The artist perfumer
The art of perfume seen through the lens of La Fabrique Culturelle at Télé-Québec: Sculpting the invisible: Alexandra Bachand, artist perfumer
"Through the white windows of the workshop-boutique, there is a formula book, a composition organ, a gray stone angel, a geranium stretching towards the sun, and a few dabs that a pretty cursive writing has taken care to name. There, bottles in rows and pipettes in bouquets; in a corner, a pale hydrangea head waits patiently for its round petals to dry next to oblong boxes signed Alexandra Bachand. "Everything begins with a dream.»
-Isabelle Naessens, Henkel Media Editor
I dream at night not in colors, but in smells! And sometimes, in synesthesia, that is to say, both at the same time. Smells are language and emotions. The art of perfume is for me a form of quest inspired by new encounters and moments rich in meaning and beauty. Perfume is an invisible form of expression a bit like music, which seeks to transcribe a vibration of the heart.
I took a side road before going to France to learn fine perfumery. I undertook an artistic path, that of Fine Arts at the University. I realize today that having studied the history of art and that having learned to practice my hand in an academic way to model, shape, draw, engrave, photograph or paint, has greatly opened the way for me to then learn to formulate, compose, know how to adjust the harmony of the chords that take shape during the creation of a perfume. This is why I take pleasure in carrying out by hand in the workshop, each of the stages from the ideation to the visual, then to the formulation, the manufacture and finally to the bottling of the perfume. This design work is at the heart of what binds me to perfume. It's my way of bringing it to life in a way.
In parallel with the composition of the perfumes of the collection of La Grange du Parfumeur, I pursue an approach of visual artist perfumer. I compose and imagine olfactory art installations within exhibitions allowing the art of perfume to pay tribute in particular to history and heritage, by awakening emotions and memories, like a real time machine.
I find meaning in my work, walking off the beaten track as much as possible and rooting myself in the beauty and history of my region. I advocate a perfumery centered on the full creative freedom of the perfumer as an artist in his own right. I like that time stands still, that perfume is at the heart of a poetic vision and not a commercial one. I like to have fun perceiving perfume as an invisible medium that I try to sculpt to give it an aesthetic shape with meaning, a story. I favor writing that leaves room for this slowness and that allows me to draw inspiration from my childhood memories or simply from the present moment. Smell is an extremely valuable sense. It opens the door to a reading and an emotional understanding of the world around us.
Over time, La Grange is enriched with stories that take shape day after day. All these fragrant moments nourish me and it is a pleasure to share this art by your side.
To discover all the art projects, Read more here.
(Question) I can't start my morning without...
(Answer from Alexandra) Enjoy the panoramic view from the workshop at La Grange, on Lake Memphremagog. The panorama of the landscape with the forest and the fields which border the barn evolves in a spectacular way from one season to another. Each sunrise brings its own mix of striking colors and atmospheric effects that bring a feeling of Zen. Especially in the light of day, when a thick mist forms and gives the illusion of a painting by William Turner.
(Q) I have a weakness for...
(A) Botany and fragrant flowers. My paternal grandfather was once a landscaper in the area, while my grandmother had a greenhouse full of plants that she treasured more than anything. I am fascinated by the beauty and the smells that spread through a garden. Over the years, I have created a small plant oasis where I take pleasure in cultivating fragrant species that inspire me and guide my ideas during the creative process of composing a perfume.
(Q) Most people don't know...
(A) That I spent my childhood in a 19th century Tudor-style estate restored as a resort hotel in a bucolic countryside in the Eastern Townships. The place was vast and I spent my days discovering new secret places that were full of unusual old items and scents. It was wonderful for sparking a child's imagination. It was mostly where I began to take pleasure in smelling everything, as if to forge myself a library of sometimes even uncommon smells.
(Q) One of your wishes...
(A) To sow happiness and strength through perfume. It is a medium rich in meaning which makes it possible to feel significant emotions in a daily ritual.