Source: Vanity Fair
The Art of Zen Parfumerie: Meet The Harmonist
Melrose Place is the new home of the Harmonist, created by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva.
The new fragrance house The Harmonist Maison de Parfum has a philosophy that stems from the right balance of yin and yang. When it comes to fragrance, “one size fits all doesn’t work,” says Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the founder of the brand, who designed the fragrance concept around harmony. “I chose the Chinese feng shui philosophy—the energy—to create the Harmonist.”
Karimova-Tillyaeva is the daughter of Islam Karimov, the former president of Uzbekistan who died in 2016 after a 27-year reign marked by human-rights abuses. Today, Karimova-Tillyaeva serves as Uzbekistan’s permanent delegate to UNESCO and runs several charities based in her home country.
“As a teen, I played with my mother’s fragrances, and I would blend,” she explains. “My first project was for me—my perfume. Making this fragrance gave me the freedom to express myself.” Later, she made the scent for her friends—500 bottles in the shape of a tulip, housing notes of white flowers and vanilla musk, with ylang-ylang at the heart. “Through smell, I see life,” she says. “Smell gives me depth of feelings.” And with that notion, The Harmonist was born.
Los Angeles is now home for Karimova-Tillyaeva, where she lives with her husband and family, but Paris is where she works and where her other boutique is located, on the posh streets of George V in the Eighth Arrondissement. Both of the Harmonist boutiques were designed by a Franco-Indian interior designer by the name of Alnoor, whose feng shui beliefs come heavily into the flow of the layout, blended with the right fusion of modernity and symbolic unity. “Interiors have energy, and, by adding the right aura into the element, and through metaphysics, we can create our reality,” says Karimova-Tillyaeva.
In this maison de parfum, there are five elements: earth, metal, water, wood, and fire. When visiting the boutique, the fragrance consultant walks you through each element, helping you to discover your innate element as well as what you desire to achieve. For most people, when life is in disarray we seek to harmonize our body, mind, and soul. The Harmonist was created to bring about the changes you are looking for through your very own fragrance journey.
Here, they have five yin base scents and five yang base scents to choose from, all pre-atomized into vessels for experiencing every scent in its dried-down state. After finding your base element, you can continue to add on to bring about the desired change. Meaning, if you are a creative person, but you cannot seem to yield income from your talents, perhaps another element is blocked, and this should be the fragrance element to blend in order to discover what you might be missing.
After being drawn to Desired Earth, I discovered that I am Yin Earth. I also wanted to add prosperity, so I chose two additional scents to layer: Guiding Water, a softer water that’s floral, with jasmine and exotic spring flowers, and Sacred Water—the alpha water—fueled by oceanic aquatic notes. The meaning of each element varies, for example, because I am Yin Earth, the meaning of my elements are as follows:
• Earth: is socially collaborative
• Metal: brings out creativity
• Water: brings prosperity
• Wood: brings status and seduction
• Fire: seeks wisdom
However, if I were Yang Wood, these might change entirely.
To complete the collection, Karimova-Tillyaeva chose the perfumer Guillaume Flavigny, who has created many notable fragrances for Armani Privé, Tom Ford, Commes des Garçons, and more. It was his keen sensitivity that won the heart of Karimova-Tillyaeva and helped to facilitate the epic journey to harmony. After five years in the making, Karimova-Tillyaeva was especially impressed with Flavigny’s ability to translate every element of the perfume language. “I really enjoyed working with Guillaume, as he is the absolute professional who was able to bring my vision and ideas to life,” she says.
Karimova-Tillyaeva believes that harmony is the source of beauty and that the right fragrance will help you to achieve your desires. That’s yin and yang, and that’s the beauty of life.