'This place is unique in the world', he says proudly. "Some crucial ingredients that I use in my perfumes grow nowhere else than here. But ninety percent of the raw materials comes from all corners of the world, such as osmanthus from China, oud from Bangladesh and patchouli from Indonesia. My mission is to select the most refined ingredients and get them to Grasse to process them in perfumes. These smells then go back into the world and continue to travel on the skin of people. I call this trajectory the journey of the raw materials. '
The perfect bouquet
We climb the staircase leading to the studio, a sleek yet elegant, laboratory-like room, in which along the walls in metal frames an impressive number of bottles and jars is placed, filled with oils and powders. The perfumier talks about the special air extraction system that ensures that odors do not linger and the air remains neutral. That is not unimportant, because making a perfume is a precision job. That we are allowed to enter the laboratory is exceptional: everything that is here is confidential and usually this space can only be entered with badges. Cavallier-Belletrud shows a formula written on paper - the recipe of a perfume - to give an impression of what that looks like and asks us not to take pictures ('This is qualified!') .
Then he expands on the special storage place where the raw materials are stored, dry, dark and exactly at the right temperature, as with wines. After all, these are precious materials: one kilo of jasmine costs about 130,000 euros. 'Every year there are about two thousand new perfume launches', he says. 'You have to distinguish yourself in this, and that is only possible by working with the highest quality raw materials. Because in this way you can only really generate emotions and create a perfume that is sublime. And that is my goal. I am fortunate that at Vuitton I have absolute freedom to make what I want and when I want it. I am not being chased by the competition. A perfume is only finished when it is finished. ' Laughing: "So I have no excuse to make bad perfumes!"
Transparency and empathy
That we nowadays think that we have seen everything on the basis of the pictures on the internet and in this way we ignore what really counts. 'We must be more connected to reality. And that reality comes from the soil below us. Nothing is, however, what comes from the earth and that is why I find natural materials and their origin so important. Forget pictures of the internet, but touch, feel, smell, experience! That is the essence. That way you create real emotions and that is exactly what luxury is supposed to do. '
Cavallier-Belletrud talks about the idea behind Louis Vuitton's first men's perfume collection. Initially it was seventy, but that number has been reduced to five sublime perfumes: L'Immensité, Nouveau Monde, Orage, Sur la Route and Au Hasard . With this the master perfumer aims for a new kind of masculinity. "The image of the dominant, victorious man is dated," he says firmly. 'Just look at fashion: men are no longer afraid to wear color or floral designs. Nowadays there is more room for feelings and sensibility: you can be powerful while showing your weakness. And this change can also be seen in men's perfumes. And because there are so many smells for the sporting, victorious supermales I wanted to create perfumes with character and emotion, with really good ingredients. The world needs that sensitivity. " Jokingly: "Take Trump and Kim Jong-un. Maybe I should send them a bottle of Nouveau Monde ! "