Smell Like a Luxury Car! French Perfumer Nathalie Lorson on Distilling Bentley into a Scent

Blair Pfander

bentleythumb Smell Like a Luxury Car! French Perfumer Nathalie Lorson on Distilling Bentley into a ScentWe’ve always found the smell of a new car rather intoxicating, so it comes as no surprise that top luxury manufacturers like Mercedes Benz and Ferrari have attempted to capture the essence of their automobiles with similarly elegant, luxury fragrances.
Of course, there’s new car smell, and then there’s new Bentley smell. You can imagine our excitement when, earlier this week, Bentley announced its foray into auto-inspired fragrances with “Bentley for Men” and “Bentley for Men Intense. ” Produced in collaboration with French crystal maker, Lallique, and fragrance firm, Firmenich, the new scents are designed to capture the incomparably indulgent, luxurious feeling of slipping into the driver’s seat of a Bentley.
To better understand the process of distilling this “it” car brand into a crystal bottle, we caught up with French perfumeur Nathalie Lorson, whose nose was the guiding force in the creation of the new fragrance.
The Vivant: How long have you worked in the fragrance world?
Nathalie Lorson: Since 1980, so 33 years.
How do you go about distilling an automobile into a a new scent?
It was interesting, because Bentley is a very luxurious brand of car, which works well with perfume because it allows us to use beautiful, high-quality raw materials—just as they use beautiful raw materials for the cars. We made the fragrance the same way that Bentley makes fantastic cars, using the right ingredients to create a very high-class, quality product.
What particular aspects of the Bentley brand were important to capture in the new fragrance?
My idea was to start with the two primary elements in a Bentley: the leather, and the wood. The wood you have in front of the wheel and the leather of the seats. So I worked from these two elements and tried to create a masculine fragrance with this leathery feeling. And the leather itself is interesting because it’s almost forbidden, and gives a very old character to fragrances. It introduces sensuality in a different way, so that was very interesting and very attractive for me to work with during this project.
What other notes were you drawn to and why?
Because of the wood, I worked with several wooden fragrances, like cedar, which gives a strong personality that’s really intense and very masculine. And the patchouli as well, is was very elegant and authentic, and brings a lot of personality to the fragrance that’s very sensual also. And to express the speed—Bentley’s were first known as racing cars—so for that, I used some elements in top notes like black pepper, which introduces freshness and some vibrance. What is also interesting in this fragrance is that I played with rum absolute, which reinforces the ‘addiction’ to the leather in a more attractive, masculine way.
Finally, the question on everybody’s mind: will the new scent make you smell like the inside of a Bentley?
For me, it captures that feeling of luxury. It’s elegance and luxury, class and quality. The scent is self confident and strong…and those are the elements that you feel when you smell the car.

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