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. In a world where fear-based stories achieve front-page status more quickly than stories of hope and kindness, there is a need for the artistry and incomparable beauty of fine fragrance, right here, right now and more than ever. In the fall of 2006, perfume was demonized at airports as a potential tool of terrorism. (Ironically, and this detail bears attention, the cradle of fragrance history resides in the Middle East, where many of the world’s finest raw materials are cultivated.) While the effects of this chapter in history were being written, Christophe Laudamiel’s career at IFF was beginning to take flight.
In this article, Michelle Krell Kydd talks with Laudamiel about his latest project—a collection of fragrances inspired by Patrick Süskind’s novel, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Laudamiel came to IFF in 2000 from Procter & Gamble, as a chemist/perfumer who migrated from functional to fine fragrance creation. In 2003, both he and perfumer Carlos Benaim were recognized at the ASP Perfumer’s Choice Awards for their work on Ralph Lauren Polo Blue for Men, which had also won a FiFi Award that same year. Hard work continued to pay off in wins for Laudamiel, but something else was brewing. Laudamiel’s fascination with Patrick Süskind’s novel, Perfume, the Story of a Murderer, was inspiring late-night creation sessions, long after mods from big clients were tweaked and tuned, and the watchmen at IFF were doing their midnight rounds.
IFF has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting and stimulating their perfumers’ talents, and Laudamiel was an avid participant in the “Visionaire Scent” (2003) and “Visionaire Taste” (2005) projects. In addition, he was co-creator of “Iconosms,” an exhibition with photographer L.E. Badessi. “Iconosms,” which combined visuals with scent, made gallery appearances in Florida and New York, as well as Belgium. Laudamiel’s side projects, along with a growing number of fine fragrance wins, were populating Google search pages like spring dandelions and fragrance bloggers were buzzing with respect and admiration for his work.
In 2005, Christophe Laudamiel and Christoph Hornetz of IFF, collectively known as the duo Les Christophs, completed their Perfume project. That same year, Constantin Film was wrapping up production of the film version of Perfume with German director Tom Tykwer (of Run Lola Run fame). The timing was right. IFF’s Nicolas Mirzayantz, group president of fragrances, agreed to share the Les Christophs’ project with Vera Strübi, president of Thierry Mugler Parfums. Mugler had ushered the uniquely gourmand Angel into the world in 1992, making this new project a great match.
One Story, 15 Scents
Equally talented in niche and fine fragrance creation, Laudamiel is driven by a need to smash boundaries—those imposed by circumstance and those he imposes on himself. Over a six-year-period, utilizing passages of the novel that seemed ripe for olfactive interpretation, Laudamiel took on the roles of product developer and marketer, responsibilities that are often criticized by perfumers who feel frustrated by the restrictions and contradictions inherent in a creative process that is aggressively driven by profit.
The resulting 15 scents, presented in a single coffret, are as follows: Baby, Paris 1738, Atelier Grimal, Virgin No. 1, Boutique Baldini, Amor & Psyché, Nuit Napolitaine, Ermite, Salon Rouge, Human Existence, Absolu Jasmin, Sea, Noblesse, Orgie and Aura.