In 2016, the Maison Louis Vuitton is preparing to explore new territory: perfume.
While unprecedented and firmly anchored in the House’s history, this olfactory path is not unchartered territory. Quite the contrary: it is informed by the trunk-maker’s legendary fondness for the vanity cases, travel asks and fragrances stamped Louis Vuitton that were created throughout the 20th century.
By way of an olfactory prelude, the Maison Louis Vuitton unveils its creative atelier in the heart of Grasse, in the Provence region of France; the unique background of House Perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud, and the palette of exclusive raw materials he has assembled since his arrival.
It is an invitation to travel, a prologue to an imminent departure.
Jacques Cavallier Belletrud
The life and travels of a Grasse native – As a schoolboy in Grasse, Jacques Cavallier Belletrud would walk by the imposing portal of an estate called Les Fontaines Parfumées every day. He had no idea what was hidden behind the wrought iron gates that so intrigued him. Little could he have imagined that, in 2016, this very place would become his creative atelier. At that time, fragrance still fanned through every street and alleyway in Grasse. One only had to breathe in to know what the perfume factories were distilling that day. Orange blossom, citronella, lavender, Jacques already knew those ingredients, by heart. At the age of eight, with absolute conviction, he went to his father, a perfumer, and told him he wanted to follow in his footsteps. He learned perfume notes the way other children practiced piano scales. Every evening, his father gave him perfume blotters, dipped in essence and he would have to wait until daybreak to write a detailed description in the notebooks he kept with care.
When he received good grades in school, his father would allow him to help weigh out formulas in the summer. The day after receiving his high school diploma, Jacques Cavallier Belletrud began working at the perfume company Charabot, where he learned how to distill flowers, discovered the perfume business and got a taste of freedom. At 18, he created his first formula ‒ but his father reminded him that it takes more than mixing a few scents together to become a perfumer. It would take a lot more hard work and humility to be hired at Firmenich, where he would spend twenty-two years. The creator of Jean Paul Gaultier Classique, L’Eau d’Issey and Opium pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent, among others, he was named Maître Parfumeur of Louis Vuitton in 2012.
Images via Louis Vuitton