An Interview With Sylvie Jessua Owner & Artistic Director Of Ambregris {Passion for Perfume -Portraits}


Sylvie Jessua is the founder and owner of Ambregris, a niche, even extreme-niche perfume brand as we like to think of certain labels. For the moment being, the line centers around a unique perfume called Ambre et Diamant Noir (Amber and Black Diamond) that is exclusively sold in one brick and mortar store in Paris at the Ritz Hotel although it is also technically possible to order it through the Ambregris website.

She is also the head of a company called Habaco that specializes in the development of luxury and fashion brand franchises. Ambregris appears to be a parallel space dedicated in her life to personal creativity. We started by asking her a couple of questions and ended up asking a few more so we thought it would be best to regroup them here.

We first started by asking Sylvie Jessua some questions about the naturalness of the ingredients used, her sources of inspiration for the perfume, and what she calls the process of "fabrication à l'ancienne" that is, the old-fashioned way of creating fragrances. Here are her answers:.....

" [...] The natural substances are the flowers and the essences, therefore the castoreum and the civet are not natural for obvious reasons that have to do with respect for animals.[...]

I was inspired by my favorite perfumes which are Jicky and Vol de Nuit by Guerlain, as well as by ambregris. None of the perfumes were to my liking anymore; the rather fleeting perfumes that were fashionable in1998 and 1999 did not suit me. Therefore, I had Robertet work around the aroma of ambergris and [those] of perfumes with sillages (wakes). [....].....

Working in the old manner (fabrication à l'ancienne) here means that the flowers are natural and not synthetic and that we took our time regarding the maceration process (5 weeks) as opposed to what takes place for many modern perfumes which macerate only from one to two weeks. Many manual operations were necessary in order to develop this perfume which is an art object (with a handcrafted and unique side to it) in contrast to the perfumes that are produced automatically today."

TSS: I was wondering whether Ambre et Diamant Noir is used as part of an olfactory brand recognition project at the Ritz?

Sylvie Jessua: No, it's an independent project. 

TSS: Whence comes your fascination for ambergris?

SJ: Its name is magical and as I explain it, amber and grey are also my favorite colors that I used to ornament my flacon (the [crystal] stones and the handbag).

TSS: Do you intend to create another perfume, and if yes, around which theme? 

SJ: I would like to offer variations of the flacon in the form of flacon- jewelry to be worn as necklaces. And then, I would like to continue developing associations of flowers and gems such as for example, "Rose et Diamant" (Rose and Diamond) (head note of rose and white stones, a pink handbag with a white embroidey....) "Mimosa et Emeraude" (Mimosa and Emerald) (Mimosa and green stones, a yellow handbag and a green embroidery...) etc.

TSS: May I ask who is the nose you work with?

JS:  Marc Santon D'Andon

TSS: What advice would you give to people who might want to wear your perfume but fear it might be too rich for the spring and summer times?

JS: The flacon has no spray nozzle precisely for this reason: one dabs on the perfume delicately with the stopper, which avoids the issue of putting on too much. I wear it all year long without any problem.

TSS: Do men wear your perfume?

JS: Yes. 

TSS: Apart from your perfume, which are the perfumes, you think, that one should absolutely try at least once in one's lifetime?

JS: That's a difficult question! A very personal one at that, but here is my opinion: Jicky, Vol de Nuit, Shalimar by Guerlain, No5 by Chanel, L'Eau D'Issey Miyake by Issey Miyake, L'Eau d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal.

Our thanks to Sylvie Jessua.

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