“Our perfumer, Delphine, has been a part of ARgENTUM’s journey since she created our skincare’s signature scent, BECOME, in the very beginning.”
Joy Isaacs, Founder
You’ll find Delphine in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. Surrounded by flowers in the hills of the French Riviera, she works her magic ~ creating natural scents that delight the senses. When we spoke to Delphine recently, she shared a heartfelt insight into her relationship with fragrance, her creative process, and her journey with ARgENTUM… A journey that led to the creation of les parfums infinis ~ our magical collection of eaux de parfums.
In the beginning
Q: What is your earliest scent memory, and do you ever think about creating a scent related to that memory?
A: My earliest olfactory memory (I was 4 years old), is the smell of fresh raw milk that my grandmother and I would fetch from the nearby farm in a large aluminium milk pot, and more broadly the smell of cows, the dairy, the stable, and the manure that was smoking in the yard. I've never tried to create a fragrance linked to this memory, but I’m still very sensitive to the smells of a stable and farming animals. The typical farm smells like harvest and engine oil from tractors... which I personally find pleasant!
Q: How did you become interested in natural fragrances?
A: Natural is the way I think, conceive and experience fragrance. I have always had a creative approach driven by natural materials because they are alive. I find they have a vibration that most synthetic materials don't, as beautiful as they are. I like the fact that they come from the living, that they emerge from the earth, that some flow from trees...
Q: Why did you decide to focus on natural ingredients?
A: I don't focus only on natural ingredients, unless a client specifically requests it. However, I do work with compositions that are made mostly of natural ingredients (as is the case with ARgENTUM). I started challenging myself with all-natural about 12 years ago because it seemed to me that the existing offer was very poor: 100% natural perfumes were tragically uncreative, single-scented and monolithic. I wanted to prove that it was possible to create unique, refined, elegant and original fragrances despite this all-natural constraint.
Q: How is formulating a natural perfume different from conventional processes?
A: Creating a fragrance that only contains natural ingredients is an extremely challenging exercise, first because the perfumer's palette is reduced to just 150 or 200 ingredients while the overall palette contains more than 2,500! In addition, natural ingredients are often raw, wild, and imperfect.. Nothing in the palette of natural ingredients allows for rounding the edges, smoothing or binding ingredients together as some synthetic ingredients can do. When I work 100% natural, I'm looking to enhance the roughness, the imperfections of the material, not correct it.
Q: Can you tell us about your work process?
A: In my process, the trigger varies: most often it’ll be the brief set by the client, more or less evocative and precise, which will feed my inspiration. Sometimes it’ll be reading a book – its atmosphere will trigger the desire to put in a scent. It can be music, a photo or a film, or a specific place, but always at the start ~ there is an emotion I feel. The process, however, is primarily intellectual. I mentally immerse myself in the story I am going to try to tell for several days and I let ideas come to me before I start to mix. Most of the time I simply start with a well-chosen duo or trio of ingredients that will serve as the backbone of my creation, like a skeleton, then I try to make them resonate with each other and enhance some subtle aspect.
Q: How are you influenced by ancient traditions ~ the witch doctors, outsiders, alchemists, and perfumers of the past?
A: I have a very instinctive approach to creation, for which I will look inside myself, without judgement, without particularly trying to please or respond to a particular trend. An instinctive approach that is also driven by my relationship with the earth, trees, and more broadly with all these visible and invisible energies. In this sense, I feel close to those called 'sorcerers'. There is something mystical about the creative act, of the order of instinct that one does not always know how to explain. And when creation provokes an emotion in the person who carries it, I feel like an alchemist with a magical power!
Scent & Emotion
Q: Which note do you associate with love?
A: Which love? There are so many loves... I don't really associate it with a particular note, except for the (very intimate) scent of my man's skin, a mixture of carnal, animal, sweet, soft, and salty at the same time.
Q: What about happiness?
A: The scent of cut grass, or the peel of a mandarin.
Q: Which note do you associate with heartbreak or loss?
A: The scent of cold ashes, that of a forest burned down after a fire.
Your journey with Argentum
Q: Can you tell us more about your journey with ARgENTUM… How did it start and what was it like to create the signature scent all those years ago?
A: It started in 2011 at a show in Paris, where I was presenting entirely natural perfume creations that I had freely developed for the event and that didn't respond to any particular brief. That's where I met Joy and Stephanie, who told me about their idea. They were looking for a voice for their hero, la potion infinie ~ a mixed scent that was as natural as possible while having very few allergens (which is always a big challenge because allergens come mostly from natural ingredients), and I was going to try to give them that voice. For this first perfume, as with the 12 that followed, I created with great freedom, in a feeling of trust and mutual kindness.
Q: What was it like being briefed using Tarot cards… Did the unique positioning of ARgENTUM affect the way you had to work?
A: I didn't know much about tarot cards, I admit, and during her visit to my workshop, Joy had me draw a few cards and then delivered her interpretation. It was so implacably accurate, I was amazed.I think about it often! For this work, it seems to me that I have more than ever sought connection with the elements, the magnetism of the earth and the moon, to accompany me in the different inspirations.
Q: What was the process like when you had to develop the collection of 12 fragrances at the same time?
A: Some ideas came to me very naturally after the briefing of the 12 archetypes and quickly took their perfume form. For others, it took more time, the inspiration was less innate, so I let them come to me quietly.
Q: What did you find challenging in this process… Did a particular archetype energy pose a greater challenge than others?
A: I don't remember feeling challenged, simply because I didn't feel any pressure. So the process took the time it took, the necessary time to create joy.
Q: What inspired you during this process?
A: The many photos that ARgENTUM published on Pinterest for each of these archetypes, their music playlists, and of course the illustrations of the archetype cards.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for combining or layering any of the ARgENTUM fragrances?
A: It depends on the individual and their personal preferences, but I would suggest finding a common theme or emotion that connects the scents and let that guide the combination. For example, combining two woody scents, or layering a floral with a spicy scent to create a unique and personal fragrance.
Whether connecting with a fragrance or expressing one ~ let your intuition guide you.