From the birth of the boutique Parisian perfume house to how it’s influenced by the trio of founders’ love of vintage, Co-Founder Benoit Verdier chats to A&E about everything EX NIHILO.
A&E Interviews EX NIHILO Co-Founder Benoit Verdier
Taken from Latin expression which translates to ‘out of nothing’, the name EX NIHILO symbolises the creation of a completely new approach to fragrance – not formed or inspired by the history of perfumery and products that came before it – something referred to as a “disruptive vision of perfume.”
And speaking about how such a brand came to be is Benoit Verdier, one of the Co-Founders that make up EX NIHILO – Olivier Royère and Sylvie Loday being the remaining two. Together, the trio founded the luxury perfume house in 2013, establishing their styles and scents as an alternative to both the stereotype of luxury fragrance and mass personalisation.
From how they all meet to their shared love of vintage, Verdier talks us through everything we need to know about the fragrance house that has finally made its way into the region.
A&E Interviews EX NIHILO Co-Founder Benoit Verdier
Tell us about how EX NIHILO came to be?
Olivier and I met 15 years ago on the benches of Sciences Po in Paris six years ago, we were introduced to Sylvie. We soon decided it was time for us to quit our respective jobs and do something more exciting on our own in the fragrance industry. It really was an entrepreneurial adventure from day one. We were always fragrance lovers and just wanted to create the brand of our dreams. Trying as much as we could to bring a new energy to it. We wanted to bring back this idea of super exclusivity with a twist of irreverence and a funky French twist. We had the opportunity to find this amazing space Rue Saint-Honoré and Et voilà! One day we took everybody by surprise as EX NIHILO means created from scratch in Latin.
We had no specific plans, and, in our dreams, we wished to have a flagship store in Paris located in the most popular and buzzing neighbourhood. We also wanted to be distributed in the finest and most exclusive stores in the world including Harrods and Bergdorf Goodman. Just under two years after our first creation, this has finally come true. We are now sold across 19 countries, with almost 90 points of sales including Bloomingdales Dubai and Kuwait City and soon to be in more stores and locations in the region!
The three of you have a love of vintage cars, watches, fine art and ’80s furniture… How has your love vintage shaped the brand?
We love Concorde or Citroen SM and all the golden era in France during the ’70s, we want to bring back some French Panache today. The whole idea is to revisit the past with innovation and disruptive ideas. This is beyond just taking formal inspirations; we like to twist them using the greatest materials such as like Rose of May and timeless glass bottles placed into a recycled foam box. The art graphic design is a mixture of marble and a stunning deep blue colour. We want to be unforgettable, in the mind of our clients, we want to give them the chance to be fully entwined into the brand and get a full EX NIHILO experience.
As collectors, is it important to you to create collectable items? How do you do so?
As collectors, we have diverse tastes and interests – for example, Olivier loves flashy items from the Seventies-era and Eighties Post Modernism. We like to create collectable items mainly through collaborations on exclusive editions with the finest artists of the new generation. We like to create magic between the artists and our team consisting of amazingly talented master perfumers.
We also like to collaborate with strong personalities, people that have a big universe and strong points of views to create beautiful juices such as the CUIR CELESTE which was created with photographer Mathieu Cesar. We also currently have a secret project with an amazingly talented woman from Dubai, which we will be able to reveal more details about this coming September.
What is the philosophy behind the brand?
Revisit High Perfumery through a unique Parisian “Avant-Garde” Prism. It means focusing on the best of French craftsmanship as well as bringing the best of technology with a focus on personalization. If we were a car company, some of our competitors could be easily Bentley or Rolls Royce. We envision ourselves to the ultimate version of Tesla.
What makes EX NIHILO different?
We try to challenge stereotyped luxury and bring in a whole new luxury experience. Surprisingly not being perfumers helped us think out of the box and bring fresh and disruptive ideas about the fragrance experience being a full 360-degree journey.
We found that the classic image of the omnipotent creative director is quite outdated. We believe that you are more creative and efficient when you work with people who complete your own skills. The term Collaboration is in our DNA core and we draw our inspiration from many fields in the artistic community such as fashion, architecture, design, photography…
How does it feel launching in this region?
We are super excited about our growth here. Customers are very sophisticated and know exactly what they want, but they also like to be surprised. Agarwood is still strong culturally, but people are open to exploring new olfactory creations such as our Fleur Narcotique which is based on peony.
One collection that is a hit in the Middle East is the Babylone Collection. With the fragrances being created by perfumers Olivier Pescheux and Shyamala Maisondieu. The new fragrance Atlas Fever is linked to Arabic heritage (with woods, ambers, oriental notes) and is also linked to the contemporary Arabic world with modern and futuristic ingredients mixed with the Parisian heritage.
What’s the ultimate goal for EX NIHILO?
We want to be the go-to brand for scents lovers. We want to continue to offer an unparalleled experience to our customers that helps them dream and experience the brand firsthand by deeply discovering our fragrances through the use of our raw ingredients, creating their own scents.
Which other fragrance brands do you admire?
To be honest, we admire the work of some of our competitors do, but we try not to be influenced by others and like to separate ourselves from other brands. We like to do things differently in our own unique way. Not being perfumers in a way helps us be extremely creative, which pushes us to work harder to reach our goals.
Other than your own scents, what’s is your favourite fragrances of all time?
It’s a cliché but Eau Sauvage by Dior is my favourite. This fragrance is widely loved in the French community, with the majority of our fathers having worn it. I also like the Eau d’Orange Verte by Hermès. Olivier has also strong childhood memories of the Arnys fragrance, a fashion house his family has founded back in the days and a cologne his grandfather used to wear.
What is your motto when it comes to your work?
We have some but I would say “Rules have been made… to be broken”
And what is the one thing you would say no to?
To sell our soul or to accept to downgrade our brand. For us, exclusivity is key. We want to offer the most exceptional experience without ever compromising our brand’s values.
See more at ex-nihilo-paris.com.