When Anne-Lise Cremona, chief executive of 44-year-old haute parfumerie Henry Jacques, travels, she stashes a small pouch with three glass vials of perfume in her handbag. Instead of a spritz nozzle, the bottles are capped with a stopper that is used to dab the fragrance on her neck and wrists. “Scent should be treated like a wardrobe, you apply a perfume to fit your mood and the occasion. It’s so chic,” says Cremona, the daughter of founder Henry Jacques Cremona, as she whips out her travel kit at the brand’s Marina Bay Sands (MBS) boutique.
Dressed in black, Cremona says Henry Jacques, which had its beginnings as a bespoke fragrance maker for royalty and society luminaries, is helping individuals rediscover the lost art of perfume-wearing. Take, for instance, Mr H and Mrs Y, the brand’s first pair of his and hers perfumes. Unlike typical couple fragrances that tend to be variations of the same scent, this duo from Henry Jacques’ new Les Toupies range were selected from the perfumery’s archives of bespoke formulations.
“These are two different creations that have nothing to do with each other but bring you to the same ground,” she says. “They represent French elegance.” Despite the gendered names, the woody-fresh Mr H, with notes of cedar, geranium and sandalwood; and floral-woody Mrs Y, which contains Damask rose, ylang-ylang and wild lily of the valley, are unisex enough to appeal to either gender.
It is all very French, including the design of its first standalone boutique in Singapore at MBS’ hotel lobby, featuring aged oak panels and antique furniture reminiscent of classic Parisian apartments. Besides carrying the full Les Classiques range of 50 perfume essences mined from its bespoke archives, the store has delightful surprises – like a vintage Baccarat flacon stashed in a writing desk-turned-display cabinet. Cremona takes pride in the fact that all the house’s perfumes are made with natural ingredients – its laboratory has about 1,200 ingredients sourced globally – and can contain up to 250 components each to give a complexity not found in commercial scents.
Since she spearheaded the brand’s global relaunch about six years ago, she has noticed an interesting phenomenon – they have equal numbers of male and female clients. She says: “Today, men are very adventurous and are not afraid to spend money on themselves. They’re used to buying cars, watches, and can go further in their purchases.”