Anat Fritz was never content to follow the crowd. As a child, she felt and looked different from other kids—making her own clothes, cutting her own hair, and wearing perfume typically worn by much older women. It wasn't until she was an adult that suddenly, her unique artistic sense became a cause for celebration. As the founder of Anat Fritz Accessories, she was far ahead of the knitting revival of the last several years, creating knits that were more modern and luxurious than most people had seen. Today, her line includes hats, scarves, and bags from wool, fur, and leather.
(Really, take a look. This is not your grandmother's knitting.)
A few years ago, Anat extended her creative direction to perfumery, and the results have been top-notch. (Her excellent Tzora is part of our "Landscapes" collection.) Here, we speak with Anat about her interesting childhood and the landscape connected to her perfume.
Olfactif: You live in Germany now, but where did you grow up?
Anat Fritz: I was born in Romania, and for the first years of my life I was raised in Israel. And then when I was four or five, we came to Germany.
O: What were you like as a kid?
AF: Pretty obnoxious and rebellious!
O: I love that.
AF: My mom didn’t love it, but there’s just no other way to describe it. From my point of view now, I would totally call it avant-garde, but as a child I just thought of it as a little different. I dressed differently. I always made my own stuff, and I always stuck out a little bit from the collective. As a child, you really want to fit in, but I was never really fitting in. Today, it’s a good thing and I’m happy about it, but back then it was just very frustrating, and that’s why I was really obnoxious and rebellious, I guess.
O: What kinds of things were you making as a child?
AF: For example—and my parents hated this—I always sneaked out of bed and turned my light on in the room, and then started to cut my clothes, my bags, my hair, everything. Whatever could be cut, modified, or ripped apart got cut, modified, or ripped apart, and then put back together a different way. And then it’s four o’clock in the morning, and my parents would get up to go to the bathroom and see the light in my room. They were like, “What are you doing here?”
And then when I didn’t have anything to cut, I just started to move my furniture around. I was constantly doing something creative at night because I was always sleepless, and I still am today. Then in the morning, I couldn’t get out of bed, because I went to bed at four o’clock and I had to wake up for school. It was really bad.
O: Did you go to university and study something conventional or did you skip that?
AF: No, I did not. I’m a self-taught person. Everything I do today, I have not studied. I have not studied perfume, design, interior design, knitwear. After school I went to Israel to work in a kibbutz, and I loved it so much. I just love community and I’m a total summer camp person.
After that, I worked for Sony Music as a trend marketing representative. After that I went to acting school, but I didn’t finish it because I thought, “I don’t need it.” It was kind of boring. I moved to Berlin, then I got pregnant and started to knit. I made myself a crocheted hat, and that was back when cool hats were not really made out of crochet. It was a brim hat. People started to ask me on the street where I had gotten it, and I realized that there was potential there. So a friend of mine, who was a designer, said, “There’s this big fashion show exhibition. You should go and get a stand.” The next thing I knew, I was selling my hat designs to high-end stores all over Europe.
O: When did perfume enter the picture?
AF: The perfume came about because I couldn’t find anything I liked on the markets. So I thought, okay, I’m just going to do one myself.
O: Did you wear perfume before that? Or did people around you wear perfume when you were growing up?
AF: I did when I was young. That’s how you would see that I was a little bit different from other kids. For example, when I was 15, I was wearing Rive Gauche from Yves Saint Laurent, which was rather something for elderly women, I would say! Others were wearing Mickey Mouse perfume and stuff from cartoons that was made into perfumes. My aunt wore Rive Gauche, and I just loved how it smelled on her, so I put it on. Of course it didn’t fit me at all, because I was a child and this is a very mature scent.
O: You made Tzora with Geza Schoen, who is one of the most respected perfumers in the industry. How did you guys connect?
AF: He is also based in Berlin, and we have a mutual friend. There’s not very much to say about it. I asked him if we could work together, and we did. Berlin is really small in the creative scene, so people are very approachable. And as I’m always striving for the best around me, there’s no one else I would’ve asked because I really like his style. He’s an avant-gardist and I love Escentric Molecules. I was very happy when he said yes.
O: Tell me about Tzora, the kibbutz on which the perfume is based. How did you first start going there? What was it like?
AF: I came across it because my mom lived in Beit Shemesh, a town near Jerusalem. My son and I wanted to go to the pool, but the pool was closed in Beit Shemesh. So she said, “Why don’t you go to the kibbutz nearby? They have a nice pool there.” So we went there and we stayed. It’s a wonderful, great place, yet not very open for people from the outside. It’s a pretty closed community. You can’t just go and live there, for example, but you can use their pool. We were very lucky because they totally fell in love with my son. So we were able to go back and live there for the summer and just have a room there, which was an exception. We were able to really experience the kibbutz life with the people who lived there.
O: And why were you inspired to make a perfume based on that place?
AF: When Geza said that we would do Tzora together, he gave me some options. One of those made me think of the kibbutz. The way I feel there is really powerful. How the nature really surrounds you—and it’s beautiful nature. It’s such a special place with all those fruit trees and bushes, and all the stuff you never get to see hanging on a tree. I had never seen passion fruit bushes before, or kiwi bushes, and papaya trees—fat papayas just hanging from the tree! It’s a very empowering feeling to just walk there and be in awe. When I smelled Tzora, I had the feeling that it was linked to that experience. I loved it.
O: How did you come up with the idea to put your knit covers on the perfume bottles? Was that always the plan, to somehow integrate your knit with the perfume?
AF: There was no question for me, because I’m obsessed with knit. Sometimes for a special season like Christmas, I’ll have my little special edition, with the pom-pom, but the cover is always linked to knit or wool.
O: What’s next for your work in fragrance?
AF: I am going to have a new perfume product. It’s probably going to be a room scent like a candle. The perfume is my little hobby, my little secret love.
Read more about Tzora.