Exclusive interview with Alexandra Roos, heir of the Roos & Roos perfume brand, a charming union of mother, famous Chantal Roos, and her daughter Alexandra

Exclusive interview with Alexandra Roos, heir of the Roos & Roos perfume brand, a charming union of mother, famous Chantal Roos, and her daughter Alexandra

Chantal Roos contributed to creation of the most famous perfumes by Yves Saint Laurent with the likes of Opium, Paris, Jazz, and Kouros. Later on she worked with Jean Paul Gaultier and Issay Miyake. A passion for the perfumes and a large experience in the field pushed towards the creation of the first collection of own perfumes. Chantal Roos decided to create her own trademark of niche perfumes that is now titled Dear Rose. Having founded her own brand back in 2014 Chantal Roos found a perfect business partner, her daughter musician, singer, and songwriter Alexandra. Her music career has brought special traits and specialties to the brand. In particular, Alexandra inspired the new collection titled Song.

– Alexandra, what do you think about Moscow? How often do you come here?

– I love Moscow but I don’t know it really well. Now I know the area where my hotel is pretty well. I only know the area around my hotel called La Petit Maison, it’s a beautifrul place with a cosy atmosphere. Еслинеошибаюсь, вМосквеявчетвёртыйраз. If I’m not mistaken, it’s my fourth time in MoscowI also went to St. Petersburg. But this city is different. I love the area that I’ve just come from.My mother used to ask me as to why I travel alone to which I replied that I am very happy to be alone. Now I have my routine: I arrive, then I jump into my Saint Denis bath, I stay there for about two or three hours, then I go to TsUM to get groceries…

– Do you like travelling alone? Does it help get a better grip on the local culture?

– I do feel the culture indeed. I don’t have my daughter or my husband with me so I can do anything I’d like to do for myself. I like to walk a lot and I take the metro here unlike in Paris. Here it’s clean while in Paris it’s awful. Moscow metro stations are beautiful.

– Please tell us something about the history of your beautiful family business.

–  Our company is called Roos & Roos because my mom is Chantal Roos and my name is Alexandra Roos. I was brought up by a Parisian woman who had begun her career in fragrances a long time ago. Back in 1977 she launched Opium with Yves St. Laurent. I might say I was born into the perfume business because she has always been doing this. I myself was a musician and I did music for over 20 years.

– How did you come up with the idea of founding your own brand?

– My mother left the position of the CEO of YSL Beauté. I’ve always been a fan of niche fragrances, and my mom was looking for niche fragrances before. So it’s really traditional with a know-how brand but with a contemporary vision. It’s a feminine brand which is very important because, as I told Anastasia, there aren’t that many feminine brands. I think it’s crazy. If you look at fashion mostly sometimes you have Stella McCarthey or Phoebe Philo but most of them are male brands. So this gives us a different point of view.

– Have you had any prejudices to fight in the industry? Was it hard to find your place?

– It was difficult for me because I’m a daughter of one of the biggest legends in the industry. The difficulty is also about being an entrepreneur because she has always been an employee even if we’re talking about the highest possible level. It’s not that easy to start your own business in the field of perfumery.  But in the end we did it, and I think it’s okay now.

– Is it hard to work in this industry beign the daughter of a legendary woman?

– The problem is that this will always happen anywhere. People will always say “oh yeah, it’s the daughter”. I don’t know about here but in France when you sell meat the sign reads “de père en fils” meaning “from father to son”. So the perception is ‘his father was doing it so maybe he knows the business too’. I feel that in the field of art it is not the case as people will always look down on artists’ children. And I find it stupid. If you’re a daughter of someone from this business that means there is a transition and there is confidence and it means you grew up with this, If you’re not good you won’t stay there for a long time. There is always this tendency. I did not have this because we are in a different filed — niche perfumery. My mother didn’t know this sphere very well. Even though it’s still about fragrances, it’s a different business. The distribution is different, and there is a lot more creativity. This is good because we are using her experience and my creativity. It’s a two-headed monster that works really well. Maybe people talk behind your back, but I couldn’t care less.

– What do you think is the most difficult part of making your own perfume and what are the peculiarities of a high-quality fragrance?

It has to be of a high quality like you said. Thanks to my mother we were able to work with one of the biggest bulk manufacturer, Firmenich. It works with many perfumers, one of them is called Fabrice Belgrand, he’s the one we are working with. He’s the nose who used to work for a big company that my mother was in. He worked with Jean Paul Gaultier and Issay Miyake. They opened the door for us so it was easier. The most important thing is, your fragrance has to be good. However, there are many good perfumes in the niche.

– How do you position yourself? How do you distinguish yourself from others?

– This is the question I ask myself sometimes. The day before yesterday I went to TsUM which is the same as Le Bon Marche in Paris or Harrods in London. I was proud of seeing my fragrance at Harrods but it got me depressed at the same time. I was thinking about how a fragrance could jump directly into the hands of a client. I’m a big perfume lover, and I can tell that there are many great fragrances at any brand. So how could we stand out from the crowd with our own fragrance? I have no idea. I believe it is the issue of loving the brand. You love it, you love its values and what it conveys, the bottle, and finally you would want to smell it.

– Is marketing everything nowadays?

– Not really. Marketing is what comes after the story of the brand. You should just have a strong story behind it and stand by it. Only then if you are good at marketing you can dress it nicely. But if you don’t have a good story to begin with it might be complicated. For example, I really like the story of Frederic Malle. That’s great. That’s Editeur de Parfums, […] is an editor of books, he was the only one putting the name of the perfumer in front. The story just writes itself. And to this day I don’t think anyone else puts the name of the perfumer on the packaging.  You have to love the brand, understand its values, and then you will smell the perfume. Sometimes there is one or two fragrances that are just incredible. For example, Santal or Le Labo. Nobody knows why. Baccarat or Francis Kurkdjian. However, it took them a while to get there. They’ve been here for several years. And then suddenly you love the brand, make a good work, and they are still there. Then there is one fragrance that skyrockets them to fame. You get there step by step. Just like everything in life works.

– After all, aren’t your fragrances better than other niche brands?

– people have it a bit, some people have more. Somebody asked me, ‘tell me about your perfume, what makes it better than others?’ Thing is, they are not better. They are different but I definitely can’t say that they are better. We do our best, we work with Fabrice Belgrand, the famous nose in France who also worked for Diptyque and KILIAN and he’s from Grasse. His father was also born in Grasse. So as far as the know-how is concerned, we have it.

Which qualities should a fragrance possess?

– First off, on the side we put everything about quality and competence because everybody in the business has it. It should have a character, something different to tell. Just like Santal or Baccarat. They are just different. It’s like when you are cooking and you don’t know what you’re making but in the end the dish turns out really good. A little miracle.I don’t think it would be any good if all the brands were coming to you and saying ‘I want a best seller’. As if I weren’t trying to make one. A perfume should have a spine. All of our perfumes have a spine but maybe one day a new fragrance will have a stronger one.  A perfume doesn’t live on the side. It lives in the general world.  So it has to have a strong spine to fit the current trend and then remain a memorable perfume. I remember when my mother launched Issay Miyake it was niche at the time. No-one could even pronounce the name of the guy. My mother went crazy about that. When minimalism arrived Odissey Pure Water was there at the right moment, a fragrance with a strong spine. I think it’s got a lot to do with the trend, with what’s in the air, and a good quality work behind.

 – Could you please say what the right way to apply a fragrance is? Not many people know it.

Really? I think you should do how you feel. Of course, I wouldn’t put it on my nose or anything. And if I want to smell it during the day I would put it on my hands because the hands move. However, I have no idea what the proper way is.

Иногда хочется нанести больше. Но больше аромата — признак дешевизны. Sometimes I feel like putting on more. More, however, is cheap. If you don’t want to appear cheap you should put on a little. But if I like the smell I want to feel it. There are nice fragrances but if you want people to smell them they need come closer to you and smell your neck. But I like the trail.

– Is it necessary to change the fragrance seasonally?

I think people should do exactly what they want. Me, I like to change them according to my mood. I don’t think we have the same mood in winter and summer. In summer I feel more open and more developed. In winter I would put on a warmer perfume that would be like a second skin.

– Do you usually plan on launching a fragrance during a certain season?

Only one. We have a perfume called Sympathy for the Sun, a homage to the Rolling Stones, which relates to summer because of its name. The story is that back in the 70s the Rolling Stones came to Southern France for a recording session and later they wrote Sympathy For The Devil. That is our homage, so it should be a perfume suitable for the French Riviera. Only that one is seasonal. Otherwise, not so much.

– Coming back to tendencies, is there any trend for the current season?

The trend for today is leather and wood. We have a woody fragrance and we are going to do a leather-based item. This is the first time we are doing it. We have 12 fragrances and we have to think about what we have and what we need to do.

–  Do you have any memorable stories about the perfume industry?

I have a funny one. One of our fragrances is called Bloody Rose and it’s meant for someone who has a lot of character. We told our perfumer the story: it’s a very seductive and dangerous woman. We said she is likely to leave a party with someone else’s husband. He comes back with some trials. We smelled them, and all of them were very heavy. So my mother said, ‘Fabrice, this is a very dangerous woman; she’s wearing a lot of makeup; her mascara is too sharp, and she’s got too much breast. We have a different vision’. Do you know Carla Bruni? Our vision of a dangerous woman is Carla Bruni. She’s very pretty but dangerous so you never know if she’s going to leave with your husband. So could you please go back to your laboratory and work again. That was my funny story. He’s a man and we are women, so we have a completely different vision of what a dangerous woman could be.

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