Francois Demachy: Dior Head Perfumer On Miss Dior and IFRA

Sergey Borisov’s interview with François Demachy in the Russian edition of GQ is worth reading. The questions are blunt, and Demachy addresses each one of them. A translated excerpt is below.  The rest can be found at GQ.ru (use Google translator, if you do not read Russian). I only wish Sergey asked Mr. Demachy about Christian Dior J’Adore

Sergey dips a blotter in the 1970s Miss Dior parfum for Demachy to smell. “Do you agree that this is completely different from what is sold in the stores today. Or Dioressence, which became completely different, having changed from an ambery composition to a green chypre.”

I completely understand you. However, we are following the IFRA recommendations, which regulate the fragrance organizations. For instance, in the new version of Miss Dior, the bergamot note is different. The furocoumarins have been removed from the essence, which are the natural stabilizers for the bergamot oil. They lend richness and fruity undertones. Without them, the note of bergamot became as if diluted. Moreover, oakmoss also had to be replaced. In general, the whole fragrance was changed. All of the animalic notes: castoreum, civet, musks—very important to the vintage fragrances—are gone. This is vandalism, but we cannot do anything about it. It started 15 years ago; I was then working at Chanel. With Chanel No 5 we faced the same problem. As for modern Dioressence, I do not like it either, and I am working on it right now.

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18 Comments

  • sweetlife: Ooooh…worth it for the side reference to Chanel No. 5 alone! January 11, 2011 at 8:28pm Reply

  • Victoria: Although I have to say, I do not agree that there is nothing they can do. The clients have the most say, but the problem is that they are fearing the litigation. January 11, 2011 at 8:50pm Reply

  • Anya: The big houses do face litigation from someone looking for big pockets to pick, which is a sad commentary on today’s world. Again, why can’t a warning label suffice? Does Jif peanut butter’s corporate owner worry about death caused by accidental inhalation or ingestion of PB? No, they have a disclaimer.

    I’m so glad to be an indie Outlaw Perfumer ;-) January 11, 2011 at 9:10pm Reply

  • Victoria: IFRA worries me only as so far as it pertains to the old formulas. For new launches, the whole IFRA thing is an utterly moot point. Most brands do not give suppliers/perfumers enough money to even begin to afford many of the beautiful natural materials that perfume fans decry IFRA restricting.
    So, yes, be happy that you work in the most creative and free manner available to you. :) January 11, 2011 at 9:26pm Reply

  • Martina: The only thing one can do is to hoard/hunt and save old fragrances as soon as one can get one’s paws on them. It is indeed saddening that a centuries old culture is dammned to disappear because of some IFRA “ideas” of what is healthy or not.
    I could go on and on, as this is only the uppermost tip of the iceberg ! These kinds of regulations are already up and done in many ways of life and they become more and more… January 12, 2011 at 3:38am Reply

  • Madelyn E: This makes me furious. Yes, like you said, they could, if they wanted, challenge the notion of IFRA . It has and continues to erode the quality and beauty of fragrance. I adore Miss Dior, Dioressence, Diorissimo etc. They are but a mere unrecognizable shadow of their former selves. Just today, a friend said she discovered a beautiful bottle of perfume in her closet . It was vintage Cabochard extrait , in all it’s leather glory. She said it was exquisite. One can only dream, things will change.. January 12, 2011 at 4:34am Reply

  • Olfactoria: I think the interview is great! For once, things are openly spoken about. I love the direct way of the interviewer. The IFRA regulations are stupid (a warning label would do just fine), but the industry’s attempts to downplay and disguise the facts are what is really making me mad. Consumers have brains as well as credit cards! January 12, 2011 at 6:21am Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, I agree, the EU regulatory bodies are the worst kind of bureaucracy. Not to say that the US bureaucracy is better… January 12, 2011 at 12:02pm Reply

  • Victoria: I think that it is too late in the game to challenge anything, so things will remain as they are.
    However, it is possible for some materials to return to the perfumer’s palettes as more studies are conducted. This was the case with damascones (their percentage usage allowance was increased a couple of years ago after initially being limited.) January 12, 2011 at 12:04pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, the interview is great, and although I think that there is a bit blame shifting going on here, the answers are honest and straightforward. January 12, 2011 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Sergey: Thank you, Victoria, for your attention.
    My blame shift & blunt questions and straightforward answers could be dealt with French-Russian interpreter (not me) and editing.

    I`m not wearing J`Adore so I just forgot about it.
    (And I was limited in time being last in a queue of interviewers) January 12, 2011 at 11:24pm Reply

  • Elma: Thank you for all the interesting news about perfumes and smellies! I am in the middle of the South African Karoo (southern arid region) on a farm and have a passion for fragrance, whether plants, perfumes or food. At Christmas time I was tempted to enter for the competition but the slant was so much towards the northerly climes and all the scents associated with those parts, I thought, “They won’t understand!”. For us it’s frangipani, gardenias, herby garlicky cold roast lamb, sputtering candles in the warm breeze and so on. And best of all; a brewing thunderstorm!
    Blessings. January 13, 2011 at 7:09am Reply

  • Victoria: Sergey, I meant FD is shifting blame a bit, not you. At any rate, it is a very good interview, and I really like your questions and his candor. January 13, 2011 at 7:38am Reply

  • Victoria: Elma, those scents sound so wonderful! What a nice memory, thank you for sharing. I would love to experience that at some point. January 13, 2011 at 8:05am Reply

  • Vintage Lady: I will read the interview. THANKS. January 13, 2011 at 3:28pm Reply

  • Victoria: You are welcome! January 13, 2011 at 3:34pm Reply

  • Tarleisio: I’ve been saying for years that Dior – whether on IFRA’s command or not – murdered Miss Dior and never bothered to give her a decent burial, but now, we have it straight from the source! And it’s amazing FD is so forthright about it, even!

    But what makes me saddest of all is what they did to my own favorite Dior – Dioressence. Not just murdered but gutted and left for dead. At least M. Demachy acknowledges it, now.

    They should just have given us warning labels and left us to make our own decisions. Thankfully, we have natural perfumers who do just that! :) January 15, 2011 at 12:30pm Reply

  • Victoria: There was another interview recently, in which FD also admitted changing the formulas. Granted, it is all so obvious to people who are closely following the development of the fragrance lines that I am surprised that they are admitting it only now.
    My least favorite reformulation of all Diors is J'Adore, because the changes ruined the perfect balance of this composition. Like J'Adore or hate it, it was a remarkable fragrance, with a very unique structure, which is still inspiring similar genre of perfumes–fresh green floral. Now, J'Adore smells like a poor copy of itself. January 15, 2011 at 12:33pm Reply

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