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Baroness Ariane de Rothschild on Her Entrepreneurship and Caron’s Latest Fragrance

Baroness Ariane de Rothschild

Chairwoman of Edmond de Rothschild Suisse S.A board of directors since 2019, Baroness Ariane de Rothschild has many feathers in her cap. The multi-hyphenate is involved in all the activities of the Group extending to banking, wines, hotel management, private equity and haute perfumery. She is also deeply committed to social empowerment in the arts, entrepreneurship, health and education. Baroness Rothschild visited Dubai last week for the launch of Caron’s latest fragrance Belle de Niassa and spoke exclusively to Vogue Arabia.

What is it like working with a name like Rothschild? How has your commitment to that name aided you in your success?

The Rothschild name comes with a lot of expectations as well as duties. For me, it is first and foremost about approaching every project with a long-term view. It means pushing the boundaries of what our investments can achieve, and combining pursuit of excellence with our quest for impact. The Rothschilds have been entrepreneurs for over 250 years and have always ensured that, through their activities, they manage to pass on something greater to future generations. With Caron for instance, this has meant working to transform an iconic brand, with a strong personality, by reviving exceptional know-how and committing to sustainable luxury.

Edmond De Rothschild is involved in several sectors, ranging from banking and wine to perfumery and even hospitality. How do you manage such a diverse and surely time-consuming portfolio?

I see this portfolio as being complementary. Our activities don’t operate in silos but nurture one another. I approach all of them with the same level of care, discipline, and organisation – whether that means being on-the-ground at the Four Seasons in Megève or meetings in vineyards with our wine producers. But the real key to success is about empowering and nurturing talent to get the best out of the partners and people I work with. Without my teams, it would not be possible to carry out all these activities at once!

You are an inspiration to young women hoping to be committed entrepreneurs? What would be your main piece of advice?

As a mother to four daughters, supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs is incredibly important to me. I’ve certainly learnt a lot from my experiences as a woman working in banking and the challenges that come with this. I have always been deeply impressed by the power of women in the Middle East region. I feel it is still too little known what a large pool of talented and educated women you have. Women often need to work harder to prove that they are up for the job. In terms of advice, I would say that throughout your career you’ll be faced with tough environments, and so you need to be committed and remain steady. Determination always pays off.

What was it about Caron that appealed to you? And why Perfumery?

I had the desire to invest in a new industry and I identified that perfumery shares values consistent with my long-term approach of supporting creation, high standards and know-how, while being a highly industrialized and competitive sector. Having spent most of my childhood abroad, I have developed a very personal relationship with the world of perfumes and as the last house of Haute Parfumerie, Caron was no stranger to me. This is a hundred years old House with a very rich heritage, an exceptional know-how and strong character fragrances. The possibility to revive it through a bold entrepreneurial project and perpetuate this incredible savoir faire raised my interest.

How does Caron fit into the greater ideology of Edmond De Rothschild?

Since its creation in 1904, Caron has embodied values that are dear to me: boldness, know-how, quest for excellence, pioneering spirit, desire to have impact on society. As a Heritage brand, Caron is also consistent with my goal to prioritize long term investments. I love to develop, push to excellence with the aim to transmit to future generations.

How have you ensured that the brand remains true to its avant-garde spirit?

From its inception, the House of Caron has been wildly modern. All the creations are bold, break the codes. Pour Un Homme de Caron for example, our iconic fragrance created in 1934, was a revolution in perfumery. The very first fragrance for men, it had the audacity to associate lavender, a traditional men’s fragrance ingredient, with vanilla, more linked to the feminine world. We continue to create powerful scents with strong personalities, using overdoses of noble raw materials. We seek to surprise and delight, creating explosive encounters between unexpected ingredients. One of our last creations, Poivre Sacré, associating the spicy freshness of pepper with frankincense has received the 2022 award of Best Niche Perfume from the Fragrance Foundation France. This type of recognition comforts us in our strategy. Caron is a house of creation and its independence protects its freedom and its audacity, not following trends or diktats. We are committed to being faithful to these founding values of the House. It is a continuous creative work to live up to the history of the House!

Jean Jacques, Caron’s in-house perfumer

What are the benefits of working with an exclusive perfumer in an independent house?

Caron is a House of Haute Parfumerie with an amazing heritage and a strong identity. As such I felt it was necessary to integrate an in-house perfumer to perpetuate this know-how and this artistic vision. Jean Jacques’s expertise enables us to have a total freedom of creation, respectful of the olfactive DNA of the House, while anchoring it in modernity. We have the goal to continue to create perfumes that have a strong emotional power. Having an in-house perfumer also enables us to source rare, beautiful, and sustainable ingredients that nourish our inspiration. It also protects and warrants the authenticity of the formulas of our iconic fragrances.

You have just launched a new scent, Belle de Niassa, can you tell us what is special about it?

At the dawn of each new creation lies a beautiful experience that was lived, felt, and breathed. Belle de Niassa translates an enchanting olfactory emotion that I have experienced every year when visiting the Niassa province, in Mozambique, at the peak of the dry season. A few days before the rain comes, the Mahogany flower blooms and fills the savannah air with its solar and powerful scent. This is an addictive and captivating aroma that is one of my most powerful olfactive memories. In 2019, I have invited Jean Jacques, Caron’s in-house perfumer, to discover this unknown flower and live this magical moment. Belle de Niassa is a solar and radiant interpretation of this scent: Jean recreated each facet of the flower by combining the opulence of a bouquet of white flowers with the juicy freshness of star fruit. This fragrance represents a true innovation as for the first time in perfumery, the scent of the mahogany flower is transcribed in a sumptuous soliflore fragrance. This unique exercise also testifies to the audacity of Caron and its curiosity and openness to the world.

What is your favorite scent from Caron?

Perfume is important to me, which is why I choose between several of my favorite scents each morning, depending on the agenda of the day, my mood or the season. I can thus wear Belle de Niassa, Or et Noir or Poivre Sacré depending on the occasion.  I also wear all the perfumes we work on with Jean. Creating a fragrance is a complex and long process which requires many tries. Wearing the different versions enables me to live with them, nourishes the thought and the creative process.

Belle de Niassa from Caron

You have always been committed to sustainability, what does that look like for Caron?

The commitment to sustainability is an everyday challenge consistent with my vision of entrepreneurship and investment: to transform over the long term by maximizing the positive impact on society. Beyond Caron, we work on rethinking the entire value chain. We redesigned all the packaging for it to be eco-sourced and reusable. The perfume bottles are refillable. We attach great importance to the ingredients that make up our fragrances. Whenever possible, Jean uses ingredients that are labelled “For Life”, i.e. ingredients produced within sustainable labels. For Belle de Niassa for example, we have chosen a “For Life” “open flower” jasmine absolute, as well as a rare “For Life” ylang ylang absolute. Other example, for the Pour un Homme de Caron fragrance, we have set up a partnership with a French lavender producer, Jérôme Boenle, whose business has been well-established in Provence for five generations. All the French lavender used to create this fragrance comes from his lavender fields. We also work on relaunching and sustaining certain supply chains, like the one of Vetiver in Haiti. Beyond sourcing ingredients we look to have a social impact in the industry: perpetuate know-how, preserve and create jobs for local farmers. Our aim is to offer generous luxury.

Edmond De Rothschild is expanding to Dubai, what is it about this region that fits with your vision of the future? What does this expansion mean for Caron?

 Expanding our presence in the UAE was a natural decision. As bankers, we have built our reputation on innovation, collaboration, and excellence – and this is the mindset we are seeing here in Dubai. In less than two decades, the city has established itself as one of the most innovative and dynamic financial centers in the world. As for Caron, the brand has always had strong links with the Middle Eastern clientele, either here or in the Paris boutique. Since 2021, we have re-launched the House in the Middle East through a regional partner, and we are now glad to count 43 counters in the most important and prestigious department stores of 6 countries: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan. You can find the brand for example in Galeries Lafayette Dubai, Harvey Nichols Riyadh or Printemps Doha. Alongside historical perfumes such as Pois de Senteur, Lady Caron or Pour Un Homme de Caron, our new creations like Tabac Exquis, Poivre Sacré or Aimez Moi Comme Je Suis are experiencing a strong success which has led us to a 60% growth in 2022. We will continue to develop and strengthen our base in the coming months with the ambition to open a flagship in Dubai and/or Riyadh to offer our customers the most beautiful Caron experience.

How are you ensuring that the next generation continues to build upon the Rothschild name and your own legacy?

A lot of my work is about the legacy transformation that comes with being a Rothschild. This means projecting the Group into the future and passing the baton to my daughters so they can continue to add to the heritage of the name, when they are ready and on their own terms. It’s important to note that I would never force the family businesses upon them, it’s always their choice to make. From a young age they have each been involved in the various businesses. I learn a lot working and exchanging with my daughters. They inspire me and encourage me to see things differently, with a fresh perspective. My youngest, Olivia, actually designed the bottle of the Collection Merveilleuse for Caron and co-created with Jean Jacques her own scent, Musc Oli.


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