Music and fragrances speak the same language: they are composed of notes that work together to create the compositions we love. As a result, it is not surprising that Annick Goutal, an unwary pianist, dedicated herself to creating perfumes that are so beloved and sought after even today.
Annick Goutal was born in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence as the third daughter of an eight-child household. She exhibited her extraordinary musical talent at a young age, winning first place at the famed Versailles Conservatory at the age of 16. When her dream of becoming a pianist became too difficult for her, she relocated to London, where her classic beauty and slim shape were spotted by the famous photographer David Bailey, who introduced her to the world of modeling by chance.
She was too intelligent and curious to follow a modeling career. She returned to Paris and opened the Folavril antique store, based on a character from a novel by Boris Vian. When the doors of the antique store closed due to financial difficulties, another one opened: she started helping a friend in a cosmetics store that sold natural creams based on herbs.
They quickly realized cosmetics require a fragrance, so Annick travels to Grasse. A meeting with perfumer Henry Sorsana opened her eyes to what became her true calling – creating perfumes. She spent four years training and immersing herself in the world of fragrance.
Annick Goutal founded the perfume brand that carries her name in 1981 and opened a boutique on Paris’s Rue de Bellechasse. Folavril, a fragrance made of tropical mango aromas with the addition of jasmine flowers, tomato leaves, exotic flowers, and boronia, was produced in the same year. With the launch of Eau d’Hadrien, Annick began a mini-revolution in the perfume world, establishing herself as one of the pioneers of Niche perfumery. For its timeless citrus freshness, it has become the house’s trademark fragrance, inspired by the famous hills of Tuscany and the struggles of the emperor of the same name, as described by Marguerite Lourcenar in the book Les Memoires d’Hadrien.
Her gift for capturing and conveying memories of people she loved, landscapes, and moments that touched her, made Annick a part of French “Haute perfumery” in a short time. Following her intuition, countering the trends dictated by the time, her very personal and avant-garde creations quickly won the hearts of perfume lovers.
Annick Goutal’s reputation spread around the world like wildfire. Each new fragrance embodied the French “art de Vivre”: that seductive mix of simplicity and sophistication, which everyone admired. By the 1990s, the perfumes created by her equally gifted “nose”, Isabelle Doyen, such as the floral bouquet Gardenia Passion, the enchantingly sweet Rose Absolue, and the airy Eau du Sud, were for years among the top five best sellers at the leading department stores Saks and Neiman Marcus.
Annick Goutal died in 1999 after a long battle with cancer. She was only 53 years old. She passed on her love for rich and complex fragrances to her talented daughter Camille, who was also her muse for the perfumes Eau de Camille and Petite Cherie.
Growing up under the strong artistic influence of her mother, Camille studied literature and took art, photography, and design courses at the Louvre Museum School. But the smells beckoned her. She grew up surrounded by them, in family homes in Paris and on the island of Ile de Re.
It quickly became apparent that Camille would not follow in her mother’s footsteps; she had her olfactory direction, which she carefully built by continuing to collaborate with Isabelle Doyen.
She explained the difference in an interview: “Unlike my mother, who created Eau de Camille and Eau de Charlotte for my sister and me, I don’t make my perfumes too ‘personal’. They don’t have people and places that are part of my sentiment. I find inspiration in other moments; Un Matin d’Orage, for example, was inspired by a stormy morning in Tokyo. La Maison Goutal, the perfume house dedicated to my mother, includes everything from distinctly feminine creations, through scents that can be shared, to more masculine options like Duel and Eau de Monsieur”.
In 2018, the perfume house Annick Goutal changed its name to Goutal Paris.
Other famous perfume creations include the enchantingly exotic Mandrake and the cool, green Ninfeo Mio, inspired by the legendary gardens of Ninfe. At the same time, Etoile d’Une Nuit, Tenue de Soiree, and Nuit et Confidences are part of Goutal’s famous Oiseaux de Nuit (night birds) collection.
The name of each Goutal perfume resembles the novel’s title, bringing images to life, opening the imagination, and inviting the wearer to create their own olfactory memories.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE GOUTAL PERFUMES? LEAVE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. KIND REGARDS, IGOR.