Who was the perfumer behind Estée Lauder’s Knowing, a chypre of roses tangled up with dark moss? For many years, Lauder, like many other companies, didn’t put the perfumers into the limelight, and this is why Elie Roger’s name is not often linked with Knowing if you search for the information online. Roger worked for the fragrance house of Firmenich, and he signed both Knowing (1988) and Clinique Wrappings (1990). While his portfolio wasn’t as extensive as that of some other perfumers, he had a distinctive style, and both Knowing and Wrappings remain beloved classics.
Roger passed away on Nov. 19, 2010, after a long career, which started in 1946 in Grasse, France, his hometown. He worked for 20 years at Firmenich, both in New York and Paris, and he received the American Society of Perfumers’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Since he crafted two American classics as well as some other interesting fragrances, it’s well-deserved recognition.
As the Perfumer & Flavorist article (November 24, 2010) says, “Roger’s esteemed career was marked by the creation of several perfumes that are still considered modern classics today, including Knowing (1988), and Clinique Wrappings (1990). Karyn Khoury, senior vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for The Estée Lauder Companies, said, ‘Elie was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. Kind, collaborative and so giving of his talent and expertise, he had the soul of an artist blended with a wonderful sense of humor, which made working with him an absolute delight and resulted in incredible creations like Estée Lauder Knowing. We will miss Elie both as a talented creative partner and a dear friend.’ “
As Roger himself once remarked, “As perfumers, we must have a lot of imagination ; we must be dreamers sometimes.” Whenever I wear Knowing, I dream too, since the great perfumes are the ultimate means for fantasizing and giving more color and beauty to our days.