The nose knows: Master of scent to nail down Cambodia’s essential smell

Christophe Laudamiel has worked with brands such as Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch and Clinique.
Christophe Laudamiel has worked with brands such as Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch and Clinique. Athena Zelandonii

The nose knows: Master of scent to nail down Cambodia’s essential smell

French master perfumer Christophe Laudamiel was in the capital this week to take in some aromatic inspiration for his latest fragrance, designed to capture the scent of Cambodia

Christophe Laudamiel is kind of a big deal in the scent business. The French master perfumer has worked with brands such as Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch and Clinique, and his work is exhibited in the International Perfumery Museum in France and the Cleveland Museum of Art in the US.

Now he is turning his nose towards Cambodia to create a signature fragrance for the luxury Rosewood Hotel, due to open in the Vattanac Tower at the end of this year.

Laudamiel spent this week taking in the aromas he believes capture the essence of Cambodia, collecting samples to take back to his lab in New York. While on a tour of the Royal Palace and Wat Ounalom, Laudamiel took in the heady smoke of incense and the perfume of the native jasmine (called malis in Khmer).

“It is a very rich jasmine, which is different from the French jasmine,” he said. “It has jasmine notes, very fresh, fruity, green and dewy, but there is a little tuberose note that is not in the normal jasmine which gives more power to the flower. It also lasts longer, which makes it perfect for beauty products.”

Laudamiel travelled to Kirirom National Park to take a whiff of the pine trees. The Kirirom pine offers a softer, lighter scent than European pines, which he says will lend a woody elegance to the fragrance.

The signature aromas of Cambodian cuisine will also play into the creation of the fragrance, opening up new possibilities of aromatic combinations.

“First when I arrived I noticed there were quite a lot of citruses, specifically lime,” he said. “Limes and kaffir lime leaves are used in cooking, it is a very interesting note, very fragile.”

Pepper is also used in a number of fragrances, and Laudamiel will take a sample of Kampot pepper with him to see how it interacts with the other aromas.

“The pepper here is quite unique, it’s quite fruity and less sharp with a nice woody twist,” he said. “But pepper makes or breaks between fruity notes and herbal notes. So I need to see how it will fit. So I will try, maybe it will give it a little je ne sais quoi.”

Laudamiel will return to New York to infuse the ingredients into his uniquely Cambodian fragrance, which will be used in the amenities – soaps, shampoos, conditioner, body lotion – in Rosewood’s rooms. Because some of the scents are unfamiliar to him, he doesn’t know yet what shape it will take.

“These are not usual combinations that you would see in perfumery,” he said. “I cannot predict, I cannot see in my mind the smell it is going to have, because I have never seen these combinations.”

He added that the fragrance needed to appeal to guests from around the world, so his creation would be distinctively Cambodian, but universally appealing.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen’s China visit ‘a good opportunity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Beijing on Sunday to discuss economic and trade issues presents a good opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen Chinese ties and counter punitive measures by the West, an analyst says. The prime minister’s four-day official visit to

  • Former chief bodyguard receives royal pardon

    The former chief bodyguard of late Senate president Chea Sim has received a royal pardon nearly eight years after he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars on several charges, according to a royal decree dated November 12, last year, and obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

  • Close to the edge: Hair raising pictures from Kulen Mountain

    A new hair raising attraction on Kulen Mountain has finally opened to the public, with people flocking to the protruding cliff edge overlooking green mountainous forests to take photographs. The giant overhanging rock is situated in an area known as Mahendraparvata – an ancient city of

  • US warned not to interfere despite successful meeting

    A senior Ministry of National Defence official said the Tuesday meeting between the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia Joseph H Felter and General Neang Phat had helped strengthen relations between the two countries’ militaries. However, a senior Cambodian People’