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Stories from the Middle East Region

When Perfume Imitates Art, You End Up With Emir and Zohor

Parfum Jabrane & Fenaoui Emir

My cultural influences

I grew up in a poor township in Morocco. As a child, creativity was essential in order to keep myself entertained. We couldn’t afford toys, so I made my own and that’s when I really caught the creative bug. My imagination fueled me for everything. I was always drawing, doodling or trying to build something.

I have a vivid memory of walking down the streets in the city and being fascinated with the signs that I saw. There were so many different kinds: some painted on, some engraved, with beautiful colors and vivid calligraphy. I would walk alongside my father and ask him if I could make signs myself. He shrugged off my childish ways, but my passion for calligraphy remained and continues to live within me to this day, serving as an influence when designing the packaging of my fragrances.

My sensory influences

I was exposed to a million and one different scents growing up in Morocco. From the delicious smells emanating from my mother’s kitchen and the spices of the souks, to the gorgeous scents of orange blossoms and nature when I traveled to the countryside. Scent is very important to Arab culture, and Moroccans are no exception: all the adults I knew wore perfumes. I remember smelling the distinct scent of each person every time I walked into a room of adults. I noticed a sharp difference between scents when it came to gender: men smelled musky and masculine, the women sweeter and more floral. These scents further fueled my imagination.

My past

When I was 19, I moved to France to pursue my studies. I was enrolled in a science program, but ached for a creative outlet. I became more and more interested in calligraphy, always doodling in my notebooks in class and spending most of my time day-dreaming. I found science interesting, but I needed to express myself and felt that my creativity was limited.

After a few years in France, I moved to the U.S.  and through a variety of jobs, I learned the basics of business and production. The possibilities were endless in the U.S, and this is where my eyes were truly opened to the possibility of being creative for a living.Eventually, my family and I moved to Canada, and this is where it all came together for me. Financially stable, I was finally able to dedicate more time to my creative pursuits. Using my knowledge in science, the business expertise I picked up over the years and my lifelong passion for creation, I found my creative outlet in fragrance making.

My future

I was, and still am, excited to tell my story through scent. Emir and Zohor are a recreation of my favorite childhood memories in Morocco, homage to Oriental culture, with a touch of Western influence since the bulk of my adult life was spent here. It is a journey through my past and towards what I imagine is an ideal future. Each spritz is meant to take you to a parallel universe, in an orange orchard or a Moroccan Riad: sunny and bright, with a hint of spice.

My love of calligraphy

I fell in love with calligraphy at a very young age, and it was imperative for me that I use it when designing my fragrance. I see a beautiful similarity between calligraphy and fragrance: both consist of individual components that mean nothing on their own (lines in the case of calligraphy, chemical compounds in the case of fragrance), but when orchestrated together in a synchronized manner they make something dazzling to the eye or nose.

I have been an avid collector of calligraphy based art for many years now, and it was on a hunt for more pieces to add to my collection that I met the Iraqi designer responsible for Emir and Zohor’s beautiful calligraphy. After seeing his work, I approached him for collaboration and he was excited to get involved. He has been drawing calligraphy his entire life, with a focus on illumination and religious texts which require dedicated precision. His calligraphy is both rich and simple, imparting a beautiful mystique to all of his artwork. Each time his pen touches a paper, something beautiful ensues. An experienced artist, he was truly the perfect match for our brand.

With contribution from Hala A. Malak