Nicole Mather: “We have already been in travel retail in Russia for the past four years and we continue to flourish in the Middle East and Asia”

When Romania-born Nicole Mather left the world of high finance, after working at Smith Barney, UBS and Goldman Sachs, she wasted little time in establishing her own US-based cosmetics business.

She developed a haute perfumerie brand that had creativity at its heart – where art and innovation could play.

“I grew to admire the brilliance of scent and how it can transport you to another place and time,” says the Founder & CEO of House of Sillage. “Gathering wisdom from people who have devoted their lives to this particular kind of beauty, rare components were collected from exotic locales from across the globe.”

The end result has been the rise of House of Sillage into a renowned name in high-end perfumerie, attracting a discerning clientele. While discovery sets start at just US$25 prices can climb to more than US$1,200 for jewel-encrusted limited editions like Passion de l’Amour.

The Moodie Davitt Report caught up with Mather to talk about niche fragrances and the travel retail opportunity for high-end fragrances like hers.

Kevin Rozario: Do you consider yourself in the niche segment and why did you decide this was an area to explore when you launched the company?

Nicole Mather: We are not merely within niche luxury fragrance, but an innovative leader in the industry. We wanted to launch House of Sillage in this segment because there is high demand for luxury parfums, but a low supply. We wanted to be a revolutionary ground-breaker and deliver the best of the best – with not only the highest-quality scents, but top-tier exterior packaging and beautiful aesthetics.

An unmistakable look: This scent is called Love is in the Air

The cupcake styling is also intriguing. Did you have it in mind as a signature look?

Many clients recognise House of Sillage with our signature cupcake-style fragrance bottles. However, we don’t necessarily refer to our bottle design as “cupcake.” We wanted a design that was distinctly unique, elegant, eye-catching and luxurious – unlike anything seen before in the luxury fragrance industry.

Your limited edition bottles are much more elaborate. What was the inspiration?

They are inspired by the craftsmanship and aesthetics of haute joaillerie, and designed to be collectible works of art. Each bottle is made with French glass and hand-lacquered with an elegant ombré effect and contains precious gemstones and unique elements made through countless hours of design and master craftsmanship. Our Signature collection is also held to our luxury standards, as each bottle contains the same extrait de parfum as our Limited Editions, and each cap is adorned with 158 hand-placed Swarovski crystals.

Discovery sets start at just US$25 (above) but can climb to more than US$1,200 for jewel-encrusted limited editions like Passion de l’Amour (below)

Fragrance retailers have taken more interest in niche scents in recent years. Has this boosted growth and which regions are you targeting in the coming 12-18 months?

The niche focus in fragrance retailing has definitely helped our expansion. The high demand and low supply for luxury niche fragrances has contributed positively. In the near future we plan to expand geographically in Asia.

Travel retail is also more open to niche scents. How long have you been in the channel and how viable is it for you?

We have been in travel retail for the past four years and see great potential for growth, and for reaching new territories. We will continue exploring this opportunity.

The Christian Cowan collaboration offers a strong gifting opportunity

Shoppers in Bond Street, Fifth Avenue and Beverly Hills are often the same as those found in airport stores. Do you see any customer crossover for House of Sillage and benefits from that?

There is a strong correlation between the consumers who shop at the world’s most luxurious shopping destinations and the ones who shop at the most upscale airport stores.

We see an opportunity to have a House of Sillage presence in the world’s most famous airports. As well as a sales increase in these high-traffic locations, it creates global brand awareness.

Why is House of Sillage a good fit for the channel?

When people travel to see loved ones, or are in a vacation mindset, they may feel more inclined to make fancy purchases – either as gifts or to splurge on themselves. Luxury fragrances are the perfect gifts: they are compact and portable and we also have a very diverse array of products with wide-ranging appeal.

Do you expect to expand faster in regions such as the Middle East and Russia?

There is huge affinity and high demand for our products worldwide, with our largest market being the United States – demand is not solely limited to Russia and the Middle East. We have already been in travel retail in Russia for the past four years and we continue to flourish in the Middle East and Asia.

Special launches this season

House of Sillage has introduced a new men’s collection and partnered with fashion designer Christian Cowan in the lead up to the busy holiday period.

“With our new Gentlemen’s Collection, we celebrate the sexy, suited, modern, bold, and masculine man,” says House of Sillage CEO Nicole Mather. The two new men’s scents – The Formal and The Classic (below) – are described as an “artisanal capsule of provocative and primal fragrances” and retail at US$295.

The cross collaboration with Cowan – who has created flamboyant statement outfits for celebrities like Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and hip hop artist Cardi B – debuted at New York Fashion Week Fall 2019. The collection comprises of a unisex fragrance (US$285), travel spray and lipstick, presented in a lacquered box with a black and white check design, reflecting the fusion of two industry creatives.

The collection’s featured scent is House of Sillage’s best-selling Passion de L’Amour, an oud fragrance embodying warm, sweet vanilla and caramel notes, presented in a striking new signature black and white bottle. The lipstick’s patented bow-shaped case is varnished in a glossy enamel encrusted with over 300 diamond-cut crystals. The case can house any of the 14 lipstick shades from the brand’s Haute Cosmétique line, which are all infused with diamond powder and Vitamin E.