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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interview with Lianne Tio

By Tom

Lianne Tio is of course the nice lady who I first ran across when I bought two of the last two bottles of Annick Goutal’s late, lamented Eau de Fier. In addition to her Annick Goutal store she has branched out and opened her eponymous boutique in Rotterdam, Lianne Tio Parfums. Always charming, she agreed to answer some questions about her philosophy, her loves, and her new business.

What brought you to opening your own boutique?

I lived in Paris for 14 years, and worked there in the cosmetic industry. The last perfume I wore was Jicky by Guerlain, but for some reason I did not appreciate this scent anymore. One day, I was walking in St. Germain des Pres and discovered a tiny shop at the Rue Saint Sulpice and entered the Annick Goutal Boutique for the first time. I was attracted to the packaging of romantic bottles and femininity, a completely different world of scents. I tried one of the scents and I was stunned: this scent reminded me of my native country Indonesia... I saw myself as a child, playing in the garden and I could literally smell the grass, ivy and seringa. I learned that the scents of Annick Goutal were ‘emotionally inspired perfumes’: every human being builds a library of scents during their lifetime, and, smelling the perfumes of Annick Goutal unconsciously opened the door to my own library…

Back in The Netherlands I started to study Annick Goutal’s concept. Her life, her talent in translating her emotions into a perfume fascinated me. It was then (nine years ago today) that I decided to open my maison de parfum Annick Goutal, at that time the first niche brand in The Netherlands. I had two missions: to share, with the Dutch, my discovery of the beautiful perfumes of a special perfumer named Annick Goutal, who was not motivated by commercial success but by a desire to create a personal, artistic statement. And, being a tiny distributor of an unknown brand in The Netherlands, challenging the big perfume chains. Furthermore, my passion for classical music, art and beauty were pushing me to go for this project.

In my store I wanted to create a beautiful world of scents in which customers would feel a warm atmosphere of intimacy, assisted by a professional and personal approach. My customers would want to distinguish themselves and prefer authenticity, high quality and exclusivity above mainstream and mediocrity. They would want to wear a perfume that suits their personality.

I advise my clientele in the choice of their perfumes by observing their personality and asking them some questions. I also advise them to have their own ‘wardrobe of scents’.
I inform my customers about the philosophy and the sources of inspiration from which a perfume is composed and encourage them to discover the natural ingredients in a perfume. This approach fascinates the customer, and the scent will ‘come to life’ for him/her.

Were you always attracted to scent?

I was always attracted to luxury and high quality…but relatively unaware of the power of scent. For quite some time I thought my Guerlain was the best smell I could wear, and at the same time I was very reluctant to enter the big perfumery chains, where they sell un-inspired, synthetic perfumes. To me they all smelled the same: aggressive and very commercial. Walking into that tiny Annick Goutal shop changed my whole vision on scent.

We know that you carry Annick Goutal scents (which you know I love), what are some of the others you carry and what attracted you to them?

It’s difficult to choose but I’ll give you a few of my favorites:

• Santa Maria Novella di Firenze; the oldest perfume house in the world (16th century), for their philosophy and the pureness of their products. Their products are still made and prepared by hand in a limited, controlled process at the original Florence site.

• Lorenzo Villoresi, who has created perfumes plein de caractère, full of character.

• Les Parfums de Montale, because of their rich and creamy ingredients, for instance Roses Musk, the top of elegance and femininity. I get compliments everywhere! And when I wear Chypre Fruité, I am back in Paris again in my Chanel suit... A very distinguished, elegant and discrete perfume.

I’m proud to be the only boutique in the Netherlands, that sells Clive Christian – Guinness World Record holder for the most expensive fragrance in the world – and I can’t say this title keeps customers away…

Recently another pearl was added to my collection: Pure Distance. Made in Vienna, delivered in Swarovski crystal bottles, this scent is inviting and distant at the same time, unobtainable yet blindingly present.

I see from the photos from your website that your boutique has a very clean design, but not one that's off-putting or clinical. What were your thoughts on the design of your space?

For Lianne Tio Parfums I wanted to create a ‘crispy and clean’ ambiance, as well as a cosy and warm one. A dream world of scent, like a fairytale, wherein I share my knowledge on the art of perfume with my customers, undisturbed by the daily grind, accompanied by the sounds of beautiful classical music. A place to explore, and discover scents that evoke memories, emotions, sentiments.

For Annick Goutal - the Dutch flagship store - I wanted to recreate the feel and ambiance of the Belle Époque, with lush furniture in gold and ivory colors, radiating luxury, femininity and romance.

If you could design a scent that exemplified Lianne Tio, what would it be?

The perfect scent for me is the epitome of the absolute woman: a sensitive and sensual creature, who is intuitive as well as cunning, vulnerable as well as powerful. I would use ingredients like rose, tuberose, jasmin, sandalwood and ceder, as well as some of my secrets...

Sandro Botticelli has captured the essence of my absolute woman in his painting `The Birth of Venus'.

Where do you see your boutique in 5 years?

I am extremely proud to have customers from all over the world, visiting my boutique in Rotterdam, and ordering perfumes through my website. I would love to establish a true scent-paradise and hope to welcome even more perfume-lovers in the future.
My ambition is to expand on the concept of Lianne Tio Parfums, with a signature scent and a New York franchise at the top of my list…

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Blogger Vireo Perfumes said...

"Wardrobe of scents.." Sounds heavenly!

12:12 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

doesn't it just?

12:26 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

What a wonderful interview! Thanks! Just went to her website and love the look of the Rotterdam boutique - would love to get there some day, but I do hope she gets a NY franchise in the near future.

7:17 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Fantastic interview. Extraordinary. No false snobbery, but the love of intuition, honed by 'rigueur esthetique', a lyrical predisposition, a sense of quality, just those things whithout which fragrance is a superfluous subject matter. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

8:49 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


that would be nice! I'd love to go to Rotterdam one day as well. It looks so lovely

11:47 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


The lady knows her stuff!

11:47 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A time ago, I went to her shop on recommendation of a friend. I have never been advised in such a proffesional way. That lady has a passion...

2:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Wow, I would love to see her shop! She sounds like a wonderful person too. Lucky you to talk perfume with her!

5:56 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met her last year, a very interesting person. She adores art and is fond of Russian music.

5:49 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nice to read a Dutch story! Thanks for this. Although I live only 30 minutes away from Rotterdam, I have never visited Lianne's shop. Shame on me!

The Hague, The Netherlands

10:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Ayo Adene said...

I walked into Lianne Tio's store in Rotterdam for the first time in 2007 with my friend Gerard. Since then, Lianne has advised me on scents that match who I am, and I have acquired the same disdain for mass manufactured smells that she has. She is a wonderful woman in many ways, and what she does is very unique. She caters to an exclusive crowd of people who look beyond the obvious. Not so much about money as it is about intelligence and class. I am proud to wear Clive Christian from her shop, I think the only Nigerian to do so. It's the World's most expensive perfume, and since I am not nearly the world's richest man (yet), I bought a lovely small pack of 3 made just for me. There's always something new to learn at Lianne's. I can't wait to come back.

1:51 PM EDT  

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