Inspired by the scents that adorn the Polynesian islands, Tahitian Lovaïna Guirao fragrance compounds and introduces the art of perfume. Portrait of a young designer, always amazed by the olfactory wealth of Tahiti and its islands.
She loves the heady white flowers of French Polynesia: jasmine, gardenia, and tiare anei, endemic to Tahiti. She also loves ylang-ylang, for its very sensual smell, and of course, she adores spices, cardamom and cinnamon, and coconut for its woody finish. Lovaïna Guirao is a "nose."
The nose knows
Born and raised in Tahiti, Guirao has dedicated her life to perfume and perfume compositions, and runs perfume creation workshops. She has just created the signature scents for Pearl Islands Resorts, located in the Society archipelago and in the Marquesas Islands.
"For each address, I imagined an olfactory identity inspired by the island on which it's situated. In Bora-Bora, I designed a very flowery cocktail, with a mix of scents from the ylang-ylang, frangipani and tiare anei, native to the island. For Taha'a, I wanted to highlight variety, so I used woody notes and vanilla which mimics the plantations perfuming the air there. In Tahiti, I wanted more fresh scents, with a hint of coconut water."
A fragrance organ of 3,000 species
Lovaina has set up her "laboratory" in Punaauia, a few miles south of Papeete, on the coast. Under the name "The Scented Card," she composes her creations with a device called a perfume organ, which holds 3,000 essences that she's bought from all over the world.
While the tiaré specifically comes from Tahiti, she finds that all flowers have their place in perfume creation. "All the flowers give it a very feminine side, sweetness and roundness," she explains.
Guirao also welcomes visitors for a three-hour workshop where she introduces them to the art of perfume. "I teach them how to use their nose and how to express their feelings through scent."
Her calling goes back to the age of 16. "I was a tradition tamouré dancer, and I attended the Heiva, the great annual dance competition of French Polynesia. When the artists came on stage with their sumptuous wreaths of flowers, I was caught in a whirlwind of scents. I realized that I wanted to work in the world of perfume."
In search of Eden
After studying in the Paris region, at ISIPCA, the prestigious perfume school founded by Guerlain, and then working as a consultant for a while, Lovaïna began creating scents in New Caledonia, before returning to settle in Tahiti a few years ago.
The discovery of new smells and the people who create them still fascinate her. She is also interested in the latest findings of botanists. "I'm going to look for Ofeo (Pittosporum Taitense). This white flower, which blooms all year, has just been discovered at 1.500 meters above sea level, in the interior of the island of Tahiti!".