Some people hold on to treasured moments by taking photographs or writing in journals. DelRae Roth preserves her memories by making perfumes. A graphic designer by trade—she was an art director for Esprit before founding her own firm—Roth started a second career in fragrance in 2000, launching Parfums DelRae. Collaborating with French perfumer Michel Roudnitska, son of famed nose Edmond Roudnitska, she based her first three scents on her life in California. “The notes were all about the odors of things I love in San Francisco,” she said. “Amoureuse smells like the Victorian box trees you find all over the city; Eau Illuminée is the early-morning air in the headlands across the Golden Gate Bridge; and Bois de Paradis reminds me of the Presidio woods near my home.”
Her latest, Emotionnelle, has its roots a bit further afield. Debuting at Barneys New York in May, it was inspired by the year Roth lived in Paris in the Eighties. “Creating Emotionnelle was the most difficult, because it was based on memories from over 20 years ago,” she said. “And like a lot of what one remembers, the fragrance changed and evolved.” The final product is a melon, tangerine and violet mix with a base of vetiver and clove. “I had never really appreciated violets until I saw them in Paris, the small bunches so carefully arranged,” recalled Roth. “I had always thought of violets as too sweet for my taste, but in Paris they seemed new, fresh, green and multifaceted. It’s like that sometimes. Suddenly you’re ready to really see and appreciate. Your eyes are opened.” Not to mention your nose.