What is your most memorable fragrance experience?
I don’t have one in particular. There are so many that it would be meaningless for others because they are very intimate, but this is what I can share: Sometimes during the creation of a fragrance, I know I’ve done the right modification, the one with the right signature, with the right impact, the one that will have the big influence on the development; and I know it, and that moment is really unforgettable. For example, I still have this very alive memory of that moment for my first big creation back in 1992, which was a fragrance developed for Josie Natori with Ann Gottlieb for Avon.
What inspires you?
I have been inspired by a lot of different things during my career from very “corporate” marketing visuals to the most inappropriate and incredible themes, but what is really inspiring me right now are some very challenging projects that have never been tried before because I really think the fragrance industry needs an evolution if not a revolution. Lately, I have worked with Comme des Garçons on the Pharrell Williams fragrance called Girl, but it is unisex and just based on woods and some floral aspects, which is a daring choice in a market where sweet and fruity signatures lead the celebrity fragrances business. That is very motivating and inspiring for me.
I think that we also need to link more high technology to perfumery to change the way we diffuse and communicate olfactive messages. I am working closely with Scentys, a company proposing systems and technologies to diffuse the fragrance in a new way, and it is very captivating. I’m also working on the fragrance for a famous artist, but the goal is not to work on a scent for who he is and what he represents, like the usual celebrity fragrance, but to try to reveal an olfactive interpretation of his artwork…a very unusual approach.
Is creating a perfume like creating a work of art?
This is a very subjective question. What is the definition of work of art in general, anyway? To me, on one side, the purpose of creating a fragrance is to communicate a defined emotion, but the ultimate destiny of a bottle of fragrance is to be sold in big quantities, forcing the perfumer to moderate his real inspiration, compromising his vision for marketing reasons. It is more a business overall than a work of art.
But today, we are seeing some brands with more daring ambition and conceptual vision closer to artistic expression. As an example, I can claim “Secretions Magnifiques” from Etat Libre d’Orange as the most subversive and disruptive fragrance ever done; causing the most diversified comments on the net with very passionate critics, but it is still more of an olfactive experience or a conceptual statement. Sometimes we need to push the limits to trigger some reflections about our industry.
Is there a particular scent or aroma you dream of capturing in a perfume?
I wish I could capture olfactively the effect of Prozac or antidepressant onto our brain to give the world a chance to be less stressed, more happy and peaceful just by inhalation with no side effects.
From a philosophical point of view, how would you describe yourself…nose, perfumer, composer?
Like a composer to music, I would just define myself as a perfumer to keep an accurate qualification to my function even if there are already a lot of common terms used in both. But perfumer is very generic to me and we, perfumers all have our very specific territories of expression: commerciality, technicality, classicism, avant-garde-ism, etc…
What is your favorite smell?
I have three children and they all have their natural and unique smell. There is nothing comparable and more comforting than putting my nose into their hair and smelling their head. Definitely my best creations!