When creating a new fragrance, deciding on the inspiration behind it is perhaps the most crucial part of the journey as it is this that acts as the basis for the creation.
For Chopard’s Iris Malika fragrance, Co-President Caroline Scheufele wanted this inspiration to come from the Middle East. She enlisted the expertise of Senior Perfumer Dora Baghriche who has previously created some of the Maison’s most beautiful perfumes, and together they brought this elegant, feminine fragrance to life. Iris Malika is the first of a new collection of perfumes Chopard IMPERIALE and the beginning of a wonderful story of highly elevated, instantly recognisable scents.
Inspired by the Maison’s jewellery collections and in particular the amethyst stone, Iris Malika captures the elegance and fine craftsmanship of the Maison presenting it in a new way. Dora Baghriche loves to work with the unexpected when it comes to choosing ingredients for her perfumes. She often brings together a unique combination of ingredients creating powerful and unexpected scents. Here we find out more about her creative process and the inspiration for Iris Malika.
What are some of the elements you consider when you first start working on a fragrance?
When I start creating, I always try to understand the brand’s expectations. Before Iris Malika, I had already worked on a few fragrances for Chopard so I understand their DNA and the vision of Caroline Scheufele. She shared with me the key elements of the project and I selected two key ingredients according to that. Then, I chose other ingredients to envelop this key accord, always depending on the storytelling.
What for you makes a fragrance an icon?
I consider that iconic fragrances are the ones which aim to remain modern throughout the years. It requires a strong and innovative statement from the beginning and a talented perfumer who knows how to transmit his or her emotions.
Tell us your thoughts on fragrance in the Middle East.
Fragrances in the Middle East are a way of life. They have been part of the local culture since ancient Egyptian times. It is the cradle of the first perfumes and the origin of some of the most beautiful ingredients that we still use in formulas today. There was a gap between eastern and western fragrances during the 1990s and 2000s, where the trend in Europe was to have clean and fresh scents, but these last years, some eastern ingredients are making a comeback in western perfumes such as agarwood or vanilla, which offers new territories of creativity to explore.
Let’s talk about Iris Malika as it is inspired by the region – how would you describe this fragrance?
The inspiration focuses on a Middle Eastern queen sublimed by amethyst jewels. The name, Malika, which means “queen” in Arabic, inspired me to use a flower duet of jasmine and rose damascene; two of the most precious flowers from the region. The amethyst instantly made me think of the iris, as they are both purple, noble and considered ultimately precious.
With all these ideas I created Iris Malika. The fragrance opens with a wild berry accord, but not too sweet, thanks to the vibrant spices such as pink pepper and cinnamon, and then the heart reveals this strong iris concrete and very woody. I wanted something powerful, not too earthy. I wrapped it with rose Damascena and jasmine to make it timeless and feminine. The dry down unveils a tonka bean note, which has silky and tobacco facets, rounded with Siam Benzoin and Peru Balsam absolute. This ambery balsamic character is a real tribute to Middle Eastern fragrances!
Tell us about the iris and how it works together with the other ingredients in the fragrance.
Iris flowers are too delicate for the extraction process, so in perfumery, we use their roots which deliver an earthy and powerful note. It is a surprising smell, which can be difficult to tame. I balanced it with tonka beans, which also have an earthy aspect but with tender undertones. Working on the idea of an amethyst-inspired fragrance, I’ve selected wild berries which remind me of the colour of amethyst. And, as Malaki means “queen” in Arabic, I’ve chosen the most beautiful ingredients among the traditional raw materials we use in Middle Eastern fragrances, such as precious spices (pink pepper, cardamom, cinnamon), benzoin, jasmine and damascene rose.
When creating fragrances for Chopard how do you get inspired by the Maison’s jewellery creations?
Chopard has such a strong heritage. This great jewellery Maison is synonymous with elegance, tradition and glamour. It is a story of hands, expertise, patience and inventive craftsmanship to which I am infinitely sensitive. When creating for such a luxurious Maison one can only use the most beautiful ingredients, because Chopard’s clients are connoisseurs who truly appreciate luxury and uniqueness. I love Caroline Scheufele, she designs high jewellery with an out-of-the-box spirit, full of playfulness. I truly appreciate this fantasy. I always try to keep this spirit in the fragrances I create for Chopard.
What are your current favourite ingredients to work with?
I recently rediscovered the many facets of Ciste Labdanum, which has this strong balsamic character, but also a spicy facet that I really like to explore. And of course, I love incense. It is one of the ancestral raw materials of perfumery. Incense has transcended the ages with its timeless character.
When and where are you in your most creative state of mind?
I appreciate quiet places that allow me to concentrate and reveal my creative state of mind but all places can stimulate my curiosity. Especially those that are unknown to me.
Where do you like to travel to source ingredients?
I’m born in Algiers, so I’m deeply inspired by Mediterranean ingredients. I love to discover preserved spots in Greece, the South of France or Italy. All the ingredients I discover there have a deep interest to me: I like to learn about the traditions and understand how they are used.
We know you love to bring an element of surprise to your perfumes – how do you always continue to innovate with your creations?
I love starting my creations with one or two key ingredients which guide me. As if ingredients were humans, I enjoy unveiling facets of their personalities that have not been exploited yet. For Iris Malika, my wish was to express a more balsamic and colourful side of the iris by combining this noble flower with wild berries.
What is a perfume you would still love to create?
A true rose for men.
What is a favourite scent you remember from your childhood?
When I was young, in Algiers, I lived on a pine-lined street. I remember the smell of this street in the afternoon when the warm wind blended its woody and resinous smells with the fresh and flowery notes of the jasmine in my garden.
What do you think women are looking for from a luxury fragrance today?
When women seek luxury fragrances, or when they choose exclusive or niche collections, they reach for a unique and strong signature smell that will give them empowerment and self-confidence.
How would you describe Iris Malika in one word?
This might be the most difficult question of this interview… There are a hundred possibilities but let’s say “spiced up!”