Meet the Man Who Bottled the Scent of Leather and Made It Sound Romantic

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton
Jacques Cavallier Belletrud

Louis Vuitton's new perfumier is basically a poet.

He may be the master of creating world-renowned fragrances (think: Giorgio Armani’s Acqua di Gio), but that’s not all Jacques Cavallier Belletrud can do. Turns out the 54-year-old is a master storyteller, too.

During a presentation to introduce Louis Vuitton's seven new perfumes — the brand's first new fragrances in nearly 90 years — on the rooftop of the brand's Rodeo Drive flagship on Wednesday afternoon, Belletrud charmed guests with a detailed explanation of his high-tech extraction technique (a liquid CO2 extraction system exclusive to the French brand, to be precise), his top-secret technology for achieving that perfect Louis Vuitton-leather scent and the lengths he went to in order to find the most exquisite all-natural ingredients for the collection. (For the top-selling Matiere Noire, for example, Belletrud used Agarwood — the extract of which is culled from the dust of mushroom-infected trees in Laos that must be infected for a minimum of 25 years.)


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“One day in my garden, I was with my father and we were walking,” he began of how the tuberose-heavy Turbulences scent came to be. “I have two thousand pounds of jasmine and one thousand pounds of tuberose in different parts of the garden. We were crossing the garden at midnight together, and the smell of the jasmine was mixing with the smell of the tuberose. The smell of the two… you know, nature sometimes offers the best inspiration.”

Belletrud continued the story, which was made all the more charming by the fact that he comes from a long line of perfumiers, “So the two of us were together and just surprised by the smell, and my father leaned over and he says, ‘I’m 80 years old and I have been smelling the flowers for 65 years, but this is a beautiful smell. The mix of the two is perfect.’ So, I put the smell in my head, and then I put it in a bottle.”

Each of the seven scents (Rose des Vents, Turbulences, Dans la Peau, Apogee, Contre Moi, Matiere Noire and Mille Feux, now available only at Louis Vuitton boutiques and a few pop-up stores for $240 per 100-milliliter bottle) features a rose base, which also brought to Belletrud’s mind another (very French) anecdote about his mother applying rose oil to his face when he was a child. Several of the scents also include hints of jasmine, which Belletrud notes smells different at all parts of the day ("I left my house at 5:30 the other morning — the fragrance was particularly sensual").

The bottom line? Belletrud is a man who understands that fragrances are more than a list of ingredients; they are emotions. And we'll take a bottle of that anytime.

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