A sense of scent

Karyn Khoury shares her in­spi­ra­tion be­hind coach’s lat­est fra­grance and her thoughts as a per­fumer.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - WOMAN - By WONG LI ZA

KARYN Khoury’s eyes sparkled as she re­lated why Plea­sures was one of the most mem­o­rable per­fumes she had ever cre­ated.

“At that time, I had just started dat­ing my hus­band. I was wear­ing the trial scent of Plea­sures when he gave me my very first com­pli­ment, say­ing that I smelled very nice wear­ing it,” rem­i­nisced Khoury with a shy, school­girl smile.

Ul­ti­mately, per­fumers like Khoury, who is no stranger to the scent in­dus­try, aim to evoke warm feel­ings and pos­i­tive emo­tions through their cre­ations.

The se­nior vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate fra­grance de­vel­op­ment world­wide for The Estée Lauder Com­pa­nies Inc. has been with the beauty con­glom­er­ate for 30 years. Khoury over­sees fra­grance de­vel­op­ment for seven brands and is be­hind well-known scents like Beau­ti­ful, Plea­sures and DKNY Be De­li­cious.

Her lat­est cre­ation is Coach Poppy Flower, the lux­ury brand’s lat­est eau de par­fum that was launched in Kuala Lumpur re­cently.

“Poppy Flower is a vi­brantly ro­man­tic, fem­i­nine scent. In­spired by the Poppy aes­thetic and life­style, it em­bod­ies a fresh and light-hearted spirit with a kalei­do­scope of soft flo­rals and sparkling fruity notes,” she ex­plained dur­ing an in­ter­view just be­fore the launch. The Amer­i­can brand Coach also car­ries a Poppy col­lec­tion of hand­bags and ac­ces­sories.

The per­fume lay­ers fruits and flo­rals be­tween fresh her­bal notes and warm hints of musk and ex­otic woods. The base is a re­fresh­ing mix of wet ivy, cit­rus, ly­chee and cas­sis. Jas­mine petals, water lily and rose add touches of fem­i­nin­ity while musky pe­ony lends depth to the scent. Ingredients like su­gared rasp­berry, musk and soft san­dal­wood give the scent a youth­ful edge.

Khoury, in her 50s, re­lates her ex­pe­ri­ence in de­vel­op­ing Poppy Flower.

“We were very in­spired by the Coach brand it­self – its sense of qual­ity, chic style, time­less­ness, so­phis­ti­ca­tion and op­ti­mism. We spent many hours with Reed Krakoff (Coach’s ex­ec­u­tive creative di­rec­tor) and his team, lis­ten­ing to their vi­sion of the brand and cus­tomer.

“Based on these meet­ings, we knew we needed a fra­grance which was ul­tra fem­i­nine, yet modern and so­phis­ti­cated, one which would have a sense of qual­ity and tra­di­tion with­out be­ing pre­dictable, and most of all, a fra­grance which could con­vey all of this with a sense of play­ful­ness and en­ergy.

“The re­sult is a beau­ti­fully blended fra­grance with great pres­ence, sig­na­ture and dif­fu­sion, which rep­re­sents modern beauty, el­e­gance and charm,” she shared.

The fruity flo­ral per­fume tar­gets the fash­ion­ably chic wo­man with a vi­brant per­son­al­ity.

“The Poppy girl is bright, bold and in­stantly mem­o­rable. It fol­lows then that her fra­grance is equally unique and un­for­get­table.”

Poppy Flower is the sec­ond fra­grance un­der the Coach Poppy range, the first be­ing Coach Poppy.

The New York-based Khoury was also be­hind Coach’s first fra­grance, Sig­na­ture.

“ Sig­na­ture was the in­tro­duc­tion of Coach to the world of scent. It was de­vel­oped to em­body the core aspects of the to­tal brand and is all about tra­di­tion with a touch of moder­nity.”

Be­fore de­vel­op­ing a new fra­grance, Khoury first de­ter­mines the mes­sage the prod­uct wants to con­vey and the emo­tion it evokes in a wo­man, be it happy, con­fi­dent, so­phis­ti­cated, youth­ful or sen­sual. Then, the ar­du­ous and chal­leng­ing task of find­ing the right types of ingredients and blend­ing them be­gins.

“Some­times it’s easy to get the right blend, other times it takes quite a num­ber of tri­als. I had this ex­pe­ri­ence once where a 1% dif­fer­ence in the pro­por­tion of one in­gre­di­ent changed the en­tire smell,” said Khoury, of Syr­ian and Ital­ian de­scent.

Through the years, the es­tab­lished per­fumer has no­ticed that scents have evolved in terms of the com­po­si­tion of ingredients.

“Be­fore, fra­grances were cre­ated us­ing a va­ri­ety of ingredients. Now, scents fea­ture more stream­lined ingredients whereby peo­ple can get at the notes more quickly. There is wider use of wood ingredients like san­dal­wood and many more new ingredients de­vel­oped.”

Be­ing in the in­dus­try for over three decades now, Khoury shared a few ob­ser­va­tions, in­clud­ing com­mon mis­con­cep­tions about per­fumers.

“Peo­ple usu­ally as­sume all per­fumers are men and that they are all French!” she re­marked half in jest.

“The other mis­con­cep­tion is that peo­ple think cre­at­ing a per­fume is merely about choos­ing a few ingredients and just mix­ing them all to­gether.”

She is of the opinion that a qual­ity fra­grance must last.

“A good per­fume is one that a wo­man still gets a whiff of af­ter two hours of wear­ing it be­cause ul­ti­mately she should get that plea­sure from us­ing the fra­grance,” she said. So what makes an ex­pert nose? “Apart from tech­ni­cal skills and knowl­edge, a good per­fumer should have a good imag­i­na­tion. You have to first imag­ine what the fi­nal fra­grance will be like and who the wo­man wear­ing it is. Mrs Estée Lauder al­ways had a vi­sion of the wo­man us­ing her prod­ucts and I learnt that from her.”

It is also im­por­tant to know cur­rent trends to grasp what con­sumers are think­ing, she added.

“When I cre­ate a lim­ited edi­tion scent, I will most likely (for­mu­late) one based on the cur­rent trend, so that it will be more widely re­ceived.

“How­ever, if I am de­vel­op­ing a to­tally new fra­grance, I will pro­duce some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent and unique, and if it is pop­u­lar, I will have cre­ated a new trend,” she con­cludes.

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