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Henry Jacques: From Paris, with love

From décor to fragrance, Henry Jacques is the quintessential luxury Parisian perfumery. The organic, family-grown niche brand puts you at the centre of your scent

Because we refuse to go the mass-production route, we’ve stayed hidden from the crowd. - Anne-Lise Cremona, Henry Jacques CEO

Not many people or companies have the prestige, gumption or the self-belief to say no to Harrods. But a few months ago, Henry Jacques, an ultra-high-end perfumery founded on principles of individuality, uncompromising quality and integrity did exactly that.

Having been approached by the owners of London’s ultimate luxury retailer and seeing what Harrods was offering as a retail space, Henry Jacques CEO Anne-Lise Cremona said, “No, I’m sorry. This space is not exclusive enough for us.”

But thankfully, Harrods understood, went away, renovated the entire sixth floor and came back to Henry Jacques with a more intimate, exclusive space and an offer of prime perfumery “retail estate”.

The Salon de Parfums — as the floor is now known in the ultra high-end Knightsbridge department store — houses just 11 of the most exclusive and sought-after perfumery brands in the world, including Ex Nihilo, Roja Dove and, of course, Henry Jacques.

Cremona was then satisfied that the brand her father created in 1975 would be represented with the sort of illustrious pomp that it’s become known for, and deserves.

After moving into Harrods, the Parisian perfumer quickly became the best-selling brand in the store. But that success, Cremona tells Debonair at a private introduction to the brand’s newest boutique in The Dubai Mall, is founded on an insistence to never compromise on the quality of the products it offers.

Because we refuse to go the mass-production route, we’ve stayed hidden from the crowd. - Anne-Lise Cremona, Henry Jacques CEO

The flagship regional Henry Jacques boutique in Dubai is its first shop in the Middle East and only the second stand-alone boutique in the world

“If you look around at all the luxury items on the market today — watches, leather, fashion lines — they have bespoke offerings. But if you look at perfume, it’s mainly mass-produced in a lot of cases. Because the distribution is so extensively global, it’s a mass market,” Cremona says.

“Because we refuse to go this mass-production route, we’ve stayed hidden from the crowd.”

For years the niche fragrance house has remained under the radar because of its dedication to catering to the individual requests of its private clientele. But far from cutting the brand off from the world and future clients, this has been the pillar of its success and reputeation in the luxury fragrance industry. And that’s not set to change any time soon.

In an era where perfumes, eau de toilettes and aftershaves are mass produced with ever-cheaper, more versatile and synthetic materials, Henry Jacques refuses; instead, it goes the other way and opts for hyper exclusivity. The brand recently migrated to the Perfumery & Co district of the recently renovated The Dubai Mall Fashion Avenue extension.

The space is as quaint and intimate as you would expect of a family-grown Parisian company that specialises in the very finest in its sector. The Dubai boutique (as with the French boutiques), is designed by Christophe Tollemer — a man who has constructed four palaces (yes, palaces) across France.

And Tollemer’s eye for Renaissance detailing and French interiors is plied to wonderful effect on The Dubai Mall boutique. The codes are quintessential Parisian, with a 17th century palatial mood to the gold and dark wood décor. The perfumes are secreted away in cupboards that appear like walls but open to reveal sparkling treasure chests of classic crystal bottles, shimmering with their rose-tinted scents inside. Incidentally, some of Henry Jacques bottles are also the work of Tollemer, who takes his penchant for Renaissance decoration on the crystal vials to another level.

“This boutique was built in France before we brought it out here to Dubai. So everything could be just like our French maisons,” Cremona says.

Because we refuse to go the mass-production route, we’ve stayed hidden from the crowd.

Anne-Lise Cremona, Henry Jacques CEO

This insistence on French craftsmanship is beautifully reimagined in the true heartbeat of the luxury perfumerer — its storied laboratory. The company’s historic and acclaimed lab in Provence is home to a labyrinth of thousands of natural scents that have been discovered from world travel and human interaction. And this is what essentially stands Henry Jacques out from the crowd: the opportunity to pick from thousands of organic scents from which you can create your personalised perfume.

“The natural essences that we have to choose from are so varied and rich, they always combine in new and different ways to produce a scent that is always unique and really speaks to the personality of the client,” Cremona explains as we sit on ornate, antique provincial settees in the cosy consultation room.

And it’s in this room that the client’s olfactory memories are brought to life, bottled and captured forever.

Rather than discussing your favourite aftershaves, eau de toilettes or perfumes, the “noses” on hand discuss your past, your present and where you want to go — the personal, emotional, almost inexplicable things that come to light almost like when you’re having a psychotherapy session; the kind of thing you wouldn’t ever imagine would go into the creation of a perfume.

There’s an array of sample bottles for you to smell, each of which will evoke a memory you can describe to the experts sitting with you. From there, the traditions of bespoke perfume creation come to life in Henry Jacques’ praised laboratories.

You can then wear this little slice of your personality on your wrist and neck with the assurance that no one else in the world owns what you’re wearing. It’s yours and yours alone. A scent to call your own — now there’s a luxury few get to understand and relive every day.

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