It’s intriguing to see buzz (as opposed to the hype) develop around a perfume brand. And there’s plenty of that when it comes to Maison Crivelli. Founded in 2018 by Thibaud Crivelli, the Paris-based niche company focuses on fragrances inspired by his experiences.
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When Thibaud Crivelli moved to China in 2006 and lived in various Asian countries, he was exposed to raw material plantations. This has given the entrepreneur/explorer unique insights into perfumery.
Before I emailed him the questions below to answer, I had an intro Zoom chat with Thibaud Crivelli. He came across as being approachable, articulate, and passionate about his company and perfume in general.
Travel is a popular source of inspiration in perfumery, but that’s not Maison Crivelli’s approach. How is your perspective different?
Perfume is a living experience that changes with time and different skin types. But more than this, our perception of perfume will also change depending on the environment we are in. All sensorial elements are connected and create a unique perfume experience.
Perfume is always personal, but sometimes it can be difficult to explain. So it was important for me to guide people into a deeper, more intimate, and a better understanding of perfume. The focus is not on me, but on what other people will feel.
Each perfume is inspired by surprising experiences of discovery that I have lived. However, I chose not to reveal where I was to enable other people to connect with perfume and live their own personal journey.
In addition, what matters to me is not where I am or where I go, but rather how I live each moment. The experience matters much more than the location.
When did you know you wanted to launch your own perfume house?
This has always been a childhood dream. I started to connect with perfume ingredients at a young age.
I also grew up in a family of entrepreneurs as my dad is a pharmacist and created his own cosmetic range.
And how did you go about it?
I started by myself and then gradually initiated collaborations with various partners (perfumers, suppliers, distributors, etc).
For any entrepreneurial venture, the key aspect is to be fully aware of what we can do ourselves, and what we cannot do. For the latter, it’s vital to work with partners we trust and who understand our expectations and mission.
Have perfumes always appealed to you?
I have always had a strong connection with perfume ingredients, mostly thanks to a connection with nature across all seasons.
My understanding of perfume became more accurate when I lived in Asia, as I got the opportunity to visit plantations and markets.
The last step of my personal fragrance journey has been to discover more the aspect of creation.
Your wide travels have exposed you to the wonderful world of raw materials. Why are they so important to you?
Raw materials are a fundamental part of perfumery – they are the basis to work with. A deep understanding of raw materials is not essential to enjoy a fragrance.
However, understanding raw materials is essential when it comes to creating and working with perfumers directly.
Exploring areas where raw materials are cropped has helped me to discover them in a better and more sensorial way – not just in a technical way.
You describe your fragrances as “slow perfumes”. What do you mean by that phrase?
Taking time is an important aspect of perfume creation and discovery.
We take the necessary time to remember the most surprising experiences of perfume discovery, find the best perfumers, create the scent, and source the best raw materials (which are sometimes even hand-picked to preserve the best quality).
Eventually, we also invite everyone to take a bit more time than usual to discover perfume in a more qualitative way.
What’s been your greatest challenge since launching in 2018?
Increasing brand awareness, as there are lots of new launches every year.
You run the brand’s IG page and personally replied to my initial contact there. Is that a conscious choice? How large is your team?
We have a team of six people, but it is important for me to have direct contact with clients and the teams in the stores. I am happy to take the time to keep in touch with everyone.
I love all the Maison Crivelli fragrances I’ve tried so far. Papyrus Moléculaire is particularly distinctive. Why did you choose Leslie Girard to create it?
Leslie understood our brief instantly and she is very skilled at creating woody notes with long-lastingness and sillage.
On top, she is a lovely person and the connection has always been incredible.
How do your brief the perfumers you choose to work with?
I narrate the experiences I have lived and send a mood board composed of photographs, videos, sounds, colours, and textures.
The objective is to translate all the sensorial elements of that moment and encapsulate them in a perfume.
As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, what would you like to improve on Maison Crivelli?
We always do our best to work on the originality and balance of the perfumes. The most difficult aspect is to reach the moment when the perfumer and myself both know that we have finalised the creation.
You launched a new fragrance in February 2021. What can you tell us about it?
Osmanthe Kōdoshān is inspired by a discovery of osmanthus flowers on the slopes of a mystical mountain shrouded in mist.
In 2021 you went the extrait de parfum route with Hibiscus Mahajád. What was your thinking behind that?
My intention was to propose scents with the same creative direction as our first perfumes, but with more intensity, lingering sillage, and top-quality ingredients, and also in partnership with the best perfumers.
In line with the EDP collection, each scent is inspired by a moment I have lived when I encountered a perfume ingredient with much surprise.
For Hibiscus Mahajád, the inspiration was a tasting of hibiscus tea in a gemstone market.
And how did perfumer Quentin Bisch interpret your vision?
Our main idea was to create a flamboyant scent. We used a very high-quality of rose absolute and illuminated it with mint and cassis.
In addition, we added a touch of cinnamon for a slightly powdery and warm facet and prolonged the accord with vanilla absolute, leather, and musk.
I’m honoured by the amazing feedback we’ve received on this creation so far. People who wear the perfume receive so many compliments and it became a hit in a few weeks.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the fragrance market since launching in 2018?
I don’t really follow the market actively, as it would orientate the way I create. But it’s true there are trends in the perfume industry. A few years ago, they were on oud and musks.
Though those notes remain pillars in any portfolio, some perfume lovers are moving away from them as they’re looking for original signatures. Lately I saw a trend on vanilla, liquorous fruity notes or aromatic notes (lavender, for instance).
At Maison Crivelli, we don’t really follow market trends – for instance, I’ve just started to brief a perfumer on oud perfumes and the brand was launched nearly three years ago already. Such development happens at the right time, with the right person.
What can we expect from Maison Crivelli in 2022?
We are launching two new international perfume extracts on patchouli and amber, as well as an exclusive scent in partnership with the Ingredients store in Prague, the Czech Republic.
Launched at the end of January, Patchouli Magnetik takes inspiration from a motorcycle ride through patchouli fields during a tropical storm.
It sees a contrast between the earthy and woody facets of patchouli, a luminous note of gardenia and a soft creamy and warmer duo of gardenia and vanilla. It’s an electric scent that lies between earth and sky!
4 Reasons Why We Love Maison Crivelli
These releases capture the appeal of the brand perfectly.
One would expect a fragrance inspired by “the experience of the scent of scorched sandalwood on the slopes of an erupting volcano” to be unusual and intriguing.
And that’s exactly what the brand’s 2018 debut and current best-seller created by Richard Ibanez delivers in abundance.
Warm spiciness (ginger and cardamom) mingles with a rich, uncompromising, and almost burnt take on sandalwood that mellows with coffee absolute and musks as it develops sensually on the skin.
Papyrus is a surprisingly common note in perfumery, but there’s nothing common about its treatment in this 2020 release.
Leslie Girard successfully translates inspiration – “discovering papyrus root powder with a group of tattooed women smoking cigarillos” – into vibrant reality.
Fresh spiciness (coriander and elemi) gives way to cuddly tobacco while the headline note is powdered and leathered to perfection.
Absinthe’s reputation precedes it, but there’s no danger of hallucinating under the influence of this friendly 2019 release created by Nathalie Feisthauer.
There’s no missing the artemisia (wormwood), the herb used to give flavour and aroma to the notorious spirit, but it’s softened with a clean mix of lavender, mint, lemon, balsam fir and musk.
A beautifully cool composition that deftly balances its herbal and aromatic aspects.
Thibaud Crivelli always works with perfumers he admires. Collaborating with Bertrand Duchaufour (creator of classics such as Amouage Jubilation XXV, Comme des Garçons Series 3 Incense: Avignon and L’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu) on Maison Crivelli Citrus Batikanga was an inspired choice.
Taking its cue from the experience of drinking a citrus cocktail in a colourful tropical market, this 2019 EDP begins with the tart citrus tones of bergamot and bigarade orange.
That refreshing vibe quickly transitions to sultry heat in the form of chilli that mingles with notes of myrrh (its spicy characteristics pushed to the max) and earthy vetiver.
It’s wonderfully evocative stuff!
Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.