Over the years we have been blessed with the luscious scents of Maison Balzac and their beautiful glass jars that adorn our boutique. Elise Pioch, founder of Maison Balzac created each scent with a personal memory at its core, as a way to ease her longing for home in France. Scents, such as Sainte T leave a lasting imprint, evoking ones own sense of nostalgia. Now Maison Balzac is a widely renowned brand that has evolved vastly since it’s 2012 conception. We learn of Elise’s journey, inspirations and what’s to come…
Where are you from, and how did you come to be living life as you know it?
I am French, I grew up in a small village by the water in the south of France then moved to Paris to study fashion. I've always had a good star so my career started at Hermes' head office on rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, I was part of the press office looking after the ready to wear collection designed by Martin Margiela. Then I moved to Australia at 28, without a job, no friends, and very little english. Eight years later I was starting Maison Balzac in Sydney (in 2012).
Tell us a bit about your label Maison Balzac, where does the name derive from and what does it mean to you?
In 2012 I had been in Australia for eight years and I was seriously missing France, my family, the perfumes of the bush surrounding my village... so I decided to recreate them right here in Sydney to make me feel less nostalgic. Balzac is the name of my family on my mother's side; the symbolic is very important, it means that I can only create ideas and objects that would make them proud, I can never compromise on quality or integrity because they are watching!
Please tells us how you formulate such amazing scents and which is your favourite?
Each scent starts as a personal memory for a place, a moment, a person or a feeling. I close my eyes and let souvenirs come to me. I also create scents in collaboration with friends or artists who I admire, usually for their eccentricity or unique way of seeing the world (Doctor Cooper, Miranda Skoczek, Romance was Born...). I work with a perfumer, Rebecca, who magically translate my words into fragrances. My favourite scent is L'Obscurite which we created with artists Lyn & Tony, it is rich, dark, smokey, unlike anything else.
Which element of your work do you thrive off the most?
I absolutely love coming up with ideas! Sadly it has become 1% of my work schedule but these are the moments that remind me why I created Maison Balzac.
What’s inspiring you right now?
I am really, really, really into furniture and interiors, I am very fond of mixing objects from different eras like Napoleon the 3rd papier mache trays or 1950's glass pendants with modern chairs from Paris based brand Moustache. For some reasons I am also obsessed with sconces and corals!
Do you have a morning ritual?
I wish I could say I meditate, drink warm water with lemon and take a moment for myself BUT the truth is that I barely have time to eat anything (if I do, it's more likely to be a ham & cheese croissant), I rush to get our daughter ready for school then I dive into work and it's full steam ahead until I have to go home and cook dinner. So it feels like my morning lasts all day....
What influences your style for both your personal style and home / lifestyle?
I believe that each individual is influenced by their own childhood and surrounding. I call this the "emotional geography". It stays with you for life, may you embrace it or reject it. In my case I fully embrace all the influences given by my grandparents and parents during the 80's and 90's: a ridiculously happy childhood, a sense of fun but also a definite French taste, a European culture and a huge love for nature.
If you could give your younger self any advice based on everything you know now, what would it be?
"Return your grandparents call, one day they will stop calling."
Lastly, what are currently working on?
At work I am developing our 2022 collection named "The Fruits of The Sea": it will include a collection of trays made of compostable bamboo materials, a sea urchin incense holder.... and at home I am restoring a 1950's boatshed on the Pittwater. I realise all these things revolve around the sea and nature in general, it must be because of my emotional geography!!