like the colours in life," he explains.
Perfume is not a commodity; it's an emotion. A scent of optimism, Sun Song bottles the lightness of a citrus mist with the depth of flowers. With extracts from the bitter orange flower leaves in Tunisia, it takes about 1,000 kilograms of neroli flowers to produce one kilogram of neroli oil. The top note that's derived from the highest-grade of lemons from Sicily can last two hours on skin (an average lemon oil can only last an hour), elevating the very delicate orange blossom like the caress of a sunray, that bursts to reveal its inherent naturalness.
Forest green bottled Cactus Garden invites maté, a national flower tea from Argentina, into a natural and delicate cologne that's like lounging on an exotic patio. Experimenting using maté's leaves (which contain caffeine) with extracted leaves from Grasse, the result smells like a blend of tea and smokey hay. It's like the spiny cactus, dangerously dry on the inhabited desert, but supple with damp storage within its survival core. Bergamot oil from Italy harvested at the beginning of November and concentrated lemon infusion oil from India and South America add natural freshness to this scent.
The sky blue Afternoon Swim smells vaguely of a feeling of plunging into an ocean of pleasure. A punchy shot of vitamin C with sexiness in its freshness, this scent ennobles the orange (a Sicilian one - the best for fragrances - as the top note), an honest and ever-optimistic fruit that brings joy.
"It's hard to meet someone who doesn't like oranges," Belletrud jokes. Mixing this with the second note, Mandarin, a citrus that is not just romantic, its fruity tone is very long lasting on skin. Lastly, the citrusy bergamot from southern Calabria (province of Reggio) in southern Italy is used in this scent too, but in a different way from Cactus Garden. Belletrud uses the end of the crop which is usually harvested between Valentines' Day to the end of March. This harvest adds to the overall scent a sparkly and delicate touch.
Buro.: What is your favourite cologne out of this collection?
Belletrud: They are all my favourite (chuckles). If I'm seeing my friends for lunch or dinner, I'll wear the Sun Song because it's very tender, and women love this scent, it attracts them to me (smiles), I mean, my wife. If I'm heading out for a party, it would be the Afternoon Swim. If I'm travelling, I will bring the Cactus Garden along because of its freshness. The scent is discreet and not overpowering, because if it is, it means there are fake ingredients.
With all the bottles being refillable or 'planet-friendly' as Belletrud calls it — you can bring them back to a Louis Vuitton boutique for a refill. Besides that, you'll also save a pretty penny, with refills costing roughly two-thirds of the original price for the 100ml bottle. Who says luxury can't be both indulgent and cost-effective?
The Artist Collaboration
Working with an American multimedia artist and filmmaker, Alex Israel, a series of emblematic artwork captures the spirit of each scent, pairing the colognes with Belletrud's memories. Think long stretches of beaches etched in foam, awaiting the dashing surfer; the unique way light filters through shocking neon; the frenetic colours of the street project against a gentle, iridescent sky; patios burgeoning with cacti, eternally beautiful day.
Sun Song is dressed in "Summer", an oversized sunglass lens that looks like a shot of light. Cactus Garden saunters out with "Desperado", an installation that pays homage to California's fascinating landscapes. Afternoon Swim surfs on "New Waves", a painting in which a large wave surges towards the immensity of the Pacific Ocean.
Belletrud wanted these colognes to be housed in ultra-luxurious leather cases. Hence in all Louis Vuitton trunk style (obviously), a bespoke leather monogram case has been created to enclose the bottled emotion. These bottles can be personalised with initials engraving up to three letters at Louis Vuitton boutiques. Now, that is an intriguing play on endless travel and luxury.
From $380 for 100ml. The leather case retails from $700 for a 100ml monogram version. Colognes are sold separately. Available in Louis Vuitton Marina Bay Sands Island Maison, Ngee Ann City, ION Orchard and Changi Airport stores from 11 April.