From their devotion to preserving national parks stateside to their mission to protect the lions of Africa, the Chantecaille family brings a passion for wilderness to their namesake brand. For Sylvie Chantecaille, the jungle is an endless source of inspiration and the place where she feels most alive. Yearning to bring the overwhelming power of nature to her customers, Sylvie developed the beauty brand’s exciting new fragrance, Le Wild. The wild-gardenia-based scent is intensely fresh and crisp, and a whiff conjures the majestic allure of discovering a wildflower in its natural place.
Below, Sylvie opens up about why Le Wild means so much to her.
The Window: Can you describe the actual scent of Le Wild?
Sylvie Chantecaille: I’m so excited about this scent—I love all my fragrances, but this one corresponds so much to what I’m feeling right now, so I’m especially thrilled. It was inspired by the wild gardenia found in Brazil, and it starts off very crisp. We started with the leaves, which really gives the fragrance a fresh opening. Then, we went into the depth of the petals, which leads to the intoxicating heart. I love white flowers. Sometimes they can come across like a classic 1940s style fragrance, but this one, to me, is more how I am feeling at the present. It’s a modern classic, and it has vibrancy and an energy that is unique. Le Wild is giving me a renewed energy to look at our fragrance business with altogether fresh eyes.
Tell us about its name and your passion for wilderness.
I spend as much time as I can in the jungle. I go to Africa, specifically Kenya, a lot. This season, we are doing The Lions Palette for makeup, the proceeds of which go to an organization called Lion Guardians. I love to be really in the wild, and that’s truly where I’m happiest. People say the wild is dangerous, but it’s the other way around! Animals don’t want to attack you; they don’t even want to look at you! They are busy living their own lives, and they respect you doing your life. I’ve slept with lions around my tent so many times.
What is it about that feeling of being in the wild this scent is able to capture?
It’s really about passing along this strong sense that I have about being in the wild. I work a lot and live in a city and travel all over to New York, Paris, Seoul. I was thinking about women I see on the tube in London or at their desk in New York. I wanted to be able to give these women the chance to travel in one second into the wild—to the place that restores us as a human being. That’s the goal of Le Wild.
It sounds like being in nature is very personal to you.
It really is. The first time I was in Kenya, I was walking very close to the place where the remnants of the very first human woman were discovered. I felt so strong and so centered, like I’ve never felt before. It’s about knowing in every fiber of your being who you are, when you have respect between yourself and nature. I could really feel a sense of being there in the moment. I hope this fragrance can give that to people—that sense of escape.
We know you love gardening. Is it a way to bring this feeling of the wild to your home?
I spend so much time and energy in my garden. Gardening is all about understanding the cycle of the plants and flowers. Every weekend when I arrive in East Hampton, there’s something new blooming and that excites me so much. For example, right now I have an explosion of Casablanca lilies in the garden. I grow gardenias in my garden and always have them by the front door to welcome people to my home, but keep in mind these are different than the ones found in the wild.
What’s the difference?
The smell is the main difference. In the wild, everything is more intense. There’s a crispness and energy that’s unlike the cultivated flowers at my door. See, in nature, you walk on green ground and everything crackles and pops. Light filters through the trees—everything is a stronger feeling. I went to the jungle last week to shoot images for the fragrance. My son was taking the pictures, and as we were walking he said, “Stop!” There was an enormous spider on its web in our path—bigger than anything you’d ever seen in America. You have to respect the wild, plants, animals, and you’ll have a much more balanced life.