“He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men.” Patrick Süskind
26 June 2016
“Yes, I love Paris.Yes, of course, Hermès is one of my all-time favorite brands.
Yes, I would be honored to be invited by ‘April’ to their event for the new women’s fragrance, Galop d’Hermès, in Paris.”
28 June 2016
‘Korin Avraham – Hermès’- Said the sign, being held by a driver , (a very well suited driver, I must say), when I landed at Paris CDG airport.
Oh… what a beautiful combination: ‘Korin Avraham Hermès’, I kept on telling my self, until the black shiny car stopped in front of the charming Bel Ami hotel.
If you thinking that this sounds like a fairy tale, you are right, but the thing is that this was just the beginning of the ‘living in a dream’ pre couture fashion week adventure.
For the next hour, I was sipping fine champagne, and took a long shower with all the Hermès products (which waited for me in the room), getting ready for the elegant event at Plaid De Chaillot.
I arrived in the car with Vouge, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar editors and was super thrilled when they told me they saw the article that announced me as one of the top bloggers to follow. Ok, I was thinking, this is probably the ‘it moment of my evening’, but as you know me by now, it’s just set the bar for atout’alor.
The chairs were set out around the venue, and just when I was about to sit on one of them, an impressive woman with perfect English yet still a strong charming French accent, pulled my hand and said: “Korin come with me”. I didn’t know who she was and how she knew my name, but I had no problem to follow her as she smelled soooo good. “By the way I’m Ann de Lalun, I am the press manager and I want you to sit at a specific table”. “Sure” I said and continued running behind her hand in hand, smelling her perfume scent floating gently of her.
Christine Nagel, is everything I adore in a woman. She is dominant and soft at the same time, elegant, a charismatic story teller, and super passionate person.
She is, of course, the one who recently inherited the impressive legacy of the maestro, Jean-Claude Ellena who was for years the Hermès in-house perfumer.
‘Christine is ready to see you for your interview’, said Charlotte as she opened the door. We stood there for 1 minute staring at each other as Madam Nagel and I were wearing the same color outfit, a yellow dress and tan shoes. ‘Great choice’ I said, and we both start laughing.
She was born in Switzerland, and when she was a kid she thought she would grow up to be a doula but she didn’t. She studied science and moved to Paris 37 years ago, and since then worked as 1 of 500 perfumers in the whole world (“There are more astronauts than perfumers” she marked) and she totally believes she is the luckiest one working as the in house perfumer (“there are only 6 in the whole world”) for Hermès, “It’s the best company in the whole world” she said.
We started the interview and I couldn’t get enough of her unique stories, here are the highlights I have to share with you:
Q – What do you think makes you one of the best and talented perfumers in the world?
A – I like to listen to people, to understand them, I’m very sensitive and understand that I have a big responsibility working as a perfumer for SUCH A big brand as Hermès, as the perfume is still the leading point into the world of Hermès, a world that is not accessible for everyone. I must put the brand’s spirit and essence in there, in a way that when you purchased it you can get everything the house has to offer.
Q – What was your inspiration to Galop d’Hermès
A – I started my work on Galop d’Hermès by returnING to the brand’s heritage. She drove to the secret place where the brand stores its leather. The shelves were full of colorful leathers but one caught her eye, the “doblis” she touched the soft material, smelled it and thought: “wow for years I saw leather as a masculine product” until she found this specific one that felt soft, sensual and feminine, yet bold even animalistic. And then I just knew it would be the core of “my greatest masterpiece”.
Q – Do you pick the perfume’s name before or after you create it?
A – The name may come before or after the creation, it initiates or baptizes. The key is that it evokes a story, a fantasy that resonates with the fragrance and the values it symbolizes.
Q -.What is the smell that you love the most and the one you hate?
A – My loves fluctuate and I have no preconceptions about any ingredients. When I discover an ingredient I want to know everything, to knead it, crush it, work it, experiment with it and to coax it. I push its boundaries. At Hermès the beauty of the raw materials is central, it’s at the heart of all our crafts. Hermès gives us unique freedom to choose our raw materials, It’s a unique luxury.
Q – You are a very successful woman with a very rich and impressive career, did you feel that you had to work harder sometimes or you need to give up on something to have a rich career as a woman?
Certainly. When I started, nothing predisposed me to this profession and on the contrary, to be a woman and a perfumer was incompatible. Fortunately, times have changed.
Q – What’s your favorite word?
A – Panache (plume) and Oser (dare!)
Q – Do you have insurance for your nose?
A -It is a funny question and no , no insurance for my nose . I trust in my good star.
Well, Madam Nagel, you have a good reason to trust it, after all it led you to the place where everyone keeps their treasures, and as Patrick Süskind said: “He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men.”
Galop d’Hermès is available now at April stores.