Designer Parfums have announced that they have recruited perfumer Thomas Fontaine to be their in-house perfumer to oversee their portfolio of fragrance brands. Those include the houses of Jean Patou, Agent Provocateur, Parfums Sherrer, Aigner, Monsoon Fragrances and Worth, Paris. Normally, perfumers work very much on a for-hire basis and go through a competitive selection process for each perfume that are meant to be launched on the market...
Some brands however have opted for the reliance on the expertise and individual signature of an in-house nose. Hermès and Guerlain for instance work with Jean-Claude Ellena and Thierry Wasser respectively. Dior parfums is overseen by François Demachy principally although teams working within the LVMH group, which also has Guerlain, are less artisan-oriented than, say, Hermès where Ellena very much leaves his mark on all the new perfumes by the house.
Most recently as Louis Vuitton is preparing to launch a debut perfume, they have hired Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud to be their in-house perfumer.
Perfumer Thomas Fontaine was reportedly recruited in great part due to his ability to recreate historical perfumes as Designer Parfums appear to look at their portfolio of scents from a more respectful and patrimonial angle. They are not the only ones, with Yves Saint Laurent and others reviving their house classics. Patou, Sherrer and Worth are thus being viewed as "heritage brands." Fontaine recently authored the re-imagining of a perfume with a historical link to Marie-Antoinette for fragrance house Lubin, Black Jade, and has been delving in both historical and historicized fragrances - see Vétiver Bluff - for them as founder Gilles Thévenin has been developing a collection of perfumes inspired by free re-readings of history while also updating house formulas. Designer Parfums Managing Director Dilesh Mehta said,
“Thomas has a wonderful understanding of the history of perfume and also knows how to create beautiful fragrances for the modern international marketplace. I am sure that by working closely with him we will benefit greatly from his knowledge, experience and passion.”
If you thought that just one perfumer appointed to tend to different perfume brands, with different personalities, might be a hard act for just one person unafflcited with multiple-personality disorder, Designer Parfums have thought of that too. Fontaine will be principally at the helm of the so-called heritage brands while collaborating on the development of new fragrances with a larger olfactive team. He said,
"I am very excited about this collaboration with Designer Parfums,” noted Fontaine. “My role within the company is pretty simple: to create fragrances! In the case of an iconic name such as Jean Patou I shall be looking to reinstate the original spirit of this wonderful brand and re-enforce its position as one of the world’s leading luxury fragrance houses.”
Fontaine will replace Jean-Michel Duriez as the point man for Jean Patou fragrances. The house has a prestigious portfolio of scents with several long-gone perfumes which might generate fresh excitement should they be reintroduced. "Vacances" would be one of those. But there are so many other potential candidates. Even Eau de Patou could be welcomed back for its great alliance of citrus and pepper. While Sherrer have less of an international footing, it seems, they have some very good chypres. Worth could be the pretext of both archival digs and historical re-imaginings, not to mention new launches influenced by the rebirth of their couture house in 2010.