Nathalie Cetto, perfumer for Givaudan

Nathalie Cetto, perfumer for Givaudan

Premium Beauty News - The My Bloom project was born under the impetus of Arnaud Guggenbuhl, Givaudan’s Global Head of Marketing Fine Fragrances, who aimed to explore new creative and olfactory horizons.

Nathalie Cetto - Exactly. It all started from a study which revealed that 44% of women in France, and 50% in the US did not identify with the seduction image conveyed by the perfumes currently positioned on this segment, nor did they - on the other side of the olfactory map - with fresh waters and other sanitized fragrances. The current offering is too dichotomous, whereas these women dream of a fragrance that would talk about them and highlight their personalities. Like an extension of their own selves. Opposite transforming trails, there are perfumes that reveal an intimate part of us. As a result, Arnaud Guggenbuhl, our Marketing Fine Fragrances Director, made the NYC and Paris teams work on the idea of a reassuring perfume that would unveil a bit of us.

Premium Beauty News - What did the experience actually consist in? Did you have a brief or any specific constraints?

Nathalie Cetto - Not at all, we were totally free! It was definitely a new experience for us: usually, we work in collaboration with an evaluator, a sales rep… It was a valuable exercise, because we were the only ones to formulate and decide when the product was ready. It was a “personal” approach, but we could also exchange and share with the different teams at the evaluation and presentation sessions… We were given carte blanche from an olfactory standpoint, but it does not mean there were no technical constraints. Arnaud Guggenbuhl put an emphasis on the idea of fluidity and atmospheric diffusion, so we focused on heart and base notes and selected floral, woody, and musky accords…

Premium Beauty News - Why such a requirement?

Nathalie Cetto - Well, our work consisted in creating the opposite of a “blitz” fragrance designed to seduce as soon as the top notes emerge. On the contrary, we were guided by the idea of a perfume slowly revealing itself to wrap its wearer for the whole day. A powerful presence expressed in full transparency. These conditions require adopting a different formulation method. For a bestseller, you mainly work on top notes; here, we paid more attention to the heart and base. In a way, this writing method reflects how society has evolved. The advent of self-service distribution channels, twenty years ago, had an impact on formulation, with perfumes that seduced with their top notes, especially within a context saturated with powerful smells. It is widely known that these selective channels are now losing ground. The public favours more intimate approaches through online discovery or testing in niche stores. The way in which the system is questioned requires inventing other ways to structure fragrances.

Premium Beauty News - What did the perfumers’ work result in?

Nathalie Cetto - About thirty of us took part in the project – there were 80 proposals, all in all. At the evaluation session, five main themes naturally stood out: rebirth (or resilience), self-acceptance (“self-love”), light, the skin, and transcendence (or disembodiment, in a way). About fifteen creations were eventually selected and classified by theme.

Premium Beauty News - Including Romy, one of yours.

Nathalie Cetto - Of course, it is a reference to actress Romy Schneider, but it is also a way to talk about me, because I accept my taste for smoking. And I think certain perfumes are more compatible than others with the smell of cigarette on the skin, hair, and clothes, so I wanted to work on this idea. I had recently come across sublime pictures of Romy Schneider lasciviously smoking during the never-completed shooting of L’Enfer, by Clouzot. It gave me inspiration for a dark, chypre, spicy, smoky, musky perfume… a very Feminine perfume both inspired from an actress and revealing the smoker in me. This fragrance was presented in the theme “self-love”.

Premium Beauty News - I also remember La Disparition, an intriguing perfume…

Nathalie Cetto - Absolutely, this fragrance by Marion Costéro is inspired from the eponymous novel by George Pérec. She played with raw materials she was not familiar with and which, just like the book, did not have any “E” in them. Then, she uploaded the ingredients in Carto, our AI software. The result does exhale a very peculiar sensation of absence everyone noticed in the dark, woody, smoky notes perfectly conveying the idea of disembodiment, our fifth theme.

Premium Beauty News - Does this experience open new doors for creators?

Nathalie Cetto - It involves other ways to compose and structure a perfume, but on the other hand, it also marks the beginning of decline for the sweet trend, to the benefit of more subtle notes, like musks. The success of For Her Pure Musk by Narciso Rodriguez or Idôle by Lancôme perfectly illustrates this evolution. These perfumes more easily create loyalty, women come back to them more easily – they are less likely to favour “zapping”.

Premium Beauty News - How did the experience end?

Nathalie Cetto - It ended with an “olfactory Tinder”: a dating T-shirt. We opposed seven of our creations to two benchmarks on the women’s market by asking men for their opinion about a perfumed T-shirt worn by women. Four of them won against the two references, and three won against one, which is very encouraging. To these men, the My Bloom perfumes were more mysterious and revealed a more cheerful, authentic personality. This creative method is similar to what is done in niche perfumery.

That is why, the offering intended for the general public needs to evolve in the years to come. As aromatherapy is seducing an increasing number of people and new gestures are emerging, My Bloom is perfectly in line with the perfume-skincare trend. This search for fluidity and intimacy should, at last, be attractive for the Asian market.