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Celebrating the floral fragrances of India with a French twist

Good Earth brings LilaNur Parfums, a French luxury perfume brand that focuses on Indian ingredients, to India. Perfumer Honorine Blanc and Anita Lal talk about the uniqueness of the country's ingredients

A farmer harvests jasmine flowers in a farmland on the outskirts of Madurai.
A farmer harvests jasmine flowers in a farmland on the outskirts of Madurai. (AFP)

The luxury market is dominated by international fragrances, many of which use Indian raw materials like jasmine of Tamil Nadu and rose of Uttar Pradesh.

Yet, the market continues to be dominated by European brands, with a “low-class” image attached to made-in-India products. Anita Lal, the brain behind luxury home and apparel brand Good Earth, wants to change that, with LilaNur Parfums. It is a luxury fragrance house, co-created by Paul Austin, a fragrance expert, that celebrates several fragances of India, expressed through the lens of French master perfumery.

“Ever since I can remember, I have had a deep love of fragrances… some of my fondest memories are of growing up surrounded by the scent of pink damascena roses or the heady scent of vettiver in the monsoon. Knowing that historically, most of the major fragrance houses across the world have sourced ingredients from India, I started to wonder why there hasn’t been an authentic, Indian- inspired fine fragrance brand,” says Lal, explaining the reason behind starting LilaNur Parfums. “That was my dream… to create a line of fragrances that truly highlight iconic Indian ingredients and our ancient scenting rituals like attars.”

Also read: Meet the entrepreneurs taking Indian fragrance to the world

Malli Insolite
Malli Insolite

The range includes seven perfumes (each costs $285), featuring ingredients like saffron, jasmine, vetiver and rose. 

In an interview, Lal and master perfumer Honorine Blanc talk about creating the several fragrances and their experiments. Edited excerpts:

How did you zero in on in the fragrances?


Anita Lal: For LilaNur, the ingredient is the starting point and the hero. So, our approach was to start the creation process, in the flower fields of southern India, near Madurai. We partnered with Jasmine CE, India’s largest source of floral absolutes to the international fine fragrance industry, and from there, each of the creations blossomed.

We invited four of France's revered perfumers, Honorine Blanc, Olivier Cresp, Fabrice Pellegrin, and Clément Gavarry, to create our fragrances, using iconic Indian ingredients as their muse. Many of these ingredients were borne from a joint venture between Jasmine CE and Firmenich in Grasse.

LilaNur is entering at a time when the Indian market is flooded with perfumes focusing more on natural flavours. What makes LilaNur stand apart?


Anita Lal: The Indian market is really an exciting place with lots of potential. I see people getting more interested in the quality of perfumes, so this is a great moment for a brand like LilaNur to start and be at the forefront of educating people about niche fragrances and India’s role in perfumery.

Each of our fragrances is a unique and innovative interpretation of Indian flora that most of us have grown up with. I’ve always been fascinated with the alchemy of French perfumery and LilaNur pairs French master perfumers with India’s iconic flora to redefine the 21st century Indian scent.

What are some of the ingredients you are experimenting with right now? 


Honorine Blanc: I wanted to capture the spirit and the inspiration of the kahwa tea ceremony, famous in Kashmir. It was important to me to maintain the sanctity of the way the ingredients are used in the tea; the most important ingredient was saffron. I tried to capture the warmth and delicious smokiness of the tea and used natural saffron and sandalwood to it. This fragrance is crafted around smokey woods, bold spices, incense notes, along with subtle floral touches and sweet undertones.

How did you become a perfumer?  


Honorine Blanc: I have always been interested in the beauty and psychology of perfumery. I decided to go into the beauty world; it was not easy to enter the world of perfumery, as it was then dominated by men. But through the years of working in Paris and New York, I was able to really grow. I love playing with ingredients. For example, for LilaNur, I combined a flower with a spice for that smoky/woody note, something I had not done before; it really helped me get out of my comfort zone.

Also read: When the world fell in love with perfumes




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