A multi-national group of wordsmiths - from countries as diverse as Mexico, France, Ireland, England, Belgium, the US and Romania - gathered together for a unique perfume-making workshop yesterday evening to kick-off this week’s Paris Writing Retreat.
It was a most appropriate start to a retreat bearing the theme, 'Sensorial Paris,’ with writers basing their first assignment of the week on their experiences.
Hosted by genial Emmanuel Frossard, a native Parisian and co-owner of Candora, participants enjoyed a guided two-hour practical workshop, leaving with a bottle of perfume of their own making in a special commemorative pouch.
Named after Candora, an opera singer in the 1930s, who created cosmetics and perfumes for luxury French brands, this Maison des Parfums opened in 2017 and is located a stone’s throw from the banks of the Seine River, in the historic Marais district.
The perfumery is housed in a spacious, elegant room, the former home of Emmanuel as he grew up, his school being right next door. His mother still lives nearby, at the tender age of 96. “It was a great place to live,” said the friendly and knowledgeable father of two, nostalgically. “I used to walk everywhere in Paris. I didn’t get my first metro ticket until I was eighteen years old.”
With his comprehensive sales and marketing background with leading companies such as L’Oreal, Moet Hennessey, Louis Vuitton and Johnson & Johnson, and the expertise of his sister, Béatrice Delorme, in the world of luxury, perfume and cosmetics, Candora has developed into a cosy, welcoming family business in the heart of Paris. Two perfumers, Isabelle Ferrand and Mélanie Leroux, also contributed their expertise.
Emmanuel does more than teach his guests about perfume-making, he also teaches them a little about themselves, about their sense of smell and how it developed.
Guests also learn about the history of perfumes as well as their essential make-up, known as top, middle and base notes, and the evolution of a fragrance.
For example, did you know oud has no smell except when it starts to decay, or how long perfumes last and where the best place is to store them? Ever tried combining floral, fruit, spicy, fresh and woody fragrances? And from a total of twenty-three fragrances? You’ll learn this and more at Candora, for Emmanuel - a former accomplished actor - combines entertainment with educational insight.
“I like to combine opposites, the warmth of wood and the softness of flowers,” said Emmanuel describing his favorite scents. “I wear cedar and iris, sometimes vetiver and lavender. It’s amazing to see how two perfumes blend together to make a third. I often take the image of color. Blue and yellow give rise to green in which we perceive them without being able to clearly identify them.”
I chose marine, tobacco leaf, oud, ginger and cedar as my initial choice of fragrances during the workshop, finally deciding on three - oud, cedar and marine for my perfume. My wife was satisfied with the result - which I guess meant I had chosen well.
The last challenge facing participants is to name their perfume. Mine remains a secret. At least for the moment.
Aside from perfumes, Candora also makes a wide range of homemade products such as eau de toilette, scented candles, game books and other surprises. Its products can be ordered online.
Interestingly, Candora has also developed an innovative project with novelist, Ingrid Astier, to take visitors on a sensory journey through the small and large stories behind the different scents of the Candora collection, including damask rose, oud, bigarade orange and vetiver, that make up its Olfactory Library. Texts in a special 48-page hardcover book are illustrated with photos by Delphine Constantini and accompanied by a metal box containing the twenty-one scents in mini 3ml bottles, all numbered in a playful manner. Clients then exercise their olfactory memories, searching the ‘Scents Library’ and entering answers to questions on a page on the site, before discovering their overall score.
Credit also goes to Candora also for its strong environmental protection program. It uses only completely recyclable bottles and, to reduce energy-waste, does not operate air-conditioning units. Fresh air being the answer to the hot summers of Paris.
Seeing the smiles on the faces of writing retreat participants at a lively post-perfume-making soirée with wine, cheeses and desserts, our visit to Candora in the heart of Ile Saint-Louis, between Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Bastille, seemed as if it not only lived up to expectations, but far exceeded them.
Thank you to Patricia Liogier de Sereys , founder of Paris SVP, for introducing us to Emmanuel and his team.