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"Nude, it is the perfume of the skin of Naomi Campbell whilst wearing the dresses of Azzedine Alaïa"

April 18th 2018

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This will be the last fragrance that Azzedine Alaïa will have felt and dubbed before his disappearance in November 2017. Her name is Eau de Parfum Nudebecause it refers to one of the iconic colors he used in his fashion. An addictive milk fragrance created by the perfumer Marie Salamagne. Interview. - Isabelle Cerboneschi.

Azzedine Alaïa did not like perfumes and even less the idea that one of them bears his name. But when a fashion house has to survive for the founder, perfume is a must.

In 2015 the first composition was released as an Eau de Parfum, then a year later theEau de Parfum Blanche, gently almond, and finally theEau de Parfum Nude, launched late 2017, a month after the disappearance of fashion designer, the November 17 2017. A perfume on which he worked with his bodyguards to the end.

For his first fragrance, Azzedine Alaïa wanted to find "the sensation of hot and cold and the smell that emanates from a bucket of water thrown on a wall of lime in Tunisia." For years, I've seen the idea buckle in front of obstacles, pushed back deadlines, get to a perfume by default. Is that why I have not managed to appropriate this scent?

On the other hand, it was love at first sight for Eau de Parfum Blanche, which evokes an almond sun, and for nude, milky and sweet scent like a square of white chocolate. Something regressive, but not like those gourmet perfumes that end up disgusting. Nude recalls these late lunch, in the great kitchen ofAzzedine Alaïa, which ended with a coffee, a chocolate (Swiss) and a laugh.

The perfumer Marie Salamagne, who created all the Alaïa fragrances tells this olfactory adventure.

IC Monsieur Alaïa did not like perfumes. How do you create a fragrance with someone who does not want one?
Marie Salamagne:
We are lucky that he fell in love with an agreement. It is a sense that can not be controlled, the sense of smell. The first note that Mr. Alaïa felt brought him back to his childhood memories and he liked it. We met because of this first perfume. Then, I believe, we established a relationship of trust and sincerity and we developed together our own olfactory language. I got to know him a little better, to decode him. He was so generous that by spending time with him I learned to live and breath the brand.

You have designed the three perfumes for Monsieur Alaïa, and the third seems not the most greedy, but the most regressive, with a lactose side. What was his wish for this fragrance?
For him, Nude was the continuation of the story: he wanted to express his iconic colors through his perfumes. But for this one, there was not really a brief. It was to interpret this color with all the sensuality she implied. When you mention this effect a little milky, it's totally true, but not like in White Eau de Parfum, which was almond. In Nude, there is tonka bean, with a slightly woody tone, white chocolate. The key word of this perfume was "skin" and that's what I tried to transcribe. Nude is the skin of Naomi Campbell wearing Monsieur Alaïa's dresses. I wanted to find this carnal velvety in the note. I played on a woody-tonka duet, with cedar wood and sandalwood.

You have not voluntarily left in a "leather" perfume direction?
I do not think he would have liked to develop a leather note. It was not in his wishes: he wanted to go where he was not expected. Moreover, for him, the Nude was not a leather. When he mentioned Naomi or his work around the Nude, it was the warmth of that colour that he wanted to work.

Did Azzedine Alaïa give you a special memory?
For the first two fragrances, yes. For Eau de Parfum, he wanted to recreate the sensation of hot and cold and the smell that emanates from a bucket of water thrown on a lime wall in Tunisia. It was a childhood memory. The note was created in contrast, to make this effect of hot-cold. Mr. Alaïa was very attached to it. He spoke of it as a madeleine of Proust. For White Eau de Parfum, he had in mind the Alhambra, with the play of chiaroscuro. It also reminded me of all his work cutting, the skin that we se through a garment. I also drew on my own memories to interpret the Alhambra and I had in mind the gardens, hence the floral part, this white side found in the slightly almond note. A way to make alive these flowers, to interpret them, without falling into something too literal, too much expected.

Is there something in common between the three fragrances?
Yes, they have a common thread we have called "skin printing," an animalism made of musk.

Has there been any hesitation, backtracking or alteration by the fashion designer during the process of creating Nude?
Yes. He chose the note rather quickly, as a matter of course, but during the development, he lacked a hitch. So one day, I went to his workshop with small samples of the laboratory to make him feel raw materials. I introduced him to everything in the formula: petal orange blossom, cedar, sandalwood, and so on. He looked at these vials with child's eyes, he photographed them with his phone. For Eau de Parfum, he had the idea of ​​adding pink pepper at the end, to bring it a shine, and that was a bit of what we were missing for Nude. I made him feel cardamom, and he said, "That's exactly it! We'll put a trace of cardamom in the perfume. "When I came back with the new test he was comforted in this decision.

Monsieur Alaïa was a gourmet and loved chocolate. Is that why we find tonka bean in this fragrance?
He never verbalized it. He let himself be carried by his instinct for the first two fragrances. He told me that being a perfumer, was not his job: "I'm just able to tell you if I like or do not like." But he had everything, the eye, and in this case the nose: he felt very quickly if it corresponded to his brand, to what he was. In fact, all her team were present around the table, at his side, during the creative committees: his right-hand man Caroline Fabre Bazin, her friend Carla Sozzani, the designer Martin Szekely who drew the bottle, ... Everyone had his word to add, and even if it was Mr. Alaïa who decided at the end, he was an extraordinary listener. When all the stars were lined up, we all knew it together.

And when they did not align?
We also knew it and we thought we would do better at the next meeting. It was not a big deal. Mr. Alaïa said he had time: he preferred to do something beautiful than to work in a hurry.

How long did it take you to develop Nude?
A small year. These creative meetings were held every month or two months. Which was a luxury because it allowed us to look back on what we were doing. When we were all together, we saw the progress of each meeting with a very fresh look. It was brilliant of him to have worked like this.

What did he say when he felt it for the first time?
Sometimes there was no word. Just a smile…

"In Nude, there is tonka bean, with a slightly woody tone, white chocolate. The key word for this perfume was 'skin' and that's what I tried to transcribe. "