This is my first real opportunity to dedicate a full post to the work of Cécile Zarokian, a perfumer whose work I admire tremendously. She is part of a group of passionate young noses whose olfactory art in recent years has seduced and dazzled me. Working within the shifting and evolving restrictions of IFRA’s annual bell-tolling pronouncements on materials, they choose to see everything as a challenge and creatively, evocatively produce work that circumnavigates the brouhaha and still meets Houses briefs or radiates individuality and sensual signature charm.
I wrote about her work when I blogged on Masque Fragranze back in December 2014. She created Tango for Riccardo and Alessandro and I love it, along with Russian Tea, it is my favourite Masque elixir; it took a few wearings to get there, like meeting someone you weren’t sure about and then you spend all your spare time dreaming about them. In my piece on Russian Tea, this is what I had to say about Tango:
‘The thing that really dazzles me with Tango is how close the formula smells to being decayed and turned. In my scented travels I sometimes come across near empty flacons with the syrupy residue of perfumes lying stickily in the base. These evaporated, reduced, concentrées have strong vintage odours of creosote, face powder and sweet stale gateau. Oddly this is what I detect in the powerful drama of Tango…. It’s a tricky balance, the suggestion of corrosion, whilst surrounding it in swathes of smouldering ambered ardour. But Zarokian knows her stuff and has produced a scent of fire and passionate generosity’.
Cécile’s versatility is becoming very apparent. She set a very high standard for herself when she created Private Label for Jovoy, still I think one of the finest scents in the House’s complex and sensual repertoire and the personal favourite of Jovoy Creative Director François Henin, who Cécile credits with sincerely helping and supporting her in the early days of her career as an independent perfumer. Patchouliful for Robert Drago’s wonderful Laboratorio Olfattivo is one of the most luxurious and sexy patchoulis in years, intimate and dangerously addictive. You want to keep on spraying until you drown in its warm, leathery embrace. The cinnamon blast at the top is genius, mingling beautifully with the frangipani Cécile walks carefully alongside the gorgeously rounded patchouli.
Now we have Cio Cio San, the second scent she has created for Claude Marchal’s rather oblique and mysterious niche house MDCI. Cécile also made Nuit Andalouse, launched in 2013, a beautifully constructed gardenia couture gown of a scent with a floating train of shimmering white holiday drenched salicylates. Underpinning this is a bodice of violet and orange flourishes that hold the construction together with grace and delicate pressure. It is a remarkable and perceptive piece of perfumery, ticking floral and holiday fantasy boxes whilst at the same time demonstrating an eccentric decorum that is both graceful and alluring.