HOW TO CATCH A MOMENT IN A SCENT WITH SONIA CONSTANT?
Updated: Oct 1
Co-Founder of the luxury brand ELLA K and Senior Perfumer at GIVAUDAN, Sonia Constant is renowned for her award-winning fragrances for luxury brands for 20 years now including Fleur musc for HER by Narciso Rodriguez, Ombre Leather by Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen perfume collection. Constant created ELLA K with her husband, inspired from the famous Swiss journalist, reporter, photographer, and traveler Ella MAILLART. Each scent is inspired by the places they traveled to, taking us all on a journey even during lockdown.
IRK: Tell a little bit about yourself?
Constant: I learned perfumery in the 2 prestigious schools ISIPCA (2 years) and GIVAUDAN perfumery school (3 years). I started working for luxury brands just after the GIVAUDAN perfumery school. I was lucky enough to have great teachers: Dominique ROPION and Francis KURKDJIAN when I was at the ISIPCA and Olivier PESCHEUX, Jean GUICHARD, and Christine NAGEL at GIVAUDAN.
IRK: Tell us a little bit about your brand:
Constant: I created my brand with my husband in 2017. The name of the brand ELLA K comes from the famous Swiss journalist, reporter, photographer, and traveller Ella MAILLART : she was travelling the world mainly in Asia and Caucasus at a time when countries were closing their borders and when women were expected to remain at home wearing the apron string! I find her life very inspiring, but not only Ella MAILLART, there is a generation of woman explorer such like Karen BLIXEN, Alexandra David NEEL or Amelia EARHART who inspired me by their exploits of course but much more by their independence and by leaving their lives as they dreamed and by their thirst for freedom.
I absolutely admire their pioneering spirit and each of those women have inspired the ELLA K character and inspired the ELLA K world.
I am also traveling a lot with my husband and I wanted to capture those suspended moments into perfume.
Each perfume is talking about a place, referring to the odors of course but the final product is a complete artistic work: I translate into fragrances the landscape that we had immortalized with our Leica Camera, those pictures are reinterpreted by Japanese artist Senjiro NAKATA, I capture the odors of the flowers, woods, vegetals or atmosphere with my miniature Scent Trek. And finally, I write the poetry of the particular suspended moment into my Moleskine notepad. Each fragrance is the result of this synesthesia.
When I look at something that inspired me, my head goes into overdrive and assembles accords to create a perfume which echoes to what I am seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling. Each fragrance is coming with a love poem. Those poems are like a second reading of the scent inside in a more intimate manner
What do you think we will learn from this extraordinary time and how will it affect you/your business/your life.
This dramatic situation regarding the Covid 19, the troubles in which we seem to be right now will be surely following by light, because life is a continuing cycle and because the light is always coming after the darkness, it is a question of time, of patience, and a moment that invite us to meditate to the reason why we are in the darkness right now. It invites us to take this suspended moment as an opportunity to question all of us about our way of leaving and about what is essential in our life and what is not.
Happiness or sadness who knows? When something that seems sad is happening in our life, we are not the right person to evaluate if what's happening is really sadness or if this not simply a gate to pass through for something better. A rebirth, or a birth is always something painful at the moment it happens, but this pain is necessary to follow a new route better for you and in this particular case of today with Covid 19, certainly a better route for the earth, for nature preservation and for the humanity and to open a new chapter on a more human world, no more base on profit, money and power, but certainly a new route with less pollution and more respectful for our mother nature and more equal for everybody.
This crisis certainly wakes everybody up to what is the most beautiful in all of us, generosity, compassion, charity. Lot's of powerful companies are offering a large amount of money to help the research of a vaccine and a treatment or any other way to fight against the Covid 19 such as manufacturing hand sanitizer, and everybody is trying their best to help weak peoples.
I think that in this very special context, Nature reasserts itself, and it is now time to celebrate the beauty of nature, and preserve the beautiful earth.
Nature is calling, The planet is crying: It's time to change our behavior, our focus. Let's listen more to what nature has to offer, let's live more in harmony with her and not against her.
This covid 19 says to the human being that we are not necessary on this planet, that the sky, the air, the plants and animals are perfectly well without us and that this is for us time to meditation: we are guests on this planet not the master, lets stop behaving as we were god. Now since we are in a cage, pollution has declined drastically, people are now more focused on their family, on their beloved people and on necessary things, such like food, water health and are taking more care of each other.
Happiness or sadness, who knows as soon as the story of the universe is not finished yet, if you look at a larger squale, what's happening is the best thing that could even happen to preserve the earth, to decrease the pollution and even to obtain what nobody was able to obtain such like a ceasefire in Syria, Libye, Yemen...
Suddenly the silence becomes part of our daily routine and we have more space in our day for meditation, for taking care of our kids, family, and fragile people.
We suddenly discover that we only need a few things, health, food, water, beloved people around us, and that our cabinet is full of useless things. Hope this situation will help all of us realize how little we are compared to the universe/ god, whatever you call it. Now the all humanity will have time to meditate about the next chapter we wIll have to write altogether: a more peaceful, equal world not driven by money but by heart.
This virus attacks the airway which is also very symbolique regarding the pollution the human being is responsible for, this virus is more contagious than dangerous, that will help people realize the shift that each of us has to do in its daily routine and the fact that all the extra-activity are closed is a beautiful way to give space for meditation and concentrate oneself on the important things and that money is no more luxury but that time is and that caring to each other is the new luxury, the new value...
Of course all those deaths, and people who suffering is absolutely abominable...
A quote from Alfred Musset come to my mind
"Evil exists, but not without the good, as the shadow exists, but not without the light."
And now the easy ones:
IRK: Favourite Colour?
Constant: I love all the colors, what I am interested in is the contrast, which color could highlight that other one.
IRK: When you were growing up what did you want to be?
Constant: First a ballet dancer, then when I realized I was not good enough, an architect and a designer.
IRK: Name the place you’d most like to live
IRK: What’s the first thing you want to do when you come out of Lockdown?
Constant: I will continue to protect others and myself by following the social distance rules. I am afraid we will have to continue to follow those rules for many months. And I think it is a good opportunity to think about our world differently.
IRK: You’re hosting a dinner party what’s your signature dish?
Constant: Asian style
IRK: Dogs or Cats?
Constant: Dog but I have a cat!
IRK: What was your nickname at school?
Constant: I didn't have any nickname at school.
IRK: Most influential person in your life:
Constant: Sri Ramana Maharshi
IRK: If you could go back in time to which period would you go to?
Constant: the 1930's
IRK: Favorite museum or gallery?
Constant: Rodin Museum
IRK: If money were no object, what luxury item would you buy yourself?
IRK: Favourite album (music)?
Constant: Buena Vista Social Club
IRK: Person you’d love to meet?
IRK: Describe your ultimate romantic date.
Constant: It is captured in the perfume Baiser de Florence d'ELLA K PARFUM: A kiss in the Ufizzi Galleri in the middle of the sculptures, my lips were still full of the sweet sugary of the florentine pastry and the smell of the olibanum coming from the florentine churches and the mineral one of the sculpted stone mixed together with still the memory of the Florentine Oris in the morning twirling below the sun like thousands of butterflies...
IRK: You are happiest when…..?
Constant: Others are happy
IRK: What makes you sad?
Constant: When others are sad
IRK: If you could change one thing about the world.
Constant: That people treat others as they would like to be treated themselves
IRK: What’s the first thing on your bucket list?
IRK: What have you learned during lockdown?
Constant: How insignificant we are on earth
IRK: Bookshop or record Shop?
IRK: Name your favourite book
Constant: Belle du seigneur d'Albert COHEN
IRK: Pet hate?
IRK: How many tattoos/piercings do you have?
IRK: Gym or Jim Beam?
IRK: What colour are your eyes?
IRK: Junk Food - what is your dirty secret?
Constant: I hate junk food!
IRK: What’s your poison? (what do you like to drink)
Constant: Gin and tonic
IRK: Describe your morning routine.
Constant: Healthy breakfast with a coffee, Ashtanga Yoga, shower, dress up; go to work on foot
IRK: Where do you call home?
Constant: My apartment in Paris
IRK: What makes you laugh?
Constant: My clumsiness
IRK: What perfume/aftershave do you use?
Constant: Reflet surl'okavango from ELLA K
IRK: What’s your favourite season and why?
Constant: Springtime, love to see the flowers blooming and butterflies
IRK: Describe the wildest night out you’ve ever had.
Constant: It is recreated in the fragrance Cri du Kalahari from ELLA K. In the Kalahari desert wherever you look the horizon is the only interruption to the view... And the sun seems to set on an earthy moon and then surrender its place to the starry dome above. It was such a special atmosphere that is was the fertile source of extreme sensations- losing oneself in its infinite solitude, savouring that suspended moment when one loses all concept of time or space and then submitting totally to the absolute silence, while the sky that vast expense above such astounding emptiness, seems to siphon us out of this extraordinary environment...
IRK: Have you ever been arrested?
IRK: Favourite Quote?
Constant: "It will come all right in the end." -Ramana Maharshi
IRK: First live band you went to see?
IRK: Biggest Regret?
Constant: I have no regrets
IRK: Describe something that you are proud of
Constant: My kids
IRK: Describe yourself in 3 words.
Constant: I am not my body, neither my thoughts, nor my emotions so my real me is behind all those superficial things. It is what stays when you have removed all those things.
IRK: Favourite film?
Constant: In The Mood For Love WONG KAR-WAI
IRK: How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Constant: Too many
IRK: Describe a favourite walk
Constant: A morning walk on Hanalei Beach Hawai
IRK: Tell us what’s in your bag/pockets:
Constant: It is a secret
IRK: Who was the last person you called?
Constant: My mother
IRK: What’s the tune/band that you are listening to the most?
Constant: Radio Nova
IRK: What’s your cure for a hangover?
Constant: Drink lots of water