Every fragrance tells a story
Neiman Marcus hosted its Project Beauty event Saturday to introduce some of the fall season's best skin care, fragrance and cosmetic lines.
My morning started with breakfast with Christophe Cervasel, creator of Atelier Cologne, who shared his philosophy and the stories behind his Cologne Absolue, pure perfume celebrating the fresh elegance of citruses, the traditional cologne ingredients. A high concentration of essential oils to ensure lasting power.
After several years creating fragrances for everyone from Kenzo Parfumerie, to John Galliano and Jimmy Choo, Cervasel and his wife Stephanie Ganter—who worked for Fresh—decided to form their own company and launched their first fragrance in 2010.
Behind each scent is an elaborate story, "A great moment you want to remember forever," he said.
"We create the story, than choose the notes we decide are perfect for that moment in life."
His stories are of rendezvous between a woman who steals diamonds for the poor, and the secret agent whose heart she captures.
Even so, Atelier Cologne scents are considered unisex. "We never like to day it is for a man or a women because the choice is personal," he said.
He said it is best to think of scents as a wardrobe that one changes with the occasion. "I couldn't live without it. I would feel a little bit naked, like I forgot my glasses."
He said his orange-scented Grand Néroli is great for starting the day fresh, while in the evening one might switch to Vanille Insensée or Vétiver Fatal. When he travels, he likes to wear Gold Leather, with its notes of rum and tobacco.
It takes a while to develop each fragrance, and of this, Cervasel said.
"Paris is slower. We do things slower than Americans, but maybe it lasts longer."
After breakfast at the Mermaid Bar, we went down to the retail floor for a sampling of the fragrances, so beautiful it was difficult to hone in on one particular scent. I was torn between the mystery of Rose Anonyme and the "woman who steals diamonds," and languid Cédrat Enivrant, telling of friends who reunite after several years with a scent as fresh as a mojito with a touch of joy and bittersweet nostalgia. Amazing fragrances.
But I absolutely fell in love with Silver Iris. Then I learned its story:
“A woman of such intimidating beauty and sparkling vitality gained the adoration of everyone around her. However, no one knew what she had been through. With her wild spirit, she was tough, stronger than metal, and never looked back. When she met him, for the first time in her life, she could stand still. She may have found the absolu man.”
Knowing of my story, my friend said she got chicken skin when she heard it.
And that is what you want from a scent, Cervasel said.
"We just want to talk about emotion. Do you feel something?
Another of the breakfast guests, Christine Chee-Ruiter, said she studied the neuroscience behind our sense of smell at Caltech and that it is a chemical stimulus that affects every cell and every form of life.
She said she knows one woman who wears a new fragrance for each boyfriend and keeps the bottles as reminders of the relationship.
Because the olfactory bulb has access to the amygdala, which processes emotion, and the hippocampus, which is responsible for associative learning, "That's why works to tie one scent to one person," she said.
"It brings you right back in time."
Also going on that day, Hawaii News Now's Grace Lee hosted a beauty presentation with drawings for luxury beauty baskets from Dior, Tom Ford, Kiehl's, Cle de Peau, Bobbi Brown and Atelier Cologne.
Fall celebrations continue with the CUSP Event, Thursday through Sunday on the store's Level One. There will be informal modeling from noon to 2 p.m. daily through Saturday. Make a $350 regular-priced contemporary purchase in CUSP and receive a set of three bracelets. Get an additional $50 off for a purchase of $500 or more. There will also be light refreshments and makeovers by a Tom Ford makeup artist from 1 to 4 p.m. daily through Saturday, and there will be a photo booth from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage appears in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.