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By: P&F Magazine
Posted: January 8, 2009, from the January 2009 issue of P&F magazine.

Judith Gross

Plush boxing gloves, outsized hooded shawls, vented shoulder pads: these were some of the extreme fashions constructed by final-year students at Paris’ Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs (ENSAD). And it was the job of nine IFF fine fragrance and beauty care perfumers to translate these young design radicals’ aesthetic concepts into signature fragrances.

Participating perfumers included Domitille Bertier (Ad Vitam Aeternam), Anne-Sophie Chapuis (Playground), Anne Flipo (K.Eau), Bruno Jovanovic (Goldensmokytown), Sophie Labbe (L’un Femme), Sandrine Malin (Oryzae), Alienor Massenet (Souffle de Lune), Catherine Poensin-Stefani (Echappee), and Dominique Ropion (Alcove).

The project began with fifth-year students submitting concepts to Judith Gross, IFF’s global director of fragrance innovation, and Micaela Bracaccini, manager of the Europe fine fragrance marketing team. These concepts were then refined before the students presented to the team of perfumers, who then selected their collaborators. According to Gross, the students set out knowing no more about fragrance than the average consumer. "The level of comfort, trust and the fit in terms of creative culture was very interesting," she adds. "We were impressed—even if they were not fragrance professionals—with the depth of their vision and the relationship they had with the perfumer and to the creative process in the development of the fragrance."

Punchy Fragrance

Designer Gaëlle Martin’s portfolio includes athletic themes, including oversized luxurious boxing gloves emblazoned with "BLAM" and a sparkling red sparring outfit. No wonder then that Martin’s signature fragrance, formulated by Flipo, is called K.Eau. For the perfumer, meeting Martin was an aesthetic "love at first sight."

"We were all completely impressed," she says. "It was a very rich concept." The idea Martin brought to Flipo was filled with contrasting concepts of femininity that came less from traditional fragrance inspiration than from leading edge aesthetics. Extending the boxing themes, the designer refined a concept about life as "permanent combat," in which women need energy to survive. "It’s always a fight," Flipo said. This element extended the boxing ring milieu, seeking out the smell of the boxing ring mat. In addition, Martin’s brief called for extensive sensuality and femininity. As Martin puts it in an official release, "One needs much love to survive." This aspect called for the aroma of skin and other seductive elements.