In time for Canada Day, Atelier Cologne, the niche fragrance house that was just (breaking news alert!) acquired by L’Oréal, has launched a new scent in collaboration with Sephora Canada. Citron d’Erable, a limited-edition scent inspired by maple syrup, is the fifth launch in Collection Azur, the range of colognes absolue celebrating regions “where sea and sky become one.”
The fragrance features a sunny burst of lemon and mandarin, while the illusion of maple syrup is recreated with a sandalwood-based accord, crafted by the brand. The sticky-sweet ingredient is a nod to temps de sucres, the tradition of collecting maple-tree sap in the Great Lakes region. Finally, the scent finishes with notes of maple wood, sequoia and cedar wood.
At the recent press launch in Toronto, Cosmetics asked Atelier Cologne co-founder Sylvie Ganter for the backstory on the exclusive-to-Canada perfume.
How did this collaboration come about? The Sephora Canada team approached us in September, saying they were working on a Toronto takeover—opening new stores and refurbishing stores. They wanted a big focus on the city, and there’s also a big focus on Canada from the Sephora corporate team; they wanted us to celebrate that with a creation. [From a creative standpoint] it was a lot of work, but it was so much fun to really dive into Canada.
Why did you choose maple syrup as the heart of the scent? Our first idea was to have this launch be a part of Collection Azur, which is already a Sephora exclusive. [But to fit into the concept of that range], I was like, we have to be by the sea! So we started looking at geography. Canada has the Great Lakes region, so we looked at what was growing there, and we had different ideas of where we could go [with the scent]. One was very icy, so we worked on something with red berries. Then there was the maple syrup direction, which seems so much more like [Canada]. It’s more joyful, livelier.
How did you develop the maple syrup accord? One key ingredient we used to recreate the scent was sandalwood, because it’s naturally creamy and almost smells like caramel. It almost has that sugar-sweet taste, so it was a big component. Then we brightened it with lemon, which is not part of the maple syrup [accord], but we used it to break through the thickness and stickiness.
Was developing a scent for Canada different from creating for other markets?
It always starts with—this might be a strong word—the soul. When we create a product, it’s never so much about why the product exists, but rather what we want to tell with the product: what’s the story? It helps us tremendously to imagine the story, then turn it into an image. So we do big mood boards, finding ingredients that come together visually and olfactively. This one was very focused on the Canadian story and the Canadian ingredients, but the process we went through was very similar to what we go through when we create in general. However, because we wanted the ingredients to come from here, it was almost like the scope of possibility was reduced. It narrowed down the possibilities. So at the same time that creating is about choices, it sort of made the choices for us.