Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Different Company History and News

Following the work of perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, I came upon The Different Company, a small niche brand which was started by him with the sole objective revealed in its name: to be different!
In one of his aphorisms, Jean Claude had professed that classical perfumery although beautiful is too perfumey for today's sensibility, much like reading Stendhal. In his quest not to understand the market though -antithetically to what major brands do, running focus groups tests for their every product- he has always been about making the market instead.

Artistic freedom obviously meant everything and in order to discourage copycats and lowly competition Ellena along with his collaborator Thierry de Baschmkoff, a relative of his and engineer-turned-bottle-designer, opted for the most smart stratagem: make the juice too expensive, too top quality.
The Different Company opened its doors in 2000 with four stunning scents: Osmanthus, a fragrance based on the precious little Chinese flower with its divine apricoty smell, Rose Poivrée which Chandler Burr has famously -and complimentary- attributed to Satan's wife in Hell, Divine Bergamot, sunny brilliance and dirty hints under the sun of Calabria and Bois d'Iris, an extraordinarily expensive in the making woody orris fragrance fit for an exiled princess.

When Jean Claude got his in-house position at Hermès in 2004, the baton was passed to his daughter, Céline Ellena. She went on to compose both rich and decadent juices such as Jasmin de Nuit as well as diaphanous organza veils ~such as the fragrances in the ‘Explorations sensorielles’ (=sensory explorations) line that is essentially a garden trio: parfum d'Ailleurs & Fleurs (of flowers and beyond), parfum de Charmes & Feuilles (of leaves and charm), and parfum des Sens & Bois (of woods and the senses). And last but not least, the incredible Sel de Vétiver, inspired by Céline tasting water aromatized with vetiver roots at an eastern friend's appartment in Paris.
Their latest Sublime Balkiss, inspired by the queen of Sheba and a modern chypre composition no less, has been having the perfume circles talking and anticipating. (notes of violet, blackcurrant, Bulgarian Rose, blueberries, blackberries, clusters of lilac and a special fraction of the essential oil of patchouli, highlighting its cocoa powder aspect)

It seems we have been richly spoiled! And to top it all of, they have opened a new boutique in Paris.
Niche fragrance brand The Different Company has just opened a stunning new boutique in Paris, in the heart of the trendy Marais quarter. For the occasion, they have paired up with make-up brand Maison Calavas, who is sharing the space. Maison Calavas is specialized in top-of-the-line make-up, with a wide range of palettes presented in colorful shagreen, lizard and snake-skin boxes. 10 rue Ferdinand Duval, Paris 4è – (+ 33) (0)1 42 78 19 34

Their own website is still great to navigate through.

Info & pic via Osmoz and The Different Company


  1. I've had a quick sniff of Sublime Balkiss (which, by the way, was a perfume name, in the 20s I think)and found that the dreaded marine-ozonic-melon note was prominent. Instant recoil!!! So I haven't given it much of a chance.
    Of course, living in Paris, I need to learn about the new boutique from a non-Parisian! They also have a counter in the lingerie department of Le Bon Marché, which they share with Caron.

  2. Good God, is this the newest in their bag of tricks? The "cantaloupe note" had me going "meh" at the otherwise competent Jardin apres la Mousson. If they (as a family, I'd be tempted to venture) are embracing Calone just to be contrary in the niche field, it would be very wicked indeed!
    What's next? Dihydromyrcenol? Perish the thought!
    Bummer...I had high expectations of SB.

    BTW, I know of Balkis (with one s) by Patricia di Nicolai: a powdery soft floral, maybe some iris, if I recall correctly.

    LOL: Glad I can provide Parisian tips to a Parisian ;-)

    Sharing space with Caron sounds foreboding, however: hope they don't end up at the back corner of a hairdresser salon too! (tho that was in NYC)

  3. Bois d'Iris is one of my top three scents of all time. If it lasted longer, it would probably be number 2. (1 is Iris Silver Mist and 2 is L'homme de coeur. Can you tell what note is my fave?)However, I wasn't really looking forward to this because it seems like TDC is now moving into more "abstract" fragrances rather than focusing on specific ingredients, which is my preferred method of perfumery in general. I like to know "This is an osmanthus fragrance, this is a tuberose, etc. etc." and it helps when the name of the fragrance announces that straight away. Even Sel de Vetiver, which I don't like, I can admire for it's ability to do exactly what it says in a rich, unique way. Personally, I'm looking forward to the day I can afford the 250 ml bottle of Bois d'Iris.

  4. We do have a small company here that imports this range so I have smelt some of their scents and I do like the iris and the rose ones . I got really excited when you mentioned the lilac but - when the ozonic marine came into the sentance - yik.
    I find that ozonic smell equals toilet freshener to me . God awful.
    Mmmm - I do love lilac. crying now.

  5. Billy,

    I am overjoyed that my beloved Bois d'Iris (which is on my must buy list after my decant runs out) is in your top3.
    You have a point maybe there: they had an almost taxonimic system before, whereas now it seems they're veering off that track.
    Maybe they have covered their "preferred" notes and going for something that would conjure images or be conceptual rather than figurative? I am hypothesizing here.

  6. M,

    Glad you like those two! The Bois d'Iris is really a favourite, I like it a lot!
    I can feel your pain. Lilac always makes me perk my ears but it is so very, very rarely done without the dreaded toilet refreshener vibe. (I understand it's a notoriously difficult flower to "reconstruct", but you'd think they would have found a way after all those years to render the perfect lilac).
    I admit I was a little crushed myself!

  7. Thank you for the useful reminder. TDC is certainly a house to reckon with, although I've never given them the attention they deserve - except for Rose Poivrée, now that one is truly arresting! ;)

    I'll definitely re-check out Bois d'Iris... and I was eager to try Sublime Balkiss, but not so much now that I've heard of that honeydew note!

  8. You're welcome, S!
    Bois d'Iris is very elegant. I admit I am a little crushed on the Sublime Balkiss too: bad, bad Denyse, how could you do this to us? LOL


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