The Power Of Scent: Interview With Benoît Verdier, Co-Founder of Ex Nihilo Paris

Founded in 2013, EX NIHILO is a Parisian fragrance house which promotes a new disruptive and uncompromising vision of perfumery, expressing its own conception of personalized luxury. Inspired by both the creative Avant-Garde and the French spirit of pure refinement, the perfume house is an alternative to stereotyped luxury products. In this interview, Co-Founder of EX NIHILO Benoit Verdier reveals everything about the brand, from the birth of the boutique Parisian perfume house to how it’s influenced by the trio of founders’ love of vintage.
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How did you, Olivier, and Sylvie create EX NIHILO?

We met with Olivier 15 years ago on the benches of Sciences Po in Paris; then we met with Sylvie 6 years ago, then we decided it was time for us to quit our jobs and do something more exciting on our own in the perfume industry. It was a true entrepreneur adventure from the first minute. We were long-time fragrances heads and just wanted to create the brand of our dreams, trying as much as we could to bring a new energy to it. We wanted to get back this idea of super exclusivity with a twist of irreverence and a funky French twist. We had the opportunity to find this fantastic space Rue Saint-Honoré Et voilà! One day we took everybody by surprise as EX NIHILO means in Latin created from scratch. We had no specific plans. We dreamed of having a flagship in the most buzzed neighborhood in Paris and starting the distribution in the most exclusive stores globally, including Harrods or Bergdorf Goodman. Now our brand is available in more than 30 countries.

What makes you different from other perfume companies?

We try to challenge stereotyped luxury and bring a whole new luxury experience. Surprisingly not being perfumers helped us think out of the box and generate fresh and disruptive ideas about the fragrance experience.

We found this classic image of the omnipotent creative director is quite outdated. And because you are more creative and efficient when you work with people who complete your skills. Collaboration is at our DNA's core, and we draw our inspiration from many fields in the artistic community, such as fashion, architecture, design, and photography.

How do you find your perfume ingredients?

We source our ingredients according to the most strict protocols all over the world: from France (Grasse) for our Rose of May Centifolia, Tuscany in Italy for the Iris, Vanilla Bourbon from Madagascar. We only choose the best quality with no limits of cost. Today we focus on the most demanding sustainability programs, reducing our carbon footprint, exploring bioscience, and promoting social consciousness because we think all these elements are the future of high perfumery!

What is your first 'scent memory'?

I'm a genuine Southerner! Whenever I smell a fragrance or ingredient that is reminiscent of my parent's garden in the South of France, I am transported there: Pine trees, Figs, Lavender plants and aromatic trees, even the smell of the red hot soil of Mediterranean landscapes...these are is my first olfactory memories.


Do you have any favorites among your fragrance collection?

In terms of my personal preference, I prefer the Fleur Narcotique fragrance. I like the scent just as much as the story behind it. Its creation is related to the meeting with Quentin Bisch for the first time. Fleur Narcotique was the very first EX NIHILO fragrance creation. It's the most successful and best-seller. When I smelled it for the first time, it was really something special and addictive. Even if I don't wear it, it's the fragrance my wife wears, and I love it for that reason.

If you were to create a perfume that best defines your personality, how would it be?

It already exist, I think FRENCH AFFAIR by Quentin Bisch (a revisited Chypre) perfectly describes my personality. It is daring, Parisian and trying to fill the gap between tradition and modernity.

What are your favorite scents?

I love smells with character, that are atypical or express their owner's personality. I like Iris a lot for its sophisticated touch, orange blossom for its sparkling effect and all the woods, including Tonka Bean. I travel a lot, and I can say I hate this uniformed International Airport smell, the mix of the sillage of Duty Free stores and all these commercial juices; it's the same smell worldwide! How depressing is that!


Do you have any new launches for this summer?

Yes, to celebrate sunny days' arrival, we introduce a new limited edition LUST IN PARADISE RIVIERA EDITION. This new sensual interpretation was redesigned by its author, perfumer Louise Turner, to express the voluptuous spirit of a burning afternoon on the French Riviera. You will find Peony, Tiare flowers and Tuberose in the heart notes.

What is the inspiration behind the LUST IN PARADISE RIVIERA EDITION?

The inspiration of LUST IN PARADISE is the French Riviera, its a whole atmosphere, solar but not only beachy. For many people, the beach means smells of Cocoa or a lot of Vanilla. With Louise Turner, it was essential for us to express our idea through a more spicy opening. We started with Pink berries to give some more vibration, then associated it with a splendid white Peony that represents a very blooming "summer effect." This association invigorates and intoxicates simultaneously; for us the idea was really to create this Mediterranean addiction on the skin.


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