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IFF's Christophe Laudamiel Talks Scents

Posted: March 18, 2008

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Magnolia & Sage was to create the same kind of feeling as Gigabyte but with a different ingredient. So, to show how we play around with molecules (synthetics) and naturals. The last one, because we had to have a have an old classic of perfumery, that was my decision, was called Lavender Fields. For this one we used something special, an organic lavender essence, that LMR (Laboratoire Monique Remy) gets for us from Provence.

We had total freedom. All the themes and fragrances we decided ourselves. The WEF was very interested in integrating fragrance in their [sessions]. It’s not just artistic—it’s artistic and creative to show people what is going on on this planet. We gave sessions, but they also said we should do something to excite the people. They [had a visual exhibition], and they said ‘what could we do to showcase fragrances and olfaction?’

I sent the fragrances in advance for them to see that we were not putting out fragrances that people would say ‘what the heck is this?’ You have to be realistic. These are rooms were people are working, so I didn’t do anything controversial. It’s not a gallery—it’s a working environment, but with interesting themes. Then we went two days in advance to do all the trials; they had to have security approve it—the whole shebang.

The scents were very well in received, in fact, I was prepared to get some …you know, some people get negative, but I didn’t hear anything negative. Everybody that talked to me said it was very good idea, that it was very, very interesting. Some people found it interesting but were scared that others would react negatively, because it’s new – but no. I was very surprised about that. No one talked negatively about anything. You know, but when it’s explained, it becomes obvious that it should be this way. And we got support from WEF, to the highest level. Like anything new, it has to be approved of course, and this also gave credit to the whole thing. If the WEF is using it, it means there must be something behind it, it must be something serious, and it must be something worth looking at.

And it’s the way you do something, we were not there to advertise. It was there to show perfumery with a capital ‘p,’ and say ‘you know guys, you are at the forefront of a lot of new things, new messages , new ways of thinking… so here is something you have not looked into that is extremely important.’ When I spoke to the panel, they’d say ‘oh yeah, it’s true, we just never thought about it. We have to look into it.’ You can not ignore that people have an emotion and are reacting with a sense of smell. It’s part of life. The question is not, anymore, should we have it, it is part of our biology. The question is how should we do it, what is really exciting…These are the questions. You cannot argue [the point] should we have pictures or not, should we see or not, should we hear or not. It’s not a question. It’s part of life. It’s part of human beings. It’s part of our genes. How can we use [scent] more and in a very exciting way.

Can you name a couple of the novel materials employed in the creation of these fragrances that are of special interest to you?

We had several naturals and several molecules. We had, for instances, gentiane—it’s a plant that grows in the mountains. We had raspberry leaves—this is not much used in fragrance at the moment, real raspberry leaves—magnolia oil from China. We had a molecule called arctical, which is very clean, a little bit cold—not much used yet because it’s hard to use, I have to say. But it’s very unique.