Perfumery à la française: The World of Philippine Courtiere

Akanksha Maker | November 28, 2022 | Life

Everything about Philippine Courtiere, senior perfumer at Symrise Fine Fragrance, a global producer of fragrance and flavour, subtly says à la française.

During her short and first visit to India, I had a chance to catch up with her, for a tête-à-tête about her olfactory world and extraordinary lineage. The 35-year old is the granddaughter of Jacques Rouët, one of Christian Dior’s founding business partners. While her father was the president of Givenchy Couture and Perfumes for many years, her mother was developing perfumes for Escada. Haute couture and a nose of fragrance is inherently inbuilt in her DNA.

When asked about her premier olfactory memory, she takes me back to her childhood in France, when she invariably encountered the freshness of baguettes and croissants, the calm florid whiffs of lavender and the strong, invigorating notes of caffeine.

Her next rendezvous with fragrances was when her parents brought home samples to test out. A young Courtiere would sneak in and engage in conversation with her parents about the notes.

Having a strong fervour for business, she chose a career in law for a bit, after obtaining a master’s degree in French and Spanish law from the prestigious University of Nanterre in Paris. While she aced her time in law, she felt a constant pull towards the perfumery realm, and following her intuition and eventual passion, she worked with some of the top perfumeries in the world.

Today, as the senior perfumer of Symrise Fine Fragrance in Dubai, Courtiere is working towards bringing back the glory of Maison Lautier, a perfume-house that dates back to 1795.

Symrise Fine Fragrance will relaunch Maison Lautier dating back to 1795.

AM: Can you tell me a little bit about your plan for the return of Maison Lautier.

PC: We at Symrise are building a factory in Grasse for Maison Lautier 1795 to reinforce its position in natural raw materials. This will complement its existing factories in Holzminden, Germany, and Madagascar.

The return to Grasse goes beyond a symbolic gesture. The company intends to source as much raw material as possible locally, providing a boost to local cultivators. ‘Made in France’ will therefore form an important part of the product identity.

This will add to the exceptional quality, sustainability and ethical business practices that have historically formed part of the Lautier brand. A reciprocal philosophy – a deep-rooted love for naturals – is the common ideology between Symrise and Maison Lautier.

AM: What’s going to be the focus for the first phase of its operation?

PC: In the first phase of its operation, Maison Lautier 1795 will focus on three product lines: the Artisan Range, the Madagascar Range, and the Supernature Range.

AM: What’s the inspiration behind the product lines?

PC: The savoir-faire of the craftspeople has inspired the Artisan Range. Their passion and intimate knowledge of plants and flowers form the lifeblood of Maison Lautier 1795. The range blends generations of craft and expertise with nature at its finest.

The Madagascar Range relates to the island from which Maison Lautier 1795 will source many of its ingredients. The Range captures the place’s sense of abundant fertility and timelessness.

The perfumes and scents from the isle are being combined to create truly unique fragrances. This distils Madagascar’s essence of pure nature: wild, raw, mysterious and magnificent. Working alongside Madagascar’s traditional and integrated value chain, from the plant to the essential oil, Symrise will source a variety of precious natural raw materials on the island. The plan is to let the island run its own operations, and work with smallholder farmers the whole year round.

This industry-unique approach ensures benefits for all members along the value chain – from the growers to the consumers of the scents.

Words by Akanksha Maker.

Images via Symrise Fine Fragrance.

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