Lubna Al Nuaimi
The house «Hermès» opened its first shop dedicated to perfume and make-up, in «Riyadh Park». The shop, located on the ground floor, has a wide façade, revealing a bright and luxurious setting, which allows the discovery of the “Hermès” sections of perfumes and cosmetics. Zahrat Al Khaleej has been talking about this new store since 2015 with Agnès de Villers, President and CEO of Hermès Parfums:
• What about the first perfume and beauty shop in Saudi Arabia, in terms of: location, interior design and colors?
– Because it is our first store in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and it is the symbol; We wanted to create something very special and unique for the region. We have had our architectural agency “RDAI” which has been designing all our stores for over 40 years. The architect and his team visited the AlUla site and said it was impressive, and decided to design a real mix of the Paris house, but it met the desert scene, and the light The sun in Saudi Arabia. This is the reason behind the color palette, which revolves around sandy honey, and amber colors that you do not find in other Hermès stores. Also, cedar wood was chosen, not oak trees, which we use more frequently in France. It is a complete painting, amidst the meeting of the two cultures, in a warm, welcoming and attractive environment. We also wanted to offer the full fragrance experience to the store visitor. We have created enough space to display all the fragrance creations at Hermès since the 1950s. There is Eau d’Hermès, which was the first Hermès perfume. It is a historical monument to the perfume, and now the Hermessence collection. What we also want to show is the way we interpret the very strong perfume culture in the region, and I would say that the Arab culture around perfume is perhaps also the most knowledgeable and daring.
Are there certain perfumes and cosmetics you would like to display in the “Boutique”?
– We decided to present the fragrance “Agar Ebène”, which emerged among the fragrances created by Christine Nagel in the “Hermessence” collection, since its creation in 2018. It was clear that we associate this limited edition, which sheds light on the exceptional art of Arabic calligraphy, with one of the most famous perfumes in the world. Our collection, the composition of which includes some of the most well-known materials, including agar wood found in the Middle East. We chose the artist, Muhammad Mandi Al-Tamimi, and collaborated with him on this project, and a wonderful poem by Emirati poet Rashid Al-Khobar; In honor of the region, and respect for it. We wanted to do something very real, and we are very proud of our calligraphy, and even more happy; Because it is engraved with leaf gold placed by artisans.
• There are those who change their perfume as well as their clothes, and who stick to their perfume, or choose it according to their mood. How do you see it all?
– I think it’s completely different from one person to another. In the past, it was very common for people to have one perfume in their entire life as their signature. I will tell you about this incident, which happened to me, I met friends in Italy, and there was a woman in the room, and she said to me: ‘I can not smell Calèche without crying; Because it was my mother’s perfume. The scent is wonderful and sensual, and when we talk about transference and memory, it is very strong; So your family smells like your mom, dad. What I love about our way of creativity is that we create and think of the strong scent of people dying their whole lives, or perhaps wanting to change, and so on. But it is true that people – nowadays – change their scents more.
• You have introduced new hair perfumes .. what about them?
– In fact, the hair perfume project was inspired by the region; Because when we met all these women of the region, they told us we like to play with perfume, not only with ordinary perfumes, but we like oils, talc, and also to put perfume on the hair . Some women apply perfume directly to their hair, but this is not good; Because perfume is a bit “aggressive” on the hair. Therefore; We decided to develop a supernatural formula, which contains more than 90% of natural ingredients and fragrances, and thought it would be a good idea to start with: “Twilly” and “Eau des Merveilles”; These are very nice fragrances on hair. This was the first step, and we may be able to develop another hair spray.
• It usually happens that a woman uses her perfume; Based on the desire of others or her partner .. What do you think?
– I think the choice of flavor is very personal; A woman is unique. In the end, even if she chooses a fragrance that impresses others, she can not choose something she does not really like. She may want to impress someone, but it’s always something that means a lot to her, and that’s her personal choice.
• What do you think of unisex perfumes? Are there certain Hermes perfumes that fall into this category?
– We at Hermès do not talk about generations; Because we think the scent is above it. Take for example what Christine Nagel says that men in the area here wear very nice rose scents. We do not want to categorize; Because we believe that perfume is a personal choice, and the most important thing is that it is a good perfume.
• Customers trust Hermes and are eager to purchase its products. How do you feel about this responsibility, and how do you continue to be at the forefront?
– you are right; This house is 200 years old. From the beginning, high quality was the top priority, quality of materials, honesty in what you do, and to do your best; This is the long-term method. That’s why we have so many loyal customers, they are never disappointed; Because everything we do is of the same level and dedication, especially in the field of perfume; Because the scent comes at the front of the house. We sell our perfume in almost 100 countries of the world, while “Hermès” is present in only 50 countries, perfume is – in a way – the most democratic standard of the house. So, the responsibility is great, but – for example – we are very happy here, and proud of this store; Because it’s a bit like having a faubourg saint-honoré here, all the details, everything is made the “Hermès” way, and I have to say that we are not alone in this project, but we work together with the team of Faisal Al-Malki, they are committed to our firm core values.