European perfume temples


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I read in Traveler the travel article by perfumer Thierry Wasser in search of the lost essences, and his talented nose takes us from the profusion of smells from a bustling Guatemalan market to the snowy peaks of Chamonix, where he enters an odorless world. A unique journey guided by his extraordinary development of smell, which in general is the least developed sense of the human being, but still raises passions, such as perfumes, that object of desire.

A passion that Ana Corsini, one of the most important perfumers and noses in Spain, has driven by developing projects with the young designers of the IED Madrid, to whom she commented: “The aromas of perfumes accompany us, relieve us, give us pleasure, give us pleasure, they raise… Discovering them, experimenting with them and innovating is a great challenge that helps creators to go into other, more unknown senses and develop their creativity in other fields. ”

To discover what are the innovations that this kaleidoscopic world presents, we approach three perfumeries in three different cities, but with common elements. The three seem sanctuaries: silence reigns in them, the light is dim and the liquid surpluses are shown as relics or religious icons.

In Senteurs D´ailleurs, tradition is the leitmotif that leads its creators, Josiane and Pierre Donie, to treat perfume with rigor. They consider pure handicraft perfume and their contact with the best 'noses' in the world is permanent in search of novelties. In 1997 they began their journey on Louise Avenue and, over the years, the small boutique has become a 'cathedral', a grandiose space whose interior design focuses on the basic colors, white and black, with the wooden floor Natural and comfortable armchairs to be able to calmly aspire your proposals. In the corners or 'chapels' are, well lit, the 'icons', bottles of the most varied essences. Among the brands they offer: Ormonde Jayne, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Heeley, Cire Trudon, Costes, Estéban and Nippon Kodo.

Los templos del perfume de Europa

Wood and large armchairs in the Senteurs D´ailleurs perfumery in Brussels © Senteurs D´ailleurs

In contrast to the 'cathedral' of Senteurs D´ailleurs, in the undisputed capital of perfume we enter a small hermitage of essences. In the Palais Royale, in the Valois Gallery, with a slightly visible exterior sign, there is the Serge Lutens perfume parlor, a dark magic cave, with purple light, art deco decoration and a spiral staircase in the center it elevates towards mysterious stays. Everything has been conceived to generate the maximum possible concentration in aromas, in the sensations produced by smells and their spiritual compositions.

Serge Lutens, apart from perfumer, is a film director, photographer, makeup artist and fashion designer, and in each of his facets he brings a very personal mystical touch. In his Paris room he has thirty-two fragrances exclusively, with suggestive names such as Mandarine-mandarin, Bois de Violette, Ambre Sultan, Un lys, Santal Blanc or Chypre rouge.

Saint Sebastian
In the elegant city of San Sebastián we find Urbieta that opened in 1954 and has been gradually being renovated until today. Its name refers to its location, and that detail exemplifies the simplicity of the concept of this perfumery. The space is white and bright, with some old shelves made of light wood, and in the center there are slender transparent windows, elliptical in shape. Everything is sober, pure lines, to highlight the jars and the different containers of the brands they offer. There are perfumes by Frederic Malle, who invites the best 'noses' in the world to make an essence, his minimalist packaging is accompanied by black and white photos of each perfumer, as if it were movie stars : Sophia Grojsman, Maurice Roucel, Olivia Giacobetti, Pierre Bourdon …; Kilian, who considers perfume an art; de Caron, that French classic … At the end of the visit we are surprised to find also the perfumes and cosmetics of Ladurée, the French manufacturers of sweets (such as the famous macarons), which are stored in their flirtatious cardboard boxes with floral prints.

Los templos del perfume de Europa

The luminous perfumery of San Sebastian Urbieta © Urbieta