May 13, 2015
Creative Director Clara Molloy of Memo Paris photographed by Sofia Dadourian
I was brought into this world 42 years ago not knowing that a career in perfumes was part of my destiny, but in some way, always know that I needed beauty in my life and that I could not work without the passion of fragrance. In fact, the day I was born, the Parisian florists were on strike. To celebrate my birth, my mother did not get any flowers to her room, so instead, she sprayed a bit of perfume in the air and drew flowers for me.
My first conscience love affair with perfume was, in fact, a visual, which came at the age of 5. I saw the Fidji advertisement by Guy Laroche, the woman-island, and asked my mother if she would buy it for me. Of course this was not à little girl's perfume, but I was so impressed by the image and so persuasive that she said yes and bought a small bottle for me. Jasmin, iris, ylang ylang, sandalwood, patchouli… When I smelled this perfume I knew the key to my femininity would always be perfume, and that the best way to express myself would be through fragrances.
Moving along the path of my life to about ten years ago, I met Alienor Massenet. I was in the process of writing a book about the creative process of 22 noses in the perfume industry. She was a junior perfumer at that time, but her work for Viktor and Rolf, Antidote, and for Armani Privé (with their jasmine) preceded her. She had worked for several years with Sophia Grosjman and I felt close to her universe. I decided she should be in the book I was preparing, and as I was writing 22 interviews and organizing the 22 photo shoots, I realized we had so much in common and that we stood together in the industry at a turning point.
Alienor Massenet and Clara Molloy
I think it is interesting that we are two women of the same age. There are very few women who edit perfumes, and there are fewer noses that are women. Alienor has no ego, she is not narcissistic, and she is elegant. We love this female power behind the brand – it allows us to see women not only through seduction and eroticism, there is more to women and more to fragrance. We see all this.
The name of the brand, Memo, comes from Memory. Olfaction is our most archaic sense. One of the first we explore as human beings. It’s link to our sensations of space and time, and I believe, is something that has not been totally discovered by scientists. Perfumes have a strong connection to your soul, to your inner self… A fragrance can reveal you, transform you, it is far more powerful than people usually think.
When we started Memo in 2007, we began with Lalibela as our first fragrance. It is a chypre, which was something very important for me, and a place of pilgrimage for many others. Each plate has a significance and is an ode to the location of which the fragrance echos. The Lalibela plate came from an Ethiopian design.
Photo: Tidy, Untidy Numerisez vos souvenirs @claramemoparis
We have moved so far since then, we have become very much like two parts of a whole. With Alienor, we share tastes, and therefore we like to play games in the development of new scents. As we are in the development process, Alienor will send me 10 varieties of a fragrance, and at that same time I will send her a picture or inspiration board of the one I prefer. We send to each other at the same time, and so often, we come back with the same image or reference. These inspirations and references are not “pretty” in the traditional sense, they are secret, messy, but are used as a jumping off point for inspiration. Inspiration may come from a play, a word, a color, an idea, a quote, a poem, even someone…
If we visit an exhibition together, like La Belle Halleine in Bale, an exhibition about fragrance, we would pick up the same pièce of art. She loves painting, music, ballet, she is as strong, independent and fragile as I can be.
@claramemoparis View from Gatwick Express
Alienor, like myself loves travels. The journey is the destination, our motto, also suits her very well. What we are looking for in our fragrances is that movement, that light, that positive side of perfumes and life. There is always a part of hope and sun in the fragrances we make. I could not work with someone that does not share this vision. Someone that would want to add too much darkness to our landscapes… We need shadows, we love the night, but I want to feel the stars somewhere in the fragrance…
Cuir Nomades French Leather (a Foxy favorite)
What I feel is that we both work for the brand, to create an olfactive territory for Memo. We serve the brand. Memo could exist without me, without Alienor. It is not about Alienor or me, but about what suits the brand, on the long term, what is cohesive with it. Our collections (Cuirs Nomades, Graines Vagabondes) are a reflection of our DNA. Not a marketing invention.
Ilho Do Miel is new for 2015
What this all means is that we have the freedom to decide to launch or not to launch a fragrance, we do not care about what the other brands do, we are only two on board on the creative side.
Moon Flower @claramemopairs
We are seeking beauty, not sales. Seeking beauty is something that will have no end…
Memo Paris Granada
Our packaging also comes from our travels. I take a lot of pictures and when they are not in our Instagram account (@claramemoparis) they help me to imagine new collections, new plates, new designs. I love patterns, minimalism can be really boring and sterile. There is a golden touch in many things that we create, maybe it comes from my Spanish origins, I want to feel the sun and the light on the products…
the journey is the destination @guillaumebonn
I have always loved postcards and vintage items. They have that warm presence you want to bring back from your holidays, if you find the right ones…
John and Clara Molloy
All these stories exemplify how personal Memo is for me. This relationship is a family affair. My husband, John, is the president of the company. We met at an art exhibition at the Marmottan Museum in Paris. It was closed, and we were both waiting in front of the door. One thing led to another, after that, we became inseparable.
The year he joined Memo, we created Irish Leather. He is Irish, he has a strong sense of luxury and challenges us a lot with our creations…
My other passion, outside of travel and fragrance, is poetry. I began writing when I was seven. Poetry books have been my companions through life. There is a strong link between fragrances and poems in my opinion. They are both subtle, fragile… Beauty, wherever you find it, (music, books, art), brings me peace. My first poetry book will be published this year and I am quite happy about it as I sent it to publishers without any introduction, so it went all the way until an editor on its own.
I feel very privileged being able to do my job, and working with such an artist as Alienor. I feel we can go far together, that what we do brings us to places we have never been before. The sites that I find give us the architecture of the fragrance, the atmosphere, a specific sensuality. I don't remember à single fight with Alienor, it is always a very peaceful development, being short or being long, as if we were writing poetry (together, each of us one line, like in a 'cadavre exquis'.) I hope this peace, this calm energy, is visible in our creations. And I also hope people feel the fun and enjoyment we have: creation is a game in the end, and we try to remain kids.
-Clara Molloy, Creative Director and Co founder of Memo Paris Fragrances
Memo Paris Fragrances
Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Memo Fragrances crossed the Atlantic and is now sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Luckyscent.com and Aedes de Venustas in NY. At the time of this writing there are 16 fragrances that comprise three collections, Les Echappees, Cuir Nomades and Graines Vagabondes (which now includes Ilha do Mel). ÇaFleureBon has reviewed Memo Shams 2011, Memo Luxor Oud 2012, Memo Quartier Latin 2012, Memo Italian Leather 2013, Memo French Leather 2014
John Molloy Sniffapalooza Spring Fling Saturday 5/16 at Bergdorf Goodman
John Molloy, President , will be at Sniffapalooza Spring Fling to introduce the line to the throngs of perfumistas in attendance. –Michelyn Camen, Editor in Chief
We have a dream draw. A worldwide reader’s choice (registered readers only) draw for any of the 16 75ml Memo Perfumes ($250) OR a carded sample set of all 16. To be eligible please leave a lovely comment (since Clara and John will be reading this) as to what you found fascinating about Clara Molloy as a Creative Director, your choice should you win i.e. the sample set or your choice of perfume, where you live, and if you have a favorite Memo Paris Fragrance. Draw closes 5/17/2015
We announce the winner’s only onsite and on our Facebook page, so Like CaFleureBon and use our RSS option…..or your dream prize will be just spilled perfume.