Your perfume isn’t just how you smell—it’s how you feel. Usually, it’s an accessory to how you present yourself to the world, but these days, it can serve as a source of comfort and nostalgia during days spent at home. In the upcoming weeks, we’re sharing a new version of Fragrance Wardrobe, our series in collaboration with The Fragrance Foundation that highlights the rotating perfume “wardrobes” of tastemakers through key points in their life. In this new take, we’ll be asking them to share their favorite scents through the lens of comfort and their at-home routine. Get to know them better via the scents they choose to wear during this uncertain time.
Dissecting the difference between the French vs. American perspective when it comes to, well, everything has a been well-documented for the past several hundred years. We all know by now that the French palate is understated and subtle while Americans gravitate to the bold and brash—and yet, it seems we’ll never, ever tire of exploring this dynamic. Case in point: the global hit/cultural phenomenon that is Netflix’s Emily in Paris, a saccharine-sweet, rainbow-sprinkled confection which has taken the world by storm and made us all long to be sitting at a café in Paris eating a croissant, wearing a beret, and documenting it all on social media (or perhaps that’s just us Americans). Actor William Abadie plays the quietly alluring perfumer Antoine Lambert, known for stealing Emily (Lily Collins) away during fancy dinner parties to whisper in a corner and for sending black lacy lingerie to her work (which, supposedly, is a perfectly acceptable thing for a client to do in Paris). In the show, Antoine’s perspective on fragrance is that it should be worn to capture the attention of the opposite sex, which, in turn, is an act of empowerment for the wearer. But what of Abadie’s view in real life?
The actor actually resides in New York City’s Greenwich Village and treats fragrance more as a mood-boosting tool than an object for seduction (though there is one fragrance house he says has been “unexpectedly seduced by.”) Ahead, get to know William Abadie from his French-American fragrance collection.
How would you describe your fragrance style?
I personally enjoy a scent that is woody and/or spicy—it may have something to do with my alpine-region upbringing. I spent my youth surrounded by mountains and woods, and the smell of sap is comforting to me.
Did your role in Emily in Paris teach you anything new about fragrance?
Absolutely! I had no idea that composing a scent was such an art form. The creative process involved is quite fascinating. I learned a lot about layering and how fragrances are composed with base notes, middle notes, and top notes. I also learned a bit more about Grasse, the beautiful, medieval southern French village that is known as the world’s perfume capital. The funny thing is that I was born just a few miles from Grasse. Destiny, perhaps?
And last, but not least, I had to do a bit of research about my French counterpart Thierry Vasseur (the best nose in France)
What do you think is the biggest difference between American and French fragrance styles?
I’d say American style is a bit bolder, bigger—it makes more of a statement. It is more eventful. French style, I feel, tends to be a bit more quotidian. It is delicate, understated. French women’s scents, usually, I would say have a bit more of a floral melody. All in all, it compares well to the Franco/American dynamic where I think many of my country people recognize our American cousins as the bold achievers, the larger than life personalities, the perfect entertainers.
What was the first fragrance you ever bought and how did you discover it?
My first fragrance was Christian Dior’s Fahrenheit. In the early nineties, when I was going to Le Palace, the Discotheque in the quaint ski resort of Megève, France, I smelled it on one of my closest guy friends. Just saying the name Fahrenheit brings me right back to that night. It is an unforgettably exotic and fresh scent that captures the senses. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed rekindling that same visceral quality with Le Labo’s Santal 33.
I’m an Actor Studio/ Lee Strasberg Institute alumni…method acting all the way! A good part of our training was based on the memory of the senses. I don’t remember us ever using perfume/fragrances as a tool in class. I think that was overlooked, and it would have been such an incredible tool to teach with!
Do you still wear fragrance even when you don’t leave the house?
I sure do. It emphasizes my mood, like…a mood booster! It sets the tone of my day, resonating through my house as a sign of celebration, a simple nod to the gift of life and the great day ahead. If I’m not wearing a scent, it’s normally because I’m half asleep heading out to an early workout. In this case, the gift of fragrance will have to be “earned,” and applied on the other side of too many dumbbells.
Your favorite cold-weather fragrance and why:
Tuscan Leather by Tom Ford! There’s just something about the woody, spicy notes it conveys. It carries you, stays with you throughout the day. It is very sensual, as well as sophisticated. I like to wear it on a date. I need all the help I can get, and this scent never lets me down!
The fragrance that brings you comfort right now:
I recently discovered the precious fragrance house of Krigler and was unexpectedly seduced by it. Monsieur Dada 18 has those woody notes I love but it also vibrates with a citrusy crispiness that keeps my senses sharp and alert.
The fragrance you spritz to bring back good memories:
Chanel Allure Homme Sport. It’s what I keep in my house in Megève. The smell of it tells me I’m home, surrounded by my family and mountains, and the good times can begin. I’m a snowboarder and I admit to spraying myself ahead of an afternoon on the slopes. Is that weird??
The fragrance you love to smell on someone else and why:
Chanel Chance Eau Fraîche. It reminds me of a dear friend who lived across the hall from me for a while. She wore the scent to perfection, and the building halls were often emanating of her va et viens (back and forth). When she left, my neighbors and I realized something was “missing” in the form of both a beautiful person and the scent that we completely associated with her. The scent was gone…and so was she.
The candle you’re currently burning right now and why (include what it smells like):
I’m currently burning the Villa Bordighera 20 candle from Krigler. I thought its yellow-colored glow and fresh lemony notes would pair well with the sunflowers or Chrysanthemum bouquet I keep on my coffee table. And it does!
The scent you’ll associate with this time:
Bond No. 9 Greenwich Village. I love this sumptuous NYC boutique perfumery. I live in NYC and just like anywhere in the world right now, we are going through rough times. Bond No. 9 captures NYC in a bottle, rendering homage to some of the most iconic neighborhoods and landmarks. The scents are innovative, and the designs are vibrant and unique. In short, it’s what we need right now! And yes, I chose Greenwich Village because it’s my home.
I realize now that I inadvertently lied earlier when you asked me, “What was the first fragrance I ever bought?” The first fragrance I ever bought was Christian Dior Eau Sauvage. I bought it as a gift to my late father for his birthday when I was 10. It was his signature scent. If I close my eyes and use a little “scent memory,” I’m right back at the lunch table during school break….You?