What does the nose know? Meet ‘rising star’ perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur

As you all know by now, we’re fascinated by perfumers – an elite group of just a few hundred individuals in the world, who make their living via their nostrils… (There are fewer of them than astronauts!) Sidonie Lancesseur is one of the ‘noses’ for the new Lalique Collection Noir Premier fragrances, which we wrote about in November’s edition of The Scented Letter.

Here, the perfumer – who also worked on several of Frapin‘s fragrances, Olfactive Studio Lumière Blanche and Terry de Gunzburg Flagrant DéliceOmbre Mercure and Parti Pris, among others – shares her thoughts on smells, scents and memories…

What is your first ‘scent memory’?
Chimney fire in the country house of my grandfather.

When did you decide you wanted to be a perfumer/create your own perfume?
I’ve always been interested in smells. I remember a meeting when I was 12 years with a friend of my parents who was in the perfume industry. She shared with me her passion and gave me the desire to express myself through scent.

What are your five favourite smells in the world?

  • The smell of my children.
  • Chimney fire.
  • Books.
  • Twilight in the heart of the countryside when there is deep moisture in the ground.
  • The smell of the wind in the middle of ocean.

What’s the worst thing you ever smelled. (Honestly!)
Each smell could be interesting depending of the situation and the intensity.

What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?
Déclaration by Cartier.

If you could have created a fragrance for a historical figure, who would it be?
Freud, in order to create a universal fragrance which gives desire to people to confess.

What’s the first fragrance you bought?
Paloma Picasso Minotaure.
And the first bought for you…?
Thierry Mugler Angel.

Do you have a favourite bottle design, from those that have been used for your fragrance creations?
I love the bottle design of By KilianL’œuvre Noire collection for its luxury approach while respecting the environment. Once the bottle is empty you can refill it.

How many perfumes might you be working on, at one time?
There is no rule; for example today I am working simultaneously on nine different briefs.

Does your nose ever ‘switch off’?
For me, it is instinctive to keep an olfactory contact with my environment. It is an endless source of inspiration and I’ll never cut the link.

How long, roughly, does it take you to create a fragrance? This is very variable. Sometimes the creative work is very fast, 2-3 days. Or inversely, many months or more may be needed to achieve the reached accord.

Is creating a fragrance ‘visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain? Is a mood-board helpful?
Absolutely; all external sources of inspirations are rewarding to create a new fragrance: images, colours, shapes, raw material etc …

What can each of us do to enhance our appreciation of fragrance? Smell regularly and be curious about everything.

What is your best tip for improving a person’s sense of smell?
Take time to smell…

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