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Interview

Parfums Caron's CEO on combining heritage and novelty

Alissa Demorest

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Parfums Caron's CEO on combining heritage and novelty

© BENOIT BILLARD 2021

Under the ownership of Ariane de Rothschild since 2018, Parfums Caron is in reinvention mode. In our sneak preview of the feature interview to be published in the upcoming issue of sister magazine Formes de Luxe, CEO Hugues de la Chevasnerie talks about the changes happening at the historic French maison.

What are your priorities following the acquisition?

Parfums Caron was founded in 1904, which makes it a venerable 117 years old today. In October 2018, the brand was acquired by Ariane de Rothschild herself; in other words, we aren’t part of the Edmond de Rothschild ecosystem, but work directly with Madame de Rothschild. Her strategy is not purely financial; she takes more of a heritage approach with the intention of growing, redeveloping, relaunching, and, most importantly, passing the maison on to future generations. Her daughter, Olivia, has joined the team and is in charge of different aspects related to the brand’s packaging, design, and advertising.

Madame de Rothschild acquired Caron for two main reasons: first, she has been a loyal customer for many years and as a fragrance enthusiast, she has developed an impressive knowledge of fragrance composition.

I came onboard shortly before the acquisition was finalized. My mission is to relaunch this beautiful brand, to restore its aura, and return to it the position it deserves within the French perfume industry, but with a more “innovative” spirit.

Your strategy to relaunch the brand is based on four pillars.

Yes. The first pillar concerns the history of the brand and how to give it a contemporary twist; the second is about chance encounters; the third is a bold and liberated signature; and the fourth is what I refer to as “generous luxury”. Generosity in the sense of our extensive fragrance offer, the generosity that runs throughout our narrative and generosity in our environmental strategy.

The notion of creative freedom that characterized the brand was lost when the founder, Félicie Vanpouille, passed away in the 1970s, and today this creativity is one aspect that we aim to highlight and that Madame de Rothschild strongly supports through promoting the work of contemporary artists and craftspeople. One recent example is the advertising campaign for our latest masculine fragrance, Aimez-moi Comme Je Suis, where we gave carte blanche to nine contemporary artists. They were told only the name of the perfume and a description of its notes and it was up to them to interpret it. That’s the Caron trademark today.

We’ve taken the same approach to packaging with a series of exceptional, limited-edition bottles, the first of which will be launched at the end of the first half of this year. Our initial collaboration is with Gilles Chabrier, a French glass artisan who is creating a series of extraordinary hand-engraved flacons for the brand. We intend to enrich Caron’s story through these kinds of projects where artistic folly is key!

What changes have you made to the brand portfolio since the acquisition?

First off we are launching new fragrances, which was behind the appointment of our in-house perfumer, Jean Jacques, who works in tandem with Ariane de Rothschild. His focus is on reinterpreting our classic fragrances, and developing new scents to carve out new facets for the brand.

Changes in regulations have also forced us to revisit certain classics in our catalog, luckily not Pour un Homme, but other fragrances have had to be reworked. 

There were a total of 30 scents in the portfolio, and today we still have four or five fragrances that are being reformulated. This is very labor-intensive for our perfumer as he has to stay as faithful as possible to the original fragrances without betraying the slightest olfactory shift, while rendering them accessible. It goes without saying that the perfume industry in 1930 was nothing like it is today; even though we use a large proportion of natural ingredients in our fragrances, we no longer work in the same way.

Read up on Parfum Caron's packaging revamp in the full interview published in the summer 2021 issue of Formes de Luxe

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