James Krivda / Sophie Labbe / Laurent Le Guernec / Christophe Laudamiel ~ Scent Treks through Time

23rd August, 2008

Editor's note: These interviews are the eleventh 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.

James Krivda

Senior Perfumer, Mane

Creations: Deseo by Jennifer Lopez, Fantasy by Britney Spears, Pure Moment by Alfred Sung, FCUK Him/Her, Enchanting by Celine Dion, Bijan Black for Him and for Her [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 and who would you meet?

James Krivda: I actually believe right here and now is a very exciting time in perfumery...yes a century ago times were "heady" with new discoveries and creating all the fragrances that we are all familiar with today. But now we are building upon that groundwork with so many exciting materials available to the perfumers from across the globe it is exciting times indeed! Also not only do we have a bountiful of materials to inspire us, we are much more responsible in how we are collecting and processing naturals with sustainable programs and our commitment to fair trade. With synthetics we have a bounty of new materials that we know are safe for the consumer and friendlier to the planet.

With all this exciting research, perfumers are able to create a huge range of very diverse fragrances for every customer's needs. In the 90's and this century we have seen an explosion of creativity in fragrances...Tresor, Eternity, Cool Water, Angel, La Male, Pleasures, Aqua di Gio, Light Blue in fine fragrance. Companies like Bath and Body Works have brought high quality fragrances to all consumers for everyday splashes with sun ripened Raspberries, Cucumber Melon, Cotton Blossom, Warm Vanilla Sugar and now moving more and more into a finer fragrance arena with Velvet Tuberose. We now even see this trickling down into the consumer products arena with all the Febreze scents and the explosion of new fabric softener fragrances!

Today we are blessed with some of the most talented perfumers that have ever lived...I have been honored to work with many, know a few and some I have never met but know by their incredible work...My mentor Elie Roger was a great perfumer in the classic French methods one of his disciples and a perfumer who also trained me was Annie Buzantian. Harry Fremont, Dave Apel, Jacques Cavalier, Pierre Bourdon, Albert Morrilas and Oliver Cresp are others that I have been honored to work with. Other amazing perfumers we are lucky to have today include: Sophia Grojsman and we are also lucky to work with other creative voices that, although not perfumers, inspire and work with us, such as Ann Gottleib, Karyn Khoury and Camille McDonald.

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

JK: Well at this point of my career it is my desire to develop my own style and point of view but I have learned much from those I have mentioned. All are amazingly creative...Harry has an incredible work ethic...we called him the machine when I worked at Firmenich! Annie and Dave are impressive when in front of the customer...making perfumery come alive for the client not with just their fragrances but with their ability to speak so emotionally about our craft...just to name a few.

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

JK: Again I love what I do here and now that I do not long for "another time". Working with great companies like Estee Lauder, Coty and Limited Brands. Creating fragrances for designers and celebrities such as: Ralph Lauren, Alfred Sung, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion and Britney Spears has been amazing. Also I love to work on as many different forms as possible...anything form the finest of fragrances to bath products for Bath and Body Works, Laura Mercier, Avon and Dial.

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

JK: Even though I love working, now we have lost a few great materials to the regulatory requirements. We all want to make save, environmentally friendly products...but I would love to have back some materials such and the nitro-musks...Musk Ambrette, Musk Xylol...etc. And a few naturals such as Bois de Rose and actual Natural Indian Sandalwood.


Sophie Labbé

Senior Perfumer, IFF

Creations: Organza Harvest 2007, Liberte by Cacharel, Essenza Del Tempo by Trussardi, Organza by Givenchy, Boss Woman, Promesse by Cacharel (more...)

I would like to travel back about 6000 years to the origins of perfume, to its very beginning when scents were used to honor the Gods.

I wish I could be an Egyptian priest knowing the intimate secrets of perfume and their positive influences on the Gods. Wouldn’t it be great to create a better world through the fumes of fragrances?

I would like to unlock the secrets of perfume. I would like to learn all the different recipes, all the concoctions and their mysteries.

I would like to team up with one of the priests that created the first fragrance, the Kyphi. Kyphi is an incense that was used for religious and medical purposes. I would have loved to create it for a pharaoh, to ease his trip to the other world.

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

All the details of the discovery of perfume and the very first ingredients that were used.


Laurent Le Guernec

Senior Perfumer, IFF

Dolly Girl Lil’ Starlett, Michael Kors Island CapriPure White Linen Light Breeze, Bond No.9 So New YorkNautica Sunset Voyage, Beloved by American Beauty,  (more...)

If I could go back in time, I don't think there is a special decade that I would choose, but perhaps what would be great about going back to the past (for example, mid-20th century) is that perfumers had more freedom to create. By this I mean they didn't have to think too much about issues like price or toxicology, and they had the luxury of time -- and the perfumer was really considered the "EXPERT."

As a Frenchman, the one brand that comes to my mind is Guerlain. I would have loved to be part of that family at the time of Jicky, Shalimar and many others. Something that I always cherish is all the old lore about the industry. There was a lot of good gossip in Grasse at that time, but all these stories are now disappearing, which is sad.
Today we have different challenges, but it's still the best job in the world and it's nice to look back at the past for inspiration. 


Christophe Laudamiel

Perfumer, IFF / Les Christophs

Creations: Thierry Mugler: Coffret, Perfume, the Story of a Murderer, Amber Absolute - Tom Ford Collection, Burberry London, Michael Kors Island Fiji, Youth-Dew Amber Nude – Lauder, Polo Blue Ralph Lauren, Happy Heart Clinique [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.

CL: I would go to 1877 and meet The Phantom of the Opera.

MB: What specific questions would you want to ask?

To the Phantom: I have always thought that a ghost was the best representation for a scent or a fragrance: both are invisible and unpalpable, yet both are very present and can send you an adrenaline rush. They can pass through closed doors; they can be friendly, they can be scary. As a Phantom, what is the hardest challenge for you? To be confined in the darkest place of a building (of a bottle), i.e. not seeing the lights and the millions who love you, or to long for someone special to love you?

To Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber: How does one start writing a piece of music which literally moves millions of people? On what tricks do you base such creations? Conceptually in general, and then narratively and musically?

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

CL: With the Phantom: to the Loch Ness
With Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber: to the "Memory" of the "Opera" de Paris: Nureyev.

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

CL: The chandelier of course!


Join Marian next time as we take more perfumers on Scent Treks through time.

  • Share this

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/

Advertisement — comments are below