To mother and founder of homegrown brand Maison de L’Asie — Elizabeth Liau, the art of perfumery has always been second nature to her. Launched late last year, Liau’s luxury fragrance house takes constant inspiration from her personal experiences travelling and living across the world to formulate delightful scents unveiled in chapters — much like a storybook.
“I started in the financial sector doing stock exchange. From there, I moved to the arts industry where I explored the full spectrum from business to visual arts,” says Liau. “This is also when I got to travel the world, being exposed to the greatest artworks in the US, Europe and Asia.”
Unlike traditional perfume brands that simply focus on one, Maison de L’Asie incorporates the techniques of fine French perfumery with that of Asia’s to give users a choice of fragrances that are foreign, yet somewhat familiar.
Below, Liau tells us about the origins of Maison de L’Asie, the brand’s signature scents, and shares a personal anecdote about what perfume means to her.
Tell us about that one specific moment where you knew you had to start Maison de L’Asie.
It started when I was mixing a few compositions and created a scent that made me think of special moments in my life. I knew it wasn’t a readily available scent, which is where I saw the opportunity. It was also then that I realised how perfumery had the ability to translate emotions into scent and trigger memories.
You’re well-travelled and have lived all around the world. Why did you choose Singapore as the place to start building your brand?
At the end of the day, this is home. I like the idea of coming full circle, back to the start of my story in Singapore. This story could not have been written had I not left Singapore in the first place, although the stories I want to tell transcend geographical boundaries throughout Asia. Chapter 1 of our fragrance series is the opening of our metaphorical journey, and because Singapore is where my roots are, this is where the story of the House of Asia begins.
As a perfumery house, Maison de L’Asie has a very East meets West approach to it. What aspects of French perfumery did you bring to the brand and how does it differ from other fragrance brands?
The continuous goal of niche perfumery is to know how to go beyond legendary references and tell new olfactory stories. Together, they cherish the same dream: To reinvent the classic forms of modern perfumery while further perfecting them.
The compositions of Maison de L’Asie do not submit to the merely fashionable – we strive to make timeless olfactory stories that encapsulate the essence, memories and emotions of this diverse and fascinating continent.
We have partnered with fifth-generation perfumers from Grasse, France to create exceptional perfumes that showcase the finest materials sourced from around the globe. Every perfume is a composition born of scientific alchemy of botanicals and synthetic ingredients. Only top quality synthetics are used allowing for a broader olfactive diversity, stability and precision to achieve the signature creative balance of our perfumes.
What is the formulation process at Maison de L’Asie like? Are there any signature ingredients the house favours?
Every chapter has its own unique theme. Chapter 1 Nanyang (Singapore) is a musk-based chapter to capture nostalgia while Chapter 2 Bali H'ai (Indonesia) is an oud-based chapter to capture reverie. The curation of the theme to each country was thought through very carefully to ensure that we captured the essence of the country while weaving in an emotional theme that was important to me as the author.
How do you source your ingredients?
We work with some of the best in the industry to get the right ingredients for our customers. Our partners are global and world-renowned, which allow us to source speciality raw ingredients and the best ingredients in their categories for our perfumes.
Personally, why is perfumery important to you?
Maison de L'Asie was first conceptualised in 2018 and launched in December 2020. I've always had an affinity for finding platforms that allowed me to express meaningful points of reflection. That's the creative side of me that I've always had as a kid. Perfume, for me, has always been a passion that I never thought would turn into something more than a personal project.
Everyone has their own stories, and I started to realize how perfumery was the platform I was looking for. It was what words or film could not suffice to capture the stories. My narrative is about the many observations of life and I realised part of my raison d'etre was to share that with people.
Perfumery gave me the opportunity to help people feel emotions and interpret things or places differently through my olfactory stories.
What is your favourite collection from the brand and what’s your favourite scent?
To be fair, each fragrance in my collection is used for different moods and days that I am in. For days when I am working from home or just reading, I love to wear Mother X Love because it is a very comforting and warm scent that relaxes me. Nanyang is bolder and I would wear it to the office because it’s such a statement-making scent - everyone always asks me what I'm wearing when I wear that, both men and women. Lost Lovers and Les nuits de Bali are something I would wear on a social occasion - they're both very alluring and mysterious and they are head turners for both men and women. Bali H'ai and Bois d'Indonesie are two I would wear on the weekends or on a holiday - they both evoke a very relaxed, dreamy vibe to me.
If you were to recommend one scent from Maison de L’Asie to a fragrance newbie, what would it be?
I would say Nanyang or Lost Lovers - they are both very popular among both men and women, and are fragrances that can be worn from day to evening.