germaine cellier: 3 posts

What Makes A Perfume Great

“The art of fortunate proportions” is how Edmond Roudnitska described perfumery. According to the legendary perfumer, a good fragrance has balance and an original form, a simple idea that is far from easy to realize. Roudnitska spent his career creating fragrances that exemplify perfumery at its most artistic—Christian Dior Diorissimo, Eau Sauvage, Diorella, and Rochas Femme. His compositions have elegance and character, but one of the distinctive trademarks of Roudnitska’s style is balance.

When I speak of balance in perfumery, I mean both the aesthetics and the technique. Consider Guerlain’s Chamade, one of the most perfectly balanced fragrances. From the bright green top notes to the rose and hyacinth heart and the velvety woody notes, the perfume unfolds like a silk scroll.  Similarly modulated is Dior’s Diorissimo, where the musky and spicy notes balance out the floral and green accords.

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7 Rare Vintage Perfumes : The Perfume and Wine Class

As preparation for the Art of Perfume and Wine class that I’m teaching in April in France (more details here), I thought I would write about 7 vintage perfumes that have been influential for the evolution of perfumery and that we will smell in their original versions. There will be over 50 different perfumes in this course, but these 7 are among the most essential to learn.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue 1912

Many perfumers will name Guerlain as the most influential perfume house, especially in its period when Jacques Guerlain was the head creator. L’Heure Bleue is a textbook example of a classic as well as of a symphonic perfume.

We will, of course, smell other Guerlain classics, from Après L’Ondée and Mitsouko to Chamade and Chant d’Arômes.

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Birthday Ladies : Estee Lauder Youth Dew and Robert Piguet Fracas

This year two formidable classics celebrate their sixtieth anniversaries. Robert Piguet Fracas (1948) will turn 65, while Estée Lauder Youth Dew (1953) will mark its 60th year. These remarkable fragrances elicit strong emotions and inspire us even today. Youth Dew set the trend for rich orientals, while no tuberose perfume can be spared a comparison with Fracas.

fracasYouth Dew

These perfumes are also notable because they were created by two of the first female perfumers: Germaine Cellier and Josephine Catapano, respectively.  The perfume industry of the 1940s and 50s was a boy’s club. In 1947, Donald William Dresden wrote in his article, The Twenty “Noses” of France“Only a few people have the supersense of smell necessary to become a Nose—for reasons known only to Noses themselves, no woman has ever had it…” Dresden, reporting for the New York Times, simply reiterated what he heard around Grasse, France, the main perfumery hub of those days.

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