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F&F Profiles: The Scent Archivist

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor
Posted: September 11, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of P&F magazine.

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  • From P&F Magazine
  • September 2008 issue, pg. 30—4 pages
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The scent, formulated by Symrise master perfumer Maurice Roucel, had been created as part of Sutcliffe’s ‘blue sky’ program, which invites perfumers to formulate without a brief and few cost restrictions. These fragrances provide perfumers a unique outlet to explore their creativity without the filter of evaluation or marketing teams. Sutcliffe maintains a library of these scents both in her acute olfactive memory and a physical archive at Coty’s Park Avenue offices. In the midst of the McGraw project, she called Roucel and said, “Remember that fragrance? Let’s dig it out and look at it for this project.” Despite the tremendous internal support for the fragrance, the fragrance did not win the market research for McGraw. However, she continues to watch for any upcoming project that the fragrance may fit with. The success in the blue sky program is exemplified by fragrances such as Yann Vasnier’s Fabulosity, and an upcoming Celine Dion launch in the spring of 2009. “That’s how I work,” says Sutcliffe, “good olfactive memory and attention for significant fragrances.” The scents engraved in Sutcliffe’s mind stretch well beyond 2005, to her childhood on an Arkansas farm: warm goat’s milk, manure, hay, the wet earth of the forest floor, carrots freshly plucked from the ground, her father’s Old Spice. “I never appreciated the smells until I got into the business,” she says. “I still go back to them, and when I smell with perfumers I pick up those particular notes sometimes and I’ll say to the perfumer, ‘Wow, that smells like tomatoes, that particular smell when you pick them off the stalk.’”

Women in Flavor and Fragrance Commerce (WFFC) Honors Ruth Sutcliffe

On Sept. 25, the WFFC will present Ruth Sutcliffe with its Annual Award. Sutcliffe, senior director of international fragrance development for Coty Beauty, has been selected due to her contributions to and leadership in the fragrance industry.

Sutcliffe began her career at Fritzsche, Dodge and Olcott (now part of Givaudan). There she typed and cost out formulae for perfumers and later became an evaluator. At Creations Aromatiques (now part of Symrise) she served as a perfumer’s lab technician, mixing formulae and learning perfumery raw materials, eventually returning to fragrance evaluation. Sutcliffe subsequently held positions at Fragrance Resources, IFF (where she co-authored the patent with several other colleagues for NeutrIFF for the mitigation of malodors) and Clairol, before joining Coty in 2001.

In her current position, Sutcliffe is responsible for brands such as Celine Dion, Nautica, Halle Berry, Tim McGraw, Baby Phat and Stetson.

“Life has to be an adventure and I feel it’s important to give back to society as much as possible,” says Sutcliffe, whose volunteer work has included efforts at Ground Zero in Manhattan following 9/11, with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the National Resources Defense Council, and giving of her time to Greenwich, Connecticut-area organizations.

Other topics discussed: Blue Sky Fragrances: Formulating Without Constraints; From Brief to Fragrance; Relationships with Perfumers; Time Constraints and Fragrance Vocabulary; Keeping on the Pulse; In Her Own Words: Ruth Sutcliffe on Her Favorite Fragrances and Notes; This is Where I Belong: Gaining a Fragrance Perspective

This is only an excerpt of the full article that appeared in P&F Magazine, but you can purchase the full-text version.