When I met Rodrigo Flores-Roux at the London launch of the John Varvatos range of scents, I asked him about his work on the reformulated, 2010 version of Fougère Royale, a creation which he called "a complicated thing". Would someone smelling the original and the current version be able to smell the difference between the two?
"Yes! The perfume that I made for Houbigant is a poetic licence. I actually wrote a long, explanatory - and apologetic - article about it. It doesn't smell at all like Fougère Royale. Not at all. But I took elements of the original and re-orchestrated them. I was very distressed by the whole coumarin story [in the original], I didn't want it, for me it was too powdery. So I approached it by putting in some tonka bean and some clary sage. However, a very classic fougère soap is Maja De Myrurgia; it's a very well known soap in Mexico. A lot of people who like Fougère Royale, without knowing the story behind it, have told me that there's something about it which reminds them of the soap. And so for me, that's like: 'Ok, I got it!' And it was co-created by Roja Dove, and he's a very knowledgeable person, so he was not going to allow this to be a disaster."
Whilst we were on the subject of re-working classics, I asked him whether he's worried about the new, anti-allergen legislation looming on the horizon.
"Yes, I am very worried. The thing is that sometimes we worry about these things too much, and then they become a non-issue. They become an option, not an obligation. But I do not know how these things that might happen in the next few months could become an option. Are we killing perfumery? Yes. We are destroying perfumery. I'm going to be very, very lax in what I'm going to say right now. For so many years, there's been this law that we have to put a nasty label on a box of cigarettes, saying 'Smoking kills you.' And it has not deterred people from smoking. It has created a consciousness. So maybe we should put a horrible label on perfume, and that's it. It's a very tricky subject. I detest it."