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Makeover Assistant

The life of a perfumer, career in perfume, IFF

The life of a perfumer, career in perfume, IFF

"I didn't choose this job by chance, but perfume doesn't run in my family. It was Jean Kerléo, who was working for Patou at the time, who opened my eyes to everything it has to offer. Meeting him was unforgettable, and that encounter determined my future.  I was studying chemistry at the time, so I was able to get a place to study at a perfumery school. I didn't really plan where my career was going - I followed the right route without realizing it!" 

Sophie graduated top of her class 2 years later, and then went to the Givaudan perfumery school in Geneva for six months. In 1992, she joined IFF as a junior perfumer. In 2005, Sophie won the François Coty prize for Perfumer of the Year, becoming the first woman ever to win it. Sophie's first perfumes were G by Gigli, Jardin de Soleil by Escada, Organza by Givenchy, Emporio Armani pour Homme, Boss Woman by  and Premier jour by Nina Ricci.

"Being a perfumer is a bit philosophical in that you have to listen out for and decode what people want. Through intuition and feeling we learn to tell stories through scents and transform our brief into a fragrance. Each collaboration with a brand is totally different. Working for an American brand like Estee Lauder was interesting. We created Pure White Linen based on the image of a very fresh, crisp rose. That kind of thinking is really important in the US. You need to generate ideas from and feed off the words of the brief, using an original approach to get the flashes of inspiration you need."

Amor Amor pour Homme by Cacharel proved a real challenge for Sophie: how to make a rose fragrance into a masculine scent?! She explored the multiple facets of roses in order to make the fragrance subtly mascuiline and find combinations that worked together. Sophie has also successfully collaborated with Guerlain: she went back to basics to rework their Cologne 68 scent, and mixed oud wood with classic floral scents to create a sensual, hot-and-cold fragrance. 


Sarah Horrocks
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