Thierry Wasser on Mitsouko reformulation and IFRA regulations

by Grant Osborne, 04th November, 2011

Guerlain perfumer reveals all to award-winning writer Marian Bendeth, in an exclusive interview to be published next week. Wasser talks about his first few years as Guerlain; Sourcing ingredients in sustainable, ecologically correct ways; Shalimar Parfum Initial; his relationship with Jean-Paul Guerlain; Berluti shoes; Bloggers; the future of Guerlain; LVMH; and reformulating due to IFRA regulations.

Speaking about IFRA, Wasser told Bendeth:

I have to follow the rules of IFRA which the European Commission uses as the basis of their legislation. I am required to follow them, as does the fragrance industry globally.

IFRA recommendation #43 could have changed Mitsouko dramatically because of its regulation on oakmoss. My love for Mitsouko made me push the oakmoss supplier to get as close as possible to the original version without having the specific molecule which is not allowed by IFRA. I do have now a natural oakmoss which is IFRA approved.

Due to the IFRA regulations, there are some materials that I canít even purchase anymore! Even if I wanted to make a reconstitution of a vintage Guerlain in the way it was originally created, I canít find the raw materials! They are gone, the oil, the oil companies and growers are all long gone or discontinued.

You know, strictly for my own sake and education, I wanted to recompound Mitsouko, Shalimar, and LíHeure Bleue in their original forms but getting the raw materials required was not easy.

I went to Calabria and asked a supplier to provide me with the raw bergamot oil before any processing and I would able to recompound those classics. I also sourced some Musk Ambrette down in India. You have no idea of the amount of time, energy and patience it takes to track down practically non-existent raw materials and suppliers just to have them for my own use and knowledge to use in trials. These are ingredients that IFRA has deemed illegal for release to the general public, so even if I wanted to release a vintage version of a Guerlain fragrance, we cannot do so because of legislation.You can read the rest of this fascinating interview next week on Basenotes, which features exclusive images, such as the one above showing Wasser in Calabria, Italy sniffing Jasmine Absolute.

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    • Persolaise | 4th November 2011 10:53

      This is wonderful, thanks very much. I can't wait to read the whole article.

    • Candy Perfume Boy | 4th November 2011 11:10

      This sounds like it will be very illuminating! I have always liked T Wasser but have to say that he came across really well in the Perfume documentary.

    • mr. reasonable | 4th November 2011 11:22

      Look forward to reading this - T. Wasser seems to be one of the few who will actually say something about this issue.

    • scentsitivity | 4th November 2011 17:03

      Very interesting in many regards. I wonder what oakmoss without the offending molecule smells like?

    • RHM | 4th November 2011 20:00

      Fantastic! It's good to know.

    • Chris Bartlett | 4th November 2011 20:26

      The whole interview will be interesting indeed. He has done well to get the natural oakmoss (rectified oakmoss?) approved - I know that others tried and failed - I wonder what I have to do to get some?

    • Saintpaulia | 4th November 2011 21:36

      It's great to hear that someone in the industry wants to honor tradition.

      However, it really does distress me every time I have to think about the collectivist actions taken by governments world-wide. There is a steady diminishment of the individual's liberties in the name of some group of bureaucrats and their ideas of what should and should not be allowed. They have no business making decisions of that nature. Governments, under the guise of proviidng the Public with "safety" for their own good, are in fact not about that at all. It's about CONTROL.

      It's bad enough that these essentially useless regulations get foisted upon us. But it is even more infuriating when they lie to us and justify their actions by saying it is "for our own good". I can take care of my own good, thank you very much. I don't need some tinhorn bureaucratic dictator wanna be.

    • IngaMi | 5th November 2011 01:28

      Oh Saintpaulia, I agree totally, these rules and regulations passed for " our

      own good", we are no longer six years old and need to be told to be sure

      to put our helmets on etc. Or be told that such and such material "may" cause

      allergic reactions. Put a bloody label on it, and let a person choose!

    • GelbeDomino | 5th November 2011 02:16

      Let me be skeptical: I have a feeling this has a lot more to be with costs and patents than with safety. Same as happens with pharmaceutical companies and, say, herbal remedies.

    • Harvest Moon | 5th November 2011 12:40

      Will look forward to reading this. He seemed like a very genuine person on the BBC documentary.

    • DebW | 5th November 2011 14:08

      I would say you have hit the nail on the head there. The more I read about the restriction of ingredients the more suspicious I become. As a herbalist I regularly receive notifications on restrictions of extracts, then voila medical community announces a 'new discovery' from plants.

      Seen on a beautiful range of perfumed products today : Common Sense Use - if sensitive to this product - discontinue use.

      About time people started to take responsibility for themselves


      Deb :)

    • Diamondflame | 5th November 2011 16:05

      Notoriously harmful products such as cigarettes continue to avoid the big ban while potential allergents such as oakmoss gets the wet blanket? And IFRA gets to tell what is legal or safe for the general public? Well, nobody asked them to! Even potentially fatal foodstuff such as nuts are still widely sold...

    • Saintpaulia | 5th November 2011 20:03

      Diamond: "Well, nobody asked them to! Even potentially fatal foodstuff such as nuts are still widely sold...".

      Thank you to Diamond and all of you! Good for you! Keep thinking for yourself. Complain. Let "them" know that you know. Aren't these regulations supposed to be "voluntary"? And it's just a case of no company wants the hassle of doing business w/out the AFRA's blessing? Not sure on this.

      I think some company ought to just say to the AFRA, "We're going to use what ingredients we want to. We'll put a disclaimer on the box of our product. And that's it.". So, "Go fly a kite!".

    • Saintpaulia | 5th November 2011 20:25

      And if the IFRA wants to play really rough, then that business can say, "OK, fine. We'll just relocate our business outside of your jurisdiction". And then all the other companies that don't like the restrictions could follow suit.

      Basically this is what happens in other industries anyway. One reason the USA is in such poor shape financially (aside from the Federal Reserve's nefarious activities) is because OUR bureacrats have driven off businesses off-shore.

      But these companies should advertise what they've done so the public will know. With the businesses that have left the regulatory environment of the USA, they never made a point of saying why and hence striking a blow for Liberty.

    • Birdboy48 | 7th November 2011 02:27

      Exactly why any producer would want to ignore the regulations would seem to be the question here. I suspect that most companies know that the public has little choice but to purchase what the industry collectively produces, no matter what restrictions happen to be in place.

      It's easy to think that all of this gets back to fears over litigation, but one still has to wonder. Someone gets a rash and decides to sue, and IFRA, through it's preemptive regulations hopes to avoid that. And yet where are all the horror stories of people dropping dead from allergic shock during the many years when materials were not regulated ? There was some kind of decades-long hidden epidemic, the details of which we've still not been told about ?

      And why do consumers not have a right to be equally protected from the sorts of headaches that many users seem to get from certain perfumes ?

      How the personal responsibility issue that Diamond mentioned fits into all this is certainly a good question. I can go down and buy a nice rich oily cigar any day of the week, and my tobacconist can freely sell them to me.

      As was mentioned earlier, these regulations, and all the paperwork involved (see Ellana's new book for an eye-opener on that ) would seem to operate to the benefit of someone, but who that someone is remains open to question.

    • distortech | 9th November 2011 03:08

      I am really looking forward to this whole interview!!!!

    • Hanz Medina | 11th November 2011 11:03

      Devastating. My Alien byt Thierry Mugler and Shalimar will not be the same again.:thumbdown:

    • be-bop | 17th November 2011 11:34

      I agree....I saw a report 20 years ago in the U.S. where the F.D.A. allowed a private citizen group to get a lab report on Aspartame...The report surprised them, in that it found Aspartame to be a nuero-toxin that can cause irreparable brain damage...They promptly buried the report because theres alot of money flying around...But OAKMOSS....forget it...Theres not billions of dollars being generated by that....We can forget about it...this is just the tip of the iceberg....:( I apoligize...I know this is no place to get political....Lets all celebrate that there are still people like Wasser still in the business, who genuinely love the art...I'm going to celebrate by getting a Guerlainade high...:)

    • be-bop | 17th November 2011 11:37

      Can't wait for the article by the way....