When I go to Paris to see collections, I religiously visit the Jovoy perfumery, where you can discover over 150 brands of niche perfumes. A true wonderland where I found an exceptional perfume, called Origino, by the brand Jeroboam. I wore it and imported it and it became the best seller of the H Parfums counter. Discover the story of this perfume and of the brand Jeroboam with founder François Hénin, which I had the pleasure of meeting in Paris in January 2018.
Your brand Jeroboam is born of a game between the perfumer Vanina Murraciole and you. This intrigues me, could you clarify?
The story of Jeroboam is, in fact, very simple. As you know, around 25% of the world’s population is anosmic to musk – they do not perceive it. For them, musks do not smell like anything. The size of musk molecules are enormous, compared to bergamot for example, which is minuscule. Well, some noses do not send that information to the brain – making you deaf, in some way. The connection between the olfactory and the auditory is very interesting. It is said that perfume is ‘’ deaf’’ when one does not hear it, nor feel it. One day, I asked Vanina Murraciole, who is Jeroboam’s perfumer: ‘’Listen Vanina, I'm a little perplexed, I do not know musks very well, can you make me a little cocktail of them, I have this impression I do not feel them. And, as I sell perfumes, I would love to know what I’m talking about, to memorize them and to be able to identify them in perfumes.’’ She answered that musks are in every perfume, as they are essential to a fragrance. That’s why all natural or organic perfumes do not hold…or are very high in a dosage of sandalwood, patchouli or other heavy materials.
A cocktail of smells for anosmics…what did that smell like to you?
Vanina gave me a cocktail of musks with some additional notes, - otherwise, it would have been pretty sad. I wear it, but I don’t think it’s really anything exceptional. I decide to go to the restaurant where I go pretty much every day, and the waitress tells me that I smell very good today. I then decide to wear it a couple more times, everyone compliments me, but I still personally don’t really smell it and I forget I’m wearing it since the molecules are so large and I got used to it. The funny thing is that people kept stopping me on the street! It’s a pretty fresh scent, a little salty, a little woody, it has a nice vibration and people notice it.
How did you go from the Origino cocktail to an actual brand?
Initially, I didn’t know what to do with the cocktail, but I knew something had to be done. I start thinking about it and discussing with Vanina, and we come to the agreement we should build a brand. Our concept is that Origino, our cocktail, is the foundation of our brand, a very saturated and concentrated extract you will find in all our other perfumes. I think it can be worn alone or accompanied, for example with a cologne you enjoy but does not interact well with your skin, you may add Origino to it to give a new volume, new longevity. It is very common that people mix two perfumes. It is considered a perfume sin in France, but it is quite common in the Middle East. The musks are like a union in between our perfumes, which is why we named all of them in Esperanto, the universal language. It is a nod to the fact you will find Origino partly or completely in all our perfumes.
Why do you think Jeroboam sells so wonderfully?
The secret of Jeroboam is that we broke the conventional perfumery pyramid – we deliberately denatured that structure. We have exaggerated the base and worked the heart, as each Jeroboam fragrance is different, each one has its olfactory profile and its history. Vanina’s specialty is the top notes. She says: ‘’Perfume is like a hot air balloon. If you don’t have enough hot air, it won’t take off. Once you’re in the air, you’re fine, you stop caring about the top notes, but you need them to fly, to take off’. Vanina Murraciole is the perfumer for Jeroboam, but she also creates for luxury perfume houses. She works with extreme finesse and beautiful raw materials.