A new fragrance by niche brand Les Nez (the Noses) is scheduled for January, called Manoumalia. Les Nez is a small Suisse brand which has released such esoterically-named perfumes as Let me Play the Lion, L'Antimatiere and The Unicorn Spell, masterminded by Isabelle Doyen. Comparatively, the cryptic Manoumalia name is less out there or fairy-tale like, although its concept reads like a high-seas adventure from the times when captain Cook was crossing the South Seas in search of exotic, unknown territories. Such were the lengths to which Sandrine Videault, the perfumer of the latest fragrance, went in November 2007 to appreciate the essences that would comprise what would essentially be a theme on the olfactory culture of Wallis. Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of Wallis and Futuna Islands is a Polynesian French island territory (but not belonging to, or even contiguous with, French Polynesia) in the South Pacific between Fiji and Samoa. (Since 2003 Wallis and Futuna has been a French overseas collectivity (collectivité d'outre-mer/COM).
One of the last students of Edmond Roudnitska, Sandrine Videault became interested in perfumery ever since she read Que Sais-je: Le Parfum, the now out-of-print edition penned by Roudnitska. Best known for her historical fragrances (such as her Kyphi recreation for the Cairo museum in 2002) and olfactive shows. Previous fragrance composed by her include Ambre Indien by Esteban and La Rose de Carole Bouquet for Truffault, Paris. Her olfactive illustrations include « L’Ecume des Sens », after a text from Boris Vian (Cité de la Villette, Paris), « Afrikabrak dans tous les Sens », after the sculptures of Hervé Di Rosa (Musée en Herbe, Paris) while she orchestrated the olfactive shows « Le Cantique des Sens », Palais des Congrès, Paris « La Beauté de l’Egypte ancienne » (for SEPHORA Champs-Elysées, Paris) and « Les Bulles Métalliques », Foire Internationale des Arts Contemporains (F.I.A.C), Paris.
She elaborated to us how the importance of olfaction to the Polynesians, quite strong socially as well as spiritually (the same way dance and song are as well) has been an inspiration since she was a young girl. The Wallisians, making their own fragrance the ancient way, thus effortlessly entered the universe of cultures focused around smells in Sandrine's mind (as she comes from the isles of the South Pacific she was always in close proximity), much like the Egyptians, the Tunisians and the residents of Morocco. The Taihitians already have the monoi as their emblem, so it was only a matter of time till the Wallisians got their own share of recognition! The idea was therefore there, but Sandrine needed the incentive, the fuse that would set fire to the passion of composing a fragrance inspired by Wallis: the place where without a sensory, and specifically olfactory, training a man -and even more, a woman!- is invisible.
Following a documentary of RFO televized in New Caledonia, Malia, a native woman, offered to show Sandrine her savoir-faire of perfumes and became the open door, the gift-bearer that crystalised this idea and introduced Sandrine to their secret world. Sandrine's aim and ambition became to pay homage to the culture she came to know without betraying its richness. This could not be done in a mere reconstitution or even interpretation of Tuitui, the par excellence Wallesian essence ~there needed to exist a dialogue of different elements: of sandalwood, used to colour the hair, of spices (like curcuma) used to colour the body, of scent via the medium of jewels (bracelets or necklaces), of vetiver, of flowers like Fagrea (which to Wallisians is comparable to what tiare is to Tahitians), ylang ylang and indeed tiare. Thus a modern, occidentally-oriented perfume emerged, which was talking about a culture hailing from the South Seas: a woody floral amber, Manoumalia.
The announced notes of Manoumalia are: Fagrea, vetiver, tiare, sandal, ylang ylang, amber accord.
If you sign up for the newletter on the Les Nez website, you can get a free sample of the new Manoumalia fragrance. I am already expecting it and will report back with a full-on review in due time.
 List of olfactive installations via 1000fragrances.
Tuitui is a plant of the family Euphorbiaceae, commonly known as Candlenut/Varnish Tree (Lichtnussbaum in German) with white flowers in a shape like a cross between orange blossom and jasmine which is used mainly for the nuts and the oil distilled from them.
Fagraea is a plant endimic to the South Seas islands, belonging to the family Loganiaceae, one species of which is the famous fagraea berteroana (pua kenikeni) abundant in Maui.
Pics copyrighted by Les Nez, reproduced by permission