Scent Treks through Time: Evelyne Boulanger, Patricia Choux, Jean-Pierre B?thouart and Christiane Plos


25th November, 2008

Editor's note: These interviews are the penultimate 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.

 

Evelyne Boulanger

Perfumer, Symrise

Creations:
Soleil Blue - Yves Rocher, Shamballa by Andre Sinan, Amouage Silver ColgoneGivrine E. Coudray [more...]

Marian: 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?

Evelyne Boulanger: If I had the opportunity to go back in time aboard an old machine like "Back to the Future", I would materialize in 1945-1946. I  would go to  see a woman perfumer who impresses me greatly both in her creations and personality.

I would go see a woman perfumer who impresses me greatly both in his creations as his personality, and this woman of genius, is Germaine Cellier!

What questions would I ask her? I do not know, I think in a small way, I would love to watch how she lives, laughs, fulminates her craft.  I would see how she would work in complete freedom, without coercion, (she knew office hours!), I would weigh her formulas to find if they were very short but very colorful. Among these I would have to include the French perfumery greats Vent Vert, Bandit and many others .... . But this Bandit, what genius!

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

EB: I would like to discover the artist perfumer, but also one who loved to be surrounded by painters, sculptors, mythical figures as Jean Cocteau. And of course, if I had worked with Germaine, and with her agreement, I would love to work on Bandit with her as well.

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

EB: If I had to bring something this time: a hat, one of her many hats she wore with such elegance ....


 

Patricia Choux

Senior Perfumer, Symrise

Creations: Clive Christian No 1 for Men, No 1 for Women, X for Women1872 for Women, Marc Jacobs Splash Orange (with Maurice Roucel), Jo Malone Blue Agava, Very Pretty Michael Kors, Baby Phat Seductive Goddess, Laura Mercier Marons Glaces [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 like to meet?


Patricia Choux:
It would be in the Twentieth Century in the early 1900’s, ‘les Annees Folles’.

I would have loved to have met with Gabrielle Chanel and François Coty. They were avant-gardist’s with their creativity and works. Coco Chanel created, in her time,  a revolution! She changed the establishment, the code without any fear. For his genius in perfumery, I would also pick François Coty who created some pillar fragrances like ‘Chypre’ which spawned generations of perfumes.

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

PC:
Not any specific questions but a lot of general questions....how they generated their first ideas? Where would they find their inspiration and also the curiosity to see if it was different to some extent that was comparable to our inspirations today – this would be  beside some factors such as they they didn't have at the time like price, regulatory issue or consumers test. I wish I could have some days of freedom to create without these restrictions, like they had in their time.

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

PC:
Learning from great perfumers is always the best school for a perfumer so at that time and for the same reason cited above, I would choose Ernest Beaux who dared the fragrance world by using overdosed aldehydes and François Coty.

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

PC: I would bring back the use of fabulous natural raw materials.

 

 

Jean-Pierre Béthouart

Senior Perfumer, Firmenich

Creations:
Boucheron (with Francis Deléamont), Basi Homme, Fendi Palazzo (with Annick Menardo,  Thierry Wasser), Intimately Beckham Night for Women, Eau Maximum – Nickel, BE•ST – Sergio Tacchini, Féraud Paris, Yohji Yamamoto Pour Homme, Burberry Touch for Men, The Dreamer, Versace, Femme – Saint James [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 like to meet?


J-P B:
It would be in the early 20th century, during the French “Belle Epoque”.

I would meet Ernest Daltroff, the founder of Caron, the famous French perfume company. He created many beautiful perfumes, was very fond of roses and spices-based compositions (as I am), but he is not very well known as a perfumer by comparison with François Coty, Ernest Beaux or Jacques Guerlain.

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

J-P B:

  1. I would like to know, how he managed with to create his perfumes the first and limited in numbers -  chemical ingredients. Did he consider that synthetic ingredients contribute to enrich the perfumer’s inspiration and palette? or did he consider them just as new type of ingredients?

  2. What kind of relationship did he maintain with the other great perfumers (Coty, Guerlain, Houbigant) who lived at the same period of time?

  3. Why did he use so often rose and spices as a framework of his fragrances?

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

J-P B: I would love to create fragrance for theater or music hall key figures. I probably would have been very inspired by Sarah Bernhardt, Loïe Fuller or Isadora Duncan… It would be a perfume with rose and spices of course and a lot of natural musk to compose something like a delicate olfactory veil…

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

J-P B: 
A bottle of Absinth liqueur with the particular spoon which was employed to taste it… And Cezanne’s painting colour palette and brushes !

 

 

Christiane Plos

Senior Perfumer, Firmenich

Creations:
Celine Pour Femme, Mellow – Robert Verino, Parfum des Sens – Louis Feraud, Bogner High Speed, Rykiel Woman Hot, Bruno Banani About Women, Spirit of Switzerland – Michel Jordi [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 like to meet?


CP:
It would be in the 1920’s during the “Années Folles”.

I would have loved to meet Jacques Guerlain at the time he created Shalimar, the first vanillic oriental. I’m very interested in that period because it is the beginning of synthetic ingredients era in perfumery. Especially Ethyl Vanilline, one of the most important molecules discovered in 20th century.

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

CP:
Why did he use Ethyl Vanilline in overdose to create Shalimar? Was it a coincidence, a problem with natural vanilla or did he realize something special about the effect of that ingredient?

How did he manage the contrast in the writing of Shalimar between the very fresh head notes and the sumptuous vanillic oriental trail of perfume which it left?

If we submitted to him a range of our current new molecules, which ones would he like or choose and which ones would inspire him most?

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

CP:
I would like to create a fragrance for Joséphine Baker. She had a very complex, paradoxical and interesting personality and perfectly embodied the exuberance of that period. She was also a very generous and sensitive woman with great artistic feelings. For her I would create a cheerful fragrance with a lot of “colors”, and a powerful signature. I would try to make it energetic but sensuous too A spicy solar floral, for instance… 


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


CP: If I could, I would bring back a range of natural animalic notes which were employed at this time and that we have almost forgotten the tones of. Not because I’m nostalgic, but rather by curiosity! I would like to translate by myself, with the current ingredients (both natural and synthetic) available, the original scents of these animalic scents. I would find a less tone down expression of animality than today but not so raw than in the 20’s.

 

 


Join Marian again next time as we travel in the Scent Trek time-machine one last 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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