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Schiff Base Shuffling: Paul Kiler’s New Work with Old Chemistry

Contact Author Eddie Bulliqi
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New perfumery molecules are being put under greater scrutiny by the F&F industry than ever before, not only on the regulatory side, but also by today’s consumer, whose cultural codes are dictated to a greater and greater degree by naturals and naturality. Combine that with a mythologized distrust for synthetics and stunted space for the discovery of new synthetics (versus the 1970s, when the novelty of aroma chemicals was virgin territory), and you have a significantly discouraging drag wind for scent chemists.
Self-taught independent perfumer Paul Kiler, winner of the Aftel Award for Handmade Perfume at the 2019 Art and Olfaction Awards, is taking an alternative path with both his perfumery and chemistry. The California-based Kiler's experiments with Schiff bases are allowing him to play with scent structures and expectations in innovative ways using these super-heavy, high-performing molecules.
This interview reviews how Kiler is using Schiff bases in his perfumes and what he hopes to discover with further experiments.

Eddie Bulliqi [EB]: How did you first come to perfumery and what did you set out to achieve?

Paul Kiler [PK]: In rebellion to the 1990s men’s “sports” fragrances that all gave me a headache, I just wanted to make a scent that I could wear and not have an adverse reaction to. The one fragrance at the time touted as great was Joop Homme, which was also awful to me. Basically, I hated all the popular men’s scents from the 1990s and was looking for something for myself that was a full and orchestral composition with ingredients that I liked. I wanted to try to do something myself that was better than what I found on the market.