Saturday Question: Which Perfumer Would You Like to Meet In Person?

Undina: Today your host is Narth again, and the question was suggested by Brigitte.


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #48:

Which Perfumer Would You Like to Meet In Person?

When in 2000 Frederic Malle started putting perfumers’ names on perfume labels, it was something almost revolutionary because until then perfumers were, mostly, like those household spirits from Scottish folklore who were coming out at night to do various chores while everybody were asleep.

These days people who create those liquid wonders that bring us so much joy are much more visible and appreciated. But would you like to meet any of them in person?

Narth’s Answer

I arrive at my seat on the plane, thankful it’s only two across and I don’t have the window. A devout user of the “loo” no amount of views can compete with the peace the aisle seat affords in saving me from climbing over folk. After wrestling my bulging backpack into the overhead compartment (which always makes me think of a notorious tampon commercial that played in Australia – PM me for details), I take in the fellow at the window seat. Mostly bald, well dressed in an understated way, he’s typing on a device while the internet is still in play. Good, doesn’t look like a talker, a boozer, or someone who will spread himself into my space. He barely glances at me as I sit down, even better. I spend the time before we are aloft as I always do, studying the exciting/not menu for the next three meals and wishing I’d remembered to bring a sachet of chilli sauce, any chilli sauce, with me.

We’re in the air, all the bustle of take-off is over, and I unbuckle. I’ve decided I am going to have the fish on rice because it promises to contain lemongrass. Lemongrass, like chilli, covers a multitude of sins.

And then, the man speaks.

“Excuse me Miss [wow this really is a fantasy], can I ask what perfume you are wearing?”

I smile, knowing I have committed no unpardonable olfactory crimes. I have chosen my perfume with being entombed in a tin can with 300 people in mind.

“It’s my favourite scent, L’Artisan Dzongkha.”

The man’s face lights up, he is visibly familiar with Dzongkha. I ask him if he likes it.

“Oh well… Yes, I should like it as I made it. I am the perfumer.”

“BERT!!!!!”, I scream…

No, of course, I don’t scream and of course, I do not address Bertrand Duchaufour as “Bert”. I’ve affectionately called him that on the Internet because he is my dearest, most adored perfumer, and Australians do love their nicknames. It shows we like you. What really happens is I start to babble, naming every Bertrand Duchaufour scent I’ve owned and fangirling like a lunatic. Poor Mr. Duchaufour, how long is this plane ride?

I confess to you, dear readers, that this is an actual daydream I’ve had pretty much every time I’m swooning over a Bertrand Duchaufour fragrance. He’s the nose behind two of my most loved scents, the aforementioned Dzongkha and Penhaligon’s Sartorial.  I have many of his L’Artisans, and he was my idol during my Comme de Garcon groupie days. I’m wearing Olfactive Studio‘s Woody Mood in the heat today and knowing who created it means I have an affection for the scent I might otherwise not. Though I’ve gotten sidetracked by new houses and perfumers, Bert and I go back years, back to my perfume beginnings. His ability to create scents that tell stories and make you reflect was formative in my perfume relationships. I’m not sure if I would have appreciated perfume in quite the same way if Mr. Duchaufour had instead become a painter.


Which Perfumer Would You Like to Meet In Person?


35 thoughts on “Saturday Question: Which Perfumer Would You Like to Meet In Person?

  1. Living in London I’ve been lucky to meet a fair few perfumers at various events. I met Bert and he was very personable. I asked him how many perfumes he’s working on at any one time as I suspected it was a lot going on his output at the time. He looked at me a bit sheepishly and said quietly ‘About 20′.

    The perfumer I’d most like to meet now is Olivia Giacobetti
    I love her understated yet distinctive style and have owned many of perfumes. Passage d’ Enfer is a particular favourite but even ones that aren’t to my taste, like Philosykos, I have a lot of admiration for.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes she has made some treasures and does have a distinct style. Passage d’Enfer is a delight.. and she created D’Zing! On my second bottle of that one :D

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have met a few perfumers, mostly indie. I did say hello to Bertrand in Milan but it would be scraping a barrel to say I had met him. No perfumer I particularly want to meet, but I would seriously love to sit down and have tea with Frederic Malle. And maybe one day I will.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My first reaction upon seeing the question was also Bertrand Duchaufour! So many of the perfumes from my early explorations were his creations from L’Artisan and I have loved everything from Neela Vermiere. More realistically, my bucket list includes meeting Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and having her create a bespoke perfume for me. Waiting until the kid is in college for that special trip.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh that would be very special! I think it would take me years to think of what I wanted, so I guess that would work for saving up :D


  4. I too would like to meet Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, but I’d also like to meet Liz Moores, of Papillon, and Diane St. Clair of St. Clair Scents. I’ve met Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays, and she was just as terrific as one might hope — very kind, and funny in that quirky English way, and brilliant.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’d like to meet Marie Salamagne, too; I love her work for Atelier des Ors, especially its White Collection. I had the privilege of meeting that line’s creative director, Jean-Philippe Clermont, thanks to Megan of the blog Megan In Sainte Maxime, and sampling several of the brand’s fragrances. I reviewed some here: I also really like her work on Alaia and its flankers. Like other commenters, I’d love to meet Bertrand Duchaufour, and also Alberto Morillas; they have created some of my favorite fragrances. So many perfumes and perfumers, so little time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not a good season for seeking these folk out unfortunately. If we did have in pre covid days a perfumer come to my city, probably for something exclusive and expensive, it’s quite likely I wouldn’t hear about it until it was over. But it would be wonderful to find out that I could go to “An Evening with Bertrand Duchaufour” and sit around smelling things and chatting. Amouage runs evenings like this but I’ve never gone, expensive and feel too much like a sales pitch.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am fortunate to live in the New York area with easy access to events where perfumers are featured and I’ve been in the presence of a reasonable number. I am not a perfumer fan-girl as I rarely try to find and remember the perfumer for the perfumes I love although some just stay top of mind for one reason or another. I met Christophe Laudamiel at one of the Sniffapalooza events not knowing who he is … I was just enamored with the razor sharp cheekbones! Anyway, we got into a conversation as he seemed very emotional about a topic that came up – Tom Ford Amber Absolute. He was the perfumer (although not acknowledged then but he is now) and did not even know it was coming back into production; I suppose Tom Ford has no obligation to the perfumer. Anyway, I asked him why it was discontinued and he said it was because the perfume was so thick it kept gumming up the equipment!

    Going forward, when it is safe to do so, I would like to meet more perfumers and converse with them. If I just had to pick one person only, I would pick Diane St. Clair in her farm and have this meet and greet while we eat breakfast, with her sumptuous butter (never had it but I heard it’s good).

    Liked by 3 people

    • These must have been very fun :) I remember folk on POL talking about going to Sniffapalooza and it was always on my someday in NY list.


    • I do love Criminal Elements, an Australian indie house. Some of them blow me away and I hope I can meet the creators some time. They aren’t in my state but perhaps post covid they can be enticed to come visit..


  7. Having spent many years in the UAE, I was really fortunate to meet a number of perfumers doing their rounds for new launches. I’ve had an amazing discussion with Mr. Malle the day after it was announced that he sold his company to Lauder, a quiet chat with the charming Ramon Monegal and a whirl wind evening with Alessandro Gualtieri to name a few. But my favorite time with a perfumer had to be the day long class I took with the brilliant Spyros Drosopolous from Baruti which was so much more than just creating my own scent and learning some basics.

    As for who I would still like to meet, top of my list is Julien Rasquinet because I love so much of his work and I’d love to hear what he thought of about the years he spent living in Dubai. It clearly has influenced his work but, I’d also love to compare expat life in the Middle East with him and know if he misses it or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you still in Dubai? You are indeed fortunate to have met so many people and had so many excellent chats. Thanks for these stories, would love to hear more :D


    • Joining Narth in wanting to hear more :) Did you write anywhere about those?
      If you would like a “platform” for your story, you’re welcome to publish it here, on ULG.


  8. What a fantastic question! I would choose Camille Goutal. So…do I get Isabelle Doyen, too? God I’m greedy. They are an amazing team and I enjoy all of their work. I wonder if Camille Goutal finds it hard to discuss her mother. She gave an amazing interview where she spoke movingly about the cancer which runs in her family-I just think they’re incredible to keep producing beautiful things while fighting that awful disease.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Duchaufour created 2 of my favorite perfumes Swan Princess and Vagabond Prince.
    But the perfumers I would most like to meet are Jean-Claude Elena and Cecile Zarokian. I like almost every perfume JCE has created and love many of them, including Hermes Jour, ,Hermes Ambre Narguile and Hermes Jardin sur le Nil. I would love to chat about perfume and absolutely anything with Mr. Elena. Would love to chat with Ms. Zarokian about her process when creating a perfume. Her new creation for Masque Milano, Petra,is fascinating, old school chypre opening and a more modern drydown. It’s intriguing.


  10. This is a good question and a hard one! The first that came to mind was Christophe Laudamiel because I have watched several of his interviews and every time, I learn something. (I actually joined a Zoom event featuring him early last year and was able to type questions for the moderator to ask him, because unfortunately I didn’t have a webcam and mic for my PC at the time.)
    Others I think I would enjoy meeting include Geza Schoen, Mandy Aftel, Andy Tauer… and this is also based on having listened to their talks or read their writings.
    I attended Sarah McCartney’s perfume-making workshop in 2019 and had a nice chat with her afterwards, which was a delightful experience! I love her no-nonsense, witty style, and her “Four Fragrant Mysteries” stories to accompany 4 of her perfumes are fun to read as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: My Blog’s 10th Anniversary: Interview with the Creator of My White Rabbit – Undina's Looking Glass

  12. Daniela Andrier, hands down. The author of a perfume that awakened my interest in fragrance and determined my career and life path. When I had my job interview at Givaudan some years ago I told my interviewer how much I admire her and I think she passed my words to Daniela Andrier as after few weeks I got a package from the company with lab samples of all Daniela Andrier creations she did for Prada! That was the sweetest thing ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lucas, that’s a fantastic story! what a nice thing for her to do. I love the Cuir Ambre scent, and i really love the original Prada scent, the Iris, of course, and the L’eau Ambre. I like your choice of perfumers – I’d still keep Camille Goutal as the person I’d like to meet :)

      Liked by 2 people

    • And this is a lovely story. Most buying a fragrance won’t know the perfumer so I’m sure for some to hear a customer, not an industry person, familiar with your work is a lovely thing.


  13. Strange, I’ve posted but can’t find it now. I can’t remember everything I said, but these are the perfumers I’ve b een fortunate to interview:
    Francis Kurdjian – kind and rather shy; gave me a great travel tip for a trip I was taking to Spain!
    Pissara Umivijani – truly just as lovely and thoughtful as she appears in her interviews; a beauty inside and out
    Dawn Spencer Hurwitz – Wow, an explosion of energy and ideas. Meeting her, you understand why she is so prolific in producing perfumes. She buzzes with energy. And if you visit, be sure to look in the basket of “rejects”. I picked up 3 perfumes for $15 each which she was experimenting with but ultimately did not persue, but they are great!
    Olivier Durbano – such a charming and kind man and takes his role eriously of keeping the the town of Grasse alive as a perfume center

    All the perfumers I have met are so kind. Surely there must be some with big heads though? Tom Ford strikes me that way, but unfair to say as I have never met him. He may be charming.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Like several others above I have also met ‘Bert’, at a branch of Penhaligon’s to mark the launch of Amaranthine in . It was a wild and windy night, and I had some 20 minutes with him before anyone else made it through the storm to get there, in a mad old mix of French and English. Bert sniffed his new creation on my arm and said I had ‘perfect skin’. I think he meant to show off the scent at its best, not that it was good in a dermatological sense, which as a lifelong acne sufferer it plainly isn’t. He ticked me off for mistakenly using the word for ‘civet cat’ in French when I meant ‘stew’, while I pulled him up on ‘tasty’ notes, when he meant ‘gourmand’. Which made things about quits on the language front. ;) He was one of the perfumers I most wanted to meet, so I think I’ll go with J-C Ellena as one I’d still like to; much of whose work I love, plus he seems like an amiable bon viveur.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s wonderful! I would probably not know what to say to him if I met him but I would say “thank you” because some of his creations have brought me a lot of joy.


  15. GAH! Narth, I’m so sorry to be late to this party. What a great question from Brigitte!
    There are so many wonderful perfumers but the one that I think would be so interesting to meet is Christopher Sheldrake. He has worked alongside some of the towering giants of perfume, been part of style and taste shifts, been part of creating some of my favourites and never seems to be in the spotlight very much. A quiet overachiever whose name pops up again and again, many times on perfumes he’s not even named on.
    In my mind he would be a very interesting mine of stories, eureka moments and perfume history.

    He’s not the only perfumer on the list. In a fantasy where we can meet anyone alive or dead Guy Robert, Aime Guerlain, Annick Goutal, Mathilde Laurent, Olivia Giacobbetti, Jean Claude Ellena and Francis Kurkdjian
    Portia xx


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