Monday 30 September 2019


With a perfume heritage stretching back to 1826, Isabelle Gellé has dedicated herself to the creation of natural fragrances. One hundred and eighty years later, in 2006, she finally launched her own company and currently has three collections that take inspiration from travel right through to time. With a new home series about to launch, it’s time to discover Isabelle’s own perfume memories during “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
My first memory was the Violette perfume by Gellé Frères which was from around 1930. It used to sit in my parent’s cabinet as a collectible because my family were descended from those French perfumers. As a six-year old, I took the bottle out and literally splashed it all over me. That smell of Parma violet is unforgettable and is a classic that is difficult to match. I have been striving to find that odour again ever since.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
There are two I remember clearly for my Mum, Soir de Paris by Bourjois and Ô de Lancôme. Both bring back memories of faraway journeys; Soir de Paris is an eight hour journey by train to Paris for the first time and the second one was my first long flight to the island of New Caledonia, which took thirty-four hours. In both journeys, those perfumes were impregnated in my Mum’s bag lining. Eau Sauvage by Dior will always be the memory of my Dad and I knew that we would be going somewhere when he was wearing that fragrance.

What was the perfume of your twenties?

I had two, Magie Noire by Lancôme and Fidji by Laroche. Both have galbanum, sandalwood, and patchouli which, as I later found out, were the ingredients that were hooking me to those perfumes. I was twenty in the eighties and, although it was considered a scent for more mature women, Magie Noire was magical on my skin. Fidji was my everyday perfume. It is so feminine and evokes the sun caressing the skin. I guess that like many of my friends at the time, I was very influenced by brand marketing. The slogan, ‘The woman is an island, Fidji is her perfume,’ was probably the most cheesy but effective slogan of the time!

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
Trying Agent Provocateur! The amount of synthetic musk is so high that I got a massive headache and the scent got stuck in my nose for days. I thought I would never get rid of that smell. Since then, I sneeze every time I get a close encounter with synthetic musk.

You can only choose one perfume?
Chanel No.5 Extrait. Even though I create only all natural perfumes which I wear most of the time, I am a lover of vintage fragrances. Chanel No.5 never stops surprising me and remains incredibly modern.

What perfume should I try?
As a lover of classic and vintage smells, and particularly chypre perfumes, the one I definitely would recommend from the perfumes released in the last decade is Bottega Veneta. It’s an elegant chypre with luxury leather notes wrapped around a floral bouquet, dominated by jasmine sambac. Apart from it being a unique take on leather, it has that vintage feel and is presented in a beautiful Murano bottle that is a bonus for perfume bottles collectors like me.

For more details on Isabelle, and to discover her collection of natural fragrances, you can visit the website at


  1. So interesting. Thank you Stephan and Isabelle for this.

    1. Hello Barry, have you tried anything from Isabelle's collections? Best, Stephan