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A New Fragrance Concept


A New Fragrance Concept

This spring, COTY debuted its first in-house Haute Parfumerie collection of fragrances, INFINIMENT COTY PARIS. The suite of 14 scents marks the house’s 120th anniversary and was created by co-founders Sue Nabi and Nicolas Vu.

The collection of scents features diverse olfactive signatures including Entre Genres, which is rooted in musk; Soleil d’Ikosim, which is full of orange blossom and sweetness; Matin de Jade, with notes of ginger and tea; and Encore Une Fois, boasting amber and vanilla. Nabi and Vu, were inspired by their African and Asian heritages, respectively, reminiscing on childhood moments of joy and wonder. Each scent in the collection is encapsulated in a refillable and stackable bottle accentuated with a spherical top. When put together, they become a glass canvas, where artists have been invited to create work inspired by the collection, in a practice of “artcycling.”


To celebrate the new suite of fragrances and showcase the bottle’s unique design, INFINIMENT COTY PARIS invited several artists to create artworks on and with the stacked bottles. In partnership with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, in London, Marrakech, and recently New York, they’ve exhibited pieces by talented artists Isabelle D, Evans Mbugua, Deborah Segun, Francisco Vidal, Younes Khourassani, Ousmane Niang, Saïdou Dicko, Thandiwe Muriu, Mous Lamrabat, Emo de Meideros, and Willys Kezi Niangi.

Whitewall recently spoke with Nabi and Vu about the launch of “INFINIMENT COTY PARIS,” how art brings soul to luxury, and how to achieve love at first smell.

WHITEWALL: “INFINIMENT COTY PARIS” launches at the time of the 120th anniversary for COTY. What was the starting point for this collection?

SUE NABI: Nicolas and I have been friends for over 20 years, and when I was working at L’Oréal he told me to contact him if I ever left the corporate world, because he wanted to combine our talents and passion for beauty to create something together. So, when I left, I gave him a call. I think that was the right moment.

NICOLAS VU: We wrote down several ideas on scraps of paper, and one of them was about concentrated skincare that works with your skin and not against it, which was the inspiration for Orveda skincare. Our second idea was about how science could make perfumes more qualitative and long-lasting to remain true to what they are throughout the day.

SN: When I arrived at COTY, I presented our fragrance project to the chairman of our board, Peter Harf, and he said, “Why don’t you launch your fragrance collection under the Coty name? Coty is an iconic name since 1904, and your project is the Coty of tomorrow.” It was a natural next step for us to launch “INFINIMENT COTY PARIS” on our 120th anniversary.

INFINIMENT COTY PARIS Artwork by Mous Lamrabat.

INFINIMENT COTY PARIS as a New Paradigm in Fragrance

WW: What were you seeing or not seeing in the fragrance world that you wanted to emulate or disrupt?

NV: Before “INFINIMENT COTY PARIS,” many people were complaining that when they sprayed their perfume, it would smell good in the morning, but by the end of the day it had either gone or wasn’t the same scent at all. So, I thought, “How can we make the magic of the evaporation of a fragrance consistent?”

SN: Then, when the pandemic hit and I joined COTY as the CEO, I was introduced to the first COTY fragrance, La Rose Jacqueminot, which dated back to 1904. It was the first fragrance created using natural and synthetic ingredients. And the purpose of the synthetic ingredients weren’t to make it smell better, they were used to make it last longer—exactly what we were looking for. So, instead of creating a brand from scratch, we adopted the name COTY. This choice aligned perfectly with the story we envisioned and reflects the innovative technology COTY had been developing almost exclusively in the beauty world for years. It’s the collaboration between Nicolas, myself, and the perfume creative team at COTY that allowed this disruptive idea to come to life.

“When I select a scent, it’s an instant love at first smell,”

—Nicolas Vu

WW: How did you arrive at a collection of 14, rather than one or just a handful?

NV: When I select a scent, it’s an instant love at first smell, or it isn’t. I really need to fall in love immediately. Initially, we wanted to launch 30 fragrances because we truly had 30 fragrances we loved. When we consulted COTY’s experts around the world, they recommended we initially start with a smaller collection of five or six. But we thought five or six was really too difficult to narrow down. Eventually, we decided on 14.

SN: I think if you only make one fragrance, you have to make a lot of compromises to cater to everyone’s taste. That’s traditionally the perfume business, but if you really want to cater to very different tastes—like Noir Encens, which is very dark, it’s incense, et cetera, or something very bright like J’ai Trois Amours or Soleil d’Ikosim—you need a variety, designed for very different, distinct people who wear these fragrances.

INFINIMENT COTY PARIS Artwork by Deborah Segun, courtesy of INFINIMENT COTY PARIS.

Creating a New Technology at COTY, Molecular Aura

WW: The two of you had previously worked together with Orveda. When you joined COTY, R&D had been working on a concept of Molecular Aura. What excited you about this new technology?

SN: When I joined COTY, we discovered COTY had a molecule that allows control over how the different ingredients evaporate. Instead of having a traditional pyramid fragrance molecule, where you have the top notes, then the heart notes, then the base notes, we have more or less a sphere in which everything evaporates at the same rate in all directions at the same time. So, we asked ourselves, “How can we move from a pyramid to a sphere?” And that was a kind of revelation, the missing part of the concept.

“Perfume is the most incredible beauty category because it’s the only one that directly addresses your brain and triggers emotions,”

— Sue Nabi

WW: You worked with scientists to make sure these scents trigger our emotional centers. Can you tell us more about that? The science behind it, as well as why that was important for you?

SN: Perfume is the most incredible beauty category because it’s the only one that directly addresses your brain and triggers emotions. The “INFINIMENT COTY PARIS” collection conveys a variety of positive emotions that we have been able to measure using strong neuroscience expertise.

NV: Each fragrance is linked to a specific emotion, acting as an emotion generator. By combining different techniques, verbal and nonverbal, we were able to analyze what consumers say, but also how they say it, and understand what emotions are elicited by our fragrances. The emotions include sensuality, pleasure, tenderness, self-esteem, and more. For instance, we found that when people smell Soleil d’Ikosim, it activates areas of the brain related to tenderness and pleasure. Aristo Chypre evokes either sensuality or self-esteem. It all depends on cultural background, of course; results in Europe and China can be different. It shows that fragrance is also a deeply cultural experience.


INFINIMENT COTY PARIS is a Collection of Scents That Trigger Emotions

WW: What emotions did you want to ignite and tap into?

SN: The main emotions induced by the collection are positive emotions divided into seven families: awakening, self-esteem, tenderness, sensuality, relaxation, fun, and pleasure. Each creation stimulates its own unique combinations. For l’Amour Pourpre, we wanted to ignite seduction as it is a really sensual fragrance, while J’ai Trois Amours is all about joy.

“I wanted it to remind me of Algiers, where I grew up, to remind me of all the cooking my mother did,”

—Sue Nabi

WW: Scent is such a powerful sense. We know it’s our strongest link to memory. Are there scents for each of you personally that have a special memory tied to them?

NV: Each fragrance in the collection tells a story, encapsulating our inspirations, convictions, experiences, and roots. These scents were created as personal messages, whose values could resonate with us all.

SN: When we created Soleil d’Ikosim, I wanted it to smell like the garden of my childhood: a perfume that smells like an orchard of orange blossoms; specifically, the orange blossoms juice my mother used in her cooking when we lived in Algiers. My childhood home was completely surrounded by orange trees. That is where I spent my teenage years until I was 17. I wanted it to remind me of Algiers, where I grew up, to remind me of all the cooking my mother did, especially her pastries, by putting whole splashes of orange flower water. That’s how Soleil d’Ikosim was born, as Ikosim is one of the antique names of Algiers.

INFINIMENT COTY PARIS Artwork by Younes Khourassani.

WW: Sustainability is an important aspect of the design behind and making of “INFINIMENT COTY PARIS.” Can you tell us about your approach to sustainability and how that is unique to the world of fragrance?

NV: This collection is the first collection entirely manufactured with 100 percent alcohol derived from upcycled carbon emissions. No colorant, no unnecessary chemicals. As such, each elixir is colored by the sum of its ingredients, which evolve over time within a bottle containing a blend of only four elements: concentrated fragrance, purified water, carbon captured alcohol, and Molecular Aura.

WW: How did that influence the bottle design?

SN: The best sustainability is something that doesn’t end up in the trash. When you start recycling, it’s already a sign that you’re dealing with something disposable. Disposable items are something we’re all trying to combat. So we designed our bottle to be refillable. You can buy your recharge and refill your bottle at home. It is really an object for you to keep. We also worked on a minimalist case that fits exactly into the shape of the bottle and is actually a case that isn’t thrown away either. This means that the day you have your perfume, you’ll carry it around like that in your toiletry bag or suitcase. It protects it like an iPhone case.

INFINIMENT COTY PARIS Artwork by Thandiwe Muriu.

WW: How did you arrive at the idea of the bottle design not only being refillable but stackable?

SN: From the beginning, Nicolas wanted to create a glass canvas with the bottles. It was the starting point. Nicolas is good with shapes, so I asked him to imagine the bottle. He came up with the shape of an “I”: the “I” for “I am,” me, myself. But he also said he didn’t want a simple bottle. He wanted a bottle that could be stacked on top of each other to become a canvas.

NV: They all stack on top of each other. And the back face was a real challenge with the glassmaker. It had to be 100 percent flat to become a canvas, a glass canvas, a painter’s canvas.

INFINIMENT COTY PARIS “Each piece is a unique interpretation of the fragrances in the collection,”
Artwork by Evans Mbugua.

“”Each piece is a unique interpretation of the fragrances in the collection,””

A New Concept in Sustainability: ArtCycling

WW: Tell us about this concept of artcycling and how you came to the idea of creating a canvas and glass for artists to work with?

NV: The packaging is exactly how I envisioned it. Initially, we wanted to create packaging that could be stacked, and then have artists come and create artworks on them. In collaboration with the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, we invite artists to freely interpret each fragrance of the collection using our stackable bottles as the canvas to create their pieces on. The bottle becomes a medium of artistic expression.

SN: We have collaborated with artists such as Isabelle D, Evans Mbugua, Deborah Segun, Francisco Vidal, Younes Khourassani, Ousmane Niang, Saïdou Dicko, Thandiwe Muriu, Mous Lamrabat, Emo de Medeiros, Willys Kezi Niangi, and Victor Fidelis. Each piece is a unique interpretation of the fragrances in the collection.

“Art gives soul to luxury,”

—Nicolas Vu
INFINIMENT COTY PARIS Artwork by Francisco Vidal.

WW: What is the relationship each of you has to contemporary art?

NV: Art gives soul to luxury. Originally, I was more into sound because I come from music. Visual art came later as I began to appreciate and understand what artists were doing.

SN: In making perfume and creating Orveda, we ultimately understood that we were doing the same thing, creating things of beauty and meaning.

WW: Do you see a visual connection to fragrance?

SN: I would say emotions and memories are how contemporary art and fragrance connect creatively. The collection’s campaign evokes a garden of giant flower chimeras that you can smell in stores like our boutique in Paris— rue des Blancs-Manteaux—offering extraordinary embodiments of each fragrance. In an interplay of dualities and contrasts, each visual is a chimera composed from an atypical combination of elements: ethereal flowers and spun sugar; slender stems and crystal bubbles . . .

NV: These fuse together in a unique harmony of saturated tones, each revealing a new emotion and a different experience. Each chimera is designed by botanical artist Garance du Nord and captured by photographer Inès Dieleman. For me, they captured and translated scents into images.

Artwork by Isabelle D.



The co-founders debut “INFINIMENT COTY PARIS,” a suite of 14 new fragrances that evoke emotions, encapsulated in reusable, sustainable, and stackable glass bottles.
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