An unexpected yet expertise-wise understandable rapprochement between France and Uzbekistan has taken place in the sphere of perfume-making. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour who is well-known as a nose working both for the niche and designer markets, but especially for the former these days, has turned his talents to perfume-making for a celebrity of a very particular background: Gulnora Karimova is the eldest daughter of President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov. She has a PhD in political sciences, is a graduate of Harvard, an entrepreneur, has a fashion brand, creates jewelry, is a pop singer under the name of Googoosha and now her brand Guli proposes a duo of perfumes for her and him called Mystérieuse for women and Victorious for men...
Gulnora Karimova is the face for her own fragrance as she appears on the packaging clad in Grecian yellow chiffon, while the men's version is fronted by Turkish actor Halit Ergenç who stars in the TV series "A Magnificent Century" devoted to the historical figure of Süleyman the Magnificent. The fragrances just launched at Art Week Style in Tashkent, the Uzbek fashion week.
Duchaufour hints at a floral for the "ayëllar uchun" perfume translated as "Sirli" in Uzbek, the one meant for women, while the one which is "erkaklar uchun", "Zafarli", had to convey power. Both preferred translations in Uzbek use Arabic words, rather than Turkic ones. In another gender-biased linguistic divide to be pondered upon, the women's scent is in French, while the men's one is in English.
Without being too sure, one might assume that plans for a more international exposure are possibly under way given the collaboration with a face familiar in Turkey and the cosmopolitan fragrance names. The Independent analyzes it as a vanity project, but it might also be yet another business decision to earn more money from the beauty and fragrance sectors. Celebrity perfumes are popular money-making devices in the US, something that cannot fail to attract the attention of a savvy observer. The only problem it seems is that Gulnora Karimova is reported by a US diplomatic source to be "the single most hated person in the country." This would be hoping that her perfumes will act as ice-breakers, change her image, or be bought out of complacency, lest it might become very mauvais ton not to wear them. Meanwhile, Duchaufour did his job, which took him reportedly the average 2 years for professional fragrance development,
“The women’s fragrance has notes of every flower that can be found in the orient. The primary flowers that went into it include the Moroccan and Turkish roses, notes of jasmine, ylang-ylang and other flower aromas. The men’s fragrance, Victorious, speaks for itself; it represents the image of a triumphant man. It’s filled with a harmony of contrasts. I am perhaps the first man in the history of perfumery who has tried to link France and Uzbekistan through perfume.” (source)
The fact that a French perfumer was invited to create perfumes of national interest in Uzbekistan is less surprising than it seems at first blush when you take into account the fact that the Uzbeks have been used, like most everyone else, to French perfumery, in their case through the Soviet system. Admittedly; it could have been a perfumer from the Middle East who could have been hired. It could also have been a more discreet personality, one of those perfumers that are media-shy. Bertrand Duhaufour has been very active and almost ubiquitous in his capacity to create for a variety of brands in the recent years and is well-followed by fragrance afcionados and connoisseurs. On a more perfumistic level, he would be anticipated to introduce some modern codes of perfumery rather than old-school ones. it seems that the omnivorous nose has not been daunted by the prospect of displeasing Gulnora Karimova, or her father, something that might send a shiver up the spine of some political dissidents.
Now, can you imagine Sasha Obama having her signature perfume created by Mr. Duchaufour, this time heading for Washington?