“The inspiration was one of elegance and simplicity,” says John Varvatos about his fragrance collection. And with the launch of his newest scent nearing, we took a look at how a fragrance is made.
From beginning to end, the behind-the-scenes steps that go into creating a fragrance are numerous. “It’s not unusual that between the original idea and the fragrance that hits the counter, that maybe years have lapsed and the changes can amount to the thousands,” says Rodrigo Flores-Roux, the Givaudan senior perfumer who collaborated with Varvatos. He explained that a single scent could have 50 or more ingredients. Not hard to imagine, considering most perfumers have over 1,500 fragrant items available to them.
Like fashion, being a fragrance creator, or a “nose,” takes dedication. “There is the 'formal' education, the rigorous study of materials—naturals and synthetics—but also real-life experiences that elevate your training as a perfumer,” says Flores-Roux, who has been creating fragrances for 22 years.
So what happens when an established nose and an influential designer combine forces on a fragrance? We asked.
Interview by Julia Rodack (@juliarodack)
How and when did you get involved with John Varvatos?
Over 10 years ago, John decided he wanted to launch a men’s fragrance so he visited several perfume houses. I’m very proud to say, upon setting foot in the offices of Quest International in New York, he “felt like it was home.” He invited me to view his latest fashions at his store in SoHo and then at the studio. After several modifications, my scent “Hidden Detail” was chosen as the namesake perfume. Now, the House of Varvatos counts 10 fragrances: Classic, Vintage, For Women, Rock Volume One, Artisan, Artisan Black, 10th Anniversary (JV00/10), Star USA, Platinum, and soon Artisan Acqua.
What type of research went into creating the new Varvatos fragrance scent?
I wanted to evoke the countryside in Sicily. Not only is Italy an endless source of inspiration for fashion and elegance, it is also a country rich in aromatic plants. I imagined myself in the valley of Segesta standing in front of that perfect Doric temple. The austere elegance of the columns communicated an assertive manliness to me. That was the original inspiration for Artisan Acqua.
How do you see Varvatos fashion and fragrance intersecting?
They are difficult to separate. However, the rhythm of fashion is much faster. In the specific case of John Varvatos, I link my creative approach to his—the never-ending search for “the hidden detail,” that little surprise in a piece of clothing that will speak of creativity, luxury, innovation, and masculinity. He makes clothes for a man’s man but who is certainly in touch with a higher sensibility and is innately tasteful.
What is your biggest tip for men when they are choosing a fragrance?
Wear a lot, don’t be timid and before putting your pants on, spray a generous amount behind the knees. This will automatically make your pants come off easier. [Laughs]