Tell us about your journey to becoming a perfumer?
I became a perfumer by accident. If I had lived in Grasse, France all my life, it would probably have been quite natural to work in this industry, but in London it certainly was not an obvious choice.
My first contact with perfumery was at Yardley of London, a company that was then about to celebrate its bicentenary. In my interview to become a junior perfumer, I was shown 20 or so different Lavender oils and was asked to assess them and pick out those I liked best. Yardley’s Lavender was their biggest seller and luckily my choices of the Lavender samples aligned with their own. And so my journey started.
How are natural ingredients used in perfumery and its emotional impact?
Nature is supreme when it comes to creating fragrances by combining hundreds of different molecules into a perfectly balanced aroma. As perfumers, one learns by analysis which combinations of molecules nature is using and we study the subtle differences that happen when changing the balance of a mixture. An imitation of a Rose extract can be made by combining maybe 20 or 30 materials, but to reach a very close match, 3 or 4 times that number in trace amounts would be needed.
The smell of nature is what emotional memories are built on and by using natural ingredients we can help to recall these memories.
Did the aim of creating a “food” inspiration perfume pose any challenge?
The art of perfumery and flavour are closely related and throughout their history, many ingredients have been used in each of their developments.
Vanilla Bean Extract is probably one of the most obvious. With the advent of the gourmand fragrance style, the use of flavour materials has expanded considerably. Fruity notes like apples, pears, black currants are notes used in many fragrances. With the growing interest in niche perfumery, the popularity of ‘mood’ fragrances has meant requests for fragrances that recall particular settings or events such as the aromatic impression of a Coffee bar or a Jazz club.
How did you create the fragrance with gender inclusivity?
The emergence of mood related fragrances are probably not gender specific, the inclusiveness of a fragrance is mainly decided by the event it is meant to portray, so with this approach the creations will be universally acceptable.