Interview with Guerlain Perfumer Thierry Wasser on Basenotes


“Surprisingly enough, Jean-Paul and I rarely discuss fragrance. We are two creators and two different kinds of animals. I once asked him, “You were mentored by your grandfather; what did you learn from him when discussing fragrance?” and he replied, “Nothing much”. Jean-Paul then went on to say that the way he did learn a lot from his grandfather (Jacques) was by quietly observing everything he did, rather that speaking about it. So I did the same thing with Jean-Paul. Watching the way he creates has taught me much more than any discussion we could have.”

From a terrific interview with Guerlain in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser, in which he discusses Guerlain legacy, material sourcing and many other interesting topics with Marian Bendeth.

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  • Emma: Call me narrow-minded if you want, I have no respect for Thierry Wasser, him and his insipid girly fruities! I saw Thierry Wasser’s french interview for the launch of Guerlain Idylle, it was ten excruciating minutes of “fresh, fresh, fresh, fresh, fresh,,,young, young, young, young, young, young,,,feminine, feminine, feminine, feminine, feminine,,,”!!! All that for a fragrance that was a commercial flop regardless. November 13, 2011 at 7:27pm Reply

  • Victoria: Is this interview online, Emma? November 13, 2011 at 8:27pm Reply

  • Nikki: Yes, I would like to read the French version as well. Octavian doesn’t have it on his site? I read the interview yesterday on basenotes and I actually found it quite interesting. I even went to Dillard’s to try Idylle but they don’t carry it. Then I thought I will try L’instant again and also the new Shalimar Initial but I got back thinking they are just not good enough. However, the interview did get me to go there and try once again. I did like the procurement aspect and after he mentioned Bulgarian rose which I adore, I even thought about buying Nahema again…such is the power of marketing. I am also now confused about the reformulation, so he says that Vol de Nuit is the same and others say it is not? I understand there have been reformulations because of IFRA regulations but now I am confused. Please do explain which version is the correct one now, Thierry Wasser’s or the other? Victoria, you did a while series on new versus old fragrances and he says it is the maceration effect on the fragrance and one should buy “fresh” ones…? November 13, 2011 at 9:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: He also says that Jicky has not been touched since 1984, but the thing is that while the ingredients themselves may be the same, the quality is different. It just can't be another way, because the processing and production methods have changed. Even if you forget IFRA and assume that the formula was not touched in any dramatic way, there would already be differences due to quality differences.
    On vintage, yes, I agree, one has to be careful when making comparisons. Yet, the maceration effect is not everything. Natural musk, natural civet, Indian sandalwood can be smelled in even very old juices.
    And I agree with him that people should make up their own mind. The problem is that there are so many new releases that it is simply impossible to give everything a proper trial. That's where the blogs are useful with their reviews. November 13, 2011 at 10:04pm Reply

  • marika: I was so encouraged to read that Thierry has come up with an oak moss that gets through the IFRA filter. November 13, 2011 at 10:06pm Reply

  • Emma: This was a TV interview on TV5Monde, Nec Plus Ultra by Marie-Ange Horlaville summer 2009. The whole thing was so predictable, he went out of his way to make Idylle a sexyyy thing. For an italian brand to do something like that is uber-normal but not Guerlain!!! November 13, 2011 at 10:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: The work on reformulating those classics must have been tremendous! He is a very talented perfumer. November 13, 2011 at 10:53pm Reply

  • Victoria: Talk about perfume, bash it, if you must, that’s fine. I removed your other statement, because it is completely irrelevant to the creative aspects and such. Sorry, but I do not want the discussion to go down that road. November 14, 2011 at 10:32am Reply

  • Nikki: Good call, V! November 14, 2011 at 10:35am Reply

  • Audrey H.: I adore Shalimar Initial. Having owned Shalimar from the 80’s but never connecting with it no matter how much I tried and wanted to love it I’m delighted to have found “My Shalimar” in Initial. Maybe it was made for a younger audience but it’s all mine now 🙂

    I found the topic of sourcing in the article interesting. November 14, 2011 at 6:05pm Reply

  • Victoria: I very much enjoy Shalimar Initial, because it remains true to the character of the original, while twisting it in a modern way. I wear the original, but I also love having a different option for days when I want something different. November 15, 2011 at 12:58pm Reply

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