Olfactory Pleasures in New Orleans: Avery Fine Perfumery
Throughout its storied history, New Orleans has been known for its savoir-faire and joie de vivre. This, after all, is a town that celebrates life's pleasures, whether it's New Orleans cuisine or the music of JazzFest - or the sordid joys of Southern Decadence. People in New Orleans seem to know that there's no time like the present to indulge yourself a little - or a lot.
Recently, Avery Fine Perfumery opened the doors of its first American outpost in New Orleans. The store, located at 527 St. Joseph Street in the Warehouse District, is an interactive perfumery and features an "aviary" theme, which it shares with Avery's London and Modena, Italy stores.
Instead of presenting the bottles on shelves, in overly ornate packaging, the various fragrance lines at Avery Fine Perfumery are showcased on dressing tables and armoires. In this way, Avery's clients are able to discover their scent with the help of attentive perfume specialists, as well as feathers.
Avery’s unique approach to fragrance, coupled with New Orleans’ creative spirit is what drew the brand to the historic city. "I believe the soul of Avery is very close to the soul of New Orleans," says Celso Fadelli, CEO of Intertrade Europe, parent company of Avery. "We believe in the ingredient of art in the creation of the perfume, and New Orleans is one of the most artistic cities in America."
Interior designer Lilian Dreissen designed the space to pay homage to the city of New Orleans and its deep architectural history. "Because of the flooding, there is a lot of salvage. I saved doors, locks, and some of the metal wear which is so recognizable," she said. "I incorporated the balconies into the shop as well. The spirit of the old town is still in here, attached to the perfumes."
Given our love for fragrance (and New Orleans), we decided to get in touch with Shannon Drake, of Intertrade Europe - and discover the basenotes in this endeavor.
EDGE: Is there something about New Orleans, something about its history that makes it particularly compatible with fragrance and perfume?
SD: New Orleans is known for its sensory overload in terms of sight, sound, and taste, so it only made sense to make it complete with smell.
EDGE: That’s so true; so often you’re smelling something delicious in New Orleans. Did someone say beignets?
SD: Exactly. And because the city is alive with artists of all types... There are creative people all over this town - and so the art of perfumery is a perfect complement to the overall creative atmosphere.
EDGE: Each year in the fashion world, there’s often a particular trend that seems to influence the direction of the industry’s creativity. Do you see that in the fragrance world? In other words, are there fragrance trends?
SD: Absolutely! This past spring, there was a huge tribute to jasmine, and we found lots of artists interpreting how they believe a jasmine scent should be worn.
EDGE: Jasmine can be heavenly. I remember driving through Los Angeles at night...
SD: For fall, we are seeing the continued trend of ouds, but also a resurgence in patchouli-based fragrances. Patchoulis that are a little more... well, distinguished.
EDGE: I know what you mean. Not like the patchouli that people associate with the Sixties, right?
SD: Yes, it’s more layered. Their names say it all: Pardon by Nasomatto, Regal by Boadicea the Victorious, Mister Marvelous by Byredo.
EDGE: Those are delicious. Fragrance names can be so evocative. What do you think true fragrance connoisseurs are clamoring for these days?
SD: Anything they can’t define. Anything they can’t understand. Something that opens up and becomes different through the weardown.
EDGE: Fragrance is so much like life, isn’t it? I mean, what you said is the same thing we look for in a partner. Something that opens up and surprises us, that indefinable quality that connotes love.
SD: True fragrance connoisseurs want to be pleasantly surprised. And anything that doesn’t have a celebrity name in it.
EDGE: Oh, amen to that. We can only cross our fingers that trend has come to an end. If we never see another D-list celebrity fragrance, life will have improved.
SD: [laughing] I’m with you.
EDGE: A few years back, we ran into you at New York’s Elements Showcase, one of the more innovative events for fragrance luminaries and the cognoscenti of fragrance. We noticed a lot of attention surrounding one of your Avery brands, Blood Concept. What do you think is the reason for such industry and consumer interest in this line?
SD: Blood Concept to me is truly the reason why Avery specializes in artistic fragrances. The line consists of four fragrances - no flowers to be found - and all four end with a "metallic" note, similar to how blood smells.
EDGE: That’s very intriguing. It’s exactly what you were saying a few minutes ago, about connoisseurs wanting that indefinable essence.
SD: The scents are like no other fragrance I have smelled before. The creators behind the brand really did their homework and took their time in creating the packaging and the bottles.
EDGE: It does look beautiful, the entire presentation. The entire concept is so beautifully executed - right through to the sample kit.
SD: I believe that it’s garnering so much attention because most people would not expect to see the word "blood" in something that describes perfume. We are conditioned to believe that perfume should smell of roses - and Blood Concept pushes those boundaries.
EDGE: That’s so great when that happens. The history of fragrance is made great by those developments, when the envelope of expectation has been burst open.
SD: Europeans are slightly ahead of us in the world of art perfume, but Americans are catching up in our appreciation of it.
EDGE: That’s so true. You meet so many people these days who are, literally, obsessed by fragrance. How has the fragrance industry evolved and changed in the past decade?
SD: I don’t believe that people are necessarily driven to fragrance by mass ads and perfume sprayers at the mall. More and more, I think people are seeking out a niche fragrance to mirror their individuality.
EDGE: Something sui generis, right?
SD: Right. As American culture becomes more accepting of individualism, I think we’ll see an evolution in all forms of creative expression, including clothes and fragrance. People are looking for unusual ingredients and blended fragrances that help them reflect who they are.
EDGE: Many true fragrance connoisseurs have particularly acute memories of their childhood - and the first scent that drew them into fragrance. Can you remember the first cologne or perfume that made you interested in the fragrance world?
SD: My mother wore Island Gardenia and my grandmother wore Bal a Versailles - and I still remember both of them vividly.
EDGE: For my mother, it was Shalimar. You never forget what your mother wore, you know?
SD: I think it contributes a little to my obsession with fragrances in general.
EDGE: If Avery Fine Perfumery were to have a signature New Orleans scent, what fragrance note would have to be included?
SD: I would have to say magnolia, mixed with coffee and absinthe - and of course, a little tobacco with pepper.
EDGE: That’s brilliant. You really do know your hometown. You hit all the right notes right there.
SD: [laughing] The magnolia for the refined part of the city, and the rest for all the things that people love about the city: café au lait, cocktails - and our food!
EDGE: And now there’s one more thing: Avery Fine Perfumery. Thanks so much for your time, Shannon. Here’s to another year of olfactory pleasures.
Avery Fine Perfumery carries exclusive Avery brands such as Carthusia, Nasomatto, Nez a Nez, Czech & Speake, Hype Noses, SoOud, Esteban, Blood Concept, Morgane Le Fay and Profumi Del Forte. The products range from $70 for a solid balm to $850 for a perfume.
For more information about Avery Fine Perfumes, contact Shannon Drake at email@example.com