どのようにすればパフューマー(調香師)になれるか、という情報を提供した英語の文献なりウェブサイトは、不思議なことにほとんどないのでしょう。ところが、グーグルで検索してみると、この質問に対して日本語で答えているウェブサイトはいくつかあるようです。日本での細かい事情については全く知りませんが、すぐに気が付くのは、日本で調香師と言った場合はフレーバリストも含まれ、英語で perfumer（パフューマー）と言った場合とは意味が少し異なってくることと、日本にはほとんど fine fragrance perfumer（香水調香師）が存在していないことから、「調香師」と言った場合に、職業としてのイメージがかなり異なるようであるということです。そこのところの違いを踏まえて概ね正しいと思われる答えを掲載しているサイトもあります。ここでひとつ付け加えるならば、世界的に見ても、もともとの求人枠が大きくはない職種ではありますが、今後は次第に日本を含めた東アジアからの調香師の比率が増えてくることは充分に予想されます。そのようなことから、先ずは調香の世界の最先端はどういうものであるかということを、断片的でも良いから少しづつ紹介していく中で、香水業界を担っていくことのできる、才能のある日本の若い人達に出会えればと願っています。
There is something striking about the image below…
It reminds me of a fragrance that perfumer Loc Dong was working on for S-Perfume® more than a year ago. You may not have heard about Loc Dong yet, but his recent achievement is compared to that of Jacques Cavallier when L’Eau d’Issey was created. Naturally, other suppliers are now waiting for a chance to lure Loc from IFF.
I have a sweet spot for Loc Dong for many reasons, but the biggest reason is simply because he’s a god damn Asian. Loc often said to me, “I want women to feel beautiful when they wear my fragrance.” His simple statement is very powerful, just like this stunning beauty in a white ao dai.
So, why didn’t we finish the fragrance? Well, I thought his great mods should fall into the hands of L’Oreal or P&G one day, and not in mine. Loc Dong’s fragrances should be appreciated by as many women as possible, and they are simply not meant for niche markets.
A few years ago I had dinner with Jacques Cavallier and some other people from Firmenich at my favorite Japanese restaurant in Manhattan which he had heard about from Issey Miyake and wanted to go. Jacques had been in Japan a few times to work with Issey and seemed to have liked being there except for one thing. During the dinner Jacques told me that the smell of Japanese women’s skin bothered him when testing fragrances on them, “Their skin smells like fish.” I laughed and told him that I kind of liked it.
First, I have to say I don’t know about Japanese men because I’ve never stuck my nose to a guy to smell his skin, but I knew the subtle smell of the Japanese women’s skin that Jacques spoke about that evening. However, I’m not sure if I can pick up that smell when a fragrance is sprayed over the skin. I’m talking about a genius that appears only once in many years – Jacques Cavallier can smell many of the things that we can’t. There are a few “scent experts” trying to discredit the genius, but I have to say they either are jealous or cannot understand his sharp sense of humor, and therefore dislike him.
Anyway… what am I trying to say here? Oh right, I think most fragrances smell boring on Japanese women. Generally they have faint body odor, and on top of that they cleanse their bodies too much. When they wear fragrances they only smell like the fragrances. I’m not a big fan of Paris (I’m talking about the city) but love the way women there smell. I don’t particularly enjoy the smell in the Metro or NYC subway during summer, but the mixture of a woman’s body odor and her perfume is often more exciting than any perfume.
Basically the fragrance industry is driven by Western people who don’t know much about Japan or other Asian countries. They often say “Oh, it’s so difficult to sell fragrances in Japan,” or “The Asian market is so unpredictable.” Maybe it’s not important for them to make smash-hit fragrances for Japanese market… but think about Prada or other European fashion brands. Sometimes more than half of their revenues are coming from Japan. Fragrances could do the same as well. So Fragrance Industry, bury your noses in Japanese women and think! I wouldn’t be surprised if you guys come up with a scent that smells like soy sauce.
I used to make sculptures from sugar. That’s when I started to incorporate scents made by wonderful perfumers like Jean-Pierre Bethouart and Thierry Wasser in my art.
In 1999, I used 5 tons of sugar and 50 kilograms of fragrance oil for an installation in Japan. Everyday during the exhibition, 2 kilos of scent created by Thierry Wasser was sprayed on the floor. The visitors to the exhibition left with the scent on their clothes and shoes. As a result, an old downtown neighborhood in Tokyo was scented for a several block radius during the exhibition, and the scent remained for more than a year in the former rice market which housed the installation. Surprisingly, there wasn’t even a complaint, and I was still receiving messages from people who wanted the scent a year after the exhibition.
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.”
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.
Artureef, Shifts, please contact Made by Blog (madebyblog at gmail.com) with your mailing address. You will receive a scent which is not on the market.