As an immigrant from Romania, Nicole Mather realized the American Dream by the very fact her citizenship enabled her to gain an education and attain a high-pay, high-prestige career alongside the most powerful people and corporations in the US and the world.
‘From a young age, my family instilled in me deep sense of appreciation for the freedom and opportunities afforded me as an American citizen after leaving our native country under repressive dictatorship,’ Mather affirms. ‘At the same time, I never lost my appreciation for European culture, tradition as well as craftsmanship. Every country and culture offers something beautiful and unique to the world.’
Indeed, there was something about her European roots that compelled her to rethink that dream, become her own boss, and create a world that encompassed beauty, art and commerce. Though on the surface she left the corporate world behind, on a deeper level, its lessons are still with her and empowering her to compete in a dauntingly crowded market-place.
‘My experience in the corporate world taught me the power of exceptional attention to detail and differentiation,’ she explains. ‘It gave me confidence to understand the power of an individual to make a difference. It also ignited my entrepreneurial interests as I worked with business leaders and executives who had individual strengths and weaknesses but who were successful because of drive and willingness to question the status quo and push forward with new ideas.’
The House of Sillage, designed to be the first great stand-alone fragrance house of the 21st century, emerged from that sturdy foundation. Although her fragrances, including pioneering scent Tiara (which she describes as a chypre, floral and oriental accord, with top notes of Calabrian green tangerine and Sri Lanka cinnamon and heart notes of Bulgarian rose, peony and Virginia cedar oil) are both investments and indulgences, she sees her endeavour as a worthwhile effort to bring the worlds of business and beauty into balance.
It seems only fitting that Sillage (which translates into English as the trail of a scent left by a perfume) informs the name of the company as Mather dares to blaze a new trail in an old and sometimes misunderstood field.
‘I have always been passionate about the science of scent and the art of perfume making, dating back to my childhood,’ Mather says. ‘It seems the fragrance industry has become so mass-market-oriented that much of the true art in fragrance creativity and individuality has been lost. It is often more about celebrity endorsement than the quality, originality and appeal of the scent itself. In creating House of Sillage, I wanted to return to the art of fragrance making using the best quality ingredients to produce exciting luxury scents that stand alone. During my time travelling and living in Europe on business, I began to research the history and art of perfume-making. I had the opportunity to smell and learn about many scents that are mostly now unavailable.’
While her inaugural scent retails for US$1,200 (though the owner will definitely keep the bejewelled, pastry-inspired bottle forever), she steadfastly believes it represents hope that art, craftsmanship and beauty will propel the population back to better times. She insists the bottle and what is inside it is an investment as it can elevate one’s spirit and promote well-being in tough economic times, and on a daily basis.
‘The world economy is currently undergoing stress, but without question a better future lies ahead as we look to improve upon past human endeavour,’ she reasons. ‘The faster we move forward with new innovation, design and business, the quicker the economic healing will be upon us. The solution to our problems will not be found in standing still. The economy will improve as each individual, business and nation moves forward with new ideas that improve the products we use and the way we live our daily lives.’
A great historical precedent that works for Tiara along these lines is Jean Patou’s Joy, which was billed as the world’s most expensive perfume yet somehow endured two world wars, the Great Depression and an astonishing era of social change without losing its appeal.
‘Jean Patou raised the bar in luxury perfumery in spite of difficult times and inspired women in America with his Joy perfume,’ Mather concurs. ‘Not only do I wish to inspire women all over the world with our luxury fragrances, but also create some of the most beautiful and original bottles that will remain on vanity tables forever. It should be said that we have some very exciting new fragrances on the horizon and new designs in our limited-edition bottles. As for what else lies in store for House of Sillage (including some more moderately priced products), rest assured that whatever we create will remain distinctive in quality and craftsmanship as we continue to transcend all modern conventions.’
Though a fragrance can’t promise outer transformation, it certainly has the potential to transform one’s soul and outlook. Any woman who identifies with Tiara has an air of mystery about her, whether she is a mother or a corporate executive, lives a very busy lifestyle and always strives for perfection. She is educated, confident, fashion-forward, modern and truly in touch with her femininity. The Tiara woman stands out in a crowd and always gets a second glance as she passes and one inhales her beautiful sillage.
A can-do attitude like that, successfully bottled, must be worth its weight in gold.•
Above Advertisement for the House of Sillage’s Tiara fragrance.
|| ‘The fragrance industry has become so mass-market-oriented that much of the true art in fragrance creativity and individuality has been lost. It is often more about celebrity endorsement than the quality, originality and appeal of the scent itself. In creating House of Sillage, I wanted to return to the art of fragrance making using the best quality ingredients to produce exciting luxury scents that stand alone’
Elyse Glickman is US west coast editor of Lucire.