It’s fascinating to be a perfumer these days. Customers are so well informed that when they ask a question, it’s quite detailed. The natural questions are about materials. Customers know their Javanol from their Ambroxan. The more difficult question is always why we choose to do what we do. Not only the philosophy behind our creations but also our choice to do limited-run.
Now I can easily say that I just get bored and end it here, but there’s more to it than that. It all started in 2015.
Although Les Vides Anges existed as a name we used for our art collective since the late 1990s, we only started to create fragrances five years ago. I was working as a photojournalist while Lucien — who spent most of his life with a spray can in his hands — had just finished a stint apprenticing for a German perfumer we met while working in Berlin. I didn’t join in at first, but it didn’t take long for Les Vides Anges to transform from art crew to perfume.
His first contracts were all industrial fragrances. Not dull but less than challenging. Soon after that, he got calls to do bespoke perfumes for individuals. This is where things get interesting. I decided to join in.
The people who order a custom perfume know what they want — ingredients, accord progression, etc. We started developing formulas that pushed past the monotony of designer perfume. With each new niche perfume came the seeds for other fragrances. We went down the rabbit hole.
By 2018, we were turning in circles. Although we had, and still have, a steady stream of industrial and custom fragrances to work on, we had books and books of formulas. We decided to test the waters with la 1e. We sold out quickly and put out more. But we didn’t want to create a couple of perfumes and sit back. So I suggested a hurdle. Something that would keep us going while keeping customers coming back.
Limited-run isn’t a unique idea. We’re not disrupting anything. But when we decided to limit the run of perfumes to 50 bottles, things became clear. We could try new things — constantly. It would be engrained in our DNA. Although a fragrance can sell out, we have the archived formulas and might revisit it one day (or never).
In the meantime, I’m forced to move forward. Maybe it’s my journalistic mindset. I keep building on what we’ve done by exploring new ingredients and re-interpreting our existing formulas. Not all our experiments work as a coveted extrait de parfum, so that’s where our candles and room perfumes come in.
Since 2018, Les Vides Anges has put out five limited-run perfumes, all authored by me — I’m taking care of our niche line while Lucien focuses on commercial fragrances. We have twenty experiments in rotation and two new extrait de parfum maturing in the vault. It is a fascinating time to be a perfumer.