From the August 1998 Newsletter…
A transcript of the lecture by Guy Robert at the B.S.P. Symposium on Thursday 30th April 1998 at the Hilton National, Milton Keynes
There are three periods in a perfumer’s life:
– at the beginning : an enthusiastic fever, after the first year of training he dreams to write a book to teach perfumery!
– a few years later he is sure to be a creative genius, and piles up thousands of raw materials to create fascinating “accords”, but has a very hard time with these stupid people which are always criticising his perfumes : evaluation people, marketing people and even customers!
– much later … I can tell you after fifty-two years trying to understand perfumery, I became very modest (I am afraid this is a privilege I am not sharing with too many of our colleagues). My most important quest was to define which are the essential “building blocks” giving its character to the most important perfumes, and which are the numerous and useless components we usually “pile up” in a formula.
* * *
Two things are very distressing for a creative perfumer :
– the first one is :
he will be obliged to show the product he just achieved …
– the other one is :
that perfume will be put on the market by somebody which is going to put a lot of money on it, and take a serious risk to lose his good reputation.
* * *
These men are of three types :
– The first is a true perfumer, a marketer, with a good feeling of the customer, he has a very good nose (but never admits it!). That one is going to help you select your best trial, to point out the few weaknesses your perfume could show, he will help you to solve these little problems (if you understand each other). With him, that will be a real team work. (The only problem is : he will be so successful, he will spend more time on financial planning, and you will lose contact …)
– The second one is a “genius” (usually an aesthete, or a high fashion designer). That one knows exactly what he wants : the smell of rust, or the smell of a wet dog, or (I actually have been asked that once) the smell of a bicycle at spring time …
For that one, your evaluation services will find easily in the shelves, the aldehydic-flowery, or flori-oriental he deserves.
On the other hand, he will bring you a few original ideas you will use one day for other creations.
– The third one, is the boss of a very important perfumery business. Unfortunately he reports to his President and to the Board. He will then never take the chance to select anything without opening the “marketing umbrella”. (You know these people which are always looking for extreme originality but feel obliged, most of the time, to select a “me-too” product.)