Louis Vuitton takes it slow for perfume launch: Léa Seydoux and exclusive tech shake it up

Lea Seydoux for Louis Vuitton fragrancesThe gap between fragrance launches has narrowed over the years as fashion firms maximise the spin-off cash their brand names can generate. But not Louis Vuitton. The ultra-luxe brand will launch its latest scent on September 1, a mere 70 years after its last one.

It seems we could never accuse the brand of saturating the market. But then Louis Vuitton does like to do things differently from everyone else. It wasn’t so long ago that the brand didn’t even have a clothing collection and even now it never does anything so downmarket as having an end-of-season sale.

So, will the new launch also be different from the run-of-the-mill fashion brand blockbuster?

Yes. For a start, it’s actually a collection of seven scents and it will debut in Louis Vuitton stores rather than through department stores. The bottles will all be refillable and prices will start at $240 for 100ml, or you could splash out on a mini trunk with three fragrances, a snip at $4,900.

French actress Léa Seydoux, who has already starred in Vuitton fashion campaigns, will be the face of the launch.

The scents are each based on a specific flower and they use an exclusive process called CO2 extraction that has been around for a while but hasn’t been used on flowers from Grasse before. The end result is that the in-house perfumer (star ‘nose’ Jacques Cavallier Belletrud who used to be at Firmenich and also developed L’Eau d’Issey, Dior Addict, Jean Paul Gaultier Classique, and Stella by Stella McCartney) was able to produce floral notes that still have the fresh, dewy nature of the flowers in the field. Or that’s the plan anyway – we’ll only know how well it has worked come September 1.

Traditionally, perfumers extract fragrance by boiling the flowers, but here the process traps the CO2 in the air and with a sprinkling of fairy dust (or something a bit more technical) transforms the CO2 molecules into a liquid. By mixing that with the flowers at a very low temperature, their fragile, volatile elements are maintained.

That’s important because, much as we might like to think of our favourite fragrances as a combination of natural scents, they’re actually a mainly chemical concoction and so the more natural fragrance that can be captured, the better.

The collection comprises Rose des Vents, based on centifolia, Bulgarian, and Turkish roses; Turbulences inspired by tuberose and jasmine at dusk; Dans la Peau with jasmine, narcissus and natural leather; Apogée, which is mainly about lily of the valley; Contre Moi, which is big on vanilla; patchouli and white flower-based Matière; and Mille Feux comprising Chinese osmanthus and leather. The leather notes are achieved using a method used at Grasse two centuries ago.

Can’t wait until September 1. That’s my wedding anniversary – maybe I should start dropping some hints now.

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