Monday 14 October 2019


Olivia Bransbourg is no stranger to the world of perfume. From Christine Nagel and Benoist Lapouza’s Attache-Moi to a three year stint at Takasago, Olivia’s role as Creative Director has resulted in some truly spellbinding fragrances. Currently enjoying success with her new Sous le Manteau collection, which was created in collaboration with Nathalie Feisthauer, I thought it was about time to discover her own scented secrets during “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
My knee, licking my knee, and the smell of it. It was salty. It’s interesting because in 2011 I did a little video interviewing everyone from Frederic Malle to Killian Hennessy and the question I asked was “What is your first memory of a scent?” I filmed them while they gave me their response because people are always very polite when they answer. So, I just decided to focus on the eyes which showed the moment that they were thinking about the real answer and then deciding, “No, I have to give a more civilised response.” So, for me, it was the smell of licking my knee as a child.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
I was more attracted by the perfumes of my grandparents. On my father’s side, my grandfather wore Eau d’Orange Verte by Francoise Caron or the original Eau d’Hermes from Edmond Roudnitska. It was something that I rediscovered when I was older and I thought, “Wow, I remember that.” On my Mother’s side, her father wore the beautifully American Jovan Musk. Later on, every time I was with an American, I would ask them to buy that for me. It was such a musky fougere … overwhelming and strong.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
The first bottle that I purchased for myself when I was thirteen was LouLou by Cacharel which, now when thinking about the colour of the bottle, has the same feel as Fontaine Royale. It has this naughty feeling. That was my first bottle. Then it became Jardins de Bagetelle from Guerlain but it was awful on me. I love the scent, and still love the scent, but it just didn’t suit me. Then I had my American phase which was Eternity and Obsession by Calvin Klein, before settling on Mitsouko for ten years. It was pure love but, alas, no more.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
No mistakes, no regrets in anything that I’ve done. My biggest mistake is actually this perfume obsession where I follow people in the streets, or in the train, asking them “What are you wearing?” Half of the time I engage in beautiful conversation but the other half usually results in “What are you doing and who are you?” Whether it is something that I don’t know and I like, or even that I don’t like, I just need to know. I don’t know if it’s really a mistake but there is a lot of potential for disaster, or maybe a lot of potential for excitement.

You can only choose one perfume?
It’s interesting, the first thing that came to my mind, and I really don’t know why, was the image of Arpège by Lanvin. I’ve no idea why, and now that I’m thinking about it I don't think that it would be my answer, but that was the first thing that I thought of. I do have an old bottle of Arpège from the eighties which still smells beautiful, but I don’t know what it smells like today. If I chose a scent that wasn’t a perfume though it would be damp, forest, mushroomy smells. That’s something I love, the scent of grass and of nature. I don’t think that I would ever get bored of it.

What perfume should I try?
I would recommend that you take the whole Sous le Manteau collection and just play with them. Record your day’s journey with each scent, have fun with them, and see what happens to you when you’re wearing them. The fragrances are like love potions that can interfere with your normal life. So, who knows where you’ll end up and what you’ll end up doing.

For more information about Olivia Bransbourg and the Sous le Manteau collection of fragrances you can go to the website at or, alternatively, you can visit Harvey Nichols in London.

[Image of Olivia Bransbourg © Kanak Guo]

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