Brands with a long history pride themselves on having a good story to tell. For Montblanc, that story is more of a journey, and one that’s propelled by a pioneering spirit. In 1907, when Montblanc – then known as Simplo Filler Pen Co. GmbH – released its first fountain pen, the Rouge et Noir, it was engineered to prevent leakage, a much appreciated novelty.
Since then it has continued to push the envelope in craftsmanship and innovation, from the lavishly embellished High Artistry pens to more new-age inventions like its Augmented Paper, which transfers analogue notes to a companion app. Montblanc didn’t restrict itself to an industry it was thriving in, but over time expanded into leather goods, accessories and even fine watchmaking.
After building up its image as a luxury house specialising in highly giftable goods, it only made sense for the company to conquer fragrances next.
In 2011, the fresh and clean Legend was launched, followed by the masculine Emblem in 2014. Both are tailored for men and evince a sense of sophistication and sensuality. Its latest olfactory undertaking, however, embodies Montblanc’s thirst for adventure.
Making scents of the world
The Montblanc Explorer is aptly named, evoking all the memories and imagery of ingredients that have been painstakingly sourced from around the globe. This composition, while masculine, stops short of being aggressive –and has an elegant, floral twist. To create the perfume’s multi-dimensionality, Montblanc relied on three outstanding talents from Givaudan (the world’s largest fragrance company): Jordi Fernandez, Antoine Maisondieu and Olivier Pescheux.
Maisondieu took charge of Explorer’s top notes: a blend of bergamot, pomarose and sage. The bergamot here is key, capturing the fruit’s explosive greenness for long-lasting freshness. “I find this ingredient particularly luminous, like a young Mediterranean boy bursting with laughter, pure and eminently elegant,” says Maisondieu. “Bergamot is also an icon of Calabria and symbolises the light of this region. We wanted to infuse Montblanc Explorer with this unique atmosphere, synonymous with joy, light and refinement.” When paired with the more masculine character of clary sage and spicy pink pepper, the top notes lead with a depth of character.
Travelling down to the heart notes, we smell vetiver, leather and sandalwood. Pescheux insisted upon vetiver from Haiti, as the Caribbean country’s vetiver oil is highly sought after for its smoky hues and a hint of hazelnut overtones. “I love the fact that it takes time to truly understand all the richness of vetiver,” explains Pescheux. “It’s not a common or easy-to-access smell. It’s authentic, raw and earthy.” The heart’s leather notes are also meant to be reminiscent of an adventurer’s jacket.
Haiti’s greatest crop was ethically sourced, and Givaudan even led its own initiative with Agri-Supply, the largest producer and exporter of vetiver oil in the world, which included building a road linking three farming villages in Les Cayes in 2013. This ethical commitment is in line with the philosophy of Explorer, where travel goes hand in hand with making the world a richer place to discover.
A similar practice was incorporated for patchouli which the perfumer sourced from Sulawesi. By installing energy-efficient distillation stills to reduce firewood consumption, the Indonesian island can safely continue to produce its prized plant, which to this perfume contributes a rich and diffusive woody fragrance with a light touch of tobacco. It is also one of Fernandez’s favourites.
“Patchouli is often at the centre of my creations, as it brings a rich and complex character to the perfume. It enhances the leather and cocoa notes of the composition without showing its earthy facet,” he explains.
Artistry at home
It’s not just the ingredients that have travelled. Montblanc’s quest for excellence has always been rooted in exceptional craftsmanship, so Explorer’s vessel begins in Montblanc’s home in Germany. The leather-like sheath that covers the bottle is printed with the Saffiano motif used on Montblanc creations since 1926, while the brand’s signature star is crafted in its Hamburg workshop. The sleeve and emblem are then sent to the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence, which produces all of Montblanc’s esteemed leather goods, to be assembled by hand.
The Montblanc Explorer is available as an Eau de Parfum in a travel-friendly 30ml size, but there are also 60ml and 100ml options alongside an aftershave balm, all-over shower gel and deodorant stick. It seems the Montblanc Explorer’s journey is only just getting started.
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