Henry Jacques Perfumes perpetuates old world French perfumery with a touch of luxury
At the start of Avenue Montaigne, in the heart of Paris, stands the new Henry Jacques Parfums boutique. Although the family-run French perfume house was launched in 1975, this is their first store in their home country. This is because the location and the building itself had to be perfect, with a rich history, no compromises or cuts in corners, true to the legacy of Henry Jacques perfumes. And it is immaculate, with its Belle Époque façade and private garden, a real rarity on Avenue Montaigne, blooming with the seasons.
“It was my dream to enter the store through a garden,” explains Anne-Lise Cremona, CEO of Henry Jacques Parfums. “I wanted a house, a place where customers could come and spend time, because luxury is time for oneself, it’s very rare. We started from the idea of having a boutique concept, like a house, to have a bit of mystery to treat the perfume as well as possible, without limits of quality or design.
Designed by French interior designer Christophe Tollemer, who is also the brand’s artistic director, upon entering the store, customers are immediately greeted by a glass showcase with objects that tell the story of Henry perfumes Jacques, giving it the air of a museum. – meeting-workshop. This is a very intentional effect, as Parfums Henry Jacques has always celebrated its heritage and history while keeping an eye on the present and the future. “The history of Henry Jacques perfumes is very important,” says Cremona. “It was the best decision we made because today history is here on a silver platter, and it’s time for us to move forward. We represent tradition and the bridge to the future.
Henry Jacques Parfums is haute perfumery, with a rich heritage that allows them to make modern creations with a wow factor. Founded by Henry Cremona to celebrate the ancient French traditions of perfume, the creator of the house was inspired by travel, culture, rarity and refinement, qualities that still drive the house today, now led by its daughter, Anne-Lise Cremona. She was working in the world of perfumery in London when she discovered that her parents wanted to retire and close the perfumery, but she didn’t want to see her legacy disappear, so she returned to France to run it. She took it in a new direction by opening businesses while maintaining their identity.
“My parents are an incredible couple,” says Anne-Lise Cremona. “They have a passion for beauty and handwork. They have more motivation to build something than for direct feedback. My father had an encounter with a nose; this man has become his very close friend. As the industry began to change, he couldn’t recognize what he had learned from generation to generation. The friendship was really beautiful. Together they started building the lab and my parents dedicated their lives to it. His mother, Yvette, was instrumental in the lab.
When Cremona took over Henry Jacques Perfumes, his vision was to build on and pay homage to the business created by his parents. It opened its doors in 2014 to the public after almost 40 years of creating exclusive personalized perfumes for private clients. To go from a purely bespoke perfumery to a permanent collection, she analyzed the records of every fragrance they had ever created, narrowing it down to 50 for the Les Classiques collection, all of which are genderless. “The hardest part was digging deep into all the formulas,” she says. “It was really hard to cut back.” Each boutique also offers a few exclusive fragrances instead.
“Very quickly I understood that the only way forward was to be completely independent and to be present only in our own shops, so the business model was completely unusual and never seen before”, explains Cremona. Harrods soon approached her with an offer to have her own shop in her flagship, so this was their foray into retail. They have since expanded to a total of nine custom-designed boutiques dotted around the world, ranging from Beverly Hills to Dubai to Singapore, with plans to open more in the future.
When customers come to buy a perfume, it’s not the typical experience of sniffing a few blotters. Patrons are led through the library, a lab meets an exploration zone, where expert staff guide them through an olfactory journey, with 1,200 ingredients. They will start by asking them about their mood that day, or how they would like to feel, for example. Want a burst of energy? They may feature a few citrus notes or accords, with a detailed explanation of each. Their fragrances can be applied as a splash or a spray, and the latter is invisible in the bottle, as if by magic. You won’t find any plastic in the bottles, as they use rare glass stoppers. There are also no added colors; instead, they rely on the natural hue. “It’s a different way of living with your scent,” says Cremona.
Don’t expect to sniff synthetics here – Henry Jacques Perfumes uses natural ingredients, sourcing the highest quality from around the world, including rare ones like ambergris and orris. “Natural ingredients deliver a lot of emotions,” says Cremona. “A simple example is the rose is very common; they’re everywhere, in your deodorant and your washing machine, but you never feel any emotion when using your laundry detergent. But if you try a composition with real rose, you suddenly know why it touches deep feelings and brings something else. That’s why we use natural ingredients. They are rare and very difficult to work with. We use a maximum of natural components because it is part of our history and our formulas.
If you are looking for a tailor-made perfume, Henry Jacques always offers you the experience. Clients meet for a consultation, then in-house perfumers toil for months to create three options before narrowing down to the final choice. The Parisian boutique has an elegant and comfortable room reserved for customers who create bespoke perfumes. “We wanted people to feel at home, as if they could get lost by taking the time to find their perfect vision,” explains Sache Kalifé, communications director (who is also Cremona’s son). Cremona adds: “It’s quite a journey. When they create a bespoke fragrance, they will be in our book and part of the story. It’s something people love because it can be passed down from grandparent to parent to child. It’s like your heritage.
Each bespoke experience is unique, just like the fragrance itself. They often try to challenge and surprise the customer, offering them unexpected options and they often end up choosing a different flavor from what they originally imagined. It is also an educational process.
“Sometimes customers just share emotions and they like that the scent makes them feel a certain way rather than saying which components they like,” says Corina Manea, international sales and training manager. “Each consultation is very individual, but we have the different tools to suit each style of consultation. Some people are really passionate about raw materials and we will guide them through this experience, while others focus on the emotions and incorporate scent to give them a certain feeling or memory to remind them of something very special.We try to extract as much information as possible so that we have enough to work with.A consultation can become quite intimate and it’s a very beautiful moment to share and really precious for us too.The privilege of when a client opens up to give us all this content at times in their life, it really enriches us.
All of Henry Jacques’ perfumers are trained internally and do not have star noses because they want everyone to share their vision and knowledge. “Fragrance is king,” says Cremona. “That’s what’s inside. That’s why we have these very classic bottles designed to improve production. It takes a lot of humanity to stand out because it takes time. It is the values that make the difference.
Henry Jacques Perfumes has reinvented perfume with its Clic-Clac, an elegant little perfume object which holds a solid perfume with a mechanism borrowed from watchmaking, designed by Tollemer. After years of manufacturing, it can be filled endlessly and carried anywhere. Although their fragrances are all unisex, they aimed to create something just for men. “We wanted to find the perfect way for men to travel everywhere with perfume,” says Kalifé. “Solid perfume is the most ancestral way of wearing perfume, dating back to the Egyptians. It’s super primal in a way that you have to hold it in your hand, and it has weight. It is an object that will be given to your sons and grandsons. Manea adds that men have few adornments beyond watches, so it’s a way for them to have something special. “Men will never go out with a bottle of perfume,” she says. “It is impossible for them to renew their request otherwise and they are real perfume lovers. We have noticed in our clientele that they exceed women.
Despite its recent growth, Parfums Henry Jacques is determined to remain an independent family brand. The company’s philosophy is to focus on creating olfactory works of art, not the bottom line. “The house was created with a passion for great perfumery,” says Cremona. “Most of the industry has shifted to a more global distribution of fragrances, so suddenly brands have to be present all over the world in huge quantities. But quantity and quality don’t really mix. When you get to that point , you have to compromise one way or another, and the industry has really changed.My family, out of a passion for beauty and great perfumery, never wanted to follow this trend.
This creed has guided them for almost 50 years and will guide them as they grow into the future, continuing to expand to other places in the world, as long as they can find the perfect place, remaining faithful to themselves. “Perfume is the ultimate adornment; when you take everything away, you still have your smell, your perfume,” says Kalifé. “That’s what people will remember about you.”