5 Questions With EX NIHILO Co-Founder, Olivier Royère

Describe EX NIHILO in three words.

I’ll start with avant-garde, because we take the best from the past and imbue it with hints of modernity. The best example that I can give is of the Pyramide du Louvre — it was built in the ’80s, and everyone hated it because it was too modern for the architecture. But today, it’s one of the most visited sites in Paris.

Another descriptor is collaboration. It’s not just one founder pushing the brand, but me and my other co-founders Ben and Sylvie. Ben is the creative mind, Sylvie does strategy, and I’m more on the human aspects and operations. And our perfumers are our collaborative partners too. We’re big on design and architecture, so we also work with artists and designers — when we meet someone we can click with and fits with the brand, we propose a project. It’s a meet and match, basically.

And the last word would be personalisation. Our Osmologue machine in Paris, of course, is one of the ways that we do it, by adding raw materials into one of our scents to make it more attuned to the user’s sensibilities. For example, adding a little more orange blossom into the juice to make it fresher.

What sets the brand apart? How do you create each scent?

We work with the Givaudan — they have around 20 perfume masters, and back then when we pitched the idea of the Osmologue, of Ex Nihilo to them, they all said yes. And it boils down to the way that we work, that we start with a creative vision or a moodboard of what we want to say, and the perfumers just run wild with it. We’re not perfumers ourselves, so we give them free rein after having a creative process with them, and they come back with a few interpretations of that vision.

So you’re Swedish, and your co-founders are American and French — how does that play into the brand, and the scents?

The thing we have in common is travelling widely in our childhoods, and coming from different backgrounds — Sylvie from tech, me from banking and marketing — that creates a collective perspective that’s very strong. It makes Ex Nihilo very unique, very international, but still very French.

Do you have a scent memory that’s been translated into an EX NIHILO fragrance?

Yes! It’s the Bois d’Hiver eau de parfum — it’s something very personal to me. When I was a little boy, we used to run in Sweden in the woods with the snow, it was very cold. My mother wrapped me in a cashmere scarf, and it cradled my face softly, but I also felt the harshness of the winter’s cold, and there was also the scent of the woods, and I was running through all of that with my scarf on, so it was very, very warm. And that’s the origin of Bois d’Hiver, a memory that I wanted to share with everyone.

Going back to today’s launch — what was the inspiration behind Vesper Glitz?

Vesper Glitz is all about a cocktail that you would put on your skin before going out for a night out in Paris. It’s very mesmerising, very addictive, but what we really wanted to capture was that moment right as you go out — the moment when you’re going out for a new night. In essence, the Paris la nuit, and you know, the Parisian night is like no other. Ben, Sylvie, and I, we’ve lived that when we were younger, and we wanted to take that glittering, 9pm-to-6am moment to our skin.

The top notes are very fresh and spicy, sparkling like champagne, so we have neroli, mandarin, and pink pepper for that effervescence, and it mixes very well with citrus-y scents. In the heart we have more florals, with ylang-ylang and jasmine, and mimosa which we love. And the base is woody and warm with musks and vanilla.

Source: Elle Magazine

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