Scent Selectors: David Frossard, P Frapin & Cie
It’s a bright, late summer afternoon when I descend into one of Sydney’s few subterranean bars to meet David Frossard of P Frapin & Cie. He’s instantly recognisable, well-coiffed, with a relaxed cool about him. A ridiculous thought springs to mind: this is the look those Queer Eye guys can only aspire to (I’ve been binging).
As the owner and artistic director of a perfume brand associated with a 7 century-old cognac house, I do wonder if Frossard gets sick of dim, moody little saloons. Does the whole oversized chesterfield thing get tiresome?
But I learn soon enough that Frossard compliments his work on Frapin with a motorbike obsession, so I guess he gets plenty of fresh air after all.
This easy contrast of breezy modernity and a relaxed relationship with tradition seems to be a talent of the creative, who tells a well-worn tale of falling into the world of fragrance after a philosophy degree at the Sorbonne apparently didn’t yield a decent accounting job (I assume he tried). Picture a stint selling scent in Africa, a young Frossard zooming across a golden savannah as a travelling salesman on what, a Peugeot?, with a dusty L.V. case strapped to the back containing his fragrant wares.
Of course, a few more credible connections (L’Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaligon’s) were notched on his belt before Frossard was lured to the Frapin’s castle (!!) and fell in love with the smells it contained. Who could blame him? He made them an offer and the Frapin fragrance brand became his.
It was more than the scent of a damp cellar that seduced Frossard though. It was the uselessness of the cognac. Really. I wrote it down in my notebook in capital letters: USELESS.
Of course, I’m taking Frossard’s comment out of context.
What actually delights him is the pure sensuality of a creation like a fine cognac, and by extension, a niche fragrance. Frapin is considered the connoisseur’s cognac. It is the only house in France (or so I believe) that continues to manage the entire process from the vine to your grateful lips, a 30 year timeline of creation that can span generations. And it’s all just to create something for the senses that is gorgeous to experience, without practical function, a “useless” but beautiful thing.
The irony is that these useless things become the most important because – and this is something Frossard believes the French understand implicitly – without beauty, without sensuality in broad terms, “life starts to be… difficult”.
At this point the little clutch of perfumistas huddled in that bar’s dim light, down a cognac cocktail or two, were beginning to swoon over the travelling salesman who had brought two new Frapin creations to Australian shores. They’re both romantic creations, totally useless and incredibly beautiful scent stories.
Frapin Isle of Man
Inspired by Albert Frapin, who liked to risk life and limb throwing himself and a hunk of metal on two wheels around the notorious TT track in Isle of Man, this is a scent designed to smell like freedom. Perfumer Alienor Massenet manages to create this sensation of wind rushing by via a citrus opening kept fresh and with basil and cool violet undertones. But it’s the salty vetiver note that is totally seductive in Isle of Man, apparently it’s masculine but to me this is is a scent any beach-obsessive needs to own for its coconut-free seaside vibe.
The 7 people who watch my Insta-stories (hi mum!) would have witnessed my delight over what I have tastefully re-named “Scent of a Lady Pirate”. I have two little girls who need this kind of thing. Desperately. While I have every affection for the Elle Fannings of the beauty world, sometimes a girl needs a kick-arse pirate for a role model instead and for that reason alone I love Laskarina. (Backstory for those not up on their pirate history, Laskarina “Bouboulina” Pinotsis was a Greek seafarer and shipbuilder, born in 1771, who fought to secure Greek independence from Ottoman rule). Laskarina on me is a contrasting warm amber and cool powdery iris, with a crackle of black pepper. My skin doesn’t seem to throw the spectacular smoky olibanum that’s listed (and very evident on others). But it does give me plenty of the warm, salty, foggy cloud of ambroxan, totally reminiscent of the high seas.
Frapin Isle of Man and Laskarina are both is $229 from Libertine Parfumerie.