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The Warsaw Voice » Society » January 4, 2018
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The Poetry of Fragrance
January 4, 2018   
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Majda Bekkali, founder of the "Majda Bekkali Parfums" company, based in Paris, came to Warsaw in November to conduct an olfactory workshop at the Quality Missala Perfumery. She shared the philosophy of her brand and insprations for her scents with the Warsaw Voice.

You used to work as fragrance developer and artistic director for many luxury brands in perfume industry. Why did you decide to have your own perfume house?
It was always important for me to have an artistic job. By chance, I got a job to design some packging for a company that makes perfumes. With time, they asked me to direct some noses (perfumers – WV) working on selective fragrances, to give them some artistics ideas, and I felt in love with perfumes. I decided to go to a special school to study the secrets of perfumery’s raw materials and the alchemy of their mixture. When I had the necessary knowledge I thought I could distance myself from the commercial perfume industry and begin my travel down an entirely free and artistic path. I wanted to unleash my creativity and work with rare and precious essences, original notes and unique designs. So, to embody my dream, I created my own brand to develop artistic perfumes that woulld tell intimate stories and rekindle immemorial emotions.

So what intimate stories do your perfumes tell?
When I escaped from the mainstream perfumery I wanted to create a collection which would be like a travel inside myself. I imagined a walk in a strange forest where you put some stones on the path so that you don’t lose your way back. In 2010, I launched Sculptures Olfactives collection in which each perfume is like a stone left on the path of an internal journey. The idea was to have pure, liquid emotion inside a precious stone. When I found a stone I liked I used it as a mold for my flacons.

With, J’ai Fait Un Reve, the first stone in my collection I wanted to develop a fragrance ”for a better world”, a composition that would make a person wearing it more open to others. I imagined myself on the first morning of the world, without any conscience about the gender, the color of the skin, the age of a human being. So this fragrance was born out of pure innocence of a universal man, the essence of the heart.

The second stone, Fusion Sacree, is a ”fragrance of attraction”, inspired by an impulse that brings people close to each other, the joy of being together and confronting the other person. Emotions accompanying these encounters are translated into a very mistique couple of scents, for her and for him.

With the next stone, Mon Nom Est Rouge, I wanted to express the symbolic meaning of the red color, its aura of majesty, power and self-confidence. When you wear this perfume is like when you wear read – you want to be noticed.

I suppose the similarity of the scent’s name with the title of the book „My name is Red” by a Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk is not accidental?
Not at all. Literature is a very important part and inspiration of my life. I express myself by making perfumes and by writing. Sometimes, when you read a book, there is a miracle moment when you know what the author wants to tell you, when you are living what the writer was living.

I experienced such a magic moment when reading ”Tender is the Night” by Scott Fitzgerald. The author’s wife, Zelda, became an inspiration for my next perfume, Tendre Est La Nuit, which is my interpretation of the attractive force of darkness, its soothing softness, something opposite of the noisy and turbulent world.

Your latest creations in the Andalus Collection seem to have a much lighter touch to them than your earlier fragrances.
With this collection I wanted to open up my door because I felt I had been too much ”in myself”. I looked at the world and saw a lot of wars, a lot of problems there. So I developed new fragrances as a message of hope, a prayer for a better world.
I started with Tulaytulah, which is the Arabic and Hebrew name of Toledo, an Andalusian city where Jews, Christians and Muslims used to live together in peace and harmony. The scent was my message of peace to the world. Tulaytulah’s main note is marzipan, as the almond flour pastry was so typical of Toledo.

Then I created Mudejar. The name refers to a syncretic, architecturual art that developed in Andalusia between 12 and 16th century. The scent is like a walk through an Andalusian church garden on a hot day, The garden welcomes with freshness of the citrus softing down the heat. When you ou arrive at a church seeking to hide from the sun you can smell some comforting minerals from the walls of the building.

Ziryab is the third fragrance in the collection, which I have recently launched in Poland. It’s an homage to a musician-astronomer of the same name, who lived in Baghdad but had to escape the caliph's jealousy and exiled himself in Andalusia. Ziryab invented the fifth string in a musical instrument called oud. The perfume’s composition is a mixture of oud (agarwood oil), a reference to his instrument of the same name, and tulips, as I imagined he might have brought some tulip bulbs from Baghdad to plant in his Andalusian garden.

How do you communicate your dreamlike ideas to the perfumers you work with?
I write a poem for each fragrance. It is later translated into raw material, into particular notes. Then, I build a pyramid with all the components and choose a nose familiar with the ingredients I want to put in my perfume. Perfumers don’t have the same skills. Some noses are more talented when it comes to use mineral materials, others are better with flowers. Finally, I write a formula on which we work together until we reach the desired effect.
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