Monday, 13 February 2017

LAWRENCE ROULLIER-WHITE - In His Own Words


On 4th July 2016 the subject of “Stephan’s Six” was Lawrence Roullier-White. He had been a great supporter when I started my writing and I was determined to get him to open up about his own perfume choices. He was surrounded in his store by the most beautiful scents and so I was interested to see whether his choices of what to stock had been influenced by his fragrance memories. My interviewees usually give me far too much material to use and so it gets archived for future articles, but I never imagined that I would using his as a tribute. Lawrence died in January 2017 but just reading this material makes me remember a remarkable man.

Lawrence opened his store, Roullier White, in December 2005 and it quickly became a “lifestyle emporium” with everything that you could need to create a home. His range of fragrances was eclectic, and that is why it became a “must visit” location for any perfume lover. He said of the store, “at Roullier White we have around six hundred rare fragrances so selecting one is hard, but that is something we do every day; help people discover a scent they might otherwise not have found.”

He was very proud that his family had lived in Peckham and East Dulwich since the 1780s and his desire was for the area to have the same luxury that could be found in the West End of London. He worked for some very large companies during his career in product development but his love of the “local store“ was ignited in his twenties. He explained, “I was lucky enough to work at the Covent Garden General Store, when Covent Garden was evolving from the flower market. Back in its early days I suppose the General Store was one of the first independent boutiques and what we would now consider a concept store. I loved my job, the excitement of working there, and the small and hard to discover brands that we sold.”

The first question that I always ask during “Stephan’s Six” is “what is the first smell that you can remember?” Now Lawrence answered this THREE times, but here is the one that I didn’t publish. “We all know how evocative scent is, the most compelling sense we have. It can also be very transient, the slightest suggestion of a note or accord can whisk you immediately away to another time or place, then just as quickly it is gone and you are back. There is a certain perfume, and I have no idea what it is, but whenever I get a waft of it in the street I am immediately transported to my first year at primary school. I imagine it was what my teacher wore. What I find strange is that all those emotions from the time are stirred, and as I try to work out what the scent is and process what I am feeling, it is gone. I would love to know what it is.”

Lawrence Roullier-White truly was one of a kind and the tributes that have been paid to him in the last week are testament to that. So many of us owe so much to him and as one of his friends said, “the world will be a poorer place without him”. To read his original interview you can click on the image below.


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