Antoine Lie's New Life Belongs to The Free Perfumers Society.

2024 . 02 . 22 | written by Laurence Arrigo Klove

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Antoine Lie can be referred to as a ‘maverick’ in the world of perfume creation. He belongs to a small circle of expert perfumers trained in the best schools that have, over a long period of time, built a successful career in leading companies. During thirty years, he has relentlessly worked for the most prestigious perfume houses such as Givaudan and Takasago and created more than a hundred perfumes with significant masterpieces such as Armani Code, Tom Ford Private Blend Azure Lime, and Versace Crystal Noir… Yet he has decided to leave this world behind to be set free. As a free perfumer, he is opening a new chapter and shaping a new path. When asked to tell his story, he kicked off in a direct and intense way that caught my attention straight away. The hectic world slipped into oblivion, leaving room to a magnetic conversation with no time limitation. The new state of freedom of Antoine. Full of happiness.

A New Chapter as a Thinker, Perfumer and Teacher.

Antoine Lie, ‘the thinker’

Antoine had a passion, perfumes, but coming from Alsace with no link whatsoever with the perfume world, he was an outsider when he stepped inside Roure, one of the French prestigious schools of perfumery based in Grasse. Inside the school, his impetus and genius blossomed and were noticed by experienced mentors. One can say that the career that followed suit came as no surprise; one would have expected no less from such a talented young perfumer. Yet an occurrence already marked a difference: Antoine tells me he quickly decided to venture into the US and live in New York to see a different perspective, to open the olfactive possibilities. His thirst for creative freedom and expression of his olfactive opinion was already strong. Over the years, the more success he had, the more he felt restrained by the ‘mass appeal’ perfume requests. Working with niche houses somehow quenched his yearning for creativity and resulted in unconventional perfumes. One of them is for sure the daring fragrance called ‘Sécrétions Magnifiques’ created for l’Etat Libre d’Orange with the ‘libre’ of ‘free’ vision shared with the founder Etienne de Swardt. Another niche perfume project was ‘Wonderwood’ for Comme des Garçons, a powerful cocktail of woods, challenging yet mesmerizing. Nevertheless, within a large established company, he became more and more of a rebel, difficult to tame until… he went loose and joined a free movement.

Sécrétions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d’Orange
Wonderwood by Comme des Garçons

A New Age of Enlightenment: a Purpose Movement Restoring Artistry into Perfumery.

Antoine’s new chapter is a state of freedom full of respect for the creator. He does not want to use the term ‘independent perfumer’ as he is not isolated but very much interconnected. He is a ‘free perfumer’; free to think, question, and explore. He belongs to a new society of thinkers who are in the pursuit of a meaningful perfumery, restoring the fragrance artistry, and reshaping the perfume industry. Their main ideas are centered on the values of creativity and sustainability. In this ‘Free Perfumers’ circle, Antoine has partnered with specialists to meet, debate, and circulate innovative ideas. The society is rich in shared talent and competence with two prime members. Both are company founders, Rémi Pulvérail from Atelier Français des Matières and Luca Maffei from Atelier Fragranze Milano.

Rémi is an expert in sustainable sourcing of the most expensive and high-quality natural ingredients. Antoine has therefore the unique opportunity to work with Remi’s ‘grands crus’ - a unique lavender from Provence, a most precious vanilla from Madagascar, an exclusive rose from Morocco – but also to use them in an ‘overdose’ proportion. As there is no price boundary for the perfume’s formulas developed for les Indémodables, the brand of Valérie Pulvérail, the wife of Rémi, Antoine went as high as 5% of rose absolute in the Rose de Jamal. For Vanilla Havane, which Fragrantica ranked as one of the best scent vanillas of the last ten years, Antoine wanted to reveal all the complexity and beauty of the bean and its rich facets of rum, tobacco, spices, leather, and cocoa. The precious partnership with Atelier Français des Matières gives him access to a unique palette of raw materials.

Rose de Jamal by les Indémodables
Vanille Havane by les Indémodables
Remi Pulvérail and Antoine Lie in close collaboration

The relationship with Luca Maffei is of a different nature. Antoine also taps into the ingredients lab of Atelier Fragranze Milano, but more importantly he takes on the role of an inspiring teacher or expert advisor. Antoine shares his knowledge and skills with Luca, one of the most talented perfumers from the younger generation. He helps him win new projects or develop further robust perfume collections. For example, he worked on the perfume ‘Cupola’ of Salvatore Ferragamo and he guides the olfactive development of Parfums Houbigant Paris. The oriental range includes the fragrance ‘Ambre des Abysses’ which has been nominated for the French FIFI awards. The concept was about diving into the depths of the abyss; ‘an immersion in an unknown reality that makes us discover the beauty hidden in the immensity’- quote from the brand. Antoine steered the bold composition of Ambre des Abysses into an unexpected combination of fresh aromatic notes with the softness and creaminess of ambery, leathery nuances.

Antoine in the midst of an olfactive evaluation and creation
Ambre des Abysses Parfums Houbigant Paris
‘Cupola’ developed with Atelier Fragranze Milano for Salvatore Ferragamo

To Enjoy Total Freedom in a Creative Expression.

Antoine Lie is nowadays the perfumer and founder of ALOE - Antoine Lie Olfactive Experience – and his intention is clear:

'I don’t accept limitations in my creative freedom of expression. My determination to restore an authentic perfumery has no end'.

Except for garlic, he has no taboos and likes all ingredients, synthetic ones as well as naturals. Today, he has the luxury of being able to use more naturals than ever in his career. The use of colorants and unnecessary chemicals is for him a destruction of the original formula composition. Current news is that Antoine has been appointed as the perfumer in charge of the whole collection of scents for Eris Parfums; ‘Delta of Venus’, the new fragrance developed with Barbara Herman is capturing the juiciness and sensuousness of a ripe guava fruit. He is also working on a hemp perfume for an American brand, a confidential project at this point in time... What Antoine strives to achieve in each fragrance is a triptyque made of a unique identity, authentic quality, and contrasted harmony. Each perfume is a challenge that he happily embarks upon with a pen and a large empty page while listening to music. The moment of creation happens in isolation and concentration at his office desk. A reflection of the mind, an inspiration from music eventually create the solution Antoine is looking for. The destination is reached after numerous modifications along a slow and long perfume path. Having the time to create at his own pace gives him an authentic feeling of elation.

Delta of Venus by Eris Parfums

A maverick perfumer and charismatic character.

Antoine’s joy of creation colourfully shines through

Based on our conversation, here is my draft description of Antoine’s complex personality. Daring. Uncompromising. Sparkling. Extravagant. Opulent. Dense. Intense. Thoughtful. Delightful. Generous. Sensuous. Free. Happy. I have the opinion that the same description applies to his perfumes; his fragrances bear similar features and (music) notes. Wouldn’t you agree with my interpretation? Antoine’s brings his intense joy of creation to the ‘Free Perfumers Society,’ to his clients and to us. Thank you, Antoine, for sharing your joy in the fragrances that you create and we will experience. There is so much happiness ahead of us.

Antoine’s Music playlist: Ascent (Brian Eno). Symphonie N5 (Gustav Mahler). Blood on the rooftops (Genesis). Suzanne (Leonard Cohen). Black and white (The Opposition). Pain (Boys Harsher). The Four Seasons (Antonio Vivaldi). The Pearl (Harold Budd). Marooned (The Pink Floyd).