Li Ying Lim speaks to the couple behind Atelier Cologne about the making of a whole new fragrance category.
They revelled in the evergreen freshness of a classic eau de cologne, but Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter were poised on taking their love one step further by instilling it with the character and lasting qualities of a perfume. Cervasel, co-founder of the new fragrance brand Atelier Cologne, is an expert raconteur, and it shows in the beautiful stories that give life to the “colognes absolues” he creates alongside his wife. “The stories are the first step to all our fragrances – most of them were invented when we were on road trips in the car.”
Take for example, the Oolang Infini, composed of Sicilian bergamot and oolang tea. It speaks of a man watching his breath fog up the window as he gazes out to a frozen lake on an escape from the city. Then there is the seductive Vanille Insensée that tells of a dark moment when he catches a familiar scent in a bar and turns to find his ex-lover. Memories return in alluring whiffs of Madagascan vanilla, Italian cedrat, and Slovenian oakmoss.
Above all these novel compositions, is an iconic fragrance: “Orange Sanguine is the beginning of Atelier Cologne, which has now become our signature. It’s made of blood oranges from Italy that smell divine even from a mile away – you instantly smile at the scent of it.” It revisits that moment when everyone had gathered for breakfast on the terrace, a symphony of their laughter playing in the air as waves crashed against the cliffs.
Of course, their favourite story is one of love. Cervasel recalls when he fell for his wife: “There were two moments. The first was when we first met. I remember a full day of talking – a casual conversation that was endless. That was when I knew she was the one,” he reveals. “The second moment was in a desert on the Canary Islands. We started talking while on a camel, then on a bus, and we finished the conversation on a balcony.”
It is precisely this bond between them that adds such a beautiful aura to the colognes absolues, a scent category they created. In 2009, the couple combined their knowledge and attention to detail, gained from previous experience at luxury beauty houses, and set strong foundations for their own brand. Every note is made of raw materials sourced by two exclusive boutique suppliers based in Grasse. The flacons are designed by Pochet, with the caps handmade by French watchband makers. “We are 100% made in France – more of South of France, as both of us were born there. Starting in the US was by accident,” shares Cervasel. Eventually they threw open their heir first Venetian blue doors (“Inspired by the Mediterranean skies and sea,”) in New York City, its ts inviting interior with echoes of a Manhattan loft. t.
“It takes two to three years to make one scent. You need to let your first creation ion sit for a while, come back after six months, and still feel really good about it. Otherwise it won’t n’t last,” he smiles. “Sylvie and I have to agree 100%. 0%. If one is not convinced, then the other cannot ot decide.”
Atelier Cologne may be the he first perfume house ever founded on cologne, e, but a shared passion for scent and a fairytale ale marriage give it quintessence and character. “When we talk about elegance in perfumery, we see it in colognes,” says Cervasel. Available exclusively at Kens Apothecary.
Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine cologne absolue, RM650 (200ml)
The Atelier Cologne boutique in New York
Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter