Nov

PERFUMERS’ Q&A

What The Nose Knows

PERFUMERS’ Q&A

DAPHNÉ BUGEY, FIRMENICH

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

I love the addictive and aphrodisiac qualities in Ambrox; for Le Labo’s Rose 31, I used the isomere leavo in overdose. Recently, I’ve really focused on woody notes, such as patchouli, in association with unexpected elements. For K from Dolce&Gabbana, I combined three different qualities of patchouli with spicy pimento. For Jean Paul Gaultier’s Scandal, I also mixed three types of patchouli with honey. I also love vanilla for it touches the subconscious, I think, and I have always been attracted to orange flower as well, maybe because I spent some years in Algeria and Iraq in my childhood. 

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

It’s truly satisfying to bring joy and emotion to people. One day, I ran after a woman on the street to ask her what she was wearing, as I loved it. She told me it was a flanker of She Wood from Dsquared and that I wouldn’t know as it was only sold in Italy. I actually created it and didn’t recognize it. That made me smile, and of course, I didn’t tell her.

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on? 

A friend of mine told me a funny story.  He was wearing one of my fragrances. A woman literally followed him into the bathroom and knocked on his stall door to ask him the name of his perfume because it smelled so good, she said. During a launch, I was showing small groups of journalists the accords of the fragrance. We were five around a table when suddenly one journalist started to cry because the lily accord reminded her of her wedding day. It was one of the most beautiful and touching experiences. We actually all started to cry as well, all five of us.

If you could smell only one thing until the end of time, what would it be?

The smell of my children.

What’s your favorite saying or expression? 

A quote from Nikos Kazantzakis: “I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I’m free.”

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? 

To fly. I’ve always dreamed of flying. I took a year-long sabbatical and learned to paraglide in Nepal. However, to pilot a paraglider, you need to make decisions constantly and I was just contemplating everything going by, and it was too dangerous. Today, I kite-surf; it lets me sail over the ocean and fly above the waves and that’s one of the reasons I moved to Lisbon!

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? 

The drums. I believe that jamming with other musicians over an improv session must be the most thrilling experience. Music, like fragrance, resonates in me and fascinates me as it can be so innate, spontaneous and animal.

NICOLAS BEAULIEU, IFF

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

I was very young, starting my training in IFF quality control when I smelled Cashmeran® (an IFF captive molecule) for the very first time. And what a shock! The incredible scent of some unknown wood, both aromatic and creamy musky, slightly red fruits. I was very disoriented. It was the first time I smelled an odor which doesn’t exist in nature! That how I understood how important synthetic molecules are for the creativity of the perfumer, and I feel lucky and grateful to the IFF R&D team for coming up with amazing innovative new gems. I am also a huge fan of vetiver, and especially our Vetiver oil Molecular Distillation For Life LMR, more intense in its woodiness and less earthy than regular vetiver oil. This is the quality we used in Tiffany & Love for Him, giving astonishing elegance and lustiness.

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

 It makes me so proud, of course! I also like to read consumer reviews on the internet. There are a lot of learnings in what is liked and disliked, and I believe it is key to be aware of consumer critics and crushes –  they share raw emotions, without filters.

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on?

I once met a lady, a long time user of Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir who praised Aromatics in White, telling me it was her ideal alternate perfume! So nice of her to compare my creation to Bernard Chant’s masterpiece…

Favorite non-perfume smell?

The smell of clean laundry when I get home; it is so reassuring and relaxing.

What’s your favorite saying or expression?

“Alone I go faster, together we go further”! My perfumer colleagues all are remarkable, and I love working in team: it is very inspiring… and much more fun!

Favorite meal?

I am on a diet right now, so I could kill for a meal of cheese and red wine!

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do?

I would love to be able to read hieroglyphs. As a kid, I wanted to become an archeologist. I guess somehow, one can say that I “excavate” in my perfume formulas!

ARNAUD WINTER, COSMO INTERNATIONAL FRAGRANCES

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

My first encounter with Tuberose flowers goes back years ago during my first trip to Mexico. I was welcomed by an enormous bouquet of white blossoms as I walked inside the house where I was staying – it was an olfactive overload of pure bliss. At Cosmo Fragrances, we are fortunate to have access to our exclusive naturals palette which includes my favorite floral ingredient; the Tuberose Craftivity®. This natural extract allows me to create with the addictive sensuality, power and exoticism of the living flower, without going too heavy fruity or medicinal. This olfactive character takes me back to my experience in Mexico.

The scent of Saffron brings immediate childhood memories of my grandmother, especially her cooking. Since she was born in Tunisia, this amazing spice was part of her culinary heritage. It is such a multifaceted note that it works wonders in oriental and leathery accords. It also blends beautifully with iris, rum, honey and rich fruits.

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

It’s always a joyful, humbling experience and a privilege to be able to make people feel good about themselves. As perfumers, we can be part of someone’s life in a very intimate and personal way. My work creates special invisible connections between myself, and complete strangers.

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on?

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to South America to speak about my work to the public. In one of the events, I met a lady from one of the remote villages that is situated on the edge of the Amazonian forest. She traveled hours just to be there for the event. At the end of the presentation, she approached me shyly with tears in her eyes & said: “This scent you created is part of who I am, thank you!” That is the best compliment I have ever received.

Favorite non-perfume smell?

The distinct scent of the air just before the rain on a hot summer day. This mixture of ozonic, solar notes and the rich scent from the earth is a reminder that appreciating the simple things is what matters most.

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

 Omnilingualism, I know, it’s a very strange word that describes the capacity to learn and communicate in any languages spoken or not. I think that a lot of things would function much better if we could all communicate, understand and learn from each other. Maybe fragrance as a start?

Fantasy dinner guests?

Joel Robuchon, Bono and Leonardo da Vinci. The table will be definitely interesting! We can create a symphony of culinary/musical/pictorial/olfactive concepts. But one thing is for sure, Mr Robuchon would take care of the cooking!

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?

Transcendence: Fragrance is much more than just a formula, it’s not just a pretty scent, it helps us transform our identity and pushes us to go beyond our limitations or you can say imagination.

Oct

PERFUMERS’ Q&A

What The Nose Knows

PERFUMERS’ Q&A

GABRIELA CHELARIU, FIRMENICH

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

I love being in nature and always want to be close to nature, so this greatly influences the notes I like to use in fragrances. I love to use mossy notes. They are chameleonic,  able to express different facets: humidity in woody notes like walking in a luxurious forest; soft, warm dryness like the smell of wood baked by the sun; salty effects when combined with marine notes; mineral effects like the smell of wet rocks; fluffy airiness to vanilla; and elegant texture to gourmand notes. As the key ingredient of the most elegant of fragrance accords, the Chypre accord, it’s no surprise that I use mossy notes in many creations. I also love to use Jasmine Sambac. For me, it is a very modern floral note because of its green dewiness, wink of fruitiness and touch of petal-like silkiness. It is a great combination of playfulness, beauty and nature. I use it in many of my creations, and it works naturally in floral fruity structures, subtly in woods by bringing silkiness or even richly in vanillas to enhance deliciousness.

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

The moment when I meet someone who’s wearing a fragrance I created, it is the distillation of everything I wished and hoped to achieve as a perfumer.  It fills me with happiness, not because it is my creation, but because I touched someone, because my work meant something important to elicit the act of picking up the perfume, putting it on and going out in the world with confidence. It’s an amazing feeling. Additionally, memories of what that fragrance means to me come flooding back and this shared experience gives me an enormous enthusiasm to create again.

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on?

The best compliment someone has given me about a scent I created is when a person tells me: “This is the fragrance I wore when I met the love of my life.” Of course, I’m not assuming that the fragrance itself played a very large role in that love, but nonetheless, it was part of this extraordinary moment in someone’s life with reverberations long after. Being part of people’s happy, life-altering moments, big or small, through the fragrances I create, and knowing that those fragrances will bring back such happy memories ever after, is indeed the biggest compliment for me.

Fantasy dinner guests

I love theatre so I have many fantasy guests. To mention just a few: theater director Ivo Van Hove, whose plays leave me always completely transformed (I am thrilled by his ability to create intense, even cathartic emotions in the most understated décor, but also by his use of innovative technology to create unexpected theatrical experiences); actress Cate Blanchett, who is a sheer force of nature (every single time I see her on stage, she takes my breath away); and Bristish actor and director Mark Rylance, who practically becomes his characters (I pledge to see him every single time I have a chance). I can only dream of a play directed by Ivo Van Hove featuring Cate Blanchett and Mark Rylance!

Favorite saying:

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” – Pablo Picasso

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do?

I have always wanted to learn to play the piano, and it’s a dream that could still come true.

Favorite non-perfume smell?

The smell of firewood burning in the winter while being outside in the snow. It takes me immediately to my childhood.

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?

Transportational.

PATRICIA CHOUX, MANE

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with?  How have you used it?

Some of my favorite materials include natural orange flower, and solar salicylates.  These are regressive aromas for me, the scents of childhood memories like baking orange flower cakes, and going to the beach. Banana Republic Neroli Woods, and Carven Dans Ma Bulle, both have a nod to my happy childhood. I also love patchouli absolute, with its dual aspect: woody and earthy, but also humid. I used patchouli and woods in Malin + Goetz Leather.

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

I feel super-happy when I meet someone who wears one of my fragrances. It’s the ultimate validation for a perfumer. It’s like being famous for the best part of yourself: for your creativity and your work.  

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on?

The best compliment anyone has ever given me was, “It changed my life: I’m so addicted. I wear it, and people are attracted to me.” And it wasn’t only one person who told me that people responded to them when they wore that fragrance! I love that my fragrance helps them to feel their best self.

Favorite non-perfume smell?

When it’s marathon season, they prepare for 50,000 runners to arrive in Central Park.  There’s this distinctive smell, close to the finish line. It’s hard for me to describe, because I’m not in my most olfactive frame of mind when I’m at the end of the marathon! It’s something plastic, waxy, maybe a touch of Gatorade, and the smell of the finish line. It smells triumphant!

If you could choose a superpower

Reading people’s minds!—so I will know when they truly like or don’t like a fragrance, and also I would understand how to rework it.

Fantasy dinner guest

I would absolutely love to have dinner with Meryl Streep. She’s brilliant and faceted, and so talented. . . I admire the quality of her work, and also her work ethic—she’s super-inspiring for me. She can be sexy and funny and strong; she’s daring, but classic, with such elegant posture. I would love to create for her. 

Favorite saying or expression

Dare.  Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. Like everyone else, I have my routines, where I feel safe and protected, but I hate the idea of having routines. I’m trying to not live my life inside my comfort zone. Don’t be afraid.

CELINE BAREL, IFF

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

I love the Orange Flower Water absolute LMR as well as the LMR Rose Essential™ (which was granted the Sustainable Beauty product of the year award in 2013), which are both fresher, dewier, cleaner, more modern, and closer to, respectively, the orange flower water and rose water used in pastries or in beauty products, and more importantly, very close to those flowers you smell in the air. I found them more joyful and playful and more versatile. In traces or in overdose, they work their magic and are more easily accepted!

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

The first time I ever smelled a fragrance I created was in the subway in NYC. It was Jessica Simpson’s Fancy Love. It was one of my first fragrances, and I was so deeply happy to smell my work on someone. This fragrance also saved my vacations: I was coming back from Brazil, and on the plane I was talking to my neighbor who shared that her daughter was wearing Jessica Simpson’s Fancy Love, so I told her I created this fragrance as a perfumer at IFF in NYC. At some point during the flight I left my bag unattended under my seat with my brand new camera containing all my souvenirs. Back home, I was excited to look at my pictures only to discover my camera got stolen on the plane. I was heartbroken. Few days later, I received a weird package, with a CD inside on which was written “achado em JFK” (found in JFK) with all my pictures burnt on it !!! So I‘ve been thankful to this “fragrance loving Robin Hood”, and thanks to Fancy Love, “they” found the IFF Address to return at least my pictures!!

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on?

For Zoologist Squid, someone talked about my “perfume wizardry capturing the fantastic wonders of the unchartered deep”;  another one said the fragrance managed to depict perfectly the habitat and the “aura” of the animal in a wearable way : in both cases, I am happy to hear that through my creation I succeeded in embarking  the consumer onto a journey, make them dream as long as the fragrance lasts. To have given them a good time. An escape. A daydream. There is something very powerful about fragrances, and that’s why I LOVE my job: make people feel good.

If you could smell only one thing until the end of time, what would it be? 

The World!!!

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

To be free to explore any time: past, present, future.

Fantasy dinner guests?

A good dinner should not only have great food, it should have great company too. My casting would be: Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, Jesus, Walt Disney, Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Salvador Dali, and Gala. I think we would have a lot of fun and unforgettable conversations!

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? 

I wish I could play the piano really well and compose, and I would have a surrealistic piano-lab, like in the Boris Vian’s novel L’Ecume des Jours (Foam of the Days), and instead of creating cocktails, my piano would create perfumes…

Sep

PERFUMERS’ Q&A

What The Nose Knows

PERFUMERS’ Q&A

ADRIANA MEDINA, GIVAUDAN

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

I am a top note kind of gal—you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I love citrus, fruity, fresh top notes. Notes that are joyful and dance on the top of a fragrance. 

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

It’s the biggest compliment a perfumer can ever receive, when you meet someone who enjoys and wears your fragrance all the time!

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on? 

One of the best compliments was when someone told me that a creation of mine was the first fragrance they were gifted, and it’s their favorite scent! To be able to reach someone and leave a long-lasting memory is very meaningful.

Favorite non-perfume smell?  

Mom’s cooking. The smell is sweet, salty, warm and delicious. A signal that I’m home. 

Do you have a secret talent? 

It’s not a secret that I love dancing!

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be? 

Magical. Fragrance is pure magic, it makes you imagine, dream and travel.

If you could tell the world anything about fragrance, what would it be? 

I was first introduced to fragrance by my grandmother. I still clearly remember the glass tray where she displayed all of her favorites. Little did I know, I would become a perfumer one day. Fragrance gave me a profession and it’s where I found my deepest passion. I love to share my story so I can inspire others to be part of this beautiful world. It started later on in life as a dream, and I made it into a reality.

MACKENZIE REILLY, IFF

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

I love to work with mineral notes, and see them as an extension of the world of naturals.  By faceting a woody or herbaceous accord with minerality, it adds a depth to the olfactive landscape that feels really natural to me, creating the effect of a forest or a shoreline. I also like to work with natural seeds, such as carrot or ambrette.  I love the richness and signature they can provide to an orris or sandalwood, for example. These types of notes also open the door to a new world of gourmand fragrances that are edible and addictive, but not necessarily sweet the way we currently understand the gourmand family.  

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created? 

It’s exciting! Suddenly you see your creation in a new light, almost as if it doesn’t belong to you anymore.

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on?

I’ve been told by a client that a fragrance I made for his brand brings him back to his childhood memories in the South of France, and is so close to his heart for that reason.  The way he smiles when he recounts the story makes me feel like I was able to capture something both elusive and profound and put it in a bottle; which is the ultimate goal, really. Any time someone shows you that you’ve truly reached them through scent, it’s a pretty powerful feeling.

If you could smell only one thing until the end of time, what would it be?

Such a hard question!  Maybe the smell of sweet, fresh air when the seasons change; when the sun hits the earth, warming the soil, the grass, the trees. You feel as though you are being nurtured through your breath.

Favorite non-perfume smell?

The scent of burning wood in a big stone fireplace. I love the variety of firewood in different places. In France we burn good, dry wood that’s covered in oakmoss, and in New Mexico, it’s the sweet scent of Pinion wood burning in the adobe kivas.

What’s your favorite saying or expression?

The photographer Cecil Beaton once wrote, “What is elegance?  Soap and water!” I love this quote for what it is: simple, honest, beautiful. In perfumery it is very important to understand how to capture the essence of things; an exercise in minimalism and essentialism. 

Do you have a secret talent?

I can hold my breath underwater for 5 minutes, maybe more.  It’s true!

If you could tell the world anything about fragrance, what would it be?

If you take the time to learn how to smell, how to be present and really pay attention to scent, your world will expand in ways you cannot imagine.  

ILIAS ERMENIDIS, FIRMENICH

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

I enjoy working with Ambrox, the sexiest molecule alive, combining it with other radiant woody notes, and fresh or warm spices, to create surprising masculine addictions that are different from your everyday fougere aromatics.

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

I love the sense of mutual enthusiasm when I randomly meet someone who is half a generation younger than me and has used one of my fragrances. It brings back amazing memories and makes me secretly proud.

Best compliment someone has given you about a fragrance you worked on:

The best compliment is to hear the addictive effect a fragrance I created has on someone’s entourage. I believe in the primitive, then emotional, influence of a fragrance.

Favorite non-perfume smell?

The Aegean sea mixed with the smells of watermelons, cucumbers and Clarins suncream. It’s the perfect summer vacation smell.

What’s your favorite saying or expression?

I am Greek and I have way too many, but i often use Oscar Wilde’s “Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken.”

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do?

I would have loved to learn to play the piano or the guitar when I was young.

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be? 

Addiction


Aug

Perfumers’ Q&A

What The Nose Knows

Perfumers’ Q&A

CAROLINE SABAS, GIVAUDAN

What’s your favorite saying or expression? 

Carpe Diem (seize the day). I don’t say it often, but it’s how I choose to live my life—it’s very freeing.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? 

I’ve always wanted to take singing classes. I love music and sing constantly, but could use some practice (which my 7-year-old son reminds me every day!).

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?

Emotion.

If you could tell the world anything about fragrance, what would it be? 

A fragrance makes you dream.

Fantasy dinner guest? 

Mozart, Chopin and Brahms one evening; Djokovic, Nadal and Federrer the next.

PASCAL GAURIN, IFF

If you could smell only one thing until the end of time, what would it be?

I think one of the most calming smells is that of my kids’ heads when they were babies. It is one of the most striking and soothing smells of all time. 

Fantasy dinner guest?

I would actually have seven guests:

Quentin Tarantino –I believe that quality must start from a white page every time, and he is able to implement this excellence by creating a vision from scratch with each film. I also feel his brilliant dialog sets a new perspective on culture that is an eye-opening reflection of the world in which we live.

Eddie Izzard – I admire the way he approaches society, religion and sexuality that has set him apart in a very Monty Python kind of way that is remarkable.

Tom Ford – Simply because life is more beautiful with Tom Ford.

David Bowie – A master at stretching boundaries, visually and musically and he knew to surround himself with the best in the business.

Lana Del Rey – I have a purely emotional connection to her work as a singer and songwriter. There is something that deeply moves me about what she does. You either connect with her universe or you don’t.

Oprah Winfrey – Her life trajectory and achievements are extraordinary and unique in American society.

Ellen Von Unwerth – The way she captures a woman’s image really set her apart. It is erotic and joyful at the same time. 

What is favorite saying or expression?

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make a mistake, art is knowing which one to keep.” – Scott Adams

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do?

I would love to spend 3 months of my life working side by side with Patrick Roger, the French chocolate artist. He is a culinary wizard and has pushed the art of chocolate to a new level by magnifying the aesthetics and the taste.  His environmental consciousness is also astonishing and admirable. 

If you could tell the world anything about fragrance, what would it be?

It is the most beautiful sense of the world. Simply by breathing, you are smelling. You don’t have control over what you feel when you smell because it is connected to the most primitive and emotional part of your brain.  It is a pure instinctive reaction! It is pure emotion!

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

It’s hard to choose just one. But if I had to, I would say teleportation. To travel to another destination in the blink of an eye would be incredible. 

DAVID APEL, SYMRISE

What’s your favorite saying or expression?  

“You can always wash dishes…” My father was a chef and it was his way of teaching his children that you can always start over again and reinvent yourself.  It’s a saying that has been useful in my life.   

Fantasy dinner guest?  

Leonardo da Vinci or Cher. Actually both together would be spectacular fun!

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? 

I’m happy to say the list is long. Gives me hope. Paint well, build kayaks, fly, to name a few…

If you could tell the world anything about fragrance, what would it be? 

Look for fragrance in your life. It is always there. The briny mineral tang of the stones of lower Manhattan on a brisk fall day. The bright green flash of grass and linden blossoms on an early summer evening in Central Park. Then find one that is yours to keep in a bottle and bring along on your journey.  That is what we have the luck to do as perfumers.

Favorite Meal?

My favorite meal is in my garden. With all the people I love. Noise, laughter, talking over one another, platters of grilled meats and vegetables, wine and flowers, children, sunshine and music.

Jul

Perfumers’ Q&A

What The Nose Knows

Perfumers’ Q&A

LOUISE TURNER, GIVAUDAN

What does it mean to you to win The Fragrance of the Year/Women’s Luxury award for Tom Ford Lost Cherry?
Winning Fragrance of the Year makes me feel very proud and honored to have participated in its creation with such an amazing team at Tom Ford Beauty; and so inspired by the incredible creative vision of Mr. Ford.

What do you love most about being a perfumer?
What I love most about being a perfumer is the constant surprise and discovery that every creation brings… a perfume is never exactly how you imagine it to be so there is a child-like excitement every time you start to develop something new.

How would you describe your style as a perfumer?
My style is simple (figurative) and very inspired by nature.

If you could smell only one thing until the end of time, what would it be?
I just love the smell of honeysuckle… it has a meditative effect on me!

What’s your favorite saying or expression?
Favorite saying: Less is More! (I try and strive for this …but it’s not as easy as it sounds!)

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do?
Something I have always wanted to do- learn to fly a plane… I will hopefully obtain my PPL (private pilot ‘s license) this year.

CLEMENT GAVARRY, FIRMENICH

What does it mean to you to win The Fragrance of the Year/Women’s Popular award for Ariana Grande Cloud?
It is an immense honor and pleasure to have received a Fragrance Foundation Award. To win the Women’s Popular Fragrance of the Year made it all the more meaningful because it tells me this scent is reaching a great number of people in the US.

What mood or effect did you want the fragrance to create?
Inspired by what a cloud could smell like in Ariana’s world, I created this fragrance to create an uplifting, positive and happy mood. Additionally, I wanted to transmit a feeling of openness and comfort, as if floating on a cloud.

Are there unique considerations when creating a scent for a celebrity?
When working with a celebrity, the creation process is far more personal. You must consider the individual’s unique identity and preferences throughout every stage of the process.

What’s your favorite saying or expression?
YOLO (you only live once)

If you could choose a super power, what would it be?
Flying at high speed.

Fantasy dinner guests?
Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Richard Branson, Elon Musk

EMILIE COPPERMANN, SYMRISE

What does it mean to you to win the Perfume Extraordinaire award for A Lab On Fire Hallucinogenic Pearl?
It was wonderful working with A Lab on Fire who allowed me to express myself freely. I was so happy to be honored with this award, which is perhaps for me the most meaningful award given by the Fragrance Foundation, as it is bestowed by my peers. It’s the price that touches me the most! It’s a real recognition in the industry. I was also very touched by the reaction of other perfumers during the event, who were sincerely happy for me.

What is most special to you about this scent?
Against any feminine or masculine stereotype, and going beyond the trend of current perfumes. A kind of original alchemy from which emerges the unexpected, both new and familiar that brings back the emotion of a dream, an unconscious memory. A regressive invitation back in childhood with this soft leather note with strong iris facets and milky facets, very addictive without being sweet or sugary. A fragrance that creates a surprising addiction in people.

What elements or ideas inspired its creation?
My first idea was to start from the very well-known deep leather scent of De laire of the beginning of the century and to reinvent it in a modern, delicate and white signature.

If you could smell only one thing until the end of time, what would it be?
Without any hesitation, that of babies at the time of birth. They are wrapped in a kind of musky halo, a suave smell hyper sensual without being animal. I am always incredibly surprised by the contrast between the softness and fragility of their skin and the power of this so exquisite smell that it develops. It only lasts a few days, even a few hours…

Favorite meal?
The pastry that makes the reputation of the famous Angelina shop in Paris, the Mont-Blanc, the signature of Angelina: Meringue, whipped cream, chestnut cream vermicelli. I love the contrasted textured of this dessert who is also full of history because it reminds me very much of my grandmother. We used to spend hours together in this salon de thé discussing and eating this pastry.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do?
I would have loved to be a musician. It’s a bit what I try to do in perfumery, take people on an emotional journey. Nothing transport people as much as fragrances or music.

Do you have a secret talent?
A loving mother with 4 kids!

Jun

Lifetime Achievement Perfumer: Dominique Ropion

Lifetime Achievement Perfumer: Dominique Ropion Portrait by Michael Avedon
What The Nose Knows

Lifetime Achievement Perfumer: Dominique Ropion

Lifetime Achievement Perfumer: Dominique Ropion Portrait by Michael Avedon

Dominique Ropion is known for his gentlemanly flair, his extreme diligence when concocting a juice, and a creative curiosity that knows no bounds. As a perfumer extraordinaire, his countless triumphs have included Ysatis and Amarige by Givenchy, La Vie est Belle by Lancôme, Alien by Thierry Mugler, Invictus by Paco Rabanne, and Portrait of a Lady and Carnal Flower for Frédéric Malle.


Ropion was exposed to the world of perfume at a young age. Both his mother and grandfather worked for the French fragrance house Roure, and, as a teenager, he worked there as a lab assistant. Still today he recalls, “I did not think I would ever be a perfumer,” so he went to study physics instead. As fragrance history would have it a last-minute spot opened up at the Roure school, and he decided to explore the opportunity. “I loved mathematics and science,” he explains, “but I loved much more the aesthetic side of the world. I always loved to smell, even when I was a child. I would smell everything. So in fact it was very natural for me to become a perfumer in the end.” Reading his eloquent book, smelling his exquisite creations, one cannot imagine Ropion being anything else. His passion and drive for understanding the nuances of aroma and emotion, and the many ways that thoughts and desires can be translated into a beautiful scent are what drives him. As he writes in Aphorisms of a Perfumer, “A perfume contains endless combinations with the power to rouse the most diverse sensibilities, since it is always clothed in its wearers dreams.”

How does it feel to receive this award from The Fragrance Foundation?
It is a great honor. It’s incredible. For me, my career is not finished at all, but it is a great culmination of all that I have done. It’s like a dream. An American dream!

From whom have you learned the most in your career?
The perfumery school at Roure was an excellent school, and it’s very important for, perfumers to have exceptional training. Just like it’s important for a doctor to go to a good university. After I finished school, I worked with master perfumer Jean-Louis Sieuzac for ten years. But for me, I learned the most from all the great perfumes. Shalimar for example was a master. The study of Shalimar and many other masterpieces for me was very important, it taught me a great deal.

You write about fragrance as a language. What does that mean to you?
Perfume is a kind of message. An aesthetic message. Perfume can touch you very deeply and very emotionally. And you can express yourself by wearing a perfume. It can be a part of your identity or a part of your own personality. When you decide to wear a perfume, it becomes a part of you. And when you wear it, you’re saying something to others.

How do you describe your style as a perfumer?
It is much easier for me to describe the style of other perfumers than it is for me to describe my own. But I’ve worked in every type of family in perfumery – it could be very oriental, it could be Middle Eastern, it could be very floral, anything. I like to work in all these ways. But how to define my style? I don’t know. I try to be very direct. If I’m working on a cologne, I want it to be very direct, very clear, and I would want the same thing if I were working on an oriental or anything else.

You’re known for being extremely diligent. What is the process of creation like for you?
A perfume is the result of two or three things. First of all, you have to work diligently to create a perfect composition, with a powerful message. That is basic. Just like a pianist has to know very well how to play before they can create music. So as a perfumer you must know the technique. You must know the accords, the families of the raw materials, all of the classic elements. These are your tools. If you have an idea but you don’t have the tools, you can’t make something good. Then of course creativity is very important. What is creativity? I don’t think it is easy to define, but I do know that you have to be very curious. And you have to listen to people, and be able to feel the atmosphere of the time and pulse of the world. It’s this type of mixture. It’s also a process that can take many, many trials. You can be very conceptual at the beginning. You can say, I want to make something in the spirit of Shalimar, for instance, but very modern and with a very important green effect. So that’s your direction of work and then you see what happens.

How do you know when you’ve finished? Is it instinctual?
Often there is a deadline, which is what tells you to finish. But you are never finished, in a way. Because so many directions are always possible. I’m finished when the customer tells me that they want to put that formula in the bottle. If it was up to me, I could continue forever.

Which fragrances that you’ve created are you particularly proud of?
When I created my first fragrance, I was very young. It was Givenchy Ysatis, and it was a big success. I was very surprised. I was initially surprised to have been chosen by Givenchy, and then I was very surprised that it was a big success. I am also very proud that it was liked by other perfumers, which was nice to hear and to have that respect. Of course, some perfumes are more important in the story of perfumery, but I love them all. They’re all a part of my personal history.

What gives a perfume that iconic timelessness?
There is no exact science to timelessness for me, but I do know what makes a good perfume. A good perfume is one that you can recognize immediately. You can distinguish it from all other perfumes. It’s as clear as that. You may like it or not like it, but you know it either way, like if you can say, ‘Oh, that’s Chanel No. 5..’ If you can recognize it immediately, it’s a great perfume. There are many perfumes like that, that make a statement. And those are the perfumes that will stay around forever.

You work with young perfumers – how do you recognize and nurture young talent?
It’s difficult to recognize. You can learn very well how to compose a perfume, and know the technique very well. That’s 90 percent of the creation. And we don’t know why one perfumer will do something very special while another perfumer with exactly the same training will do something else. The determination and the motivation and focus are all very important. But to know who will be the next perfumer who will create the next Chanel No. 5? This you can never predict. I’m very involved in the curriculum we developed to train our future perfumers, and have personally mentored several of them, and must say I’m particularly proud of seeing them develop and blossom, and already create market successes.

You have been called the Master of Flowers. How do floral notes continue to inspire and surprise you?
All flowers are very complex formulas that I am fascinated to analyze each time I smell one. When you analyze the smell of the flower, you begin to understand it’s a formula. One of the most incredible formulas in the world because it’s one where nature is the perfumer and the perfumer becomes the student. And you can use some elements that you’ve learned from nature and transpose that into your creation. For example, with Carnal Flower, tuberose absolute is of course very important, but around it is a lot of accords that I learned from analyzing other flowers. Compared to woods, a flower has an incredible complexity of molecules, which is of so much value to a composer.

What is your favorite smell in the world?
That is very interesting question. I love the smell of rose, and tuberose. I love the smell of florals because some of them to me, such as jasmine, are like primary colors. Then there are other things. I love the smell of skin – that’s the smell of life. I love the smell of the sea, when you take a walk along the beach and you smell the salt and the air together, that complexity. And I’m going to say something surprising, but I love the smell of the city, particularly Paris, including the multiple scents you can discover in the Paris underground. But for me, everything is inspirational and I don’t have one single favorite.

You’ve written that even terrible smells can be wonderful.
Exactly. Even smells in a farm can be wonderful and amazing. For example, where the cows are, there is a beautiful smell. It’s strong, it’s heavy, but it’s very interesting and you instinctively know it forever. Of course, it’s not the kind of smell that you would want to wear. I love the smell of the cow, and I love the smell of the rose—but I would prefer to wear the rose.

May

Perfumers’ Q&A

What The Nose Knows

Perfumers’ Q&A

RODRIGO FLORES-ROUX, GIVAUDAN

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?
Omnipotent.

Best advice you’ve been given?
In perfumery, never trust the first accord. In life in general, patience attains everything.

What’s the biggest change you’d like to see in the perfumery industry?
Overall, our industry underates the power and value of time. Time is a priceless commodity, and as they say, Rome wasn’t built in one day. It would be so wonderful to literally “stop and smell the roses” and take our time to reflect and create. The final product would be soooo much better!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I pride myself in being a good friend, so having many great friends makes me immensely happy. I deeply treasure my friendships. They are such great gifts, such great privileges.

What’s one thing that everyone should try in their lifetime?
I’m Mexican, so I must answer: eating INSECTS.


ANNE FLIPO, IFF

If you could render a book, song, or work of art in fragrance, what would it be and what would it smell like?
It would be Bach Saint Matthew Passion “O mensch bewein dein Sünde gross.” The bucolic and celestial evocation of this Bach masterpiece, a divine tribute to mankind: the open field, the insects buzzing, the scents of fresh grass and air rustling, the voices of happy people in it.

Favorite non-perfume smell?
Wild lily of the valley: so fresh, direct, complex, vibrant, rich, good. Every year it’s a rebirth.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Learning to breathe… I’ve learned to take advantage of life, to truly master my destiny and everything I enjoy.

Favorite travel destination?
New York, where I feel at home.

What is your favorite meal, and where?
Veal kidneys at home.


NATHALIE LORSON, FIRMENICH

Favorite non-perfume smell?
Cut grass or Christmas pine trees.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children.

Favorite travel destination?
The Polynesian islands.

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?
A journey of addiction.

Best advice you’ve been given?
To enjoy life.  To truly profit from everything that life has to offer.

Apr

Perfumers’ Q&A

What The Nose Knows

Perfumers’ Q&A

JEROME EPINETTE, ROBERTET

The three qualities that got you where you are today are:
Passion, curiosity, humility.

What’s the biggest change you’d like to see in the perfume industry?
More creation and less consumer tests.

What is one thing you learned at school that you still use today?
I learned the most important thing: The perfume organ (hundreds of natural and synthetic ingredients).

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?
Magic! Perfume is an extraordinary tool to make you dream and to make you feel good. Fragrance is able to reach emotions you have deep inside.

What are you working on mastering?
I am working on creating with a limited numbers of ingredients, and also bringing an element of surprise to each of my fragrances.


STEPHEN NILSEN, GIVAUDAN

If you could render a book, song, or work of art in fragrance, what would it be and what would it smell like?
I just finished reading David Foster-Wallace’s quintessential meta-modern novel Infinite Jest and I would love to create a fragrance as prescient as this 20 year old novel. I imagine it to be an abstract, pheromone-like scent that is musky and nearly animalic with passively diffusive notes representing the humanity of every individual voice in the crowd.

Favorite non-perfume smell?
The smell of dry shower tiles in the morning with the first condensation from the hot steam. It is a subtle and evanescent scent that I probably love because it is tied up in that nearly euphoric half-dream state between sleep and coffee.

Best advice you’ve been given?
I was trained in perfumery by the AMAZING Calice Becker, and she told me that in order to become a perfumer I would need to learn to lose 99 times before I could learn to win once.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Knitting!

What are you working on mastering?
…please see guilty pleasure!


CHRISTELLE LAPRADE, SYMRISE

If you could render a book, song, or work of art in fragrance, what would it be and what would it smell like?
Bird in Space by Constantin Brâncusi would be my choice. Everything about it expresses movement through minimalist lines. It’s a mix of purity, balance, simplicity. Powerful yet delicate. My rendition of it would be as minimalist as possible, built around one star ingredient: Symrise’s high impact captive Amberwood note.

Favorite non-perfume smell?
The smell of my children’s skin when they were babies.

What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness can take many different shapes and forms but it’s fleeting. That’s what makes it so precious. The key is to recognize it when you see it.

The three qualities that got you where you are today:
Passion, focus and resilience.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
CHOCOLATE. I have to have it every day!

Mar

Perfumers’ Q&A

What The Nose Knows

Perfumers’ Q&A

ALBERTO MORILLAS, FIRMENICH

What is your favorite non-perfume smell?
The smell of the Mediterranean Sea.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Acqua di Gio. I was born in Seville, Spain, where we dreamed of the sea all summer long–its freshness and great, untamed force. I wanted to bring this to life in a scent. I’m proud that Acqua di Gio has remained popular around the world since its launch in 1996, and is now successful with a new generation.

What is your favorite travel destination?
London for creation and Seville for emotion.

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?
Emotion!

If you could tell the world anything about fragrance, what would it be?
When we wear a scent, we succumb to its spell. A fragrance that stands the test of time is recognizable and appreciated everywhere, across both hot and cold climates. It must create a deep emotional connection to the person who wears it.


LINDA SONG, GIVAUDAN

If you could render a book, song, or work of art in fragrance, what would it be and what would it smell like?
In The Mood For Love, the film by Wong Kar-Wai. The beauty of the film comes from its subtlety and unspoken meaning. The fragrance should be the same in translating the images and music into heartbreakingly beautiful olfactive emotions.

Favorite non-perfume smell?
My mother’s cooking. The smells of both savory and sweet of Korean cuisine take me home.

The three qualities that got you where you are today?
Curiosity, determination, and enthusiasm.

Favorite travel destination?
Wherever I’m going next. Cape Town holds a special place in my heart, and I was humbled at a recent trip to the incredible city of Petra. Currently planning a trip to the American southwest and hiking in the Swiss Alps.

What’s one thing everyone should try in their lifetime?
Jumping off the proverbial cliff. People are more capable than they think they are and just need to face the fear and try it.


RALF SCHWIEGER, MANE

If you could render a book, song, or work of art in fragrance, what would it be and what would it smell like?
James Purdy, wrote a book called Narrow Rooms which has haunted me since I first read it in the 80’s. It is a sultry, passionate, somewhat violent story which takes place in the southern United States. The fragrance would smell like longing, and the sublimation of the human experience, from blood, grease and tears. Lots of indole!

Favorite non-perfume smell?
The human body…so many nooks and crannies to explore.

The three qualities that got you where you are today:
I’ll give you six: Chance, creativity, curiosity, happiness, humility, humor.

What is one thing you learned at school that you still use today?
To cope with boredom.

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?
Transfiguration

Feb

Perfumers’ Q&A

What The Nose Knows

Perfumers’ Q&A

Carlos Benaim, IFF

If you could render a book, song, or work of art in fragrance, what would it be and what would it smell like?
It would be a Rothko painting. I would convey the simplicity and transparency of the superimposed colors through a combination of highest quality ingredients to represent each layer.

Favorite non-perfume smell?
The smell of tobacco as it reminds me of my father. He would come home in the evening with his hands impregnated with the essence of pennyroyal mint, and yellowed by his cigarettes, “Craven A”, a British blend of blond tobacco. To me, this combination is more evocative of him than his real portrait.

What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” I was reminded of this quote by Ghandi during an incredible recent trip to India.

The three qualities that got you where you are today are:
Curiosity, tenacity and humility.

What is one thing you learned at school that you still use today?
What I learned is a way of thinking, organizing your thoughts – a rational approach to problem-solving. This is something that has been useful throughout my life.


Honorine Blanc, Firmenich

If you could render a book, song, or work of art in fragrance, what would it be and what would it smell like?
It would be one of Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings: a blend of purity, simplicity and technique. For my fragrance, I would choose natural ingredients and Firmenich’s Captive molecules to create a new abstract and addictive olfactive texture. The structure of this formula would maintain certain artistic qualities such as simplicity and purity.

What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness is being emotionally content – having the feeling of floating. It’s not about tension or full satisfaction; it’s about letting go.

Best advice you’ve been given?
Follow your heart; trust your instincts; never give up.

What are the three qualities that got you where you are today?
My curiosity and hunger for learning, an ability to focus, and the quality of my relationships.

Favorite travel destination:
Being on a sailboat anywhere.


Shyamala Maisondieu, Givaudan

If you could render a book, song, or work of art in fragrance, what would it be and what would it smell like?
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It would smell of patchouli and vetiver with some green lentisque notes on top and a lot of black pepper.

Favorite non-perfume smell?
The smell of home especially after I’ve been away for a while…a mixture of white flowers, my spicy Malaysian cooking and incense.

The three qualities that got you where you are today are:
Patience, persistence, and curiosity.

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?
Attraction.

If you could tell the world anything about fragrance, what would it be?
Nature is precious and if we don’t take care or respect nature, it would make our world a less fragrant place to live in.

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