A fragrance is capable of bringing much more to the wearer than just a pleasing aroma. Scents have the power to trigger memories or emotions tied to particular moments in time and every wearer has a different preference. When the just-right combination of notes is discovered, it is truly serendipitous.
The power of fragrance is what led beauty industry veteran Veronique Gabai to launch her namesake collection of perfumes and accompanying accessories this year. She set out to create scents that incorporate a wide range of categories, from floral to woody to fruity, each inspired by childhood memories of her native Côte d’Azur. The full collection includes nine unisex signature fragrances, two booster fragrances that can be worn alone or layered on top of other scents, body lotions, and elegant perfume-holding pendants.
We sat down with the knowledgeable Gabai to learn more about her career path, the brand’s inspiration, and what’s next. Scroll on to hear from the founder and then discover the right scent for you at Barneys.com.
The Window: Why is the Côte D’Azur so special to you and how did it serve as the line’s main source of inspiration?
Veronique Gabai: I was born in Antibes and this spectacularly beautiful region of France holds a magical balance between nature, culture, and glamour. I’ve traveled all over the world and have lived in Paris and New York but the Côte D’Azur has a special luxury and air of sophistication. There, you’re able to enjoy world-class experiences in terms of museums, shopping, and cuisine but then you are also surrounded by beautiful landscapes and the sea.
How did you develop and name each fragrance?
All of the fragrances are built around core ingredients from distinct plants grown in Côte D’Azur. Each one has a special meaning, memory, and story behind it. The boosters are named Eau du Jour and Eau de La Nuit, which reference luminosity and mystery with bright and darker notes respectively. The Lumire D’Iris fragrance mixes iris with wood so there’s a little ambiguity to it. Cap D’Antibes is based on the trees that grow in my hometown and the smoky resin scent that derives from their pine cones. Vert Désir has notes of fresh herbs from the garden and then the fluffy yellow flower that only grows in February inspires Mimosa In The Air. Sur La Plage is based around the beach and Jasmin de Minuit reminds me of the captivating scent of the flower at night. Noire de Mai utilizes a specific rose grown in the famed Grasse perfume center and Souvenirs de Tunisie has the scent of orange blossoms that grow in France but also Tunisia. Tunisia is where my parents are from originally and that fragrance is an homage to them. Lastly, Sexy Garrigue has an alluring, rich scent that is inspired by the forest off the Mediterranean coast.
How did you come up with the concept of perfume jewelry?
With my collection, I want to bring joy to the wearer but also inspire the senses in ways that seamlessly fit into their everyday lifestyle. Here we are combining beauty with fashion as the pendants hold a mini version of the spray to travel with you and also make a statement. The intricate handwoven work on these gold plated and sterling silver pieces beautifully complements the scents they carry.
At what point in your career did you decide it was time to branch out and create your own label?
Though I’ve worked on the business side for many beauty companies, I’ve always had a creative soul. Finally, after 10+ years as an executive at Estée Lauder I realized it was time to go out on my own and build upon this idea I had in my head for a long time. My former years and years of experience in marketing and brand development came into play and really helped me with the execution of my own brand and now here we are.
What is your long term vision for the brand?
I recently discovered that my family has inherited land purchased by my father near Grasse, the perfume center where the ingredients in my fragrances are naturally grown. That feels like destiny and my goal is to eventually employ farmers that will harvest ingredients both organically and sustainably on a portion of the land. I always want to help preserve the beauty of Southern France and until the land is ultimately sustainably cultivated, we are partnering with PUR Projet to replant trees across the Mediterranean region.