A nose to nose with perfumer Andy Tauer


21st January, 2016

When I first smelled the beautiful L’Air du Desert Marocain, I was sold. Family members, friends and even strangers had to smell my wrist and listen to the story behind this lovely perfume. From that day on I started following the creator of my favourite scent; Andy Tauer. The Zurich-based perfumer has created many successful fragrances over the years like Lonestar Memories, Orange Star and his latest Sotto La Luna Tuberose. But besides his good nose for perfumes, Andy Tauer is also a talented painter, enthusiastic blogger and overall creative. In 2014 he launched the platform Tauerville, which is a playground for innovative ideas and where he sells niche fragrances like Rose Flash and Vanilla Flash. When I got the opportunity to chat with Andy Tauer I learned that he is not only a creative talent (he is self-taught perfumer) but also a warm, inviting character with a charming German accent. Together we looked back at 2015 and forward to what is yet to come in 2016.

What was the highlight for you in 2015?

“It has been a great year with many highlights but the first thing that comes to mind is when I visited the store Tigerlily in San Francisco where I launched Rose Flash and Vanilla Flash. It was amazing to see how many of my friends and perfume lovers where there. They were actually thanking me for coming to San Francisco because when I’m in America, I usually visit Los Angeles. It was a great experience so I definitely want to go back.”

In 2015 you launched Sotto La Luna Tuberose. Could you tell us a little bit more about the story behind this fragrance?


Sotto La Luna Tuberose
“Sotto La Luna is Italian for under the moon and so far I launched two Sotto La Luna fragrances, the first one was Gardenia and the second one Tuberose. What I wanted to portray with this fragrance was flowers blooming under the moon at night, I think it has something poetic. My goal was to take the flower apart and to put it together again with new accents which make it different from your usual tuberose fragrance. If you smell Sotto La Luna Tuberose it’s fresh, green and actually created as a unisex perfume, I think that there are not enough men who wear flowers these days.”

You learned the art of perfume making yourself. What do you think has been an advantage and disadvantage about this?

“I always tell people that not going to a perfumery school has been very helpful since you are free to do what you think should be done. Maybe it’s easier to come up with your own handwriting when you teach the art of perfumery yourself. However it might take longer because there is no teacher who tells you what not to do. I learned to create perfume by trying, falling on my nose and getting back up again. What I also realised a while ago is that when you go to a perfumery school, you are surrounded by other students and so you can start building a network. I was very lucky because when I started, the niche perfume industry was very different from what it is today. There were less players on the market and so it was easier to be seen by suppliers, other perfumers, clients and the press. It’s amazing to see how the name of the game has actually changed.”

What do you think makes a good perfumer?

“I think a good perfumer is a creator who tries and who manages to come up with innovations and new solutions without leaving the track of what can be worn. What I mean is that it’s very easy to create a perfume that is shocking and provocative but you can’t really wear it. A great perfumer makes a step into a new territory but still stays in a territory where the consumer and perfume lover can follow him.”

When you compose a perfume, do you have a prototype in your head or do you follow your instinct and your nose?

“It’s actually both but not for the same perfume off course. Sometimes I just use a picture or put colour onto a canvas and start working from there. For instance with Rose Flash I had an idea of wanting to make it thick and heavy but still wearable and I already had an idea of how I could do this. But then there are other perfumes like L’Air du Desert Marocain where I try to tell the story that is in my mind. It’s both very rewarding in a way.”

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L’Air du Desert Marocain is actually my all-time favourite perfume, could you tell me the story behind this scent?


L’Air du Desert Marocain
“Thank you, I’m happy that you like it. The first perfume that ended up in the store was Le Maroc Pour Elle. It was sold in bookstores and nobody really knew that they could buy the perfume there, so it didn’t sell that well. Therefore I was thinking that it needed a second perfume so that it would get more credibility, two perfumes on a shelve is more solid. So what I wanted to do was come up with a more unisex perfume that was somehow still inspired by Morocco. After I started Googling I found a beautiful image of a guy who was lying in his bed in Morocco. This picture was taken from an angle where you could assume that there was a terrace and I used this idea while working on the scent. The idea is that you are in Morocco in a little town, its evening and you are lying in bed with the doors open that lead to the terrace. As you inhale, the warmth of the day comes into the room and carries the scents of the village. There is a bit of a leathery, smoky smell because some women in Morocco cook on open fires and then you have this underlined warmth and dryness from the desert. People always ask me about the vanilla in the scent and I say that it’s the cookies that are being baked in the bakery.”

You also have an inspiring blog where you share your thoughts, what message do you want to send out with the blog?

“I started the blog more than ten years ago and back then I wanted to share what it’s like to create a perfume. So initially it was more about the creation part but over the years I learned that if I talk too much about my new fragrances, then some perfume lovers could be disappointed because not every perfume I’m working on will eventually go to the market. So I reduced this a little bit and talk more about how to build a brand. The blog also really helps me to focus and it’s great to have the interaction with my readers.”

What are some of your favourite base notes in perfume and why?

“Patchouli is one of the base notes that I usually come back to because the texture is amazing for a fragrance. You will also see me using ambergris, vetiver, tobacco notes and sandalwood which is so rewarding to work with.”

What has been the biggest challenge that you had to face as a perfumer?

“One of the biggest challenges was when we couldn’t ship bottles to most places anymore. It happened a few years ago when the restrictions for dangerous goods in Switzerland were implemented and they are very strict. For me that was a big challenge because back then I was shipping a lot of orders to the United States and therefore I had to build up a warehouse structure and change the entire logistics system. The biggest challenge that I face as a creator is when I have a new scent ready and just want to hand it over to the perfume lovers. But you have to kind of say no because sometimes it needs some more time, the market has to follow you. Another challenge is to know when you are done because at some point you are so biased and uncertain that you are only looking for the mistakes. Quite often I then talk to friends and let them smell the fragrance, their opinion really helps.”

What are your plans for 2016?

“There will be a couple of changes next year. I started to discontinue some of the fragrances in the Tauer perfume line since I need to make a little bit more room for new things. For the spring I’m planning a new fragrance in the classic Tauer perfumes line. I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be like but I can tell you that it’s going to be interesting because I’m basically looking back at ten years of Tauer perfume. There will also be a new Sotto La Luna fragrance in 2016 and for Tauerville I’m planning on creating a new line. It will be a very exciting year.”

 

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About the author: Marloes Hagenaars

Marloes Hagenaars comes from the very small town Langeraar in the Netherlands. Her interest in fashion started growing when she did her Bachelor Journalism in Utrecht and later did a Masters in Fashion Journalism at the London College of Fashion. During her Masters she started Freya Magazine (freyamag.com), a fashion magazine that explores current issues through fashion. Currently she is working as an editor for Harper’s Bazaar Netherlands. Her favourite perfume is L'Air du Desert Marocain by Andy Tauer

Website: http://www.freyamag.com

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    Comments

      • epapsiou | 22nd January 2016 13:28

        Thanks for this Marloes. I wonder what will be discontinued.

      • rum | 22nd January 2016 13:47

        That's the exact thing I picked up on from this review. Better get ready for disappointment...

      • hednic | 22nd January 2016 14:58

        Informative interview.

      • Kiliwia | 22nd January 2016 18:25

        Thank you for the great article with Andy Tauer. It's a shame for any of his scents to be discontinued. My guess is that it will be one of his 2 limited edition scents, Une Rose Chypree or Phi- Une Rose de Kandahar. I hope that isn't the case, I really like both of them.

      • Judith Brockless | 25th January 2016 13:23

        From Andy's Facebook page:

        a nice interview with me published on basenotes. (a side note: When talking about some scents being discontinued: I was referring to pentachords, ZETA and Eau d'épices.... )

        See here for the details.

      • Kiliwia | 25th January 2016 19:34

        Thank you for the info, so happy to be wrong about the two LE's getting cut. I wasn't fond of the ones that did, except Zeta, but I knew that was discontinued.

      • cazaubon | 27th January 2016 03:47

        Thanks for the nice interview! I am happy to have Eau d'Épices and Zeta in my collection.