Thursday, November 3, 2011

Interview with Melissa Ceria, director of Art de Vivre programs at French Institute Alliance Francaise

"Perfume is an ephemeral thing, but it has a lasting effect on people". As I hear those words in the melodious cadenza of Melissa Ceria's voice I find myself nodding my head appreciatively. How many times have we not marveled at the power of fragrance, its mystique, its pull, its ability to inflict guttural responses, but also its ethereal quality of having the potential of an objet d'art.
Melissa Ceria, director of Art de Vivre Programs at The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in New York City, graciously granted me an interview in which we talked in detail about their upcoming Series Le Parfum: The Power of Fragrance, we had announced on Perfume Shrine a while ago. (Please refer to our timetable, descriptions on which perfumers to meet and ask questions of, tickets and links on our Art de Vivre announcement).

Melissa is a joy to talk to, a mother and professional who takes the time to answer questions with great care and genuine interest. She's generous and forthcoming with information and someone who really "gets" what makes a perfume lover tick. After all, she used to collect miniatures at the ripe age of 11 and dream of how these scents expressed her budding femininity. She's one of us!

In her words: "There is also a very aspirational angle in wearing perfume. Who do we become when we spray on our favorite perfume? Does it help us project a certain image of ourselves? (We make demands of perfumes.) Women want to get inspired by perfumes, to dream a bit. Advertising images especially cater to that, but also the whole experience of packaging and names and presentation, all these things inspire responses from women."

For the Art de Vivre series of exciting events scheduled as Le Parfum: the Power of Fragrance, kick-starting today, she invited Christophe Laudamiel, who will introduce samples provided exclusively by the perfume museum, L' Osmothèque (where he's co-curator), therefore rare and covetable by all serious perfume lovers, letting audiences discover an array of scents and their stories. Next, she introduces a panel of acclaimed professionals in fields having to do with fragrance and scents, who will discuss the influence of fragrance on identity, memory and desire. Last but not least, Melissa organizes "Speed Smelling", "a really great way for the audience to get to experience the work of great perfumers working today. They will have the chance to see what inspires a fragrance (Anything from grapefruit to graffiti, we say!) and meet with no less than 9 renowned IFF perfumers [...] as they unveil personal creations composed around elements that have inspired them. Each perfumer will sit at a table with guests, talk about their sources of inspiration and then reveal the perfume they created around those ideas. None of these fragrances are available on the market, so there's a surprise element to this that's fun. Attendees will be able to smell, ask questions, interact with the perfumers. Each session with each perfumer lasts for 5 minutes and then attendees will hop to the next table and meet the next perfumer! "

This is a piece of a greater piece. You can read the whole interview on this link on Fragrantica.

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