The Woman Who Made The Garden Grow

Arlette, the lifelong love of her husband Master Perfumer Yuri Gutsatz not only raised three sons and imported fabrics from India but also co-founded Le Jardin Retrouvé. It was Arlette who had the idea, revolutionary at the time, to expand her husband’s fragrance line just about anywhere that made sense to her. From perfumed bath oil to an oatmeal scrub, from scented soaps to fragrant candles, Arlette had her finger on the pulse of customer appetite and was an invaluable asset to the family business.

As well as raising three sons with Yuri and taking care of the marketing, networking and design of Le Jardin Retrouvé, Arlette was also in demand as a consultant, stylist and designer. Pictured is her design for the Dorothée Bis luggage and accessories division. She also worked with Cacharel, Ted Lapidus, Le Printemps, Chantal Thomas and more. She never allowed this side of her career to interfere with the creation of the world’s first niche perfume house. It was Arlette who ensured that Le Jardin Retrouvé reached the shores of Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Japan and countless European countries, to an audience thirsty for French haute perfumery.

A Woman Ahead of Her Time

In the 70s, Arlette orchestrated a collaboration with Agnès B and Le Jardin Retrouvé, a practice that is commonplace today, but was rare in the late 1970s. She attended trade fairs on her own (leaving Yuri in the lab, having driven her there) and was an irrepressible force of nature, organizing textile imports from India whilst being the quintessential heart of family life at the Gutsatz home in Paris. She had a surprisingly modern eye for upcycling, storing reams of Indian fabrics so they could be re-used (and they are, in our fabric pochons) and also acting as archivist, filing and dating every press mention carefully, so that we can refer to them today.

A Meeting of Hearts and Minds

Yuri and Arlette married within a year of meeting and remained devoted to each other until death parted them. Yuri passed away in 2005, leaving Arlette widowed. Their marriage was a meeting of hearts as well as minds, with Yuri still sending her romantic postcards and writing her poems well into his 80s.

Her favourite perfume? A Yuri Gutsatz creation, of course!

Arlette loved the scent of roses so it was little wonder then, that her chosen Le Jardin Retrouvé fragrance was Rose Thé, or Rose Trocadéro as it is known today. With notes of rose, white musk, clove and blackcurrant bud, the eau de parfum so beloved of Arlette smells the same today as it did then, and in keeping with her innovative spirit, we have a matching body scrub, body milk and a fragranced candle.

Arlette passed away on December 12th, 2012, 37 years to the day from when Le Jardin Retrouvé was established. To this day she inspires those who knew her and those who didn’t, and her influence lives on through the pioneering maison de parfum that she and Yuri created in their family home, back in 1975.

Forty-five years ago, in a Paris townhouse that was home to the Gutsatz family, Le Jardin Retrouvé was born, and with it, so was niche perfumery. History was made the day the family business was launched.

When Le Jardin Retrouvé was established on December 12th 1975, no perfumer had ever begun their own perfume house before and no perfumer was recognised by name, except for one or two.  All that changed when Yuri Gutsatz, perfumer, poet and perfume critic became the first to break ranks and go it alone.

The story of how Le Jardin Retrouvé came into being reads more like an epic family saga that spans generations, continents, and two World Wars.  This is a story that began with a small Jewish boy escaping Bolshevik Russia in 1924 and ends, happily, with his son and daughter in law heading up the Maison de parfum you all know, in modern-day Paris.

Clara and Michel outside Le Jardin Retrouvé. Photo credit: visitors Brendan and Pat

Yuri Gutsatz, the boy from St Petersburg, became an adult, and the adult became a perfumer. Back in 1975, the business was a family affair, just as it is now, with everyone helping. Yuri made the fragrances, his wife Arlette was designing and selling, and their three sons helped out where they could.

Yuri added several ancillary bath and beauty products to the line, many years before other brands followed suit.  As well as fragrances, there were incense, soaps, bath oils, candles, and even a popular oatmeal scrub. Le Jardin Retrouvé products were sold in Japan, Canada, USA, and Europe. Yuri was a respected figure in the industry and was a founding member and initiator of the world-famous Osmothèque, as well as being a vocal critic of the lack of recognition of perfumers. As recently as in 2020, Master perfumer and Head of Givaudan Perfumery School, Calice Becker, recalled Yuri’s major contribution in the first Perfumer-Creator Charter. In it, she renewed calls for perfumer’s names to be as well known as those of writers and composers.

Le Jardin Retrouvé products were featured in magazines around the world

Yuri Gutsatz passed away at his home in Paris at the age of 91 in 2005. He left behind his devoted wife and three sons. The business carried on with the help of Arlette and one of their sons, Denis, but on 12th December 2012, the very day the business had been launched 37 years ago, Arlette too passed away.

By 2015, the only surviving member of the Gutsatz family was Michel, a University Professor of Marketing who, along with his wife Clara, an artist and writer, faced a challenge. They could continue with their respective careers and watch Yuri’s work die out, or they could revive the business and keep his legacy alive.  To the delight of perfume fans, they chose the latter.

Today Michel and Clara head up a small team in a pretty Paris courtyard where Yuri’s fragrances are made exactly as he intended from his original hand-written formulas. Each one captures a little of his story. Cuir de Russie was Yuri’s memory of his father David, Rose Trocadero was Arlette’s favourite and Sandalwood Sacré is still made with sandalwood from the family he befriended in his Indian years.

Perfumer Maxence Moutte recreates Yuri’s timeless perfumes in our on-site lab and our customers enjoy classic French Haute Parfumerie once again. The late Arlette, a stylist and consultant, has her contribution recognised too. The tree in the Experience Room in the Paris flagship store has been created from her vintage textile collection, as are the little fabric pouches the Discovery Sets are presented in.

From France, Le Jardin Retrouvé fragrances are sold around the world and can be found in China and the USA, in the Paris Experience Store in Paris, and on the website. With tens of thousands of followers on Social Media, fans from many corners of the world, as well as influencers, have written passionately about the perfumes of Yuri Gutsatz. The Le Jardin Retrouvé fragrances have been featured in GQ France, ELLE, Vogue, Paris Select, Au Parfum, Nez, Glass Magazine, as well as on multi award-winning perfume website ÇaFleureBon, to name but a few.

Yuri, Arlette and Michel, from the Gutsatz family album

Yuri’s spiritual legacy is alive and well

In 2020, though Le Jardin Retrouvé adheres to tradition when it comes to making perfume, they have a few modern additions, such as a sustainable ethos with a focus on recycling, up-cycling, and reusing. This applies to packaging, refillable bottles, and reusable candle pots. They also have established a very strong online community with a co-creation approach and instant communication all over the world with perfume lovers old and new.

Today, the Osmothèque is a much-visited place for perfume pilgrims and lovers.

The niche fragrance industry is booming, and perfumers are now recognised and celebrated for their talent, and no longer hidden away. Who knows what would have happened without Yuri’s contribution?

And all because of a perfumer who came from St Petersburg.

Happy birthday Le Jardin Retrouvé and happy birthday to the niche perfumery movement!

Yuri Gutsatz was one of the first perfumers to enjoy complete independence in sourcing his ingredients. His suppliers were all personally selected by him, from the growers he met in India to the respected Grasse based company of Argeville. The photo above shows an original invoice to Yuri from Argeville, dated 1983. You can see his “shopping list,” including pure lavender essence, distilled cistus (also known as rock rose), neroli, two types of jasmine, vetiver, patchouli and ylang ylang. In some cases, Yuri was ordering up to two kilograms of these exquisite perfume materials.  One can only imagine the sensory thrill of opening such beautiful ingredients from the fields of Grasse.

Not only do the descriptions of the materials seem to bring scent alive on the page, but the beautifully created logo is a pleasure to behold. It’s changed now to something a little more modern, but we still value Argeville as one of our trusted expert suppliers. (and we secretly prefer the 1983 logo!)

More often these days, people want to be informed before they buy their fragrance and beauty products. Where do the ingredients come from? Who grows them? How are they made into perfume? All these questions are important and deserve answers.

Our ingredients often begin life in the soil of their natural habitat and come to us from the specialist producers who tend them. If our perfumes could tell stories, they would be full of exotic colour and far flung lands. From our tuberose absolute to our Indian Mysore sandalwood, we can account for every single drop. 

Keeping it in The Family

Many of our trusted suppliers are small family businesses, just like ours. These are the  independent suppliers that Yuri formed a working relationship with in the 1960s. Today the next generation of Yuri’s family works with the next generation of theirs to bring you timeless fragrances from their natural habitats. When you work from family to family, not only do you trust and respect each other, but every detail is accounted for.

photo by Brigitte Rivoire-Chevalier

A Perfume Is Born

Our perfumes contain a high percentage of natural ingredients, sourced from specialist producers from all over the world. Our suppliers pick the freshest raw ingredients and process them  into the finest absolutes, hydrolates and essences. This is what we receive at our lab and this is what goes into the perfume you wear.

 The photo you see above was taken in India by Brigitte Rivoire-Chevalier, who was Yuri’s assistant in Paris.

Our Heritage Makes us Different

The link between our Maison de parfum then and now remains strong and unbroken. Yuri was highly respected as a perfumer and we adhere to both his methods and formulas in order to stay true to his legacy. 

Here at Le Jardin Retrouvé, we follow closely in Yuri’s footsteps. Using his exact methods distinguishes us from other perfume houses. Each perfume has been reconstructed by the expert hand of Maxence Moutte. Our fragrance concentrate that Maxence assembles in our Paris lab matures for three weeks and then is sent to macerate in alcohol for three weeks. Nothing is rushed to get the perfect result. 

This is the story of every bottle. This is our Maison de parfum.

Feature photo by Brigitte Rivoire-Chevalier

The Met in New York is world famous for its culture. Exhibitions, opera and the sheer spectacle of this landmark make it a beloved must-see in NYC.  Back in 2015, The Met was to play host to an exhibition called China: Through the Looking Glass, showcasing the world’s early fascination with all things “Chinoiserie”, fragrance included.  There was just one problem. Nobody could find the original 1913 fragrance Nuit de Chine from the Maison de Paul Poiret.  More sleuthing unearthed the name of a young perfumer called Yuri Gutsatz who had been tasked with updating forty Poiret formulas just as WWII broke out.  Yuri had preserved the original formula at the Osmotheque, (which he co-founded). Thanks to his foresight,   visitors  to the exhibition could smell 1913 Nuit de Chine as they visited China; Through The Looking Glass exhibition in 2015, over one hundred years later .  You can read more here from the New York Times online article.

1942 proved to be the most devastating year of Yuri Gutsatz’s life. Having signed up for the Foreign Legion, Yuri stayed in Marseille after a year of service. As a Russian Jew, it was unsafe for him to return to occupied Paris. Sadly, his mother Alvina and his grandparents were trapped by the German occupation and unable to flee. In July of 1942 Alvina’s letters to Yuri stopped and he was later to discover that she and his grand-mother Gueni had been victims of the Vel d’Hiv roundup and taken to Auschwitz where they were not heard from again. Meanwhile, David Gutsatz died the same year in Leningrad, most likely due to the famine and disease during the siege which saw a million persons lose their lives.

On Yuri’s return to Paris in 1945, he found himself alone in the world. His grief and loneliness are unimaginable, but a light shone through the darkness when he met a young woman named Arlette, whom he remained in love with until his dying day. But that’s another story…

The photograph above is from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and shows Jews in occupied Paris before the purge.

Did you know that Le Jardin Retrouve was the first niche perfume house in the world? Yuri Gutsatz didn’t follow trends, he started them.
After several years in India, Yuri returned to Paris and felt frustrated that perfumers were still so anonymous, and that fragrances could only be produced by and for large companies. He felt this stifled the true nature of creativity in perfumers.
So what did he do? He founded Le Jardin Retrouve, the first niche perfume house. He ran the business from his Paris home, aided by his loyal wife Arlette and their sons. A year later, L’Artisan Parfumeur followed suit and after that, many more small indie brands came into being, but Le Jardin Retrouve was the very first, and we have Yuri’s pioneering spirit to thank for that. Every one of our fragrances is made from Yuri’s original formula: all timeless classics that don’t compromise their integrity to meet passing trends and fads.
Not only was Yuri the first perfumer to start his own brand, he was also the first to add accessories to the fragrances, such as matching lotions and soap. Prior to this, he was the first perfumer to fragrance an entire opera house! And did we mention that he was a co-founder of the world famous Osmotheque?

Today, we are guardians of his hundreds of formulae and we are proud to continue his work so that the world can appreciate his talent, even after he has gone.