“I had to find a way to explain this light and shadow, this strong and poetic side, which was always there, into a smell. I could only trust my instinct; and my instinct was the inspiration,” Demeulemeester explained. “To me it had to be something that was intriguing, something that goes back to the origin of things, to something natural, something animalistic, something mysterious. I thought about L’Enfant Sauvage, which is a film of François Truffaut about a child that has been found in the bushes that lived there alone with the animals. I always loved the story. It was always an inspiration for me, and I wanted to make a perfume that is pure and based on instinct.” Reinforcing Demeulemeester’s connection to the living world, A is a perfume, as opposed to an eau de cologne, meaning it is made of essential oils made from natural raw materials that have been cold pressed.
Since receiving a rose plant on St. Valentine’s day about 10 years ago from her husband and collaborator Patrick Robyn, Demeulemeester has become an avid gardener, one who knows the patterns of growth and seasons. A, you could say, acts a bit like rain on earth; it hits the skin with a pungent “splash” and then almost seeps into the skin, expanding, warming, transforming. There’s a lot of “ground” to cover, in the sense that the ingredients list is quite extensive. Jasmine, May rose, and birch oil form the heart of the fragrance, which has top notes of clove, cumin, ceylon cinnamon, Sicilian lemon, and Calabrian bergamot that are tethered by base notes of patchouli, vetiver, rosewood, and sandalwood.