Who: Jerome Epinette. A master perfumer for the French perfume company Robertet, Jerome has created some of the coolest fragrances around, from many of Byredo’s best (Gypsy Water, Pulp and Bal D’Afrique) to top sellers at Atelier Cologne, Vilhem Parfumerie and Zara. He is responsible for all the fragrances in the Floral Street collection, including the newly launched Electric Rhubarb.
Today I should be wearing Electric Rhubarb, my newest perfume with Floral Street but I’m actually wearing something that we’re working on with Michelle (Feeney, founder of Floral Street) and she’s just approved it. I can’t reveal what it is.
Usually to make sure a fragrance is finished, I wear it on my skin to see if there are problems with its journey. I do it when it’s almost complete to reassure myself that there’s nothing wrong, like a final confirmation.
Electric Rhubarb feels very energetic, there’s a joy that goes through the fragrance that will translate to your mood. The construction is a classic floral scent, with a sparkling hint of the rhubarb at the end, like a fruity surprise.
The DNA of Floral Street is to bring some disruption with the florals. We take beautiful natural ingredients like jasmine and gardenia, that smell amazing but sometimes can skew a little old fashioned or ‘classic’, so they all have an element of surprise. And with Electric Rhubarb the rhubarb was the star of the fragrance, with a woody creamy background from the sandalwood which helped wrap everything together.
When I was growing up my mum owned two perfume stores, so after school instead of going home, I spent a lot of time listening to her and helping her in the store. Because of that I discovered the world of fragrances so since I was a kid I’ve been learning. Her passion for the fragrance world influenced me.
Creating a complete range for Floral Street was fun, it’s like fresh air or a new page, but it’s also challenging because its my name and responsibility behind the creation. You don’t want to do what you’ve done in the past, you don’t want to duplicate, you don’t want to copy, so that was the challenge, to bring something different.
It helps if you have a close relationship with the client. I help Michelle on the perfume side because I’m the perfume expert, but I love to have her say ‘I want to go into this universe’ or ‘I want to feel this emotion, feel that mood’, she knows what she wants out of the perfume journey.
When I’m applying perfume I like to spray the air. I have made my own fragrance for myself and I wear it every day. It’s a very sparkly, transparent, citrusy, musky fragrance which is not going to bother me when I work on other things. But it puts me in a good mood and it’s a ritual.
Fragrance is all about rituals, about making you feel good. I spray the air, wait a few seconds and walk through it. That for me is how you smell the essence, the heart of a fragrance and see all the facets. It’s the best way to experience a scent. I remember seeing my mum do that in the store 30 years ago and I stole a little bit of her ritual.
No, I wont be selling my fragrance, I don’t want anyone else to have it.
People have started to realise they don’t want to smell like their neighbour, so thats really good for niche, bespoke and hand crafted fragrance. The relationship I’ve built with Michelle is creating something interesting and the consumer feels that, you know?
When you have the owner talking about ingredients and the story behind each fragrance like Michelle does you want to listen and you want to buy. Perfume is not just a commodity, its a journey, it can make you dream.
The second time I met Michelle, I made her cry, she smelled something I’d prepared and it took her to a specific place and time, and that’s real, we’re not saving lives or curing cancer but we are having fun and making memories.
Photography by Chloe Winstanley