Monday 7 October 2019


After training at ISIPCA in Versailles, Sonia Constant joined the world-famous Givaudan and went on to create for the likes of Guerlain, Narciso Rodriguez, and Alexander McQueen. She possesses the rare talent of combining passion with precision and so when I met her at the UK launch of her own perfume range, ELLA K, I wanted to discover the perfumer’s own fragrance memories during “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
I think it was the wonderful green note that I got when my father used to use the machine to cut the grass, that wonderful scent as the blades were torn and the aroma was released. I always remember that it was the brilliant smell of the weekends, and it was so strong.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
My father was wearing Eau Sauvage by Dior and my mother wore Must de Cartier, or was it First by Van Cleef & Arpels? She probably wore them both. She also loved to wear chypre perfumes that contained rose and patchouli, there was rose in all of the fragrances that she wore, and she also liked Tresor by Lancôme.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
I was wearing Allure from Chanel. I remember that I was at the university in Versailles and was one of the first people there to wear this fragrance. They said “It’s so good, it’s amazing,” and then everyone started wearing the same perfume. I wore others but I remember that when I was wearing this fragrance I received so many compliments.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
Actually, I make a place in my life for mistakes, for those things that are not expected. I think that there is something that makes you do mistakes but in a good way. It happens when I overdose in my formulas, which is very often, because I forget to use the proper dilution. I was working on a men’s fragrance and I put too much violet into it and, when I smelled it, I thought “Wow, this is incredible.” The history of perfume is full of wonderful mistakes like Chanel No.5 with the aldehyde or Dior’s Poison with the overdose of damascone. The human brain is so logical but sometimes our intuition takes over. Fate pushes us to do something that we want to do but maybe we are scared to do.

You can only choose one perfume?
I would say Lettre de Pushka from ELLA K. For me it is sensual, it is addictive, and it’s everything that I like in scent. There’s rose, musk, vanilla, patchouli, it’s a powerful fragrance. The secret to any fragrance is to have a good thread that links everything together, and it’s also everything that I ever wanted in a perfume.

What perfume should I try?
I think that you should try Mélodie de l'Altaï, also from ELLA K, because it’s very different and might not be something that you’ll be used to wearing. I wanted to explore the ideas of animal instinct and natural wilderness, so it has a concentration of leather notes and is a very courageous perfume.

For more details about Sonia Constant’s new ELLA K collection you can visit, where you’ll also find a full list of stockists. If you're in the UK then the collection is exclusive to Harvey Nichols.

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