Ah gardenia. This white flower's creamy, milky fragrance is a heady scent. There have been many interpretations of gardenia as a perfume. The venerable fragrance House of Creed has created Fleurs de Gardenia, the latest scent in the repertoire of Creed's perfumes. With Valentines Day coming up, should you need a gift, this beautiful fragrance is a fitting romantic gift.
To launch this fragrance, Erwin Creed traveled from Paris to the United States, making personal appearances at six Neiman Marcus stores in November, where Fleurs de Gardenia is sold exclusively, including the San Francisco store (where I met him). It's rare that Erwin gets to do an in-store appearance, so it is a big deal that he is in town. There are violins playing.
Erwin Creed is what you might expect of the seventh generation of the perfume house Creed -- he's both charming and debonair. He speaks with an irresistible French accent. But he's also funny -- very funny. I met up with him just as he arrived in San Francisco from Las Vegas on a two-week tour to promote Fleurs de Gardenia. When I ask him why he's in San Francisco, he replies "I am here today to see my customers, to see you, I take my flight from Paris to see you you know it's a long trip. (laughter)"
Erwin is the son of Olivier Creed, the sixth generation master perfumer at the helm of his family's perfumery. Creed was established in 1760 and is one of the oldest family owned businesses in the world. You may not know that Creed also had a bespoke tailoring business. That's the inspiration behind Green Irish Tweed, created in 1985 by Olivier.
The House of Creed counts royalty and numerous celebrities as fans of their fragrances, and some of the scents were commissioned just for them. Spring Flower was made as a signature scent for Audrey Hepburn. Prince Rainier of Monaco commissioned Fleurissimo, a classic floral bouquet, for Princess Grace Kelly on their wedding day. Tabarome was favored by Sir Winston Churchill and President John F. Kennedy wore Creed's Vetiver. One of my favorite scents is Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie, which was made for Empress Eugenie of France in the 1800's. Most of these fragrances are still sold today. Talk about longevity.
Ever since 1760, Creed has been making all of its fragrances in-house. Erwin says that's why the brand has endured, because they control the entire process and use only the best of the best, from sourcing and growing raw materials to the final bottled product. Quality, quality, quality is the mantra, beginning with sourcing the best ingredients for each scent. "We like to keep the quality high and that's why we don't want to make too much quantity. If we push for the quantity we will loose the quality and we would loose our customer."
Erwin says Creed is in the perfume business for the long haul, and they have very loyal customers. As an example, Erwin says, "they will wear continually one fragrance, always the same one or they have like 20 of the difference fragrances but they want to stay in Creed they don't want to change." Creed has an exclusive appeal -- you don't find it on every perfume counter. Creed has only three boutiques in the world -- in Paris, New York City and Dubai. In the United States you can also find Creed at Neiman Marcus and select Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom stores.
In his role this day as brand ambassador, Erwin is at the San Francisco Neiman Marcus, his last stop on his American tour. He's also been to the Neiman's in New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Miami and Las Vegas, all for the debut of Fleurs de Gardenia, greeting customers and signing bottles. This newest of the Creed fragrances was only available in these six stores, only during Erwin's visit. But, the good news is that Creed is restocking, so to speak, and Fleurs de Gardenia is now back at Neiman Marcus -- just in time for Valentine's Day. In March, Fleurs de Gardenia will be more widely available.
Fleurs de Gardenia opens with a subtle fruity note blended with first love gardenias, which grow only in pairs. This is not an in your face gardenia. It's soft and beautiful. There are also notes from peonies, lavender and Double Blush roses. I love the purple hue of the bottle. This is a romantic scent to be sure.
While Erwin often works side by side with his father blending perfumes, he travels seeking out new materials and sources. He also checks on operations at the Creed factory to ensure everything is humming along. Believe it or not, Erwin says he is actually shy, and while personal appearances may not be his favorite thing to do, he does like connecting with Creed's customers. "I try to answer questions, I'm a little bit humble so I'm joking with them. I also try to find a good perfume match for them. I speak about the company, but sometimes they prefer to ask about me, if i have a girlfriend and so on." Alas, he didn't give any clues about his relationship status.
Quite the crowd has gathered to meet Erwin. I'm told one customer here has purchased hundreds of thousand of dollars worth of Creed fragrances. Another buys every Creed perfume. Others are collectors. Everyone has a camera and wants a photo with Erwin. It's all in a day's work. That evening Erwin and his team planned to go to Ame in San Francisco for dinner. They asked me to recommend some good Napa Valley Cabernets. They chose one of them, a Cliff Lede Stag's Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon and really enjoyed it. Perhaps it will inspire a new fragrance from Creed.