Two decades after the launch of For Her — a scent that changed the landscape of modern perfumery, Narciso Rodriguez is hailing a new era of perfumery with All of Me. The fragrance, which strives to reinterpret femininity for a whole new generation, is inspired by the free-spirited woman who is able to confidently embrace all that makes them unique.
Narciso Rodriguez’s vision for All of Me stayed the same throughout its conception: a floral with a uniquely captivating trail. He kept returning to the idea of the rose, saying “‘I kept dreaming of a rose – the most beautiful rose, yet an abstract rose.” He then recruited renowned female perfumers Dora Baghriche and Daphné Bugey to craft the fragrance while being inextricably involved himself. The result is a true reinterpretation of the rose scent for the women of today.
Below, see a Q&A with perfumers Daphné Bugey and Dora Baghriche:
All of Me represents a completely new chapter for Narciso Rodriguez fragrances. How did it feel to be involved in creating something entirely new for the brand?
Dora: The fashion and fragrance of Narciso Rodriguez go far beyond trends. There is something timeless yet also modern, in his creations – something authentic and created to sublimate all women. This is the case in his couture, as much as in his fragrances. for her has a very special place in perfumery as it has renewed chypre perfumes with this subtle, musky character. It was a challenge to create a new pillar – it was fascinating and exciting because Narciso has a purist vision, but he is also very open. We worked very closely with him, and these moments were very precious – not just for the creation itself, but also from a human-connection perspective. We knew that it was going to be a really enriching collaboration. We wanted to create something new and authentic, just like for her twenty years ago.
Daphné: At the first meeting, we were both very studious. It’s not every day you meet an icon like Narciso Rodriguez. When we started talking about perfumes with him, it was clear that we were not only dealing with a passionate person but a real connoisseur of fragrance. When we talked about the core idea around the geranium, he immediately liked the young and wild side of the note. At the next meeting, we realized how involved he was, and how seriously he took the project. He was constantly wearing the different fragrance submissions to immerse himself in the creative process. He gave us constructive feedback to move forward. Working so closely with a fashion designer and having these direct exchanges is very rare in our job as perfumers, so we felt very lucky.
What was the inspiration and the starting point for All of Me?
Dora: My desire was to transcend the codes of perfumery in a deeply modern way. We took a quintessentially masculine ingredient – geranium – and turned it into a bold, feminine note. I wanted to reinvent the conventional idea of a floral fragrance using geranium, because it has a natural olfactory bridge with rose, which is an ingredient particularly cherished by Narciso. The geranium facet has a wildness that is tamed by the rose accord, transforming this traditionally masculine ingredient into something powerfully feminine.
Daphné: My vision of narciso rodriguez is that it is an eminently feminine house, which translates into fragrance as a captivating softness and sensuality. I had worked on the idea of a very faceted rose – very sensual with a musky and sandalwood dimension. Geranium, with its aromatic profile, is usually reserved for men’s fragrance compositions. My idea was to tame its wild character with this beautiful and timeless rose accord to feminize this masculine ingredient and create a pure and elegant feminine signature.
What kind of woman do you envisage wearing all of me, and how does she differ from the for her and NARCISO woman?
Dora & Daphné: This perfume is for a woman who chooses her perfume for herself, above all. Fragrance for her is an intimate and personal signature. She doesn’t try to be like everyone else – she is first and foremost herself, completely unconditionally.
How would you describe All of Me in three words?
Dora: I think it would be bold, blooming and captivating.
What do you think is special about All of Me?
Dora: all of me is a floral unlike any other, even though the floral family is such a big category in perfumery. The duet of rose and geranium – a combination that has never been used before in this concentration – is what makes this perfume so distinctive and special. It is a unique feminine geranium. And finally, there is an extremely modern cream-of-musc heart, which has a unique milky quality.
Daphné: We wanted a constant, comforting fragrance that hides nothing and reveals itself as it is from the very first moment you spray it. What is most special about this fragrance is that you can smell each ingredient from the beginning to the end – even the muscs, which are often relegated to the base notes. In all of me, the muscs express their voice immediately, which is quite unique. all of me reveals a new femininity: it is an encounter between the strength and boldness of geranium, together with the softness and timeless femininity of the rose.
All of Me celebrates individuality and the many facets that make us who we are. How does the fragrance express this idea?
Dora and Daphné: all of me has a myriad of facets, like each of us. It is a strong signature that has a powerful voice and asserts its singularity with the geranium, creating an element of surprise in a deeply feminine composition. It shakes up the codes of perfumery by taking new directions and exploring the unknown. We were inspired by the plurality of this woman – bold, very feminine with the rose and sensual with the muscs.
All of Me is a ‘reinvented floral’. How does the fragrance reimagine florals for a new generation?
Daphné: all of me proposes a new rose and it is a real challenge of creation. Rose has been explored so much in perfumery – there are already a thousand and one rose fragrances on the market, so how do you reinvent this floral family? By fusing it with geranium, we have forged a new path for Narciso Rodriguez. We selected a geranium that comes from the island of Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, for its olfactory profile that is much fruitier and more floral. It already has facets that are reminiscent of rose, so there is a natural olfactory connection between these two ingredients. Indeed, when the essence of geranium leaves is extracted, it diffuses rosy notes. This symbiosis of these two beautiful ingredients creates an olfactory tension, that reinvents the codes of feminine floral fragrance.
How would you describe the olfactory composition of All of Me? Can you explain the structure of the fragrance in detail?
Dora: all of me revolves around a floral geranium-rose accord surrounded by a heart of addictive milky muscs and woody notes that extend its long-lasting effect. What is really special is the trail that is so soft and yet so powerful. This strength, this lasting impression is worked into an olfactory structure, in which the floral notes are supported by the creamy muscs from the very opening of the perfume.
Rose Centifolia is key to the fragrance and is used in different forms in the composition. Can you tell us more about this ingredient and what each form brings to all of me?
Daphné: The geranium is the central element of the perfume but it is infused in the rose. The rose is applied in plenty of small touches of different tonalities, like an impressionist painting. We crafted for narciso rodriguez a unique blend of the most precious of all roses, the centifolia rose, with three distinct but complementary qualities to texturize the fragrance. First, there is the ‘rose petal’ accord, which is is fresh and luminous – very close to the smell of the freshly picked flower. The rose infusion is a little greener and spicier – it brings a contrasting and sparkling touch. It starts lighter in the top notes of the fragrance, but at the same time it is enveloping. I compare it to a patina, like a finishing touch that infuses everything. Creating a chiaroscuro effect with the infusion, the rose centifolia is finally expressed in the absolute – rich, honeyed, powerful and almost animalic – to sensualize the trail.
Musc is the iconic signature of narciso rodriguez fragrances. How did you reinterpret this to create a new heart of musc for All of Me?
Dora: Muscs are part of the olfactory DNA of the narciso rodriguez brand. We wanted to reinvent this signature, so the musc heart was worked into the perfume with a milky, very creamy dimension. I like to evoke the idea of a ‘cream of musc’.
Daphné: The muscs are also expressed in contrast – they are revealed with complementary sensual notes, thanks to Ambrox® Super and Dreamwood™, which are both biotech ingredients. Ambrox® Super is very sensual – musky with a touch of animality, while Dreamwood™ has a creamy sandalwood scent. These beautiful ingredients bring a skin-like quality and a carnal dimension to the muscs.
The fragrance uses 88% ingredients of natural origin. Why was naturality so important for the composition of All of Me?
Dora: In our commitment to create more responsibly, ingredients of natural origin have a crucial role in making the perfumer’s palette more mindful. In my opinion, it is not a question of percentage natural or synthetic – eco-social responsibility goes beyond that. For example, we have opted for an ingredient derived from biotechnology, called Dreamwood™. It is a sublime, milky sandalwood scent, which provides an alternative to natural Indian sandalwood – the overexploitation of which endangers certain soils, causing deforestation. We also use Sandalwood Album essence from Australia. To create this beautiful essence, Firmenich has selected a plantation in a sustainable way, who grow sandalwood by replanting trees whenever they cut them. For the geranium, it is a quality called ‘Bourbon’. This quality is the most premium quality of geranium and the most cherished by perfumers for its olfactive properties, which are more floral and feminine than the classic geranium. It is a fragile plant that requires unique craftsmanship to be harvested by hand. We partner with a female-led local co-operative on Réunion Island. Firmenich works in close collaboration with this community of women who grow these splendid leaves, helping them by improving the quality of life of women at work.
Daphné: For this creation, the muscs have also been carefully chosen. Firmenich is historically known for the high quality of its muscs and has been committed to transforming its palette for several years now, so that its molecules minimize the environmental impact This innovative palette allowed us to compose a vegan, eco-designed fragrance for narciso rodriguez, with a high percentage of natural origin ingredients and synthetics from green chemistry.
There is a perception that natural fragrances do not have longevity on the skin. Is this true, and how did you ensure good staying power when creating All of Me?
Daphné: A perfume is a combination of natural and synthetic ingredients. Each brings something and is essential to the beauty of the fragrance. Naturals and synthetics, together, are a matter of alchemy and harmony. You need both to create a beautiful, powerful and lasting fragrance.
Can you tell us about the responsible sourcing of the ingredients of All of Me?
Dora and Daphné: Firmenich has been implementing numerous more eco-responsible sourcing programs for many years and has considerably expanded its palette of fair-trade raw materials. For almost all ingredients, we now have more responsible alternatives and tools that allow us to ensure traceability. Because it was as important to us as it was to Narciso, we monitored the environmental and social impact of the fragrance throughout the formulation process. Geranium has been sourced mainly from China and Egypt for the past 50 years – to the detriment of the Bourbon Geranium, which was highly prized in the 19th century but offers a lower yield. Réunion Island has been particularly affected by the climate and financial crises in recent years, and because of their high cost, its traditional essential oils – vanilla, vetiver, ylang and geranium – have been abandoned in favor of agricultural crops, sometimes to the detriment of the working conditions of farmers. With this focus on sustainability and responsibility, we turned to a local cooperative, the CAHEB. Because the cultivation of geranium is mainly a female job, this co-operative ensures a fair wage to the women who grow this prized plant. The partnership also sustains this local industry in the face of climatic challenges, by building anti-cyclonic and agrivoltaic shelters to protect crops.
How did you collaborate to work on the fragrance together? How did the process work?
Dora & Daphné: Our collaboration was very fluid – there is a real artistic and human complicity between us. Like our two central ingredients, geranium and rose, we have a beautiful complementary relationship, and we like to push each other to go further. Maybe this fragrance – at the same time strong and soft – resembles the two of us!
How does your individual approach as perfumers differ, and what different qualities did your individual styles as perfumers bring to All of Me?
Daphné: Dora brought the idea of the geranium – a strong ingredient of masculine fragrance – while I created a very feminine rose accord, and the combination of the two brought the creation to a feminine territory. When we met with Narciso, he really liked the olfactive concept – both floral and a little wild.
Dora: I had this initial idea with geranium, which needed to be tamed. The association with Daphne’s rose accord allowed us to find the key to be able to express a different florality. The combination of the geranium and the rose was made in a kind of artistic complicity. We like to challenge each other and, above all, we are both perfectionists. We contributed a lot to each other, but also supported each other in moments of stress or doubt.
As perfumers, what is the part of your job you each love the most?
Daphné: When I receive a brief, I listen to the client to understand their needs. I look for anything that can inspire me. I love immersing myself in the world of the brand. I do my own research, to push the creative idea. Then, when I feel that my idea is strong enough, I go for it with a simple but meaningful first proposal. I may also start with a selection of ingredients that inspire me, create an accord and present it to the client before developing it into a complete fragrance formula with their feedback.
Dora: What interests me most is the process of imagination – of associating ideas to unveil combinations that have never been done. In my creative process, I enjoy exploring routes that others have not. I like to experiment with creative combinations to bring new ideas. I love the blank page, unearthing stories for raw materials that have never been written. I often refer to this quote from Victor Hugo: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
Where do you each turn to for inspiration, and what do you when you feel creatively ‘stuck’?
Daphné: I have a curious spirit and I need to live experiences that feed my creativity. I took a sabbatical year to open up to other horizons and learn more about other cultures, beyond perfumery. I attended traditional tea and incense ceremonies and worked in an organic farm in Japan. I discovered Ayurvedic knowledge in India. I learned paragliding and did an extensive meditation retreat in Nepal. Then I learned Italian, and met the artists of La Fabrica, a residence for young artists in Treviso, with whom I was able to discuss the role of scents and the emotions they generate in contemporary art.
Then I came back to Paris and, six years later, I needed a change of scene again. That’s when I chose to move to Lisbon. This thirst to learn, this curiosity for all form of arts, is what feeds me in my creations, even if sometimes it is in an unconscious way.
Dora: I have been lucky enough to live in countries with very diverse cultures: Algeria, France, the United States. I have also travelled extensively in Asia and Italy. I immerse myself in the local culture: plants, landscapes, food and art. Olfactive memory is a very powerful sense, and when I am looking for inspiration, I call up these memories, like Proust’s madeleines. I also always have something to write with, as inspiration can come at any time.
How do you think perfumery is changing and what do you think are the next trends we will see?
Daphné: Today, there is a thirst for transparency from consumers. You can observe this in social media, where people want to know everything and understand all the secrets of creation. At the same time, sustainability is becoming compulsory. Within this new constraint, we move forward together – we don’t stop improving, and this gives new creative impulses. Niche perfumery has imposed the idea of ‘genderless’, perfumery to which Gen Z is very attuned. The borders are blurring, and women’s fragrances dare to borrow some codes from the men’s wardrobe and vice versa.
Dora: The creative process is a bit like fashion – we have technologies that help us solving certain issues but in the creative process, I observe a return to the fundamentals: the original idea, the human, the quality, the interpretation of the idea, the sincerity. Perfumery also follows everything that is sociological. Today, more than ever, we are open to many other sensitivities, both culturally and in terms of gender, and perfumery will also evolve in this respect.
How do you think the role of fragrance within our lives is shifting?
Dora: To me, there is an increasing awareness of the artistic and luxurious aspect of perfumery, which goes hand-in-hand with a search for individuality and therefore originality in perfume. It becomes more a language of self-assertion, like a clothing style, than a simple medium to smell good. This observation leads me to expect a lot of creativity in the perfumes to come and that’s very exciting!
Daphné: The period of Covid made everyone realize the importance of the olfactive sense in our daily life: for our connection to others, for our meals (because smell is such a huge part of taste), for our security and for pleasure through fragrance. Perfume has become a ritual, beyond fine fragrance, with mists, candles, reeds, creams… all of which prolong the olfactory experience and the happiness it brings us. Today, olfaction also plays an increasing role in the world of art, and fragrance features more and more in contemporary installations, bringing an emotional dimension. Perfume has this incredible power to conjure remarkably vivid memories in a single second.
Buy All of Me, here.