Bertrand Duchaufour / Marvel Fields / Steven DeMarcado ~ Scent Treks through Time

30th June, 2008

Editor's note: These interviews are the sixth part of a series in which Marian Bendeth explores what a panel of modern perfumers would say if they could travel back to the time of their choosing, to meet, chat and co-create with a perfumer of the past. An introduction to the series and table of contents is here.


Bertrand Duchaufour

In House Perfumer, L’Artisan Parfumeur

Creations: Jubiliation XXV – Amouage, L’ échange – L’Artisan, Eau d'Italie, Timbuktu – L’Artisan, S.T.Dupont Femme, Commes des Garçon – Series 3 Incense, Kyoto , Blu Mediterraneo: Cipresso di Toscana – Acqua di Parma, Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta, Farenheit 0 Degree, fresh and Summer – Christian Dior, Honeysuckle and Jasmine – Jo Malone. Fleur de Liane –L’Artisan (more...)

Marian Bendeth: If it was possible to travel back in time to any particular century and decade of your choice to meet your number one inspirational Perfumer:

When would that be? Please state century and decade:

Bertrand Duchafour: I would like coming back at the beginning of XX century ( of course ! ) when the perfumery world knew its first revolution using for the first time, chemicals in composititonal fragrances.

I would meet Coty, Joseph Marie François Spoturno himself! because he has been THE perfumer who stirred up perfumery; coming from nowhere (orphaned at 7 years old) a perfectly self-made man, completely inspired within and with the beauty of women.

I think he was passionate, devoted to the female world. I feel myself a bit like that as well... He was without compromise and I like that as well.

MB:What specific questions would you want to ask them?

No specific question, but the whole example of integrity and self-resourcefulness for inspiration. Coty was linked to the absolute way in creativity (as is every great genius ).

We would co-create a perfume for THE woman, a kind of Sarah Bernhardt, Coco Chanel, Isadora Duncan, very prototypical images, all of them, but really aimed at some of the first female revolutionaries which still continues today.. It would be also the perfume of the female world representing THE greatest ‘France’ that ever existed (France was at the top of the world and my consideration is perfectly nostalgic because it's gone... ). I could consider the same feeling for the USA or England, but the artistic world isn't the same now, too much corruption by money and directly linked to the financial power... Sorry...

I would bring back the same old recipies of natural raw materials ( infusion, enfleurage and so on ) as perfumers, we have many difficulties with our perfumes. I would try to use them as much as possible!

Marvel Fields

Perfumer, Takasago

Creations:Frederick’s of Hollywood (with Jim Krivda), Snow City by Nordstrom, Black Tie – Oleg Cassini, Coty’s Hawaiian Ginger, Sonoma Valley – Crabtree & Evelyn, Song de Chine – Crabtree & Evelyn, Nomad – Crabtree & Evelyn, Fabulous by Jan Moran (more...)

Marian Bendeth: If it was possible to travel back in time to any particular century and decade of your choice to meet your number one inspirational Perfumer:

When would that be? Who would that be?

Marvel Fields: A Commentary on the “Greatest Perfumer of them All” Edmond Roudnitska

If I could travel back in time to meet the one most inspirational perfumer, I would not have to travel too far. It would be to meet Edmond Roudnitska who lived from 1905 – 1996. The decade I would wish to meet him in would be the 1940’s, his most prolific creative period and a period in which he created the most beautiful perfume masterpieces the world has ever seen. (I.e. Femme, Moustache, Diorissimo, and of course Eau Sauvage!)

The reason why Edmond Roudnitska is for me so appealing is because of his insatiable desire to create within an aesthetic framework which elevated perfumery to high art, not just mixing ingredients for commercial application. He was truly independent. He espoused the cause of feminism, desiring that women should break from the roles of subservience as relegated to them in 19th and 20th centuries. Perfume was his vehicle to do this. For him, perfume was more than a pleasing scent; it became an artistic expression to strengthen one’s self esteem, dignity, and self-confidence. In a very real sense, he brought about the inclusion of women into the world of perfumery allowing them to become participants both in conception and design.

MB: What specific questions would you want to ask them?

If I could, I would love to ask him how he achieved such complexity within his simple designs. I would ask him how he went about mixing his accords to achieve harmony, and I would ask him to smell his palette with me so that I could appreciate the classic qualities of the ingredients, which he used in his masterpieces. (He was a pioneer in using synthetics with naturals so that they were neither cloying or “old lady” sweet types.) I would also love to converse with him over the challenges modern perfumers are faced with, i.e. regulatory concerns, allergens, environmental issues etc. and see how his artistic, aesthetical approach could be translated into creations today.

MB: If you could team up together in that time period, who would you like to co-create a fragrance for?

It would be incredible if I could then work with him to create a masterpiece for one of the classic houses as he did for Christian Dior. It is every perfumer’s dream to create an immortal classic perfume and here I would be with a master perfumer who brings the best in art to fragrance. It would be like working with Michelangelo, or Picasso!

MB: If you could bring anything back with you, what would that be?

Besides bringing back his insights, I would ask for samples of his palette.

I think it would be intriguing to compare the quality of our modern “refined” palette to the palette of the master, to witness the evolution of materials firsthand.

To be a part of the “old days” and witness the evolution of perfumery, as we know it today, would be an incredible experience indeed!

Steven DeMarcado

Perfumer, Fragrance Resources

Creations: Magnetic Beat – Escada, Harajuku Lovers Gwen Stefani, Guess Man, Spider Lily - India Hicks for Crabtree Evelyn, Kors - Michael Kors, Celine Dion - Celine Dion (more...)

I do not relate to the past as I do to modern perfumery.

I think modern day perfumery is a lot like modern day architecture. Today’s perfumer is a provider. He lends out his skill and tries to provide his or her client with a fragrance statement of their liking. It is in this vein that architects are contracted to draw visions for their clients. The inspiration comes from the challenge, the desire to provide a client (such as Coty, Lauder etc) what they think they want, and the desire to win, (don’t forget there is only one winner in fragrance competition). 

Computers and technology have changed the pace and face of perfumery, but it has always evolved. Perfumery changes in response to the need to win; these changes are also effected by the environment we operate in. Today’s perfumer must contend with a world with global demands, global safety issues, global consumers, global panel tests, and global economies.

Team work between perfumers has evolved a way to maximize effort, and create an advantage. (This works well in song writing) Accords have evolved as a way for the perfumer to include the client in the creative process. Accords are easy to understand, single raw materials are not.

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About the author: Marian Bendeth

Marian Bendeth is a Global Fragrance Expert based out of Toronto, Canada. Marian has won six fragrance industry editorial awards for her writing. You can find out more on her website


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