Monday, 22 February 2021

STEPHAN'S SIX - EGLIJA VAITKEVICE


Studying 'Slavic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics' in Lithuania is certainly not the start that many perfumers take, but that is what Eglija Vaitkevice specialised in before retraining at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery. Her Exaltatum London collection of fragrances display an incredible skill at conjuring specific emotive moments in time, but what of the perfumer herself? I thought it was time to discover her scented memories during “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
I’m not sure what my first memory was, but I remember the scent of the new books my parents gave me, and also the smell of felt-tip pens. I loved drawing and smelling the ink. Later I remember different herbs and spices when I travelled and lived in different countries, because my mum always made dishes with local recipes. That was when I realised that each country had a different culture, climate, cuisine, and smell.

What perfume do you remember your parents wearing?
My mum was elegant and attractive, and loved wearing nice dresses and heels. She used a little bit of makeup and sometimes perfumes for special occasions. So I remember Dior Poison, Detchema by Revillon, and Fidji by Guy Laroche. I was only allowed to smell the bottles, not wear them, so perfume became a mysterious and desirable luxury item. Dad was in the military and always smelled fresh and clean, although I do remember the smell of his shoe wax. He polished his shoes every day, and also took care of ours, which is probably why I love the smell of shoe polish.

What was the perfume of your twenties?
In my twenties I lived in Soviet bloc countries under the iron curtain, so only political elites and special people could access luxury items from the West - but somehow we managed to get beauty and fashion items once a year. So my first perfume in my twenties was Beautiful by Estée Lauder. Later, after Independence, we slowly began to get more luxury items, so I was introduced to Boucheron Jaipur, a beautiful bottle reminiscent of a sapphire ring, before shifting allegiance to Lolita Lempicka's famous apple bottle.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
When I travel I usually spend all my free time at the airport Duty Free. I used to spray all of the interesting perfumes on my skin, so you can imagine what a cacophony I ended up smelling of! When I became a perfumer, I made it the rule to only spray one perfume at a time.

You can only choose one perfume?
I love white florals on a sandalwood base, so if I could choose one raw material then it would definitely be Misore sandalwood. In perfume I like sensual jasmine and creamy gardenia as well, so I’d have to choose Hermes 24 Faubourg. I even love the empty bottle, because I admire it design.

What perfume should I try?
I know that you’ve smelled lots of perfumes, so it’s difficult to recommend something unique. I do like the smell of Xeryus Rouge by Givenchy on men because it’s a very sensual yet masculine perfume, but for the intellectual part of your personality I would recommend wearing the slightly nostalgic De Profundis from Serge Lutens. From the Exaltatum collection I can definitely imagine you wearing the green, woody Pergola.

For more information about Eglija Vaitkevice and the Exaltatum London collection of perfumes you can visit her website at exaltatumperfume.com

[De Profundis image © Roberto Greco and Olivier Schawalder]

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