2018 IFF Post Modern Speed Smelling session
Every year IFF (International Flavours & Fragrances) gives to a bunch of talented perfumers an inspiration and unlimited resources to create whatever their heart desires. This year the inspiration / theme was Post Modern influences. Without a brief and just a vague idea in hand armed with the best, rarest and most expensive ingredients 14 perfumers created each a fragrance that expressed this idea for them and I was one of the lucky few that had the opportunity to attend the London event held at the most exquisite Claridges Hotel, where 6 of them were there to present their creation to the members of the press.
Sophie Labbé - Julien Rasquinet - Alexis Dadier - Bruno Jovanovic - Fanny Bal & Domitille Bertier were the perfumers whose creations we were lucky enough to try and Christine Mortimer from LMR guided us through a few of their beautiful raw materials.
Although we would all be very happy to spend hours exploring these creations and learn about their inspiration, we only had 7 minutes with each one of them to explore as much as possible. The set up was very similar to a speed dating session and our aim was to absorb as much information and olfactory pleasure as possible within that time!
Judith Gross , the Global Director, Fragrance Innovation at IFF was standing in the middle of the room holding a bell and kept ringing it to warn us when our time with each one of the perfumers was running out.
We split in groups and mine started with Christine Mortimer, the Senior Commercial Manager for LMR - Naturals, who gave us a brief overview of LMR and their beautiful raw materials.
LMR is part of IFF now but runs with the same principles: naturality, puritiy, transparency, sustainability. Roots, flowers, mosses and spices are extracted into precious oils and fractions and molecule distillations are being done as well in their laboratories in Grasse. We had a chance to try the "back to the roots" samples, a fresh ginger from Madagascar made from roots but this one was a very sparkly, fresh, citrusy ginger as it was distilled while still fresh and not dried as per the usual procedure. The next one was vetiver oil from Haiti, a fraction used as heart note, with the grapefruit aspect vividly boosted. It was still smoky but without the rooty, earthy aspects that usually dominate this accord. Finally we got to try the carrot seed which had a very beautiful and powdery iris note come out. All done in 7 mintes and quickly we moved to table no.2
Fanny Bal, the first perfumer we sat with, works with Dominique Ropion and is considered already a rising star in perfumery. She chose to work with a base called Amber 83.
As she really liked this base she decided to use it to create something around that with also spices, flowers, vanilla and labdanum. Instead of ylang ylang which is considered a bit old fashioned, she added jasmine absolute that made the composition more youthful, coriander and pink pepper for sparkle and to finish it off a gourmand accord based on a rich cocoa absolute which produced a Nutella accord very edible and delicious! Nutty, dry, coconuty and lactonic, with the addition of vanillin and natural vanilla extract (which gives a leathery vibe) in the base, the composition dries down to a dark chocolate scent with added liquor. Quite an expensive creation, but Fanny enjoyed creating it it as there was no limit. A scent perfect for Nutella lovers!
Bruno Jovanovic for his Chypre creation "Neo Fur" used Light Tonkiton as a base which smells like natural fur in order to recreate the image of his mother spraying Cabochard on her fur coat before leaving for work.
This daily ritual made a lasting impression in his memory and still remains the image of ultimate femininity. Leathery floral notes surrounding it give the animalic feeling without animalic products like a vegetarian fur coat. It's a very modern scent but reminiscent of the 80’s with a marine vibe as well. Fresh salty and breezy in the opening, it then moves to the floral heart where jasmine & rose absolute along with orris were used to recreate the make up products she was also using and of course musk in the base. It's a beautiful chypre, very intimate but also leaving a trail of scent to make the memory of the wearer last longer. The jasmine / rose combination is nostalgic while musk gives a contemporary note. Cabochard is a classic leathery chypre and the feeling "Neo Fur" has is quite similar. It's a perfume I would definitely buy!
Next was Domitille Bertier who named her creation"Not a Musk" as she ‘wanted to create a musk scent, but without any musk.
She has been working for 24 years in IFF and has been responsible for many wonderful perfumes; she really enjoyed creating this one as he was the only one judging the result and her opinion was the only one that mattered; a very rare luxury for a perfumer!
Recreating musk without musk is a lovely idea but how can we reinvent musk is the true question as nowadays we can’t use the animalic raw materials used in the past. She really wanted to bring back the musky note and at the same time also work on a tobacco note, the rolling tobacco type, pure, so again a really traditional smell without tobacco.
So woody notes and musky notes were used as well as the products of a new research by IFF base recreating civet notes without being very animalic. Also a bit of vanilla bean was added, not the edible kind, that added leathery note and tonka bean that makes the scent very addictive. Addiction comes from sweet but without sugar and the more you wear it, the more you like it and want to have it – the trend in addiction is huge and creates the need: "the more I wear it the more I want it". Finally the fragrance was given an 80’s comeback touch with mandarin to give it a sparkling citrus opening.
Julien Rasquinet decided to go back to perfumery’s very roots and put myrrh at the heart of his scent. He combined 3 interpretations to create his perfume. For the first one, historically, if you look at the genesis of perfumery, in ancient Egypt Kyphi was the first perfume used, a combination of honey and frankincense and myrrh. Magical properties were attributed to it by the Egyptians as it was considered to be healing both for the body and soul and acted a messenger from gods.
The second interpretation is literal, as he wanted to recreate the scent of the woods so he used patchouli for the wet soil and vetiver wood which is a very noble, aristocratic smell. For the third interpretation he wanted to recreate the smell of the stone so he used a flint accord with metallic, aldehydic and dry woods notes.
The composition was named "Myrrhveilleux" a word play between myrrh and marvelous but it also has another meaning as someone who is taking care of you, watches out for you and supports you.
Julien loved using myrrh, an ingredient that you couldn’t use in a normal case as it’s too expensive and the result was captivating!
Next was Sophie Labbé who challenged herself to create an Eau de Cologne – without using a single citrus note.
She named it Cologne 2.0 and instead of the citrus / aromatic notes that are usually used she took a sparkling pink pepper note and the LMR fresh ginger I mentioned above and created a cocktail cologne with fresh spices, aniseed and some cardamom. It's a fresh, sparkling, green and bitter cologne with a vetiver heart and ambroxan molecule to make it last and turn it into a very sexy scent. I really loved the idea and I would definitely choose her cologne over the others!
Finally, Alexis Dadier decided to blend four accords he’d previously perfected, to create ‘Rasta Vegan Milk’. He used as inspiration a collage from postmodern artists; use something old to create something new which aligns with the sustainable development as well. The 4 different accords were already available in the lab so no new materials were used and as a result we preserve nature as well.
First he used bitter almond oil and synthetics to create the hot milk effect which was extremely realistic, the second was a crispy rice green tea, a very dry earthy matcha type scent , the third was a hemp accord as it’s a multi functional ingredient, bitter, earthy and aromatic that gives a feeling of being close to nature and the third was a fougere accord. When all 4 were put together a fragrance that brings to mind images of Japan, hot Indian tea and spices was created; a bit masculine yet soft and definitely addictive!
After the session was finished we were really sorry it was over and wanted to buy the perfumes created however that wasn't possible! However, IFF have released a limited number of the Speed Smelling fragrances which are available at Auparfum.com in Europe, at luckyscent.com in the U.S and the gift shop of the Grand Musée du Parfum if you go there in person!
I'm really looking forward to next year's creations already!