Why Ex Nihilo is Leading the Way in the World of Niche Fragrance
The world of perfumery is changing, with niche fragrances leading the way. At the forefront of this movement is Parisian brand Ex Nihilo. Looking to reinterpreting the classic French way of producing perfume, cofounders Olivier Royère, Sylvie Loday and Benoît Verdie follow a bespoke approach. So successful, the houses signature scents that can be personalized using their in-store that technology that even Drake has been said to be a fan. One part of the trio, Benoît Verdier shares an insight into Ex Nihilo and why the world is craving a personal touch.
Tell us the story of Ex Nihilo?
We met with Olivier 15 years ago on the benches of Sciences Po in Paris, and then we met with Sylvie six years ago. From this, we decided it was time for us to quit our respective jobs, and do something more exciting on our own and based on our passion for the fragrance industry. It was really an entrepreneur adventure since the start! We were longtime fragrance heads and wanted to create the brand of our dreams, trying as much as we could to bring a new energy to it and introducing a completely alternative fragrance brand. We wanted to bring back this idea of super exclusivity with an irreverent and a funky French twist. We had the opportunity to find this amazing space Rue Saint-Honoré Et voilà!
What is the ethos behind the brand?
The ethos behind the brand has always been to revisit High Perfumery through a unique Parisian Avant-Garde Prism. This means focusing on the best of French craftsmanship, as well as bringing the best of technology with a focus on personalization.
What makes you different from other companies?
We try to challenge stereotyped luxury and bring a whole new luxury experience. Surprisingly not being perfumers helped us a lot to think outside of the box and bring fresh and disruptive ideas about the fragrance experience as a whole 360° journey. We found this classic image of the omnipotent creative director is quite outdated because you are more creative and efficient when you work with people who complete your own skills. Collaboration is in our DNA’s core and we draw our inspiration from many fields in the artistic community, such as fashion, architecture, design, and photography.
Can you talk to us about the ‘Les Interdites’ collection?
The Interdites collection is really about forbidden, but sweet pleasures. Through our different creations, we like to imagine stories like little movies scenarios, like a Coup de Foudre in Paris with Love Shot, or an enchanted dream with Sweet Morphine. With Viper Green it is all about this little but very exciting dangerous adventure. We love to take you into our universe and always create plots and surprises like in a good TV Show!
Do you have a favorite ingredient to work with?
A lot! Despite having favorite materials that you love to work with, the beauty of our business is day by day discovering endless olfactory options, it’s a dream come true. We love tonka bean and have recently smelled amazing lavender, and of course, we love rose of May the queen of flowers! More than a single material we are exploring new ways to allow self-personalization through our Sublime Essences perfumed oils (Amber and Musk), revisiting the layering ritual.
What is your opinion on layering fragrance?
In the traditions from the Middle East, it’s quite common to layer with extracts of Agarwood or woody absolutes. We love to take inspiration from these rituals and to make them more contemporary, it’s the perfect ritual if you want to keep a unique and sophisticated sillage for a very long time. I see two benefits: the first is elevating the long-lasting effect because your skin is going to be more moisturized and “prepared” to be more receptive to the fragrance. It will fix the scent better and last more than 24 hours easily. The second is creativity: we encourage our customers to dare with unexpected combinations, it opens the doors to real personalization and self-expression – that is the reasons we like it so much.
Are there any rules for wearing perfume?
When you spray, focus on your pulse points, never rub your skin after spraying. I don’t recommend to spray perfume on your hair either, it’s very strong. Never store your favorite fragrance next to a window, it can destroy your fragrance property, please store them out of light!
How do you come up with the names for your perfumes?
We are very inspired by our Parisian environment and as far as we can, we try to bring inspirations from a lot of universes (contemporary art, fashion, gastronomy from reality to Social Media). We try to keep our eyes open, and our travels and our continuous discussions with our perfumer friends also offer an invaluable source of inspiration. We often already have a name in mind at the starting point it is part of our inspirations. It can come from a book, a song or simply an association of words. It is a hard challenge to put a word on a creation with maximum impact and imaginary evocation without betraying the perfumer’s vision.
What should you consider when purchasing a fragrance?
Don’t be fooled by the name, the color of the juice or the packaging. Focus only on your sensations and the feeling on your skin. Perfume evolves throughout the day, so be sure to be comfortable wearing it, as it’s like a second skin, your olfactory signature. Imagine it like a perfect white shirt or your favorite black dress in your wardrobe. Don’t hesitate to change your fragrance according to your mood, it is the most important. Be sure it reflects who you are, be sure it goes well with the type of your skin and your fashion style. If you are into something very daring and opulent, go for a beautiful amber or leather note but never hesitate to experiment and make your own mix. A fragrance is something you have to play with!
Where do you see the fragrance industry moving to?
At a global level, we all want to be unique and to get the most personalized products. It’s particularly true among the young generation. A fragrance has no functional benefit, it’s before all, a matter of perception, subjectivity, and art! Therefore, I believe the personalization trend is going to grow. I also see an increase in quality for our customers with niche brands taking power and ownership of the market. I believe that what people want is to feel an experience and live a true olfactory moment with fragrances. With the rise of Instagram, I’m sure people will be even more educated and will help brands to become more creative and cater to the needs of the customer.