This is the story of a woman with an exceptional career and destiny. A visionary with a unique olfactory gift.
Annick Goutal was born in 1945 in Aix en Provence in the south of France. She was the third daughter of a family of 8 children.
Her father had a well-known confectionery shop in Paris where Annick would regularly help fill and tie ribbons around sweet and chocolate small pouches. Although Annick was not yet aware of it, these long hours spent in the back of her father’s shop would form the creative background for the style of her bottles.
Her father was passionate about art and music, a perfectionist who placed great hope in Annick. “You will be a great pianist!” he told her. From the age of six, Annick began practising the piano for many hours every day. In 1961, at the age of 16 she won first prize for piano at the prestigious Versailles Conservatory.
But Annick was in great need for freedom. In a spirit of rebellion she decided to leave for London and to become an au pair.
Annick had a slender silhouette and was a ravishing woman. Her magnificent beauty was quickly noticed by a friend of the family she was working for, the renowned fashion photographer David Bailey. He helped Annick get started in modelling and she was soon in great demand and working all over the world.
But one day in a London hotel she came across a piano and was overwhelmed by a wave of nostalgia. She sat down and began playing a Chopin ballad. Each note she played made her question her future. Having been brought up in a spirit of authority and perfection, how could she possibly accept earning a living so effortlessly?
She decided to leave her modelling career and return to Paris. Annick was passionate about art objects and loved hunting for antique furniture. She decided to open an antique furniture shop in Paris which she called “Folavril”, based on the female character in a Boris Vian novel. At the same time, she met an antiquarian. They had a daughter together, Camille, in 1975.
Two years after, Annick fell ill and closed her shop.
1977 saw the beginning of a new chapter in Annick’s life. One of her very good friends, Micheline, suggested they work together and open a small beauty product business. She had just bought some extraordinary formulas for plant-based creams from two Swiss sisters. Annick accepted her offer enthusiastically but quickly realised that two aspects of the products had to be improved: the packaging and the scent of the creams.
This was where Annick’s talent came in. With her great artistic sense and years of training spent wrapping chocolates and sweets, Annick imagined a packaging for the jars of cream, styling them like candy pouches, with bows and elegant handwritten labels, as the ballotins of chocolate from her father’s confectionary. Fingers have memory...
The fragrance for the creams still needed to be created. Annick went to Grasse and knocked at the doors of the leading firms specialising in fragrance formulation. The majority greeted her with generosity but made her understand it wasn’t possible to innocently enter the closed circle of perfumery. However, one encounter in Grasse drastically changed Annick’s life forever, meeting the perfumer Henri Sorsana at Maison Robertet.
For Annick, it was a revelation. She discovered she had a genuine gift for creating perfumes and a vocation: she would become a perfumer. She then spent four years passionately learning the profession of perfumer and all that it involves: the raw materials, formulas, vocabulary. Annick rediscovered the musical language that she had left behind, transposed into olfaction, with the same words: organ, note, harmony, touch. Fragrance and music speak the same language.
Annick had found her vocation and soon afterwards she found the love of her life. By chance at a dinner she rediscovered her teenage love, Alain Meunier, who she had first met 20 years earlier at the music conservatory. He had become a famous cellist. They were never apart again. Annick Goutal enjoyed listening to her husband practising for a concert while she composed her fragrances. Music and fragrance came together with incredible ease.
Having sold her beauty products directly in homes for some time, Annick opened her very first shop in December 1980, a charming location with a refined, intimate atmosphere. It was an old bookshop on rue de Bellechasse, in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, not far from Bonpoint, a House founded by her sisters. Her very first perfume creation was called Folavril, the name of her antique shop, a fragrance that captures the delicious appeal of a tomato leaf. It was the scent of her very first creams. She loved it so much that she worked the formula again to create a Spring fragrance.
1981 marked a turning point for the House with the creation of its legendary fragrance Eau d’Hadrien, a citrus, fresh, timeless unisex fragrance, which transcended fashion. With a great deal of patience and passion, Annick weighed her formulas, chose her raw materials with the utmost care, and tested the wear of all her samples.
Her reputation grew day by day, spread word-of-mouth by her long-time clients and journalist friends, all convinced of her immense talent. She also quickly attracted personalities from around the world.
Over time, the Annick Goutal House has joined the great names of French High Perfumery. In 1986, Annick received the prestigious European Excellence Award, an annual prize given to individuals whose professional activity incorporates refinement, creativity and aesthetics, and helps promote European tradition throughout the world. The success of the House has been spectacular in France and overseas, in particular in the United States where, in the 1990s, it ranked in the Top 5 in some of the leading department stores including Saks and Neiman Marcus, due, especially, to the popularity of Eau d’Hadrien and Gardénia Passion on the US market.
A legal battle also increased the public profile of Annick Goutal in the United States. Elizabeth Taylor, owner of the fragrance “Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion” filed a suit against Passion by Annick Goutal, a case which, against all odds, Annick won! Elizabeth Taylor’s fragrance was banned in some prestigious stores.
From 1996, a second wave of creations consolidated the unstoppable rise of Annick Goutal. Grand Amour, Eau du Sud, Petite Chérie, Ce Soir ou Jamais, as well as home fragrances such as Noël complete the House’s universe.
In 1999, after a long battle against cancer, Annick passed away at the age of 53. The one who was nicknamed “the artist of scents” was a fascinating, demanding, passionate and generous woman, driven by her emotions.
She left behind a legacy of some twenty unforgettable fragrances, as well as a love of fragrance that she passed on to her daughter Camille, and to Isabelle Doyen, with whom she had collaborated since 1986. They became the in-house perfumers, behind the new creations.
Both share this love of noble materials so dear to Annick Goutal. They compose the fragrances together, like a duet. With a complete freedom, they continue the quest for unchartered territory, preserving the spirit of the House and its core values: Authenticity, Emotion, Excellence and French Art of Living.
Today, Annick Goutal is one of the very few High Perfumery Houses to have its own in-house perfumers.
The House belongs today to Amore Pacific, a Korean cosmetic leader company.