Six years ago I met my first perfumer in person. It was Andy Tauer, an artist whom I've admired for a while (I already owned four of his perfumes at that point). I was a fairly new blogger then (The Non-Blonde was barely a year old), still working on finding my voice and teaching myself how to use my words to tell the reader what a perfume is all about. Meeting a real live perfumer and hearing him talk about his art, inspiration and the process of creating a fragrance (Andy brought with him jars and vials of raw materials) was a turning point for me. Gaining that extra insight into artisan perfumery and realizing just how very "indie" are some of those indie brands made me a devoted supporter not only of Tauer Perfumes but of the small niche segment.
It's been years since that spring day in Brooklyn. I never miss an opportunity to meet a perfumer, and not just for the photo-op. The perfumers I've gotten to know are very different from each other. Some only use natural ingredients, others work in mixed media. Several of them are only known among hardcore fragonerds while others have beautiful boutiques and/or get lucrative deals from world famous companies. They have a few things in common: passion for perfume, an infectious enthusiasm for creating something new that will be worn and loved by real people, and very often a deep appreciation of the customers who seek them out (and for the bloggers who give them an exposure far beyond what they would have gotten otherwise).
While we must be able to completely separate the artist from his or her work and evaluate them for their merit, as a perfume enthusiast, an avid consumer, and-- yes-- as a blogger, these meetings do add another dimension to this very subjective and highly emotional art form. It's pretty wonderful and amazing to realize how the perfumer's personality ends up reflected in some way in the final product. Vero Kern's legendary elegance is there in everything she does just as much as it exists in this poised lady. Mandy Aftel's warmth and emotional depth brings life and love even to notes I usually eye suspiciously. The sparkling personality, modern point of view and well-justified confidence of Francis Kurkdjian are what make both his Oud and his work for Ellie Saab possible.
I'm leaving out too many of my beloved artists, but I don't want this to become a laundry list of perfumers who've visited NYC in the last seven years. I will tell you about meeting one of my biggest perfume crushes yesterday: Pierre Guillaume of Parfumerie Generale attended a party in his honor at Osswald. I admit that I was a little shy at first-- here was a celebrated French perfumer whom I've followed for years (and have a shelf full of PG bottles to show for it); tall, glamorous, and brilliant, Guillaume is also incredibly accessible, enthusiastic and eager to share his passion with his fans. He's certain that his skill can survive and beat IFRA, committed to providing us quality perfume at a reasonable price, and is extremely attentive to public wishes, which is why he's brought back previous creations that were limited edition or briefly discontinued.
Oh, yes, he's working and finalizing something new and beautiful.
You can see photos from this event on Parfumerie Generale's Facebook page (where you can try to spot my hair in random pictures), and I posted a picture taken by The Blond in my own FB group (please join and say hello).
Have you met any of your perfume idols? Whom would you like to meet? The photo at the top is of someone I obviously never met: Jacques Guerlain.