Alberto Morillas – our exclusive interview with the iconic nose and ‘king of musk’…

Legend is a word bandied about so often it can be rendered meaningless, but when applied to the perfumer Alberto Morillas, there can be no doubting the truth of such a statement. Creator of any number of iconic fragrances – from Calvin Klein CK One, Kenzo Flower, Bvlgari Omnia, Cartier Panthere de Cartier, Giorgio Armani Aqua di Giò for women (seriously, the list is seemingly endless) – to more niche, modern interpretations of his art, working alongside remarkable brands such as Aedes de Venustas, A Lab On Fire and By Kilian to name but three of his extensive client list. Whatever your taste, wherever you began your quest for the perfect perfume – his scents have doubtless been in your collection and on your skin at one time or another.

Maintaining that he is ‘mainly self-taught’ as a perfumer, Morillas been working for Firmenich since 1970 and creating many of those all-time greats, while also finding time to work on side projects for Zara home, and now concentrating on devloping his Mizensir range of home candles into a luxurious collection of personal fragrances. Imagine our excitement at getting to sniff them at their press launch in the UK last week – with something for everyone (another oft-used phrase that’s equally true in this case) from soft musks, exqusite roses, uplifiting neroli and right through to ‘The Perfect Oud’ (yes, he went there)…

0000011775874_img_6319We’ll reveal our full interview with Alberto waxing lyrical about his love for candles and the new Mizensir fragrances very soon; but in the meantime, sit back with a cuppa and revel in our exclusive ‘nose’ interview in The Noses – a regular feature here on The Perfume Society website, in which we quiz some of our favourite perfumers on their passions, working methods and how you, too, could improve your appreciation of fragrance… Happy exploring!
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Nivea to launch NOSE app that ‘sniffs’ male body odour: wake up and smell the digital revolution?

When the heat rises and armpits emerge from beneath layers of jumpers, coats and jackets, commuters hold their breath in anticpation of the inevitable olfactory onslaught. With the premise that our noses eventually become attuned to the scent of our own sweat, Nivea have developed a digitised nose for your phone – an app they say scans areas of men’s bodies particularly prone to funkiness (and we don’t mean dancing to James Brown).

Having analysed the area – based on a specially produced algorithm that previously evaluated the scent of 4,000 other males – the app warns concerned men of their potential whiff-factor, rating their particular smell from ‘it’s okay’, through ‘it’s time’ and the climactic klaxon of ‘it’s urgent’. Nivea’s NOSE has been created by Geoffrey Hantson – a Belgium-based chief creative officer behind the so-called “smellphone” technology. Having been beta-tested in Belgium, worldwide whiffing is soon to commence, with the app then to be launched simultaneously on AppStore and Google Play, and a consumer version hoped to be released shortly afterwards. Watch Nivea’s video below for an insight into how it all works…

Meanwhile, the rather appropriately named Nosang Myung – a UC Riverside professor who’s invented an electronic nose to be used for sniffing out potential dangers to human life – said although the technology is in its ‘most simplistic form’ it could possibly work through only having to detect levels of sweat. On his rather more intricate technology, which he hopes could detect hazards such as dangerous levels of gas in the air we breathe (or even bombs) Professor Myung commented, ‘we developed a nose. A smartphone has an eye, so we just have to put on the legs. So now, I call it an electronic sniffing dog. Places you don’t want to go, instead of sending a dog, you can send this robot.’

Could this digital form of smelling lead to perfumers being replaced by robots? Well, the Noses we know can rest easy for now, as the human olfactory system is so highly complex and nuanced that scientists are still beavering away to understand it fully, let alone reproduce it. Hanston remains optimistic about the future for digital technology in harmony with scent, however, telling Huffington Post that although Nivea to will have to sell the sensors separately – currently the sensory technology is embedded in hard covers for phones – he’s pretty sure the technology will eventually be integrated into the integral structure of an actual phone ‘within a couple of years’.

While parents may be rejoicing at the perfect present for their teenage sons, some might suggest that if one is dithering about whether or not to apply deodorant, perhaps top it up anyway, just to be on the safe side…?

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Fascinated by perfumers? Meet the talented Cécile Matton…

Continuing our conversations with the world’s leading fragrance creatives, we’d like to introduce you to Cécile Matton, a perfumer who grew up in Africa where she comments ‘the smells were very strong, because of the heat…’ Cécile originally began mixing fragrances herself as a teenager, using essences sold in the Pier Import shops in her native France, before training as a perfumer.

Her creations include YSL Baby DollValentino Gold (with Antoine Lie), Viktor & Rolf Bonbon (with Serge Majoullier) and most recently, the most ‘animalic’, sexy offering – Élegance Animale – in the Lalique Noir Premier Collection. Here are her scented musings…

What is your first ‘scent memory’?
The mosquito repellent which was sprayed on houses during my childhood in Zaïre, in Africa.

When did you decide you wanted to be a perfumer/create your own perfume? 
About the age of 14. So I decided to train as a pharmacist, because at the time a lot of perfume companies belonged to pharmaceutical groups.

What are your favourite smells in the world?

  • Nutmeg.
  • Puppies.
  • A synthetic called Orcanox™, when combined with vanilla.
  • Drying laundry.

If you had one fragrance note that you love above all others, what would that be?
The green Chypre accord.

What’s the worst thing you ever smelled.  (Honestly!) 
A mix of rotten garbage and metal I smelled next to some fast food restaurants in some big cities…

What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?
Chanel Chance.

Do you have a sense that this is the most exciting time to be a perfumer, since the dawn of fragrance? 
It is a tricky question. We have exciting new ingredients to work with, yet strong limitations at the same time, because of regulations and the need to please as many people as possible. Creativity may be stimulated when you are limited because you have to find a new path… But I would fancy more freedom!

If you could have created a fragrance for a historical figure, who would it be?
Marilyn Monroe. When it comes to beauty, she made history.

What’s the first fragrance you bought.  And the first bought for you…?
The first I bought was Van Cleef & Arpels First. I was given Jean Desprèz Bal à Versailles before that.

Do you have a favourite bottle design, from those that have been used for your fragrance creations?
I really adore the bottle designed for Bonbon by Viktor & Rolf.

How many perfumes might you be working on, at one time?
Generally from 10 to 20.

Does your nose ever ‘switch off’?
Yes it does… If it gets ‘saturated’ and I need it to work, I pause for a moment and smell wool.

How long, roughly, does it take you to create a fragrance?
It all depends on the wishes of the person who I design it for. I sometimes find that the first trial is the best one!

Is creating a fragrance ‘visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain?  If so, in what way…?  Is a mood-board helpful?
No, it doesn’t work for me like that.

What can each of us do to enhance our appreciation of fragrance?
You should smell fragrances outside in the fresh air, not in perfume shops. Preferably on skin. Always wear it before buying!

What is your best tip for improving a person’s sense of smell?
Train again and again. Improving your sense of smell has a lot to do with memory; you have to smell a lot (and often).

Discover more ‘Noses’

Nose-to-nose with Thomas Fontaine – the perfumer who’s revived Jean Patou for a new era

This charming, Paris-based perfumer has in recent years been responsible for the revival of the house of Jean Patou – a legend, in fragrance terms. (He also works on fragrance development for Worth and Jean-Louis Scherrer.) Thomas studied perfumery at the ISIPCA Fragrance Academy in Versailles, and went on to work for leading aroma companies including Mane and Chariot.

He definitely seems to specialise in ‘reviving’ heritage brands, having worked for Lubin (with Black Jade, Gin Fizz, Figaro, among others), Grès (Cabotine Floralisme and Miss Cabaret) – and lately, created three absolute stunners for the stunning ‘phoenix’ brand Le Galion, including Snob, Tubereuse and Eau Noble. (Do sniff them out at Liberty, if you get the chance.)

We caught up with Thomas for breakfast in Paris at The Lancaster Hotel…

What is your first ‘scent memory’?
My mother’s perfume.

When did you decide you wanted to be a perfumer?
At th age of about 11 when  I smelt Chanel Pour Monsieur on a friend of my parents.

What are your five favourite smells in the world?  
Of course I love smell: it’s so varied and rich, and so difficult to pick just five. But if I must…

  • Orris
  • Rose
  • Patchouli.
  • Sandalwood
  • Galbanum

Do you have ‘signature’ ingredients that you like to include in fragrances?
I certainly use some ingredients more often, either through knowing them or like them more. (See above.) Generally it is more instinctive than conscious…

What’s the worst thing you ever smelled.  (Honestly!)
Rotten potatoes or animals; in some ways it’s the smell of death.

What are the fragrances you wish you’d created?
Hermès Bel Ami, Jean Patou Joy, Davidoff Zino Davidoff Cologne.

If you could have created a fragrance for a historical figure, who would it be?
Marie Antoinette.

What’s the first fragrance you bought.  And the first bought for you…?
I bought myself Chanel Pour Monsieur – which I was so inspired by, at that first encounter.

Can you ‘switch off’ your nose?  How do you do that?
Yes, to a certain extent on vacation – but it is always on the alert, especially when something new or nice is around.

How long, roughly, does it take you to create a fragrance?
It really depends of the project and the inspiration – from a few weeks to several years.
Is creating a fragrance ‘visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain? If so, are you able to explain in what way…?
In a certain way when I associate odours with colors or shapes

What can each of us do to enhance our appreciation of fragrance?
Mental concentration is very important to understand a fragrance. You really have to focus on what you’re smelling.

How does it feel to be asked to work on an iconic fragrance like Joy? Is it scary? Exciting?
Scary definitely because it is a huge responsibility because you can’t make any mistakes – and of course exciting as you are touching a part of fragrance history.

How have you immersed yourself in the history of Jean Patou – and how do you move on from that, as a perfumer, to make your creations relevant to the 21st Century?
I feel like I’ve had a relationship with the perfume house for a long time: when I was studying perfumery at the ISIPCA school because my class was under the patronage of Jean Patou. Secondly, Art Déco is a favourite period for me in history because of its minimalist approach – and my creations fit in with this aesthetic…

Rising star perfumer Violaine Collas is our ‘nose of the week’ interview

Another week, another ‘nose’… There may be fewer perfumers in the world than astronauts, but through our contacts in the fragrance world The Perfume Society is delighted to be able to share insights into their fascinating, aroma-filled lives.

Violaine Collas is a Parisian-based perfumer who trained at the city’s ISIPCA school, and trained alongside legendary perfumers including Dominique Ropion and Maurice Roucel. She’s now making waves in the industry through exciting creations like L’Occitane Cerisier aux Papillons, État Libre d’Orange Voyages en Orient (the Jasmin Poudré and Epices Sultanes creations), Amouage Honour Woman, Atkinson’s 24 Old Bond Street – and also created the Lalique Lalique Noir Premier Collection.

What is your first ‘scent memory’?
My mother’s perfume on her scarf.

When did you decide you wanted to be a perfumer/create your own perfume?
Quite early, around 12 years old.

What are your favourite smells in the world?
The smell of my daughter
• Melting chocolate

What’s the worst thing you ever smelled.  (Honestly!)
The Parisian Metro.

What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?
Bulgari Black.

What excites you about being a perfumer, in 2015? 
What is exciting today is working from a worldwide perspective. To think you create a fragrance which may be worn by someone who is on the other side of the planet is incredibly exciting.

If you could have created a fragrance  a historical figure, who would it be?
A scent for members of the Borgia family…

What’s the first fragrance you bought.  And the first bought for you…?
The first I bought was Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs, and the first I was given was Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps.

Do you have a favourite bottle design, from those that have been used for your fragrance creations?
I love the new designs of the Atkinsons collection, especially ’24 Old Bond Street Triple Extract’.

How many perfumes might you be working on, at one time?
It varies, but sometimes up to 20.

Does your nose ever ‘switch off’?
No! It wakes me up sometimes if I smell something strong or unusual.

How long, roughly, does it take you to create a fragrance?
It really depends on the project and the customer. It can take the time of a single trial, or take three years!

Is creating a fragrance ‘visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain?  If so, in what way…?  Is a mood-board helpful?
Yes definitely. I often have a color in mind when I create, as well as a painting or a visual memory; So yes a mood board can be inspiring and helpful.

What can each of us do to enhance our appreciation of fragrance?
Smell them blindly (i.e. with eyes closed), in order to avoid any influence other than the scent itself.

What is your best tip for improving a person’s sense of smell?
The more you practice, the better it gets. But you have to actively focus and concentrate…