Louis Vuitton to launch 7 new perfumes inspired by travel

Iconic luxury travel trunks and leather goods from French fashion house Louis Vuitton may have accompanied its customers to distant lands, but the coveted brand now hopes to take its fans on a different kind of journey.

The maison has created seven new perfumes - each a concoction of ingredients sourced from around the globe - including CO2 extractions from jasmine and May roses native to Grasse, a town in France known as the world's perfume capital. Such an extraction process for flowers is a first in the perfume industry.

The 162-year-old label's master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud, who has created other popular scents, including Issey Miyake's L'Eau d'Issey and Stella by Stella McCartney, spent months travelling the five continents in search of exotic and rare materials that would help him create fragrances to conjure emotions.

In a telephone interview with The Straits Times, the 54-year-old native of Grasse says: "I wanted to surprise people who smell the perfumes. Create emotion, bring them back to childhood or moments of pleasure."

The fragrances include elements gathered from countries including China, France, Peru, Italy, Laos and Indonesia.

For Rose des Vents, Mr Belletrud blended a trio of roses - centifolia, Bulgarian and Turkish - to produce a vibrant and silky aroma that transports the mind to a field of flowers.

With Apogee, a reconnection with the self and raw nature is evoked through lily of the valley, Grasse jasmine and Chinese magnolia.

Although the majority of the scents are floral and lean towards the feminine, the range also includes more masculine notes of leather and wood, which can be found in perfumes Contre Moi and Matiere Noire.

On the challenge of working on seven perfumes at once, he says: "Working on seven leads simultaneously allowed me to create conversations among compositions.

"One provided respite from another when I was overcome by doubt. It gave me great freedom because it let me tell seven stories without trying to cater to all women with a single perfume."

It has been almost 90 years since Louis Vuitton last released a perfume. Asked why it has taken the fashion house so long to delve back into scents, Mr Belletrud says the brand wants to give each segment that it has - from shoes to jewellery - enough time to develop and mature.

"Ninety years is a long wait. But when you want to work for eternity, time is not so important."

In creating this new range, the label also gave Mr Belletrud the freedom to work without a deadline. The perfumer took four years to produce the range.

This is a rare privilege in the world of fragrances where scents from prestige labels such as Chanel, Dior and Tom Ford are produced and released quickly in a competitive industry predicted to be worth about US$38.8 billion (S$52.5 billion) by next year.

"It was clear from the beginning that we would release the perfumes only when they were ready."

Asked about the challenges he faced at the start, Mr Belletrud says in coming up with a range for one of the largest luxury maisons in the world, he knew he could not just make something fashionable and trendy.

"The challenge was to create something that would last over the years," he says.

He describes each of the seven scents as "unique" and "distinct".

After all, he says: "Wearing a perfume is intimate. It is an invitation, not an obligation."

• The fragrances ($370 for 100ml, $540 for 200ml) will be available at the Louis Vuitton boutiques at Marina Bay Sands and Ngee Ann City from Sept 15.

This article was first published on Aug 25, 2016.
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