Aurélien Guichard, Stephen Nilsen, Michael Carby, Yann Vasnier - Scent Treks Through Time


12th October, 2008

 

Editor's note: These interviews are the thirteenth 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.

 

Aurélien Guichard

Perfumer, Givaudan

Creations: Andy Warhol Silver Factory, Aqua Allegoria Anisa Bella, Baghari & Visa (reworked) Robert Piguet, Love in Paris by Nina Ricci, Moon Sparkle for Men by Escada, Sean John - Unforgivable, Gucci by Gucci for Men, John Galliano, Comme des Garcons - Play (more...)

MB: 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 and who would you meet.


AG: In 2108.....in the future.

I am not a nostalgic creator... I would dream of being a futuristic perfumer.

Perfume creations follow the culture, the money and other arts developed by the dominating civilizations.

This evolution has always been going from the East to the West.... just like the 'sun road'. It started with Egypt , then Greece (in antiquity), then Florence during the Renaissance, France and Grasse in the early 1800- 1900's, New York in the late 1990-2000... always going west.... so where is the future of CREATIONS? Perfumers working in pairs with designers, couturiers and trend setters....

Today, consumers are more and more educated in fragrances... therefore, they are able to differentiate a true great creation from an average one.

I believe the best time to be a perfumer is coming... it is not in the past, it is in the future.

MB: Who would you meet?

An open minded perfumer, a visionaire who believes in uniqueness...

a perfumer who believes in the future more than in the past....

a perfumer who believes in new fragrances created for new trends, new fashions....

a perfumer who creates for people wanting to be different and beautiful, ultra feminine, ultra masculine, ultra gay, ultra classic, ....

a perfumer who is not working by consumer tests but for consumer happiness.

and more importantly a perfumer who has dreams.

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

What make this job the best in the world in 2108?

Will there be more room for instinctive creation and less for rational ones?

How about more trust and teamwork between brand and perfumers (no secrets on formulas: 'open formulas')?

Will there involve more fun in the development process (come on!: we are only creating fragrances, it will never change the face of the earth)?

And at the end: will there be a better product therefore greater honor to do this job?

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

I would want to team up and create a fragrance for someone who understands the needs and the aesthetics of its time.... it can be anytime; what matters to me is to create emotions; it could be for a couturier or a musician or a painter etc. I would work for trendsetters - people who capture (with their art) "l'air du temps": being different and contemporary; by using both 'avant-gardism' and pure beauty of its? time.

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

New raw materials!

Thanks to research and technology: there will be a larger palette of ingredients. Perfumers will have more freedom to create unique fragrances: New natural species, that perfumers will be able to use without restrictions (new species without allergens).

New synthetics and molecules discovered by chemists.

There will be new ways to wear fragrances: fragrance encapsulations, fragrance clothes....

 

 

Stephen Nilsen

Senior Perfumer, Givaudan

Creations: Bath & Body Works: Blackcurrant and Vanilla, Iced Tea Twist, Fantasia di Cioccolata, Melon Cooler; Lauder: True Star for Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger Dreaming, Tommy Girl Summer 2007 & 2008, Tommy Girl 10, Moss Breches for Tom Ford; Arden: With Love... Hilary Duff, Wrapped With Love... Hilary Duff; Bond No. 9: Union Square (more...)


MB: 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 and who would you meet?


SN: By training, I am a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, so I have always been fascinated by the chaotic yet fertile interface between science and art. I am especially interested by the birth of modern perfumery in the 1800's as scientists slowly revealed the olfactive secrets in nature's chemistry. Specifically, I would want to travel back to 1880 to witness how perfumer/artists of that time were finally able to harness the raw and magical power of the new synthetic materials to create ground breaking pieces of olfactive art that influence perfumery yet to this day.

I would especially be interested in meeting Paul Parquet who developed Fougere Royale for Houbigant. The influence of this fragrance still resonates today in modern perfumery.

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

Although I would love to know where his inspiration and creativity came from, I am never sure that a true artist can really understand or articulate that for themselves. Instead, I feel it would be more valuable to see the myriad professional, personal and cultural influences that were acting upon Parquet at the time. What did his perfumery palette look like? Who where the material suppliers he was working with? And beyond the professional questions, it would want to hear the more personal and cultural influences he was experiencing. Who was he eating lunch with? Who was he visiting in the evening? What were the cultural events that he was participating in?

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

I would like to hang around until the end of the 1880's to get a chance to work with Parquet to develop a fragrance for Erik Satie. I would love to see how working with Satie, a self-proclaimed "phonometrograph," would influence the creation of a fragrance -- perhaps making me a "olfactometrograph" rather than a perfumer.

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

While I was there, I would probably get myself a Monet painting and bring it back with me. I think it would be really nice to have one in my apartment.

 

Michael Carby

Perfumer, Givaudan

Creations: Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush, Grape Sparkle, Five Star - GO RED for Women (fragrance created for the American Heart Association awareness drive).

MB: 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

MC: Taken from the book of EXODUS, Chapter 30, Verses 34 - 38 (The King James Version)

"And The Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:

And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:
And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy."

"And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for The Lord.
Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.


MB: Who would that be?

According to the scripture - Moses - God's Perfumer.

MB: What specific questions would you want to ask?

I would ask "what inspirations would have you formulate a perfume good enough to be evaluated by God Himself".

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

I would have wanted to create the fragrance containing Frankincense and Myrrh to be bought to the site of the birth of Christ by one of the Three Kings.

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

Of course, I would bring back a sample of the most holy perfume the tabernacle of God and ultimately be banished from civilization. I would have bought back purely memories. Visions that only fragrances would allow us to recollect.

Taken from the book of LUKE, Chapter 23, Verse 56 (The King James Version):

 

"And they returned (from the burial of Christ), and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment."


Biblical references mention stories of fragrances been bought to the birth place and burial of Christ. Perfumery was used for the embalmment of the body of Christ.

My Passion for Perfumery exists along side my Passion for Christ.

Perfumery is a gift from God.

I believe that a Perfumer is a messenger of the Lord, and should be treated as such. More importantly, we should act as such.

 

Yann Vasnier

Perfumer, Givaudan

Creation: Palissander and Rose Comme des Garçons series RED, Donna Karan Gold, Cerruti 1881 Collection, Fabulosity by Kimora Lee Simmons, Le Labo Aldehyde 44, the perfumes of Divine, Midnight for him by Avon, Kangol 3883, Gourmandises de Keiko Mecheri, the L word by Apothia, Jack Black signature Black Mark (more...)

MB: 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 and who would you meet?


YV: For the decade, i would definitely choose the 1970s, so many fragrance names are coming into mind, it's the beginning of the big business in fragrance and a lot comes from the USA: Grey Flannel, Aromatics Elixir, Givenchy III, Mystere, Silences, Opium, Rive Gauche, Jovan, Chloe, Charlie, Oscar de la Renta, Anais Anais, Equipage, Quartz, Nahema, Lauren, Coriandre, Diorella, Gentleman, Magie Noire, Eau de Rochas, Alliage, Yatagan... so many signature landmarks happened then.

I would meet Henri Robert, who, like Coty and Ernest Beaux, started working for Chiris, went to Coty and starts working for Chanel after the war, that is where he created my favorites and chicest fragrances ever: Pour Monsieur in 1955, No.19 in 1971 and Cristalle in 1974.

MB: What specific questions would you want to learn from them?

How was it to work with such great characters as François Coty in the 1930s and Gabrielle Chanel and the Wertheimers after the war?

As a lover of perfectly polished and elegant fragrances, what is the loudest fragrance you would like to have created?

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

I remember Chanel was only respecting Yves Saint Laurent as a couturier in these times, so maybe, let's create a YSL fragrance together, keeping of course Y, Rive Gauche, YSL and Opium

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

All the fabulous qualities of fragrance materials he was used to play with, tinctures, deermusk, ambergris, rose, jasmine, orris...

 

Join Marian again soon for more Scent Treks through time...

 

 

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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 marianbendeth.com

Website: http://www.marianbendeth.com/

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