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The Harmonist Launches New Line Amidst Rebrand

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Founder Lola Tillyaeva talks new products, fragrance creation process and ambitions.

Indie fragrance company, The Harmonist, is inspired by the art of fragrance as well as the ancient philosophy of feng shui. Each of the brand’s fragrances embraces aspects of yin and yang dualities and the five elements, encouraging personal discovery and self-expression. The line offers 13 scents, as well as 10 candles and two bath and shower sponges, created by Givuadan perfumer Guillaume Flavigny. 

On its website, the company invites visitors to find their “element.” In doing so, visitors fill out a brief questionnaire that touches on gender, birth time, date and location to generate the fitting element (fragrance) from either the Yin or Yang collection. Visitors can dive deeper into which scent best fits a certain mood, occasion or vibe. Monthly and yearly forecasts are also provided with astrology-like readings. 

The Harmonist’s latest launch is The Prequel Collection, composed of two fragrances: Sun Force and Moon Glory. The duo is inspired by the celestial dyad of the sun and the moon, “essential to each other, like matter and spirit, yet different and they each have stories to tell.” 

Perfumer & Flavorist+ linked up with The Harmonist founder, Lola Tillyaeva, to get more insight on the company’s production process, new and up company projects, and even how the company tapped Flavigny to create its signature fragrances.

 

Perfumer & Flavorist+ [P&F+]: First and foremost,how did you link up with Givaudan perfumer Guillaume Flavigny? 

Lola Tillyaeva [LT]: About seven years ago, Guillaume started to work more and more with The Harmonist, and being that I have always had a clear vision for the brand, I made it a point to work closely with the perfumer to co-create.  

After that initial meeting, we have worked together ever since. Guillaume has always been able to convey the philosophy of the brand perfectly. Over the years, we have developed a common language that helps us create true fragrance works of art.

Demonstrating incredible professional acumen and intuitively understanding the style and vision of our brand, Guillaume masterfully brought the idea of The Harmonist to life. I always learn something new when I’m working with Guillaume and I very much enjoy working with him.

 

P&F+: Could you give some insight into the creation process? 

[LT]: I like to compare the process of creating a scent with the process of creating a piece of music. Like music, scents are composed of carefully balanced notes and harmonies that form chords, and the chords combine, chiming together. 

The quality of our products is of paramount importance to The Harmonist so when we create a perfume, we really dedicate a lot of time to that. That’s one way our perfumes differ from many other products currently on the market. Guillaume Flavigny and I carry out a lot of tests, discuss the results at length, carry out more tests, discuss which chords work best etc. It is a long process but so worth it. And I think that because we spend so much time on our fragrances, we can create truly unique, quality perfumes.

Nowadays perfumes are mass produced and there’s the so-called ‘three second rule’ whereby someone decides whether they like a perfume or not in just three seconds. They make a snap decision, buy it, but often realize later that the scent just doesn’t suit them. 

If a perfume is developed with a view to impacting the buyer in just three seconds, of course the overall balance and full bloom of the scent is overlooked. Creating a fragrance is a very complex process, it takes time, and the individual notes must be carefully harmonized. And of course, the scent shifts as it reacts with the wearer’s skin, warms up and dissipates. 

I often hear friends or clients say–and indeed I used to be a client myself and have had the same experience–that they bought a fragrance thinking it had a particular characteristic but after having worn it for a while it turned out to be not at all what they had expected. 

The Harmonist perfumes are not like this. Quality is important to us, and we care about how the scent will evolve on your skin, what the fragrance will smell like after three minutes, after five minutes, one hour or at the end of your working day. 

We use the best natural ingredients from all over the world and strive to create fragrances with a contemporary twist because we live in a fast-paced world in dynamic times. Like fashion, music and art, perfumery should reflect today’s reality. That is why The Harmonist is a leader that stands out because our products have that contemporary flair. 

Our scents are unlike any others on the market, and each fragrance is concocted from the very best ingredients. Our elixirs are more than perfumes; our scents embody our wish to help our clients learn more about themselves, to encourage them to explore their potential and balance their energies, both inner and outer.

 

P&F+: Please touch on the use of recyclable and ethically sourced materials. Are there certain protocols the brand utilizes from suppliers to ensure these practices are followed?

[LT]: As you know, The Harmonist ethos rests on the philosophy of the five elements that make up the world around us, so naturally our brand advocates an environmentally friendly and responsible approach to all aspects of our business, not just packaging. 

The importance we place on balance and harmony extends to the company’s ethics for environmental sustainability too, and we are very much aware of this when sourcing ingredients for our fragrances for example. As well as checking for quality, we also opt for natural essential oils that are sourced sustainably and ethically. The vegetal waxes we use for our candles are a good example. 

Of course, our fundamental respect for the environment prompted us to make a conscious choice to use recyclable materials wherever possible. At first glance our packaging may seem too deluxe to be eco-friendly, but it is, and not only can our perfume bottles be recycled, we go one step further by also making them refillable. To replenish a favorite scent, clients can simply buy refill tubes that help keep packaging to a minimum. Since each bottle is opaque that protects the vitality of the precious perfumes, our fragrances last longer. 

As a perfume house promoting natural balance we would like to encourage other companies to invest in the development of a whole range of materials that go into producing environmentally friendly products. It’s time to replace out-dated materials with more ecological ones with a shorter breakdown time. 

I’d love to see major brands paying more attention to this, investing in the development of such materials and promoting them. On a positive note, an increasing number of eco-friendly products are now becoming more economically viable so that will encourage manufacturers to switch their packaging habits. 

 

P&F+: The market is currently seeing an uptick in personalized scents. Please discuss the Element quiz on your website—is this also a method used when consumers are purchasing items in-person?

[LT]: The layers in our elixirs vibrate in tune with the five elements, too, and the balance of the elements can affect various spheres of our life. Our Element Guide and charts look a bit like an astrological reading because they map out which elements you need to enhance to nurture a particular aspect of your life, such as love or creativity. 

When someone chooses one of our fragrances, their choice actually says as much about who they would like to become as it does about their personality. When you are choosing a Harmonist fragrance you are also choosing which aspect of your personality, which sphere of your life, you’d like to harmonize or enhance. 

You can harness the power of the elements to balance relationships, increase your productivity in the office or boost your creativity, for example. Here, your choice combines both your birth element and what you desire. And of course, the scent you wear also depends on the occasion. 

 

P&F+: How does the Prequel Collection deviate from the Yin and Yang Collection? 

[LT]: Our brand’s perfumes are inextricably linked with the philosophy of feng shui which symbolizes the interaction of two polar forces–yin and yang–or female and male. These two opposite energies are contrasting yet complimentary. If we look around us we can see that the whole world revolves around two opposite forces which are present in everything. Day and night, for instance, or hot and cold, sorrow and joy. This duality is present in each of our lives. It would be simply impossible to appreciate the quality of one aspect without the presence of the other. Balancing these two forces is the secret to harmony.

In our Prequel Collection, we decided to talk about these two polar forces embodied in the two celestial bodies which are vital for life in the form we know it and under whose influence we live every day. I’m talking about the sun and moon. They embody male and female energy and reflect various qualities present in us and in our lives, too. 

For example, the sun symbolizes the active, the optimistic, the positive, positive thinking, and the desire to achieve our goals. While the moon, on the other hand, is a feminine energy that personifies emotional depth and sensuality, the ability to impact on our lives in a soft, but at the same time, effective and tangible way. 

It’s impossible to imagine life on earth without the energy of the sun, just as, without the influence of the moon, the ebb and flow of oceans and the circulation of water on our planet would not be possible. Both planets make life on earth possible and it’s this energy that we wanted to transfer to the language of haute perfumery. 

There is an analogy here with the forces of yin and yang which gave life to the five fundamental elements that make up the universe–hence the name of the new collection–which means prehistory or source.

The new twin fragrances are packaged in subtle beige boxes while the bottles themselves are silver and gold respectively to symbolize the lustre of moonlight and the gleam of sunbeams. Our Prequel Collection is a limited edition of 2,000 bottles, and each bottle comes with a numbered medallion designed as an artful platform for the perfume bottle. 

 

P&F+: What does the future look like for The Harmonist? 

[LT]: Our brand is in a rebranding phase—that includes the visual side of the brand, too, as well asr packaging. The process is going really well and we hope our clients will see the benefits soon, too. 

We are also doubling our efforts to become even more eco-friendly in how we manufacture our products. Next year we hope to delight our clients with a whole new line of exquisite fragrances.

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