In Tribute to Perfumer Guy Robert

 

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 EquipageDoblisMadame 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.

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41 Comments

  • Bradamante: A great perfumer has gone. He left us such beautiful fragrances. Thank you Guy Robert, for everything. May 30, 2012 at 4:22am Reply

    • Victoria: His beautiful perfumes will always remind me of this special person and remarkable perfumer. May 30, 2012 at 4:37am Reply

  • Piera alessio: Condolences to the family. I’m actually wearing Dioressence as I read this. What a sad coincidence but what a way to leave your mark on the world. May 30, 2012 at 4:25am Reply

    • Victoria: By coincidence, I was planning a review of one of his fragrances (Dioressence) for this Friday, so when I received the sad news, I was wearing it in preparation for writing my post. May 30, 2012 at 4:37am Reply

      • Sara: I look forward to your Friday post! I’ve been meaning to ask you to review Dioressence. May 30, 2012 at 8:19am Reply

        • Victoria: I hope that you will enjoy my post. You know, it’s just a coincidence, because it was a request by one of my readers in the Long Lost Favorite Perfume series that has been set to be published this week. But I’m glad to write about it, because Dioressence is one of my favorite perfumes from Mr. Robert. May 30, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

          • Bradamante: I understood that the remodeled Dioressence has changed substantially from its original formula. In such a degree, one could almost speak of a character murder. I don’t know the original and rather like the current formula. Is it still feasible as a genuine Robert, in your opinion? May 30, 2012 at 10:53am Reply

            • Victoria: The current version is a completely different fragrance! So, one would have to search for an older bottle to smell what Mr. Robert had intended. That’s why my reader Marika asked me to add it to the series; she wanted to find other fragrances that would be similar to the original Dioressence. Frankly, that’s also a struggle. May 30, 2012 at 10:57am Reply

              • Bradamante: Very curious what you are going to suggest and looking forward to Friday next. May 30, 2012 at 3:44pm Reply

                • Victoria: Then, please check in the day after tomorrow for my review. May 30, 2012 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Sara: What sad news! How did you learn about it, V? My mom wore Madame Rochas as her signature perfume, so this is a part of my childhood memories.
    My sincere condolences… May 30, 2012 at 8:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Via personal correspondence with Mr. Robert’s family. Very sad news… I’m wearing Amouage Gold today in his honor, and its warm and generous presence is a comfort. May 30, 2012 at 8:40am Reply

  • Adrienne: I too am wearing Dioressence, as I do most days of Summer and Spring. It is also the birth flower for May, my birthday month. I have been wearing this marvellous fragrance for 42 years and it has never ceased to be my favourite. Mr Robert’s has certainly left a legacy. May 30, 2012 at 9:32am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree with you. Dioressence is amazing: plush, gilded, sensual, and yet remarkably elegant. May 30, 2012 at 9:55am Reply

  • Austenfan: “Un parfum doit avant tout sentir bon!”

    Thank you for this! I love Gold, have never smelled any of the others. My condolences to his family and friends. May 30, 2012 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: He didn’t mince words, I have to say, and it was one of Mr. Robert’s great qualities. He spoke him mind, and there are many great papers that are available from his lectures that capture how inspiring he was. A very passionate person. May 30, 2012 at 10:38am Reply

  • Anna Minis: Une nouvelle bien triste, et une perte pour le Monde des Parfums. Grand merci pour tant de parfums superbes. May 30, 2012 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: He definitely was one of the greatest perfumers of the last century. May 30, 2012 at 10:39am Reply

  • Marian Bendeth: That was a beautiful tribute Victoria.
    You were also very blessed to have met with Guy in person, something that eluded most towards the end of life.

    For me, Guy was the Mozart of Perfumery in the Twentieth Century. His blends were dazzling, creative and always represented the height of what luxe should smell like.

    His knowledge, facetious and humorous anecdotes, corrections and pronouncements were shocking and always fun.

    Bless him for giving us a lifetime of beautiful fragrances and stories.
    Marian Bendeth
    Global Fragrance Expert
    Sixith Scents May 30, 2012 at 10:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Marian, you put it so beautifully–the Mozart of perfumery. He was one of those people that would create a vortex of energy around them–he didn’t leave anyone indifferent, and the same thing can be said about his perfumes. May 30, 2012 at 10:49am Reply

  • Alyssa: A wonderful overview, V. You help to preserve perfume’s history this way, just as Roberts did. I will be dabbing on some Doblis today–from the one tiny vial I have–in his honor. May 30, 2012 at 11:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Alyssa, thank you, all of us who write about fragrance do!
      His energy was incredible. He even continued to evaluate fragrance for Michael Edwards’s database. May 30, 2012 at 1:37pm Reply

  • Zazie: My thoughts go to his family.

    I’ve known him through his perfumes, like many women of all ages, around the world.
    My mother used to wear Calèche, and it suited her effortless and fiery beauty so well.
    I appreciated the elegance, the sparkle, the golden light he infused in his creations.

    Vos parfums sentait bon, votre signature est lumineuse. Merci, Monsieur Robert. May 30, 2012 at 11:49am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s amazing to think how many of us have been touched and moved by his perfumes! May 30, 2012 at 1:37pm Reply

  • Flora: Guy Robert was a true master of the classic art of perfumery. Not many like him remain; Amouage Gold alone would place him in my personal pantheon, but he did so much more than that. He will be greatly missed. May 30, 2012 at 4:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: He certainly will be! He’s one of the people who combined a great life experience and a positive outlook on life, and the generosity with which he shared his knowledge always touched those who got to know him.
      Amouage Gold is a quintessential grand parfum! May 30, 2012 at 4:37pm Reply

  • Scenterelle: You will always be remembered Guy Robert! Rest in peace. May 30, 2012 at 8:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Joining you in this sentiment, Scenterelle. May 31, 2012 at 8:47am Reply

  • TaffyJ: Heaven now smells more beautiful than ever.

    R.I.P., Mr. Robert, and thank you for your extraordinary creations.

    My condolences to Mr. Robert’s family and friends. May 31, 2012 at 12:12am Reply

    • Victoria: He always loved hearing what others thought about his perfumes, and I’m sure he would have loved to read so many wonderful comments about his work. May 31, 2012 at 8:49am Reply

  • Catherine Fraser: a huge loss. a true genius. May 31, 2012 at 3:58am Reply

    • Victoria: He really was, and he also was so willing to share his knowledge and to teach–a rare and wonderful combination. May 31, 2012 at 8:50am Reply

  • ayotunde adekaiyero: Condolences to the family and peace and comfort garrisson the family May 31, 2012 at 5:45am Reply

  • HB: Sincere condolences to Mr Robert’s family. His art first touched me when I discovered Gold back when it was introduced. Such a distinct talent – and such a great loss. May 31, 2012 at 9:48am Reply

  • Yulya: Sad news… Condolences to his family. May 31, 2012 at 3:21pm Reply

  • Carla: Thanks for the beauty, Mr. Robert June 1, 2012 at 5:07pm Reply

  • Scenterelle: I hadn’t been aware of just how many perfumes he had created. He was truly a genius June 2, 2012 at 10:25am Reply

  • Christine Malcolm: My deepest condolences to Guy’s family. I met with him a few times in France and he was a very generous and gracious man. He was very funny too. I will miss him very much. June 2, 2012 at 1:01pm Reply

  • Francois Robert: Dear Victoria, on behalf of his family and myself, thank you very for your kind words and story about my father. He was truly a great perfumer and will be missed. His creations are timeless and he will be remembered through them.
    Best regards,
    Francois June 4, 2012 at 3:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Dear Francois, my condolences once again. Your father left behind such a tremendous legacy, and he was an inspiration to so many of us–his passion for perfumery, his sincerity and his generosity in sharing his knowledge were very special. I know that he was also very proud of you. I grieve this loss with you.
      Victoria June 5, 2012 at 3:46am Reply

    • Christine Malcolm: Dear Francois, My deepest condolences on the loss of your father. I met your father in 1996 and again in 2005. He was a wonderful host to us in St. Remy. I have been trying to contact him these past two years. I have a photo I took of him june 2005 if you would like it. He was very kind and funny. I have had his photo on my desk for the past year. Most Sincerest wishes to you and your family. Christine Malcolm June 5, 2012 at 7:44pm Reply

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