Maurice Roucel is a perfumer whose work I admire for its originality, boldness and unapologetic sensuality, which are clear even in his “big brand” creations. He is the author of Hermès 24, Faubourg, Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur and Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, among many others. The following is an excerpt from a fantastic book by Clara Molloy called 22 Perfumers: A Creative Process. It features in-depth interviews with 22 perfumers such as Calice Becker, Dominique Ropion, Olivier Polge, Alberto Morillas, Annick Menardo and many others. The book is available in French and English editions and can be found on Clara Molloy’s website.
How did you enter the perfume industry?
At the time, when I started out in 1973, there were only people from Grasse in the perfume industry. I was born in Cherbourg. I arrived in Paris with my parents at the age of 5 and I stayed there. I was passionate about organic chemistry and theoretical physics. In 1973, Henri Robert, the creator of “No 19” by Chanel, hired me to develop a chromatography laboratory. I spent 6 years with Chanel. While I was there, I learned the profession of perfumer by myself; I was self-taught. But I still love organic chemistry, which I find extremely creative! For me, creation is everywhere. Anything can be creative. In my career, I’ve even found myself working on a shampoo. I find it refreshing to have a look elsewhere. There are also surprises in soaps and detergents. Today, it’s clear that in fine perfumery there are more resources, time–sometimes–and a broader scope.
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