Perfumer - Creator - Founder of Perfume Manufacture Les Eaux Primordiales

Arnaud Poulain (age 36) is no doubt one of the most extraordinary perfume creators of his generation. A ‘scent mechanic’ as he describes himself. Nothing predestined this science, cosmology, and mechanical engineering buff, to become a perfumer, yet he thrived in creating rare and precious fragrances, that are just as unconventional as his career path.

“ We create with what exists, but we invent with our dreams. ”

—Arnaud Poulain

Where does your love for perfumes come from?

Arnaud Poulain : " It goes way back. My path has been quite unusual. I’m not exactly part of the club shall we say... To begin with, I was a hyperactive, rebellious child, a bit of a dreamer. I studied electrical engineering and industrial mechanics, then I worked in ice-cream production. Through a chance encounter, I discovered perfumes, and I was instantly attracted. I was a total stranger to this world, coming from an agricultural background in the Nord region of France. I then began training at Cinquième Sens in Paris, a school that is renowned for its expertise in perfumery. There I met Amélie Bourgeois (Studio Flair), my instructor who became my mentor and still guides me in the technical development of my perfumes today. "

What does a perfume represent for you?

"For me, perfume is more of a delight than a luxury. When we breathe, we smell. Without thinking. Because our sense of smell, unlike the other senses, is the only one that is always active. And the power of scents is fascinating. They are central in our communication with others, in our emotional lives in general and our sexuality in particular. Without scent, there is no happiness. To wear a perfume is to express it. To choose a perfume is to express yourself. Inevitably, the perfumes I create say something about the person that wears them."

Crocus Supercritique
Couleur Primaire

A perfume maker’s talent?

"Imagining the scent that they want to give to their perfume. Before creating this or that fragrance, a (good) perfumer already knows exactly what it will smell like. Everything starts with a dream. My guides are Serge Lutens and Jean-Claude Ellena (...). After significant experience in independent perfumery, particularly at Byredo, I created ‘Les Eaux Primordiales’ in 2015. It is a traditional, family, and visionary perfume manufacture that aims to enhance everyday life and make it more enchanting. I established it on a 14-ha property with a stately home in Acq, near Arras, which used to belong to the Compagnie Charbonnière des Hauts-De-France. I got inspiration for the name from Jules Vernes’ ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’, Les Eaux Primoridales were the first traces of life on Earth. Each of the fragrances I create echoes my great interest in science. ‘Particules Imprévisibles’, ‘Moment Perpétuel’, ‘Mémoire du Futur’, ‘Mécanique Intuitive’, ‘Abstraction Raisonnée’... My perfumes are made using craftsmanship that is 100% made in France, and a unique process: allowing the perfume to macerate (in a controlled atmosphere) in a tank for a year. This allows the perfume to leave a lasting trail, a mark of quality. From the creation of the concentrate to bottling, the manufacture is the base of the whole process. I would tend to say that here, each step that leads to the birth of a perfume is the result of high-precision mechanics."

What about Les Eaux Primordiales fragrances?

"They come in three collections: ‘Supercritique’ that highlights flowers, mimosa, rose, gardenia, etc.; ‘Superfluide’ that places the focus on spices, resins, and precious woods; and ‘Superclassique’. The latter embodies a certain vision of perfume, both modern and timeless, inspired by great classics in French haute perfumery. It revisits formulas to bring a new radiance full of audacity and innovation. Today, my catalogue includes over 25 high-end fragrances, distributed selectively in 18 countries, including Belgium through Senteurs d’Ailleurs. "

Your latest creation?

"Cèdre Superfluide. Notes of rose and immortelle, an aromatic heart of blue cedar from the Atlas and velvety plum, vanilla, and saffron base notes. A charismatic, classy juice, as powerful as it is sophisticated. Cedar is a difficult raw material to work with, but its character brings smoky, camphor notes that bring strength and elegance to each fragrance. ‘Superfluide’ because it has a strong power of attraction. Roughly speaking, creating a perfume like this one represents two year’s work. "

What is your response to the never-ending debate of which is best: natural or synthetic?

"I’d say that synthetic molecules in perfumery are like electronics in a car: an essential component. Personally, I always use wonderful natural materials, from the best sources, to which I add techniques and a modern touch with synthetics. The word "synthetic" is certainly not a dirty word! "

Where do you get your inspiration?

"My inspiration is mainly visual. A painting in a museum. Architecture. A book... But especially an olfactory interpretation of a dream I’ve had. A fantasy scent. "

A legendary perfume?

"Jicky by Guerlain. A legend. Its scent is abstract and marks the birth of French high perfumery. It came to be in 1889, so it’s fair to say that its longevity is exemplary. While women were puzzled by Jicky when it was created, it was immediately adopted by men. Such diversity is both visionary and contemporary. "

Posted in: Parfum