Ormaie was founded in Paris by Baptise Bouygues together with his mother, Marie-Lise Jonak. Bouygues formerly worked at Louis Vuitton and Givenchy, developing a solid knowledge in fashion and trends. His personal interest however laid in art and craftsmanship, in people working with their hands “As a child – he remembers – I used to sit hours watching my grandfather sculpting. He used to work in the garage of his house”. His mother being a fragrance professional, Bouygues grows up speaking the language of perfumes and with a sensitive nose: “From the youngest age I used to train my nose or try to create essences from the flowers in the garden”. It was only a matter of time before the son would ask the mother to join forces in creating a product of their own. Today Ormaie is a multifaceted brand, which has carved its own niche in the luxury fragrance market by combining Jonak’s expertise with Bouygues’s artistic aspirations. The kind of perfume which would have thrilled the likes of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, while at the same time meeting the taste of the modern gentlemen and women. A perfume that you would wear at the Opera, or place on the mantelpiece of an artistic atelier.
Ormaie uses only ingredients which are 100% natural. Being natural and sustainable today is a big plus, but this rather expensive choice wasn’t made neither for ethical reasons nor for marketing purposes – at least not primarily: it is, once again, a strive for elegance. “I had always wanted to create a Maison – says Bouygues – somewhere where I could work with friends and family and do something truly creative. I knew the fragrance world quite well. I knew that fragrances were vastly made out of synthetic ingredients coming from petrochemicals. I went to see my mother one day and told her we should create a fragrance that was 100% natural. Not because it was a trend but simply because I found it more elegant. There is a poetry to the soil, the flowers growing, the time it takes. Nature holds something unique.”
When Bouygues and his mother decided to launch Ormaie, sustainability might not have been their first priority, but it certainly became an important part of their production method, first and foremost when it came to sourcing the ingredients. After all, there really isn’t much elegance in being irresponsible. Finding raw materials and suppliers which ensured a sustainable practice took a long time. Today the brand collaborates with different partners, all of which have different ways of ensuring natural growth to products and economic growth to employees. The sandalwood suppliers replant twenty trees every time one is cut. The Vanilla from Madagascar supplier hires harvesters for a minimum of three years, giving people a chance to develop a business of their own. Ormaie‘s perfumes are based on stories and emotions and these practices alone contribute to the brand’s narrative style. “Nature is at the base of what we do. There is a humility that comes from it, a sense of time, of respect, of beauty. For this reason it’s important that the respect for nature always stays at the center of our work.”
The decision to focus on artistic perfumery instead of commercial perfumery comes from wanting to put creativity at center-stage: “There is something special about fragrances – says Bouygues – they touch your soul in a very peculiar way. It was very important to me that creativity would be at the center of what we did. I wanted our fragrances and designs to come from a truly emotional place. It is something that is possible with artistic perfumery and that is unfortunately sometimes diluted with more commercial one.” Every Ormaie perfume originates from a story, an emotion, a place or even a person. Les Brumes captures a citrus field in Italy, the moment in which the morning mist descend on the trees mixing the scents of citrus with the ones of wood. Papier Carbonne is a work on memory, featuring the paper used by teachers in school, the wood of a library and the licorice we all loved as children.
Yvonne is a modern homage to the classical feminine perfumes, where the rose and cyphre notes are blended with the scent of red fruits making it contemporary and timeless. Yvonne was also Bouygues’ grandmother, who used to wear beautiful feminine fragrances; Bouygues and his mother wanted to add a touch of modernity to those classic scents they remembered. “What is amazing about having your mother as director of creation in fragrances, is that we have the same olfactive history. When I want to take a certain direction I can easily tell her ‘this smells to much like the soap in grandma’s kitchen’ and she will know exactly what I am talking about.” Of course the story behind each of Ormaie’s creations opens the doors to personal interpretations and memories. Le Passant tributes traditional men perfumery by hinting at a certain masculine sensuality, but for one of Bouygues’ friends it smelt like his uncle, who had a house in the south of France where he spend his best holidays.
L’Ivrée Bleue is a narcotic scent, it evokes the exoticism of Gauguin and the jungle themes of Rousseau; it smells of dark vanilla, of rum and of the scents of the islands. There’s nature, there’s creativity, and there’s art. The latter fuels the brand in terms of inspiration both for the fragrances and for their bottles, which are kind of artworks themselves. “Everything we do aims at creating emotions for the people experiencing our creations. I remember when fragrance bottles where absolute pieces of art, when the designers had no restrictions and you wanted to have your fragrance as a piece of decoration in the living room. This is what we had in mind when we started drawing the bottles, we wanted our perfumes to leave the bathroom and come to the living room.” Every aspect of Ormaie is thoughtfully crafted by master artisans, overseen by Parisian creative director Jade Lombard. “I have always been fascinated by the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi – says Bouygues – while Jade is a big fan of Jean Paul Goude. We have very different influences and I think they both show in the design today. We work with many different artists and artisans who I feel all add a piece of their soul to Ormaie. We work with glass-makers, printers, carpenters, architects and many others. All are deeply passionate about their work and very accurate in what they do. This is what I truly love: people that make incredible objects with there hands and who, by doing so, create emotions. I love learning about their craft and pushing the boundaries together to make unique objects and fragrances.”
The glass bottles come from Normandy, from the only French glass-maker that recycles its own magma. Each bottle has its own sculpted wooden cap, made from renewable beech wood forests and polished by hand. Fluid shapes, modernist forms, geometrical patterns and symbolism all hint at modern art and design. The labels are printed in Paris, on old Heideberg machines, and then manually placed on each bottle. The design of the bottles harmoniously continues the story told by the fragrance. 28° is the perfect temperature for a night out. Bouygues himself conceived 28° fragrance in a summer night in the South of France. The cap is an artistic interpretation of the summer.
Ormaie currently counts seven unisex perfumes, last of which is Toi Toi Toi, named after a German expression used by ballet dancers to wish each other good luck before performing. The fragrance evokes the polished wooden boards of the stage and the wax which ballet dancers rub on the soles and tips of their shoes.