Perfumers & Fragrance Personalities: 54 posts

Articles about perfumers and other interesting perfume personalities. Also, please see Interviews.

Perfumer’s Advice on How to Choose Perfume : French Elle

How do you select the right perfume? There are lots of articles out there on this topic, including Bois de Jasmin’s perfume wardrobe series and The Art of Seducing Yourself. In February, French Elle published an interview with perfumer Jean-Christophe Hérault, who shared a few tips. Hérault is the author of Balenciaga RosabotanicaComme des Garçons Amazingreen and Chopard Enchanted, and I liked the sensible comments he shared with the magazine. I selected and translated a few excerpts below.

guerlain-bottles

Can you please give us advice on how to select perfume?

The only advice I can give is to take your time. Do not hesitate to try several perfumes to make the right choice. I also suggest you test it on your skin in order to follow the perfume’s progress throughout the day. A perfume should surprise you and develop in a pleasing manner.
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Perfumers on Perfume : Jacques Guerlain

Jacques Guerlain needs no introduction. Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko–these words say it all. The fragrances created by Guerlain in the first decades of the 20th century continue influencing perfumers and fragrance lovers. The trends are still set by them, and most perfume collections have at least one Guerlain inspired creation. Born in 1874, he entered the family business run by his uncle Aimé Guerlain and before long, he established the house’s reputation for creativity and quality.

jacques guerlain

Much has been written about Jacques Guerlain’s creations, but the man himself remains in the shadows. He preferred working at the perfumer’s organ to speaking at public gatherings, and he left behind few articles and interviews. He let the perfume do the talking.

In partnership with the Osmothèque, I offer you an excerpt from The Perfumer’s Chronicle, a 1964 magazine article by Marcel Billot (a Houbigant perfumer of Chantilly fame). Billot was also the founding president of the French Society of Perfumers, and The Perfumer’s Chronicle was his regular beat. With the exception of L’Heure Bleue, all the Guerlain perfumes Billot mentions were recently reconstituted for the Osmothèque by the current Guerlain perfumer Thierry Wasser.

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Career in Fragrance : Where to Start

Are you interested in a fragrance industry career? Lauren shares her insights and tips.

As a fragrance evaluator, the question I am asked most often is: How did you get into that career?  Some people mean this in a non-literal sense and are really asking me, What on earth made you decide to turn your interest in perfume into a full-blown professionThis is casual conversation, amusement expressed plainly through twinkling eyes and grinning lips.  But there is another set of people who ask me this question literally.  They want to know how they can get a job in the fragrance industry, too.  They want to turn their passion for perfume into an everyday reality, and I recognize what we have in common: they want it is as badly as I wanted it.

perfume-work

When I was in college, I loved writing, so much that I considered pursuing it as my main profession.  My professor said, “Don’t pursue creative writing unless you truly cannot imagine doing anything else.”  Now, I would offer the same advice for those interested in a fragrance career: go after it only if you cannot imagine doing anything else.  If you keep this in mind and stay open to what you learn each day, there’s really no way to fail.  No matter what your job title may be.

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Perfumers on Perfume : Paul Parquet

Ernest Beaux called Paul Parquet the “greatest perfumer of his time.” Coming from the legendary creator of Chanel No. 5, it’s very high praise, but Parquet (1856-1916) deserves it for his innovative work. Although most of his fragrances, like Le Parfum Idéal or Coeur de Jeannette, created for Houbigant, have not survived, his influence is profound. He is responsible for giving perfumery the fougère fragrance family, inspired by his marvelous Fougère Royale. His experiments with novel synthetics inspired many groundbreaking fragrances of the 19th and early 20th centuries such as Piver’s Le Trèfle Incarnat, Roger & Gallet Vera Violetta. Even Beaux himself was under the spell of Parquet’s creations.

Paul Parquetfougere royale

The start of Parquet’s career was in hosiery, rather than perfume. It was not until 1878 when his father bought a perfumery called Houbigant-Chardin (founded in 1775 by Jean-François Houbigant) that Parquet became interested in the business. In 1881, Parquet bought Houbigant-Chardin from his father, and over the course of the next three decades composed a fascinating and original collection*. His style was bold, dramatic, and daring, but also romantic.

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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.

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