Art, Carnality & Consumerism: A Conversation With Angelo Orazio Pregoni of O’Driù Perfumes

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Angelo Orazio Pregoni

Preamble

A few months ago I interviewed Angelo Orazio Pregoni of O’Driù Perfumes as part of my Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series, a series in which I interview niche and independent perfumers, asking them the same thirteen questions each time. It’s a very interesting process seeing how each perfumer answers the questions, and the similarities and differences between the answers. Angelo’s answers were the most unusual of all ten interviews to date, and his interview constitutes a work of conceptual art in itself. I recommend reading it with this idea in mind. Since this first interview, Angelo and I have become friends, and we regularly discuss the ideas behind his perfume, his art and what he thinks of the world of perfumery. Today, I bring you a more tailored interview with Angelo, with questions more specific to him and his artistic practice.

In my opinion, perfume can be considered as a product of smell-based art, but it cannot always be considered an artistic artefact. Is a mass-produced perfume created out of a limited range of aroma chemicals, and a very restrictive creative brief based on current trends, art? Or is it just another example of mass-produced pop culture that has little artistic merit and is designed for maximum profit? Sure, art can be profitable, artists can earn a fair sum of money for their work — they usually don’t — but should sales drive “artistic” decisions at perfume houses? Angelo considers and fights against these notions in his work as an artist who makes perfume.

Perfume is just one type of cultural artefact that results from working with the sense of smell and scented materials. Olfactory art, which I define as installations, conceptual art, and performance art (often situated in galleries or performance spaces) that utilise the sense of smell and scented materials, is another kind of smell-based artistic practice. Smell-based art (which includes perfume, but is not limited to perfume), is in its infancy. Thinking of a perfume as an artistic artefact, a “work of art” is a relatively new idea. Perfume has been made for millenia and has long been considered by humans as an aesthetic experience, or as a fashion accessory, a way to make things smell nicer or to cover up smells, to instill and invite moods, to cleanse, to heal.

Angelo Orazio Pregoni is an interesting figure in that he is an artist who makes perfume. He is a contemporary, conceptual artist who uses scented materials (among other elements including performance, video, costume, and the visual arts) as his medium. The concepts behind his perfumes are artistic concepts. As an artist myself I do not find his ideas shocking, but many do. They have plenty of precedents in art history: Dada, Surrealism, Fluxus, performance art and happenings, etc. I am excited by Angelo’s ideas and excited that he is translating them into perfume, or using perfume to express one aspect of a complex art project or performance. Angelo’s work straddles the worlds of perfumery, olfactory art and contemporary visual and performance art. It crosses barriers and questions norms and in doing so confuses, amuses and outrages people. Many people still think perfume is something that must be beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, a wearable accessory. They might think that if conceptual ideas are employed in the creation of a perfume, they must be similarly beautiful, pleasing, nostalgic, and understandable. Angelo bravely turns these notions on their head: the concept for a perfume, an artistic perfume, can be anything at all. The concepts behind Angelo’s perfumes and performances usually seek to challenge our notion of what perfumery is and should be. He broadens the very notion of what perfume can be and does us all a favour in the process.

If perfume is to be considered as an artistic artefact, if we want to think of perfume as art, we must redefine it and create a broader definition of what perfume can be, of the sorts of smells it can include and the concepts it can express. We must allow it to be all the things that art is and has been. Art can be difficult, ugly and challenging, as well as beautiful, comprehensible and pleasing.

Keeping this in mind, please allow your curiosity to guide you and come along for the ride! Without any further introduction, let me present a conversation with Angelo Orazio Pregoni: perfumer, artist, iconoclast.

Touch me!

Angelo Orazio Pregoni

A Conversation With Angelo Orazio Pregoni

Your work as an artist and perfumer involves a lot of performances. I just came across the following Fluxus performance piece by Robert Bozzi that involves perfume. What are your thoughts about this piece?

In Memoriam to George Maciunas No. 2

Performers position themselves in a semi-circle. The first performer operates a perfume nebulizer; the second, a throat nebulizer; the third, a fertilizer sprayer; the fourth, an insecticide sprayer. They operate the equipment toward the audience following a pattern determined in advance.

1966

The cultural significance of the Fluxus movement, and even before of Dada, can be considered as an integral part of the conceptual experiences of the twentieth century.

It seems to me that in this age, contamination between different phenomena of art is totally lacking: the music world does not compare itself with that of theatre art and both are more and more closed in themselves. Out of ignorance the public doesn’t want to discover the avant-garde, therefore contemporary art, except rarely, is contaminated with consumerism. The production of films became the surrogate of past creative triumphs or even worse, a reworking of television programs. There is also an excess of photography that comes out like a virus from the current “internet social connection” phenomenon, even though the value of these pictures is equal to zero: the vitality of an era of cross-disciplinary artistic encounters and clashes has disappeared, the spirit of the new way of living, such as “fluxers” in the 1960s, no longer exists. So to judge that Fluxus performance today is very difficult, because you are likely to create an idea of the piece that misrepresents it! Fluxus is the art of simplicity; in those years, the cultural ferment of the young people and some social resentment erupted in various synergistic movements. People used to break the mold and in every Fluxus performance the aim was to generate a reaction from a provocation. Then the artwork was the event itself, pictures and films were only the documentation of that moment of sacred art. If I were to tell you what I think about the performance of Robert Bozzi I would answer you in a Fluxus way: “He was so far ahead that he was creating a new perfume for Narciso Rodriguez!” Perhaps geraniol, a typical smell of insecticides. In that time was not so fashionable, nobody was talking about the ozone hole, but everyone had a clear idea of the concept of social class: and for all those who splashed themselves with expensive perfumes, many others became ill with silicosis working in factories, others were poisoned by chemical agents just to earn a little money-making it possible for their children to study and grow up healthy, others were fighting with their everyday suburban life, flies against flies, in the ghettos of the big towns. You think Robert Bozzi meant this? Also this! Because his performance included that one day an Italian Nose gave his own interpretation of it. So finally Robert Bozzi has only generated a flow, or better, a fluxus…

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Angelo as a child

In your performance SPLASH II FAST POP PERFUME  you make a perfume out of junk food: a Big Mac, Coke, Nutella, etc. What did the resulting perfume smell like and how did people react to the smell?

The result was brilliant! Many of the foods we eat contain chemical fragrances that transform foods into drugs that are addictive! This “cosmetic food” is a subject that fascinates me, considering that we eat “subliminal messages” that are called aromas, indeed! People were incredulous about the resulting perfume; it didn’t have great depth, but it was absolutely pleasant. That scent is a unique piece, and it was bought by a collector for 1800 Euros. Actually he did not buy a perfume, but a two-hour performance, my signature, my videos, articles, and now your question about Splash too! Now that perfume has a much higher value, and it is not so unusual that some of my collectors buy some of my works from other collectors, some at tripled prices.

In a recent discussion on the fragrance database/website Basenotes, you wrote the following:

A Perfumer (as an artist) has the rule to dominate the raw materials, creating a performance that brings his work in contact with the nature, as a new and original creative act. People who use this perfume are a part of his performance, by the interpretation of the fragrance, they can determine the language that the Perfumer creates.”

I like the idea that people who wear your perfume are participating in a performance, a performance that you, the perfumer, started, and that they continue. Tell me more about this. How do we, as wearers of your perfumes, participate in your performances?

Many critics focus their attention only on the ingredients of a perfume. This view is frankly nonsensical, because no one would consider any other work of art based solely on the raw materials used: a painting for the quality of the colours, a sculpture for the quality of marble or wood or whatever… I think this need to focus on raw ingredients depends on a basic misunderstanding that implicitly defines perfumes as belonging to the luxury world! For this reason we continue to see the pompous super-kitsch packaging (often not intentionally kitsch) for the Russian market or for the Middle East. And if that were not enough, there are perfumers who claim to make their own creations using valuable raw materials. This is not artistic perfumery, this is a cheap business created by snob idiots for rich idiots. Perfume, if it is to be considered a work of art, cannot be considered differently from a book, which isn’t valuable in itself, but in its emotional content. However, the words of a book take on meaning only if reworked intimately. And with a perfume? After you put ten drops of pee in your Peety and a man tells you: “What a magnificent scent you have!”, you will understand. When you say to your worst snob enemy (who uses only the Château de la Mer) that you are wearing Pathétique, you will make her fall into the abyss of nonsense. But there is more: just your smile after a splash [of an O’Driù perfume] while you think: “That son of a bitch who is Pregoni!” will change the history of that scent.

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Angelo’s performance “Né carne né pesce” at Esxence 2015

You wear some very interesting clothing/costumes in your performances. Who makes them and what role do they play in your performances?

To dress differently, or if you prefer, with an individual style, is something that I have developed since I was a child. My mother was a seamstress and all my clothes were made by her. But my family was poor and unfortunately I had an older sister! So many of her sweaters, pants and coats were passed onto me after a bit of time. No one paid much attention in the 70s, but perhaps this has affected my taste! So in the 80s, I continued to wear recycled clothes that I stole from my father and I cut them and painted them in pure punk style. Indeed, it seems that the freedom to dress oneself with originality is something only women are allowed to do! An exquisitely macist constriction imposes a rigid and conventional standard for men, which ultimately amounts to a “castration” of the psyche and consequently to a weakening of its own charism. Consider that most of my clothes are made by me, and are unique pieces: antique kimono, cut jackets, skirts used as T-shirts! Obviously when I go to the lab I dress very comfortably, but during my performances I have a different need. The people involved in my artistic performances do not know what will happen, and I can not even imagine their reaction. Suppose a Dutchman who yells at me: “You’re a jerk! Do not make us lose time with your art of cock!” It may happen, in the end I do not know the participants… Many people may laugh while I would not have understood a word. When I go into a room with a hundred people ready to judge my work, the first thing that I offer them is my image as a little clown. This intrigues them and distracts them, for the seconds that I need to begin interacting with them. They tend to underestimate me and their defenses begin to disappear. At this point, I embrace someone, I kiss a woman cutting a lock of her hair, I unbuttoned the shirt of another man, and no one can react, they are all kidnapped by that clown who now becomes a mystic ominous man! However, ultimately this belief “that I am eccentric” has become commonplace amongst some of my competitors, and is used by them to put a barrier between me and the audience. Surely they do this in order to emphasise my narcissistic side, which fortunately exists, otherwise, instead of creating perfumes, I would just make little farts under the covers and I would appreciate them all alone convincing myself of their deep goodness. “Eccentric” is a word that has its roots in a geometric figure: it means “outside the centre”. So there is no egocentric vision in the way I dress, but only an identification of myself outside the “circle” of fashion and fashion brands. The truth is that when you stay outside of the circle, soon you will have another circle around you and you could become egocentric, then you have to be ready to change, if you do not want to identify yourself anymore in that circle. I do not know why people are not interested in Kilian’s dressing [perfumer Kilian Hennessy of By Kilian], who, in the most genuine idea of marketing, has adopted a uniform as many designers do! In every photo he always has a black jacket and a white shirt with a French cuff. In my opinion this can mean three things: he has no money to buy other clothes, no ideas, or he hasn’t got an older sister!

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Angelo and his sister

Does religion influence your work?

Religion does not influence my work, but it influences the perception that people have of my work!

Your perfume Peety is supposed to have the wearer’s urine (pee) added to it to “complete” it. A lot of people wear Peety but refuse to add their own pee. Is it still Peety if there is no pee in it?

No, it is not! I’ll tell you two short stories. A boy had just given Peety to his girlfriend, who is pregnant, to celebrate the impending arrival of their child. They opened it and decided to add ten drops of pee of the expectant mother! Then they forget it for a while. After a month she had a miscarriage. You have no idea what that bottle of perfume is worth to them! A man on his deathbed (a close friend of mine) asked me for three bottles of Peety to which he added his pee and left them to his three sons!

Peety is a fetish: the fetish is considered by anthropologists as a key element of the most primitive human religiosity. Without valuing the magic that a human instills in an object, that object will never be a fetish. This is the only magic value intrinsically unique to humans and not God. Peety is not the defeat of a taboo, is the affirmation of the individual in a world where identity is no longer important.

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O’Driù perfumes

Why are some people so afraid of O’Driù perfumes?

My perfumes bring to light false dogmas, my fragrances unmask the unfounded beliefs that the world of niche perfumery accepts as the status quo; we should instead consider these beliefs as a set of views, as opinions only! People who paid attention to the world of niche perfumes were dumbed down for years with meaningless words and concepts such as: olfactory pyramids, Chypre, fragrance families, allure, charm… After spending a lot of money finally you realise you do not have anything different from commercial perfumery; sometimes it’s even worse. Undermining your own beliefs is not so easy! For example, now perfumery is experiencing a neo-classical wave which is actually the sewer of perfumery, but people who buy those little shits feel satisfied in themselves, because they are only able to understand those fragrances!

Some of your perfumes and performances deal with carnal and sexual themes, for example, the names you choose for your perfumes, like Peety. There is also nudity in some of your performances. Tell me about the significance of carnality and sexuality in your work.

I prefer to say that I regenerated the imagery of sex in perfumery. Too many designers were (all) riding the most vulgar wave of sensuality to sell perfumes. Peety is: pee more pity! It is a link between creativity and compassion that unites the Nose to the user through the urine. During my performances the nude has been helpful to reach the idea that the smell could be art. In fact if you can quickly accustom yourself to the nakedness of a person who has just stripped him/herself in front of you, crossing your moral and ethical boundaries, it is not so easy to smell his/her underwear just abandoned. So if the nose is a vehicle rather than the eye of moral or ethical codes, then there exists a kind of aesthetic art also for the sense of smell. In fact, I pour drops of essences on the underpants of the naked subjects and people go to smell these. It is a shamanic experience that frees the participants, at least, this is what they confess after my performances!

Pregoni's Parents

Pregoni’s Parents

Your latest perfume is called Kiss My Ass. Can you explain why?

To kiss my ass can be a very exciting experience. I prefer to dedicate a perfume to my ass rather than to pimps’ references such as Russian tea, under the moon, the day of celebration, Cuban leather… However, I made Kiss My Ass [in a limited series of 16 pieces] to bring back a touch more craft to perfumery and to avoid mass-production. I also imagine my ass covered with the beautiful shapes of red lips. Obviously, always different lips!

Are you kissing my ass in this interview?

We could kiss each other’s asses! But this assumes only one possible interpretation of your question. It [kissing each other’s asses] might be a performance for a man and a woman to get to know each other in the near future, when both will be deprived of their genitals at birth, because of population control!

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Angelo and Ogma

You have a beautiful dog called Ogma. What does he think of your perfumes?

He prefers the Tango! He dances very well. He has a favorite smell: it’s called food! Among all the perfumes that I created, the only one which seriously interested him was Linfedele 1004.

You have a perfume school called Wet Dream – Coming Perfume Academy. Tell me more about that.

It’s not a real school. It is a state of mind! I was sick of seeing the organisers of courses “about how to become a Nose” [perfumer] robbing money from poor, naive dreamers! So I created a course for free, with the aim of making a perfume. Only three boys were selected after the first step, and they worked on the Satyricon project with me! Only the formula is exclusively mine, and it could not be any other way. But the concept and the subsequent choice of the ingredients were created out of collective work. I think I have nothing to learn in the perfumery world, except from those who are pure and unconditioned by silly dogmas or mediocrity, and for me they have been a breath of creative enthusiasm.

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Angelo’s “Né carne né pesce” at Esxence 2015

My final question is not a question, but a request: I want you to write one question that you’ve always wanted to be asked by an interviewer, but have never been asked. Type the question below and then answer it.

Angelo’s question is: What do you think of competitions and awards in the world of perfumery? And why do bloggers give their vote to perfumes?

Let’s say that after collecting tens of insults from affable operators I can no longer feel bound to highlight the aberrations of Niche. First, when I hear about artistic perfumery I always wonder why this adjective does not result in treating perfumes as “products of art.” I do not mean of course the single bottle, but the work of the nose, which is intellectual and sensitive work, even before a perfume is placed on the shelf. Well if we we’re talking about art, why then are there contests? Let’s start with the information that to participate in a contest usually you pay a few thousand Euros and (in absolute terms) by participating, you are not representing anything, no style, no membership, no poetry or bullshit often attributable to perfumes, much less any nation. Being part of the competition brings you onto the stage, it is only a mere selfish ambition that has little to do with art! One perfume? Five thousand Euros please! You have two?! Enjoy your discount, it’s seven thousand Euros. [By paying to enter] you are increasing your chances of being among the winners: they do not hurt anyone, they include various categories and finalists, so everyone has a place on the stage! But there are also online juries! One vote for every each avatar! Secret ballot… Wow! With regard to algebraic voting, I always wondered why bloggers vote for their favourite perfumes! What is that? Maybe a teacher judges a student? Or rather, the intent of the bloggers is to insert a perfume in a context of value? The Guernica by Picasso, 8.5! Masaccio’s Trinity 7.5/8.

John Holmes had a penis longer than Rocco Siffredi? Wikipedia’s answer is yes! And if the penis could be considered art just for simple apotropaic superstitions, here! The truth would be that Holmes would have had higher ratings, he would win all the competitions and would be considered more of an artist than Siffredi! What about making love?


If you’d like to find out more about O’Driù and Angelo’s perfumes, visit O’Driù’s website. If you’re interested, you can also read a previous blog post of mine in which Olly Technic and I blind-tested and reviewed a sample set of O’Driù perfumes. O’Driù’s fragrances are listed on Fragrantica and Basenotes.

Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series – Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Perfumes

thirteen-thoughts-v2_800_shadow1Thirteen thoughts from perfumers around the globe. Each perfumer profiled at Perfume Polytechnic has been presented with the same set of thirteen questions that probe into scent memories, imagination, education, history, the creative process and philosophy. How each perfumer answers these questions, and what form the answers take, is up to them. Tune in each week for a new instalment to learn more about the olfactory arts and how perfumers think about smell.

This is the final of five, weekly instalments in Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts. Today’s interview features Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Perfumes. As well as being a gifted perfumer, Ellen is also a neuroscientist and a professor at the University of Washington. She also grows orchids commercially and owns the Olympic Orchids nursery near Seattle. Ellen’s beautiful fragrance Woodcut recently won a 2015 Art and Olfaction Award in the Artisan Category.

The intention of Thirteen Thoughts is to let each perfumer speak for themselves about who they are, what drives them, and what they do with fragrance, so without any further ado, let me introduce you to…

Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Perfumes

Ellen Covey

Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Perfumes

  1. Tell us about a significant olfactory memory from your childhood.

One of my earliest memories is from when I was about 2 years old and we moved to a new house. I remember standing on the bed in the old house the day before we moved, sniffing the windowsill, thinking that I would miss this smell and that the new house would smell different. It made me sad.

  1. What is your “origin story”? When, why and how did you decide to become a perfumer?

Becoming a perfumer wasn’t a “decision” in the sense that I didn’t say to myself “I want to be a perfumer when I grow up” and then tried to make that happen. It happened gradually without my realizing it until it had already happened. I formally acknowledged it when I started my business in 2010.

Why did I become a perfumer? There’s no simple reason. I’ve always been fascinated by scents and perfumes, and have tinkered around with them for a long time. I have grown orchids commercially for about 10 years, and continue to be fascinated by the huge variety of fragrances produced by orchids in nature. My original goal was to try to make some perfumes based on orchid flowers, but it has grown way beyond that. I am happy that I’m able to make unique fragrances that resonate with people, make them happy, make them think, make them feel emotions. For me, perfumery is like any other form of creative work – there’s something internal that needs to be expressed and communicated, and there’s a medium to do it whether it’s words, music, visuals, or perfume.

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A Red Cattleya orchid

  1. Do you have any formal training in perfumery, or are you self-taught? Have there been any mentors or other personal or cultural influences on your work as a perfumer?

I have not taken a formal perfumery class, nor have I worked with a mentor. In that sense, I am self-taught. However, a great deal of information is available online, in books, in forums and professional interest groups, so I have taken from that body of information whatever is relevant and useful for me, and left the rest to follow my own path. Instead of going by the book, I am guided by common sense, knowledge of chemistry and, most importantly, my own aesthetics and sense of smell.

If I have a cultural influence, it is my lifelong dislike of many traditional European-style perfumes and my early preference for Indian and Middle Eastern type perfumes. Over the years I have sampled literally thousands of perfumes of all different vintages and genres, and this has given me a good idea of the limitations and possibilities of the art as it currently exists, as well as inspiration for where it could and should go next.

  1. Who are your favourite perfumers or perfume houses, and what do you like about their work?

This question pops up over and over again, and I always decline to answer it, partly because it is unanswerable and partly because I see it as a conflict of interest. The question is unanswerable because the perfumes that I enjoy do not typically come from a given perfumer or perfume house, but from many different sources, and my preferences vary considerably over time. It is a conflict of interest because if I were to recommend other perfumers who are, in a sense, colleagues, that could be seen as promoting them while neglecting to promote others who may be equally meritorious.

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Some of the Olympic Orchids range

  1. Describe your brand to us: tell us about the kind(s) of perfume that you make, as well as your brand’s philosophy or ethos.

If my brand has a mission statement, it is to provide a wide variety of original and high-quality perfumes at prices that are affordable by anyone. Originality is a given, because I love to experiment and venture into uncharted territory. I always try to use the highest quality materials possible, making sure my sources are reputable, and keeping costs down by buying in bulk. I try to keep overheads low by keeping paid advertising to a minimum, using simple packaging, and offering small sizes and an extensive sampling program.

I experiment with everything from traditional forms such as chypres, colognes, fougères, and florientals to forms that do not fit into any standard genre. Most of my perfumes contain a high percentage of natural materials, and a few are all natural. I have a huge appreciation and respect for the complexity of natural materials, every one of which is like a perfume in and of itself, but I also appreciate the use of synthetics to create new accords that do not exist in nature and/or that enhance certain aspects of natural materials. To me, the judicious addition of synthetics to perfume is analogous to going from playing music on original acoustic instruments to adding electronic amplification, synthesized sounds, and studio production to what is essentially an organically created piece of music. It still has the natural human touch, but has been made more compelling through the use of technology.

  1. How do you come up with the idea for a new perfume? For example, do ideas come to you spontaneously, do you work conceptually, or do you try to fill gaps in your range?

All of the above. On the whole, though, I would say that the majority of ideas come to me spontaneously, but may take the form of a concept that becomes realized through the use of perfume. I have far more ideas than I have time to work on or space for in my line. There are always works in progress in my studio, some of which sit around for years before being finished. I have never really tried to “fill gaps in my range”, although I have felt compelled to try my hand at traditional genres just to see what would evolve within that form, and a few of these experiments have been released.

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Ellen’s perfume studio

  1. What element of your perfume making process do you think readers of this blog would be interested or surprised to learn about?

I really don’t think any part of my process is particularly surprising, because my setup and operation is pretty standard for an established artisan perfume studio. I will say that I love to tincture odd things, from seaweed to fig leaves, dried fruit, hops, and soy sauce, and a few of these tinctures get used in production of my fragrances. Up until now I have done everything myself, from fragrance design and production to filling bottles and sample vials, packing orders, label and website design, publicity, and boring stuff like accounting and paperwork. The bigger the business gets, the less time there is for the fun part of it, so I know that at some point soon I will have to get some help with routine tasks.

  1. What are the current challenges you face as a perfumer, both creatively and in regard to manufacturing, distributing and marketing your perfume?

The challenges right now have to do with managing growth of my business, becoming more efficient and streamlined as I move to bigger production batches, and looking at getting help with mundane tasks in the near future. Another challenge has to do with space. My studio and warehouse area is already a decent size, but I can see that it will need to be larger within the next few years if growth continues at the current rate.

I have not made an effort to grow my business quickly, but instead have chosen to let it develop in an evolutionary and self-sustaining way, putting profits back into improvement and gradual expansion. When I look back on where I started almost 5 years ago, I am amazed at how much the business has grown, but I really didn’t notice the process as it happened. I think this laissez-faire approach has cut back on the sorts of major challenges and setbacks that business owners experience when they try to do too much too soon, possibly with unrealistic expectations. I have not yet quit my “day job”, but now realize that I may need to do so at some point in the foreseeable future.

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Award-winning fragrance Woodcut by Olympic Orchids. Photo credit: Antonia Kohl

  1. How has your work as a perfumer affected your perception of everyday smells?

I’ve always been highly aware of everyday smells, so I don’t think my perception of smells has really changed in any fundamental way. What I do find now, when I smell other people’s perfumes in passing on the street, is that I often think things like, “oh, I smell ambroxan”, or “wow that has a lot of ionones in it”, dissecting the scents by ingredients rather than perceiving them as just a pleasant smell. It just shows that we perform olfactory analysis on multiple levels, in multiple modes, depending on what we are familiar with.

  1. Many ingredients that are edible are also used in fragrance (chocolate, vanilla, coffee and rose, to name a few). If you could reverse this process and turn any perfume ingredient into an edible ingredient, what would that be? Which fragrance ingredient do you think would taste nice as a flavour?

Many things that we think of as perfume ingredients work well in food. I cook with all kinds of herbs including lavender, I like candy flavoured with flowers, including rose, orange blossom and violet, and I sometimes flavour my coffee with resins like silver fir, fir balsam, or frankincense. There is candy flavoured with musk, which I’m sure is tasty. Many of the same aroma chemicals used in perfumery are also used in synthetic flavourings for food, so we eat them all the time without realizing it. I love to taste oud by itself. In fact, at some point I taste almost all of my perfume materials. Oddly, I find that sometimes it is easier to detect adulteration when the material is both smelled and tasted.

Art and Olfaction Award Ellen Covey

Ellen Covey accepting her Art and Olfaction Award for Woodcut

  1. If you had a time machine, which historical period in perfumery would you like to go back to and work in as a perfumer?

I’m not sure I would like to go back to a historical period and work as a perfumer because I would be much more limited in terms of materials and distribution opportunities. What I would prefer to do is go into the future and see how perfumery has evolved and what new opportunities have arisen.

  1. If you could invent a new olfactory gadget, tool or technology, what would it be and how would it benefit perfumers and/or society?

I think gadgets and technology are often overrated. My studio is simple but well-equipped, and I don’t see the need for a lot of fancy gadgetry. What I really need is a 3-ml spray sample vial that doesn’t allow the contents to evaporate over time! I would rather help support a person by paying them to make samples or pack boxes than have a robot do it. One could dream of some way to “stream” perfume to customers to sample, but I think that would depersonalize the experience and take some of the fun out of waiting for those little packages to arrive. Something that might benefit people could be a system of perfume lending libraries of “perfumemobiles” that could go to hospitals, retirement homes, prisons, and other places where people lead dreary lives. It would have to be run by people who could educate the users about the perfumes and let them see how perfume can be psychologically therapeutic – aromatherapy, not in the usual sense of attributing medicinal properties to herbs, but in the sense of bringing sensory stimulation, contemplation, and joy to people.

  1. What is the purpose of perfume?

The short and simple answer? Perfume exists to give people pleasure.

Like any other art form, a good perfume is an expression of something within its creator, but will evoke different feelings, thoughts, and associations in each person who experiences it.


I hope you have enjoyed today’s interview with Ellen Covey. I would like to thank Ellen for the time she took to answer the thirteen questions, in amongst her busy life as an academic, orchid grower and perfumer! I particularly love Ellen’s idea of a perfume lending library or “perfumemobiles”; it’s such a wonderful concept. I have recently smelled Ellen’s award-winning fragrance Woodcut, and it’s beautiful. I recommend getting your hands on a sample.

To find out about Ellen’s perfumes and to purchase them, go to the Olympic Orchids Original Perfume Boutique (for the full range, smaller sizes, limited editions and samples) and to the newer Olympic Orchids Perfumes flagship store, for larger bottles and newer packaging.

Olympic Orchids has one of the best and most affordable sample programs out there, with affordable international shipping. If you’re keen to try out Ellen’s perfumes, I highly recommend checking out the range of samples and sample packs available, as well as the discovery sets.

Olympic Orchids Perfumes are also listed on Fragrantica and Basenotes.

Previous & Future Instalments of Thirteen Thoughts

Last week, Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes was interviewed. You can read her answers to the thirteen questions here.

In week one of this second series of Thirteen Thoughts, Mandy Aftel was interviewed. You can read her answers here.

In week two, JoAnne Bassett of JoAnne Bassett Perfumes answered the thirteen questions. You can read her interview here.

In week three, Andy Tauer was interviewed. Read his interview here.

You can catch up with Series One of Thirteen Thoughts here.

This concludes Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series. I hope you have enjoyed these interviews and I would like to once again thank all of the perfumers who have taken part in this very exciting second series! It’s been a real pleasure to meet and get to know all the perfumers involved, and to note the similarities and differences in how each of them has answered the thirteen questions.

Coming Soon…

An interview with the inimitable Angelo Orazio Pregoni of O’Driu perfumes. Angelo and I have a chat about art, perfume, and the ideas behind his work. It’s a revealing and fascinating read. Open your mind and come along for the ride! Follow Perfume Polytechnic if you don’t want to miss it!

Intellectual Property

All interview answers and photographs were provided courtesy of the perfumer. All interviews remain the intellectual property of Perfume Polytechnic and the perfumers. Please do not reproduce interviews or images without permission.

Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series – Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes

thirteen-thoughts-v2_800_shadow1Thirteen thoughts from perfumers around the globe. Each perfumer profiled at Perfume Polytechnic has been presented with the same set of thirteen questions that probe into scent memories, imagination, education, history, the creative process and philosophy. How each perfumer answers these questions, and what form the answers take, is up to them. Tune in each week for a new instalment to learn more about the olfactory arts and how perfumers think about smell.

Today is the fourth of five, weekly instalments in Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts. Today’s interview features Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes. Shelley’s fragrances are adored by perfume aficionados and critics alike, and her fragrance Zelda (inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald) has gained a cult following. En Voyage has won multiple international awards, including several prestigious Gold Artisan Fragrance Salon Awards. As well as being a talented perfumer, Shelley is also a musician — she plays keyboard, woodwinds and guitar — and has worked as a music teacher. As a synaesthete, Shelley experiences smells in colours and shapes. I hope to write more about Shelley’s synaesthesia at a later date on this blog, as part of my Smell and Synaesthesia series.

The intention of Thirteen Thoughts is to let each perfumer speak for themselves about who they are, what drives them, and what they do with fragrance, so without any further ado, let me introduce you to…

Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes

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Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes

  1. Tell us about a significant olfactory memory from your childhood.

My Aunt Bobby was tiny, rich, glamorous, and wore the highest heels I’d ever seen. One day she gave me her bottle of Schiaparelli’s Shocking, right off of her dressing table. The bottle was shaped like a little glass dressmaker’s dummy, and was under a glass dome. My parents were horrified at the idea of their 5-year-old wearing such a fragrance. I thought it was all perfectly wonderful.

  1. What is your “origin story”? When, why and how did you decide to become a perfumer?

My early life in an artist colony was involved with music, textiles, clay, charcoals, paint, jewelry making and sculpture. Eventually I needed more income, so I entered the corporate world. During those corporate years I missed having something to hold up at the end of the day and say, “I made this”. It was like living in a sensory deprivation chamber.

As a diversion I bought a few essential oils. I blended a few little things and put them in pretty bottles. I had some talent and wanted to learn more. So I took a vacation to Paris and Grasse to study, learn, and to find better oils. I gradually collected an extensive reference library, a fully stocked perfumer’s organ, and developed rewarding relationships with other perfumers and helpful suppliers.

My first business, Beau Soleil Perfumes (in 2000), was an all-natural perfume, bath and body outlet. It was the early forerunner of En Voyage Perfumes and remains the parent company.

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A photo of Shelley in the 7th Grade. Taken at the Sunset School, Carmel-by-the-Sea artists’ colony, Northern California.

  1. Do you have any formal training in perfumery, or are you self-taught? Have there been any mentors or other personal or cultural influences on your work as a perfumer?

My only formal training was in 2001, a small workshop in Grasse where I learned some new things that helped me to progress.

My most significant learning comes from ongoing curiosity, study, practice, and immersion in the arts.

During my early years I frequently corresponded with other perfumers in online study groups.

We didn’t realize at the time that we were to be the Emergent New Perfumers. We learned together, competed against each other. We delivered our version of “Ted Talks” among ourselves before anything like that ever existed. We were the first of the new West Coast indie movement.

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Shelley Waddington

  1. Who are your favourite perfumers or perfume houses, and what do you like about their work?

My favorite perfume house is frankly my own. We’re acknowledged as being at the cutting edge of perfumery, as daring to innovate, and to take the risks to make unique, lovely, quality fragrances for wallet-friendly prices. We use all the beautiful essences that the big commercial perfume houses avoid due to cost and unnecessary restrictions. We aren’t beholden to shareholders, investors, or corporate creative directors. We’re one of the few places in perfumery you’re going to find this.

My favorite classic perfumer is Ernest Daltroff who founded Parfums Caron in 1904. He was a young Russian Jew who immigrated penniless to Paris, and then trained himself to make perfume for a living. His assistant, muse and beloved life partner Felicie helped him to escape to America when the Nazis occupied Paris during WWII. His masterpieces include Tabac Blond, Nuit de Noel, and Bellodgia, trendsetters of their day. Today they’re treasured classics that radiate the poignant authenticity of his life. I like his story because he was the real deal who succeeded on his own merit despite not having a wealthy family or a famous mentor.

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Zelda by En Voyage Perfumes

  1. Describe your brand to us: tell us about the kind(s) of perfume that you make, as well as your brand’s philosophy or ethos.

Philosophy

My philosophy is simple: artistic independence, honesty, and transparency. That translates into gorgeous materials, quality, and a fair price point.

I am closely connected to my perfumes and to my customers.

It isn’t unusual for me to hear from a customer who feels as if one my perfumes was made especially for them.

Artistic Concept

Each of my perfumes tells a new fragrance story – about a person, a place, an ethos, an element or a legend.

Memorable people whose story I’ve depicted in fragrance include Zelda (Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald) and Makeda (the real name of the Queen of Sheba).

Stories of fragrant places include New York Man, and Fiore di Bellagio (Lake Cuomo, Italy).

Go Ask Alice is the story of Hippie drug days of the 1960’s Summer of Love. Captured in Amber tells of ancient and exotic resins of Persia, Egypt and India. Lorelei tells the tale of the mythical Gallic water siren.

I also explore stories of water, fire, sand, a Japanese peach, and a special wood named Oudh in (respectively) A Study in Water, Chang Chang, Durango, Peche Noir, and L’Hombre.

  1. How do you come up with the idea for a new perfume? For example, do ideas come to you spontaneously, do you work conceptually, or do you try to fill gaps in your range?

I constantly evaluate new ideas. When an idea has a heart, my passion quickly develops and I follow that. It’s always nice when something new fills a gap, but I’m not always that practical.

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Beautiful petals and leaves collected for extraction into fragrance materials.

  1. What element of your perfume making process do you think readers of this blog would be interested or surprised to learn about?

I’m not sure how interesting or surprising this is, but I’m the author of a well-known perfume textbook, Perfuming With Natural Isolates. I also teach and mentor other perfumers.

Also, I devote blocks of time to evaluating new fragrance materials. I’m always looking for something that speaks to me in a new way.

Lastly, sometimes a fragrance I seek isn’t available commercially. So I make it myself, using resins, woods, leaves, and blossoms. I use traditional methods and also some new techniques I’ve developed myself.

  1. What are the current challenges you face as a perfumer, both creatively and in regard to manufacturing, distributing and marketing your perfume?

Hand-crafted perfume was once the standard, and it’s now experiencing an exciting renaissance. Global demand for quality non-commercial, artisan perfumes continues to grow. My challenges are to create market awareness of my small brand and to find distribution without compromising the quality and price – which are the very soul of my product.

The best part is that fragrance lovers are an incredibly beneficial, well-wishing audience. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t receive encouragement from a person or a company who appreciates my work. My adverting budget is tiny, and having so many kind people spreading the word is a huge help.

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Go Ask Alice by En Voyage

  1. How has your work as a perfumer affected your perception of everyday smells?

I sometimes notice smells that aren’t noticed by others. And when I try to describe smells I probably sound a little crazy to non-perfume people.

My language often includes references to fragrance families, such as chypre and soliflore; and sometimes use names of specific fragrance materials like liatrix and hedione and Lavandula augustifolia.

I also use other words that aren’t always a part of everyday language, such as agresic, hesperidic, indolic. I sometimes say something like, “This smells blue”, and I use descriptive similes, such as, “This smell reminds me of dawn light shining yellow through a blooming pussy willow.” I also speak comparatively on the basis of other perfumes, such as, “This smells like the rustic coumarin note in Aramis, if it was mixed with the new-mown hay note in Ralph Lauren Polo Sport”.

  1. Many ingredients that are edible are also used in fragrance (chocolate, vanilla, coffee and rose, to name a few). If you could reverse this process and turn any perfume ingredient into an edible ingredient, what would that be? Which fragrance ingredient do you think would taste nice as a flavour?

Ambergris is the ultimate in elegant flavor. It was once a custom of Marie Antoinette and the French Royals to flavor their creamy hot chocolate with ambergris. In fact, that is the fragrance I depict in my perfume Café Cacao.

And once I combined ambergris, patchouli and musk into my homemade almond Roca and brought it to a party of perfume colleagues. Lots of perfumers wanted the recipe.

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Shelley’s studio

  1. If you had a time machine, which historical period in perfumery would you like to go back to and work in as a perfumer?

Each era is so terribly romantic! And each one influences and inspires me by their materials, styles and innovations.

I feel very privileged to have access to the work and information of those who went before me. I learn so much from them. Using that knowledge as a point of departure for new ideas and interpretations is the Ultimate Artistic Freedom.

  1. If you could invent a new olfactory gadget, tool or technology, what would it be and how would it benefit perfumers and/or society?

That’s a hard question. Olfactory gadgets for marketing are interesting and fun, such as fragrance booths that have scent piped in. But my own interest is focused more on making perfume. I’m less interested in bacon-scented alarm clocks, olfactory smartphones or smell-o-vision.

I have invented a couple proprietary things for my own use, mostly to improve efficiency. Many perfume houses do this. It sometimes has the side-effect of contributing to identifiable brand characteristics. People often comment that my brand is recognizable, that they can smell something and tell that it’s a “Shelley”. Part of that comes from technique.

  1. What is the purpose of perfume?

For me, the overarching purpose is to deliver unexpected beauty that moves someone deeply.


I hope you have enjoyed today’s interview with Shelley Waddington. I would like to thank Shelley for the time and care she took to answer the thirteen questions. I enjoyed the email communication we had in the process of conducting this interview; Shelley has been such a lovely, warm and friendly person to deal with. I will also be reviewing some En Voyage fragrances on Perfume Polytechnic in the near future – follow the blog to stay in touch!

Shelley is also an author and perfume educator: she penned the textbook Perfuming with Natural Isolates and runs an online course on the topic.

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Perfuming With Natural Isolates by Shelley Waddington

Perfuming With Natural Isolates is available to purchase at Amazon. You can find out more about Shelley’s online course here.

To find out more about Shelley and her En Voyage perfumes (and to purchase them), visit En Voyage Perfumes. If you’re in the US, you can also purchase En Voyage fragrances from Tigerlily Perfumes in San Francisco and at the Indigo Perfumery in Lakewood, Ohio.

En Voyage Perfumes are also listed on Fragrantica and Basenotes.

Shelley enjoys connecting with the fragrance community through social media. Here are some links to her Facebook pages:

Previous & Future Instalments of Thirteen Thoughts

Last week, Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes was interviewed. You can read his answers to the thirteen questions here.

In week one of this second series of Thirteen Thoughts, Mandy Aftel was interviewed. You can read her answers here.

In week two, JoAnne Bassett of JoAnne Bassett Perfumes answered the thirteen questions. You can read her interview here.

You can catch up with Series One of Thirteen Thoughts here.

Next Week

Visit Perfume Polytechnic next week to find out how Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Perfumes answers the thirteen questions in Thirteen Thoughts, a Perfumer Interview Series. Sign up to follow this blog so you don’t miss an episode of this series with fabulous perfumers from around the globe.

Intellectual Property

All interview answers and photographs were provided courtesy of the perfumer. All interviews remain the intellectual property of Perfume Polytechnic and the perfumers. Please do not reproduce interviews or images without permission.

Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series – Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes

thirteen-thoughts-v2_800_shadow1Thirteen thoughts from perfumers around the globe. Each perfumer profiled at Perfume Polytechnic has been presented with the same set of thirteen questions that probe into scent memories, imagination, education, history, the creative process and philosophy. How each perfumer answers these questions, and what form the answers take, is up to them. Tune in each week for a new instalment to learn more about the olfactory arts and how perfumers think about smell.

Today is the third of five, weekly instalments in Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts. Today’s interview features Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes. Andy is an independent perfumer based in Zürich, Switzerland. He has a PhD in chemistry and worked as a molecular biologist before launching Tauer perfumes ten years ago. Andy’s perfumes have a cult following amongst perfume lovers and are renowned for containing high-quality ingredients. Andy is a talented painter as well as a perfumer, and prints of his works (currently on silk scarves) are sold at his Tauerville website,  which serves as a creative space – separate to the Tauer Perfumes label – for Andy to sell perfumes and other artistic wares. Andy says: “Tauerville is a playground for innovative ideas presented in a down to earth approach” (quoted from Tauerville website).

The intention of Thirteen Thoughts is to let each perfumer speak for themselves about who they are, what drives them, and what they do with fragrance, so without any further ado, let me introduce you to…

Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes

Andy Tauer

Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes

  1. Tell us about a significant olfactory memory from your childhood.

Well, I get this question a lot. To be honest: I have little memories, olfactory memories, from my childhood. A safe guess would be the smell of my mother: I can remember it, but this memory is so deeply imprinted that I cannot say to which age it goes back. I guess it is just part of what formed my earliest olfactive memories. Another olfactive memory going back to the days when I was a boy: The pigs, outside in the fields of our neighborhood farmer. Nice!

  1. What is your “origin story”? When, why and how did you decide to become a perfumer?

I never decided to become a perfumer. I just started playing with scents about 14 years ago, kick-started by the idea of using all naturals to create something that goes beyond the sum of its ingredients. Actually, it all started with Mandy Aftel‘s book “Essence and Alchemy“. Mandy has such a wonderful way of describing scents and scented matters. It was a blessing to have bought this book. I think it is about 5 or 6 years from now that I first used the occupation “perfumer”, on an Egyptian immigration form. I learned a lesson back then: It can help to call oneself a “perfumer”. The immigration officer was all happy to finally meet a perfumer and basically just waved me through customs. You know: I think it is a good question to ask what a perfumer really is. These days, there is a lot of confusion and many brand owners who never trained their nose (which is perfectly ok) are called perfumers (which is not ok). Becoming a perfumer is not really a binary thing. You are not a perfumer from one day to the other. Is playing with scents for a year enough to call oneself a perfumer? I do not know. What I know is: I am still learning. Every day. And these days I tend to say: I am a creator of perfumes, playing with scented matter.

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Andy Tauer

  1. Do you have any formal training in perfumery, or are you self-taught? Have there been any mentors or other personal or cultural influences on your work as a perfumer?

I never attended any kind of formal training. I am therefore, in the best and worst sense of the term, “self-trained”. In the best sense: I never had to go through the funnel of a school where everybody learns the same. In the worst sense: I had to possibly fall into every trap there is and make all the mistakes that one can make. But I am convinced that by failing we learn the most. I am often asked by people who want to become perfumers how to start. I always answer by saying that I will not give any advice or support: You have to find your way yourself. If you search for help you have already lost.

  1. Who are your favourite perfumers or perfume houses, and what do you like about their work?

I have a couple of houses and brands that I follow and that I admire. Vero Profumo, founded by Vero Kern, a Swiss perfumer, a dear friend who does wonders with scents. Her style is unique, classy and I can identify her perfumes as her creations immediately. Her “handwriting” is one of a kind, and trust me: In the perfume industry, be it niche be it industry, this is rare. Very rare. I admire the old classical Guerlain perfumes, and I follow Patricia de Nicolai, who’s “more Guerlain” these days than Guerlain, in my opinion. And then there are many “niche” brands, like Yosh, Ineke, Kerosene and others that I follow.

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L’Air du Désert Marocain by Tauer Perfumes

  1. Describe your brand to us: tell us about the kind(s) of perfume that you make, as well as your brand’s philosophy or ethos.

Thank you for this question. It is an easy one and a difficult one at the same time. I guess you have to smell my creations to get an idea what I do, why and how, and what is important. In a nutshell: I am operating in total freedom. My money is in the brand, no investor’s or bank’s money. I am a one man show, mostly, and have no marketing department, no design department nor a communication department telling me what to do. Thus, freedom in creating is key to my work. No compromises when it comes to perfumes. I want to offer perfumes to the market that are worth every penny.

Another aspect: No fuss, no marketing blur, no fancy rings and pearls and gold and other stuff that might help sell but have nothing to do what I care about: The perfume.

And maybe: I want – as good as it gets – to remain approachable. I talk to perfume lovers and have an open ear.

To be honest: I have never written down any company philosophy or charter of what is important for Tauer perfumes. It simply is the way it is. Smell it and you’ll get it!

  1. How do you come up with the idea for a new perfume? For example, do ideas come to you spontaneously, do you work conceptually, or do you try to fill gaps in your range?

Again: Good question! I was travelling a while ago in Russia, with my Russian distributor, meeting a lot of press and I always got the same question: “What is your inspiration?” It really seems to interest the press. Myself and a perfume friend who I was travelling with got tired of answering this question again and again and in the end, we offered the answer: “The pink elephant that sits on our shoulder. The pink elephant gives us ideas of what to create and is our inspiration source.” Of course, this answer was not appreciated…

But there is a grain of truth there: Sometimes, it is hard to say how the creative process works. I always call it a fluid process where you have to let go and go with the stream wherever it might bring you. Sometimes, it is a spark, a precious moment in time, while jogging, while taking a bath, while waking up when the mind is not fully under control, that you see an idea. What follows next is: Giving yourself to the fluidity of the creative process, trying to stick to the inspiration, the idea (that might also come from sniffing a new raw material), but never stick too hard, making sure that the flow can always carry you on.

Sometimes, an idea is a scented picture, too. A scene, a moment in life of somebody (me?) that I try to paint in scents. You know, in the end it all boils down to: Never try too hard to find out where your ideas come from. Once you find the source, it may dry up.

  1. What element of your perfume making process do you think readers of this blog would be interested or surprised to learn about?

When I talk about perfume creation on my blog, I learned that quite often readers are fascinated by raw materials, like rose absolute. This is something we can all connect to. Rose absolute, one of the natural extracts of roses, paints pictures of rose fields in our minds, rose petals, and it carries with it a romantic idea of perfumery. But the reality is often: Sweat, pain, frustration, failure, again and again.

I think perfume lovers would be amazed how difficult it is to create a fragrance that is more than just a nice smelling something that lasts for a while.

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Painting by Andy Tauer – “Rose Flash”

  1. What are the current challenges you face as a perfumer, both creatively and in regard to manufacturing, distributing and marketing your perfume?

When I started offering my creations 10 years ago, it was a completely different world in “niche” (or low volume, high-end perfumery, artisanal perfumery): These days we live in an era of perfume exuberance. There is too much of everything and the market is flooded with new brands, and new perfumes. Lucky us: There are a couple of exciting new artisanal brands out there, too. It is utterly fascinating to see these new faces and scented stories appear on the US West coast (becoming a real hotspot for exciting artisanal niche). But most of the new offerings are actually less exciting, produced by some companies in France, inspired by some memories of brand owners, and totally exchangeable. My Italian distributor often talks about fragrances that are not necessary. And I think that fits perfectly. These days, provided you’ve got some cash, it has become a commodity to launch your perfume brand and everybody seems to do so. I do not mind competition but I see that clients are getting totally confused and reject new offerings. How does this affect me? It is basically my motivation to do better and proof that you can still bring perfumes to the market that are necessary. It helps me, in the end, as I am different and produce different scents. But in a sense, it complicates the communication about fragrances. These days, in order to be heard, you have to be louder and more out there, compared to 10 years ago. Another factor that gets harder and harder: Regulations, especially EU regulations. But this is an endless story and I want to spare you with details…

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Andy Tauer – self-portrait

  1. How has your work as a perfumer affected your perception of everyday smells?

Here’s the irony: I got really more sensitive and more tired of the intense, and omnipresent pollution of our daily life by scent. I am not talking about fragrances here: I am thinking of stores being scented, consumer products being scented. Some fabric softeners impregnate clothes to a level that is hard to believe, especially in the US. But maybe this is conditioning, too. Maybe I am simply not conditioned enough to the US fabric softeners 🙂

And, another irony: By working daily with scents I do not like to perfume myself, during the day. Mostly, I only use perfume in the evening.

  1. Many ingredients that are edible are also used in fragrance (chocolate, vanilla, coffee and rose, to name a few). If you could reverse this process and turn any perfume ingredient into an edible ingredient, what would that be? Which fragrance ingredient do you think would taste nice as a flavour?

Immediate answer: Orange blossom. And you can actually use it in your cuisine! It is wonderful in crème brulée. A side note: There are tons of perfumes out there that contain “edible” notes. And let’s not forget the fruity florals. I guess one reason why they are so immensely popular is the fact that we all can connect to these notes. They are part of a very deeply rooted olfactive fabric, going back to earliest childhood days, or even embryo days. When it comes to perfumes, our memories, the way we are conditioned to scents, plays a big role. Whether I like it or not: My olfactive fabric goes back to the sixties. I was conditioned back then. It was a different world and part of what I like and dislike goes back there, completely out of my control, hard to overcome as it all happens subconsciously.

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Painting by Andy Tauer – citrus blossom

  1. If you had a time machine, which historical period in perfumery would you like to go back to and work in as a perfumer?

The 1920s-30s was an exciting time for perfumery. But let’s face it: Back then a guy like me would have faced serious troubles in establishing a perfume brand out of nothing. Actually, I think our times are exciting, too. With lots of opportunities. There is no reason for me to want to go back in time.

  1. If you could invent a new olfactory gadget, tool or technology, what would it be and how would it benefit perfumers and/or society?

Sometimes, I wish it was equally easy to sell and buy perfume like you sell and buy digital music these days. I often listen to lounge-radio.com. If I like a piece, I click on iTunes and buy it. Within seconds. Imagine, if the same was possible for perfume! But technology is not there yet, and we all still have to go for samples or visit a perfumery. And, in a certain sense, this is good.

  1. What is the purpose of perfume?

Perfume is here to bring us joy, fleeting moments of deep and rich sensual experiences.


I hope you have enjoyed today’s interview with Andy Tauer. I would like to thank Andy for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to answer these questions and to share some of his thoughts with us on making perfume. Andy has been incredibly friendly, approachable and a real gentleman, and it’s an absolute pleasure to feature him on Perfume Polytechnic.

To find out more about Andy and his perfumes (and to purchase them), visit Tauer Perfumes and Tauerville. Andy also writes a fabulous blog about his creative work and life in general, and you can keep up-to-date with that here. Andy has also created a series of perfumes in collaboration with filmmaker Brian Pera, under the Tableau de Parfums label. You can read more about the collaboration and the fragrances here.

Andy’s perfumes are also listed on Fragrantica and Basenotes.

Previous & Future Instalments of Thirteen Thoughts

Last week JoAnne Bassett of JoAnne Bassett Perfumes answered the thirteen questions. You can read her interview here.

In week one of this second series of Thirteen Thoughts, Mandy Aftel was interviewed. You can read her answers to the thirteen questions here.

Coming guests in Series Two of Thirteen Thoughts include Shelley Waddington and Ellen Covey.

You can catch up with Series One of Thirteen Thoughts here.

Next Week:

Visit Perfume Polytechnic next week to find out how the very lovely and talented Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes answers the thirteen questions in Thirteen Thoughts, a Perfumer Interview Series. Sign up to follow this blog so you don’t miss an episode of this series with fabulous perfumers from around the globe.

Intellectual Property:

All interview answers and photographs were provided courtesy of the perfumer. All interviews remain the intellectual property of Perfume Polytechnic and the perfumers. Please do not reproduce interviews or images without permission.