Interview with Olivia Giacobetti
What is your motto?
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. – Leonardo da Vinci
What is your first memory of perfume?
Kiehl’s Musk. When I was six, my father brought back a small bottle of it from New York. I spent my childhood stealing droplets of the perfumed oil, which I found bewitching!
What are, according to you, the basics of creating a standout fragrance?
A standout fragrance doesn’t only depend on technique and aesthetics. It is first and foremost a very potent idea that caters for an unconscious collective desire.
What are the major challenges that a perfumer faces?
To stay true to oneself and to avoid copying from others too much, in case one forgets what makes one’s own world so special and kills one’s instinct and imagination.
Which ingredients do you enjoy working with the most, and why?
I like wood, all kinds of woods. Whether dry, black, green, smooth, or burnt, there is something primordial about the scent of wood. I cannot formulate a fragrance without having a specific wood in mind. Wood makes everything morerefined. It provides structure and mystery, too.
What is it that makes the IUNX brand so unique on the market today?
IUNX is a very free brand with no marketing obligations. It is above all a perfumer and creator’s brand. We simply did what we felt like doing.
Which of your scented creations do you consider the best?
The ones to come! I don’t really look back on what I’ve created because the only way of being truly creative is to keep an eye on the future. However, it is rewarding to know that some of my fragrances have withstood the test of time – perhaps because they were free of trends.
What is it that makes fragrances like Splash Forte, Eau Sento and Eau Blanche so unique and recognisable on the street?
I’m not sure… Perhaps their simplicity. My main goal is to find a simple form – not a simplistic form, but a complex form that gives the illusion of simplicity.
I’m attracted to primordial scents – scents from ancient memories, scents that captivate us: trees, water, fire…
If you had to pick one IUNX perfume for yourself, which would it be?
I would choose Eau Blanche because it’s an everyday fragrance, which fits any season and which I like to compare to a basic but essential piece of clothing. It has the simplicity of a white cotton shirt. No doubt about it: it can be worn with anything.
Your creations are often light and airy (for example En Passant and Splash Forte). Is this your trademark?
It isn’t, because it’s not the case for all the perfumes I create. What dictates the volume and power of the fragrance is its theme. There is a tendency to want to up the volume, but what makes music isn’t the noise – it’s the melody. Nowadays the general tendency is to favour loudness, no matter the lyrics: perfumers use the same set of high-diffusion molecules and everything ends up smelling the same. While some perfumes must be on the strong side to fully express their potential, others act like a veil, a second skin. White lilac, which is the central theme of the perfume En Passant, would become cloying at a higher concentration and would lose all of its naturalness and poetry. Most of IUNX’s eaux are designed and developed as contemporary “colognes” – low-concentration eaux made to be spritzed on liberally. L’Ether is a little different, in that its high concentration is made to match the heavy, warm and aerial qualities of incense.
Your fragrances are often inspired by natural elements (fig trees, wet wood, white linen on a clothesline)… Which landscapes are most evocative to you in your work for IUNX?
It’s not so much natural landscapes as specific moments and sensations, much like freeze-frames. I like the idea of trying to capture a fleeting impression before it slips away. Reality merges with memory. I don’t try to replicate specific scents, but rather our perception of them. What interests me is the sensation a scent brings. Eau Sento doesn’t replicate the smell of a Japanese bath per se, but expresses the scent of skin swathed in a soothing woody vapour. What I tried to achieve with the fig tree wasn’t to recreate its scent in the most minute of details: a perfume isn’t like lemon juice! Instead, I was looking for the feeling of a very hot summer, of a fig leaf as one crumples it between one’s hands.
You like perfumes that tell stories. What is your favourite olfactory story at IUNX?
I’m unable to create a perfume that doesn’t have a very personal and emotional dimension to it. I simply draw inspiration from what moves me. I don’t have a favourite story because all of IUNX’s themes draw from personal stories. Our latest eau, TALC, takes me back to Japan. It is inspired by a dance in which bodies covered in white powder brush against one another with extreme slowness. The aim was to convey this enveloping sense of lightness, softness, and strange quietness.