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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.

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.’”

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