"Flair boasts around fifty launches a year," Anne-Sophie Behaghel

Premium Beauty News – Flair celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2012. How did the idea of a creative studio dedicated to niche perfumery come about?

Anne-Sophie Behaghel – When we founded Flair in 2012, with Amélie Bourgeois and Martine Denisot, niche perfumery had been in full swing since the 2000s. But big perfume houses were unable to meet the huge demand, either in terms of volume or support capabilities. So there was a real opportunity for independent perfumers.

I met Amélie Bourgeois at Cinquième Sens, where the Founder and Perfumer Monique Schlienger taught us how to smell and compose. That is where we started out. It was at Cinquième Sens that Amélie later met Martine Denisot. For my part, I sought to broaden my experience through various positions at Firmenich and Symrise.

Our first projects were for Jovoy (Rouge Assassin) and Frapin (Paradis Perdu). François Hénin and David Frossard, the Heads of these two brands, trusted us from the start. Following these two projects, we designed for Room 1015, Liquides Imaginaires, Les Eaux Primordiales and BDK Parfums, for which we created Rouge Smoking, Sel d’Argent and French Bouquet.

Since we created Flair, we have worked for fifty-six brands and the team has expanded to include two junior perfumers: Camille Chemardin and Margaux Le Paih-Guérin, who quickly proved to be invaluable.

Premium Beauty News – Flair has also opened up to olfactory art?

Anne-Sophie Behaghel – Yes, Sandra Barré joined us in 2022. With a background in art history, she contacted some artists involved in the olfactory dimension, to explore the influence of odours in art, in the context of a dissertation and then a book. She added an artistic dimension to our expertise, giving us access to other worlds. Composing for an artistic project – where we perfume a room or materials – implies a different way of formulating.

We founded the Flair Prize to shine a spotlight on olfactory art. This year, for the second edition, a jury of experts in contemporary art and perfumery, will single out the project of an artist who will receive an endowment of 10,000 € for the creation of an olfactory arrangement, for which we will compose the fragrance. The final work will be exhibited in the POUSH artists’ residence at the end of 2024. The call for entries closes on 28 April. Alongside the prize, Flair is also proposing a podcast aimed at promoting olfactory art.

Among Flair’s recent artistic projects, Camille Chemardin took part in Chloé Jeanne’s solo show in Tours. Around the theme of visible presence and the question of living things, she created three fragrances, imagined as three visions of the River Loire: botanical, animal, and mineral.

Premium Beauty News – Tell us about the team’s creative approach.

Anne-Sophie Behaghel – From the outset, we wanted to work with an open perfume organ, so as not to confine ourselves to a single style, which would be imposed by a material supplier. We chose VO Aromatiques, a partner factory that produces the perfumes and supplies our organ. And, in a rare move, the company agreed to open up its compendium to include materials from other sources. Examples include green vanilla from Stéphane Piquart (Behave), specialities from Albert Vieille and Biolandes. We now rely on a palette of 800 ingredients.

When it comes to the creative process, I would say that artistic direction is essential. Listening to the creators talk about their brief, their story, in their own words. One of the strong points of our team is that we all have our own distinctive creative style. I like creating simple formulas, with an overdose of materials. I have an abstract “pen”. Amélie, on the other hand, uses more elaborate formulas, with a sensual, refined style. Margaux dares to work with gourmand and woody notes, without compromising elegance. Camille explores olfactory themes with passion, through balanced formulas.

Premium Beauty News – What is your take on the last ten years?

Anne-Sophie Behaghel – We are enjoying inconspicuous but definite growth. We have taken the time to develop the company serenely. The popularity of niche perfumery has contributed to this. The French market remains complicated, but it is evolving. In Europe, people are increasingly interested in niche fragrances, and customers are more on the cutting edge. Even for premium scented detergents like Kerzon. One of the reasons for this change is the rising price of selective products, which is leading consumers to turn to a more exclusive offering. A phenomenon that the Covid pandemic has amplified.

The Flair studio is currently working on around fifty launches a year. Recently, the team signed Red, the new fragrance by Sora Dora, a Jovoy exclusive, and Angel’s Powder, the latest Born To Stand Out, unveiled at Esxence. The “Flair girls” have also designed the scents for Versatile’s cosmetics range. And there is much more to come…

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