• DAN SYRETT

HOW TO CATCH A MOMENT IN A SCENT WITH SONIA CONSTANT?

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

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

Constant: Rome


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?