Scentury: How did the idea of developing a perfume for each of the KaDeWe Group’s three premium department stores in Hamburg, Munich and Berlin come about?
Stefanie Hanssen: The KaDeWe Group very much liked our philosophy: “Scent As Inspiration.” A selection of our scents have been available at the Berlin KaDeWe store since 2014 and since the policymakers there found the chemistry with us very good, they asked us to develop three exclusive scents on their behalf — and we were of course delighted to do so.
Scentury: Did your image of each of these cities play a decisive role or were the qualities and character of the respective stores — their architecture, target groups, range of wares and the like — equally important?
SH: A city is always more than just its architecture, landscape and population. One must also consider, what is the spirit of the place, and the attitude to life there. How do people relate to each other? We wanted to capture the ambience of each of the three cities in olfactory terms. If, in our opinion, Munich is a “baroque, opulent and florid” city then the bouquet we create must reflect that. Munich glows! It smells of bergamot, white tea, fresh coriander, amber and musk. We experience Berlin, on the other hand, as creative, lively and somewhat erratic. And this translates for us into: bergamot mingled with lemon, water lily petals, aromatic cedar and traces of cardamon. Hamburg by contrast is brisk, cool and elegant and calls thus for maritime notes, such as spicy mint, fine sandalwood and iris blossoms.
Scentury: This is one of several cooperations to date between Frau Tonis Parfum and corporate clients — the most spectacular of which was probably the scent Mémoire de Pétrole for Volkswagen. What was the essence of that?
SH: Volkswagen had planned to add an olfactory dimension to its launch of the E-Golf model — namely, with a scent that would make it easier to bid farewell to the gas station forever. Which is the reason for the name Mémoire de Pétrole — a mere hint of gas.
Scentury: Was it difficult to convince Volkswagen that your concept was sound?
SH: Oh, things happened the other way around entirely. Volkswagen approached Frau Tonis Parfum with this concept and so it was we who had to be convinced! And to create a perfume that smells at first peak of gas and then of green grass and flowers is a Herculean task! We worked on the formula for eight months before unveiling Mémoire de Pétrole.
Scentury: So how should a perfume for an electric car smell?
SH: I personally would tend to develop a scent with a very natural feel to it, one that smelled of fresh grass, clover, dew and moss. I would perhaps take nature as my muse then translate that into a metaphor for an electric car.
Scentury: You originally worked in advertising and have been directing your own agency in Berlin for many years. What made you decide to found your own perfume label?
SH: In 2009 I was in search of a certain scent yet one that I was able to describe only by wracking my olfactory memory, so to speak. Unfortunately, no one at all in the major perfume stores listened to me and in fact did nothing but offer me the current highlights. True, I am self-taught when it comes to the perfume business, but I have a pronounced passion for scent. And it was this, ultimately, which pushed me to take the risk of founding a perfumery of my own, one that in terms of its look and its content differs to the max from the usual market players. Elegant, transparent and purist. A limited range yet of an exceptional quality.
Scentury: The Frau Tonis Parfum scents are designed to be combined at will by clients. But, since not all of us are born perfume experts, how can you be sure the results will not get totally out of hand?
SH: It is not our clients who combine these perfumes but our own experts. They know exactly which scents can be combined and in which proportions. To buy a customized perfume from Frau Tonis Parfum is to embark on a voyage with one of our experts into the vast realm of scent. Our range comprises thirty-six eau de parfums from four scent families. The goal is to create a scent that perfectly suits the person, that accentuates his or her character, and that neither hides nor swamps anything. We already have more than three thousand clients on our books, each of whom has had made a unique and customized perfume. And it is clear to us that this trend is definitely on the rise!
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