It’s with much sadness that I share the news of perfumer Guy Robert passing away on Monday, May 28th. Whether we are talking about Mr. Robert’s ravishing Christian Dior Dioressence or opulent Amouage Gold, sassy The Pink Room Parfum Pour Toi or glamorous Hermès Calèche, Mr. Robert’s fragrances are what French perfumery calls “grand parfums,” perfume symphonies. Mr. Robert’s creations also include Hermès Equipage, Doblis, Madame Rochas, Monsieur Rochas, Gucci Pour Homme (1976), The Pink Room Parfum No 1, Parfum Gres Chouda, among many others. It’s an impressive portfolio that reveals Mr. Robert’s creativity and imagination. ”You need an orchestra to play a symphony, but you can make great music with just a flute,” he would say, and his perfumes, even at their simplest, have numerous layers and sing in perfect harmony.
Mr. Robert came from the family of perfumers, and he followed his grandfather, father and his uncle (Henri Robert, who at one time was Chanel’s in-house perfumer) in their footsteps. Mr. Robert developed his own distinctive style that’s instantly recognizable to his fans. He would often note that “perfumers create perfumes, and they have neither the time, nor the inclination nor the desire to tell all.” Fortunately for all of us, he was an exception to this, and his book Les Sens du Parfum (Osman Eyrolles Multimédia, Nov 9 2000) revealed his extensive knowledge of perfumery.
In the later years, despite his failing health, Mr. Robert’s passion and dedication to his craft continued to impress those close to him. Even well into his retirement he continued to work on perfumery projects, write and lecture. Whenever one would write or call him, he would be glad to share stories or offer his help. His students carry with them the memory of a great mentor and his friends remember him as a candid person, with an insatiable curiosity and a great sense of humor.
I would like to close my tribute to this great perfumer and special person with another quote, which to me illustrates his frank and refreshing approach. When asked about his definition of a beautiful perfume, Mr. Robert replied without hesitation, “You don’t have to make it complicated–you have to smell good [wearing it].”
A photo courtesy of Octavian, Henri Robert, who was the head perfumer at Chanel and his young nephew Guy Robert, 1950s.
The religious ceremony and funeral are going to be held on Friday, June 1st. I know that many of you love his work as much as I do, so please join me in expressing my condolences to Mr. Robert’s son, Francois Robert and his family.