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Map of the Heart’s newest scent, White Heart v.7, uses a key Middle Eastern ingredient

A conversation with the noses
In a truly international undertaking, Australian fine fragrance house Map of the Heart employed two perfumers, NYC-based Jacques Huclier and Parisian Nisrine Grillié from Givaudan, to create its newest scent: White Heart v.7. Exploring the themes of love and using oud as a key ingredient, discover more about the fragrance as the pair chat with Buro. Middle East contributor Farouk Chekoufi...

Map of the Heart

What inspired you to become a perfumer?

Jacques Huclier: Since I was young I have always been inspired by smells: the flowers, the tarmac, the pencil, the spices, the wood pieces, the rain… everything. To become a perfumer was my destiny.

Nisrine Grillié: I was impressed by the power of fragrances, how they could make me feel emotions and remind me of moments of my life or people I love. I wanted to create these feelings with my own fragrances, to touch people with such a depth.

What was the first fragrance you fell in love with?

JH: The first fragrance I fell in love was Eau Sauvage, created in 1966. This fragrance contains a lot of beautiful Mediterranean ingredients like bergamot, lemon, lavender, basil, jasmine…I think it gave me the energy and the sophistication I wanted when I was a teenager!

NG: Eternity from Calvin Klein. I grew up in Morocco and my parents used to travel a lot. They were always bringing home some new fine fragrances from Europe; at that time the fine fragrance distribution was limited. When I was 11, they gave me Eternity and I used to wear it every week for my ballet dance courses. When I smell it now I am transported to this innocent and graceful part of my childhood.

Who is White Heart v.7 by Map Of The Heart for?

JH: I think that with this seventh fragrance, Map of the Heart has already a nice collection of complementary fragrances. All fragrances were thought of as unisex. I would say every woman can find the perfect smell she is looking for. For me, White Heart v.7 is probably more about a person with a great instinct who loves to love.

NG: A person with self-confidence and dedication to their passions.

What was the creative and concept process for White Heart v.7 by Map Of The Heart?

JH: I remember receiving some pictures from Sarah and Jeff; the snow, the sand, a trace of an animal walking in the snow. We started with this idea of whiteness and it went from there. Imagination is core for a perfume’s development, but words and storytelling, too. So each time we start a new development we have a brainstorming meeting with Sarah, Jeff and Giovanna to define the direction of the new perfume. We talk about the concept, raw materials… at the end it is an exercise to try to understand the fragrance and what it could represent in the Map of the Heart universe. Here we establish the core idea and it evolves from there.

For this perfume, is your nose your only work tool?

JH: A good nose is required of course, but we need a lot of inspiration and imagination. My brain, memory and senses are very much used as well.

NG: My nose is key to construct the fragrance, but I definitely need my eyes, my ears and skin to bring me inspiration and emotions.

Your ultimate ingredient for White Heart v.7 by Map Of The Heart?

NG: Agarwood essential oil, oud.

Map of the Heart

Your first olfactive memory?

NG: The smell of my mother’s neck, a skin lotion that was floral and powdery.

Why is perfume a good vehicle for storytelling?

NG: As smelling is hard to describe, it remains like a magical science

Tell us a little about the construction of White Heart v.7 by Map Of The Heart…

JH: We started with two threads that we were interested in exploring and it was interesting as we all liked both for a long time and then our work with the oud really started to captivate us and we built the fragrance around that. We didn’t want it to be a big oud fragrance, but more of a homage to oud and introduce some surprising ingredients to be in line with our ideas of love and how it is full of dualities.

How long did it take to create this fragrance?

JH: To be honest I never count the time I work on a fragrance. Sometimes the ideas arrive very quickly and sometimes it needs more time for the elaboration. The only important goal is to create a fragrance that perfectly fits the brand, is enjoyed by the consumer and mainly for me to discover a unique signature and a great memorability.

How would you describes the fragrance?

NG: A deep wood, strong and clean, with a touch of red umeboshi plum.

What else can you tell us about this new scent?

JH: This fragrance is all about love. The opening of French lavender, aldehydes and cardamom invites us into the vast landscape of love. In this blinding whiteness we find the bold red of the umeboshi accord that propels us into an intense and wild sense of love. In a whirl we fall into the carnal pureness of gardenia and bask in its radiance.

NG: The vibrancy and intensity of the natural oud resonates with the deep voice of love. Elusive but potent. Endless.

What makes White Heart v.7 by Map Of The Heart so unique today?

JH: Number 7 is a magic number. The smell is very unique, diffusive and very memorable. 

NG: The colour white is to me very symbolic; white is a mixture of the seven colours of the spectrum.

What are you most happy about with this fragrance?

JH: I am sure it will be a very inspirational fragrance. I am very happy as I am sure it will be appreciated by the all who will wear it and by their companions.

NG: I remember Giovanna [Aicardi, Map of the Heart‘s perfume developer]’s surprise when we added the red umeboshi accord, she totally had a coup de coeur and I was really proud of the work we did with Jacques. It was a sign that the fragrance was reaching the perfect balance.

Now, read Farouk’s earlier interview with Quentin Bisch about his newest creation for L’Artisan Parfumer.