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1, 3, 6, 7, and 8

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured, Perfumer & Flavorist magazine
Posted: January 8, 2009, from the January 2009 issue of P&F magazine.

Presented with the swatch that would inspire Bill Blass Couture 7, Delphine Jelk was struck by its sense of spontaneity: "So I went to citrus, very sparkling."

Fashion icon Bill Blass once said, "Style is primarily a matter of instinct." In that spirit, the house that bears his name has challenged a trio of drom perfumers to follow their intuitions in translating Bill Blass couture into five fragrances entitled simply 1, 3, 6, 7 and 8. (More on the numbers later.)

Perfumers Valérie Garnuch, Delphine Jelk and Pierre-Constantin Guéros were each paired with a fabric swatch from one or more Bill Blass couture dresses and invited to freely formulate in response to the colors, patterns, textures and dress type (evening wear, resort wear, etc.). "Most of the time," says Garnuch, "perfumers are pushed in a single direction by a brief. But here, we were free to create, to do whatever we wanted to do." The results, which have an added intensity due to their 18% fragrance concentration, simultaneously reflect the unique signatures of each perfumer and the classy-chic ethos of the couture.

1

Guéros’ Bill Blass Couture 1 is a crisp single floral. The number corresponds to Blass’ significance as a premier designer of the 1960s who premiered a number of trends in American fashion. "Let’s take something classical like tuberose and make it more modern," Guéros says, discussing his response to the fabric’s floral pattern (pictured). The scent also includes notes of mandarin zest, clove and orange blossom.

How does he start composing? "I’d say there are two different levels. First, you describe, because to understand something you have to describe it. If it’s a fabric, you describe the impressions under your fingers, the colors, the patterns, the inspiration you think is behind it. You think about the designer, the other patterns [in the collection]—all the elements. Sometimes you write words and you try to translate these words into raw materials, or if you think ‘chypre’ or ‘floral-fruity’ is the best way to describe a perfume. When I go to ... the lab, I smell the raw materials and see what blends well—then we produce the first [mods]."

3

"The dress is so feminine and sensual," says Garnuch of the garment inspiring her Bill Blass Couture 3 (dress pictured). (The number references the year in which Blass entered the military, where he influenced the design of uniforms.) "I tried to transcribe this feeling in a warm, round, woody-sandalwood, musky and spicy. I tried to work with some Indian spices, ginger and cardamom, which are fresh on top. Bay leaves and black pepper. Cedarwood and sandalwood make it warm, feminine and sensual. I didn’t want something sweet."