Interviews Interview with Philippe Di Méo, founder of Liquides Imaginaires

Interview with Philippe Di Méo, founder of Liquides Imaginaires

06/07/16 11:07:27 (3 comments)

by: Sophie Normand

On the occasion of his latest project, a film that pays tribute to perfume and puts pictures in the poem "Elevation" by Baudelaire, we met Philippe Di Meo, Liquides Imaginaires' creator.
© Julien Benhamou

Sophie: Hello Philippe. You have worked in the luxury sector ever since you started (spirits, gastronomy, Baccarat crystal), how did you come to perfume?

It all started with an exhibition during the event of Paris Design Week and Rives de la Beauté in October 2011. I had led a project around L' Eau Bénite (Holy Water) for a while with the desire to return to the origins of perfume. I wanted to get out of the codes of beauty and cosmetics in which it is too often confined, to highlight its spiritual dimension. It was sort of the genesis of this sense of elevation, in my view profoundly linked to fragrance, which in ancient times was intended to address the Gods.

Gradually, the project evolved around the idea of a trilogy, which symbolizes the various virtues of perfume. For instance Fortis, whose "blackness" embodies the strength and the protective power of perfume. The idea of a liquid which makes you strong somehow. Sancti evokes purification, through more volatile and bright notes. And finally, Tumultu, between shadow and light, returns to the first idea of sensuality in perfume, inspired by the water vapor of an Egyptian bathroom.

This project allowed me to meet David Frossard (founder of the distribution label Différentes Latitudes). From here, the desire was born to found a real brand around this concept. So in a way, the DNA of Liquides Imaginaires, with these esoteric aspirations, was already there.


© Roberto Greco


Sophie: So Liquides Imaginaires is intended to pay tribute to the essence of perfume, away from conventional communication codes (materials, image) to summon its strength and cultural dimension?


Indeed. By expanding this first range with other trilogies, we wanted to raise the scent beyond the role of a "feel-good" item or a weapon of seduction, where it is often too confined to evoke its complexity. Although there is clearly a carnal and animal dimension in Liquides Imaginaires, I wanted to show that the beauty of fragrance can also reside in the realm of strangeness, darkness, depth, crossing different forms of artistic expression. This is for example why I appealed to author Jean-Baptiste Del Amo (L’Education Libertine, Le Sel), because the dark romanticism that animates his work seemed in tune with the spirit of my brand. Behind Liquides Imaginaires, there is this willingness to challenge, to stimulate the mystery, intrigue, tracking down beauty in boldness, difference. Far from the fragrances that are easy to access, calibrated to please the greatest number of people from the very top notes on, our perfumes require time to be apprehended. This vision of fragrance lends itself perfectly to the world of such a brand as Liquides, where we take time to discuss and discover the fragrances. My creative work consists of a legend, a myth. It has to be a story that inspires me and which I will then assign to 5 Givaudan perfumers who I usually work with, to translate it to perfume.

Sophie: Can you tell me about your recent collaboration with Julien Benhamou, one of the photographers of the Opera of Paris, centered around the Baudelaire poem, Elevation. Do we return with this project to the theme of the sacred origins of perfume, which rises to the gods?

Through the film I made in collaboration with Julien, a ballet photographer, there was this desire to illustrate the superiority of perfume to material matter. This idea of raising the fragrance up is perfectly expressed with the dancers of the film, who literally raise up. The images that we extracted from this project even better reflect the feeling of immateriality and elevation of perfume, as the specialty of Julien Benhamou is above all  knowing how to capture and catch the flying body movements of the dancers, especially when they are suspended.

The film is not about a particular perfume but about a vision of perfume, which is mine but also that of my brand: the passage of the material to the immaterial, from solid to liquid, as these natural raw materials become liquid to then be ethereal. This is the essence of Liquides Imaginaires, in a way, transcribing this passage from the visible to the invisible, the idea that these liquids must escape from reality, leaving the real world to achieve this poem called perfume.


Sophie: Is there also a desire to raise the perfume to a form of art?

The term "art" is perhaps a bit much, but indeed I consider perfume as a "work", an artistic collaboration. The narrative spirit has always been central to my approach, and  the trilogies lend themselves perfectly for this, because in fact I like to tell a story by mixing different forms of artistic expression. The visuals of Daniel Sannwald, for the first trilogie, the dark writing of Jean Baptiste Del Amo, not to mention the style of Julien Benhamou: every time I chose artists whose work I admire and whose "paw" will feed Liquides Imaginaires.

Sophie: Are there any other artistic projects planned for Liquides Imaginaires?

The trilogy of Eau de Peau, which took shape with the very bestial and animalistic Peau de Bête, last September (2015), welcomes a new edition, Belle Bête (Beautiful Beast). This one was inspired by a painting of Franz Von Stuck, Le Baiser du Sphinx (The Kiss of the Sphinx), which shows a woman playing her charms to become a predator. Here again, we find this universe of dark romanticism, where a creature, half woman, half lion, draws a man in her nets, to transform him into a "beast". The scent, a more subtle animalistic one than Peau de Bête, illustrates this transformation by opening on a powdery and spicy accord, in which iris flirts with chili pepper. It's a surge in female elements, which highlights the seductive power of this creature, before it dives into a darker, carnal dimension. The softness of suede and earthy vetiver initiate an unknown land passage. A human and animal fusion, with the nuances of civet, castoreum and costus. It;s an olfactory metaphor imagined by perfumer Carine Bouin, which will be presented in preview at the show of Tranoï and launched in France in September, subsequently abroad in the beginning of 2017.


You can find the creative work of Philippe Di Meo on the Tranoï show, which is to be held from June 25 to 27 at the French Institute of Fashion (Paris). On the theme of "indelible perfume" there will be a paint booth (in the spirit of paint hangars for cars), where the public will be marking a t-shirt with a scent that has color, combining color and odor somewhere between marker and fresh paint. This "perfume" was composed by the Flair duo Anne-Sophie Bélaghel and Amélie Bourgeois.

For more on the film "Elevation", click here.




Sophie Normand, 
Editor, Writer & Translator

Sophie Normand has been a perfume enthusiast ever since she was 13 years old. A few years ago, while working as a web copywriter, she decided to share her passion on a blog called MyBlueHour. Today, she is a free­lance writer, but most of all, she remains a perfume lover who likes to share her crushes on the internet.

Translation and Design: Bella Van der Weerd



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I used to love his fragrances before I got into the niche world and I realized that his fragrances are quite good but lacks something. The dome Rosa, Bello rabello, & bloody woods trilogy is the best as of the others aren't that strong.

The "Peau de Bête" is quite skanky and very irritating rather than charming although I like animalic notes but this one is too much in away of death skunk.

In my opinion "L’Ile Pourpre" is the winning of their full lines.


Awesome interview Sophie! Thank you! :)


I have never tried any of these fumes. Nice article though and they have always seemed sort of interesting esp. Beautiful Beast.


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