Cover Story: The seduction of scents

This article first appeared in Options, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on October 21, 2019 - October 27, 2019.
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Those obsessed with the olfactive have cause to celebrate indeed as the grandest of the haute parfumerie maisons, Henry Jacques, has now arrived in Malaysia. Eddin Khoo speaks to its CEO and daughter of the founder, Anne-Lise Cremona.

Haunted by an obsession to capture “essences”, poet Arthur Rimbaud wrote his majestic Illuminations in between fits of fever with his words “ground in wood and flowers”, a prelude to his journey aboard a Dutch battleship to Java. The poet with “the wind at his heels,” who was never to be heard of again following his “escape” to the East Indies, passed into legend as a trader of coffee and spices — the essences that had always inspired his deeper inner world enveloped, professedly, by “scent”.

The culture of perfumery, bound paradoxically within the realms of the sacred and the world of stench, is replete with histories of adventures and misadventures, the expansion of power and capital, the division of status and class, the changing nature of taste and, always, the recurrent narrative of landscapes and journeying.

“I have always believed that perfume is universal. Its real laboratory is culture and travelling. And the story of the perfume is, fundamentally, a human story — if you don’t like humanity, you will never like perfumes,” says Anne-Lise Cremona.

For the full story, pick up a copy of The Edge Malaysia (October 21, 2019) at your nearest news stands or visit optionstheedge.com.