Interviews Cecile Zarokian and the Rebirth of Jacques Fath

Cecile Zarokian and the Rebirth of Jacques Fath

10/28/15 01:40:10 (15 comments)

by: Miguel Matos


There was a lot of good news in this edition of Cannes TFWA, some of it related to the re-edition of vintage fragrances. Jacques Fath is another brand that is now coming back in full glory with a modern touch, too. The house of Panouge decided to collaborate with Cecile Zarokian on the renewal of the Jacques Fath brand. The first edition brought back to life was Green Water. It is a mythical fragrance that required hard work from such a talented perfumer like Cecile and a lot of trips to the Osmothèque in Versailles in order to smell the original fragrance from 1946. The line comprises now another three completely new perfumes called Vers le Sud , Curaçao Bay and Bel Ambre. I met Cecile at the Panouge booth and while I was introduced to these wonderful scents, I had to ask her all about the proccess of making them.

Miguel: Cécile, tell me all about the process of bringing back Green Water.

Cecile: We wanted to recreate Green Water to be as close as possible to the original. So we went together to the Osmothéque.

Miguel: The previous formula that was in the market until recently wasn't true to the original?

Cecile: It wasn't. The spirit was the same and you could still recognize Green Water, but some things have changed with the years passing because of so many owners. That's why it was important that we smelled the original from 1946 at the Osmothèque. When we smelled it we decided that it was still very modern and fresh. The main problem was that I couldn't bring the sample home.

Miguel: So you had to do it from your memory?

Cecile: From memory and from my notes. I worked that way, without the formula. It is a secret. Jean Kerléo, the founder of the Osmothèque has the formula and he explained to me the story and the details. So he didn't give me the formula but he gave me some tips. For example, he told me that at the time, the perfumer didn't care about the price of the concentrate. It was all about the quality of raw materials. That's why in the original version you can smell a lot of neroli. So we did the same and we used a lot of neroli because that is really important in this fragrance. But it's expensive and I put 5% in the formula, so you do the math. We made several different modifications and we all agreed that we had to push the neroli. It's a very expensive and high-quality formula. Jean Kerléo also told me they had used different kinds of mint. Mint is another key ingredient in Green Water.

Miguel: There are a lot of different varieties of mint. Which one did you use?

Cecile: Yes. Mint is very important in this composition, but if it is not a very high quality mint, it can seem cheap like toothpaste or food. We didn't want that, definitely. We used peppermint and mentha avensis, which is another kind of mint. This blend resulted in a high-end smell. I asked Kerléo about his opinion on my work. I wanted to learn as much as possible and he was willing to do it. We came back to the Osmothèque with the modifications to compare them with the original. I was hoping that it would be close. We smelled it together and he told me I was very close.

Perfumer Cecile Zarokian at Panouge booth in Cannes, TFWA 2015


Miguel: This process of work is quite interesting, Cecile. As far as I know this is the first time that you tried to recreate an old perfume. All the previous work I know from you is contemporary and new.

Cecile: I must say it was also a huge pressure for me. I was very anxious to touch such a mythical fragrance and also to submit it to Jean Kerléo's opinion. I really look up to him.

Miguel: I had only smelled the latest version of Green Water and I didn't like it very much. But this one I like. I recognize the same structure but the quality of the ingredients is very different. The previous one was very sharp and the notes were all too much...

Cecile: The previous edition was a bit harsh. But there are a lot of fans of the original version and they like this one.

Miguel: Another fragrance from this line is Vers le Sud. It's fig notes are inspired by the Mediterranean. Tell me about it.

Cecile: It's a delicate composition. It's not just about the fig. It's a woody marine fragrance and you have fig leaves. But you can also smell the dryness caused by the sun. It is also very woody with dry amber notes of ambroxan and cashmeran. This perfume is fresh and dense at the same time.

Miguel: It's not a complicated fragrance but I can feel it has many layers.

Cecile: You will see that these are very long-lasting fragrances and you will see that there is a story from the beginning to the end as they develop.

Miguel: Moving to Bel Ambre, the third fragrance of the collection. Leathery and warm, sensual and a bit animalic... Right up my alley!

Cecile: It's more your taste as I know it. I was quite sure that you would like it. It's a very sensual and charismatic fragrance. The drydown is based on amber but also very leathery, animalic. It's very deep because of the orris. This makes it intense, too. Also, for the woodiness I chose vetiver combined with labdanum and castoreum. The result is deep, complicated and very refined.

Miguel: The last one is Curaçao Bay which smells wonderfully iodinic and musky to me.

Cecile: It evokes the Caribbean islands and the ocean. I used frangipani notes and real ambergris infusion because I think it makes the composition richer and deeper.

Miguel: And it makes a real connection to the ocean.

Cecile: Exactly. It is also animalic and salty because it has been floating for so many years on the sea. I think it is very interesting to combine it with the marine notes.

Miguel: How was the decision of choosing the themes and fragrances for the relaunch of the brand?

Cecile: Rania Naim from Panouge just had this revelation. She had pictured it in her head more than a year ago.

Rania Naim and Cecile Zarokian at Panouge booth in Cannes, TFWA 2015

 

The rebirth of Jacques Fath is in very good hands as I guarantee the high quality of what I smelled in Cannes. There may even be a rumour that one day Iris Gris, the iconic (and impossible to find) Fath fragrance will someday be reworked and relaunched too in this line. The price range for the new Jacques Fath line is 180 euros for the 200ml bottle and 85 euros for 50ml.

 

Photos by Sandra Raičević-Petrović, at TFWA 2015, Cannes

 

Miguel Matos

Miguel is a Portuguese journalist obsessed with art and perfume. Miguel likes to see himself as a fragrance curator, investigating the possibilities of perfume as contemporary art in exhibitions and other multimedia projects. He directs his own cultural magazine, Umbigo, besides contributing with texts for museums and art galleries. He is a perfume collector and specializes in vintage perfumery, organizing monthly talks called Vintage Perfume Sniffing in Lisbon. He is a Fragrantica writer, translator and editor of Fragrantica.com.br.
 

 

 



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NickZee
NickZee

Look at the elephant in the room...pricing has tripled for the same fragrance. I can understand raising the price but it should still be within reach of current customers.

The packaging is perfect IMO, except for the cheap looking white labels. Yikes.

Nov
01
2015
Jernê Knowles
Jernê Knowles

What a delicious matter to be read and appreciated! Cecile and Michael are wonderful! Thank you!

Oct
30
2015
Mama-lola
Mama-lola

well,
These colors and boring packaging are not appealling to me. Don't even want to discover the range :(

Oct
30
2015
drakecito
drakecito

Thanks for the article.

Come on Cecile, you can do it...

Oct
29
2015
ChrisInBrooklyn
ChrisInBrooklyn

Sorry to be downer, but does anyone else think these bottles and packaging look really cheap?!

Oct
28
2015
NickZee
NickZee

Was thinking of buying the current formulation the other day, will have to get this formulation now :). The 200ml bottles look amazing!

Oct
28
2015
nostalgicnose
nostalgicnose

Great article!

Oct
28
2015
omar.melmo
omar.melmo

In my review of the other current version of Green Water, I said that despite the obvious cheapening and "bastardization" of the formula something of a green fresh cocktail remains attractive (not as attractive as Cecile Zarokian of course) in the fragrance even with the shameful longevity (really more of a body mist than a decent eau de toilette)... That's the proof of a coherent structure and a timeless composition.. I hope I could put my hand on this ambitious rework of an underrated if not unknown classic..

Oct
28
2015
zoka
zoka

WOW I am really curious now! We follow Cecile work for many years and she is attracting more and more interest of perfume houses. Green water and Vers le Sud have my particular intention.

Oct
28
2015
Planet_X
Planet_X

Love old Jacques Fath's House perfumes. Nothing can beat Expression, for example. But I afraid unless Roja Dove will not take the idea on a board - no one will re-create that masterpiece.
Same goes about the Ellipse and Fath de Fath.
At least Irissime came out, - its not something exceptional - yet I glad I got it in my collection, - its still different among the crowd. Good luck to Cecile, but I wish she would try to do something like Expression. It would be a fragrance of the year....And maybe will stay in history as well.
P.S. Love this style of photograph of Miguel as well!

Oct
28
2015
LANIER
LANIER

This is very exciting news! I can't wait to explore this new rebirth of a great fashion house though its fragrances. And by the way Miguel I love your new photograph. You remind me of the great movie star Tyrone Power in this picture. Bravo!

Oct
28
2015
Le vagabond
Le vagabond

Thanks for the read. Interesting how they went to the Osmotheque to compare with the original.

Oct
28
2015
Rohawa
Rohawa

Gorgeous new photo, Miguel! I've been wanting Green Water for a while - think I'll wait and make sure I get this new reformulation: sounds very promising, and hopefully will have more longevity than the current version.

Oct
28
2015
smellysmellerson
smellysmellerson

Interesting article. I wonder where I will be able to smell these in Canada.

Oct
28
2015
enyone
enyone

Great article! I love how Jacques Fath is a house with history.

Oct
28
2015

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