Exclusive: Discover Louis Vuitton's latest Cœur Battant fragrance with master perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud
In 2016, Louis Vuitton had the olfactory world talking as the French luxury maison announced its return to the fragrance industry with seven beautiful scents. The momentous collection (which was crafted by master perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud) and now, the beloved collection has reached its 10th fragrance with the introduction of Cœur Battant, and the journey continues with yet another luxurious layering of notes.
Here, we speak to the master perfumer himself about the rules of layering fragrances, the newest addition to the Les Parfums collection and why he thinks the Middle East is "the land of the perfume"...
In your opinion, should a woman always wear the same perfume or can she use as many perfumes as she pleases?
Nowadays, practically all the women are trying several perfumes. I am not saying that they are wearing different perfumes. They are trying, they are experimenting new perfumes quite often. But they are coming back to one that is more precious for her, and a perfume which is really their favourite. So, I think that there are so many perfumes launched every year. I think that there is no problem for me, for a woman who wants to experiment and to try new perfumes. It's fine with me as far as it's Louis Vuitton perfumes.
Tell us more about the creative process for this new fragrance? For the Cœur Battant?
The creative process is really, as always, I have some intuition and emotions. And you know that my style in perfumes is really the transition of emotions. And I want by creating perfumes that when somebody is discovering it, woman or man, they have something happening in their heart, in their deep emotions. My perfumes have to evoke this feeling.
And for Cœur Battant it's the same. I have been always amazed by the fact that we are emotionally more open for the first rendezvous or for when you are in love with somebody and this person is coming in, and you are waiting for her or for him, your heart is beating more. And those moments are not every day of course, unfortunately. But they are very strong. And that was my starting point. What kind of perfumes can bring vibes like this, just to celebrate those moments, which are really very few in fact.
What about the final fragrance signature?
I believe that the new chic is that the perfume is back. I know that in the Middle East people know that since much more time, as they are producing perfumes since centuries. But I believe that today the signatures, Cœur Battant is really something that I was dreaming to create. That means to find a very modern signature for a true perfume. You have a lot of perfumes on the mark that are really quite good or very good. But they are maybe lacking of sophistication for my personal taste.
This is one is with the patchouli, musk, dry down, combined with the jasmine and the narcissus. It's bringing back something, putting the light again on a very sophisticated accord. But in a contemporary way. And the way I was designing it, it was really like this. I paid a lot of attention to the volume and the signature of this perfume by creating a duel between an oriental feeling. Something even edible, and something very sophisticated, created with the chypre accord.
And the inspiration behind Cœur Battant. Did you work with a mood board?
Never. At Louis Vuitton I don't need a mood board, because all the brands and the modality and the creation of the brand in general, it's the best mood board that I can have. That means that for me the direction was to celebrate love, emotions, in a very modern way.
It means that you have total freedom to create a perfume?
Absolutely! No marketing. Very often I know the name before or during the process. I'm working on many different ideas at the same time. Some are really very rough, and at the beginning of the process of the creation, they are really babies. And more important than that, I am giving them the storytelling. That means as soon as I have the idea, the storytelling is really there. I'm not inventing the storytelling after. For me, that's very important.
Is there any interesting innovation for this fragrance?
We have some technical innovations in terms of raw materials. Some we're keeping them a secret for the time being. I'm customising my raw materials very often, even for one perfume, because it prevents about the copies. For example, the patchouli oil in this perfume is very unique. So, it's a pure white patchouli note. Natural, of course. That there is in Cœur Battant. So, very difficult to match. But more than that, for me, what is interesting is that this patchouli is not creating the dark side of the regular patchouli oil. It's bringing all the very sophisticated tone of the patchouli oil.
Have you done a lot of tests to create this perfume, and how long did it take you to create the perfume?
We are not practicing any tests at Louis Vuitton. My test is me, it's my wife. She's wearing all my trials. It's my daughter, which one of my daughter is a partner with me at Louis Vuitton. So, I need to evaluate my perfume in the air, on my wife. And I'm seeking for all the comments that she can receive when she's going in a store, in town. And on this one she had a lot of very positive comments. And it's not written that it was a Louis Vuitton perfume. So, people are telling you the truth.
And how long did it take you to create this fragrance?
It took me two years and a half.
So quite a long process?
No, because for me it's quite regular. Minimum one year, and maximum four or five years. But it depends if it's difficult or not. It depends on the mood. It depends on the moment. It's very important to be at the right moment. Sometimes it's too early. And when it's too early, you're wrong, because nobody understands what you have done. So, I can modify and I have the time. And it's really a pure luxury compared to a lot of my colleagues in the world, that I have the time to modify and to evaluate each modification.
What's your vision of the Middle Eastern beauty today?
The Middle East is the true area of perfumes. Far before France. The tradition of perfumery, coming from India through the Middle East, has many centuries. In fact, we have invented modern perfumery four centuries ago. So, we are very young. And I admire Middle Eastern perfumery. The true one. I've been working with Middle Eastern people since 20 years. So, I've learnt a lot of things in Saudi Arabia, in Oman, in Dubai of course. And I'm still listening and learning with all of my friends over there. Because in the Middle East, people appreciate really good perfumes.
And they are very connoisseurs, as say in English. And they are more than that, they are experts. And when you're discussing with ladies or men at the store, at Louis Vuitton, I can spend hours discussing with them about what they love. And they suggest fantastic ideas. So, for me it's a source of emotions and a source of inspiration, of course.
And it's still for me a lesson of knowledge, because I'm still discovering things about accords, for example, even the very small perfumery, very classic in the souk in Jeddah, for example. You find some very interesting mix of fragrances. And the people over there have the science of the layering, and how to put two, three, or four perfumes together, and making it unique.
So, for me the Middle East, I go many times during the year, because for me it's really the land of the perfume.
For this fragrance, why is jasmine is only the absolute star? It's an explosion of jasmine.
Yes. Because for me the jasmine scent is one of the most sensual, the most dedicated, sophisticated atmospheric notes that I know. For me, the jasmine is the smell of the night in the Middle East, for example. So, sometimes when you're awake in the morning you have the feeling that the world was created a few hours before.
And with the jasmine it's exactly like this. Jasmine is bringing emotions to everybody in the world. It's a very complex note. You have freshness, where it's smelling like banana. You have spiciness. You have fruitiness. You have an animalic note in very delicate way. It's so sophisticated.
And for this fragrance I wanted a wet jasmine. A morning jasmine, when you have the dew on the flowers, and it's smelling fresh. And at the same time, it's very radiant. You have also the scent in the flower. So, it's really for me why I use jasmine in a huge proportion.
What is the best part of your job at Louis Vuitton? So many, I'm sure.
Yes, so many. What I love is the freedom. And sometimes it's really also responsibility. I always wanted to do this job since I was a child, because my father was a perfumer, my grandfather was a perfumer, and the father of my grandfather was a perfumer. So, for me it was quite evident to become a perfumer one day. And today, at Louis Vuitton, I can do fully my passion. That means creating passion every day in a total freedom.
At Louis Vuitton, the travel is the heart of Maison Louis Vuitton. How are you always connected with perfume and travels?
Perfume is a witness of all the travels. What is fantastic with perfumes, and it's the same at Louis Vuitton, all the raw materials are coming from all over the world, and they're coming to Grasse. And by mixing them, they are coming back or they are making a journey all around the world again in a Louis Vuitton perfume. So, the trip is really in the heart of Louis Vuitton, and the journey in the heart of the perfume.
Not only at Louis Vuitton, but the jasmine that is used in Cœur Battant is coming from Egypt. The patchouli is coming from Indonesia. The narcissus is coming from France. So, the perfume is really the witness of all the cultures in the world. All the way of the people are living in Indonesia, you can find it in the Patchouli. With the delicate jasmine and the strength of the sun of Egypt. You find it in the jasmine tone of Egypt.
So, for me, the two are very similar. That means the inspiration at Louis Vuitton is the trip and the journey in general. And for perfumes in general, and specifically at Louis Vuitton, the journey is starting all over the world to initiate your personal journey with the perfume.
Now, discover Louis Vuitton's latest philanthropic initiative.