Interviews Interview with Jean-Philippe Clermont of Atelier des Ors

Interview with Jean-Philippe Clermont of Atelier des Ors

05/14/16 07:32:14

by: Sergey Borisov

Jean-Philippe Clermont is the person behind Atelier des Ors. I had been seeking an opportunity to meet and talk with him since I first tried his fragrances. I invite readers to discover the new perfume by Atelier des Ors, that the best knowledge can be obtained only through experiment, and that the best tobacco perfume has not yet been created.

Serguey Borisov: First of all, why do you need so much gold? Golden letters, a golden seahorse on the seal, golden flakes inside the bottles, etc... Even the name is "gold".

Jean-Philippe Clermont: Actually, we don’t say we have gold in our bottles. Our brand name is Atelier des Ors, not Atelier des Or. “Or” means “gold”, but “Ors” is used mostly in poetry and means not only gold, but the rarest and most exquisite things. So our brand name means that we work only with the most rare, most beautiful and most noble raw materials. It’s an Atelier of an artist who works to bring you the best things in life. Atelier des Ors is not a Factory or Workshop, it’s the place where an artist works, but not necessarily a jeweler which could be the first thought.

Our concept is not about gold, but about noble raw materials and we use gold in order to emphasize that idea. We do not say “golden flakes inside the bottles” – we prefer to say “stardust ballet inside the bottles”.

Serguey Borisov: You are not the first to put gold flakes inside a perfume bottle (Ramon Molvizar, remember?). But it seems you managed to solve the problem of the gold clogging the spray. How did you solve it?

Jean-Philippe Clermont: I think that Jivago perfumes were the first to put gold into the bottles. As far as I know – and I use a lot of my perfumes myself on a daily basis – we have no clogging problem with our sprays. We are about a year on the market and our distributors and retailers use our testers every day to show the fragrances, and we have no problem at all.

We use our own high caliber of golden flakes that we make ourselves.
 Prior to launching the brand, we tested three hundred bottles; we installed different pumps on them, and used them with different types of flakes. And I was fortunate enough to work with a very experienced executive person in the development of my company, so we checked every point where clogging might appear. I am not speaking about my competitors here, but I know that in some models of spray, certain flake sizes could be not good, and some are just fine. So we just know how, when and why. And as far as there`s a world-known gold specialist on our team (the one who covered the swimming pool with gold, that’s his lustrous background), we know all the properties of gold, so it’s not an accident.

Serguey Borisov: How much time did you need to develop the project?

Jean-Philippe Clermont: Three years to develop the world-wide project launch. We took our time, and the sprays took about 6 months to be sure that we could launch a product that will not have any issues. Now, to be frankly honest with you, “you never say never”, it might happen once or twice. But I have never experienced any problem with my own bottles, and I haven’t received any clogging problem information from my dealers either.

But anything could happen, even with regular, non-gold perfumes. In that case we just replace the product – we will take the bottle with a problem from the client and give them a new bottle, and we are ready to give them a gift to apologize for the inconvenience.

Serguey Borisov: Could you explain all the symbols on the bottle and the box?

Jean-Philippe Clermont: Sure, thank you for the question. First, the seahorse is a hallmark for 24 carat gold in France and its genus name is hippocampus. And also the hippocampus in your brain is very active to bring you the memories, especially the colours and flavours. Yes, obviously it’s a coincidence, but it’s a lucky coincidence and we are happy to use it. When we saw that, we decided that the seahorse should be our symbol. That’s the link between gold and perfume.

Serguey Borisov: Is it the sun depicted on your bottles?

Jean-Philippe Clermont: The rays on the bottle stand for a few things. It’s about sunlight – so it`s about life and life cycles, and god-like shining. And also rays are the way to show the sillage of perfume. And also – you could see that evident art-deco inspiration on our packaging, as it possibly was one of the most creative periods in history – at that time Lalique and Baccarat used cut crystal, and by those rays we make an homage to that period.

Serguey Borisov: When I look at your perfumes, I see them addressed to the Arabian market. Was that your intention?

Jean-Philippe Clermont: No-no-no! We do really want to speak to the whole world! The price may be a bit high... not everybody would spend 225 euros per bottle of perfume, but we offer quality for the price.

We don’t think in terms of demographics or nationality; for example, right now we are developing the distribution in France. And we did not intend to market to tourists, we think of local customers. Like, we are working on a contract with a Lille perfume boutique; by happy coincidence the perfumery is named Le Soleil d’Or. So our perfumes are world-oriented, as far as our returning customers of different nationalities love the perfumes. 

The names like Rose Omeyyade and Larmes du Desert we used only to emphasize the opulence of the oriental perfumes, based on oriental rose and the myrrh-incense accord. But it was not like a business idea “Let’s make the perfume brand just for the Oriental market!”

Serguey Borisov: As far as you have a luxury tobacco background, are you going to make some tobacco-civet fragrance?

Jean-Philippe Clermont: Well, maybe, but not in my first collection. I love the tobacco smell, but it was too much on the tobacco side, and I have to have a rest from tobacco.

Serguey Borisov: As you mention “the first collection”, we could expect the second one.

Jean-Philippe Clermont: Yes! We are working on another six perfumes.

Serguey Borisov: You said another six? Now you have only five perfumes...

Jean-Philippe Clermont: Well, the sixth perfume is almost ready, and we'll have a secret pre-launch here, I will show it to you later. But returning to your question about tobacco fragrances, if I`m going to make one, it would not be a pipe tobacco or flavoured tobacco. It would be a cigar type with the sweetness of the Maduro tobacco. It’s very black and oily, and the longer tobacco is aged, the more leaf starch turns into sugars, due to fermentation. When you smell Maduro, it smells sweet – and when you blend it with kind of a sweet alcohol, like Port, it is just an amazing thing. Then I need to find out, is it possible to translate this amazing experience into perfume or not, but for me it is the best tobacco experience to recreate in perfumes.

Serguey Borisov: What’s the name of the perfume?

Jean-Philippe Clermont: It has no official name as of now. We have to check out the database for copyrighted names and go through the procedure to find the name that is free.
 And the perfume itself might be a new perfume – or not.

Serguey Borisov: (smelling the blotter) I smell a lot of musk. With some pale powdery iris, some sweet vanilla, soft warm spices, a woody moss nuance…

Jean-Philippe Clermont: Yes, there’s some cinnamon, and some vetiver also, and a lot of orris. Moss is kind of a green vetiver-patchouli thing. I like the idea of its iridescence on skin…

Serguey Borisov: You just told me that you do have the name yet, but here’s 'Musk' on the bottle.

Jean-Philippe Clermont: Actually, the bottle is here just to present the new design of the bottle and packaging that was slightly improved and changed. But we are just working on a few different possibilities.

Serguey Borisov: When is the new packaging going to be launched?

Jean-Philippe Clermont: I believe we will launch it in about a month; all the new bottles will be presented worldwide. So the changes will be in May. About the name – it could be changed, or it could stay.

Serguey Borisov: What was the brief for the new perfume?

Jean-Philippe Clermont: When we work with Marie (Marie Salamagne), we use sort of inspirational things. Like, for Cuir Sacre we used Cordovan leather as inspiration (its nickname was “golden leather” as they used to emboss gold onto it). 
Two favourite perfume raw materials Marie loves to work with are Musks and Iris. And I like the Greek legend that Iris was the Goddess which brings good news from the Gods. That’s why the rainbow was associated with it. And you could find a pot of gold at every end of the rainbow – there’s the link with gold. So the perfume was born from the free expression of Marie on the theme of musks and iris.

Photos: Atelier des Ors; Jean-Philippe Clermont facebook page

Serguey Borisov

Sergey Borisov has been involved in perfumery since the early 90`s when he had his own perfume-devoted program “Close to Body” on Krasnoyarsk radio (1993). As a perfume enthusiast (known as moon_fish), he became famous in Russia for his translation of  Luca Turin's Perfume: Le Guide. He made a career as a fragrance journalist and contributed to such distinguished magazines as GQ, Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Interview, Forbes, Allure, Robb Report, Flacon, Departure, RBC-Style, TSUM-Magazine (2008-2016). His own online columns for,, and (2006-2015) have earned him international recognition and an invitation to be an editor for the Russian edition of “The Little Book of Perfumes” by Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez.  Sergey Borisov was invited as a speaker at Esxence 2012 (Milano) and Intercharm 2015 (Moscow). In 2013, Sergey joined the Fragrantica team.


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