With MATIERE PREMIERE a star is born and the limelight goes to its finest ingredients.

2021 . 01 . 19 | written by Laurence Arrigo Klove

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One year old. A baby-brand. Not quite. MATIERE PREMIERE is already playing with the more established ones. Its mastermind is Aurélien Guichard, a well-known talented perfumer with a family heritage in perfumes from Grasse. His idea is to show us the authentic perfumer backstage. To open -up its secret universe while making visible the beauty of a perfumer’s work. He indulges into radical ingredients overdoses. However, only the finest ingredients will do. The outcome is magnificent. Going back to basics creates modern classics.

Question: hello Aurélien, congratulations, how does it feel to have blown a one-year candle anniversary?
It feels wonderful. I feel lucky to be part of a great team. Within MATIERE PREMIERE, I have two talented team-mates, Caius Von Knorring and Cédric Meiffret, the two of them with vast experience in perfume development. I have also met wonderful people within retail stores and distribution companies all around the world. Those connections are authentic, intense and very rewarding. It feels so nice to be fueled by positive vibes.

Question: 2020 could have been a suicide attempt like jumping without a parachute. Yet your brand managed and even succeeded in fundraising 1.3 million euros, what are your success recipes? of course, lottery winning does not count
Back in 2017, I talked to my current partners about my idea of starting our own business. They jumped in with confidence. Our confidence has never left us. Our belief in our specific value, in our creative approach, in our communication style is solid. For sure, 2020 was a major storm. Our brand has shown solid resilience and we are so grateful to all the people who supported us. Our success story is also their story.

Question: you are a master perfumer at Takasago, so why did you have the need to create your own brand?
At Takasago, I am fulfilling the expression of couture perfumes brand and working hand in hand with them to follow their vision. With MATIERE PREMIERE, I wanted to express myself, to expose my work with a direct communication platform. I want people to understand the perfume they are wearing and feel how beautiful the texture of the ingredient is. I give them the reading tool. Some of my friends had told me that they had given up on perfumes as they felt it was too complicated. I listened to them and created a straightforward brand based on the quality of raw materials.

Question: let’s focus on that point. “matière première” means raw material, but ‘Première’ also means ‘first’…
Yes, by choosing it as the name of the brand, our intent was once again to say exactly what it is. We place the ingredients back on the core stage, on a pedestal. First and foremost, I choose the best quality ingredients, this requires a direct contact with the producer. It used to be like that, perfumers were visiting fields and selecting the ingredients they were going to use. It is the essence, the beginning of the creative process.

Question: Can you explain to us how you then go for an ingredient overdose?
Surely. I take one single ingredient of exceptional quality and overdose it. As one ingredient has several olfactive facets, I then decide which one I will play with, which twist I will give. The outcome is coherent, true to its ingredient, readable, understandable. My mission is to not only respect the ingredient but to sublimate it. Consequently, most of our investments concentrate on the ingredient, not on the bottle, nor the packaging or advertising … Smell is our final goal.

Question: the first time we met you said that MATIERE PREMIERE’s intention is to make visible the beauty of a perfumer work. What precisely did you mean?
I am so lucky that my workshop is in Grasse, in the South of France where you have this beautiful light, hilly landscape, stunning houses, nice food, delicious smells and sounds from nature... A unique lifestyle where beauty is all around. From my workshop window I see all of this. It is simple. Bare. Crude Beauty. My mind is in the right place to create. My setting, my atelier is what I show in all my videos and pictures. There are no artificial effects.

Question: Tell us more about your family roots and your love for Grasse.
My family comes from Grasse and this goes way back in time. My grandparents were growing jasmine, rose and verbena. I am the seventh generation of perfumer. I adore this special lifestyle, its slow pace, and is following the seasons and harvest periods. For example, May is all about rose while September is about tuberose. This immediate contact with nature is very important to me. Today, I spend time every month in Grasse. I also have the perfect excuse as I need to supervise my crops. Back in 2016, I planted 12’000 roses shrubs across 2 acres. The first harvest took place in 2019. Nature takes time and requires patience.

Question: Grasse has been declared by UNESCO Intangible Cultural of Humanity, how does it feel to have one’s beloved cradle recognized?
Its feels wonderful! I was part of the committee who presented the project to the French ministry of culture who then in turn presented it to UNESCO. It was dear to my heart to have Grasse and its know-how, its heritage, its people and their capacity to innovate to be recognized with such a title. Grasse has a huge cultural value that needs to be preserved and protected.

Question: What does sustainability mean for you and how do you apply it to your brand?
Once again, I know I repeat myself, but I take the risk of boring people, sustainability is all about the right sourcing of the ingredient itself. I directly select the raw material I will buy from equitable sources. For example, for sandalwood, I chose an Australian company who plants trees instead of depleting natural resources and which is 50% co-owned by indigenous communities. In my opinion, equitable sourcing also implies using large doses in my formulas; thus ensuring large quantities will be purchased over time and allowing the farmer to make a living in a reliable way. A sustainable economic model implies both an upfront and a long-term commitment.

Question: As a raw material perfectionist, what is your favorite ingredient? I am allowing you to say the organic Rose centifolia that you are farming if you wish…
Thank you for that! Yes, it is the rose centifolia. Being from Grasse, rose is in my blood. I love it without restraint. It is a real passion. Excessive. I have a second one, if I may, and it is the woody notes. They take me to an unknown destination, far away, exotic. With them I embark on an adventure where I explore new things.

Question: What feedback have you received so far on your brand?
People have told me that they see a total adequacy between my intention and the perfumes reality, between my speech and what they smell. I speak the truth. Coherence is there. They feel the quality and the beauty of the ingredients used. I couldn’t dream of a better appreciation.

Personal Take
Aurélien is a kid from Grasse with deep roots. With MATIERE PREMIERE, he makes a declaration of love to Grasse. To its people. To its land. Perfumes and nature are totally intertwined. Farming. Smelling the buds. The earth. The rain. The sun. The changing seasons. All the earth elements are slowly at work to ultimately produce beauty in scents. When are you planning your next trip to Grasse? I personally will pick May. Can’t wait.

Champs de roses ©alexisjacquin
MATIERE PREMIERE bureau du parfumeur rose centifolia 2020 ©alexisjacquin
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