Clement Gavarry

Perfumer, Firmenich

For Clément Gavarry, perfumery was his birthright: he is the fourth generation to live a life steeped in
fragrance creation. Born in Paris, he has fond memories of visiting Grasse – including planting a cherry
tree in the family garden and watching it grow to yield luscious cherries he picked each year with his
mother. Clément’s father, perfumer Max Gavarry, let him come to the world of fragrance on his own “by
engaging me with nature. In the south of France, I loved smelling the fir balsam; the immortelle; the
sweet, resiny eucalyptus trees. Coming off the plane in Nice, in one whiff I knew I was home.” He also
recalls spending summers until age 14 near Bordeaux “on our little kingdom, a sailboat named Neroli,”
with the scent of the sea, plant life, and the warm, wet earth nearby. Such memories a perfumer make.

At fifteen, Clément began annual fragrance-related summer internships, enjoying “being a detective,
finding clues and analyzing ingredients” in the field of chromatography – his specialty at university.  An
early work experience in New York brought an epiphany: he should become a perfumer. He entered
ISIPCA, the school of Perfumery in Versailles, graduating with a Master’s Degree and a Diploma in
Organic Chemistry.

He has been in New York since his early 20’s. “New York City is my adopted home. The city is one big
experiment – there’s constant newness, energy, a vibe I love. I felt a sense of freedom and discovery
from my first day here.” His travels to Vietnam, Senegal, and Kenya also brought inspiration; he realized
that – no matter where you travel – nature is at the heart of everything.

Clément thinks of his creations as “a balance of heart and mind.” He is a perfectionist who prefers to
focus intently on a project, often finding it hard to “let go” and finish his fragrances. “I love to truly get
to know my formula. Only then can I find the best balance. We need time for trial and error – or plain
luck! – in order to create the best fragrances. But the Firmenich palette (of ingredients) is amazing; it is
so complete, with such high quality and uniqueness.”

Clément, his wife, Christy, and his two young sons, Lucca and Leonardo, live in Manhattan. He tells us:
“As a perfumer in the U.S., you have to be like an athlete: competitive and tenacious. Yet you also have
to stay positive and see the glass half full.” He continues, “A perfumer must never lose a sense of
wonder. I love smelling with my boys – rediscovering scent through their eyes. Their innocence and
fearlessness help remind me that what I do every day is joyful, and very, very beautiful.”