Marie Aoun’s fragrance house, Saint d’Ici, produces a stylish line of limited-edition perfumes created from natural, ethically sourced ingredients.
After more than ten years in the fashion industry, Marie Aoun considered a dramatic career change – to gardening.
‘At some point I realised that my worlds meet in natural perfumery,’ says Aoun, who went on to train with Dominique Dubrana of La Via del Profumo in Italy. Aoun spent a lot of time reading, experimenting and meeting with perfume producers until she felt ready to launch Saint d’Ici, her own line of natural perfumes that use ingredients that are ethically sourced, mainly from small-scale farmers and artisan distillers.
‘My goal was to create a simple aesthetic that would foreground quality ingredients,’ she explains of her products, which have uniform packaging – numbered-edition black bottles finished with white labels that recall the easy elegance of brands like Byredo and Le Labo.
Aoun is inspired by the applications of perfumery in cultural tradition and speaks with authority on the use of perfume in north Sudanese ceremony and the historical uses of ouhout, frankincense and cloves in isiZulu, Ancient Egyptian and Elizabethan cultural practices respectively. ‘There’s been a Westernisation and homogenisation of perfume, but there were and still are so many different ways in which people perfume themselves,’ says Aout, who is currently researching ways in which people perfume their homes – ‘by means other than the ubiquitous scented candle,’ she adds.
The Johannesburg-based entrepreneur is always on the lookout for new ingredients, forging relationships across the continent. According to Aout, ‘something African’ emerged in the process of creating the Saint d’Ici line.
I think that this is the result of having a sense of place,’ she muses. ‘South Africa’s biodiversity is remarkable. Farmers and artisanal distillers are increasingly trialling extractions of various varieties of fynbos, wood and grasses. Together with the ancient traditions of African perfumes further north, I cannot imagine a better place to be as a natural perfumer.
For more information, visit saintdici.com