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Perfume: Story of a Fragrance Collection

Posted: January 23, 2007

Capturing a story in a bottle is a tall order, but that’s exactly what IFF perfume envelope-pushers Christophe Laudamiel and Christoph Hornetz did with Patrick Süskind’s horrific olfactive tale, Perfume. The resulting coffret, launched to coincide with the release of the film version of the novel, tells a story in 15 fragrance chapters, bridging the traditional (raw Jasminum grandiflorum) and the avant-garde (the catty, fungal cheesiness of the coffret’s scent Human Existence). Along the way, Les Christophes, as the duo are known, have tapped a new creative vein, a model that could ultimately spur more innovative R&D. Michelle Krell Kydd writes about the coffret’s genesis and creation in the March issue of P&F magazine. Here, we present an excerpt of her conversation with Laudamiel.

There is much talk in the perfume industry regarding the abundance of lackluster fragrance releases. Although this is much to the consternation of all, it’s no wonder; after the terrorist attacks in September 2001, the issue of safety has become acutely prevalent in our culture, almost to the point of pathology. Stock prices along with fragrance sales took a nose dive following the deplorable acts of Al-Qaeda—and so did a healthy sense of creative risk.

Krell Kydd: One does not generally see perfume products that are the brainchild of a perfumer being actualized, from a marketing standpoint. What are some of the reasons that this concept took off?

Laudamiel: Because working on our own came first. Had we waited to have budgets approved, a sponsor, authorizations, artistic criticism, etc., nothing would have taken off. Some people don’t move before everything is defined. We moved the way we wanted to, guided by our own strict discipline.

This was followed by convincing our entourage and reaching agreement between the right people at IFF, Constantin Film and Thierry Mugler. An important fact here is that work and discipline can speak for you, though not always fast enough. I also believe in the principle of immanent justice.