Henry Jacques is a well-kept secret among those seeking exquisite fragrances. Now, the founder’s daughter wants to share it with the world
Henry Jacques is a well-kept secret among those seeking exquisite fragrances
You may not have heard of Henry Jacques, but those seeking olfactory perfection invariably end up at the door of the French haute parfumerie. In a world of massproduced, celebrity endorsed fragrances, Henry Jacques is a rare thing - a family run perfume house making bespoke and small batch perfumes, using the finest ingredients.
Founded in the Seventies by Henry and Yvette Cremona, it is now run by their daughter Anne-Lise, who joined the company when it was on the brink of closing seven years ago. Having previously worked for a major commercial perfume house for over a decade, Anne-Lise felt that Henry Jacques needed to remain niche, but could grow by highlighting its reputation for excellence.
“For many years, we were in the shadows doing mainly bespoke perfumes for private clients, like an haute couture house ” she says, “I wanted to share Henry Jacques with the public, but we can’t be very mass; for me, quantity and quality don’t really mix. It’s really important to have integrity as a perfumer.”
The company’s laboratory is a veritable treasure trove, housing 1,200 components sourced from all over the world. The fragrances are made using mainly pure natural essences in the great French perfume tradition, which means they are complex - some of Henry Jacques’ formulas have 250 different components.
This emphasis on quality has led to discerning clientele in the Middle East, many of whom travel to Paris to commission fragrances, with private consultations often held at Anne-Lise’s apartment.
While she is understandably discreet about the house’s current high profile clients, she can say that they create bespoke scents for royalty across the Middle East, and it is public knowledge that Henry Jacques crafted fragrances for the late H.H. Sheikh Zayed, surely the ultimate patronage in the UAE.
As well as bespoke fragrances, Henry Jacques creates ‘masterpieces’ for select clients, pairing a unique scent with exquisite bottles crafted from the cut crystal, precious metals and jewels.
The challenge for Anne-Lise was how to make the rarified archive of some 3,000 formulas and accessible to the public. The result is the Classic collection, 50 timeless scents that have proved enduringly popular.
“The idea is not just to have one perfume, but to live with several perfumes,” she says, “In the 18th century people used to travel with a case of perfumes, and it’s something we encourage. Our clients like to have scents for different moods and times of day, to use our collection like a wardrobe.”
The scents are bottled in elegant crystal flacons, exactingly envisioned by the company’s Artistic Director, the French architect Christophe Tollemer, who also designed Anne-Lise’s home and the new Henry Jacques Middle Eastern flagship boutique in the Dubai Mall. Inspired by a French castle, it is fitted with 18th century flagstones, oak parquet inspired by the flooring at Versailles and faux-stone cladding. All the wood panelling was built and assembled in France before being shipped to Dubai, ensuring a perfect finish. Abstract art and a crisp, white panel which sweeps through the space provide a modern counterpoint.
The overall effect is grand but still enveloping and curiously relaxing. “We wanted people to feel welcome,” explains Tollemer, “When you come into the boutique, time stands still. This is not a shop – you’re entering into our home.” parfums-henry-jacques.com
“For years, we were in the shadows making bespoke perfumes for clients”
1. Anne-Lise Cremona photographed in her Paris apartment 2. Henry Jacques perfumes are housed in exquisite crystal bottles2
1. The wood-panelled interior of the new Henry Jacques Dubai Mall flagship2. A show-stopping chandelier with taxidermy doves hangs above Anne-Lise's dining table 3. A Henry Jacques jewel-studded Masterpiece4. Christophe Tollemer