Barbara Herman (Eris Parfums): “Consciously or not, I tend to discover a very different piece for each innovation from the previous one”

Eris Parfums brand, which offers modern fragrances with a style inspired by the past and all by the independent perfumer Antoine Lie, was launched in 2016 by American Barbara Herman, the author and creator of the Dü blog. Interview.

How was Eris Parfums brand born?

Especially thanks to my mother and grandmother, I have always loved it and rubbed my shoulders with perfume. But from 2008 I became more actively involved with it, reading articles and then discovering online that it is an absolutely fascinating subculture. I started collecting old fragrances and their advertisements. As a professional blogger for PopSugar, an online media devoted to popular culture at the time, I told myself I had to write about it. I started my own blog, Dü, which inspired me to write a book: Fragrance and Destruction: Deciphering the Centuries-old Provocative Perfume (Lyon Press, 2013). As part of this book, for a chapter devoted to perfume visionaries, I interviewed Antoine Lie, the beautiful or more experimental, sometimes both, perfumer whose creations I admire. We became friends. After falling in love with vintage, opening this blog and writing a book, I thought to myself, “What is the craziest thing I can do right now? “. And the answer was: launch a perfume brand! I didn’t want to present purely retro compositions: I wanted a kind of “post-modern” collection that pays homage to vintage creations of the past, intense floral and animal notes, but appeals to a contemporary audience.

How did you imagine your first creations?

I wanted bold scents and always with a twist. I had this quote from Edgar Allan Poe in mind: “There is no exquisite beauty without a certain oddity in proportions.” And it was pretty obvious that I needed at least one with animal notes.

You only work with Antoine Lie. Why? Why ?

When I came up with the idea to create my brand, I asked him if he was ready to follow me on this adventure: he was. Initially, I thought of entrusting the creation of this famous animal composition to him and asking fellow perfumers to make the other two scents I wanted, a floral and a chypre. But I loved the first essays he sent me—animal flowers—that I decided to make it my first collection. Working with him always made sense. From the beginning, we shared a common vision and developed a way of communication that works wonders over time. Since I don’t come from the industry, I don’t always have the vocabulary traditionally used there, but I felt a lot and we have a lot of common references.

How do improvements typically happen?

It is usually the first to come. And I have an idea of ​​smell in my head. Then I create a mood board with fashion images, photos or objects from the movies… I give it all to Antoine and also tell him about the perfumes that inspire me, the notes I want him to use and the notes. The effect I want your proposal to have on those who feel it. This emotional intent is very important. I manage to express very clearly what I want. Still, getting Antoine’s trials is always a surprise. So far, improvements have been spread over an average of one year.

How do you decide where to take your collection?

I don’t give much… Everything happens by itself. As I said, initially I wanted to develop three scents: a floral with soft notes, a chypre and an animal scent. Antoine started working on the latter, and when he sent me his essays, I was speechless. It was my first time giving a briefing to a perfumer and everything was great. How can I say no to one of your offers? It was impossible to choose – I’ve since improved a bit at this point! But then I decided to keep it all. In this animal theme, my monster The most realistic – let’s say the most extreme, with its interpretation that brings together the famous Animalis base with other animal notes such as castoreum, civet, musk… night flower is a leathery flower in your soul Shalimar modern; a nice day It’s a salty flower with seaweed that I found really interesting from the first time I smelled it.

And the following?

In 2015, “Mx. entered in the dictionary to indicate a courtesy title without specifying gender. A word that describes a modern way of thinking about gender. It caught my attention and I wrote it. It became the starting point and the name of my fourth perfume released in 2017, a woody fragrance that plays with notes traditionally considered masculine and feminine. Then I wanted to present a darker, more extreme version. Meanwhile, I had quit my editorial job to deal with Eris Parfums full time. Antoine imagined a more animalistic composition thanks to the gourmet faceted ambergris brought by cocoa and vanilla. This perfume is darksuggested as a quote, mxxx. Then there was green magican extremely green and cheerful creation, then very recently Ascendant Scorpio, an explosion of spice. So even if there is no specific strategy, it is true that I tend to consciously or unconsciously explore a very different path for each innovation from the previous one.

Eris Parfums is sold in the United States, also in France, Germany and soon the United Kingdom. Does your presence in these different markets influence your creations?

Not possible. I follow the perfumery news but I don’t do any market research for my launches. The important thing for me is just to go where Eris Parfums has not gone yet.

Why are you at Essence this year?

Every week people contact me to find out when my brand will be ready for delivery in their country. I try to accommodate their wishes but of course it would be much better if they tried my perfumes and bought them where they live! Therefore, for my first participation in this show, I must first introduce myself to European and international distributors. Smell the compositions, tell them the story of Eris Parfums and let them see that it’s not “just” a vintage perfume brand or animal notes. On the other hand, I want to reassure them that I am here to stay as there is so much uncertainty at the moment: after two very difficult years, Eris Parfums continues. The brand is stronger today than ever before, because I know better what I want and our work with Antoine is more and more fluid. The best is yet to come.


To be continued :
Cécile Zarokian (Cécile Zarokian Perfumery), Serge Laugier (Le Paravent), Barbara Herman (Eris Parfums), Michel Gutsatz (The Garden Found), Dhaher bin Dhaher (Tola), Luca Maffei (Atelier Fragranze Milano), Nathalie Feisthauer, Franco Wright (Luckyscent), Pissara Umavijani (Dusita), Liam Sardea (LKNU)…

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