The Papersmith Series – Matthew Berkson and Marie de Petit Thouars | Los Angeles, California

The Papersmith Series – Matthew Berkson and Marie de Petit Thouars | Los Angeles, California

Matthew and Marie are true scent savants. Together they run Maison Louis Marie, creating luxury fragrances, candles, oils, skincare, and most recently, a collection of leather goods.

Marie’s fascinating family history of botanical discovery and memories of a childhood in Belgium inspire their blends. Today the pair work from Downtown Los Angeles, composing unique, floral scents that are delicate yet captivating - fresh citrusy top notes are complemented by musky undertones, with characterful aromas of eucalyptus, bergamot, jasmine and tuberose featuring too.

Their soy candles and perfume oils instill a little bit of luxury and understated, contemporary elegance into the everyday. No.4 Bois de Balincourt has earnt its cult status due to its seductive, earthy harmony of cinnamon, sandal and cedarwood. It certainly sets our hearts aflutter.

With the names and processes all related to memories, places and histories of Marie’s ancestors, we were eager to find out more about the brand, why smell is so evocative and how the scent that puts us into a dreamlike state every time it’s lit (or worn) came about.

Hello Matthew. Tell us about your craft, and your journey with Marie de Petit Thouars in creating Maison Louis Marie. What are your backgrounds, and your roles within the business today?

I come from a fashion and design background where I manufactured clothes for many top contemporary fashion brands (Helmut Lang, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang and Theory) in Los Angeles. Marie was in the fashion world in Paris working as a fashion editor who then made the move to Los Angeles to work as a fine art photographer.

Marie would make candles as a hobbyist since she always loved burning them. Rather then spending exorbitant amounts of money on luxury candles she would make her own in our kitchen. Soon the candles were being distributed amongst friends who could not get enough of them so she decided to create an initial collection of 6 scents that were influenced by her rich family history in the world of botany.

The name Maison Louis Marie is based on her great-great-great grandfather who discovered over 2000 plant species while on exile during the French Revolution. Each scent is named after places and things of family significance where the scents are also based. I digress… So, quickly the brand grew and I joined forces with her to manage the whole business while Marie focused on the creative direction and development of new products for the company.

How does a scent come into being? Can you tell us about No.4 Bois de Balincourt and how you decided on the name and the notes?

The No.04 candle is named after Marie’s family country home outside of Paris called Balincourt. The scent is inspired by her long walks in the woods where she would come across scents in the damp surrounding forests.

Would you say that choosing a certain fragrance to wear is season and mood specific? What aromas are you both reaching for in balmy LA right now? And conversely, what would you recommend for us here in a rather grey, cold and crisp UK?

The decision of what scent to wear and when is always so personal especially in our climate out here in Los Angeles where there are not too many extremes. In the warmer weather we are liking perfume oils No.05 and No.09 and even No.11. For colder climate right now I would go with No.04 EDP or perfume oil and also No.02 or No.10 has been a real sleeper hit!

We love the contemporary elegance that you conjure up. Your brand is sophisticated, yet distinctly free-spirited. What do you think it is about Maison Louis Marie that appeals to the modern woman (or man?)

This is a tough question to answer…I think we resonate with our customers initially through word of mouth and our clean packaging. Our products are extremely high quality and luxurious but not fussy and overpriced. I feel that sense of understated elegance is a breath of fresh air in todays world where marketing and one’s Instagram account is more important than the actual product.

How do sketchbooks, notebooks, pencils and stationery play a part in your creative process? Do you have any favourite tools?

Marie has an affinity for nice stationary and likes to write hand written notes when appropriate. While I have been inspired to write notes since I really love the classiness that a handwritten note imparts I would have to say my favourite note taking apparatus is the old fashioned post it! I hope that is not offensive to you guys!

Is there a smell that is particularly evocative or nostalgic for you?

Oh wow, this is tough. I find myself taken back to the past constantly. I recently planted a Gardenia bush in our garden which when flowering reminded me of my grandparent’s entry way in their house during my childhood which was riddled with potted Gardenia’s. And then just the other day, I had opened a container of play-doh for my 20 month year old son and that took my right back to my childhood as well! It is really crazy how deeply ingrained scents are to our memories.

How should a candle be properly enjoyed?

To get technical here are the tips we provide for our customers:

– Always light your candle for 2 hours the first time so that you will get an even burn.

– To preserve the fragrance, do not burn your candle for more than 3 hours at a tine.

– Before each burn, trim the wick to less than a 1/4”, this will avoid any black smoke and residue in the candle

– Always remove the wick debris and keep burning the wick in the middle of the container and if the wick requires it, gently readjust it to the centre when the candle is unlit and wax is still molter. – – Allow the candle to solidify before relighting.

– Always burn on a flat, stable fireproof surface.

What are your goals and dreams for 2018?

Our goals and dreams for 2018 would be to just continue staying who we are as a brand. We have some fun new launches planned soon and we are just so grateful to be where we are today.

Thank you!

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