February 23, 2016
At the occasion of the launch of COLOGNE and COLOGNE NOCTURNE, the two latest creations from LE GALION, created by master perfumer and friend Rodrigo Flores-Roux, I was particularly interested in Nicolas Chabot as the Creative Director of LE GALION . It was Tama Blough who attended Esxcense in 2014 on behalf of CaFleureBon for the (re) launch of a House that had made perfume history…. What would Nicolas Chabot do? Would he try to keep the original formulas or reinvent the past for a modern audience. In truth he did both and his story follows –Michelyn Camen, Editor in Chief
Nicolas Chabot (Photo: Sylvie Mafray)
"The fragrances of LE GALION belong to the same family of passionate fragrances, both fiery and subtle, they create a trail of admirers behind those who wear them." L'Officiel de la Mode, 1956
Photo:Laure Albin Guillout
LE GALION, the name inspired by the symbol of Paris, founded by Prince Murat, in 1930, and at the time of the golden age of French perfumery had fallen asleep in the 80’s. I had a passion, consuming and LE GALION was not only reborn, like a phoenix, from the ashes but continues its path of quality, luxury, refinement and timeless elegance. Finding the bottle was the trigger. By coincidence, dropping by at a Paris flea market, discovering a Sortilège by LE GALION bottle on the flea market. A precious 100ml crystal facetted bottle with a green embroiled packaging. And not knowing the brand, even if I had spent most of my life surrounded by perfume and in the business made me even more curious. Digging further, and discovering that the perfumer of LE GALION was the one who created Miss Dior, with my first work experience gained with Christian Dior Parfums. And a brand, founded by the Prince Murat, descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte family, in 1930, the same year my great-grandmother opened her perfume shop in the west of France. Far too many coincidences.
LE GALION Laboratory 1946
I had been encouraged by several around me to start my own brand, having spent years working internationally with in business, marketing and finally branding for groups such as LVMH, Estee Lauder, S.T. Dupont and Richemont, as well as in the perfume department of Le Printemps Haussmann where I started my career. Finding this hidden treasure proved a key point, especially when my grandmother confirmed the fame and quality of the work of one of French 10th most important fragrance creators of the 20th century. Learning Paul Vacher was the one behind the highlights of Lanvin in the early 20th century, such as Arpège, Scandal, Rumeur, My Sin, fragrances that continued to be the base of Lanvin’s success for decades, and the fact not much came from Lanvin after Vacher and Lanvin stopped their cooperation for a long time, meaning his work, while assisted by Andre Fraysse, must have been instrumental in linking the fashion and perfume empire Jeanne Lanvin built up over time.
Marilyn Monore Prefers Sortilège
The fact, Paul Vacher, like me – even if I am not a nose – wanted to do something in the area of fragrance, and created over 40 creations. Fragrances such as Sortilège – a floral aldehyde created in 1936 containing over 84 natural ingredients – which rapidly became an icon and during the post war years promoted and worn by the liked of Marilyn Monroe – the first official muse long time before Chanel N°5 – when she appeared in her first role, alongside Bette Davis in All About Eve, and discovering Sortilège was on the table during long minutes in the movie, highlighting not only the quality of Paul Vacher as a nose, but also a trendsetter in making his creations known and loved in the world.
Brigitte Bardot and Le Galion at the 36th Edition of l'Union des Artistes à Paris – 21 March 1966
Archives filled with images of Judy Garland, Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly or the movie ads with Ava Gardner promoting Sortilège, highlight his artistic and business drive.
Vintage LE GALION ad 1946
In a quest for the source of the ingredients and fragrances, the discovery that Paul’s daughter, Dominique de Urresti, – a nose herself – was still alive, was another invaluable aspect. When I contacted her, and after some exchange, we sat down for a tea, and she told me she had kept the original formulas, which otherwise might have been long lost in the archives of the US multinational that acquired LE GALION in the 80’s, and, not knowing how to explore the legendary richness of the brand, let it fall into something of the past. Her diligence, using Excel to keep the treasures of her father and her own work from being lost forever, was the starting point.
Dominique was ready to help the search the different perfumers, such as Thomas Fontaine, known for his expertise, in bringing memories of the past back to life has already started. At first, we thought we’d release 2 or 3 of the known old icons. But the more we worked on them, the more we uncovered and enjoyed the chic, rich, visionary and timeless fragrances. Every time we carefully rebuilt one, it seemed almost a crime not to continue. For each re-edition, Dominiqe was there, alongside one of the perfumers who had the difficult task to replace no longer existing elements. And Mrs de Urresti would have the final say: we would not stop until we heard: ‘ Yes, that’s the one’.
LE GALION SORTILEGE Guy Morel
In the end, we worked on 10 different ones: in addition to SORTILEGE, the rebirth of SNOB (a spicy fruity floral bouquet in 1952), WHIP (a leathery Cyprus citrus – 1953), VETYVER (a very aromatic vetiver – 1958 ), IRIS and TUBEREUSE (both singleflowers well ahead of their time, created in the 30’s) completed by LA ROSE in 1950, SPECIAL FOR GENTLEMEN (a fern Oriental Amber, and the first masculine created as not to compete with the other 1947 well known Paul Vacher creation, MISS DIOR) and EAU NOBLE, (a citrus leathery from 1972 and the last one created by Paul Vacher for LE GALION before passing away in the mid 70’s).
LE GALION Mansion Neuilly
The archives of LE GALION kept bringing in more treasures, such as 222, an unsigned creation of the time the Prince Murat was the one behind LE GALION, found in a precious piece of the archives, which used to be on Vacher’s desk in his Neuilly office, a beautiful Mansion House and the center of creation, laboratory and manufacture for his own brand and others, and where he exchanged and got inspired by artists around him: Maurice Ravel, who’s ‘Les Enfants et les Sortileges’ lead to the name of iconic fragrance that over time reached distribution in over 90 countries.
LE GALION Snob ad Jaques Darnel
Artists as well such as the famous illustrators Louis Ferrant in the 30’s and 40’s, Claude Morel in the 50’s and Jacques Darnel – known for his images of rugged man in the Dior and LE GALION campaigns – in the 60’s
With the 70’s photography made its entrance in campaigns for fragrance and luxury, and LE GALION was no exception, using the extraordinary talent of Guy Bourdin, known for his offbeat and daring representations of women.
Vanina Murraciole, Amelie Bourgeois, Anne-Sophie Behaghel and Rodrigo Flores-Roux
Overwhelmed by the richness and treasures found, the most critical aspect for me was to make sure not to be kept hostage by a ‘vintage trap’. The house of LE GALION had been once one of the France’s most eminent perfume houses, leader in fragrance and way fragrance communicated to the world, and just resurrecting was not going to do the trick, no matter how much the timeless creations merited their come-back. There had to be more, in new creations, new approaches to the market, even if the challenge set out by the quality of the past was a major one. The brief to creators such as Vanina Murraciole, Amelie Bourgeois, Anne-Sophie Behaghel and most recently Rodrigo Flores-Roux has allowed us to continue the story always respecting the tradition of the combination of the best natural raw ingredients into exciting and new additions.
Photo Roberto Greco
AESTHETE (a very carnal masculine) and CUIR (a smooth enveloping leather, homage to the leather fragrances Vacher created for others – Diorling and Scandal – even if he never created a leather for LE GALION) were launched in 2015, and this year the 2 additions, COLOGNE and COLOGNE NOCTURE celebrating the cologne history of the brand. And I am still involving Vacher’s daughter, Dominique de Urresti in the new fragrances, to maintain the lines with the past, while creating the future.
The timeless elegance is further highlighted by the Art Deco aspects of the facetted refined and elegant bottle, inspired by the originals, which always used “guilloches”, the black cap, as with the first bottles of the 30’s, with their purist geometric shapes, and the sleek packaging, as in the past, using a white box highlighted by gold and black details, that is luxury but without ostentation. The graphic codes are in line with the rich history, as are the presentation boxes – The Malle à Parfum – used for in store presence, using gold and black on a white background, ensuring coherence with the products, the past and the future.
Nicolas Chabot and Elisabetta at Esxence 2014 Photo Tama Blough
When presenting in Milano 2 years ago, I was truly surprised to see how many experts in the industry were excited LE GALION was back on stage and excited about all the work done on the re-creation. It has allowed us to regain customers lost decades ago, as well as add a set of new fans and followers. The additions last year were received well, and have shown LE GALION is back to stay and continue its story, with a renewed presence in over 30 countries, and precious points of sales, and I am encouraged by a lot of people to continue, which I’m looking forward to do.
Nicolas Chabot, Re-Founder and Creative Director of LE GALION
Thanks to Nicolas Chabot we have a worldwide draw for a registered reader for your choice of COLOGNE NOCTURNE, SORTILEGE EAU NOBILE SNOB WHIP AESTHETE or a discovery set of 7.5ml x 6 fragrances of your choice in the LE GALION LINE.
You must be registered and you must use your user name or your entry is invalid. To be eligible, please leave a comment about what moved you about the restoration of LE GALION, what you learned or a memorable quote from Nicolas Chabot your choice of the fragrance from the above OR a discovery set of 7.5 ml x 6 (be sure to list the fragrances you wish to win) and where you live. If you have a favorite Le Galion perfume or one you are dying to try, we would love for you to share that too!! If you choose the discovery set, be sure to leave each of the six fragrances in your comment. Draw closes 2/26/2016
Increase your chances of winning by LIKING our Facebook page CaFleureBon Creative Directors in Perfumery; your comment will count twice.
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