Countless brick-and-mortar stores have been casualties of the digital transformation that has reshaped the retail landscape in recent years, but many consumers at the high end of the beauty market still desire personalized, face-to-face interactions with their favorite brands.
A recent survey by global retail tech agency Outform revealed that more than half of the 2,000 respondents preferred purchasing beauty products in person, with around 40% citing the experience of being in a boutique and consulting with brand experts as being influential in their purchasing decisions.
These findings reflect the thinking that saw family-owned perfume maison Henry Jacques take its first decisive step into retail in 2014, with the opening of an exclusive space within the Salon de Parfums at Harrods in London—a dedicated space to interact with and better serve its discerning clientele.
Founded in 1975, Henry Jacques has forged a reputation for creating bespoke scents of the highest quality. Initially introduced to a small group of private clients, these one-off, bespoke fragrances were created to complement its wearer—to invoke personal memories and emotions, and to become an extension of their identity. Clients were able to have their tailor-made scents housed in uniquely designed crystal flacons, collaborating with the brand’s experts to create an artisanal fragrance that becomes uniquely theirs.
As the clientele for bespoke offerings grew over the next few decades, an archive of some 3,000 unique scents sporting names such as “Rose Snow,” “Merveilleuse” and “Et Pourtant” was curated, forming the pillars of the maison and building on the legacy of French high perfumery.
Under the guidance of Henry Jacques’ daughter, Anne-Lise Cremona, the move into retail was part of an ambitious plan to introduce French high perfumery to a wider audience. Since taking over the reins of the company in 2011, Ms Cremona has opened the doors of Henry Jacques to more people with the launch of 50 scents during the brand’s public debut—a decision made possible thanks to Henry Jacques’ fragrance archive.
Known collectively as Les Classiques, the 50 fragrances are created in three forms: Les Essences, oils housed in minimalistic crystal flacons and applied directly to the skin with a crystal rod; Les Brumes, a lighter and modern way of enjoying the art of high perfumery with liquids housed in a unique ‘splash and spray’ convertible flacon; and the Clic-Clac, the brand’s take on solid perfumes, which are essentially scents that come in a balm-like form.
Following the success of its first foray into the retail landscape with Harrods, Henry Jacques has brought this curated physical experience to more locations around the world, with eight boutiques opening in cities such as Singapore, Dubai and Beverly Hills.
Breaking New Ground
From creating bespoke fragrances for private clients to making its mark on the luxury retail world, Henry Jacques has grown from strength to strength since its founding. That journey continues to this day with the opening of Henry Jacques’ ninth boutique globally in the heart of Paris in May this year. Situated across the river from the Eiffel Tower, the 400-square-meter duplex space is the brand’s first standalone boutique in Paris, on one of the most iconic Avenues in the world—Avenue Montaigne.
This new boutique takes visitors on an exhilarating journey through the world of French high perfumery, where they can observe Henry Jacques’ designers delicately manipulating the raw materials responsible for creating some of the world’s most precious and prestigious perfumes.
The brand’s artistic director, Christophe Tollemer, has brought the splendor of Henry Jacques’ legacy to life through historic Parisian architecture and timeless charms sprinkled throughout the space. Welcoming customers with a small garden—a rarity along the historic avenue—and colorful flagons within the lab-like interior space, the boutique celebrates the French art of living with classic collections of jewelry, art and historical pieces adorning the walls.
The key focus, however, remains very much on the creation of exceptional scents. A special lounge dedicated to bespoke fragrances allows connoisseurs to compose their personal fragrances in complete privacy during consultations with Henry Jacques’ experts.
Marrying Innovation with Tradition
As it honors the traditions of French high perfumery, Henry Jacques also continues to push the boundaries of what is possible through a culture of innovation. One recent highlight of this desire to blaze new trails was the creation of the Clic-Clac in 2021, an accessory that houses the brand’s new collection of solid perfumes.
A sophisticated creation, the Clic-Clac revives the gesture of applying solid perfume; the wearer only needs to pick up a small amount of the scent’s wax on the fingertips, before dabbing it on his or her pulse points. Named after the sound it makes, the Clic-Clac opens with a simple slide to reveal a single circular perfume capsule ready for application, and similarly shuts with ease with a slight push.
Borrowing techniques from the expertise of Swiss watchmaking, the Clic-Clac was developed after more than four years of development to ensure its longevity before it was able to reach its current standard of patented engineering. The accessory is available in materials such as titanium, carbon and gold, and can house Les Classiques scents in the form of interchangeable solid perfume capsules.
The modernity of the Clic-Clac, and the revived art of solid perfumes, encapsulates Henry Jacques’ vision—the traditional art of French high perfumery enhanced with modern innovations, reflecting Ms Cremona’s keen desire to continue bringing the maison to greater heights in the coming decades.