It is always wonderful when people open up about their passion, about what they love, and how it constantly inspires them. Karine Vinchon, Robertet’s renowned perfumer shares her tryst with perfumes…
Sometimes only a single instance is enough to let a person decide what is their calling. Karine, saw her friend’s mom become more elegant, beautiful and confident with just a whiff of “Must”, a perfume by Cartier, on her skin. The amazing transformation left quite an impact on young Karine. A simple instance handheld her into the world of fragrances and since then there was no looking back.
Little things in life, specially from the early years of childhood often shape you up into who you are today, they say. This is why Karine could never forget the smell of her grandfather’s ‘madeleines’. After all, it is one of her first olfactory memory!
Karine holds her mentor Christian Rostain, in high regard. The man happens to be the reason behind her understanding in the need of perfect raw materials. She also admires the man who is her guide to the world of perfumes, and an inspiration, Michel Almairac. Karine has assisted him over several fragrances like Cuir Amethyste by Armani Privé and claims it to be an exciting part of her journey. It has been sixteen years and she continues to be a part of the Robertet family!
ParfumPlus (PP): What does perfume mean to you? Also,
which is the first perfume you recall owning?
Karine Vichon (KV): For me, perfume is a part of a person’s daily routine. It has the power to change your mood. It’s like a best friend who is always there for you. For instance, when you’re tired, to feel better, use an energizing fragrance (citrus, aromatic…).
You’re having a bad day, you’re sad? Choose a cocooning one! Musky scent or a fragrance which remind you your childhood… (For me it’s orange blossom and of course… Madeleine!!)
You want to be more confident? A sensual one (woody, oriental,
My first perfume was ‘Loulou Blue’ by Cacharel, which I recall getting from my Grandmother.
PP: Any inspiration behind the fragrances that you create? Insights into your workflow or style of working?
KV: I always have an inspiration behind each creation and I have many that hold a special place in my heart!
Sometimes it’s a raw material that I want to put in light (I like overdose to surprise!), a story, a picture, a colour,
I have the habit of using an important part of natural raw materials in my creations. They form a composition by themselves with their top, middle and base notes. They evolve over time, they are vibrant, they convey a story and are evocative for everybody. If you make someone smell a rose essential oil, it will be easier for him/her to describe the smell.
The descriptors will refer to well-known things: honey, fruity, artichoke, floral, garden… If you make someone smell Geraniol to a not initiate people, it will be more difficult for him to describe the scent because it is less evocative of things that he/she knows. The aim of the perfumer is to bring emotions. Naturals help us to reach this target.
PP: For a perfumer, creating a fragrance is a form of art, for some it is storytelling, for some it is characterisation… how would you define it?
KV: I like to paint too. For me, creating a perfume is a little like painting. If you harmoniously assemble your raw materials or colours, you obtain a beautiful composition. To get a more attractive, original creation, I like to attract the eye on a side of my paint). In a fragrance, I like to use an unusual raw materials, Robertet speciality, or a big quantity of one
PP: Can we have names of perfumes that you have introduced that have worked well in the Middle East region?
KV: The Amouage’s perfumes: Memoir Man, Interlude Woman, Fate Woman and Man, Myths man, Bracken woman, Opus III. These are just some of the creations that hold a special place
in my heart.
And I want to make an announcement : a new Memo perfume will be launched soon: Tiger’s Nest. I hope it will be a success on the Middle East Market like the other Memo perfumes!
PP: Do you travel to the places where the ingredients are produced? Any favorite travel experience?
KV: When I went to Mauritius Island, I could smell Ylang Ylang flower on the trees. It was delightful, heavy, sensual, a smell of holidays.
In Corsica, I smelt mastic, everlasting and cistus. All these scents inspired me to create ‘Maquis exquis & immortelle’ by 100 BON (a 100% natural fragrance). But you know, I don’t need to go far to have incredible olfactive experience.
In Grasse, we have mimosa, jasmine, rose… I will never forget the time when I went to a field of roses to pick up the flowers, the variety is indeed immense.
On a “personal note” !
First fragrance you bought for yourself
‘Bois et fruits’ de Serge Lutens
Must have perfumes in a wardrobe
- Citrus: Eau de citron noir by Hermès, Eau d’orange verte by Hermès, Tartine et Chocolat
- Chypre: Narciso Rodriguez
- Oriental Floral: Allure by Chanel, Trésor by Lancôme, Dior homme, Infusion d’Iris by Prada, Habit rouge by Guerlain, Shalimar Cologne by Guerlain, Must by Cartier, Habanita l’Esprit by Molinard
- Woody: Féminité du bois by Serge Lutens, Patchouli by Réminiscence, Gucci by Gucci
- Green: Bracken woman by Amouage, Manifesto Le Parfum d’YSL
- Marine: Kenzo by Kenzo
- Leather: Cuir amethyste by Armani Privé
- Musky: White musk by The Body Shop
Perfumes in my travel bag
Thé glacé Aqua Perfume by Terry de Gunzburg and Habanita l’Esprit by Molinard
My layering secrets
- Patchouli by Réminiscence / Narcisso Rodriguez
- Ombre mercure by Terry de Gunzburg / Thé glacé Aqua Parfum by Terry de Gunzburg
- Infusion d’Iris by Prada / White musk by The Body Shop
Caring for perfumes
Don’t let perfumes under the sunlights. If you can, keep it in the fridge or in a temperate place.
Perfumes in your portfolio
- Thé glacé Aqua Parfum de Terry de Gunzburg
- Bracken woman by Amouage
- Batucada by L’Artisan Parfumeur