The process of creating a perfume is a several noses task, which is often carried out with many hands! When we talk about the perfumery professions, the one that comes to mind first is that of the perfumer, that famous nose, which is both intriguing and fascinating. If this person is at the heart of the creative process, the nose is far from acting alone. On the contrary, it is a whole team with varied skills and know-how that evolves around the perfumer to arrive at the “finished” fragrance, the last formula, the one that will soon perfume your neck and wrists. So, who are the women and men behind the creation of these fragrances?
The perfumer: the explorer of smells
The profession of perfume creator has fascinated for decades because it is based on one of our most mysterious senses: the olfaction. Can you really learn to become a nose, or is it a vocation? To find out more about the profession of nose, discover our dedicated article. When we think of the perfumer’s work, we can easily imagine this expert in the middle of perfume bottles. Yes, but not only! We do not necessarily pay attention to it, but many of our everyday products have a smell. An odor that will require special know-how and certain knowledge.
There are therefore several categories of perfumers. On the one hand, there are perfumers-creators, who “manufacture” scents for fine perfumery (eaux de parfum, eaux de Cologne, etc.) and so-called functional perfumery (products for the body and for the home). The “perfumer-analysts” will specialize in the technique of chromatography, which allows the separation of the compounds of a product, to study existing formulas. They will thus help perfumers to develop their knowledge of the market and the competition. Finally, we speak of “technical perfumers” who work on the adaptation of existing formulas to develop new products and extend a range. This is the case of Laurent, who worked on the adaptation of some of our formulas to create our scented candles. Find his inspired interview here.
Composition company or in-house perfumer?
In the world of perfumery, professions differ according to the economic model of the companies we work with. As a result, there are different profiles of perfumers, even if they are all specialized in fine perfumery. We distinguish three types of noses. The first, and most common, is that of the employee perfumer who works in a composition company. The most powerful of these firms can be counted on the fingers of one hand. They compete for the privilege of creating fragrances for the most prestigious brands. These large composition companies account for three-quarters of the creations in the fine fragrance sector. Within these companies, the nose therefore works on different projects, for different brands. At Carrément Belle, we have been collaborating for more than 30 years with our historic perfumer, based in Grasse, in South of France, who works within a composition company on a human scale.
Then there is the “in-house perfumer”, the one who creates formulas exclusively for one brand. In this case, the perfumer is an integral part of the company’s strategy in terms of the supply of raw materials, right down to communication. Today, only the biggest houses can boast of having their own nose. Finally, the last nose profile is the independent perfumer who formulates creations for his/her own brand, or for others.
Appraiser: the olfactory co-pilot
One of the most little-known perfumery professions
As we said earlier, the nose works in collaboration with other experts. And in fact, the perfumer works closely with the appraiser. This job, about which very little is said, remains unknown to the general public. And yet among the different professions in perfumery, the appraiser is an essential link in the creation process. This position emerged in the 1970s when the large composition companies became increasingly professional. So who are they? The appraiser is an olfactory expert, a “perfume designer”. This person is the link between the client and the perfumer. Appraiser’s work begins with the client’s brief by seeking to translate the client’s ideas and inspirations into scents and then works on them with the perfumer.
Appraiser and perfumer: the same job?
So what is the difference between the perfumer and the appraiser? If they both have seasoned noses, they do not work quite the same way. Indeed, the role of the appraiser is to accompany the nose throughout the entire creative process, advising her/him on its choices and guiding her/him towards new ideas, always in line with the client’s wishes. The appraiser knows the library of smells inside out, and must have a 360° vision of the market and its trends. She/he will determine when the fragrance will be completed, when it will correspond to the inspirations mentioned in the brief to present it to the client. Sometimes seen as the muse in the shadows, the appraiser must often let the perfumer be in the spotlights.
Other perfumery professions
If the noses have the place of honor, some hands also add their savoir-faire in the creation of a perfume. The perfumer and the appraiser are thus accompanied on a daily basis by different teams. The sales team interacts directly with the customer. They know the customer best and are able to understand their expectations and needs. The regulatory and stability department is also part of the composition companies. This team is in charge of checking that the formulation of the perfume complies with the legislation and that the concentrations are optimal. The perfume must go through this stage to validate its final presentation to the customer. Finally, the marketing department will be able to carry out various batteries of tests with consumers, the results of which may still modify certain decisions.
From the idea to the bottling, several skills are used to arrive at the final fragrance. If you would like to know more about the steps involved in creating a fragrance, read our detailed article. Aside from the nose, did you know about the different perfumery professions?