Sora Dora’s Quentin Dorado: “Perfume is Emotion in a Bottle”
2024 . 02 . 01 |
Back in October of 2022, when I had an initial encounter with Quentin Dorado, founder of Sora Dora, I had a feeling that his brand was going places, and indeed, it has. I kept running into him: at Esxence, at Pitti, at Jovoy in Paris…..I knew the brand was on the fast track. With an authentic story born in the heart of Provence, Quentin is the fourth generation of a family who is deeply rooted in many aspects of perfumery. While taking a well-deserved year end break, he made time to answer all my questions about his brand, how it started and where it’s going.
Your story starts with family, beginning in Portugal then coming to Provence. How did it all begin?
My grandmother’s father, Antoine, left Portugal to escape becoming a priest, a destiny imposed on him by his parents. He made the decision to leave overnight, without a word to anyone. Since he grew up in a farming family, he was confident he would find work. He responded to an advertisement to work in the coal mines in Greasque, a town in France in Provence. Once hired, he stayed with a family in exchange for tending to their gardens. Word got out, and very soon he was taking care of the gardens for the entire town. Over time, he won the affection of the locals who suggested that he go to Grasse, where he could pursue a profession combining his passion while improving his living conditions. This is how the relationship between perfumery and my family began, thanks to Antoine's courage, determination and passion.
Your grandfather, your father….are they also in the fragrance business? Is perfume in your blood?
Actually Antoine had three daughters and one of them, Jany, is my grandmother. She worked in a perfume store and had a real passion for fragrances. Both of my parents worked at Parfumerie Trupheme, a maison that dates back to 1885. My aunt played the role of matchmaker in bringing them together. Then, they started a family and founded their own perfumery in Nantes.
Since Antoine had worked in Grasse, we always had a strong connection with raw materials and the art of perfumery. Perfumery is clearly a part of me, I grew up in this world, it is a passion passed down from generation to generation.
And now you are a perfumer? How did you train?
Haha, I don't really consider myself a perfumer. I had the chance to meet two exceptional perfumers, Amélie and Anne-Sophie from the FLAIR studio. They really changed my life. When I presented the Sora Dora project to them, we started working on the briefs. However, our sensitivities were different. I realized that we didn't see things the same way. So I asked them to assist me to fully learn the formulations and raw materials before continuing work on the perfumes. I wanted to speak their language to better express and convey my ideas. Amélie provided me with an organ and we began learning. Today, I can formulate independently, but I do not have their talent or their tools. I know synthetic materials, I understand the art of superimposing odors, their usefulness, I know how to formulate them in a refined way and I understand the importance of fine materials, along with other aspects of the art of perfumery. I am grateful to them for everything.
Tell me when you decided to create the brand and what you had to do to get it started. How did you find retail partners, distributors, even your suppliers for packaging and bottle design?
During my studies in Paris, which were far from perfumery (I studied topography!), I struggled to make ends meet. I started selling my personal perfume collection, a collection full of rare treasures. This is where the project was born because I realized I wanted to create on my own, to add my own olfactory signature. Even before meeting Amélie and Anne-Sophie, I experimented a lot without much knowledge. I mostly mixed essential oils and mid-grade synthetics found online. I was always attracted to perfumes that evolve enormously on the skin.
To start the project, I needed funds. I was lucky enough to have a family friend who believed in me and my project. Thanks to him, the project was able to begin. In fact, the brand name Sora Dora is a melding of my last name, Dorado, with Sora, the person who allowed me to start this project. The first production did not require a lot of resources, and since then, the company has been self-financing, allowing me to be completely independent.
For design and visual identity, I am lucky to have my brother, Ben Dorado, who is an artist and artistic director recognized in the hip-hop world. I gave him carte blanche. He took charge to make a truly contemporary art object with a minimalistic, almost clinical design, and a black on black or white on white color scheme.
As for the business part, I would say I'm lucky not to be chasing anyone. We exhibit our products at the most popular trade fairs and let the magic happen. I would like to thank François Henin of Jovoy, our first partner in France, for his support during the launch of Sora Dora. I have enormous admiration for him and immense respect for this man. Moreover, we are developing an exclusive perfume for JOVOY perfumeries in 2024, it will be called RED.
Let’s talk about the fragrances…..there is the original collection of 7 and you recently launched 2 new ones in Fall 2023. Where does the inspiration, the story for each fragrance come from? Do you have a personal favorite?
There are two collections now. The first collection in the black motif represents a very conservative side of traditional perfumery, with known accords, meant to represent French perfumery. In contrast, the white collection aims to be much more abstract, to push my artistic desires and to make maximum use of all the new techniques/molecules of modern perfumery.
As I mentioned, I wanted to create fragrances that evolve on the skin, that to me is what makes a formula magical. Today, with the materials available, we can even add texture and a different trail to the scent. Inspiration can come from a variety of places, from olfactory memories to pure creation. For example, with Gladiator I wanted to recreate a fougère reminiscent of my memory of the fougère fragrance my father used to wear, but modernizing it to create a scent that is both modern and retro. Greasque pays homage to my native village and my family. Red Orchid, on the other hand, tells the story of a flower of Paradise. Each perfume has a story, whether in its creation, its artistic orientation or in my personal memory. My favorite scent in the collection is MALLOW. I find this fragrance exceptional, and give my congratulations to Anne-Sophie. This is by far the most sophisticated formula in the collection.
Tell me about your creative process.
Generally, we start with an inspiration (personal, culinary or olfactory in general), then we work on it, both from an olfactory standpoint as well as visually. Here is a typical example of the work we do: For the next perfume "YLOP", the story starts from an apricot in Provence. Apricot has a skin-like scent, so we went for a musky apricot. We wanted to translate the smell that women leave on men when they fall in love, this "imprint" that we feel during the first emotions. YLOP also evokes polyamory, and what smells could be associated with this notion? Finally, Poli is also the name of a woman who had a profound impact on me. Visually, apricots can also make us think of feminine forms...
I never really visualize the smell until I design it. I just want to be swept away by the emotion once the formula is ready.
What do you think about natural and synthetic ingredients?
Synthetics are magnificent! They can enhance materials, create new smells and it’s often more planet-friendly to use them. They are so misunderstood. It's 2024 and we absolutely must use all the materials available in our palette to push our art to its peak. I often compare perfumery to music or painting. Today, our music is composed of classical and electronic pieces. In perfumery synthetics can sublimate naturals and vice versa. We work with VO AROMATIQUES in Grasse. They still work by hand and have exceptional materials. It's a real pleasure to collaborate with them.
What are the brand values? How do you define Sora Dora?
In terms of fragrances, I would say evolution and refinement. I want to represent the DNA of French perfumery. In terms of visuals, we are modern and minimalist. In terms of creativity, we are without limits.
In which markets is the brand sold and are there any you would like to open?
Currently, we are present in France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Lithuania, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, United States, Thailand, South Korea, in Dubai, Qatar, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Australia and Mexico. As I mentioned previously, we are not chasing markets, but I would like to be more present in the Middle East. We are still young, and I am convinced of the future success of the brand.
How do you see Sora Dora evolving over the next few years? What should we expect to see from you in the future?
I have ambition for the brand, but above all a creative ambition. Everything SoraDora earns is reinvested in creative projects for the brand. I love collaborating and working with independent artists or on exciting art projects. For example, we have already collaborated with a French MMA fighter for the Gladiator perfume, and we worked with a group of Polish rap artists "PR8L3M" for their 10th anniversary to create a perfume together. For 2024 we have the collaboration with JOVOY for an exclusive perfume! There are also two new products planned in the IRREEL (White) collection,
I want the best for my brand and for each of our perfumes to be unique. I think it’s crucial to maintaining our identity. I don't really see myself in the future. I try to enjoy the present moment, to capture the beauty of this world that is available to us every day and to take hold of creativity when it presents itself.
Sora Dora gets great marks from fragrance reviewers as the scents, all in perfume extract form, are highly concentrated, tenacious and long-lasting. Broceliande is a rum-lime Mojito-type concoction with warm spice and gourmand notes. Gladiator opens with the fresh and familiar notes of pineapple, grapefruit and neroli, spiked by geranium and mint before ending with wood notes. Mandorle is a delicious boozy-leathery gourmand with cocoa, almond and rum notes rounded off with cashmere wood and suede. I’m now partial to the comforting, gourmand sweetness of Jany, so reminiscent of a French tarte tatin, fresh from the oven.
Sora Dora will be present at Esxence,The Art Perfumery Event, to be held in Milan 6 – 9 March. If you haven’t discovered the brand yet, be sure to visit Quentin at his stand.