A very brave little girl has lost her mother. A kind, loving husband has lost his wife. Those of us who had the privilege of her friendship share their loss. So does the world of perfume.
If I am writing these words now, just after learning the terrible news, it is because writing is a way of still being with her. A small, helpless, hopeless way of dealing with the loss.
Sandrine Videault passed away peacefully in Noumea on July 3rd. She wouldn’t have wanted me to say that it was after battling a long illness. She refuted the term “battle”. During the months she lived in Paris to receive her treatment, we spoke about it many times. To her it was a journey of self-discovery, something to be lived alongside with, understood, dealt with by listening to what her body and mind were telling her.
When I saw her last at a cab station in Saint-Germain-des-Prés after we’d had dinner on the eve of her return to Noumea, we said we’d Skype. I knew I might never see her again. Noumea is so far, and there was still hope -- how do you say goodbye to a friend? We never did manage to speak. The conversation we’d been carrying out for years had come to an end, but up to that dinner in Saint-Germain, a quarter she’d long lived in, we laughed, argued, and did what we’d always done: share long, passionate discussions about the art of perfumery.
Sandrine Videault was a unique perfumer, uncompromising and passionate. And she walked her talk. In a documentary about the making of Manoumalia, she said that when she passed away, that was one of the things she’d be most happy to have achieved. She achieved so much more, just by being who she was.
The time to write about her contribution, and to consider what will have been her last composition, Magnolia Grandiflora, will come later. Now is the time to mourn this beautiful, fiery woman with her raspy laugh and her keen mind and her warmth. I still can’t figure out what life will be without sharing with Sandrine, knowing she’s out there, being sustained by her indomitable strength.
On my desk, ever since she gave it to me, there is a tiny pot of Manoumalia concrete. Its fragrance is still as suave as ever.
So very sad. How right she was to refuse to say "battle" - I have always thought that using the analogy of a fight with an illness implies that the person suffering can defeat it by sheer willpower, and that if the end comes, then they didn't try hard enough. That is so cruel, as nobody wants to leave their loved ones.RépondreSupprimer
My condolences to you, her family and all her friends. She will be missed.
Jillie, I couldn't agree more, and I know that's how she felt. Thank you for your kind, thoughtful words.Supprimer
I just got an e-mail from LesNez informing me about her death. I have never met her, but I absolutely adore her most famous creation Manoumalia.RépondreSupprimer
I am sorry that you have lost a friend. Sorrier still for the family she is leaving behind. Immensily grateful for that one fragrance, that I recently bought my first bottle of.
Austenfan, sadly, Sandrine will not enjoy the acclaim I am sure she will get for her Magnolia Grandiflora. She wanted to attend the launch in Sidney. But of course that is not much compared to knowing she would leave her daughter and husband behind...Supprimer
That is very sad, and I'm very sorry for all the people who loved and lost her.RépondreSupprimer
It is so hard when we see how frail and finite our time is.
Jillie, I absolutely agree, and you said it so very well. Especially great comment!
What an aching loss. I've smelled a lot of perfumes in my life, but not many that made me wish to meet their creators. Manoumalia is one of them. I'll celebrate her with it today.RépondreSupprimer
Crackpot Honey, as I said, I completely agree with Jillie's comment.RépondreSupprimer
Amy, it's true. Manoumalia made me want to meet Sandrine too. And I had that privilege. She gave me so much.RépondreSupprimer
Manoumalia commands a cherished place among my top-ten favorite perfumes, and I'd always longed for more from this incredibly talented perfumer. Today, seeing the list on Scented Salamander of the scent installations that she was involved in, I realize more clearly what an artist she was. I hope to see the Manoumalia documentary someday and am looking forward to Grandiflora. I'm glad you got to know her, Denyse, and appreciate your post. Her family has my deepest sympathy, respect and hope for the future. ~~nozknozRépondreSupprimer
Nozknoz, I started writing something about Sandrine's career, but then felt that this was more the time to grieve for a friend and a human being, and couldn't go through with it... The documentary was not what Sandrine had hoped it would be, but since it is a trace of her wonderful presence, I do hope it becomes available...RépondreSupprimer
A sad post Denyse. A sad loss indeed for her family, yourself and the wider community. Yes, grieve now and then write and waft later. Although I think you are wafting Manoumalia now which is a beautiful thing to be able to do.RépondreSupprimer
Jordan, I just couldn't wear perfume today...RépondreSupprimer
I agree with anyone who refutes the idea of battling with an illness-my mom was ill for twenty years, and she hated being defined by the condition of her health.RépondreSupprimer
I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. What a talented person she must be, to have made Manoumalia.
Carole, kudos to your mother. Sandrine didn't pretend it wasn't there, and we discussed it whenever she needed to, but that was only part of her story, never an identity.RépondreSupprimer
I am so terribly sorry to hear of her passing. My most heartfelt condolences to her family and to you. May her memory be s blessing.RépondreSupprimer
Tara, someone from her family (or friends in Nouméa) wrote a word on the French post, so I know they are aware that a great many people around the world are sending their condolences and love.RépondreSupprimer
what a lovely tribute, denyse.RépondreSupprimer
her spirit lives on. it's the body and only the body that dies.
i like to think of us inhabiting spacesuits while we are on the planet. we need to be in a spacesuit to make beautiful things, write, breathe, love, and otherwise get things done.
but we are not the spacesuit. we just think we are sometimes and when the spacesuit breaks down or wears out, we think it's us.
i realize this doesn't take away the pain of not seeing her again in the spacesuit you came to associate with her. but i hope it helps you remember to tune in to her spirit, which could continue here with you for a while without the spacesuit.
love, love, love manoumalia, and think you are blessed to know the woman behind it.
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I never knew her except through her fragrance Manoumalia. Just from that I wanted to meet her. Anyone who could create something so transportive I wanted to know.RépondreSupprimer
As sad it is for us to lose such brilliance, I'm glad you got to meet and become friends with her.
My thoughts are with her family at this terrible time.
Minette, Tom, yes, it was a privilege to have known Sandrine. I was with a common friend today and we still can't believe she'll no longer be around.RépondreSupprimer
A beautiful tribute Denyse. The depth of your grief is all in your words "I just could't wear perfume today".RépondreSupprimer
This is such a marvelous tribute. Your love and appreciation of her, as a perfumer and a person, is so apparent. She is very much missed and, obviously, very much loved.
Thank you for your tender tribute to Sandrine, Denyse. Every time I wear Manoumalia, it possesses me with its mystery. It's one of the few perfumes that has a physical presence before it even touches the skin. I wish I could have met Sandrine to thank her for her work.RépondreSupprimer
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