A perfumery-gastronomic hedonist, Russian Frenchwoman, Catherine Laskine-Balandina, about her brand.
Catherine Laskine-Balandina, an incredibly elegant Russian Frenchwoman, an indefatigable traveler who traveled the floor of the world, speaking five languages and accumulated extensive experience in perfumery, created her own perfume brand in a completely new format. Catherine combined the taste and smell: tea and perfume, giving us the pleasure of new sensations. Horse riding, tennis, elegant but simple restaurants in the beloved 16th arrondissement of Paris, a traditional holiday in the Mediterranean and communication with « you » in the spirit of old French films, that’s how we often see real French women. Catherine reveals to us her fragrant world and talks about an exciting new project.
AB: Everything in life and love of perfume are not accidental. How was it with you? Tell a few words about yourself.
CL-B: It’s easy to like perfume, about as much as music. Perfumery ennobles and enriches, awakens consciousness, complements the image. Since childhood we have come into contact with smells, many become familiar and even loved.
In this love there is nothing unusual. Perfumery is a kind of pleasant virus, no one is looking for medicines.
I’ve been working with perfume for 20 years. As the international director of French perfume brands, I traveled the world and worked with perfumers often directly, studying and selecting flavors according to the geographical, age or trend preferences of the customers.
The high art of the perfumer has undergone several changes in recent years. In search of an ideal fragrance, multinational companies began to create universal compositions, like uniforms. This fact gave me an excuse and a desire to try my hand at the creative field of the perfumer. The brand « State of Mind » was born as a response to the boring landscape of the banal-glam industry.
AB: How do French women differ from Russian women in terms of perfume preferences?
CL-B: French women are faithful to the legendary French brands, and wear the same scent for many years, they rarely change them.Russian women are more curious, bookish and creative, open to new and ready for change. They are looking for variety.
AB: A delicate combination of fragrant tea and perfume is a synaesthetic pleasure. How was the idea of your creation born?
With Karine Dubreuil, perfumer State of Mind
CL-B: The project appeared very naturally and harmoniously. Ideas came by themselves. The name of the brand, fragrances, synaesthesia … There is a close connection between taste and smell, this connection is the object of my research. Tea has a wide range of flavors and is an ideal perfume component for the synergy of taste and aroma.
The friendship of thirty years ago with the tea master Olivier Scala and perfumer Karine Dubreuil makes it logical to put a plus sign between these two professions. Equality sign is, probably, my courage to unite them, as two components of the integral concept of « State of Mind ».
AB: « The state of mind » – so you can translate the name of your brand. To which of the feelings is your message sent? What idea do you want to convey to your customers?
CL-B: I wanted to create something close to the person himself. The theme of the state of the soul or spirit, on the one hand, is close to all, and on the other – inexhaustible.
There is something light and weightless in the game between our states. With the help of the fragrance « Butterfly Mind » it is possible for a moment to become frivolous. You can feel, believe and become successful with « Secret of Success » or become a playful joker with the fragrance of « Sense of Humor ».
« State of the Soul » or « State of Mind » – this play of words, literally, is reflected in the design of the bottle: « spirit » and « mind » are embodied in a clear faceted crystal lid, hand-polished. This personifies the masculine principle. But the « soul » lurks at the bottom of the bottle in the form of a virgin, drowning in a chic hair. This is the logo of the brand.
AB: There are already many niche perfumes on the market. What new fragrance have you brought?
CL-B: Originally I am not a perfumer and not a tea master, I am a kind of conductor of an orchestra, in which taste, smell, color, illustration and tactile sensations were mixed. I’m preparing to add a musical edge, but for now it’s a secret.
I’ve never had cookbooks. If they were given to me, I immediately got rid of them. I love to cook by inspiration. Also it turned out with fragrances and tea compositions – everything was written without drafts, as it came … My partners realized them with great pleasure, because they had never participated in such an experiment of combining taste and smell.
AB: Exquisite verbal and visual images to each fragrance … what was the inspiration and prototype of each of them?
CL-B: Each of the images of my scents is autobiographical. For the buyer, this is a kind of study of his own inner world. Work on such topics as « Spontaneous Generosity » or « Natural Elegance », allows us to tell about the wealth of the soul. Even the fragrance is able to give a person certain qualities. For example, in the « l’Ame Slave » I’m talking about the myth of the limitless Slavic soul when the Heart rules the Mind. And so you can talk about each of the ten flavors.
AB: The world of niche perfumery is no longer divided into masculine and feminine, while the creators keep in mind the image of their « client ». Who is close to your perfume?
CL-B: On the State of Mind pages, thanks to the illustrator Elena Mynenko, there are two characters living, a couple of aesthetes: light on the rise, talented, curious and full of life of the hedonists.
My client has an irresistible thirst for knowledge. He is talented and sees talent in others.
In my « creation » he finds an occasion for inspiration, and when he returns to us, he will again discover something new and interesting and eventually teach us a new idea, or ingredient.
On the spectrum of fragrances, the choice is very rich, also with tea compositions. The idea of choice is also in the color of the bottle. Men are unlikely to choose a pink bottle, which also carries the scent of white tea, sakura and feijoa. The visual aspect is another side of the synesthetic perception of my brand. In general, fragrances, like talent, are not divided into masculine and feminine. Either there is and like it or not.
AB: How many flavors should a woman have on the shelf?
CL-B: Probably, there are no rules for this. Due to my perfume profession, I have a lot of them.
AB: What is your favorite flavor?
CL-B: There are several of them. From my works this is « Sense of Humor », « Natural Elegance » and « Modern Nomad ». I like colleagues, for example, « Black Afgano ».
AB: How to properly conduct a tea-perfumery ceremony, based on the philosophy of your company? You even have a special fan …
CL-B: The tea-perfumery ceremony begins with the decision to allocate time for it in our bustle, turn the time and energy onto yourself.First you can get acquainted with the aroma of dry tea, best of all, directly from a large jar. Then, you have to wait until the hot water touches the tea leaves and opens for a few seconds their new perfume sound.
While tea is brewed, there is time to talk, calmly and without fuss. This, literally, liturgical minutes. They should be deposited in the head, as a well-deserved pleasure.
When tea is ready it will reveal the whole flavor bouquet. And then comes the moment to take a wooden fan with a corresponding flavor and, fanning yourself, feel the fragrance of perfume and the taste of tea at the same time. I must say that the tea in my collection has a very different taste. For example, in the collection « Modern Nomad » grilled Hojicha tea and smoky Lapsang Souchong carry wood, tobacco and leather notes. In contrast, there is Yunnan green tea with bitter taste and Puerh with wine accents.
If you do everything right, you can meet all the components from which you will get real pleasure. At this moment, your own interpretation and interpretation of the event will be born, as a result of the fusion of two sensations: taste and smell.
This phenomenon was described by Arthur Koestler, as the process of merging two elements from different spheres and the birth of a completely new, third, he called it “bissociation”. In my experiment there is a combination of taste and smell, and a new state of mind is obtained. I will give an example with the aroma « Spontaneous Generosity ». We mix tastes: tea Assam, caramel, cherry, coconut milk, we supplement with smells of black tea, figs and cherries. The result is the idea of coziness, a state of security, pleasant sensations and a comfortable atmosphere. Here’s how it works.
AB: Where can I buy your scents?
CL-B: In 8 countries, Russia is included in this list, as well as in the online store www.stateofmind.fr
AB: My traditional question, tell me about your favorite places in Paris.
CL-B: In Paris, I love the restaurant « Le Tournesol », which is on avenue de Lamballe in the 16th. I’m feel close to the spirit of the 16th district, calm and measured.
Holidays on the move with the whole family
I often run in the Saint-Cloud Park, it’s beautiful. The palace, formerly located in the park, was destroyed during the French Revolution, but the trees, beautiful fountains, a botanical garden and Sevres manufactories were preserved.
I really love walks in the park of the Palace of Versailles. Here, in fact, my daughters grew up – Marie and Veronique. We often walk alongside Trianon and Maria Antoinette’s farm. With my close friend, Francois, we like to have dinner from time to time in the restaurant « Boeuf à la Mode », located on the Place du marché de Versailles.
Paris, February 2018
The interview was prepared and conducted by Anna BaroinPhoto are kindly provided by Catherine Laskine-Balandina