Orange blossom: how to bottle sunshine

Did you ever sleep in a field of orange-trees in bloom? The air which one inhales deliciously is a quintessence of perfumes. This powerful and sweet smell, as savoury as a sweetmeat, seems to penetrate one, to impregnate, to intoxicate, to induce languor, to bring about a dreamy and somnolent torpor. It is like opium prepared by fairy hands and not by chemists.’ ― Guy de Maupassant, 88 Short Stories

Orange blossom is beloved by perfumers in light-filled ‘solar’ scents – a newly emerging category, and a word I’ve found increasingly used for fragrances which aren’t merely fresh, but attempt the alchemy of bottling sunshine.

It’s the bitter orange tree we have to thank for these heady white blossoms – one of the most benificent trees in the world, for it also gives us neroli, orange flower water and petitgrain – all utterly unique in smell, from verdant to va-va-voom depending how they are distilled and the quantity used in a fragrance.

Originating from Asia, the bitter orange was introduced to North Africa by crusaders of the VIIth century, and now it’s just six villages in the Nabeul region of Tunisia that provide the majority of the world’s crop. Women do most of the harvesting, the pickers swathed in headscarves climbing treacherously high-looking ladders to reach the very tops of the trees, typically working eight hours a day and gathering around 20,000 (approximately 10kg) of flowers.

 

 

When the blossoms are hydro-distilled – soaked in water before being heated, with volatile materials carried away in the steam to condense and separate – the extracted oil is neroli, the by-product being orange flower water, while petitgrain is the essential oil steam distilled from the leaves and green twigs.

Long steeped in bridal mythology, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, she chose orange blossom to decorate her dress, carried sprigs in her bouquet and even wore a circlet of the blossoms fashioned from gold leaves, white porcelain flowers and green enamelled oranges in her hair. It firmly planted the fashion for ‘blushing brides’ being associated with orange blossom – but this pretty flower can hide a naughty secret beneath its pristine petals…

 

 

While the primly perfect buds might visually convey a sign of innocence, their heady scent can, conversely, bring a lover to their knees with longing. In his novel The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa chronicles crossing an orange grove in full flower, describing ‘…the nuptial scent of the blossoms absorbed the rest as a full moon does a landscape… that Islamic perfume evoking houris [beautiful young women] and fleshly joys beyond the grave.’

It’s the kind of floral that might signify sunshine and gauzy gowns or veritably snarl with sensuality. Similar to the narcotic addictiveness of jasmine, with something of tuberose’s potency; orange blossom posesses none of that cold, grandiose standoffishness of some white florals: it pulsates, warmly, all the way.

 

Perfumer Alberto Morillas associates the scent of orange blossom with his birthplace: ‘I’m from Seville, when I’m creating a fragrance, all my emotion goes back to my home,’ Alberto told me, talking about his inspiration for Solar Blossom (below). ‘You have the sun, the light and water – always a fountain in the middle of the square – and “solar” means your soul is being lifted upwards.’

Oh, how we need that bottled sunshine when summer fades; an almost imperceptible shifting of the light that harkens misty mornings, bejwelled spiderwebs and sudden shivers…

Why not swathe yourself in these light-filled fragrances to huddle against the Stygian gloom? I love wearing them year-round, to remind me sunny days will return, that things will be brighter, presently.

 

Mizensir Solar Blossom Luminescent, life-affirming, a shady Sevillian courtyard with eyes and hearts lifted to the glorious sun, ripples of laughter and birdsong.
£175 for 100ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com

Sana Jardin Berber Blonde A shimmering haze of Moroccan magic, orange blossom diffused by dusk, a languid sigh of inner contentment.
£95 for 100ml sanajardin.com

Stories By Eliza Grace No.1 Waves of warmth giving way to fig tea sipped beneath the shade of whispering trees, bare feet on sun-warmed flagstones, fingers entwined, forever dancing.
£50 for 15ml eau de parfum elizagrace.com

Shalimar Soffle d’Oranger A flurry of white petals in the Taj Mahal’s gardens, the creamy warmth of sandalwood swathed skin an embrace you’ll want to prolong throughout the seasons.
£79 for 100ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

Maison Francis Kurkdjian APOM Femme A golden halo of comfort, sunshine diffused through honeycombs, your lover’s neck nuzzled, licked, bitten.
£150 for 70ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com

Serges Lutens Fleur d’Oranger Softly soapy at first, then sultry, writhing with unabashed decadence: a pure heart gone wonderfully awry.
£110 for 100ml eau de parfum libertylondon.com

L’Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l’Aube The molten wax of church candles delicately dripped on to eager skin as virtue meets vixen.
£115 for 100ml eau de parfum artisanparfumeur.com

By Suzy Nightingale

International Women’s Day 2019: celebrating female perfumers

As it’s International Women’s Day, can we take a moment to collectively cheer the world’s first recorded chemist – a woman named Tapputi – and a perfume maker whose existence we only know about thanks to being recorded on a 1200 BCE Cuneiform tablet, found in Babylonian Mesopotamia.

Tapputi was granted the title “Belatikallim” which suggests she was regarded as a high-ranking scientist, and her role would have held great sway in both the Mesopotamian government and their religion, because she was overseer of the Mesopotamian Royal Palace.

But think of a perfumer or famous ‘nose’ now and, chances are, the picture that comes to most peoples’ mind is a man in a white lab coat, or – if you’re more romantically inclined – a man in a velvet jacket plucking rose petals at sunrise and being struck by artistic inspiration. My point is: it’s probably still a man you’re thinking of.

In the Fashion, Feminism & Fragrance edition of our magazine, The Scented Letter, we devoted the issue to looking back to the women we have to thank for shaping the way we smell today, and focussing on the current crop of women perfumers shaking up the scent world.

Here, we pay tribute to just some of these remarkable and talented women, and urge you to seek out their work as a way celebrating International Women’s Day 2019

 

Daniela Andrier’s CV now stretches endlessly: triumphs include Bottega Veneta Knot, the daring Maison Martin Margiela Untitled and Guerlain’s Angélique Noire – but the name which continually crops up on her list of creations is that of Prada. She clearly has a fantastic working relationship with Miuccia Prada, which has brought us such blockbusters as Prada Man (2006), Prada Candy (2011), and every single one of the Prada ingredient-focused Infusion series, so widely adored by bloggers and perfume-lovers alike.

 

 

Christine Nagel says the first time she met a ‘nose’, that’s what she knew she wanted to be. So she trained as a research chemist and market analyst, and in Paris, in 1997, launched a seriously distinguished career that’s included creations like the blockbuster Narciso Rodriguez for Her (with Francis Kurkdjian), Jimmy Choo Flash and Guerlain’s Les Elixirs Charnels collection. After several years at Jo Malone London, Christine joined Hermès, to work alongside the legendary Jean-Claude Ellena in 2014. When he retired two years later, Ellena named Nagel his rightful successor, and she took her place as the esteemed Head of Perfumery. Nagel’s pared-down style with innovative twists has composed Eau de Rhubarb Ecarlate, Galop d’Hermès and the much-admired recent addition of Twilly d’Hèrmes – some of the Hermès’ most critically acclaimed and commercially successful fragrances to date.

 

 

Mathilde Laurent is widely considered the ‘rock ‘n roll superstar’ of contemporary perfumery, having been encouraged to become a perfumer by a family friend who noticed from a young age she’d been ‘encountering the world nose first, whether to describe a plate of food or the atmosphere of a new house,’ as Laurent puts it. Trained at ISIPCA after gaining a degree in chemistry and physics, she put in a call to Jean-Paul Guerlain himself, asking for an internship. After three months, she was offered a permanent position and stayed for the next 11 years. Joining Cartier to become their in-house and bespoke perfumer, Laurent has tirelessly worked to promote the creative use of quality synthetics in modern perfumery, in order to ‘shatter the idea that the result had to be hard, abstract, aggressive.’ Her work is by turns contemporary with a classic touch, surprising yet ultimately, sublimely wearable.

 

 

Camille Goutal studied Literature at ‘A’ Level then took courses in art, photography and design at the Louvre Museum School. It led to a career in photography, but it was scent that ultimately beckoned. Her mother, Annick, had founded the now renowned house in 1981, being joined by equally talented nose Isabelle Doyen in 1985 and watching as the name spread like wildfire around the world. By the 1990s, the collection was in the ‘top five’ in leading department stores like Saks and Nieman Marcus. When Annick sadly passed in 1999 aged just 53, Camille – who’d been the inspiration for both the inspiration for both Eau de Camille, and Petite Chérie – the baton was passed from being muse to Aromatique Majeur: honouring her mother’s legacy while continuing to drive the house – now re-branded as Goutal – ever onwards, to the delight and relief of millions of fans worldwide.

 

 

Alice Lavenat was a young perfumer working for Jean Niel in Grasse. Entering the prestigious French Perfumers Young Perfumer of the Year Competition in 2014. Inspired by her family’s wine business, and creatively interpreting the brief of using blackcurrant bud, the judges’ decision was unanimous: Lavenat was awarded first prize. One of Jean Niel’s clients was Marie Lise Bischoff – founder of the perfume house, Nejma – and she’d not only smelled Alice’s fragrance and fallen in love with it, but was determined to nurture the talent of this young perfumer. Naming the creation Parfum d’Alice, her talents have developed Nejma’s incredibly successful fragrance collection, including a collaboration with a French rap star for KoEptYs, and an exclusive range of Extrait for Harrods.

 

 

Fanny Bal is apprenticed to none other than Dominic Ropion – regarded by many as one of the greatest perfumers of our time – who says her approach to perfumery is ‘curious, tenacious and bold’ and predicts she has ‘all the best qualities to become a great perfumer.’ Another ISIPCA alumni, going on to work at IFF, Bal’s currently storming the expectations of the fragrance world with Sale Gosse for Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle (inspired by a mixture of bubblegum, cheeky ‘enfants terribles’, old-fashioned sweets and ‘doodles on the blackboard’). According to Malle, Fanny Bal is known for ‘constantly surprising her seniors’, and having recently smelled her utterly majestic (homage to) Hemmingway for Masque Milano (a trio of vetiver that had us swooning for hours), we say: watch this space. The name Fanny Bal will soon be on every fragrance fan’s lips, and her scents surprising your nose for years to come…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Speed Sniffing with IFF-LMR & the British Society of Perfumers

When you’ve been obsessed by fragrance for some time, you might think you have a good idea about how ingredients smell. I reckon I’d know a patchouli or pepper from a few yards away, for example. But suddenly, presented with an array of natural ingredients in the form of a ‘Speed Sniffing‘ game, my sense of smell was turned upside down. And I wasn’t alone…

In the august surroundings of Burlington House in Piccadilly, the British Society of Perfumers met at the Royal Society of Chemistry, where we’d been invited for an evening of exploring fragrance ingredients by IFF-LMR Naturals. The LMR refrers to Laboratoire Monique Rémy, which IFF (International Flavors & Fragrance) took over in 2000, continuing and evolving the incredible, groundbreaking work Monique began. Indeed, the company have recently rebranded with the slogan Pioneering Nature – a phrase that encompasses their ethos of always pushing the boundaries of what we can expect from natural ingredients: the way they are grown, harvested and processed; the wellfare of the those who produce them, and sustainability of the environment at large.

These natural ingredients go on to be used by the world’s top perfumers and flavourists, in every major and niche fragrance house you care to name, and there’s no doubt you’ll own many scents and have eaten all manner of foods that include them. 

Esteemed members of the BSP mingled with representatives of IFF-LMR and fragrance-loving members of the public alike, and we were led into a room of eight tables for the fun to begin. Think of it as a combination between speed dating and an intense gym workout for your nose.

In groups, we moved our way around the room, being given only five minutes at each table – a bell ringing when time was up – and with an expert from IFF-LMR in place to guide us through what we were smelling. My group began at the ‘New Ingredient‘ table, and we first had to solve a word puzzle to make up the names. These were Pepper Sichuan Absolute Extract LMR and Cocoa Extract 12% PG. We might think of pepper as being punchy, up in your face and almost aggressive in character, but here we smelled something more reminiscent of citrus, with a vibrant, fruity/floral facet that astonished us all – and remember, there were professional ‘noses’ at this table, equally enthralled by what we were smelling. It was a tickle to the senses, and unlike any pepper I’ve previously experienced. The cocoa, too, was a revelation. Usually used in the flavour industry, this one is silky, nutty, warm and dry rather than overly sweet and sickly.

Resisting the urge to suck the blotter, we moved on to smelling fragrances – one without the central ingredient, one with, and this process was repeated at each table we visited. How fascinating to explore the way even a minute amount can utterly alter a finished fragrance – adding complexity and elegance, boosting the surrounding aromas or softening the edges for a comforting snuggle of a scent. I can only liken it to the difference between a landscape painting completed in oils or watercolour – the scene might be the same, but the translation, mood and emotional response has changed.

At the beginning of the Speed Sniffing we’d been given a bag containing a notebook to jot down our thoughts, along with collecting specially designed playing cards at each stage of our fragrant journey, each card explaining the IFF-LMR ingredient and what makes it so special. So here, briefly, were my thoughts on what I found to be some of the most exciting ingredients we sniffed…

Organic Notes: Ginger Oil Fresh Madagascar ORG
Produced by hyrdodistillation, this smelled of all the piquant freshness of ginger root, without any of the earthiness or almost rubbery notes that can sometimes accompany this ingredient. Their secret? A far shorter time between harvesting and distilling.

Peru Balsam Oil MD
This is harvested from wild grown plants, and was the first to achieve ‘Fair Wild’ certification. For this, they must adhere to strict standards of sustainability criteria, ensuring the continued use and long-term survival of wild species, while supporting the livelihoods of all stakeholders and respecting their cultures. To me, it smelled of heaven. Soft, creamy, comforting and cocooning – if there was a vat of it, I’d have jumped in (though this could upset their certified status, so probably best for all concerned the opportunity wasn’t presented).

Healingwood BLO
This is patchouli with 99% of patchoulol (an alcohol found within patchouli, and one of the organic compounds responsible for the smell). But it’s not the patchouli you’d recognise – banish any lingering horrors of “hippie” scents, for this was an ethereal, wraith-like smell, a whisper of woodiness without the funk.

LMR Hearts: Patchouli Heart No.3
IFF-LMR’s best selling Patchouli Heart note, and it’s easy to smell why. There’s a silvery clarity that smells like bliss personified, with a touch more earthiness that the Healingwood, but it’s still not muddy. Think of a forest floor during a light Spring shower, water diffused through greenery, a shimmering transparency that’s used to ‘…bring differentiation and personality to any formulas.’

‘Blockchain’ Notes: Vetiver Heart
A Blockchain guarantees transparency throughout the supply chain, with every single step of a process being virtually stored. This way, an ingredient can be traced from being grown, harvested and processed from start to finish, with the information visible for all (other companies buying the product, right through to consumers buying a fragrance that ingredient has been used in). The Vetiver Heart we smelled was a revelation – fruity, highly complex, it was practically a perfume in its own right. Because of that complexity, if a perfumer uses this within their formula, it makes the finished fragrance far harder to copy. Win-win.

New Platforms: Sandalwood Oil New Caledonia
By ‘Platforms’, they mean new places in the world they’re now sourcing materials. Sandalwood has traditionally been sourced from Australia and India, where illegal distilling plants, smuggling and unsustainable usage have caused huge problems for the fragrance industry, and the legal growers and producers in those cultures. By using this astonishingly smooth sandalwood from New Caledonia, IFF-LMR offer a delightful new ingredient for perfumers to incorporate in their fragrances – the one we smelled had an almost milky, gourmand aspect to it.

There are many more ingredients I could mention and swoon over at length, but suffice to say, we were all left with a buzz of excitement about the future for the naturals it’s now possible to use in fragrance, and with minds officially blown. What an honour to have smelled ingredients only the noses of major perfume houses usually get to play with. Speed Sniffing with IFF-LMR resulted in my relationship status with naturals being firmly reinstated.

Interested to smell more? The BSP offer a number of exciting events each year, so make sure you check the website for other fragrant happenings.

Wish you could have been there? Then you must join us at our Perfume Society Ostens Event on 12th February! Using IFF-LMR Ingredients, this future-forward house are revolutionising the perfume industry by offering some of these incredible materials in their highest allowable, singular form within an oil Preparation, or as hypnotically enticing eaux de parfums created by some of the world’s top perfumers around that central, natural ingredient. We’ll be smelling the ingredients, learning how they’re processed and sniffing the divine results…

By Suzy Nightingale

Experimental Scent Summit & Awards 2018

The heart of artistic perfumery throbs strongly in Los Angeles, home to the Institute for Art and Olfaction since 2012, and as founder Saskia Wilson-Brown explains, the pulse for perfumery is changing, too.

‘New, self-educated perfumers are thriving, the scents themselves are becoming progressively more audacious, and the art of perfumery as a whole is going through a deep re-examination.’ With this in mind, she launched the IAO as a means of support for perfumers and artists working in and exploring this medium, with the aim ‘…to highlight the innovation and artistry in perfumery, to instigate greater engagement with the art and science around scent, to juxtapose it with other creative practices, and to bring it into the big bad world.’

With an on-going diary bursting with creative, interactive projects, talks and workshops, each year the IAO celebrate independent perfumery with an awards ceremony – the fragrances blind-sniffed by an array of knowledgable judges – and the awards themselves (known as ‘The Golden Pears’) handed out at a differing city each year.

The Art and Olfaction Experimental Scent Summit: London 2018 [Photo by Marina Chichi]
This time, celebrating their fifth year, it was London’s turn to host the awards, and you can see the list of the winners, below; but we were especially thrilled to attend this year’s twist – an ‘Experimental Scent Summit‘, which saw guest speakers from all over the world coming together to talk about their artworks dedicated to exploring our sense of smell. A full two days of talks, performances and discussions, you can read about what went on in greater detail here, but suffice to say we left truly inspired, and buzzing with ideas!

Do take time to have a look at the winners’ websites, and see what your nose might have missed…

Artisan Category Winners:

Chienoir by BedeauX     
CD/Perfumer: Amanda Beadle

[P.S: We must admit to cheering extra loudly for this one – Amanda’s a Perfume Society V.I.P Member! She’s visited us at two of our How To Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops – one in London, and one in Hastings – and we shall be interviewing her shortly to find out the full story of this incredible win, so watch this space…]

Christophe Laudamiel holding his ‘Golden Pear’ Award [photo by Marina Chichi]
Club Design by The Zoo     
CD/Perfumer: Christophe Laudamiel

Independent Category Winners:

Eau de Virginie by Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger  
Perfumer: Jean-Claude Gigodot
CD: Virginie Roux

Nuit de Bakélite by Naomi Goodsir
Perfumer: Isabelle Doyen
CD: Naomi Goodsir, Renaud Coutaudier

Sadakichi Award Winner: Under the Horizon by Oswaldo Macia
Perfume: Ricardo Moya (IFF)

Aftel Award for Handmade Perfume: Pays Dogon by Monsillage (Canada)
Perfumer: Isabelle Michaud

Contribution to Scent Culture: Peter de Cupere (Belgium)

Winners, judges and organisers of the 5th annual Art and Olfaction Awards [photo by Marina Chichi]

11 virtual Valentines to our perfumer pin-ups…

Yes, it’s THAT DAY, and while we eagerly await the better day that follows (happy half-price chocolate-box day, everyone!) we are pondering on the many ways in which scent can set our hearts a-flutter.
Of course we have incredibly strong emotional responses to fragrance – as has been proved by many scientific studies – and about which we are learning more all the time. It’s a fact: smelling something you adore lights up particular parts of the brain that little else can reach.
But it’s not just the perfumes themselves that we love: how about celebrating the fact that the once obscure ‘noses’, those who create the masterpieces we love, and the people who are so inspired by their passion for fragrance they go on to found a whole new house, have finally stepped into the limelight they so deserve?
There may still be some who, when they imagine a perfumer, picture them beavering away in ivory towers (or secret laboratories) – ancient, scented Methuselahs with mad-scientist hair and perhaps a long beard – aeons of scent wisdom etched into their care-worn features. Now, while some may indeed have more than a hint of the mad-scientist about them (naming no names), we are here to tell you that many noses (and indeed founders of the houses) today are stepping out from the labs so we can get to know all about them, not just their creations.
We don’t have the time or space to include all of our favourite perfumers and founders (how could you choose?) but here’s a little list of some of those remarkably talented people we’re sending our heartfelt love to this year…
9255203
Pierre Guillaume – When he was only 25, his first composition ‘Cozé’ was an immediate success, with esteemed New York Times fragrance critic Chandler Burr dubbing his creations “the coolest new European fragrances from a young French chemist”. Not a bad start, then, and after founding Parfumerie Generale  and Huitième Art Parfums, his scents are still causing great excitement.
PIERRE_PORTRAIT
Mathilde LaurentUltra-cool with a no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll style and yet seamlessly carrying on the tradition of translating the glamorous Cartier image into contemporary fragrances with timeless appeal, Mathilde is one of very few in-house perfumers, and also creates exquisite bespoke perfumes in their oppulent Parisian boutique. We admit to having a total girl-crush!
il-profumo-cartier-nasce-in-un-ambiente-senza-profumi-html
Thierry Wasser – All his predesessors were Guerlains, but his sheer talent shone through and Jean-Paul Guerlain himself appointed Wasser as the successor to the role of head nose for Guerlain – entrusting him with the top secret ‘Formula book’ passed down through generations of the family, and resting securely in his hands. Charmingly elegant, always with a twinkle in his eye, his knowledge and humour always seem in harmonious balance.
Thierry Wasser-Guerlain
Lyn Harris – Not content with setting up Miller Harris, Lyn has now gone back to her bespoke perfumery roots with Perfumer H – a jaw-dropping selection of scents that will change each season in the most stylish shop we’ve seen for ages. Laid-back, highly talented, she’s like the coolest girl at school you always wanted to be…
LHbyJakeCurtis
David Frossard – Owner of niche perfume house, Frapin, he was previously export director for L’Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaligon’s before starting – Différent Latitudes – an alternative perfumery brand representing, distributing and communicating for 20 independent brands in over 50 countries. He also gives kickboxing classes, apparently. Sign us up!
davidfrossard
Cécile Zarokian – When your first ever professional fragrance creation is Amouage Epic Woman, you have a lot to live up to, but Cécile more than rose to the challenge – already creating over forty fragrances for various niche houses like Jovoy Paris, MDCI, Jacques Fath, Laboratorio Olfattivo, and the entire Château de Versailles scented candles collection. We’re always fascinated to see what she does next…
DSC_2235-700x465
Ben Gorham – Intrigued by scent and memory after visiting his mother’s hometown in India and being passionately stirred by spices and incense, Ben graduated from art school but – following a chance meeting with perfumer Pierre Wulff – became convinced his furture lay in perfumery rather than the world of art alone. Founding BYREDO, the house is known for understated, refined, fragrances that appeal to all the senses.
ben-gorham
Julie Massé – Hailing from a Grasse family, once Julie graduated from perfumery school, she gained the remarkable opportunity to train with perfume legends like Christine Nagel and Pierre Bourdon, and is now principal perfumer at Shay & Blue. A young perfumer who delights in taking classic accords and weaving her own contemporary style in to each creation, she’s already developed her own unique nose’s scent signature.
nasi4_quadro
Carlos Huber – Training as an architect, Carlos was inspired by his Mexico City roots and the diverse mixture of Aztec, Spanish Colonial, contemporary buildings and culture surrounding him. Creating luxury spaces and instillations with historical references for Polo Ralph Lauren, Carlos was increasingly drawn to his love of fragrance, eventually founding the house of Arquiste and wooing the noses of many fragrance aficionado around the world.
CarlosHuber
Written by Suzy Nightingale (with input from various members of The Perfume Society Team)

Nine virtual Valentines to our perfumer pin-ups…

Yes, it’s THAT DAY, and while we eagerly await the better day that follows (happy half-price chocolate-box day, everyone!) we are pondering on the many ways in which scent can set our hearts a-flutter.
Of course we have incredibly strong emotional responses to fragrance – as has been proved by many scientific studies – and about which we are learning more all the time. It’s a fact: smelling something you adore lights up particular parts of the brain that little else can reach.
But it’s not just the perfumes themselves that we love: how about celebrating the fact that the once obscure ‘noses’, those who create the masterpieces we love, and the people who are so inspired by their passion for fragrance they go on to found a whole new house, have finally stepped into the limelight they so deserve?
There may still be some who, when they imagine a perfumer, picture them beavering away in ivory towers (or secret laboratories) – ancient, scented Methuselahs with mad-scientist hair and perhaps a long beard – aeons of scent wisdom etched into their care-worn features. Now, while some may indeed have more than a hint of the mad-scientist about them (naming no names), we are here to tell you that many noses (and indeed founders of the houses) today are stepping out from the labs so we can get to know all about them, not just their creations.
We don’t have the time or space to include all of our favourite perfumers and founders (how could you choose?) but here’s a little list of some of those remarkably talented people we’re sending our heartfelt love to this year…
 
Pierre Guillaume – When he was only 25, his first composition ‘Cozé’ was an immediate success, with esteemed New York Times fragrance critic Chandler Burr dubbing his creations “the coolest new European fragrances from a young French chemist”. Not a bad start, then, and after founding Parfumerie Generale  and Huitième Art Parfums, his scents are still causing great excitement.
PIERRE_PORTRAIT
Mathilde LaurentUltra-cool with a no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll style and yet seamlessly carrying on the tradition of translating the glamorous Cartier image into contemporary fragrances with timeless appeal, Mathilde is one of very few in-house perfumers, and also creates exquisite bespoke perfumes in their oppulent Parisian boutique. We admit to having a total girl-crush!
il-profumo-cartier-nasce-in-un-ambiente-senza-profumi-html
Thierry Wasser – All his predesessors were Guerlains, but his sheer talent shone through and Jean-Paul Guerlain himself appointed Wasser as the successor to the role of head nose for Guerlain – entrusting him with the top secret ‘Formula book’ passed down through generations of the family, and resting securely in his hands. Charmingly elegant, always with a twinkle in his eye, his knowledge and humour always seem in harmonious balance.
Thierry Wasser-Guerlain
Lyn Harris – Not content with setting up Miller Harris, Lyn has now gone back to her bespoke perfumery roots with Perfumer H – a jaw-dropping selection of scents that will change each season in the most stylish shop we’ve seen for ages. Laid-back, highly talented, she’s like the coolest girl at school you always wanted to be…
LHbyJakeCurtis
David Frossard – Owner of niche perfume house, Frapin, he was previously export director for L’Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaligon’s before starting – Différent Latitudes – an alternative perfumery brand representing, distributing and communicating for 20 independent brands in over 50 countries. He also gives kickboxing classes, apparently. Sign us up!
davidfrossard
Cécile Zarokian – When your first ever professional fragrance creation is Amouage Epic Woman, you have a lot to live up to, but Cécile more than rose to the challenge – already creating over forty fragrances for various niche houses like Jovoy Paris, MDCI, Jacques Fath, Laboratorio Olfattivo, and the entire Château de Versailles scented candles collection. We’re always fascinated to see what she does next…
DSC_2235-700x465
Ben Gorham – Intrigued by scent and memory after visiting his mother’s hometown in India and being passionately stirred by spices and incense, Ben graduated from art school but – following a chance meeting with perfumer Pierre Wulff – became convinced his furture lay in perfumery rather than the world of art alone. Founding BYREDO, the house is known for understated, refined, fragrances that appeal to all the senses.
ben-gorham
Julie Massé – Hailing from a Grasse family, once Julie graduated from perfumery school, she gained the remarkable opportunity to train with perfume legends like Christine Nagel and Pierre Bourdon, and is now principal perfumer at Shay & Blue. A young perfumer who delights in taking classic accords and weaving her own contemporary style in to each creation, she’s already developed her own unique nose’s scent signature.
nasi4_quadro
Carlos Huber – Training as an architect, Carlos was inspired by his Mexico City roots and the diverse mixture of Aztec, Spanish Colonial, contemporary buildings and culture surrounding him. Creating luxury spaces and instillations with historical references for Polo Ralph Lauren, Carlos was increasingly drawn to his love of fragrance, eventually founding the house of Arquiste and wooing the noses of many fragrance aficionado around the world.
CarlosHuber
Written by Suzy Nightingale (with input from various members of The Perfume Society Team)