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Of the perhaps 3,000 novel aroma molecules created, assessed and vetted by Firmenich’s perfumers and R&D staff each year, perhaps as few as three will make their way onto the company palette. One such material is Helvetolide, a captive musk that was discovered and commercialized in the 1990s. “For a perfumer to discover a new material, it’s almost like a painter discovering a new color,” says master perfumer Harry Frémont, considering a blotter of the material. “Imagine … what the artist could do. We use the new materials in different contexts, giving new effects.” “The palette is so important,” says master perfumer Annie Buzantian. “You can use the same note over and over again in different contexts, but when you have something special in particular that you fall in love with, it gives a fragrance a soul.” These sorts of “exceptional notes,” she adds, can in many cases serve as founding inspirations for fragrances. “When you have something that is exclusive to your company, it gives you a sense of confi dence in what you do and what you show to the client,” says Frémont. “You feel you have something special. As a perfumer, it’s important to have this kind of confidence.”
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