PRIVATE PERFUMER: CRAFTING PERSONALIZED FRAGRANCES

The niche fragrance market caters to audiences interested in specialized and sophisticated scents. Private perfumers are masters of the olfactory arts that have developed skills to create fragrances that reflect a brand’s goals. Karl Winters shares a unique perspective on private perfumers and how brands can benefit from their creative expertise.

NICHE PERFUMERY

For a long time, perfumery was associated with the name of a perfume bottle. Niche perfumery, also known as independent perfumery, is a new and exciting segment of the fragrance industry. It’s associated with an emerging group of creative artists known as private perfumers. With a refined sense of smell and expertise in fragrance creation, they offer brands the opportunity to develop an exceptional olfactory experience.

THE ART OF PERFUMERY

A brand’s overall concept is what wins over new customers. A private perfumer is contracted to translate a brand’s vision into a unique custom fragrance. Experienced perfumers always start the creative journey by asking an important question: “how do you want a fragrance to make you feel”. It’s a fascinating fusion of science, creativity, and inspiration.

It was “Editions de Parfums” by Frederic Malle that elevated private perfumers to the center stage. Emphasizing a perfumer’s distinctive style, they were given complete creative freedom with no financial restrictions regarding raw materials. Malle’s project was an instant success, and a new category of perfumers were born.

PERFUMERY SCHOOLS & FRAGRANCE TRAINING

Technical knowledge and a thorough understanding of fragrance creation are prerequisites to becoming a private perfumer. It also calls for a keen sense of smell, a deep imagination, and the knowledge of how raw materials interact with one another.

The ISIPCA in Versailles and the Givaudan Perfumery School are two notable institutions that provide an extensive fragrance training program. A prominent institution that equips budding perfumers with the technological and artistic skills is the Givaudan Perfumery School. Based in Paris, students acquire practical experience in honing their olfactory abilities 

The ISIPCA in Versailles and the Givaudan Perfumery School are two notable institutions that provide an extensive fragrance training program. A prominent institution that equips budding perfumers with the technological and artistic skills is the Givaudan Perfumery School. Based in Paris, students acquire practical experience in honing their olfactory abilities while learning about the history of perfumery and the processes used to create fragrances.creative skills under the direction of seasoned professionals.

while learning about the history of perfumery and the processes used to create fragrances.creative skills under the direction of seasoned professionals.

ISIPCA in Versailles, France, provides budding perfumers with a special opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of scent. The curriculum blends theoretical learning with hands-on practice, enabling students to grasp the nuances of perfumery and hone their creative skills under the direction of seasoned professionals.

FRAGRANCE ACCORD

A fragrance accord is the harmonic blending of raw materials to produce a unique and coherent aroma. It is the cornerstone of scent formulation and provides the framework for the overall olfactory experience.  A perfumer uses 6-10 ingredients to compose a single fragrance accord. They serve as building blocks and the artistic theme behind a fragrance. While there are several classical accords, a private perfumer can adapt them to their individual styles.

Accord Examples

  1. Floral Accord: The Floral accord is a harmonic fusion of diverse flower notes, offering an alluring and feminine fragrance. Rose, jasmine, and lily are three delicate scents combined to create a feeling of softness, grace, and refinement. While jasmine offers a hint of exoticism and sensuality, the rose note gives the accord a romantic, ageless appeal. Lily adds a refined and modern touch to the mixture.
  2. Amber Accord: The Amber accord is designed for an audience that likes warm, deep, woody and sensual aromas. The three main components of an amber accord are: vanilla, resins and musk. Vanilla is the most component ingredient and provides a sweet and powdery experience. The sophistication of the Amber accord comes with the addition of resins such as myrrh, labdanum and frankincense. Myrrh and frankincense aromas are frequently used in churches, and provide a woody scent with soft citrus notes.
  3. Citrus Accord: The citrus accord typically evokes brightness and vitality. Lemon, bergamot, grapefruit and bitter orange are good representations of the citrus accord. Grapefruit adds a crisp and somewhat bitter note whereas bergamot brings a sense of zesty sweetness with floral overtones. Combining these citrus ingredients with floral or woody notes can produce extraordinary variety of fragrances.

SOURCE OF INSPIRATION

"The Private Perfumer Must Have a
Strong Source Of Inspiration"

Before proceeding with a new fragrance creation, the private perfumer must have a strong source of inspiration. Beginning with a client discussion followed by a creative brief, ideas start taking shape. This is reinforced by a perfumer’s ability to imagine and visualize how a fragrance should be composed. There’s always a need to nurture a perfumer’s creative flow, so multiple sources of inspiration are necessary! These come from new raw materials, travel, cuisine, music, and fashion. Through a continuous process of experimentation and evaluation, the perfumer translates a brand’s objectives into a balanced and harmonious fragrance.

FRAGRANCE INGREDIENTS

The private perfumer’s palette has more than 500 fragrance ingredients. These consist of natural and synthetic ingredients that are mixed in balanced proportions to create a beautiful fragrance.

Natural Ingredients

Plants, flowers, and woods all contain natural ingredients, called essences. These aromatic compounds are extracted via steam distillation and collected as “oils”. While not as diverse as synthetics, naturals are volatile and costlier to produce. Examples of natural ingredients include vanilla from Madagascar, bergamot from Calabria and damask rose from Turkey.

Synthetic Ingredients

A completed fragrance often includes synthetic as well natural compounds. Hedione, ambroxan, and vanillin are examples of synthetic compounds that replicate natural aromas or create new olfactory sensations. Synthetic ingredients offer more diversity and flexibility, thus enabling perfumers to push the envelope of creativity and produce original mixtures.

DESIGNING FOR AN AUDIENCE

Knowing your audience type improves your chances of creating a fragrance for that group. During the initial phases of the creative process, a perfumer develops a deep understanding of the brand universe and their expectations. A complete and coherent image of the audience takes into consideration factors such as culture, age group, price point, ingredients, etc.

FROM BRIEF TO FRAGRANCE CREATION

A new project starts with a customer brief, which is a brand document that defines the creative direction of a fragrance. With this document, the private perfumer gains a deeper understanding of the brand objectives. Emphasizing an artistic dimension in the creative process, the perfumer proceeds with several development trials. Based on the brand’s feedback, the development process can be long, lasting from several weeks to months.

Popular Scents

Some independent perfumers have a catalog of well-known scents that exemplify their originality and skill. These fragrances engage a wider audience and frequently embody their distinctive style. These range from a variety of inspirations such as culture, seasons, raw materials, and emerging trends.

Custom Scents

Custom scent production is a specialized service offered by private perfumers. Brands and perfumers collaborate to create a unique fragrance. During the creative process, the perfumer works diligently towards identifying the main accord and ingredients of the fragrance. The journey requires a continuous source of inspiration. The result is an olfactory masterpiece that communicates a brand’s goals in a memorable way.

"Custom Scent Development Is a Specialized Service Offered by Private Perfumers"

Signature Scents

Companies in luxury and fashion develop sensorial programming to help differentiate their brands. Private perfumers have the knowledge and intuition to create signature scents that evoke a brand’s identity. Applying this signature scent across a company ensures a consistent and recognizable brand experience.

BENEFITS OF A PRIVATE PERFUMER

Private perfumers are free to formulate and experiment with raw materials at a variety of price points. This gives the perfumer the flexibility to tap into rare ingredients without the need to follow a commercial trend. The result is a custom fragrance that evokes a special feeling that’s unique to the brand.

Each private perfumer has their own individual style and personality. Some prefer to work with warm, woody, and intense notes, which includes ingredients like sandalwood, incense, and patchouli. Others prefer fresh & floral notes such as rose, jasmine and iris.

CONCLUSION

Private perfumers serve as a symbol of artistic talent within the fragrance industry. Their journey to becoming a fragrance expert is filled with creativity, passion, and the exploration of a multi-sensorial universe. Brands interested in a custom or signature fragrance can choose a private perfumer based on their distinctive style and expertise.