Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Bertrand Duchaufour On Keeping Things Fresh

At the London launch of four new candles from Aedes De Venustas, two of which have been created by Bertrand Duchaufour, I took the opportunity to ask the perfumer about working too hard. I suggested that as 'originality' is an important criterion for him (the others he cites are 'long-lastingness', 'diffusiveness' and 'wearability') then it must be difficult to make as any perfumes as he does. What methods does he use to ensure that he doesn't repeat himself?

"I play on lots of perfumes at the same time," he said. "I work on different floral notes, different woody notes, different incense notes, at the same time. I can work on 15 different projects at the same time. And when I move from one to the next one, I get some distance from the previous one. The best way to get distance from a project is to work on contrasts. You compare different notes from a family with contrasts. You evaluate your notes with contrasts. And I do the same with my perfume projects. I try to do completely different things every time. For example, I refuse to work on iris, because I've already done a lot of them. If I have to work on two or three irises at the same time, it gets complicated. Every time, I try to do things differently. 

"I never work on a project day after day. I send my latest proposal and I wait for feedback. And it comes 15, 20 days later. And then I go back to my fragrance a month later. I smell it, and I rediscover everything about it, because of two things: the fact that I've completely forgotten it - because I've been working on so many other projects - and because of maceration. The maceration time makes your fragrance completely different from when you first made it. Time works as much as I do in the process of making a fragrance. Maceration is something unbelievable, something extremely important. And perfumers working in big companies don't have the time to work on maceration properly, because they're working on so many projects at the same time."



  1. Hmmm yes, giving oneself time and distance away from one's perfume projects seems to be a good strategy to maintain originality! I remember reading Denyse's book on her collaboration with Bertrand and being knocked away by the gaps between each of their meetings.

    1. Vagabond, yes, we all assume that perfumers chip away at a project slavishly, night after night, until it comes together, but it would appear that the reality is rather different. Mind you, if you don't smell a perfume for weeks, it must be difficult to re-focus on your original intentions for it. I guess this is where the skill of the creative director comes in.


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