© What We Do Is Secret
There is a question from Sariah which I want to answer in this post. This is the same question I had when I first stumbled in the fragrance industry – why are the industry’s most talented and creative forces hidden behind the curtain?
There are mainly two different types of players in the fragrance industry: the clients (i.e. L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Dior, Calvin Klein, and so many more) and the suppliers (i.e. Firmenich, Givaudan, IFF, and a few more).
Now, the relationship between these two is not like the one between a fashion designer and his client. If a rich woman orders an haute couture dress from Giorgio Armani Prive, the dress will be saying “I’m Armani!” to the world. Everyone would know Armani’s creativity is woven into the fabric.
Although the word “supplier” doesn’t imply a serious act of creation, these few major suppliers in the fragrance industry are the true source of creativity. Their scientists develop new molecules, and their perfumers create scents. Things become complicated since their clients are supposed to be the creator of fragrances in the eyes of the consumers. There is another factor which contributes to the complication – there is only a limited number of suppliers that can handle the demands of these clients. As a result, a perfumer will often be working simultaneously for several clients who are competitors. Imagine if the perfumer has a great formula which may set a new trend, and all his clients want it for their new fragrances…
The perfumers are very much aware of their circumstances and mission. Jacques Cavallier was once quoted as saying, “Our profession is based on the notion of secrecy. We are the temple guardians.”
Several months ago I heard that Givaudan was up to something really big. I have been wondering about it since…
Givaudan bought out Quest International today. more »
The competition between the Big Three will be more interesting than ever, but I hope IFF will not rush to buy a struggling company like Symrise which probably will be for sale soon.
Recently, there was a very good question for Clement which made us think about the current trend in perfumery…
It’s not really relevant to the interview, but I’m curious what it is like to work with other perfumers on a particular fragrance. I’d imagine that there’s a lot of discussion and such, but was wondering if they run off and make mods and then meet up and decide what direction they like best, back and forth, until it’s finished? And who makes the decision to have multiple perfumers work on a fragrance? Is that more or less common than having a single perfumer?
And, here is Clement’s answer to the question.
Thanks for your question.
More and more fragrances on the market today are the result of teamwork.
So, why has it become like this over the last several years?
- Short deadlines: we often have to make new mods in one day.
- So many briefs to work on at the same time: each perfumer needs to prioritize his projects. Some projects will need other perfumer’s help to be finished in time.
- Sometimes we get stuck in a formula. The involvement of another perfumer could help take a fresh look at it.
- There are often requests from our clients or the management to have such and such perfumers work together.
When we work together on one project there are a lot of discussions not just between us but also with the evaluator and the client. Many back-and-forths usually happen.
Good answers, no?
Molecular Love: March of Perfume Posse sent me a message a few weeks ago, and it has been bothering me. Well, she had some great points in her message which made me think to do something about it…
Portraits: I love portraits whether it’s photography, painting or sculpture. I’m thinking about showing the great black and white photos of all 34 fine fragrance and beauty care perfumers at IFF on the website. It will probably be the first time for any major fragrance houses to show their most valuable assets to the public. [by Nobi]
Here’s a quiz.
There’s another perfumer who shared the same dream of becoming a concert pianist. Is it Jacques Cavallier, Loc Dong, Thierry Wasser, Olivier Polge or Annick Menardo?
The winner of this quiz will receive AU.WOOD.029 by Laurent Le Guernec. The winner will be announced here (in the comment section) in one week.
Laurent Le Guernec didn’t turn his childhood dream into a career but is still very passionate when he speaks about music and piano. He explains about the importance of studying GC (gas chromatography) at an early stage, “We tend to think learning GC is not important, but it’s like practicing solfège, it’s one of the basics.”
Ahaa I see, it sounds quite boring but seems as important as practicing to throw jabs and one-twos millions of times. In boxing the rule is simple: keep your feet and hands busy, or you ain’t gonna survive.
It seems not much is happening lately, but both Clement and Laurent are working hard for Marina’s and Katie’s next rounds. Actually, Laurent and Katie had a phone conversation recently, and Katie’s post on the conversation will be up soon.
In the meanwhile I am going to willfully invade this blog to write about my new ideas…
As some of you may know, I sell perfumes called S-Perfume, S-ex and so on. Perfumer Christophe Laudamiel is the author of S-Perfume (he remixed Alberto Morillas’s original scent) and S-ex. Christophe is always willing to show his formulas if his clients are OK with it. But of course… no company will want to talk about their secret formula, and he hasn’t been able to do it. So, maybe we should at least make it happen with S-Perfume and S-ex. The formula will be written all over the bottle, I like this idea visually.
There are raw materials which will be banned by future regulations (don’t think they are only synthetics). These materials are the endangered species, and some are critical for creating certain notes. I’d like to make a list of seven most critical and fatal raw materials and called them The Seven Deadly Scents. They will also be available in precious packaging and be accompanied with a list of well known perfumes which include these materials. Maybe this is a bad idea…
There is a company selling Iso E Super (by IFF) as a perfume. OK, that’s unusual. But there are more interestingly smelling molecules, like Galaxolide or Muscenone for instance. How about making some of these molecules available in safe level of alcohol solutions. To make this more interesting, I would ask perfumers like Sophia Grojsman or Dominique Ropion to choose one molecule and one natural to create a “super short formula.” The composition will be so simple that the perfumer wouldn’t mind sharing the formula. Now, I think this is a good idea. [by Nobi]
数年前、パトリック・ジュースキントの小説「香水 – ある人殺しの物語」の映画化が発表された時、香水を手掛けている大手化粧品会社は、こぞって映画に便乗した新しい香水の企画話を映画製作陣に持ち掛けたが、どの企画もトム・ティクヴァ監督ににべもなく断られた。
ところがつい先頃、ティクヴァ監督の出身地ドイツにて、映画「パフューム – ある人殺しの物語」が先行公開されると、ティエリー・ミュグレー／ル・パルファム・コフレなる、豪華な香水のセットが映画と合わせて発表された。このコフレの登場は、欧米の香水ファン間で大きな話題を呼ぶと同時に、クリストフ・ロダミエル／Christophe LaudamielというIFF社の（米国最大の香料会社）若手調香師の存在を一躍世に知らしめた。というのも実はこのコフレが、ティエリー ミュグレー パルファムスの発案によって誕生したのものではなく、クリストフ・ロダミエルがパトリック・ジュースキントの小説に取り憑かれる様にして、６年の間にこつこつと創ってきた香りのコレクションだったからだ。つまりこの映画が作られたおかげで、ロダミエル作の「香水 – ある人殺しの物語」のストーリにまつわる香り達が、まさに期を熟して日の目を見るかたちなったわけだ。
ジュースキントの小説の映画化が発表されると、クリストフ・ロダミエルは、真っ先にティエリー・ミュグレー パルファムスの社長、ヴェラ・ストゥルビ女史と会うことにした。時流やマーケティング ストラテジーに決して惑わされることなく、革新的な傑作を創ることで世界的に評価の高いストゥルビ女史は、ロダミエルの抱えてきたいくつもの香りを全て嗅ぎ終わると、即座に彼のアイデアを具体化することに全面的な協力をすること決めた。ミュグレー社のバックアップを取り付けたロダミエルは、彼の恋人であるドイツ人のクリストフ・ホーネッツの助けを得て、トム・ティクヴァ監督に香水の企画をドイツ語でプレゼンしたところ、今まで全ての映画関連商品の企画を断ってきたティクヴァ監督から、賞賛を受けるという幸運に恵まれて、この企画が実現することになった。
The unusual looking rear of the car in front of us caught Veronique’s attention when we were driving back from Marseille to Toulouse a few weeks ago. I couldn’t figure out what kind of car it was till she said “It has a Mercedes emblem and is written McLaren.” Not to say that I’m too unfashionable to recognize an exotic car, but I haven’t cared about cars since I left my enthusiasm for them behind in Tokyo a long time ago.
McLaren is a racing team based in England, best known as a Formula One constructor. The name brought back memories of the time when Honda engines had completely dominated the F1 scene season after season. I then realized that McLaren had now been using Mercedes engines for some time, and the stunning car in front of us was the byproduct of F1 Grands Prix. As the glorious rear end moved further away from us I was guessing the price – to be around 350 thousand dollars (the actual price is almost half a million!).
After we had lost sight of the glamorous car with a Swiss license plate I asked Veronique an idle question. “Is there a perfume you can compare to that car or Ferrari F40?” I just had in my mind a perfume like a prestigious car with daring style and performance that had combined the most advanced technologies and materials. Veronique’s reply was instant, “No, I don’t think so.” Since there wasn’t anything for me to do in the passenger seat I kept thinking about it… maybe it was an irrelevant comparison… what has a perfume got to do with the word performance if it’s not about higher sales figures with lower manufacturing costs?
I guess we would have to wait for something revolutionary to happen in the fragrance industry before we could catch a sniff of the Mercedes SLR McLaren of perfume, and that’s only going to happen if one of the major fragrance houses starts to “Think Different.”
I hope it will happen one day.
The perfumer on the left is the international man of mystery Thierry Wasser. Like Jacques Cavallier he is better known in Japan than in the US. Check out more portraits of Thierry at albertdelamour.com (choose ‘Portraits’ from the left nav bar). The perfumer on the right is Richard Herpin, a very nice guy who always attracts beautiful women.
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