For their first standalone boutique in the region, which was inaugurated recently in Dubai Mall, Maison Henry Jacques have created thirty new scents as a tribute to their clientele in the region. But a visit to this magnificent French luxury spot reveals many other exciting surprises.
By Souha Abbas
Illustrious representative of the French High Perfumery, Maison Henry Jacques takes an unprecedented step in its history by launching its own independent boutique in the newly inaugurated luxury perfume section in Dubai Mall. Indeed, after several decades of discretion and exclusive creations for the elite, the perfume house has chosen to lift the veil on its know-how to a wider audience in the Middle East, starting with the UAE. «Nourished by the art of five generations of passionate perfumers, the Henry Jacques know-how is in keeping with ancestral manufacturing processes. It is of rare authenticity, and even unique today, as much by the exceptional purity of the essences that we elaborate as by the refined bottles created in our workshops” explains Anne-Lise Cremona who took the reign of Henry Jacques, after her father Jacques Cremona, who founded the Maison in 1975.
“Our goal is to showcase our achievements to the greatest number of connoisseurs and lovers of great fragrances in the Middle East, many of them have already been faithful clients of our Maison for years, even decades,” she says. “We have designed this boutique taking inspiration from 18th century French palaces, from the tiles on the floor, to the different interior design elements. All are original; they were made in France, and brought in specifically for the Dubai boutique, because we wanted everything to follow our standards. We are a very authentic brand, and this is also out of respect to our customers.”
The boutique also features several artistic installations, including one inspired by the “perfumer’s organ” from the laboratories that Henry Jacques is most famous for. “Our laboratories in the south of France are our heart. It is where we make all of our perfumes, using 1200 of the best natural components”, says Anne-Lise. In fact, Maison Henry Jacques might be one of the “Occitane” region best kept secret, nestled in Draguignan, a commune in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, in southeastern France. It is from that perfectly sunny region that Anne-Lise father, Jacques Cremona, founded his laboratory, becoming eventually one of the most exclusive perfume maker in the world.
“Our most famous collection “Les Classiques de HJ” consists of 50 scents made by Henry Jacques, and for our boutique in Dubai we have added 30 more as a tribute to our clientele in the region. It was not easy for us to make this selection because for decades our Maison was mainly making bespoke perfumes, creating both the perfumes and the bottles”, says Anne-Lise.
The distinctive elegant style of the boutique, as well as all the bottles, was designed by Christophe Tollemer, esteemed French architect and Henry Jacques’ Artistic Director, who has in his portfolio several palaces in France.
“We have many surprises and special gifts hidden in the boutique, for those who are looking to buy a gift or one of our ready creations”, says Anne-Lise. “However, keeping up with Henry Jacques tradition, the boutique also offer bespoke services. And that is a whole different experience.”
Escorting me to a small, very private and elegant “salon”, Anne-Lise explained to me how Maison Henry Jacques is expending its bespoke tradition into their Dubai store. “For years, we have created custom perfumes, so it was very natural for us. The thing that was not very natural was to introduce this experience as part of a shop”, she says. “The good news is that we are currently working to be able to offer this service for customers who come to our store. They will be able to live this experience to have their own bespoke perfume.”
A custom-made perfume for many other Maisons is a very long process that could take a year. In order to shorten the process and simplify it, the experts at Henry Jacques have prepared an album that resembles an olfactory test. “It’s like a personality test. We will help customers identify the smells they like by using clues such as certain places, while also awakening memories and feelings.”
The first step that begins after this consultation has taken place, and it takes two months during which the results will be sent to the Maison laboratories in the South of France where a committee of perfumers will study them and propose three samples that will be validated by Anne-Lise. After two months, these three proposals will be returned to the person, and then the customers will take the time they want to choose. “In 95% of cases, the client chooses one of these three samples. We realized that it is very rare for a client to ask for some adjustments. The second step is two and a half months during which we will create with the client a lot of accessories, and a very nice chest completely customizable that we are finalizing with Christophe. The last step is the manufacturing of the perfume and the accessories, which takes four months and a half”, concludes Anne-Lise.
“This is a complete Art-de-vivre experience that Henry Jacques is proposing in this boutique. The production takes four and a half months. There are very few bespoke perfume makers, and in order to be able to offer this know-how to our customers in our own stores, we made the somewhat risky decision to create and manage our own stores”. What more, Maison Henry Jacques is in the process of reworking a physical presentation of all their creations, which represents two thousand perfumes, so it’s like having a catalogue of their perfumes to make the creation process of custom-made orders go smoother. The same goes for the accessories as they can provide all kind of bespoke bottles and boxes, in the finest of material, sometimes in gold and precious stones.
At the end of our tour, Anne-Lise Cremona invited me to live the experience of creating my own bespoke perfume at their boutique. So I will be reporting soon to share the experience!