A rose by any other name
What’s in a name? Camille, the daughter of famed perfumer Annick Goutal, fills us in.
IT is mid morning when I air- kiss Camille Goutal hello, having last caught up with her in Paris a couple of years ago.
We start talking about art and she whips out her phone to show images of Shadows, the Andy Warhol exhibition that she managed to visit at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris.
“It was spellbinding, so mysterious! I’m not really a fan but this curation took my breath away. That’s what I love about the city, there’s always something compelling, artistically.”
Seated here in a classically appointed suite of The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, her blonde locks pulled back into a youthful ponytail, she exudes all the charm and gentle exuberance I recall from interviews over the years.
Camille is in Kuala Lumpur for the launch of Annick Goutal’s newest fragrance, Rose Pompon and recalls in detail why both the idea of the scent and its name resonates with her.
“First, as a scent in itself, my mother was totally enamoured with the idea of the rose. In 1984, she gave the world Rose Absolue and then there was Ce Soir Ou Jamais that revealed the feminine mystique of the rose, her favourite flower.”
According to Camille, her mum wanted to create an almost transparent scent, which was unheard of in those times. In fact, the creation of Ce Soir Ou Jamais was the result of an error.
“In concocting the formula, she added too much of an ingredient. But the result was surprisingly exactly what pleased her, and that led to the inspiration of Petite Chérie.”
Of course, all who know the brand’s storied history know that Petite Chérie was the perfumer’s soulful tribute to Camille, who now carries on the family name in scent creation.
These days, Camille works with the nose Isabelle Doyen, who used to collaborate with her mother.
“Of course, I would love it if one of my two daughters were interested in carrying on this tradition. But I’m like my own mother, who always let me do my own thing and somehow I gravitated to this, her passion.
“When I was young, I used to create wool pompons to accessorise berets and the like. It was something we’d do together, hence the name of this latest fragrance, Rose Pompon. It speaks to the modern young woman, and I was inspired by my Parisian girlfriends in their 20s who have it all together: career, fashion sense, a sensible beauty regime and a certain insouciance. They work hard, but then they want a glass of Rosé, come dusk. I think my mother would have liked the idea,” she muses.
She has adolescent daughters, almost 14 and 17 – “and going on 38!” – with artistic inclinations. Camille shares: “I hope they find their passion. We work so hard every day, Isabelle and myself. It’s been 16 years of a great collaboration.
“But for this fragrance, I worked with a younger perfumer, Philippine Courtière. It was certainly a different experience because she first came to me with a scent that I felt was too commercial. After going through it with her note by note, we returned to the essence of Annick Goutal. Bulgarian rose and blackcurrant are eternal themes in Rose Pompon and inform the nonchalant elegance of it.”
Camille admits that working with women is something she really appreciates.
“There is a nurturing, a mutual understanding. Isabelle and I are both raising daughters so time and space is always given for that. We also believe in taking the time to travel and explore.” The duo just returned from a trip to Tahiti where they sniffed the scent of a rare mountainous bloom.
“Oh, and we believe in earthy, long lunches,” laughs Camille, who always manages to get a table at her favourite restaurant Septime come dinnertime – despite the fact that there’s a threeweek waiting list. “I’m lucky, I know the owners so I just call in the morning and if there are cancellations, they slot me in first.”
On her celebrity status, she says that she has never really noticed it, especially in Paris. “There was one time in a restaurant when this young guy practically blurted out my name. I thought it was funny because it was him and not his girlfriend who recognised me. Of course, my girls love the celebrity part of it, always telling their friends, ‘ Petite Chérie, that’s our mother, you know.’”
A day in the life of Camille is pretty much spent in the lab or in meetings with the marketing or design team.
“Now that my daughters are older, I don’t have to do ‘ ferrying about’ duty,” says Camille. “I’m home by eight and if I have time, I’ll cook or do what every Parisian does and order sushi.”
She reads until one in the morning, and no, she’s not hooked on social media like the rest of the world. “I have an Instagram account that I use mainly for its filters.”
Travel is something that figures strongly in her life and last year, she was in both Martinique and Scotland with her family.
“When I need to de- stress, I head out to Ile de Re in the country and ride my horse. I’m well aware that I’m incredibly lucky to have that liberty – there is nothing quite like the freedom of being on a horse, the wind whipping your hair. It frees you from everything.”
Rose Pompon is priced at rM440 ( 50ml) and rM585 ( 100ml). Annick Goutal is located in Pavilion KL and Isetan Suria KLCC, as well as Kens Apothecary in Bangsar Village II and Kens in Bangsar Shopping Centre, KL.
“Of course, I would love it if one of my two daughters were interested in carrying on this tradition”
camille Goutal now carries on the family name in scent creation.
Annick Goutal’s newest fragrance is called rose Pompon.