HOW IT ALL BEGAN
I am often asked how I got started in the ‘perfume world’….
My love of fragrance began early. I spent my childhood allowance on bubble bath and cologne. My family said it was inevitable when I decided to launch Parfums DelRae. I had worked as an art director for many years and knew how the creative process works and the importance of collaborating with the very best.
I was at that point in life where I was ready to take a chance. I had lived in Paris for a period and had the luxury of seeing the world through a different lens. I imagined having my own business where I could combine some of the things I loved — design, perfume, Paris.
As an avid fragrance lover, I had become quite dissatisfied with the world of perfume. I felt there were other people, like myself, who were interested in truly beautiful, unique fragrances. Perfumes made with exceptional materials. I had some ideas for perfumes inspired by San Francisco and Paris. And so I began. At first I ordered oils from the best fragrance suppliers in France. I began blending and thinking about my intentions and ideas. It was the year 2000. The world of niche perfume was just beginning.
Soon I realized that I needed more than desire and passion. Perfume is a very complex process and to make a truly beautiful product you need years of training and access to very exclusive raw materials. It is a much more involved process than just mixing essential oils. I wanted to take my ideas and refine them, to develop the final formulas and make the concentrates.
I had read about the renowned Edmond Roudnitska known as ‘the father of modern perfumery’. Although Edmond had recently passed away, I knew of his wife Théresè, also a perfumer and Michel their very talented son. If I worked with them the quality and authenticity of my perfumes would be assured.
And so I introduced myself and explained my ideas. They were wonderful. Thérèse Roudnitska was a great supporter. She told me that I reminded her of the past when the creation of perfume was considered an art and was directed with real passion. It was a great compliment. She even suggested the name for the company, “Ah, Parfums DelRae, mais bien sur!” Michel was totally receptive to my ideas, very open and generous. To work with them was a dream come true.
We began work on the first three perfumes, all inspired by San Francisco— Eau Illuminée, Amoureuse and Bois de Paradis. The perfumes were launched in November 2002. My perfumes Début and Emotionnelle were also done with Michel and followed in 2004 and 2006. Our collaborative style is classical, modern, bold and dramatic.
My most recent three perfumes have been created with Yann Vasnier, an amazingly gifted perfumer and extremely wonderful collaborator. Mythique, Coup de Foudre and Panache have been added to the line over the past five years. They are stunning additions, using some of the most exceptional perfume materials— iris palida from Florence, May Rose from Grasse, Haitian vetiver.
As the creative director for Parfums DelRae, I conceptualize and direct the development of the perfumes. This is the part of the business that I really love. I work carefully and very deliberately. I specify the very best materials and am very proud of that.
The perfumes always have a very personal story behind their inspiration. I make the decision as to when the perfume is ‘finished’. I am interested in a classical, disciplined approach and strive to create perfumes with this type of integrity and elegance. The perfumes have complex construction but are infused with modern nuance and sensibility.
I seek out the best people in the business to work with. In this way, I am constantly learning. We take advantage of exciting new materials as they become available. These factors distinguish Parfums DelRae from other brands and contribute to its authenticity, credibility and quality.
Other inspirations— I enjoy all forms of design and believe good design makes all the difference. I design all the packaging for Parfums DelRae. Beautiful design always sets my heart beating faster.
I love to be outside. Living in San Francisco, I am fortunate to have easy access to an incredible city and countryside. Most of my ideas come to me when I am in nature, walking and enjoying the scents around me. I love art and paint and draw for my own pleasure. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending a day at a museum. There are so many artists that inspire— Turner, Morandi, Matisse, Twombly, Bonnard, Rothko, Vermeer, Caravaggio, and Richard Long. I recently saw a fabulous exhibit of Richard Serra’s large scale black and white drawings.
I love to travel. My dream vacation would be driving (or better, walking or bicycling!) around France and visiting all of the Cistercian Abbeys.
My love for Paris continues undiminished and informs my life and work in a daily way that I cannot imagine living without. It is my second home.
Parfums DelRae is a blending of my American upbringing, my diverse professional background, eclectic personal interests and my sincere appreciation of the French art of perfumery. I believe perfume speaks so much to the need for beauty in our lives.
My clients are always people who understand and value the impact of beauty, no matter their personal style. In their lives they look for the unique, the authentic, the thoughtfully made. For them these qualities make all the difference as they ‘construct’ their own very personal stories. It has been so satisfying to hear how my perfumes have offered this kind of enhancement to their lives.
I hope you will make Parfums DelRae a part of your life.
My sincere thanks!
Marcel and DelRae, walking in the Presidio of San Francisco, near the Golden Gate bridge.