The Founders of Atelier Cologne on Genderless Fragrance + How to Shop for Scents Online


“Perfume has always been key for helping us reinforce the mood we want to be in.”

Has there ever been a more confusing time to find a new summer scent? With warmer weather approaching, a time when many people like to switch up their usual fragrance for something bright and summery, current stay-at-home orders in many provinces make stopping by your favourite beauty retailer to take a whiff of the new fragrance launches a thing of the past. But at the same time, using scent as a mood booster right now seems like a no-brainer. So what’s a scent lover to do?

We sat down with perfume power couple, Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, founders of Atelier Cologne, to chat all things fragrance — including how to shop for perfume online.

On using fragrance in the last year to cultivate a sense of freedom

Christophe: “I’m very much a morning and evening person in terms of perfume, so I use two different scents in the same day. Morning for me is about energy and freshness, and in the evening it’s more about calm and sensuality. Perfume has always been key for helping us reinforce the mood we want to be in. So we’ve been using perfume a lot during quarantine. Candles as well. These things have a strong impact on your brain and mood. I recommend consumers try to figure out which ingredients, which notes, can contribute to making them feel more in the moment.”

On Atelier Cologne’s latest launch, Lemon Island

Christophe: “As usual, it’s a combination of our own experience and love of raw materials. Five years ago we had a chance to go on a boat trip with our kids and [visit several] small islands along the Pacific ocean. It was there that we had the idea to work on this fragrance, [inspired by the] sunny, salty, oily scents of coming back from the beach.”

Sylvie: “We love citruses at Atelier Cologne and we’re always on the hunt for new types of citrus ingredients that have never been used before. So when we were [approached with the concept of using] a very specific type of small, green lemon growing on an island along the Indian ocean, we jumped to do something with this raw material and to really try to create a scent that is reminiscent of an escape to paradise — where you’re connected to nature, it’s a new beginning and everything is serene and turquoise and beautiful. It’s that feeling of salt from the ocean on your skin mixed with suntan oil and the warmth of the sun. We asked ourselves, ‘how do we use the ingredient to recreate that moment?’ We started working on it back in 2016, so it’s [funny] that it’s coming out at a time where we’re all locked in and cannot travel. It’s a real escape.”

Christophe: “The green lemon is quite bitter and very peppery, which we liked because it conveys the freshness of citrus, but with a more powerful personality. And this lemon from the island was going in the trash; they weren’t using it for anything. So we also liked the idea of using a natural material, that had no end initially, to contribute to the well-being of the local population.”

Atelier Cologne founders Sylvie and Christophe
Atelier Cologne founders Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel

On how consumers can shop for new fragrances online

Christophe: “I have two pieces of advice. The first is quite simple, but it’s why we partner with retailers like Sephora. If you are a Sephora customer, you’ll receive perfume samples with your orders. Every time you order, you can choose between three free samples and very often you’ll see an Atelier Cologne sample [as one of the options]. We give Sephora huge quantities of samples because we believe it’s fundamental to allow [customers to sample new scents].

“And my second piece of advice is to try to really understand the emotion and the feeling that the perfume is conveying [when shopping online]. For instance, with Lemon Island it’s quite easy to understand what the scent will smell like on your skin, even if you are not physically able to spray the perfume, because of the description of the ingredients and the story behind it. We try to make this emotion very precise for a customer so they already have an idea of the scent [before smelling it].”

On why all Atelier Cologne scents are unisex

Christophe: “Well, the first reason is that we’re a couple and we don’t want to make any compromises, so every scent is meant to be appreciated by both Sylvie and me. We have different tastes in fragrance; Sylvie loves woody scents which most of the time people describe as masculine, and I love flowery scents which most of the time are described as feminine. It’s just part of our creative process to take a new formula and pass it around [our team] of 20 to 30 people and make sure it’s not possible for them [to say] ‘This is a feminine scent’ or ‘This is a masculine scent.’”

Sylvie: “It’s true; when you blend woody scents and florals together and then add citrus on top, you get something that can be easily worn by a man or woman. And then it depends on how a scent works with your skin. so If Christophe and I wear exactly the same scent, it’s not going to smell the same on him as it does on me.”

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