The story of JUL ET MAD is really a love story told in three chapters based on geographical locations. Can you please tell us the story? And, why did you feel your story needed to be told through fragrances?
The story of JUL ET MAD is a true love story between Julien and Madalina, which is depicted in the three first Perfumes of our collection: Stilettos on Lex, Terrasse à St Germain and Amour de Palazzo.
To summarize, JUL ET MAD’s story begins with the portrayal of a young woman who lives on Lexington Avenue and enjoys every moment in New York City. The “Stilettos on Lex” chapter of the JUL ET MAD story is the exact description of whom I was at the time, and I like to think that this portrait is no different from all young women living life at its fullest.
At some point in my career I had to go to France and, before I realized what’s happening, I fell in love with a young, very handsome Parisian. It was love at first sight at this famous café terrace in St. Germain-des-Près. This amazing and fortunate encounter completely changed our lives, as only few weeks later I decided to leave everything behind and move to France. The perfume “Terrasse à St-Germain” evokes exactly what we felt at the time, is the essence itself of our “coup de foudre”.
After my arrival in Paris, to celebrate the beginning of our life as a couple, Julien brought me to Venice … It was one of the most amazing experiences, we enjoyed every moment spent here, and everything seemed like a dream. Every emotion we felt, the magic of the place with its beauty and history, we illustrated in “Amour de Palazzo”, the third chapter of our Perfume Collection.
As for the “destination”, it simply happens that these first three episodes took place in different locations. The real purpose of JUL ET MAD is to describe the most important and memorable moments of our love story, no matter where situated.
And the idea of telling our story through fragrances came very naturally, as the brand JUL ET MAD itself is all about passion and celebration of life. We feel so lucky our two souls succeeded in meeting and recognizing each other, regardless the distance, the culture, the language, and we are amazed to see how our romance gives strength and belief to people around us. Moreover, every time we were asked how we met and after telling our story, the reaction was the same: “This is so beautiful, you should write a book!” So, what better way to tell our story, than by simply replacing the words with fragrant notes?
As creative directors, what was it about Robertet (Grasse) perfumer Dorothée Piot that made you and Julien feel that she was the one to bring your vision to life?
It’s a bit by chance, as it is with love. We didn’t plan on collaborating only with Dorothée, as different perfumers from Robertet were working on the first three JUL ET MAD compositions. They had for general direction only our feelings and our story, but absolute freedom in terms of raw materials and complexity. The task for the perfumers was even more difficult as this was a personal story. It just happens that, when presented with their first propositions, without knowing, the three fragrances chosen were imagined by Dorothée Piot. Afterwards, we worked together for several months in order to perfect them. Her sensibility and talent made the rest.
I noticed that the photographic image on your website for Stilettos On Lex contains a few mysteries of its own… the woman whose long legs and black patent stilettos we gaze at seems to have a tattoo on her ankle- the JUL ET MAD logo. Could this be meant to represent how perfume can imprint itself on us and become part of who we are? What is the idea behind the design of the logo?
About Stilettos On Lex, you are perfectly right! The JUL ET MAD logo tattooed on the ankle, means how personal and what a real part of you a perfume should be. You cannot simply remove it; Julien likes to think that a perfume is the only thing that remains on a woman even when nude. It is the first thing that precedes and introduces you, as well as the last thing that envelopes and protects you.
Our visuals are a very personal interpretation of places and emotions that marked us at a precise moment, the very source of inspiration for our perfumes … the striking beauty of a mysterious woman on Lexington, a café terrace in Paris, or a Murano glass chandelier in a Palazzo in Venice… That’s why the JUL ET MAD symbol or the bottle were introduced discreetly in every visual, as they are a distinctive part of the scene where the perfumes were born.
Regarding the design of our logo, it’s been a long work process with our graphic and design team. They presented us with a series of very personal questions to which Julien and I had to answer separately and together. They came to our house and took pictures of almost everything (paintings, sculptures, books, personal objects, as well as small design details). Few weeks after, they showed us different drawings, and this symbol just stood out, as we instantly recognized ourselves in it (there is a photo of a first draft of it on our website). We love these two shapes that are so different, but so complementary at the same time. Together, they form a new figure, but not through a total fusion and mix, more like an unbreakable bound, managing to keep their own original properties. As with our couple, we didn’t become a new entity; we kept our individual personalities which, combined, just became much stronger and solid.
At the heart of each of the three perfumes in this collection lie three very different vibes, almost as if each one is a distinct color or style of music. With this collection, was it your intention to see that each fragrance could stand on its own?
The idea was, indeed, to make three different compositions, as every perfume represents a different stage in our lives, influenced by different circumstances, different places, different people, and so on. This explains why we wanted in the beginning to work with different perfumers for each and every fragrance. And, we cannot say it often enough, Dorothée Piot showed a fantastic talent and sensibility, composing every perfume so differently, but still managing to keep the “lifeline” that animates the entire concept behind JUL ET MAD.
As anyone interested in perfume knows, there is an ever-increasing influx of new launches each year. Can you please explain what JUL ET MAD’s unique point of view is?
Yes, it is true that more and more new fragrance launches happen every year. It is a chance that people who are fond of fragrances can still find new and rare perfumes. Regarding JUL ET MAD, we developed our collection with a maximum of respect for the traditional French “savoir-faire” in perfumery, trying to transpose it in every details of our offer, which is entirely hand-made. We kept the highest concentration we could in our compositions, each fragrance of the collection being a veritable “Parfum”. We work in tight partnership with French companies specialized in the traditional perfumery and always tried to come back where the perfume should have stayed, a work of art in every aspect…
What are yours and Julien’s favorite raw materials, notes or accords, and why?
There are so many notes and accords I love!!! Living in different countries and cultures, I got attached to so many different raw materials specific to every place. But, if I really have to choose one in particular, I should say the ambergris. During my courses of Fragrance Knowledge at FIT, I fell in love with this magical, intriguing, exquisite, rare raw material… I remember how amazed I was by the fact that, when mixed and combined with other ingredients, this matter of dull grayish color and not extremely pleasant smell can magically alter and enhance the quality of the existing notes, making them greater, deeper and vaster than they can ever be on their own. It’s a little bit like in real life, when a person gets stronger and more confident thanks to the love and support shown by the people they cherish.
As for Julien? He told me the story of one of his numerous travels in Asia, where an Indian old man offered him as a welcome gift a beautifully hand-carved wooden box filled with musk-scented beads. He is since very attached to the smell of musk, which he identifies as specific to this mystical part of the world he so cherishes.
Have there been any particular perfumers, houses or perfumery styles that have influenced your aesthetic as a creator?
Inspiration is all around us! The industry of fragrance has such resources!! We are deeply attached to the French Traditional Perfumery era, where every perfume was presented as a unique, rare work of art… Whatever the inspiration may be, our goal was to create a Perfume Collection that will simply last over the years, elegant and extemporal, classic and modern at a time, as Love. Love and its beauty is not a question of fashion or trend, it’s simply intemporal.
I must admit that I’m enamored with the bottle design, the Nomad travel atomizers and even the outer packaging. Can you explain the concept behind the designs?
Thank you, Carrie! From the beginning, the idea was to develop a design based on the image of our love, preserving the purity of every matter. To reflect the complexity of the couple, we played with different aspects and textures. The flacon shows all this perfectly. The front, transparent, is delicately engraved with the brand and perfume names in pure platinum letters, in order to keep a feeling of purity and quiet elegance. The back, in perfect symmetry with the front, is entirely frosted, with the exception of the logo symbol, thus responding to its other half. The couple’s entire duality is expressed in this perfume bottle, the logo recomposing itself through the transparency of the glass, as we look at the front of bottle.
A heavy cap in zamak designed by Julien crowns the bottle, its shape reinterpreting the logo symbol. It starts as a circle at the base, and gradually “blooms” to become a square at the top.
We also developed the Nomad Spray for every flacon specifically. They come already filled, as we think a perfume should naturally follow you everywhere, anytime. As an echo to the glass flacon decoration, the concept of duality is also found here, evoked by the textures and the effects on the bright and matte silver metal.
And last, but not least, we wanted our outer packaging to represent not only a simple perfume box, but the “home” of our unconditioned love, the chest of our passion, revealing the beauty of our perfumes, with nothing to hide. We developed this elegant leather case in light grey color and silver, with an interior draped in white velvet. The perfume hold was designed to be removable, allowing the reuse of this precious box for personal treasures, if desired.
With Julien’s design background and your knowledge of and passion for perfume, it seems natural to me that your first collection would feel as concise and polished as it does. What can we expect from JUL ET MAD moving forward? Do you already have new fragrances in the works?
Well, yes indeed! The JUL ET MAD story just began and we have so many moments we would like to share! Since we’ve met, we already lived so many fantastic things, discovering new amazing places, meeting such beautiful people! Although I cannot get into details at this stage, I can tell that the future will reserve many nice surprises, as our collection is just at its very beginning!
I know that you spent your childhood in Romania, moved to New York at a young age and eventually settled in Paris. What is it about France (besides Julien!) that managed to snatch your heart for good?
I don’t know if there is an answer for this… There are so many things I love in France! The history, the people, the culture, the language… If I really think about it, maybe I found here a similarity to my birth country - which I greatly cherish - as Romanian history and culture are very close and historically related to the French… Did you know that Bucharest was called “Little Paris” between the two WW? Yes, this could be one of the reasons if I really think about it. It could also be the beauty of this country, and this not only from an architectural point of view… And the food, oh yes, the land of fine cuisine which I so very much enjoy, especially when accompanied by a glass of a perfect wine… And the perfumes, of course!! Being able to live my passion for the industry fully, being able to learn and work at the “source” of the perfumery, and finally being able to create and to see my dream come true…
And I think it is nearly impossible not to get caught up in Madalina's sweeping passions and her intellectual and creative musings. Behind JUL ET MAD is a story that you must sniff to believe.
[JUL ET MAD perfumes can be found at MiN New York and Aedes de Venustas. They are well worth the attention I'm lavishing upon them-- trust me, you'll want to try these]