Everybody who has read my blog for more than three posts, probably knows that I admire Vero Kern and her unique line of perfumes consisting of the inimitable Onda, the exotic Rubj, carefree Kiki and fairy-like Mito.
Vero is a Swiss perfumer, who came into the profession late in life. She followed her dreams and inspirations and realized her vision largely uninfluenced by marketing or financial considerations. It cannot be easy to go your own way, believe in yourself and stand true to your ideals in the face of so many opinions, so many people wanting a piece of the cake and so many newest and latest creations vying for attention in a crowded field.
Vero keeps her cool through it all. She does her thing, and she does it magnificently and for that I admire her. That she has a style that is uniquely hers and a warm and loving personality that only deepens my respect for her. Vero surely is my role model.
When I asked her to participate in the interview series, she did so immediately and enthusiastically and for that I want to thank her.
But now enough of my blabber, let’s move on to Vero’s charming and illuminating questionnaire…
A good day starts with… a deep blue sky and the brightest sunshine … sounds like a kitschy advertisement.
I’d never leave the house… without shoes on my feet.
I always feel good when… I can leave the dental office after the inevitable dental cleaning (which I profoundly hate).
My favourite thing in the world is… a hot water bottle!
The next thing I want to buy is… glamorous sexy underwear.
The place I always come back to is… Le Café des Amis in Zurich for a good Cappuccino and a brief look into the newspapers.
My personal style is… not to be stylish or trendy. Something like Lanvin meets Adidas. I love to mix soi-disant Haute Couture with trashy things. I buy in second-hand shops and from outlets. I’m interested neither in trends nor in style at all. The same goes for my daily life.
My favourite perfume… is the irresistible, sexy and beguiling scent of natural orange blossom.
When I travel, I… prefer to take the train instead of the plane. It’s much more comfortable and entertaining. I used to travel a lot by plane during my long job period at Swissair. I’ve definitely had it, so I find it very boring.
To relax I need… a short nap.
I like to gift people with…my love and affection.
When I have a bad day, I… spoil my soul with a Japanese sake bath or other similar extravagances, like an aroma massage.
I find my inspiration… everywhere. I’m a very curious person. I love absurdities, the extraordinary and the banal in daily life, in art and science.
Something I would never want to miss… my sense of humour.
My last mistake was… I missed an important date because I did not check my agenda.
In my fridge there is always…special cheese. I consider cheese making an art… like wine making, perfume making etc.
On my nightstand I keep… since always, The Praise of Shadows, an essay on Japanese aesthetics by the Japanese author and novelist Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. Tanizakis literary work is characterized by the depiction of human passions in the field of tension between eastern and western cultures. In his famous essay The Praise of Shadows, section 14, he writes: “The natural law of the darkness in contrast to the white of the skin is essential for the ideal beauty of women. The interplay of darkness, wickedness of the entertainment district and the white make-up of the geisha, the relationship between the beautiful and the ugly.”
In this field of tension I move in my creations. I don’t intended to create mixtures that are as harmonious as possible. Rather, I am looking for light and shade, the ugly and the beautiful and I try to connect them, so a unique work of art can develop.
The perfect weekend starts with… a visit to our local market, where I find the best vegetables, fruits, cheese, flowers. The market is also a sea of different scents – I love it.
My role model is… Louise Joséphine Bourgeois (25 December 1911 – 31 May 2010), a renowned French-American artist and sculptor, best known for her contributions to both modern and contemporary art.
Life long, she worked as an artist, as a sculptor. Life long she did what she had to do – what was vital for her. And she arrived at the top, without having ever made compromises. Her work has always been only for herself. The glory has finally come to her, all by itself, thanks to a showcase organized by the Museum of, Modern Art 1982. After long decades in which she has quietly been working around New York in the shadow as an artist’s artist, as someone who was mainly known among her peers.
“Art is not about art” said Bourgeois, but about life. She never cared whether her work was a recognizable style. She took what she needed: steel, bronze, marble, plastic, wood or glass. She made the materials her own, she transformed them, sometimes in forms of pure Eros, shamelessly and without further ado, often in dark feasts of the phallus and the vulva. The last reason for these creations is human sexuality; beyond it there is nothing, neither in the body nor in the soul.
She has not improved with wisdom. She hasn’t achieved a “mature phase” in later life; she simply went on and on. The possibility of failure included…
She was already 70 years old, so about my current age, when Robert Mapplethorpe made the picture with the giant phallus of her. I love this beautiful vivid expression in her face, the mischievous eyes … her uncompromising life and art have always impressed and influenced me, they are a daily encouragement and a source of rich inspiration for my own work!
Something I always want to be asked in questionnaires like this is….????
Thank you so much for this entertaining, uplifting and inspiring interview, Vero! It was an honor and a pleasure! I particularly enjoyed learning about Louise Bourgeouis, it is not hard to see the similarities between these two women. I, for one, can only hope that I will eventually have at least a little bit of their inherent grace, elegance and poise, boundless creativity, uncompromising character and infectious zest for life.
Great to meet Vera and Louise. I like a hot water bottle too.
Jordan, me too! 🙂
Ms. Vero Kern looks like an interesting person, and what we’d call “astig” (cool) in my language. 🙂
Cool certainly captures her well.
I absolutely agree, Maggie!
I am enjoy this series very much. 🙂
And I get to learn new things along the way too (plus, it’s always fun to have a glimpse into the mind of perfumers).
Thank you, Ines! Vero’s answers are wonderful!
I really need a good long vacation. I only now saw what I wrote. 🙂
At first I thought I only had problems speaking but it seems I have problems writing too now. 😉
Ah, don’t be so harsh on yourself, I didn’t even notice it and I just came from a vacation! 😉 xo
Vero comes across in her Facebook updates as charmingly eccentric, and your interview confirms this impression. Agree about the dentist and the hot water bottle – a year round essential here! I see her a little as the Vivienne Westwood of the perfume scene, and she is an inspiration to us all. Just introduced a friend to Mito (she fancied a change from Cristalle), and she was smitten!
I agree, Vanessa. Her unique style comes through every time.
Glad your friend likes Mito, it is perfect for Cristalle fans.
This was too good! What a fascinating and inspiring woman. A wonderful role model for sure. I aspire to be as true to myself as she is.
It was so interesting to read about The Praise of Shadows. I totally agree about the importance of tension in art. I was also grateful to learn about Louse Bourgeois. Thanks for including that great Robert Mapplethorpe photograph of her.
I saw works of Louise at MoMA the other day, she seems like a fascinating person. I’m grateful that Vero introduced many of us to her work.
Glad you enjoyed this, Tara!
She is the coolest 70 year old I have ever seen and looks amazing.
So true, Andrea!
You have the exact strength of character and personality to be these women you so admire Birgit. So stylish, clever, beautiful and bright and we are sure there is a liberal sprinkling of NAUGHTY in there too, something about your eyes.
Thanks for this insight into a perfumer who I’ve only just discovered properly. (Thanks to you and Val)
Aww, Portia, such a big compliment, despite the urge to refute it, I’m going to gracefully accept it – thank you! ❤
I'm very glad you discovered Vero Profumo, they are a must for every perfume lover!
Yes, I surprised myself by grabbing Rubj EdP. Can’t wait to get home and have a proper opening ceremony.
Love to the husband and Sandra from Oz.
Good for you!!!
Hugs and greetings right back atcha! xo
Vero’s humor, curiosity and deep intelligence truly come through in her answers to your interview, Birgit. This was charming and quite engaging to read. And now I’m off to look up The Praise of Shadows (thanks, Vero!).
I agree. She sparkles!
I have that book on my reading list too! 🙂
Thank you for this great interview, Birgit.
I admire Vero not only for her talent as perfumer but also for her sense of style. She’s one of a kind. Besides, she speaks the mostr flawless Spanish.
She seems to be a real polyglott, she speaks so many languages so well!
Glad you enjoyed this, Caro!
It’s clear now : I’m not excentric enough !
I agree! But wait a few years… 😉
What a great interview! Birgit, you came p with great questions that aren’t too intrusive but at the same time allow a person to share something very personal. And you found great people to interview.
Thank you both 🙂
Thank you for the lovely comment, Undina!
What an amazing and amazingly dynamic woman! I need to get me a super cool fringe jacket 🙂
She is! You’d look great in such a jacket. 🙂
Every time I see a photo of her, I think how amazing her closet must be 🙂 I bet I could rock a Davy Crockett jacket. Daisy Crockett 🙂
Thank you to both Birgit and Ms K for this inspiring interview. Vero Kern is definitely one of my role models, what a fabulously and effortlessly cool woman she is!
Ps. I’m going to put a few drops of Onda extrait on my wrists in her honor now.
That is always a brilliant idea! 🙂
Glad you liked it, Asa! Vero is admirable indeed.
An interesting interview and I love her outfit! So refreshing when women don’t confirm to ‘acceptable’ mature women outfits, but just wear exactly what they enjoy. A real inspiration.
I couldn’t agree more, Alice!
Vero’s strength and style is so inspiring.
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