Photo of Alia Raza by Mirabelle Marden for @voguemagazine.
Just released, Tears by Régime des Fleurs is inspired by brand founder Alia Raza's love of lilac and fascination with Stendhal Syndrome — a rare clinical phenomenon in which a beautiful work of art can cause a physical reaction such as tears, chest pain or even loss of consciousness.
In her quest to create an emotionally moving scent based on the most nostalgic of flowers, Raza worked with perfumer Mathieu Nardin to capture the many facets of lilac — from delicate soft floral notes with a hint of green to a drydown that whispers of decay delivered via a blend of musks and resins.
With such a striking name and concept, the launch of Tears prompted us to reach out to the filmmaker, creative director and founder to learn more about this brand new scent and her growing niche fragrance house...
Q. Naming a perfume “Tears” provokes such a visceral and emotional response. Tell us more about this concept and how you came up with it.
A. I have all these names and ideas in my head for future perfumes, future projects, sometimes for years before they actually get made. Tears is one of those. It’s a beautiful word, a beautiful idea, these droplets that fall from our eyes, only when we’re having strong feelings. Emotions turned into a liquid state. Just like perfume really.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about the collaborative process with the perfumer?
A. I worked with Mathieu Nardin, a great perfumer who I’ve done a lot with, and to be honest I don’t think I ever told him what the name of the perfume was going to be. That’s not usually how I work. I pick and choose what to tell the perfumer because concepts sometimes change as you go.
I like to work visually, so I’ll share images and colors and those kinds of references and maybe one or two notes or ingredients I want to focus on, and then we work from there. In the end, once I feel something is finished, I go back and decide if it still works for the initial concept.
Q. Which ingredients did you feel absolutely must be included in order to achieve your vision for Tears?
A. I knew it had to have some lilac. That’s one of the most romantic smells. And what makes us cry more than romance? Lilac is a gorgeous smell but it’s reflective, it’s delicate, it doesn’t hit you over the head like a gardenia or a patchouli. You know the moment when the first tear wells up in your eye and you first feel it running down your cheek? That’s lilac to me.
Q. The Régime des Fleurs collection has been notably growing and evolving over the past couple of years. What’s been your biggest surprise in this venture and, likewise, your greatest joy?
A. I don’t know if I’ve run into any big surprises because I plan everything pretty far in advance. It’s more that I’ve gotten comfortable with the process and maybe I feel more confident now. Maybe that’s the surprise, realizing that I’m no longer a beginner and this is something I’ve done for almost a decade now.
The joy comes from getting to be creative and getting to work. I spent years working and not having an audience or a following. Just doing it because creation and work are what excite me in life. It’s a pleasant surprise that I get to still keep going and can slowly build something that other people care about too.
Q. Which fragrances are you wearing this summer?
A. Right now I’m alternating between two perfumes. When I go out and see people I wear Tears because I love getting reactions to something new. I learn a lot about my own work by getting feedback from all different kinds of people.
Then when I’m at the office I’m usually wearing something even newer, something that’s in development for the future. That one’s still a secret.