IMAGINARIUM: Reinventing Citrus with Philippe Di Méo

2024 . 06 . 06 | written by Karen Marin

Add to my selection

The People of Niche Perfumery


Essencional's original content

Imagine a garden of delight where all things are possible, where the unusual and the unexpected flourish and grow. A hybrid world where nature is enhanced by the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence. Such was the vision and point of departure for Philippe Di Méo who wanted to take the creative process of the perfumer to a new level.

Di Méo is the founder of Liquides Imaginaires, a brand which champions creative freedom and artistic license. Admittedly, most of the fragrances tend to evoke a sense of mystery and even mysticism, transporting the wearer to an imaginary world. With his latest project, Imaginarium, he went in a completely different direction, glorifying the noble citrus, an iconic ingredient in the perfumer’s palette yet not very present in Liquides Imaginaires. But that’s not all: Di Méo wanted to do a project with perfumery students, and this is when Givaudan entered the picture.

Philippe Di Méo
Oranger de Panama
Philippe Di Méo and Bernardo Cauvin, VP Sales Fine Fragrance and Business Development, Givaudan

Di Méo had discovered the amazing capabilities of Givaudan’s proprietary tour de force, CARTO, the AI tool that in a blink of an eye can produce an instant sample of a fragrance based on ingredients selected by the perfumer. This new technology, coupled with traditional learning, facilitates experimentation and creation as it opens up a new world of possibilities. Why not take it a step further and challenge the students at Givaudan’s Perfumery School to reinvent the citrus category? After selecting seven gifted, budding perfumers, Di Méo gave them a story rather than a brief, and then he let their imagination run free, giving them the liberty to create without restrictions.

Let’s break the codes. There’s no brief, there’s just a narrative focused on this key ingredient. Let’s see if we can do something unusual with an ingredient that is so iconic in the perfumers palette“. Philippe Di Méo

What resulted is a hybridization, the fruit of crossing AI with the Garden of the Hesperides, culminating in a new version of the citrus fragrance family.

The New Citrus Family Tree
Di Méo and some of the students

The magical illustration of the tree shows the many varieties of citrus fruits found in this family ranging from the familiar grapefruit to the exotic Buddha’s Hand. This is the realm of Liquides Imaginaires where spirituality, mystery and sensuality reign. Moving lower one arrives in the domain of Imaginarium which is ruled by the principles of naturality, fantasy and happiness. Here, we come across a color-coded trilogy that comprises the new version of the citrus family, each with a trio of scents created by the students. The Mandarin House which is orange, is the home of aromatic and spicy scents. The Cedrat Club is characterized by the color yellow, and the fragrances here are fresh yet gourmand. Green is associated with the third sub category, the Green Terrace which includes woody, spicy, outdoorsy scents.

Storytelling and the hybridisation of real and imaginary worlds are the keys to the creation of all our new fragrances”. Philippe Di Méo

Table with macrame fruits and fragrances
The Buddha’s Hand
Upcycled Mandarin

Givaudan hosted a special event in April at which Mr Di Méo introduced Imaginarium before sharing the stage with the students who presented their creations. For many it was their first project, a fantastic opportunity to work closely with a creative director, to be given artistic freedom and to work with an ingredient known for bringing joy and happiness. It is almost like an apprenticeship where they are allowed to express themselves, all before they even graduate! Mr. di Méo said he was amazed at the quality of the fragrances and I must concur as it was a challenge to decide which, among the nine, were my favorites. Seductive Cedrat, from the Cedrat Club, is at once delicious and fresh, tasty and creamy, yet not excessively so. It calls to mind the unctuous filling of the best lemon tart you’ve ever tucked into, mellowed by the softness of jasmine. Moving then to the Green Terrace trio, I am partial to Bergamot Brother, an exhilarating concoction of bergamot and spices, a blend that could make a refreshing cocktail. Is it any surprise that both of these fragrances are the work of Andrea Montanari? For my third favorite I return to the Cedrat Club to Cedrat Tonic, a sparkling and thirst-quenching potion where gin, grapefruit zest and ginger refresh and invigorate, created by Julie Noe. As stated on her Instagram account, the fragrance is:

A frozen cocktail of Cedrat, Grapefruit & Ginger infused with iced Gin, relying on sensual ambery woods that make the freshness stay forever on the skin. Be prepared to shiver!Julie Noe

Seductive Cedrat
Bergamot Brother
Cedrat Tonic

Imaginarium kicked off with an art installation during Design Week in Milan at the Rossana Orlandi Gallery. Mr. Di Méo had commissioned artist Laurentine Perilhou to create a tree of imaginary citrus fruits using her favorite medium: macrame.

Tree of Imaginary Citrus
Macramé art
Imaginary Citrus Fruits
Tree detail


In Greek mythology, citrus fruits were a wedding gift given to the god Zeus when he married Hera. They were so precious and divine that they were kept in the Garden of the Hesperides, far away from mortals. Today citrus is indispensable to the perfumer. As citrus notes raise our spirits and energize our senses, I felt very uplifted by what Mr Di Méo is doing and find him to be a visionary advocate for the world of fragrance. What a terrific concept, what a fantastic learning experience for the perfumery students, how fun and stimulating it must have been for them! May this project inspire others.

The precious and divine Citrus