Perfumers on Perfume : Vincent Roubert

My fascination with vintage perfumes owes a lot to Coty L’Aimant and Jacques Fath Iris Gris, fragrances created by Vincent Roubert. I stumbled across L’Aimant at a second-hand clothing store, where its red box sat among the bins of faux pearls from the ’60s and ”genuine nylon” shirts from the ’70s. I had no idea that this perfume was launched in 1927 or that it was Coty’s answer to the smashing success of Chanel No. 5. I simply enjoyed its powdery, sweet scent that was completely unlike any of the fragrances I smelled at department stores. It gave me an escape from my routine on par with favorite books and The Classic Movie Channel.

coty-laimantRoubert1-s

Iris Gris, on the other hand, was a special quest. By then, I already knew that Roubert was a talented but not a prolific perfumer and that he crafted a legend by blending the cool, earthy iris essence with the luscious sweetness of peach skin. I searched high and low, and when I finally found a bottle of Iris Gris, the remaining perfume smelled of tobacco and sour wine. It was too old. My encounter with Iris Gris–pristine, stunning–took place years later, and I still have a blotter perfumed with iris and peaches.

So who was Roubert? What inspired him? In partnership with the Osmothèque, I offer you an excerpt from The Perfume of Memories, a 1947 magazine article by Vincent Roubert. The Osmothèque has all of the perfumes he mentions in his piece: Caron Fleurs de Rocaille, Chanel No. 5, Coty À Suma, Coty L’Aimant, Coty Muse, Guerlain JickyGuerlain L’Heure Bleue, Houbigant Cœur de Jeannette, Houbigant Demi-Jour, Houbigant Quelques Fleurs, and Lanvin Arpège. Iris Gris is still awaiting its hour.

“It was at Coty that I brought into the world – I pray you allow me the expression – L’Aimant then, afterwards, À Suma, Le Vertige, and finally Muse.

I think – I wish to advance nothing of myself, but I have been told – they are entitled to a place of honor alongside the great masterpieces of my confreres, masterpieces titled:

Jicky and L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain, Quelques Fleurs, Demi-Jour (following Cœur de Jeannette) by Houbigant, No. 5 by Chanel, Fleurs de Rocaille by Caron, Arpège by Lanvin, etc… to name but a few, and in excusing myself for being unable to list them all.

I have often been asked questions, pertinent or preposterous, as to the manner in which a creator of perfume – a chemist – finds a new note. The response is at once simple and complex. I convey it to you roughly – dreams and inspirations are inexplicable.

Our existence is made of events at times happy or unhappy, fortuitous, senseless, admirable. It is in living each day that a creator, like a poet, a musician, a painter, a sculptor, finds his nourishment, which he devours after having run through the grinder all these imponderables that are the gifts of the heavens and the atmosphere. Studies arrive in second place, as they serve nothing without that inspiration at once exultant, surging, sensual, even very painful.

Roubert2-siris-gris

To call upon an explanation that I confided to one of your confreres:

‘Certain great works of music thrilled me to the point of helping me, alongside other sources of inspiration, to find the idea, the tonality, the stroke, if I may say, behind a new perfume. And often the immense olfactory pleasure that I received in smelling certain great masterpieces of perfumery recalled to me – recollections are sisters, like the nine Muses – works rare and exquisite, those of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Mozart or Albéniz, to name but these, whereas in similar cases never has an olfactory sensation sparked within me a memory of the “Ride of the Valkyries”, “Wotan’s Farewell” or the overture of The Flying Dutchman.’

‘Your inspiration, throughout the sometimes long period of the development of your work, of your research, does it undergo, without your knowing, much transformation?’

‘That depends upon one’s initial enthusiasm. It may occur that one’s sources of inspiration evolve, but the basic idea, born of an outpouring at once impetuous and splendid, hardly varies…’

‘The various operations of a technical order, laboratory experiments, calculations, compounds, etc…, do they not diminish somewhat the grandeur of it all?’

‘In my case, no. They remain marginal, and I put them aside automatically. Without one’s inspiration, ideal to a work that is above all else luminous (though very often ungracious), interminable would be the days – that chain of days that often becomes a chain of years – those days that wear on, the first to the last, during which, tirelessly, drop by drop, the monster transforms to become, little by little, the pure model of beauty, of perfection, in a word, a masterpiece.’

A perfume is a note placed on the musical staff – Jeanne Lanvin, in creating Arpège, discovered two masterpieces, the perfume and its name. After this note falls an infinite quantity of other notes, sounds, sharp bursts, gold dust, scents, landscapes, faces, colors. – It is the ‘flea market’ of our visions upon an archangelic wire, strung across a circus ring beneath a tent – and our measure, in this case, is the balance pole of our taste.

I found inspiration for certain perfumes in the most diverse locations. At the theater, the cinema, the ball, in a bar, on a boat, in the souks; in order to discover, the creator-perfumer must often go out, travel, lead a social life sometimes exhausting, though indispensable because in all places he finds, mixed up, unexpected olfactory sensations. Occasionally much time is needed to capture, following an insidious graze, the round and carnal note of novelty.”

Roubert, Vincent. “Le Parfum des Souvenirs.” Industrie de la Parfumerie May 1947: 151-155. Print.

Image: Vincent Roubert, via the Osmothèque.

Osmothèque, the International Perfume Conservatory and Museum
36 rue du Parc de Clagny
78100 Versailles, France
Tel : 01.39.55.46.99
email: osmotheque at wanadoo dot fr
www.osmotheque.fr (click on the Conférences et Visites tab)

Translated from French by Will Inrig. December 16, 2013. COPYRIGHT The Osmothèque 2013. French version here (link is to be updated).

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81 Comments

  • george: Is it just me or does his speaking style remind you of a perfumer at his organ? It’s very dropletty. January 10, 2014 at 7:21am Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: I don’t think you’re the only one, george. Just count how many commas there are in the article! :-) I had to read through it carefully twice (in some places, a few times) to understand. January 10, 2014 at 7:58am Reply

      • Victoria: It was definitely a tricky text to translate! January 10, 2014 at 8:15am Reply

    • Victoria: His writing style is very peculiar, and it’s as if he is having a conversation with himself. And yes, definitely lots of information packed into those sentences. :) January 10, 2014 at 8:00am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Many thanks to Osmothèque, Will and Victoria for another great instalment of the series. I have to admit in shame that I’ve never heard of Vincent Roubert before but it was great to read his article. As with Ernest Beaux from the last instalment, I enjoyed reading about where he got his inspirations from, especially which composers’ music inspired him. I wonder if he also liked Wagner. I really love his description of perfume as the first note of an arpeggio.

    One question for you, Victoria: Can you still smell your Iris Gris blotter? If so, how did you keep it? Did you put it in a plastic zip back? January 10, 2014 at 7:53am Reply

    • Victoria: He wasn’t a very prolific perfumer, and although he was very talented, he didn’t work as much as some other contemporary perfumers did. We don’t have that many perfumes on the market from him today (I wouldn’t count the current version of L’Aimant among them). But he is a fascinating character, that’s for sure.

      I kept the blotter in something called crystal sleeve and then in a ziplock bag. It’s now fainter, of course, but I can still smell it. When you visit the Osmotheque, they provide crystal sleeves, in which to store your blotters, which is very helpful. Some of these older blends are extremely tenacious. January 10, 2014 at 8:04am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks, V. I just googled crystal sleeve and I got some shocking results, definitely not what’s used in Osmothèque!!! January 10, 2014 at 8:22am Reply

        • Victoria: Oy, no, definitely not! Perhaps, there is another name for these blotter sleeves, but I don’t know it. We usually call them crystal sleeves at work, and I never tried ordering them online.
          orlandi-usa.com might be worth looking at, except that I can’t open their website on my phone right now. January 10, 2014 at 8:37am Reply

          • Lindaloo: Are you referring to what we call glassine envelopes in North America? These are translucent and acid free with a wax-paper-like finish that makes then grease, air and water resistant. Many, many years ago they were commonly used at the post office to store your stamp purchase so as to protect the glue backing from moisture. January 10, 2014 at 9:07am Reply

            • Victoria: It’s the same idea. The sleeves for blotters are made from the same material, but they are long and slender, just big enough to fit a blotter inside. January 10, 2014 at 9:13am Reply

            • Anne of Green Gables: Thank you, Lindaloo! January 13, 2014 at 3:12pm Reply

          • Anne of Green Gables: Maybe, polyester sleeves? I wanted to know because I’m looking for a way to keep blotters smelling for longer (not permanantly of course but at least for some time). January 13, 2014 at 7:48am Reply

            • Victoria: I really don’t know what they’re called outside of the lab. We call them crystal sleeves or blotter sleeves, and I have never ordered them myself.

              As Lindaloo suggested, maybe try glassine sleeves and see where google takes you. January 13, 2014 at 11:48am Reply

              • Anne of Green Gables: I think Orlandi you suggested is supposed to sell them but I can’t shop online (or even have a look at their products) unless I register and I’m not sure if they’ll sell their products to individuals rather than to companies. But I did find another supplier that sells “Glassine Envelope for Fragrance & Perfume Test Strips”. January 13, 2014 at 3:19pm Reply

                • Victoria: Perfect! That’s exactly what you need, and I’m sure you’ll find them very handy.

                  Orlandi makes the high-quality products, but I’m not sure what quantities you have to purchase in order to register with them. But at least, these days there are more suppliers who cater to the general public or someone who wants a little box of blotters, rather than a whole container of them. January 14, 2014 at 7:49am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: L’Aimant and Iris Gris are familiar names for me. my grandmother had L’Aimant and I have a faint memory of it. But I too never heard of Vincent Roubert. Yet he must have been a remarkable person and his perfumes, although not in production anymore, are still famous.
    My brother (professional violonist) sometimes said that some music was perfumed, like Ravel, Debussy, and other music was more real music, like Beethoven. He would have been fascinated by Vincent Roubert!

    I wonder how many recent launches he would have put aside automatically. January 10, 2014 at 8:35am Reply

    • Victoria: What a fascinating comment by your brother! I have a very good friend who is a professional violinist, so I must ask him whether he associates scents with music, or vice versa.

      I wonder too how Roubert would have treated the current perfume output. He certainly would have been surprised by Coty today! January 10, 2014 at 8:39am Reply

  • Zazie: Thank you for this amazing and interesting series.

    My encounters with iris gris happened thanks to the Osmothèque. I remember my blotters – lost within a couple of days as usual! I’m hopelessly messy like that, but they felt so precious!
    Iris Gris struck me as a supremely modern composition, something that would strongly appeal to the customers of modern niche perfume houses. It’s structure is clear and interesting and lovely. Fortunately, it didn’t spark any lemmings (Vintage Emeraude did – my deepest perfume dream is to own a bottle).
    Anyway: I find it interesting how Monsieur Roubert links perfume and music (We all have our “art of reference” or “alternative sensory reference” for perfume, I believe – music, paintings, colors, textures… just to name a few!) and I love how he doesn’t seem to refer to fragrances as products, but rather as true artistic outputs. Masterpieces, he calls them!
    Gotta love the man.
    And may I say that his circus-themed analogy is so beautiful it leaves me in a daydream- acrobats, dangerous stunts, tigers, lions, sad faced clowns… Now, to bottle that fantasy into perfume would be great! (No, Bois farine doesn’t do the trick for me!!!!) January 10, 2014 at 8:47am Reply

    • Illdone: You mean “Dzing” I think thats the circus- smelly one ;)

      Could you please tell me what you thought when you smelled the Iris G, Zazie? Is it a Hiris with a bit of Mitsouko (peach & Moss). Is it woody? Rather light and airy?
      To my extreme frustration it’s one vintage I can’t get my hands on. Going to the Osmothèque is too easy I think, I’m a bit of a machochist !! ;)) January 10, 2014 at 11:46am Reply

      • Zazie: Ops, I must have confused the two l’artisans, maybe because I disliked both? ;)
        Thanks for the correction.
        I think Victoria will be able to describe Iris Gris better than me, but here are my 2 cents!
        * at first IG smells just like a smooth iris “solinote” fragrance, incredibly modern;
        * then, when I think it’s just a beautiful (but still boring) iris, something happens: the peach kicks in! I would say the peach is not there to conjure the fruit but to provide a brilliant and subtle effect: it shines a ray of light on the composition, and it made me think of soft warm skin, of something human and beautiful that gave a bit of soul and humanity to the cold roots….
        All in all, a fragrance that smells deceptively simple and quite luxurious.
        Like iris absolute and soft peach skin, no woodiness, no adornments. But it’s been two years since I last smelled it, on a blotter.
        I haven’t tried hiris, but I don’t know of dupes for the iris note: it’s not a particularly powdery one, just a little bit earthy, not as carroty and cold as ISM, but that would be my closest match…the infusion d’iris, the two bois d’iris are all very different… January 10, 2014 at 12:38pm Reply

        • Illdone: True! Iris-centered perfumes can be quite different.
          Thank you for the description! I’m sure Victoria would describe IG wonderfully but all perspectives are informative to hear. I often notice that people smell different notes first. I don’t know if it’s the first thing you recognise that is striking or that a form of anomosity for particular notes makes people read perfume in a different way.
          Strange thing is that I always immediately smell the basenotes of a perfume and only a bit later later the middlenotes , no idea why.
          Have a great weekend, Zazie! January 11, 2014 at 1:17am Reply

      • nozknoz: Ildone, I also had a chance to smell Iris Gris on an Osmotheque scent strip and from a small sample. Zazie describes it perfectly. I would just add that there is a hint of vetiver, as well, and, while it has a beautiful softness, it also smells a bit tailored – like a fine, simple couture suit. I especially like Zazie’s point about its deceptive simplicity. Next to Iris Gris, many other perfumes seem loud or overdone. January 12, 2014 at 9:20pm Reply

        • Illdone: Thanks Nozknoz! Deceptive simplicity is a description that keeps coming back.
          Still there must be something out of the ordinary to justify the hype? Probably the quality of the ingredients makes all the difference. Totally of topic but last week I was comparing Vintage Dior Poison with the recent edition and I kept shaking my head. It’s the same perfume but boy oh boy it’s like the ingedients have been cooked and synthetized in a machine of some sorts. Think that will make Victoria smile : cooked perfume! ;) January 13, 2014 at 12:44am Reply

          • Victoria: It was ahead of its time, I think. The quality was fine, but the reason Iris Gris caught everyone’s imagination at the time is because it was so pared down–iris and peach skin, with a subtle whisper of woods and moss. Mitsouko next to it is big and curvy (and to answer your earlier question, they smell nothing alike). At the time fragrances were composed in a much different style, more layered, more elaborate, but Iris Gris showed how one could put just a couple of accords together, polish them and that’s it.

            For this reason, today if you smell it, you may not find it all that groundbreaking, not after years of niche with its focus on simplistic accords and Jean-Claude Ellena’s work in its minimal style. Iris Silver Mist or No19 are more unique as far as irises go. But as a piece of perfume history Iris Gris deserves its due. January 13, 2014 at 3:44am Reply

            • Illdone: Very claryfing as always! Thanks Victoria.
              So the simplicity was the novelty of the Iris G. as opposed to it’ s complex contemporaries. January 13, 2014 at 10:59am Reply

          • Victoria: P.S. a cooked perfume! I love it. Yes, some fragrances can’t be described in any other way. :) January 13, 2014 at 3:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Emeraude was one of the Coty perfumes I really crave after first smelled it. It was just extraordinary, and I could imagine how Jacques Guerlain might have been inspired by it to create Shalimar. It also made me appreciate Shalimar much more than I did when I first tried it.

      Do you mean Dzing, L’Artisan’s circus inspired perfume, perhaps? January 10, 2014 at 12:06pm Reply

      • Zazie: yes, sorry! I have the bad habit to mix up all the l’artisans names… January 10, 2014 at 12:40pm Reply

        • Victoria: Ah, I do the same thing with Dzing and Bois Farine too. Not sure why, perhaps because they’re the strangest ones in the whole collection. January 12, 2014 at 4:33am Reply

  • Jillie: Absolutely fascinating, thank you! I remember when I was 16 and wore L’Aimant (cream perfume layered over a pearly body lotion/gel) on a trip to the British Museum; it made me feel very feminine and confident, and attracted a stalker who followed me through every room. Not suprisingly, I can’t help thinking of mummies and the Elgin marbles when I smell L’Aimant now! But it was a wonderful scent. January 10, 2014 at 9:12am Reply

    • Victoria: What a story! :) But I love the association of cool and polished L’Aimant and the Elgin marbles. January 10, 2014 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Ines: Oh, so now I can put the name behind Iris Gris. :) Thank you.
    I admit, my perfume knowledge is not as extensive as I might want it but I was lucky to get a sample of Iris Gris and now I know who is the person I can thank for coming up with that perfume. :) January 10, 2014 at 9:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Lucky you, Ines! Iris Gris is really such a find. What do you think of it? January 10, 2014 at 12:12pm Reply

      • Ines: Hmm, I try not to think of it much actually as I only have a little sample and don’t want to fall more madly in love with it.
        If I had a bottle, I would be wearing it a lot. It’s actually a perfect combination – something you wouldn’t mind picking up every day to wear at the same time smelling very classy and elegant without it being too much for any situation. January 12, 2014 at 6:42am Reply

        • Victoria: I so relate to this. It’s a dilemma with some perfumes for me too. In the end, I don’t want them to spoil, so I wear them and enjoy them while they are still good. Unfortunately, even the best vintage perfumes don’t last forever. January 12, 2014 at 12:20pm Reply

  • Rachel: Thank you! I loved how he said that “the monster transforms to become, little by little, the pure model of beauty, of perfection, in a word, a masterpiece.” January 10, 2014 at 10:25am Reply

    • Victoria: I liked that sentence too. It gives such a vivid image of a beautiful object taking shape. January 10, 2014 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Iryna: Dear Victoria, please review Molinard Habanita. I think I just fell in love with this gem. January 10, 2014 at 11:41am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ll happily add it to the list, Iryna. It’s such a beautiful perfume. January 10, 2014 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Solanace: It is rare to see an artist actually attempt to explain the process of creation like he did here. Such an interesting piece. Thank you so much, Victoria! January 10, 2014 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: These articles from the archives are so interesting, and I’m very glad that you liked this one.
      Will and I have been hunting for an interview or an article by Jacques Guerlain, but so far no luck. January 10, 2014 at 12:18pm Reply

  • Maren: I enjoyed this article as much as the Ernest Beaux, this is going to be such a great series. So many gems of descriptive phrases, “flea market of our visions” “round and carnal note of novelty.” When I read about the mythic Iris Gris I wish so much to smell it someday, but sadly a trip to the Osmotheque probably isn’t in my future anytime soon, and it seems as though that is about the only place to find it these days. Meanwhile, what a pleasure to read this article and get a little insight on the creator/artisit. January 10, 2014 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Those are some pearls! You can just glimpse his personality even though the translation. :)
      At least, it’s some consolation that there are so many excellent iris fragrances to rival Iris Gris–Chanel No 19, Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, to name my top 2 choices. January 10, 2014 at 12:24pm Reply

      • Maren: Yes that’s true! Both in my collection January 10, 2014 at 1:01pm Reply

        • Victoria: They make me happier than any other iris, Iris Gris included. :) January 12, 2014 at 4:34am Reply

  • Alicia: Thank you, Victoria. Thank you for this gift The phenomenon of the correspondence of different senses (synesthesia) was explored, at least in literature by Charles Baudelaire’s “Correspondances”. Later Arthur Rimbaud wrote “Voyelles”, which was perhaps more important than Correspondances in popularizing synesthesia,where he invented colors for each vowel. As for the sense of smell I can think of another poem by Baudelaire, La chevelure. Among musicians Synesthesia was extremely popular. Scriabin foremost. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Olivier Messiaen composed musical correspondences of sound and color. Why not smell and color, smell and sound, smell and texture? Don’t we call green a grassy smell? Synesthesia! January 10, 2014 at 12:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Alicia. I’ve heard of Rimbaud from one of my teachers who was interested in synesthesia (and was quite a synesthete himself), but I’ve never read “Voyelles.” The very concept of synesthesia is fascinating, and I wonder if many of us have the tendencies to one degree or another. It’s certainly a fun way to see the world around you. January 10, 2014 at 12:31pm Reply

      • Alicia: A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu: voyelles,
        Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes:
        A, noir corset velu des mouches éclatantes
        Qui bombinent autour des puanteurs cruelles,

        Golfes d’ombre; E, candeurs des vapeurs et des tentes,
        Lances des glaciers fiers, rois blancs, frissons d’ombelles;
        I, pourpres, sang craché, rire des lèvres belles
        Dans la colère ou les ivresses pénitentes;

        U, cycles, vibrements divins des mers virides,
        Paix des pâtis semés d’animaux, paix des rides
        Que l’alchimie imprime aux grands fronts studieux;

        O, suprême Clairon plein des strideurs étranges,
        Silences traversés des [Mondes et des Anges]:
        —O l’Oméga, rayon violet de [Ses] Yeux! January 10, 2014 at 1:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you, Alicia! Such beautiful images! January 12, 2014 at 4:34am Reply

  • Courant: Off on a tangent, but it does occur to me that the references to music somehow fit with the vibration theory of olfaction. January 10, 2014 at 2:04pm Reply

    • Alicia: Luca Turin… January 10, 2014 at 3:36pm Reply

      • Courant: The love that dares not speak its name. Not that…but his theories are akin. He hasn’t been locked up yet..has he? Just kidding January 10, 2014 at 11:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Perhaps there is something to it… January 12, 2014 at 4:38am Reply

  • maja: Wonderful read, a true ode to inspiration. These texts sound so profoundly poetic and different from today’s interviews with perfumers.
    Speaking of Arpege, I have been wearing it quite often recently. A vintage sample given to me by my friend – stunningly elegant.
    Thank you for sharing these gems. January 10, 2014 at 3:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: I wore Arpege after I read this article, and I was thinking that those who don’t like No 5 should definitely give it a try. It has all of No 5′s elegance, but the aldehydes are softer and gentler. January 12, 2014 at 4:40am Reply

  • Ann: L’Aimant was one of my earliest vintage purchases. I knew nothing about the fragrance but bought it because the price was just 50 cents!… but when I unscewed the top I discovered bouquets of flowers and buttery stone-fruits splashed with talc! I have since attempted to date my purchase. I suspect it is from the 60s or 70s–but still wonderful. I love it after an evening shower best. Thank you for connecting me to its creator! January 10, 2014 at 4:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a wonderful story, Ann! Even in the 80s and 90s L’Aimant was nice enough to wear (and certainly good enough as a glimpse of Roubert’s creation). I also love how the perfume just sparkles the moment you unscrew the lid. January 12, 2014 at 4:47am Reply

  • Ariadne: Today’s Fragrant Pleasures offering and all the responsive posts has been a very gratifying read for me! Purrrring in my reading chair on this cold rainy night…….. January 10, 2014 at 6:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Very happy that you’re enjoying it. If it made a cold rainy night more pleasant, Fragrant Pleasures did their trick. :) January 12, 2014 at 4:50am Reply

  • johanob: Dear Victoria and Will!
    Thank you for this,the article is very informative,and I love the fact that we can get to know the old perfumery masters through these long-forgotten scripts.Being an emotional person regarding perfume AND music,I love the connection he made to music and visions of a master perfume.I would love to “smell” a Ravel Bolero…dramatic,melodious,climaxing at unexpected times…a bit melancholic and sombre maybe…but a Masterpiece. January 11, 2014 at 4:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Perfumery work is so ethereal, and the writings by great perfumers are really precious. Glad that you liked the series!
      What does Bolero smell like to you? January 12, 2014 at 4:58am Reply

      • johanob: Bolero…I think I’m yet to discover a perfume that can be both sad and joyful,dramatic and triumphant,emotionally charged and sooo full of emotion,that it actually makes you burst out in laughter while shedding a tear!BUT:for me-a relatively novice in the world of collecting perfumes-the one perfume that comes to mind that evoked an unexpected emotional response within me,was Portrait of a Lady by Dominique Ropion for Frederic Malle! January 12, 2014 at 2:11pm Reply

        • Victoria: Such a gorgeous choice and imagery! Yes, I didn’t think of Portrait of a Lady first, but it fits perfectly. As Merlin called it, Portrait of a Rose. :) January 13, 2014 at 3:52am Reply

          • johanob: Ah yes,my dear new perfume friend Merlin!It is thanks to Bois de Jasmin and Robin at Now Smell This,that we finally found each other!So thank you both!(and both me and Merlin live in South Africa,already had a little “swop” and buy- meet!Lol!And I think her favorite Malle is Lipstick Rose…. January 13, 2014 at 12:53pm Reply

            • Victoria: I’m so happy to hear that you guys found each other! Internet has its benefits, doesn’t it! ;) January 13, 2014 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Jessica M: Thank you for this! It’s a treasure. I did have the chance to sniff L’Aimant once, on a blotter (thanks to you, V!) and it almost broke my heart. So lovely. January 11, 2014 at 1:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: And to think that back in the day I paid around $10 for that bottle! Many of my vintage perfumes were purchased in this kind of serendipitous manner. :) January 12, 2014 at 5:04am Reply

  • nozknoz: A few years ago I was fortunate to sniff Iris Gris on an Osmotheque scent strip at a seminar given by Patricia de Nicolaï, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. PdN related that among perfumers Vincent Roubert was reputed to be famously lazy and to have knocked out Iris Gris in an afternoon!

    Obviously, that’s not counting the preliminary work at “the theater, the cinema, the ball, in a bar, on a boat, in the souks,” traveling and leading an “exhausting” social life in order to find his inspiration. ;-) January 12, 2014 at 9:39pm Reply

    • annemariec: Ha! That puts a different complexion on things.

      There would of course be hours – years – of experience and experimentation in the lab. But it’s nice to hear that all work and no play did not make Vincent a dull boy! January 13, 2014 at 2:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for that tidbit. That’s what I heard too at the Osmotheque, that he was talented but not exactly hard-working. And that he was a character, which is clear enough from his article. :) January 13, 2014 at 3:47am Reply

  • Persolaise: Thanks for posting this, Victoria.

    I chuckled several times whilst reading it, not least because I wondered how it would be received by those who find Ellena’s prose style a little too grand for its own good :-D January 13, 2014 at 5:13am Reply

    • Victoria: :) Yes, it makes it seem like a reporter’s piece. January 13, 2014 at 11:41am Reply

  • Austenfan: Another interesting read, and so different from Beaux’s article.
    He clearly found it hard to put into words how his “creative process” worked. It doesn’t matter, as apparently he created a number of scented marvels. January 13, 2014 at 7:04am Reply

    • Victoria: True, it makes me think of someone recording his thoughts as he is musing on perfumery with a glass of wine in hand. But this is what makes it even better, and as was already mentioned, it’s mileages from the bland, overly polished interviews one is more likely to encounter. January 13, 2014 at 11:46am Reply

      • Austenfan: Agree, bland it most certainly is not. Funny that he wasn’t that industrious. Mind you some people are just like that. January 13, 2014 at 1:31pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, Bertrand Duchaufour he is not! January 13, 2014 at 2:22pm Reply

  • minette: such flowery prose! so much fun to read.

    love “the round and carnal note of novelty,” the “flea market of our visions upon an archangelic wire” and “sharp bursts and gold dust” especially!

    was his bit about not being inspired by wotan, the valkyries and the dutchman a veiled attempt to distance himself from the antisemitic francois coty? i wonder.

    thanks for sharing! love “hearing” from someone who can so elegantly share his thoughts. loved it. January 13, 2014 at 2:58pm Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: I only properly understood what he meant after reading your comment. I was confused; I misunderstood that he liked Wagner’s music and I wondered if he could have said that only a few years after the WW2. OK, now I get that he wasn’t inspired by Wagner. January 13, 2014 at 3:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your comment really made it clear to me, because I didn’t really understand what he meant at first. But of course, this must be it. Thank you for an interesting interpretation. January 14, 2014 at 7:46am Reply

      • minette: wasn’t entirely sure, but given the post-war timing, it made sense to me.

        as a propagandist (marketer of a tv station), i tend to notice propaganda and story twisting, even when it’s subtle. i always appreciate a good story. January 14, 2014 at 4:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: Makes perfect sense to me with that perspective in mind. Your job sounds fascinating, by the way. January 14, 2014 at 6:43pm Reply

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