David Frossard of Maison Frapin: the vertue of cognac on your skin

“Timeless, rooted in tradition, and crafted with love for beauty and excellence from the finest ingredients” is the motto of the Frapin family. Since 1270, they have been renowned for their Grande Champagne niche cognac, and since 2007, they have also gained recognition for their exclusive cognac-inspired perfumes, developed from their knowledge and family heritage. David Frossard, Artistic Director of Maison Frapin, tells us about the vertue of cognac on your skin in an exclusive interview.

By Anja Van Der Borght

David Frossard, Artistic Director of Maison Frapin. Picture by Dimitri Coste.

“Cognac and perfume share many similarities,” says David Frossard, Artistic Director of Maison Frapin. “They are two pillars of French culture that utilize the distillation process. Cognac is always a blend. To achieve the desired end product, the cellar master employs various cognac maturations, much like a perfumer uses scent notes. The difference lies in the perfumer’s use of olfaction and the cellar master’s palate to create, for example, a Château Fontpinot XO, an elegant cognac that consistently delivers the same taste.”

A Different Dimension of Time
“I still remember my first visit to Frapin and how I found myself in a different universe on the estate surrounding the Château de Fontpinot in Segonzac, where time doesn’t hold the same value as it does for us,” Frossard recounts. “When the cellar master told me that the cognac he is releasing today is the work of his father, and that the cognac he will likely create in the future will be brought to market by his son, it made me pause. In the cognac world, they work across generations, over a span of thirty years. You must be confident in the quality you produce and the values you hold. After all, it spans a lifetime. This different world and the time it takes to create the final product fascinated me, as did the quality of Frapin cognacs, their taste, and the emotions they evoke. So, when I was asked in 2007, as a fragrance specialist, to develop the Frapin perfume range, I didn’t hesitate. Since then, eleven exclusive fragrances have come to life.”

Apothecary of the Sun King
The inspiration of Frapin perfumes by cognac is reflected in their production process, scents, and aesthetics. The perfume bottles are modeled after cognac bottles, with caps made of oak, a nod to the oak barrels in which cognac matures. “My intention is not to create perfumes that smell like cognac, but rather scents that evoke the essence of cognac, the French cognac culture, and the history of the Frapin family,” explains Frossard. “Since 1270, they have remained at the helm of the house. Their ancestor Pierre Frapin served as an apothecary to Louis XIV and was ennobled by the Sun King. The apothecary’s coat of arms, inspired by the County of Angoulême, which held cherished memories for the king, can be found on all our flacons today. Our bestselling fragrance, ‘1270,’ is a beautifully rounded and honeyed perfume that bears the closest resemblance to cognac, with a hint of tobacco and leather. The idea for this fragrance came from the previous owner of Frapin, Béatrice Cointreau. As a woman, she was a rarity in the industry, and while she had a deep appreciation for cognac, she consumed less than her male colleagues. She experimented by applying cognac to her skin. The captivating scent that I often noticed led to the creation of ‘1270,’ inspired by ‘la folle blanche,’ a mythical grape variety that was devastated by the grape phylloxera in the 19th century. We are now striving to reintroduce this exceptional grape, as it possessed a unique, delicate pineapple note. In October, we will be launching a new Frapin fragrance that will evoke an even stronger connection to cognac.

“Another exciting addition and my personal favorite within our range is ‘Attendre & Espérer’,” reveals Frossard. “It is a sweet woody perfume created in collaboration with Irish perfumer Maebh Mac Curtin, into which I poured a part of myself. The fragrance is inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ literary masterpiece, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo,’ written in 1844. At the end of the book, Dumas writes, ‘Until the day when God feels obliged to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: “wait and hope” – ‘Attendre et espérer’!’ In these uncertain times of war, global warming, and more, I found this moral to be incredibly relevant. The book deeply resonates with me, which is why I worked with an ingredient that moves me profoundly: vetiver, one of the most exquisite ingredients in perfumery. However, vetiver can sometimes be perceived as too traditional. Therefore, I added a twist and warmth to it by infusing it with roasted peanuts. Additionally, you will also detect notes of neroli, spicy cardamom, black pepper, and iris root (in the heart), which imparts a touch of elegance to the fragrance in my opinion.” The result is a dandy-esque scent, infused with philosophy and mystery.

Read the story in French in this magazine: Red Racing Green.

Frapin perfumes are exclusively available at select perfumeries. More info

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