Crime Passionnel: When Perfume Triggers Your Imagination
‘When you are at the age of five, most of the memories that you collect are the odorous ones. You don’t realize it until later in the life you encounter situations when some smell awakens these memories that had been stored somewhere deeply’, says Aivaras, a frontman of niche perfume boutique Crime Passionnel. Located in the heart of Copenhagen, the store challenges one's sensations and invites to dive into the mysterious world of undiscovered aromas. As an absolute newbie of perfumery that knows more or less zero about it, I was intrigued to hear the stories of how differently this compelling creature, aka human, might experience various scents and even more.
text by MARIJA SINICAITE
photos by MINDAUGAS KNIAZEVAS
cover photo by DANAS MACIJAUSKAS
The shop was opened by two best friends. Does it mean that 'one should never start a business with a friend' may be a myth after all?
It is interesting enough because I also used to have an attitude towards running a business with friends. Yet I know Domas for many years, and I believe that there are people with whom one can succeed in working together and the ones with whom it wouldn't work at all. And it doesn't really matter if we talk about friends or any other business partner. Our friendship has experienced a lot together: partying, traveling, making events, working and even though we might have different opinions about certain things it would never result in irritation because none of us tries to change each other.
Crime Passionnel was the very first boutique specializing in niche perfumes here, in Copenhagen. What was the key to your success?
First of all, when we started this business, we knew from the beginning that it wouldn't be that easy. When we were visiting perfume expos and introducing our vision of opening a shop in Denmark, we were receiving ‘Scandinavia? Copenhagen? You've got big balls to do it, guys’ kind of reactions. So we were ready for this risk but, at the same time, we knew that it is just a matter of education.
Can I call you realistic visioners then?
Well, as in any other practice, if you haven't seen, never had, and never experienced specific thing - how can you know if you need it or not? I wouldn't say that we are doing that well though. Simply every year we are doing better and better. As I said, we were ready for these first years of educating people and letting them understand that they do not want to smell like a sister, auntie, or someone's ex. It is all about introducing them the fact that you don't need to spend a fortune to purchase something different, artistic and new.
Copenhagen as a city. What can it offer for ambitious personalities?
To be honest, I do believe that everything depends on the people that genuinely want to change, to show or to achieve something.
So the environment does not make any difference at all?
Well, I lived in Norway before relocating to Denmark. However, I didn't want to build this business there because I knew that it would take way longer for them to adopt niche perfumes. I found people there quite distant and cold whereas Copenhagen I see as quite a cosmopolitan city which is full of vibrant expats and tourists that are curious and open for new opportunities.
Copenhagen is hands down the fashion capital of Scandinavia, best known because of its minimalist design. How about people and their choices of fragrances here, are they also that conservative when it comes to perfumery?
Again, it depends... The different day brings different people, and different people make my days utterly unlike. I have regulars that used to ‘play safe,’ and four years later they come and even make jokes about their current choices that are not that restrained anymore... Our sense of smell alters and improves with time as we absorb new fragrances from our surroundings. And as you have experienced more different scents, the harder becomes to be surprised. At the same time, because of the more educated nose, it becomes easier to recognize something that is quality and innovative; and the moment you stop at the duty-free to check fragrances - because it used to be your little tradition - the perfume there doesn't smell as good as you were thinking before.
Since you know quite many perfumers personally, do you think that a certain fragrance can reflect specific traits of the inventor?
Each brand is unique in its own way and, naturally, the creator is the main reason for that. It is not that hard to notice dominant characteristics that hide behind a certain brand name. However, not always a perfumer owns it - some people have a huge passion for niche fragrances, yet they do not create it by themselves - they simply cooperate with professionals and build the brand this way. Anyway, I would say that each name has its DNR. Alessandro (founder of Nasomatto), for example, who is a real character; he never sugarcoats things and is always straight about what he thinks. The stories behind his smells are also not for everyone because some people might find it too shocking.
Talking about these stories; which is your favourite one?
Well, there are quite a lot, but I am fascinated by the stories that are honest and maybe not attractive and convenient to hear. Talking about the same Alessandro and his ‘Duro’ scent, which means 'hard' in Italian. This fragrance was created in search of the essence of male sexual power. As the perfumer told himself, he encountered a lot of women in his life who used to tell him that he smells extremely good during sex which became his main inspiration. During the creation process, he was even holding his hand in the groin area to understand what that smell is about. I find it interesting because not everyone would be able to tell this story out loud or to tell it without polishing and making it attractive to everyone.
Perfume. Is it a fashion statement or part of our personalities?
Actually, it is very similar to the way we choose how to dress. Some people might favour specific style only to impress someone, yet for the others, it acts as the reflection of their personality. I believe, the same principle follows when it comes to perfume.
How about you?
I choose scent depending on how I feel that day. The same smell might be perceived differently in various situations because there are always external factors that influence the way you remember it; maybe you didn't have enough sleep, or your skin was too dry, etc. All these various circumstances might lead to the discovery of the scent through a completely new lens the next day or so.
You mentioned that mass perfume always smells like 'someone else.' What would be the fragrance that others would say, 'wow, you smell like Aivaras'?
The scent that I would love to keep for myself would be the orgy of scents. It would be dark, animalistic yet a bit sweet and sexual, where attraction and repulsion would come together.
You have been living abroad for quite many years now. How would you describe the aroma of home?
I've been thinking about home for quite a while. It is a paradox, because when I am in Lithuania waiting for my flight back to Copenhagen, I say, ‘I am coming home.’ At the same time, if I am here, in the shop, and someone would ask about my Christmas plans, I would answer that I am traveling home. I think that home is a broad definition and for me, it would smell like safety and warmth. There are, actually, some notes that usually are associated with warmth and cosiness, for example, amber, cedarwood, cashmere, vanilla etc. The home also means freedom where I can be whoever I want to be.
More about Crime Passionnel HERE .