France is the place lovers go to fall in love all over again. Paris, the country’s capital and a city regarded as the most romantic place on earth, boasts all the trappings of a cheeky rom-com: stunning sunset cruise along the Seine river, impromptu photoshoot at the Eiffel Tower, securing your love with a padlock at the Lock Bridge, etc.
For its newest perfume, Spell on You, Louis Vuitton describes its scent story as “passionate love,” which likely conjures images of the City of Love and its charm. But French Master perfumer Jacques Belletrud— the man behind LV’s scents— doesn’t prescribe to cliches because for him, “passionate love” exists elsewhere in France, south of the City of Love in the world’s perfume capital: Grasse.
Situated in the hills just north of Cannes, Grasse’s charm lies not in designer stores nestled between its cobblestone blocks or yachts riding the waves on the Mediterranean Sea but in the gentle gust of wind carrying the aromas native to Grasse: Flowers. Standing in front of Belletrud at Les Fontaines Parfumées—Louis Vuitton’s perfume atelier and Belletrud’s workspace located in the heart of Grasse—is a botanical dream (and seasonal allergy nightmare) as 450 different fragrant plants pepper the pink house, serving as inspiration for all of Belletrud’s olfactory adventures. “I’m obsessed with creating things with strong meanings. Where there is love, there are flowers,” Belletrud says. “I have the best office in the world, so I have no excuse but to make good perfumes.”
Growing up, Belletrud was constantly quizzed on various scents by his father—who was also a perfumer at the time—but it was the scent of his mother’s rosewater that he remembers most. “In the morning, she was applying rose water on her face. So one of the strongest scents I remember was rose. That’s why I adore roses and use a lot of orange flower extract and rose in my fragrances,” he explains.
Before concocting his fragrances, Belletrud says that each scent story begins with an image that he then translates to ingredients, colors, and emotions. “I believe that perfumes are the translation of the world as it is, but more importantly the world, as it should be,” he adds. With Spell on You, that image was love and flowers. Each morning, Belletrud wakes up just before 5 AM to do his “morning smelling sessions,” which is walking into his garden of florals, touching, smelling, and listening to nature. “I need the connection to nature. I love looking at the sea, which is in front of me at 10 kilometers. I see the sun and the day the daylight coming in,” he says. After three years in the lab, Spell on You is the olfactory representation of Belletrud’s relationship with nature and florals. Named after one of his favorite songs, Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You,” what greets you first when you reach for Spell on You is the delicate and soft pink fragrance color that’s not as intense as the other color of love, but a fresh and sensual invitation to the scent that unfurls when you pop off the black cap.
The nuances of love are too infinite to capture 3.4 fluid ounces. Still, Belletrud expertly weaves in the weightlessness of a love born anew, the thrill of magnetic attraction, and the crisp freshness of an idyllic summer getaway.
“I think we’re at the end of fruity perfumery, and we’re maybe at the beginning of romanticism—at least I hope so,” he says. Belletrud noticed how more and more women are reclaiming ownership over their lives and careers and wanted to create a scent that evokes that woman’s same strength and prowess in a bottle. “I tried to break the rules by creating a 100 percent floral perfume but with the strength of flowers to express the new idea of femininity.”
Airy and intoxicating; seductive and innocent, Spell on You is built around the Florence Iris that bursts a floral freshness before layers of fellow flowers Sambac jasmine and Grasse rose rise up. On the dry down, acacia makes it a subtle appearance with a powdery note that Belletrud says is “addictive” punctuated with a pinch of musk. Juxtaposing the powdery florals with sultry musk stimulates feminine sensuality and confidence.
“[Spell on You] is a floral bouquet with a pinch of fruitiness. I wanted to create a caressing fragrance, something with style, strength, allure, personality that isn’t killing you or other people after two sprays,” Belletrud says. The goal of the fragrance is to not only leave a lasting impression on the wearer, but on the room, you’re strutting out of. “I love the idea of a woman crossing the room, and her perfume is lasting for good reasons, and you want to follow her because the scent is so attractive,” he adds.
By Belletrud and Louis Vuitton’s definition, Spell on You can fit within the sappy romantic comedies we’ve all come to love, left up to the wearer for interpretation of what romance looks like to them. Perhaps it’s 500 Days of Summer, a heartfelt coming-of-age film that pulls viewers in with classic rom-com frills (upbeat music, awkward first introduction in an elevator, etc.) but doesn’t necessarily end the way you think. Maybe it’s the unlikely pairing of a wealthy businessman and escort in Pretty Woman. But Belletrud, ever the cliche-averse, says his version of a Spell on You flick would likely veer more towards a Quentin Tarantino. “Romance is not always the cliche tenderness; it can be Pulp Fiction,” he says. His favorite scene is when Vincent (John Travolta) and Mia (Uma Thurman) dance at a restaurant. Mia’s assertiveness and gentle confidence are how Belletrud hopes women feel when they spritz Spell on You.
“I want her to feel beautiful, to feel sure, to feel like a 100 percent woman. Perfumes are helping somebody to themselves; they reveal your true personality or character, so you’re supposed to play with it,” Belletrud says. “I love the idea of smelling perfume on the neck of a woman and making that moment unforgettable for someone else.” The airy breeze of Spell on You can easily be a day scent, but Belletrud suggests saving it for the nighttime. “The romantic dinner,” he says with a chuckle. “You know what I mean?”
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