Because of the direct link in our brains between memory and scents, our sense of smell is one of the most powerful we have — the merest hint of something familiar can trigger a cherished recollection or wonderful moment in our lives. For that reason, the perfume we opt for — often, mindlessly chosen on the way out the door — is an incredibly personal accessory that often becomes one’s signature. The scent we leave in our wake is how we are subconsciously remembered and, therefore, it makes sense that we pay more attention to what we apply on ourselves.
It is this awareness that made legendary French perfumer Henry Jacques so popular — resolutely avant-garde, the maison draws on time-honoured codes to design contemporary elegance. In a blending of balance and boldness, the simple and delicate beauty of timeless perfumes meets the complexity of a creative genius. Henry Jacques’ perfumes breathe the very essence of their founder, Henry Cremona, a world traveller who drew on his childhood, sense of wanderlust and dreams of faraway lands to feed his inexhaustible passion for perfumes. From his encounter with one of the last great noses of traditional French perfumers, Henry Jacques was born in 1975 — steeped in the family’s culture, a taste for absolute refinement and an obsession for rarity and perfection.
The brand instinctively found its legitimacy in the universe of the discerning few. With each passing year, the maison’s arsenal of precious creations kept growing under the charm of the rich artistic heritage that inspired the family every day. They operated in this way for many years — working in the shadows to satisfy the special requests of its clients. It was only fairly recently that Henry Jacques was ready to open its doors and welcome the public to partake in its exclusive offerings of noteworthy scents, marked by the Les Classiques de HJ collection. The brand continues to maintain its bespoke service, its exclusivity retained in a handful of outstanding venues that are custom-designed for each location.
Henry Jacques is anchored in a ceaseless quest for fragrance and a constant mingling of scents — this inspiration is a distinguishing feature of the brand and comes from a meeting of memory and the senses, an alchemy of colours, textures and recollections that unearth buried emotions. Like a musician, the perfumer carefully selects its palette of notes and blends them to compose a shimmering symphony of scents.
Of course, the noblest blend of natural absolutes and perfumed oil nectars are then housed in intricately designed flacons for a dramatic pairing of olfactive finesse and artistic beauty. Having formed close relationships with some of the world’s foremost crystal-glass makers and jewellers, Henry Jacques perfumes are contained in breathtaking crystal flacons or customised exquisite jewel-toned flasks.
The Henry Jacques magic happens in the maison’s laboratory located on the outskirts of Grasse, a region in Provence considered the cradle of French perfumery since the 17th century. The perfumes are predominantly composed of premium natural essences obtained from all over the world: velvety rose, intoxicating tuberose, sunny lavender, sumptuous jasmine, sensual and heady musk and marine ambergris — like great wines, the qualities of natural essences are as varied as the flowers from which they are from. Once the essences arrive at the laboratory, only the best is rigorously selected to be used. The scent molecules of each one take on a life of their own, interacting, changing and harmonising with each other until a perfect balance is achieved.
The world’s best ingredients find their home in the unmatchable skill of the perfumers and the facilities they work in. Each scent is created following time-honoured principles of craftsmanship and benefits from constant innovation. Although equipment like old-fashioned scales abound in the atelier, computers and traditional processing mingle seamlessly — although, ultimately, no machine can take the place of the perfumer’s nose.
This is how every composition becomes a work of art, a soaring symphony of essences and natural absolutes made spectacular by a signature style. For decades, Henry Jacques has taken up the challenge of preserving the exceptional purity and depth of the priceless nectars that go into each scent — creating perfume at its most exquisite.
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This article first appeared on June 18, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.