Thursday 16 February 2017

LE JARDIN RETROUVÉ - Honouring The Father

Perfume companies come and perfume companies go, with some failing to make their presence felt in an ever-expanding market. In recent years there has been a "rebirth" of companies that, after a period of dormancy, are deemed to be financially viable once more. Now this can take one of two routes, either under the control of a new owner or by the descendants of the original founder. Le Galion staged an impressive rise from the ashes thanks to a new purchaser, Nicolas Chabot, whilst Grossmith was revived by Simon Brooke, the great great grandson of its founder, John Grossmith. The latest company to reemerge is Le Jardin Retrouvé, and their story truly is one of family values.

In October 2016 it was announced that Le Jardin Retrouvé would once again begin producing their historic catalogue of fragrances. The company had fallen out of the public eye since their heyday in the Nineties but there was still a loyal customer group that had continued to keep the memory alive. Armed with the original formulas and expert help from Givaudan, the company set about making the perfumes compliant with current legislation whilst still keeping the philosophy and ethos of the founder intact; to provide the best possible product at the lowest possible price. To understand where this came from we need to go back to 1914.

Yuri Gutsatz and his wife, Arlette, founded Le Jardin Retrouvé in 1975. Yuri had been born in 1914 in Saint Petersburg, the son of David Gutsatz and Alvina Salberg, but left for Berlin when he was ten years old. This would be the last time that he saw his father. It is presumed by his family that a deal was struck which meant that Yuri and his mother could leave Russia if David agreed to stay. In 1933 Yuri left Berlin for Paris to begin another journey that would see him become a perfumer. It is interesting that after his family had left, David Gutsatz went on to work in the field of perfumery himself. Two generations seemingly working together but completely independently.

After working and studying with numerous companies, including Mury and Chiris, Yuri began a long association with Roure Bertrand Fils in 1945. This company would eventually be merged with Givaudan, which in 2016 would help to realise the revival of Le Jardin Retrouvé. After Yuri returned from India, where Roure had sent him in 1956, he decided to create his own perfume house in an effort to put the artistry back into the industry. A dependence on marketing, and ingredients being chosen according to price rather than quality, had altered the perfume business unrecognisably. Yuri’s answer was to set up Le Jardin Retrouvé in 1975 and one of their major stockists in the United Kingdom was Les Senteurs, which became the home of many independent perfumers.

Yuri died in 2005 followed by his wife, Arlette, in 2012. Now she had always been the real driving force of the business and left a space that was almost impossible to fill. Denis and Jean Pierre, two of her children, died in 2013 and 2015, which meant that responsibility passed to her other son, Michel Gutsatz. Along with his wife, Clara Feder, he decided that the time was right to revive what had been the world’s first “niche” perfume brand. Michel and Clara sold the family home, carefully archiving Yuri's perfume history, and began their own journey into Le Jardin Retrouvé. A truly joint venture, Clara has taken over the role of Creative Director and, with the help of perfumer Maxence Moutte from Givaudan, they have introduced the brand to a new generation. With the release of seven of Yuri’s original fragrances they have honoured a truly extraordinary man and if you only invest in one “new” company this year then let it be Le Jardin Retrouvé.

For more information on the company and their first seven fragrances please visit the website at

* I worked freelance for Le Jardin Retrouvé in 2017 but all opinions in this article are my own.

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