Women perfumers: the female noses that make the history of perfume

women perfumers blow a wave of inspiration and surprising new olfactory ideas on the nose profession

If it has long been reserved for men, the profession of nose has become the playground of women perfumers in recent decades. Inspired and inspiring, these modern-day female noses are bringing surprising olfactory ideas to the perfume industry. Discover how some pioneers have managed to impose themselves in a very closed microcosm to open the way to more and more women noses.

Nose: a male or female job?

When we talk about the noses that have marked the history of perfume, those who come to mind are mostly male. Aimé Guerlain, François Coty, Olivier Cresp… And so many others! But in this non-exhaustive list, where are the women? For as long as fragrances have been made, that is to say for thousands of years, perfume has most often been a man’s business. From the opulent compositions of the Renaissance, through the freshness of Napoleon’s beloved Eau de Cologne, to the world’s most successful juices, the creators of fragrances have almost always been men. However, some women with sharp noses were able to make their way in this closed universe.

Women perfumers who made history

Tapputi, the king’s perfumer

You probably don’t know her name, yet she was certainly one of the first women perfumers in history. In the 13th century B.C., the one called Tapputi-Bellet-ekale (bellet-ekale translates as “assistant of the palace”) was a chemist of great fame. She worked as a perfumer at the court of the king of Assyria. This kingdom of Mesopotamia was then considered one of the greatest powers of the Near East. Archaeological research has found tablets on which is engraved her name, lists of ingredients, but also descriptions of distillation and filtration.

Tapputi’s mission was to make various oils and anointments to perfume the sovereign and his residence, but also to embalm the statues of the idols during the religious rituals. If history has not retained much of Tapputi’s existence, perfumery has been considerably influenced by her discoveries and work. First woman perfumer, she is also the one who paved the way to an inspired lineage…

Germaine Cellier, woman and perfumer of the post-war period

The story takes us many years later, to the very beginning of the 20th century. It was in Bordeaux in 1909 that one of the greatest female figures in perfumery was born. Germaine Cellier, daughter of a bohemian and whimsical father and a herbalist mother, went to Paris in the 1920s to study chemistry. With her degree in hand and the war finally over, her talents were spotted by a man named Robert Piguet. A former stylist for a major Parisian fashion house, the man decided to take up perfumery. Robert Piguet challenged Germaine to create a modern and dynamic fragrance to bring novelty to the post-war period. This is how Bandit, the brand’s very first fragrance, came out in 1944.

Thanks to this first success and her strong character, Germaine made a name for herself in the industry and signed for Balmain a year later, the iconic perfume Vent Vert, which introduced for the first time galbanum and green notes in a composition.

The years go by and the successes follow for other great names of the French perfumery. At the end of the 1950s, she collaborated again with Piguet for Fracas. This perfume is an innovative juice that pushed tuberose to the forefront, never before seen! The perfume was exported as far as the United States, where it was a phenomenal success. Germaine Cellier was considered the most contemporary and avant-garde French perfumer of her time. She then opened her own creation laboratory in the 1960s, continuing to distill all her creativity.

The feminization of the nose profession

Women perfumers: a growing parity

Thanks to the evolution of mentalities and the heritage left by the past, women have gradually succeeded in leaving their own wake in the creation of scents. From niche perfumeries to big houses, more and more female noses are revealing their compositions. There are about fifty women perfumers in France. If the profession of nose was previously practiced from father to son, preferably in Grasse, the media coverage of this job has contributed to the feminization of the sector. Thanks to the multiplication of perfumers’ schools, women have been able to have access to a specific training to exercise all the professions of perfumery.

Women with flair

Since Germaine Cellier, many women perfumers have shown that they have flair. It would be impossible to name all these talented noses but we can think of Françoise Caron. Sister of Olivier Cresp, she fell into perfume at birth. The young girl grew up between the vats amidst the scents of rose, jasmine and lavender. A few years later, she signed the composition of great juices like Eau d’Orange Verte for Hermès. Mathilde Laurent shook up the codes of perfumery at Cartier. She fights to put forward all the assets of synthetic chemistry.

Olivia Giacobetti, an independent perfumer, is considered one of the most talented creators of her generation. She will mark the history of perfume by introducing the note of fig in fragrances. Others continue to express their talent for big names or more confidential houses such as Christine Nagel, Anne Filipo, Aliénor Massenet, Sofia Grojsman, Sonia Constant and many others…

At Carrément Belle, it is a woman perfumer who has long been hidden behind some of our fragrances like the eau de parfum 555, label rose, agité, ippi patchouli clair, musc or alõ. In an inspired interview, Claire had told us all the details of her life as a perfumer.


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