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5th August 2017
Provenance: Fragrance and Pastry or The Importance of Provenance

Founded in 1973, Molton Brown has a reputation as one of London’s top bath, body and beauty connoisseurs. For the past few years, Connected Pictures has worked with Molton Brown to create films about its expert perfumers, pairing them with equally talented individuals from other professions to discuss craft and creativity.

Molton Brown’s film ‘The Patisserie Parlour’, released in time for this year’s Mother’s Day, follows master perfumer Christian Plesch and Sarah Barber, pastry chef at Cafe Royal. To celebrate the launch of The Gourmand Collection, Molton Brown invited Sarah to reimagine the three fragrances from the collection into a trio of desserts, including a Comice pear and wild honey mousse in the shape of a beehive, a rhubarb tart with rose truffles and a vanilla and violet Eclair. By talking to Sarah and Christian about their passions, we wanted to show the importance of provenance in both fragrance creation and cooking. Also essential was stimulating the senses through film-making you can almost smell and taste.

Here Adam Penny explains the ideas behind the film and the intricacies of this complex shoot.

Pastry chef Sarah Barber and master perfumer Christian Plesch are both at the top of their game despite their very different professions – how did you highlight common ground between the two?

We focused on their dedication to their craft, their passion for creativity, and where their inspiration comes from. These things are important no matter what creative field you’re in. As a production company, it’s an area that we are fascinated with – what makes creatives tick and how and why do they create what they do? Fragrance is such an interesting area because it is so personal. And because you can’t see the product, it can only be about metaphors and allusions.

Ingredients and provenance are key to both cooking and perfume-making, how did you incorporate this into the film?

Actually, that was quite tricky because the film was commissioned at the end of October – so no bees, no honey, no lavender and no beautiful, enticing landscapes. This was especially challenging as one of the things Molton Brown really wanted from the film was to see the places where the ingredients came from. We ended up slimming down that part of the film and being very specific about our location shots. But both Christian and Sarah were fantastic when it came to describing what was important to them regarding ingredients and why provenance is key, so then it was just about finding beautiful ways to shoot them.

What were the challenges of making a film featuring both perishable food and an invisible entity like perfume?

We worked with a great props buyer who was amazing at sourcing raw ingredients. But it was tough, especially in winter. You want everything to feel fresh so we ordered a lot of pears to choose from and handpicked the ones that looked best in every shot. Then we discussed with Sarah what the most interesting bits of the process would be. We went through step by step with her and worked out what she could pre-make and what we absolutely had to film. The closing shot was the trickiest one because we wanted it to match the stills campaign and it took time to get the position of the ingredients exactly right.

With a film about a fragrance you want to express the experience without ever being able to show the actual product – you can show the brand and the bottle, but never the product itself. When you look at some of the more artistic fragrance films, especially what comes from France, you can see it gets quite abstract. Molton Brown live more in the real world than that. Taking a documentary approach, we wanted to create an impression of the brand through things that are important to it, such as provenance, craftsmanship, passion, and creativity. Allowing people to feel the ingredients was also really important, so we chose our shots very carefully, and especially those of ingredients.

The film got more than 100,000 views on YouTube, why do you think it proved so popular?

Dessert is naturally attractive and with our films, we focussed on the ingredients that made these desserts beautiful, the inspiration behind them and most importantly the passion that goes into making them. We wanted to give the viewer a taste for what they have seen on screen through a mixture of beautifully shot frames and slow-motion shots.

Your work for luxury brands like Molton Brown is very different in content to your films for NGOs and charitable organisations like Unicef and the UN. Are there any similarities in your approach to each?

Most definitely. We always take time to understand the purpose of a brand first, what it brings to people with what it does. Then we focus on the most interesting human stories around that brand that will connect with an audience.

Watch the full film here