Marie du Petit Thouars is the founder of Maison Marie Louis (MLM), a fragrance house born out of her family’s rich botanical history. As a young girl, Marie grew up in Belgium making candles and experimenting with scents in her mother’s greenhouse. With the creation of Maison Louis Marie, she crafts luxury candles and perfumes that focus on illustrious scents imbued with unique floral fragrances.
Our personal favourite and bestseller is the No.04 Bois de Balincourt Perfume oil, a warm sandalwood fragrance with a dominant sandalwood and cedarwood accord supplemented by a spicy nutmeg cinnamon complex with an earthy vetiver note. MLM’s perfume oils are a blend of fragrances and safflower oil which contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid with moisturizing oils properties.
Wanting to find out more about Marie and her story behind the brand, we caught up with her to discuss her experience, her inspirations and her life in sunny Los Angeles.
What were you doing before you founded MLM and how did you make the shift?
My career started out in fashion working for Isabella Blow in Paris, then becoming a fashion editor for the London Sunday Times. Years later I found myself moving to LA for a major life change and became a multimedia artist specializing in fine art photography. Throughout all of this time I have always been a huge lover of candles and the world of fragrance in general. After getting a considerable amount of requests for my homemade candles, what started as a fun side project of making my own candles in my kitchen, mixing the wax and fragrance all myself, eventually became my fragrance house Maison Louis Marie.
Take us through the steps behind the creation of a brand new fragrance.
As with all creative endeavours, each time it is different. You never really know when the idea for a new scent will happen. A lot of the time it’s about coming across a scent that takes me back to my childhood growing up in France and Belgium--the basis of all my fragrances. It could be something as simple as taking a walk in the mountains and being instantly transported back to my summer house outside of Paris. Immediately after these occurrences, I head to my lab and work with my technicians to start piecing together the elements from my memories.
What other brands do you admire and look to for inspiration?
A standout for me is Olivier Theysken’s, who is now relaunching his own brand! We are old friends and both happen to be from Belgium. I've therefore really been able to follow his storied career from designing for his own fashion house, to Nina Ricci, then to Theysken’s Theory and now coming full circle back to his own namesake line. I also admire Maison Margiela, Alexander McQueen and Dries Van Noten. I have so many influences that this question is a bit too hard to answer--the list would be way too long!
We have seen an increasing number of artisanal small scale perfume houses in recent years. Do you think the fragrance industry will continue to evolve in this direction?
We certainly hope so! But yes, the overall landscape of retail, both off and online, demands more variety. While department stores still thrive, they are also being heavily influenced by smaller boutiques and niche websites who focus on up and coming and smaller artisanal brands like ours. You are therefore seeing many of the smaller brands pop up in established stores where a small artisanal brand will sit on the shelf next to huge established brands.
The overall landscape of retail, both off and online, demands more variety.
You live in LA, what do you like most about the city compared to France/Belgium?
One of the best things about LA is the amount of space and nature there is relative to the size of the city. You have a strong sense of privacy and independence in LA, which in my opinion works very well with everyday life, being creative and working as an entrepreneur.
I have a day in LA - what would you recommend I see/do/eat?
This is a tough question but an amazing day would be either lunch or dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant, Sushi Gen and a visit to the Huntington Gardens. You can get lost for hours or even the whole day and if you have any energy left go to the new Broad Museum downtown!
What is your next vacation?
We actually are planning on traveling to Ojai, a magical and beautiful place just an hour and a half northwest of LA. We try to visit there frequently to get away from it all and recharge. We also just had a baby boy this summer so all traveling for us will be local for the time being. Also, living in California, there are so many places relatively close that are absolutely beautiful. We are very spoiled out here!