Who: Clara Feder is creative director of Le Jardin Retrouvé, and ensures everything is ‘tip top’ in terms of visuals and storytelling for the brand.
Michel Gutsatz describes himself as ‘occasional president’ of Le Jardin Retrouvé as well as being Clara’s husband and son of the brand founder Yuri Gutsatz.
Le Jardin Retrouvé can claim to be the first modern European niche fragrance house, having been created in 1975 by Michel’s father Yuri. Well ahead of his time, Yuri understood his contemporary fragrances would appeal to a young consumer fresh out of the modernist excitement of the 60s. In 2016 Michel and Clara revived the brand, recreating many of Yuri’s original formulas and the fresh flower-and-plant powered scents are proving a big hit with today’s consumers, including those in China, where the brand has a strong following.
The pair moved sustainability to the heart of the relaunch, so the fragrances use organic alcohol, are all refillable and reusable and have had all non biodegradable or endocrine-disrupting ingredients removed.
Clara, an artist and writer, has also made the brand come to life with beautiful illustrations and visuals, featuring collaborations with young artists and creatives. The result is a well thought through collection of fragrances for the home and body.
Clara: today I’m wearing Sandalwood Sacré from Le Jardin Retrouvé, it’s a fragrance that balances and harmonises me. Recently we have found it harmonises others too, as it has received a certificate from fragrance ingredient house Givaudan, stating that it is indeed good for balance and harmony and goes to the part of our brain which controls these emotions.
This perfume for me has an embrace, it’s a little soapy and very familiar, yet there is an edge to it. I find it lovely and I can’t stop wearing it. I do alternate it with others from the range such as Osmanthe Liu Yuan, which is our fragrance that brings joy – and goodness, do we need joy in this world! It’s very fruity and osmanthus-y and there’s a peach note too. I love how it smells on me.
Michel: I wear Cuir de Russie, which I’ve worn all my life. It was my father’s scent, he created it in memory of his own father, so it’s a family heritage. My father created it just after the Russian revolution, when his father was an officer in the Red army in St Petersburg, every night he would come home in his uniform and hug his son, my father, who would bury his face into the leather sash. So when he inhaled it, he created this memory of leather and comfort, fragrance is part of that, it reassures.
Clara: as a Parisian, I was born ‘Guerlain by default’! I wasn’t raised into perfumery per se, but when I started to revive the brand with Michel, I immersed myself into perfume and now its so much part of my life that when someone talks to me about the smell of a rose I can conjure the smell, even though there’s no rose around.
Michel: all my life there have been fragrances around me. It was part of my early life and although I did leave it once, I came back to it. And now its our whole world and because we say we are ‘fragrances that care’, it’s even more of a responsibility to our customers. We feel it’s important to bring happiness, calm and comfort, we’re not the only perfume house doing that, obviously, but we feel it’s very important to do it today.
Clara: one regular fragrance ritual I do is to fragrance my bed. This is why we have made the pillow mists because I love to do that, and it’s a lighter version of perfume. I use it in Sandalwood Sacré of course, and Eau de Délices, which is easeful and in Rose Trocadéro, because rose is a soothing scent. I really need to be soothed before I got to bed, I have a whole ritual of stretching and meditating that I follow, and at the end of the ritual I spray my sheets and pillow.
When I wear fragrance I spray on my two wrists, never rubbing them together! And then classically, on pulse points. My skin drinks perfume, so I can happily change my perfume throughout the day, because my skin doesn’t hold the fragrance for very long. I take this as an opportunity to spray more.
Michel: I wear fragrance in a very traditional way, although decades ago my father created a post shaving gel, which we don’t have any more, and I use my fragrance like a shaving gel. I’d love to bring back to this collection, it’s a memory gesture, something we remember doing every day.
I hate the smell of cars, so we are going to come up with car fragrances. We have no idea if there is a market for it in Europe, but there is a huge market for it in China. diptique, who we admire very much, found its Chinese customers were using their fragrances in their cars, so we are working on that.
When my father created the brand, his vision was very advanced for the time, because back in the 70s home and fine fragrance were very different, you did not mix them. But he said we should do both, and so from the very beginning, we have had fine fragrance in body care, candles, incense.
Clara: and since it was Le Jardin Retrouvé, the fragrances had to be all about the garden. One of the signatures of a garden is abundance, so Le Jardin Retrouvé was meant as an abundant safe place, and we try and continue that. In my office I use the scented stem diffusers, we’re very proud of these because it’s a very unique design, made from porous porcelain which is totally reusable, the liquid is 90% natural and uses very ‘green’ compounds.
Michel: the memories we have of fragrances are often linked to food and treats. There’s a lovely childhood memory we share, it’s French Reglisse – liquorice – sweets. When we were kids we’d eat a ‘snail’ of Reglisse, a black roll of liquorice with an anise ball in the middle, all the way through to the end, it’s a very strong smell
Clara: I’m a foodie and when I was a little girl I used go to school with a leather satchel and in the satchel was always a panne aux chocolate, which created a weird mix of smells, whenever I encounter it, it makes me go back to school.