GC Exclusive interview with Caron’s CEO Ariane de Rothchild
Tell us the story of how you got into the fragrance business. How long have you been interested in scent and perfume?
The move was fueled by passion and an unwavering vision. As a heritage brand, Caron is consistent with my goal to prioritize long term investments. I love to develop, bolster excellence with the aim of passing on the baton to future generations. With Caron, this means working to transform an iconic brand, with an already strong personality, by reviving its heritage and committing to future of sustainable luxury.
Having spent most of my childhood abroad, I have developed a very personal relationship with the world of perfumes. My decision to acquire Caron was driven by my affection for this century-old luxury house with a unique heritage and savoir-faire.
Caron is a House with which I share many values: the preservation of know-how, the search for excellence, the pioneering spirit, and the search for impact on the world. All of this resonates with me. Having the privilege to revive it through a bold entrepreneurial project and perpetuate this incredible savoir faire certainly piqued my interest.
How do you balance your busy career with motherhood?
This is an ongoing balancing act that all working mothers must manage. Of course, there are varying stages that are more challenging than others, but I truly believe that women are seasoned multitaskers with a unique ability to juggle various aspects of life. I have always instilled a strong work ethic in my daughters, which is best conveyed by them seeing me do a job that I love and that I am deeply passionate about. This is the best example to set, and it has fuelled me throughout my journey.
My daughters are a constant source of inspiration. They are very open to the world; they all have very different personalities and they each contribute to the family activities. My daughter Olivia is particularly involved in Maison Caron. In fact, it was she who designed the O bottle, which has become the showcase for La Collection Merveilleuse, the House’s Haute Parfumerie collection. She brings her vision to the strategy and the artistic direction of Caron.
You recently expanded your business to Dubai. How do you envision Dubai as a key regional hub for entrepreneurship?
In many ways, the region’s business mindset aligns with my Family’s heritage and our approach to finance and entrepreneurship. Expanding our presence in the UAE was therefore a natural decision. As bankers, we have built our reputation on innovation, collaboration, and excellence – and this is the mindset we are seeing here in Dubai. In less than two decades, the city has established itself as one of the most innovative and dynamic financial centers in the world.
Since 2021, we have re-launched Caron in the Middle East through a regional partner, and we are now glad to count 43 counters in the most important and prestigious department stores of 6 countries: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan. You can find the brand for example in Galeries Lafayette Dubai. Launching Belle de Niassa, our new fragrance, in Dubai as a global preview was a way to testify to the special ties we have with the region.
We will continue to strengthen our Middle Eastern brand presence which remains a strategic region for the House.
How does expansion into the Middle East align with the brand’s vision and values?
Our expansion into this region aligns fully with our vision and values given that Caron has always had strong links with the Middle Eastern clientele, either here or in the Paris boutique. The Middle Eastern market has always had a penchant for heritage and refinement, and Caron taps into that legacy narrative. Bonds have been forged over the years and the regional growth will surely bolster these historic ties.
When taking over Caron, what was your vision for the iconic brand with its long heritage?
My vision has always cantered around remaining true to The House of Caron’s core values deeply rooted in its heritage. From its inception, the House of Caron has boasted wildly modern values, ensuring creations that break the codes. It’s been amazing to continue this legacy while still paying homage to the brand’s heritage.
Given Caron’s historic boldness, for example Pour Un Homme de Caron, which is now an iconic fragrance, was a revolution in perfumery when it was created in 1934. This was the very first fragrance for men, that had the audacity to meld lavender, a traditional men’s fragrance ingredient, with vanilla, more associated with feminine scents.
How has the brand embraced sustainability?
Working at the helm of Caron presents an exciting challenge that is consistent with my vision of entrepreneurship and investment: to transform over the long term by maximizing the positive impact on society. This project allows me to rethink the entire value chain, beyond the Maison Caron alone by working with sustainable packaging, favoring noble materials, relaunching, and sustaining certain supply chains, Vetiver in Haiti for example and making a social impact in the sector by perpetuating know-how, preserving, and creating jobs.
Redefining Caron’s vision of sustainable luxury led, among other things, to the creation of a new refillable bottle design as well as an eco-designed case for “La Collection Merveilleuse”. It complements the brand’s commitment to sustainable development, particularly in terms of ingredient sourcing. We will continue to focus on what we can do to further reinforce this commitment and remain true to what we have already actioned.
What inspires the way you approach formulating a perfume?
I work in tandem with Jean Jacques, Caron’s in-House perfumer. Jean and I share a creative synergy that works in a natural and spontaneous way, through the sharing of our different inspirations and ideas, like Caron’s founders Ernest Daltroff and Félicie Wanpouille.
We believe in permanent creative dialogue fed by our personal inspirations, our vision of perfume, our desires, and our convictions. We both must be convinced by our creation and the link with the Maison to launch a perfume. We also have a natural creative and olfactory harmony.
Often a fragrance starts out as a memory or cherished time that creates a beautiful emotion and it’s with Jean’s expertise and talent that such lived experiences can be beautifully translated into a Caron fragrance.
Expeditions, adventures, and conversations galore are required to perfect a fragrance. So much goes into each bottle and this is what our clientele love. They are part of our journey.
Do you have a favourite in the collection?
The relation that people have with their perfume is something very intimate, very personal. I wouldn’t say there is one perfect perfume for each of us but several ones. Personally, I never wear a perfume by coincidence. I choose the perfume I wear according to the program of my day, my mood, the season. I can thus wear Belle de Niassa, Poivre Sacré, Or et Noir or another fragrance depending on the occasion. My favorite fragrance is also the future one of the Maison: I permanently wear the perfumes we work on with Jean Jacques, Caron’s in-House perfumer. The creation of a perfume is a long and complex process that requires many trials. Wearing the different iterations allows me to live with the perfume and to feed the reflection and the creative process.
What do you try to achieve in your fragrances?
We want our clientele to feel that by wearing a Caron fragrance they are expressing their uniqueness, their personality ; it enhances their day with a touch of luxury, exclusivity, quality, and refinement. It’s all about experiencing something truly exceptional, with a fragrance that can marry the art of heritage and modernity.
What makes Caron fragrances unique?
Our fragrances are known for their audacity, featuring explosive and surprising encounters between unexpected ingredients. We embrace excessiveness, creating powerful and assertive perfumes, independent of trends and gender stereotypes, that are recognizable and unforgettable.
We are proud of our continuous creative work to honor the rich history of the Maison. We are dedicated to preserving and nurturing its expertise of Haute Parfumerie through the know-how of our in-House Perfumer, Jean Jacques. We attach great importance to the ingredients that make up our fragrances. Whenever possible, Jean uses ingredients that are labelled “For Life”, i.e. ingredients produced within sustainable labels. For our new fragrance, Belle de Niassa, we have chosen a “For Life” “open flower” jasmine absolute, as well as a rare “For Life” ylang ylang absolute.
While remaining true to our founding values, we also strive to anchor our expression in modernity and uphold our commitment to sustainable luxury. This remains a steadfast part of our vision to perpetuate the uniqueness of Caron.
Could you tell us a bit more about the creative development of this fragrance?
At the dawn of each new creation lies a beautiful experience that was lived, felt, and breathed.
Our new fragrance Belle de Niassa translates an enchanting olfactory emotion that I experienced every year when visiting the Niassa province, in Mozambique, at the peak of the dry season. A few days before the rain comes, the Mahogany flower blooms and fills the savannah air with its powerful scent. This is an addictive and captivating aroma that piques many powerful memories.
In 2019 I invited Jean Jacques, Caron’s in-House perfumer, to live this magical moment with me. It led him to create Belle de Niassa, which offers a radiant interpretation of this scent, with its bouquet of white flowers melding mellifluously with the juicy freshness of star fruit. This fragrance represents a true innovation as for the first time in perfumery, the scent of the mahogany flower is showcased in a sumptuous soliflore fragrance. This unique exercise also testifies to Caron’s curiosity and openness to the world, and our vision is to continue to build on it.
What can we look forward to from you in the near future?
The next chapter we are writing is the launch of our new creation, Belle de Niassa. This powerful and luminous fragrance celebrates a strong connection to Africa, which is a land of wonders and extraordinary treasures where I spent part of my childhood.
We will keep striving to offer generous luxury, with respect for our environment at the heart of what we do. The commitment to maximizing our positive impact on society is at the fore of our future vision.
Businesswise, we will continue to strengthen our brand presence and increase our customer base in the key regions for our sector, including the Middle East, Europe, and China. It is especially the case in the Middle East which remains a strategic region for the House, with the ambition to open a flagship in Dubai and/or Riyadh to offer our customers the most beautiful Caron experience.
What are you most proud of with the brand or your fragrance compositions?
I am proud of the brand’s commitment to boldness and audacity, while drawing inspiration from a deeply engrained heritage. Caron has never been shackled by trends or societal expectations, instead breaking free from cultural codes, and making their own rules. Jean Jacques and I are deeply committed to perpetuate these values.
If you could describe Caron in 3 words, what would they be?
Heritage, Luxury, Audacity