How It’s Made: Rogue Fragrance by Rihanna Klaudia Tirico
With three successful fragrances and a MAC makeup collection under her belt, Rihanna is at the top of her beauty game right now. So why stop there? RiRi just launched her fourth fragrance, Rogue, and it’s no surprise that she teamed up with fragrance house Givaudan once again to formulate the daring scent (the fragrance manufacturer worked with the singer on her first two fragrances, Reb’l Fleur and Rebelle). We sat down with perfumer Marypierre Julien to talk about Rogue and the process behind it.
Defining a Scent’s Identity Klaudia Tirico
Rihanna's style and attitude is ever-evolving, so it was only a matter of time before she headed down a different path with her scents. The original three fragrances, Reb'l Fleur, Rebelle and Nude were all related in terms of the sweet notes and similar bottles. Rogue is the definition of the "Bad Gal RiRi" we all know today. With daring and mysterious notes like pink peppercorn, jasmine, juicy plum and patchouli, and a cool, new faux stingray-adorned bottle, Rogue embodies a girl who is not afraid to be her mischievous self.
Starting from Scratch Klaudia Tirico
Klaudia Kaczmarek: How does the creative process for a fragrance usually begin?
Marypierre Julien: I think, for me, when you work on projects together, you can feel what the other person wants. It's all about listening, as well. It's about what she has to say and where she wants to go. The more information you get, the better it is. The fact that we created Rihanna’s first two fragrances was kind of helpful because we knew her a little bit.
Sourcing Concepts Klaudia Tirico
KK: How is Rogue different from Reb’l Fleur and Rebelle?
MJ: Rogue represents the new, mischievous her. I think 2013 is key for her in terms of numbers. She wanted to do something pretty drastic and different - different bottle, different everything. It was all about being bold, rogue, daring, not scared about revealing your true self, feeling empowerment.
Hitting the Right Notes Klaudia Tirico
KK: I’m sure you had an advantage with Rogue since you worked on the other fragrances. What did you learn from Rihanna that allowed you to decide on the key notes?
MJ: Because I have been following her throughout her career and have done the two fragrances, I know what she likes in terms of her taste in fragrances. She really is in love with woody, amber notes; and sexy, dark notes, especially patchouli. For this project, I started to think of the ingredients first. I hand picked each ingredient to represent what rogue means to her.Photo by: Mario Sorrenti for Rogue
Matching Words with Notes Klaudia Tirico
KK: How did you take the word and represent it into a fragrance?
MJ: Every perfumer has a different way of working, but I work very much with words that are translated to shape and color, that take me to an ingredient. So, Rogue was going straight to the patchouli. At first, I didn't know what Rogue meant because I'm French and I was like "what is that word?" And when I got it explained, I was like OK - it's rough but it’s not shy, you need to reveal yourself. I could see a picture in my head and a shape, and it drew me to the patchouli because for me that’s the reaction I got and I know that she likes it. So it makes perfect sense.
Smelling the Dark Side Klaudia Tirico
KK: Tell me about the other ingredients and how you chose to pair them with the patchouli.
MJ: We didn't want to go into a huge gourmand territory. So the dark plum was a good compromise because it has a very nice, almost liqueur-like, dark side to it that blends really well with the patchouli. The jasmine was a flower that I hand picked, because it symbolizes the femininity in fragrances - it's a very noble flower. For this specific fragrance, I worked it to be very intoxicating, but having a veil on the fragrance so it's not too overpowering.
Using 5,000 Ingredients Klaudia Tirico
KK: What is the process of blending notes together like?
MJ: There is a lot of chemistry behind that. You need to know a lot of ingredients. The palate is very wide - there are 5,000 ingredients. You need to make sure that you choose the right ingredient for the right person. So that requires, again, a lot of listening and a lot of practice and knowledge about the ingredient and how they resonate with you.
Mastering Perfumery Klaudia Tirico
KK: How does one possibly learn how to work with 5,000 different ingredients?
MJ: It requires a lot of apprenticeship. The more you smell, the better you can pinpoint it by words or by other memories. You remember those ingredients by those tips and you can manipulate them better. It's like a blank page for a writer - you think, "I have so many words, which one will I start with and how will I combine them together."
Givaudan is also home to a perfumery school where new students and employees are trained on a wide palette of raw materials.
Like a Stew Klaudia Tirico
KK: How do you know how to combine these ingredients?
MJ: It's almost like making a stew - you have to put the right amount of each ingredient so it tastes good and is not overpowering a specific ingredient. Very much like a chef. If I have 30 ingredients for 200 trials, I just change the proportion to achieve the right balance.
Balancing the Formula Klaudia Tirico
KK: During your presentation on Rogue, you mentioned that the scent was the smallest formula you have ever made. Can you tell me more about that?
MJ: My mentor always told me, "The fewer, the better; the fewer, the better. Just make sure that when you look at the formula, you can justify each ingredient." Otherwise, it's pointless. The shorter formula you make, the clearer the message is. So you might only attract a few people with it because it's such a strong message. Finding the right balance is difficult because if you take an ingredient out, you're going to notice. The fewer ingredients you use, the more difficult it is.
For example, if you're just wearing a dress, you have to make sure it's got the right detail and fits your body perfectly. But if you wear pants, a top, a scarf, blazer and jewelry, there is room for default. You can hide stuff. So the more minimalist, the clearer the message. You have to make sure you're getting it right. But it's a nice challenge. You need time to develop it all because it takes time to find the right balance.