Starting out as a printed paper guide 5 years ago, So Chic, an initiative by the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, has only been growing year on year since. Not only is it now an online guide, but their role has even expanded to act as event organisers, hosting unique, interactive workshops led by the over 130 French brands represented by So Chic.
Says Marion Fremaux, So Chic Events & Promotion Manager: “So Chic was started as a means of bridging locals to French brands and culture and increasing their visibility in Singapore. It can be difficult to establish themselves in new countries, and our role is essentially to link someone who comes to the guide with a brand they might be looking for, or discover while browsing, whether it’s food, beauty, or even French events in a one-stop portal. We also showcase the brands’ stories and the people behind each one.”
If one heads to the So Chic website, you’ll discover a clean user interface, with various panels making for easy navigation for the very best of French events, with listicles, top picks and of course, a useful directory to lead you to just about every French brand in Singapore for you to discover, along with stories behind each brand. In essence, it’s a one-stop shop for any Francophile in Singapore, or anyone curious to add a little French va-va-voom to their lives.
“But we wanted to go further than just being a guide,” she adds. “We decided that to really know and understand French culture, people needed to experience it first hand rather than just browsing it. So we began by working together with Maison Kayser and participants learnt how to bake their own French baguettes and lemon tarts! Our participants always comprise a good mix of French and Singaporeans, and it’s been a great way to bring the two countries together, with everyone learning something unique, be it mixology, chocolate-making, beauty, or even fashion. There was once we even did wine pairing with local food!”
Their most recent event, which was co-created with collaborators Maison 21G, saw participants learning how to craft their own perfumes at Maison 21G’s shop at 21 Duxton Road. A boutique perfumerie, Maison 21G takes its name from the French word for “house” where everyone can feel welcome to create their very own unique scent with the all natural materials provided. In addition, the “21G” in its name refers to multiple elements in the brand, but primarily, the belief that one’s soul weighs exactly 21 grams. In response to that, each perfume bottle you take home also weighs exactly 21 grams (containing 25ml of perfume), and because they make Eau de Parfum, all fragrances contain the highest level of perfume concentrate in the industry: 21%, compared to the usual 15% (for males) or 20% (for females), allowing the scent to remain on you longer.
Maison 21G first opened in Sydney, with their Singapore outlet opening just a few weeks ago on 26th September, and plans to expand to Paris come February 2020. While they currently only have 33 scents available in Singapore, with a database containing 150 scents, there’s still plenty more where that came from as they introduce the remaining scents as time goes by. Primaily, what Maison 21G aims to do is to educate their clients about the art of perfume making, while engaging them on a journey of self-discovery and know themselves better. Along the way, we were also served Champagne from Lelarge-Pugeot, along with some wine, all of which came together to drive home the importance of scent and aromas in almost everything we do and hwo we appreciate the finer things in life.
By the end of our workshop with them, we learnt the basics of scent design, having learnt about the concept of pheromones that go into scents and specifics on what makes a perfume; the most expensive base of oris, for example, may have a bland smell, but this is key to it being a good base, as it helps absorb the rest of the scent profiles one layers on top of it. For ourselves, we ended up with a unique perfume with a profile that contained tobacco and oud.
“I think that people’s impression of France is that it’s romantic and the food is nice, so it’s been quite easy to share it with others,” Marion adds. “It’s really all about creating more visibility for French brands and reaching out to both locals and expats and really let themselves be surprised by the various aspects of France they can discover.”
Now, So Chic is gearing up for their next event – pop up event Les Galeries So Chic where the team will be showing off various French brands in their very own corner at the F1 Pit Building for just one weekend, where guests will get a chance to taste and try the various products featured.”We’re still growing with every event, and always looking for new ways to collaborate with our brands,” says Marion. “Like how we’ve just launched a corporate catalogue too, so companies can find corporate gifts or gifts for VIP customers from amongst our brand.”
“I arrived in Singapore 2 years ago, and it’s been amazing to see how well the events have taken off, constantly seeing full houses and people coming together and bonding over each activity – it really makes me happy being able to be here and do this every day.”
Voilah! 2019 runs from 3rd October to 17th November 2019 around Singapore. For more information on the festival and the full programme, visit their website at www.voilah.sg.