Interviews Interview With Perfumer Pissara Umavijani from Dusita Paris

Interview With Perfumer Pissara Umavijani from Dusita Paris

06/14/16 07:30:59 (2 comments)

by: Raluca Kirschner


Fragrantica Romania editor and writer Raluca Kirscher already shared with us her views on the three first perfumes of the Paris based house Dusita in our news section two days ago. Now, she takes the opportunity to ask the founder and perfumer of the house,  PISSARA UMAVIJANI, some questions about her venture into the world of perfume creation.

RK:  When did you begin making perfumes?
 
PU: It was five years ago. At that time, I wasn't even thinking about creating a brand. It was pure passion that made me continue. I believe it is very important in life to find one's passion. It all started with collecting perfumes; I fell in love with the beauty of vintage perfumes (mostly from the era of 1880-1980). I started to notice the difference in perfumes from different period of times. The glory of creation, the exceptional quality and the creativity of vintage perfumes amazed me. At that time, I was living in Bangkok and vintage perfumes were not easy to find, but I had a friend who shared the same passion and we would sit together for hours and hours, talking about the notes, the genres, the composition.

RK: So it happened gradually.
 
PU: Yes, consequencely, my friend and I started to order some materials, most of them naturals. Then, we would start blending some accords, little by little.
 
RK: Are you a self educated perfumer?
 
PU: Yes, you could say that, since I did not go to any perfumery schools. I always worried that if perfumery would become a profession, one may lose a bit of "zest", the enthusiasm and energy to explore further. But that doesn't mean that I did not want to learn more from the great perfumers. Life is all about learning and I always had a passion for discovering how things are constructed. However, I considered the perfumes I collected as my mentors.
 
RK: You moved from your native country Thailand to Paris. Do you feel that this cultural new setting had more or less an impact on your creativity?

PU: This is a really great question because it makes me reflect on my life. First of all, I believe that we can find inspiration everywhere if we have the right state of mind. Creativity is, for me, a state where I have a blank mind and the energy to play, to discover more; let's say a canvas, ready to be painted. Inspiration can come any time; when riding a bicycle, walking in the forest, listening to music or reading the books I love. Thai people taught me the feeling of respect and gratitude towards the subject that we want to excel in, moreover, being humble is a part of our culture. When I presented my perfumes to François Henin of Jovoy, he liked it and encouraged me to start a brand, which made me decide to move to Paris. Although I knew that it wouldn't be easy to be alone in a foreign country, I did it any way because there are not many times we have such an opportunity and Jovoy is such a great boutique.

Paris taught me to live a life of solitude, far away from family and friends. This quietness has a lot of impact on my creations, as I can 'listen' to the raw materials more and I also have time to immerse myself into the project. I can say that Dusita has become my life and it led me to meet many amazing people. Moreover, Paris is a great place for inspiration, I can never get enough of the city.
 

RK: Your father, Montri Umavijani was an internationally acclaimed Thai modern poet and translator. Is his poetry the greatest influence on your work?

PU: Strangely, when my father was alive, we met every day, but never said to each other 'I love you'. For me, love is more than words, it was a feeling that we had. My father was someone exceptional but had a complex personality (he would be the equivalent of a  dark Chypre perfume); he lived his life for poetry. Regardless of the society's norm, he was proud to be a full time poet. Throughout his life, he published 27 poetry books and translated many great poems. I remember one time we were in the hospital, the day before he died. He gathered all of his strength and talked to me: "Ploi, I have been working all my life, but nobody really reads my poems. However, there is a person (an old professor in Chicago) who truly appreciates it, now I can die happy". I remember that I stayed at the hospital with him all night, and the day after, my mother called me and said, "this might be the last day for him". I hurried to the hospital. There he was, lying on the bed, so weak that he could not speak anymore. I remember that we played Mozart's Requiem and I looked at his face, I was too sad to cry, but at the same time, I saw a beauty in his tranquil face. From then on, I was determined that no matter what I would be doing later in life, I wanted people to read and appreciate his poetry. That came before starting a  perfume brand.

RK:  Let's talk a bit about the ingredients that you use. Your perfumes are very complex. I wore each of them for a few days, paying close attention to their evolutions on the skin, and to me it seems that each of your compositions has a main plot which is enriched by many other subtle tones. There is an Oud based composition Oudh Infini , a Fougere , Issara and the third, Melody de l`Amour appears to be dedicated to white flowers. What inspired you to choose these notes and let them become the main subjects of your perfumes?

PU: My perfume creations aim to translate his poetic world into scents. His world is Dusita, a paradise where one can express oneself with passion. The inspiration to create each accord is different; apart from the poetry of my father, there is also the experiences I accumulated through each moment of life. My first creation was Issara. It was conceived in the time that I traveled and experienced freedom. Also, I was reading the book Freedom from the Known, which I took wherever I traveled. I confess that I chose each ingredient by my intuition (clary sage has a certain characteristic that is very unique and gives a certain kind of tranquility, while coumarin, Tonka beans, and a bit of  Haitian vetiver give it a nature that leads to inner contentment, along with the abstraction from Ambergris. My goal for this perfume was to convey the feeling of pure freedom, a state of mind that ends suffering, a happiness which people can interpret and translate into their own experience.

Melodie de l'Amour was created out of respect for the ancient Fracas and the love of tuberose perfumes. I happened to read one of my father's poems about love that impressed me so much. He said that love is like a flower, blooming in an empty room. It takes time to understand it and so love itself is beautiful like a strange flower with an extraordinary perfume. This is where I imagined a bouquet of a variety of white flowers, the kind that you will never forget when you receive it. I chose Mysore sandalwood and Virginian cederwood as a background, along with many floral notes. I prefer natural materials because they can give the perfume more depth and complexity.

For Oudh Infini, my intention is to create an Oudh that has an abstract blend. I admit that it was the hardest formula I have ever done. Real Oudh Palaos from Lao doesn't get along easily with others. I chose Orange Flower Blossom, Rose de Mai, and Civet to give it the right twist. I chose Oudh because it is a real challenge; nowadays the market is filled with Oud perfumes and besides that, Agarwood is also a sacred ingredient in my culture. There are many Thai poems about it. I intended to use only real Agarwood Oil because I want people to appreciate the beauty of real Agarwood and to know that it is still possible to use novel ingredients if we choose to.
 

RK: Does niche/independent perfumery offer perfumers an easier way to express ideas, to explore a conceptual premise?

PU: Niche perfumery has been growing during the last five years. However, apart from the freedom to select the raw materials, the brand must possess certain characteristics in order to be remembered and successful in this business; in my experience, they are  the uniqueness of the creation, the quality of the scents (the longevity and stability), the philosophy of the brand, which must be strong and tell an interesting story to people, and the integrity of the brand.

In my limited experience, I must say it is not easy to start a niche perfume company because first off, for sourcing materials, the big companies are not readily willing to give samples to an unknown company. Finding other suppliers is also difficult because they usually ask for a bigger volume since they often work with the major clientele in the beauty industry. Also, it's hard to maintain one's philosophy through time and not be easily swayed by external circumstance like success or criticism. I believe that a brand should deliver its promise of quality products and this will create lasting loyalty from their costumers.

RK: Do you wear your own creations?

PU: Yes, very often, I usually layer them together, using ISSARA as a base and then Melodie de l'Amour or Oudh Infini. I love seeing people's reactions. I realize now that the perfumes we wear have more impact than we imagine. It is like a nonverbal language that we speak to others. Each time I finish one of my creations, I love wearing them. I love perfumes that last all day.
 

RK: It seems as though when a perfumer becomes famous, consumers, bloggers, distributors, retailers etc. expect them to make more and more new editions. What do you think of this current phenomena? Do you fear this pressure or do you keep to your own plan and rhythm?

PU: This is also a very good question. Knowing the brand's philosophy and my own rhythm (since I am the only perfumer of the brand), I would rather take my time to create scents at my own rhythm. Starting as a perfume collector, I am now aspiring to create perfumes that people will fall in love with for life, not just for as long as it's fashionable.  Therefore, we won't need too many creations, just a few good ones per year. The feedback so far gave me confidence, but also determination to respect the brand's standard, our original philosophy: the love for quality materials and unique poetic creations.
 

RK: Are you working on something new? See, I told you we always have another question.

PU: Definitely, I do. Lately, there have been some poems of my father that inspired me. For example:


The Dream

It is true that man
should not give in
to the dream;
but without it,
what is life?

 

What would be the right perfume accord for 'dream'? I wonder. As challenging as it is, I feel the presence of my father near me. Moreover, creating something new is such a great happiness. With that feeling of flow and enjoyment, I can just sit and blend  perfumes all day! It is the feeling of flow that makes life worth living. In addition to the creation side, meeting people who share the same passion is the best part; many of them became really good friends of mine. However, Dusita chooses to work with only a few distributors and boutiques who share the same objectives and create a long term relationship with them.
 

RK: Thank you very much for this interview. I wish you plenty of success!

_______________

 
All three Dusita Paris fragrances are available at 50 ml, Extrait de Parfum. You can learn more about the brand by visiting their homepage.

Read HERE Raluca's reviews on all three Dusita fragrances.
 
 
Raluca Kirschner
Editor, Writer & Translator
 
 
 
Raluca Kirschner studied Fine Arts and Art History. She has a wonderful little daughter and enjoys family life. Her devotion to the art of perfume led Raluca to the Fragrantica team. Raluca has breathed life into Fragrantica.ro — our source in Romanian. Aside from translating and maintaining the content she also writes her own articles.
 
BW
 

 
[email protected]
 
 
 


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NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

Thanks, Raluca! She has such beautiful inspirations for her scents but she clearly has her feet on the ground, too. I love how she described her father in terms of a fragrance. :-)

Jun
14
2016
jeremy fragrance
jeremy fragrance

I want to get to know her!

Jun
14
2016

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