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An intensely private man, you will not find Miyake at this event; only later does he volunteer a bit of insight, but true to his nature does not offer lengthy, flowery explanations, pointing only to the duality of “simplicity and beauty” when asked what he seeks in a fragrance. He approaches effusive only when explaining the 17-year gap between the two major fragrance launches. “We launch a new product when we find something we feel is both relevant and pleasing to everyday living, not due to any sort of timetable,” Miyake says. “Our choices do tend to gravitate toward the essentials in life, because that is our basic philosophy.”
Nathalie Helloin Kamel, vice president of Issey Miyake Parfums, is well-versed in the delicacies of shepherding new endeavors with someone who possesses an artist’s sensibilities. “Working with Mr. Miyake is very much like working with an artist, because this is what he is, and so you know that the projects will be driven by only what’s inside him, not by any outside pressures or deadlines,” she says. “You also know that his inspiration will also come very much from the mind of an artist. When we did L’Eau d’Issey, Mr. Miyake said he wanted it to smell like water; with A Scent, he said to me, ‘I want it to smell like the air,’ and I thought, OK, how do we interpret this?”
Four perfumers, or noses, were each tasked with realizing Miyake’s vision. Daphné Bugey, whose past work includes scents for Kenzo, Hugo Boss and DSquared, won the competition with her green, woody, floral fragrance, which since has been likened by Miyake’s team to evoke the idea of Japanese mountains. Notes of hyacinth, verbena and jasmine add elements both green and floral, while Bugey also sought out the woodier galbanum, a rarely used note derived from the resin in the root of a tree largely found in the mountain slopes of northern Iran. “This has been a forgotten ingredient, but we have been able to make use of it thanks to new extraction techniques,” she explains. “Mr. Miyake wanted a very natural sensation, but one in which you couldn’t clearly recognize any one part.”
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