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Thibaud Crivelli Bottles His Life Experiences

La Roche-Posay is a small provincial town in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of western France. As you will already know, it provides the name and base to one of the most trusted and respected in the world. It is also the childhood home of Thibaud Crivelli: the man behind the aromas of some of the most distinguished actors, rappers, models and multi-hyphenates of our times (the names of which I’ve promised not to disclose). Royals, too. And… You! Should you, reader, be partial to rich, intense scents that are certain to spark conversation.

“It’s for those who love compliments. Those who are happy to engage with people who inquire about their scent,” says Crivelli, founder and CEO of Maison Crivelli.

I’m speaking to Crivelli in Selfridges, a couple of floors above his pop-up concession in the shopping mecca. On the way in, I stopped by the space, where the staff place particular emphasis on the brand’s latest – potentially, greatest – genderless fragrance, Cuir Infrarouge.

Because it’s exclusive to Selfridges (“for a year, MINIMUM,” the designated spritzer proudly divulges), sure, but also because it’s been made with the UK, and its people, in mind.

Yes, despite its eminently Gallic moniker – a name so French, my south east London accent does it zero justice – the perfume is Crivelli’s ode to Britain.

It smells suitably Great.

Talk us through the fragrance

Cuir means leather; infrarouge means infrared. It was made in partnership with Jordi Fernandez, a Spanish perfumer who works for Givaudan and lives between Barcelona and Dubai. It’s the same perfumer who helped us create our collection of ouds, including Oud Maracujá and Oud Stallion. I’m very proud to work with him; he truly understands the structure of perfume.

What is the inspiration behind Cuir Infrarouge?

The fragrance was always meant to launch first at Selfridges, so I wanted it to be built on elements of British culture that speak to me as a foreigner and also resonate with British customers. I landed on music as the UK is home to the best music in the world.

I revisited my memories of attending concerts and festivals in the UK, the electro music and the afrobeats, and what came to mind was supple, grainy leather, wood, smoke and cocktails. Specifically, raspberry cocktails: they’re remindful of Britain – I always have raspberry jam when I’m in the UK – and they’re fluorescent in the nighttime.

So, the perfumer worked on a raspberry accord. We added a bit of bergamot to add brightness; iris, to bring a powdery facet; cedar, which is woody and dry; and leather, deep and dark like the night. It’s also supported by some vanilla which provides an element of comfort, plus a little oud. It’s very well blended, but you get this contrast between the natural, luminous fruity notes and the wood, leather and oud of the dry down.

What is your earliest memory of fragrance?

I grew up in a French family of Italian origins. My mum wore Guerlian classics: , . My dad didn’t wear so much perfume.

What I have stronger memories of are the smells in and around the town I lived in, La Roche-Posay. A very famous town, but a small one situated in the middle of nature. We would spend fall, winter and spring here – most weekends outside, walking in the forests.

In the fall, home smelled like the fern, the wood, the rain and the mud. In spring, the woody notes were joined by floral notes: honeysuckle, roses, wisteria, peonies. Sage, rosemary and freshly cut grass, too. Winter smelled like dad roasting chestnuts in the chimney. As for the summer, we would spend it on the Mediterranean coast around the aromas of citruses, figs and barbecues.

maison crivelli cuir infrarougeMaison Crivelli

Tell us about your journey leading up to establishing Maison Crivelli

My dad was a pharmacist and he created a cosmetic brand that he sold in his own store. I grew up watching him develop his project, and around the age of 15, I started to enjoy the idea of establishing a perfume brand. First, I worked for a perfume brand owned by LVMH.

I stayed at LVMH for ten years until a niche brand approached me about being a director. This conversation inspired me to leave the corporate world behind to start my own project in 2018, and throughout the last six years I’ve followed my intuition. It’s almost as if I’m a computer and this brand has been pre-programmed inside of me this entire time.

It helps that I’m a Gemini – I’m very, very curious and super active.

What fragrances did you wear before establishing your own perfume label?

I used to work for Dior, so I wore a lot of the original – a fragrance I still love. When I was a teenager, it was the obvious.

What’s the most rewarding part of being the founder of a perfume label?

The feedback. I didn’t create this brand for myself, I created it for others – to touch them, to surprise them. We hear that people love the originality, the quality and the longevity of our perfumes.

And people open up very quickly once they’ve smelt a perfume. They’ll share personal memories, usually ones from their childhood, which is great for me as I travel a lot and speak with a lot of people. It’s a cultural bridge. Whether someone is from Asia, the Middle East, Africa or elsewhere, a fragrance can take me into their world and it can bring them into mine.

Do you believe that people should find a signature scent and stick to it?

Maybe not one. Perfume is very personal so I can understand people like to stick to the fragrance that they feel best matches them. But people are versatile, so it makes sense that an individual would have three, four or five fragrances at home. Different fragrances for different moods, times of day, and even outfits.

Some people ask me if they can wear a certain perfume for a certain occasion and I tell them that only they have the answer, they just need to follow their intuition. Others ask me if they suit a certain perfume – of course, I can tell them if it develops well on their skin but, again, it’s all very personal.

I also think people should discover layering options. I love layering Santal Volcanique over Oud Maracuja. Rose Saltifolia over Oud Maracuja too.

maison crivelli
Maison Crivelli – Santal Volcanique Eau de Parfum (100ml)

John Lewis

maison crivelli
Maison Crivelli – Oud Maracujá Extrait de Parfum (50ml)

John Lewis

maison crivelli
Maison Crivelli – Rose Saltifolia Eau de Parfum (100ml)

John Lewis

What’s next for Maison Crivelli?

We are launching Oud Stallion – an oud inspired by horse racing, specifically the leather of the saddle – worldwide. It’s currently exclusively stocked at Harrods.

Beyond that, we’re working on Maison Crivelli home fragrances. I won’t say more than that, but I can’t wait to share our developments with the world.

Cuir Infrarouge is available now in Selfridges and on for £205 for a 50ml bottle.