The Old Masters of the perfume world

A perfume is all about the “Nose” behind it – in other words the perfumer who created it, and his or her sense of smell. There have been many famous Noses,  and they have created beautiful perfumes that have become classics.

“Beauty is, then, the main question in art, and it is interesting to observe it has had thousands of definitions in the past centuries, but it always had something to do with emotions and culture. This holds for odors; the project of the odor artist can be to please, to make happy, to anger, to seduce….but never to leave you indifferent.” (Foreword by Pierre Kurzenne, Maurice Roucel and Hervé This, in Springer Handbook of Odoredited by Andrea Buettner, Springer Nature, ed. 1, 2017)

Here are some of the “Old Masters” or Very Senior Noses who have spent decades in perfume creation. Some of them have died, but the perfumes they created will always be remembered, and some are still being manufactured. Just look at these iconic names:

  • Henri Alméras (1892 – 1965) – Joy for Jean Patou (1930) [Still in production]
  • Ernest Beaux (1881 – 1961), Chanel Nº 5 (1921) [ Still in production]
  • Calice Becker (born ?) – Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl (1996), Christian Dior J’Adore (1999)
  • Pierre Bourdon (born 1946) – Cool Water Woman for Davidoff (1996), Cool Water for Davidoff (1988), Kouros for Yves Saint Laurent (1981)
  • Jean Carles (1892–1966) – Miss Dior (1947) for Christian Dior, with Paul Vacher, Ma Griffe (1946) for Carven
  • Françoise Caron (born?) – Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte (1979), Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile Eau de Toilette (2004, with Francis Kurkdjian), Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile Eau de Parfum (2006), Acqua di Gio pour Femme for Armani
  • François Coty (1874 – 1934) founder of Coty, Inc. – Muguet (1910), Chypre (1917), etc.
  • Olivier Cresp (born 1955) – Anaïs Anaïs Premier Délice for Cacharel (2014, with Dora Baghriche), Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Absolue (2013), Nina Ricci L’Air du Printemps (2009), Angel for Thierry Mugler (1992, with Yves de Chiris)
  • Roja  Dove (born 1956) – Roja Britannia, Roja Oligarch 
  • Jean-Claude Ellena (born 1947) – First for Van Cleef & Arpels (1976), Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert for Bulgari (1992), and Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert Extreme for Bulgari (1996),  L’Eau d’Hiver for Frédéric Malle Éditions de Parfums (2003), Le Jardin de Monsieur Li for Hermès (2015)
  • Sophia Grojsman (born 1945) – Calvin Klein Eternity (1988), Elizabeth Taylor Diamonds and Rubies (1993), Estée Lauder Beautiful (1985), Estée Lauder White Linen (1978), Lancôme Trésor (1990), etc.

“As an organ, my nose simply performs a control function. I smell with my brain. It stores every scent and knows how to combine them. The perfumes I create originate in my head.” – Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena

  • Aimé Guerlain, (1834 – 1910) – Jicky (1889) [Still being produced by Guerlain!]
  • Jacques Guerlain (1874 – 1963) – L’Heure Bleue (1912) [Still being produced by Guerlain], Mitsouko (1919) [Has remained continuously available since 1919, preserved in its original 1919 formulation in the Osmothèque archives, re-formulated several times in the modern era], Guerlain’s flagship fragrance Shalimar (1925) [Still being produced  by Guerlain]
  • Francis Kurkdjian (born 1969) – Le Male for Jean Paul Gaultier (1995), Kouros Eau d’été  for Yves Saint Laurent (2002), artistic collaborations such as Chateau de Versailles, Sillage De La Reine – Re-creation of the scent of Queen Marie Antoinette (2006)
  • Serge Lutens (born 1942) – Nombre Noir for Shiseido (1982), Feminite du Bois for Shiseido (1992), Chergui for Serge Lutens (2001, with Christopher Sheldrake)
  • Jacques Polge (born 1943 ) – Rive Gauche for Yves Saint Laurent (1970)
  • Guy Robert (died 2012) – Madame Rochas  (1960, with Albert Gosset), the original Dioressence (1979) for Christian Dior, and the first of the Gucci signatures, Gucci No 1 (1974) and Gucci pour Homme (1976) for Aldo Gucci.
  • Maurice Roucel (date of birth?) – DKNY Be Delicious (2004), DKNY Red Delicious (2006), Missoni Acqua for Women (2007)Urban Homme for David Beckham (2013), etc.
  • Edmond Roudnitska (1905–1996) – Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage (1966) and Diorissimo (1956) [reformulated for IFRA but still in production]
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