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Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud witnessed the most serene sunset while headed to Malibu for a meal at Nobu. Many of us might grab our phones and snap a picture to make the moment last. But for Louis Vuitton’s master perfumer, moments like those are fruitful fodder to create a brand-new fragrance.
When he returned to Grasse to Louis Vuitton’s Les Fontaines Parfumées, Cavallier-Belletrud got busy translating the feeling of a California sunset into a scent. The result, California Dream, joins Sun Song, Cactus Garden, and Afternoon Swim in the house’s “Les Colognes” collection. The sensorial journey moves from a citrusy mist to florals, fruit, and musk—warmth and richness in colors fading slowly to the cool evening. “I find the sunset very moving,” says Cavallier-Belletrud in a statement. “When I see the sun evaporate into the spellbinding cloak of night, I envision it shining on another part of the world.”
The dreamy, elusive perfume is presented in a bold bottle and packaging designed by Alex Israel. Having previously collaborated with the Los Angeles–based artist on a collection of accessories, this is the first time Louis Vuitton has tapped an artist to work on a fragrance bottle.
In the spring, Whitewall caught up with the master perfumer to learn more about creating emotions in others.
WHITEWALL: How did you arrive at the idea for California Dream, wanting to capture the feeling of a sunset?
JACQUES CAVALLIER-BELLETRUD: I love California, and more than that I love Los Angeles. I was in Los Angeles on my way to Malibu to the restaurant Nobu, and the sunset was just perfect—a mix of blue from the ocean and the sky and the pink coming from the night. There was a magical feeling of eternity. I promised myself then I would capture this moment and translate it in a perfume.WW: How does California Dream complement the “Les Colognes” collection of Sun Song, Cactus Garden, and Afternoon Swim?
California Dream is the complement of the concept of Cologne Perfumes at Louis Vuitton, making the freshness lasting all day on skin through captivating white musk and benzoin balsam.
WW: Travel is at the heart of Louis Vuitton, and therefore Louis Vuitton parfums. What role did travel play in creating California Dream?
JCB: Travel is at the heart of my creations at Louis Vuitton. Raw materials are making a journey all around the world as they come from many parts of the planet. For California Dream, I spent some time in Los Angeles in order to catch the perfume of the air and then back to Grasse to put it in a bottle.
WW: How do you want to transport us with this scent?
JCB: Imagination can be stimulated by scents and perfumes. California Dream creates smile, joy, and self-confidence, just as a day in California for the holidays might.
WW: What kind of memory and feeling do you hope to evoke?
JCB: Like in California, feeling good in your body, your brain, and emotions.
WW: What do you enjoy about translating emotions into perfumes?
JCB: I enjoy very much creating emotions in others. Like other artists, I love to show what it is so emotional in life.
WW: Is there a note, ingredient, or combination that would surprise us in this scent?
JCB: The massive use of natural mandarin from Italy combined with the soft benzoin balsam is very unique.
WW: How did you collaborate with artist Alex Israel on the creation of the fragrance bottle?
JCB: Alex is a great artist. I admire him and his work, that was evident coming from his creation. He knows that I love the way he creates contrasts in colors—we have the same approach in creation.
WW: Can you share a favorite memory of a sunset?
JCB: A sunset shared with my wife at the Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica.