Abdul Rahim Shaikh Shahid, Head of Research & Development, Lattafa Perfumes Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ Gulf News

How big a role does R&D play in Lattafa Perfumes’ growth strategy?

R & D is extremely vital to Lattafa, especially because of the nature of the business. Perfumery is a field that cannot survive without constant innovation in everything from scents to packaging, and this is where R&D comes in. Extensive research is done along with the help of our partners to create fresh concepts that are adaptable to the global market, and not a day goes by where we are constantly thriving to bring newness to the Lattafa brand. This has been the key to Lattafa’s success and we will continue to grow with the help of R&D. We consider ourselves to be trendsetters within the oriental fragrance community.

How long does it take for a new perfume line to be created by Lattafa Perfumes, can you elaborate on the process?

The process is lengthy. It takes about a year for the idea to become a product in its final form. Some projects have a strict timeline so they might take even six months, however, there are certain projects that require extreme attention to detail and that definitely take longer.

In terms of packaging, various innovative concepts are brought to the table by our team and hence the shortlisted projects start off with a rough sketch of what the outcome might be, which is then brought to life by our 3D designers.

Round-the-clock work is being done with our global partners to see how our vision can become a reality. Finally, after months and months of hard work, we get the outcome.

In terms of the fragrance itself, giants of the fragrance industry are briefed side by side to get the best result possible for the particular project. The fierce battle begins between the world’s best perfumers such as Dominique Ropion, Julien Rasquinet and Jordi Fernandez to name a few, to create the most original luxurious scent filled with beautiful ingredients such as rose, oud, patchouli, leather etc. Constant feedback is given to the perfumers to come closer to their goal and finally we have a winner. The fragrance is then imported and filled in its beautiful glass bottle where it belongs.

With Lattafa Perfumes’ adherence to keep its perfumes natural and original, how easy or difficult is it to source the raw ingredients required to make its signature scents?

We do not import fragrance raw materials and mix them here. Our fragrances are blended in Europe by our partners, which are shipped to us ready to use.

As the lead within the R&D Team and the nose for the brand, when and how do you realise that you may have hit upon a winning note or scent during the R&D process?

At Lattafa Perfumes, the criteria for the fragrance of choice is simple. It needs to be explosive, addicting and everlasting.

Does the R&D Team get the opportunity to visit trade shows abroad to gauge industry trends? How is your team channelling all that’s in vogue in the field of perfumes internationally and adapting it to local needs?

Definitely. We get plenty of opportunities to visit various trade shows across the globe to get inspired by latest technologies and trends in order to boost our products. We work with international suppliers who are updated with all the trends, which helps us implement these ideas into our packaging. We also look for unique ideas that are not present internationally, which then become a signature of the brand.

Arab perfumes have their own signature notes. How difficult is it to retain these notes while coming up with an essence that is unique?

Well, it isn’t easy since their signature is extremely strong. We therefore get inspired by French perfumery to add to the oriental character in order to make them unique. It’s all about the right balance between the two styles to create perfect harmony.

Lattafa Perfumes offers signature scents that also come in some very unique packaging that are standouts. When did the brand decide to invest in its own packaging unit and why?

We always believed that we could do better if we controlled the quality of our packaging to achieve the right outcome. Hence, we decided to invest in our own unit.

The Maahir Black Edition from Lattafa presents a rather unique packaging solution. What R&D goes into the design of a perfume bottle at Lattafa Perfumes, how elaborate is the process of honing in on a bottle of choice for a particular scent?

It was time we had an impactful product that would represent the brand image. Maahir took a year to come to life, from the initial idea to the finished product. We wanted an elegant oriental product that represented the UAE and become a signature for Lattafa.

The heavy horse cap design was inspired by the love for horses that His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has. The bottle is crystal clear, tall and elegant, to give the horse an elevated appearance, and the packaging offers a window to allow a sneak peek of the horse head before the product is unboxed. It’s a true masterpiece and our customers love it, so much so that the success of Maahir allowed us at Lattafa to create a derivative of this special scent, the Maahir Black Edition, which is proving to be equally popular.

We are extremely proud of this line of perfumes that we created here at Lattafa, but then the brand has always stood for something unique that it stands to offer the world of scents.