Aesop has atomised the life of French modernist architect and designer Charlotte Perriand for its fourth perfume, Rōzu. Perriand makes a natural muse for the brand, with both sharing a belief that better design is intrinsic to better living. 

Perriand, now regarded as one of the most innovative designers of the 20th century, began her career in the studio of Le Corbusier. There, she created interior pieces that have become icons of modernism like her reclining chaise lounge and swiveling armchair. 

Julien T Hamon photograph of black LC7 Armchair designed by Charlotte Perriand
LC7 Armchair designed by Charlotte Perriand in 1927, within the collection co-signed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand. Photography: Julien T Hamon

After a decade with Le Corbusier, Perriand became an official advisor to Japan’s department of commerce and industry. She lived in Japan for almost three years, overseeing the transformation of traditional crafts into products more appealing to European consumers. When World War Two erupted, an aborted attempt to flee the country left her stuck in French Indochina until she returned to her native France in 1946. Those years in Asia deeply influenced her work and she applied the techniques and materials she found there to many of her projects throughout the 1950s and 60s.  

To translate this life, so rich in adventure and informed by so many cultures, into a fragrance, Aesop enlisted the innovative perfumery skills of Barnabe Fillion. Fillon welcomed the challenge of aromatically recreating a woman who, he’s said, ‘in both the personal and professional realms strode with confidence and cheerful audacity, tempered by a fluid sensibility and influenced by her extensive travels.’ 

To get to the heart of who Perriand was, Fillion embarked on a journey around the world with Perriand’s daughter, Pernette Perriand-Barsac, retracing the designer’s steps from her native France to her adopted Japan. The key to the scent’s identity was found at the Keiji Rose Farm, which developed a unique rose in honor of Perriand and her work.

black and white image of Charlotte Perriand working in Japan
 Charlotte Perriand working in Japan in the 1940s

Fillion drew on other aspects of Perriand’s character and travels to round out the final product. The vetiver cord was inspired by the perfume Perriand wore daily, while the shiso notes echo the Alpine environments she passionately explored throughout her life. 

Rōzu is a fascinating experiment in distilling a person’s work and character into something that can be bottled. Drawing on the concrete remnants of Perriand’s past, her work, and the ephemeral ones, the stories of her life, Aesop has concocted an olfactory testament to one of the most innovative talents of modern design. Rōzu is available from the Aesop online store now. §