“It was courageous for him to have created his own company,” says Victoire de Castellane, creative director of fine jewelry at Dior and one of Hennessy’s cousins. “He’s always had a certain strength. And I would say he’s the most artistic in the family.”
Many of the L’Oeuvre Noire scents have what Hennessy calls “a very classic touch.” For instance, his A Taste of Heaven, Absinthe Verte, a blend of orange blossom, Turkish rose and lavender, “smells like it could have been done a long time ago.” And he has no interest in the current trend of bizarre fragrance combinations. “I like perfumes to smell good,” he says emphatically. The collection includes two women’s, two men’s and two unisex scents. The women’s fragrances are called the Ingenues (a reference to Verlaine) and the men’s scents are grouped under the name the Artificial Paradises (harking back to Baudelaire). Starting in October the line will be sold at a handful of stores, including Bergdorf Goodman and the perfumery Aedes de Venustas, both in New York.
“Now all big brands launch three perfumes a year,” scoffs Hennessy.
“Perfume should either be a shield, to create an environment of ease, or else a weapon of seduction,” says Hennessy, who wooed his wife, Melonie, with a scent he created for her. “Every new creation should open a new olfactory route—and not be a simple copy.”