The Last Word: Annie Buzantian

"If you have the gift, you have to find it your own way so you can stand on your own two feet all the time." Firmenich perfumer Annie Buzantian still recalls this key piece of advice from her former mentor, Elie Roger. Roger, a beloved and respected colleague, passed away last November, following a career that lasted from 1946 to his retirement in 1991.

Elie worked first in Grasse, France, and then held positions in New York and Paris. Nominated to the elite rank of master perfumer in 1978, he created a number of world-class fragrances, including Wild Country (Avon), Knowing (Estée Lauder) and Clinique Wrappings (Clinique/Estée Lauder Co.). In 2001, Elie received the American Society of Perfumers’ Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to his creative legacy, he leaves behind a second generation of perfumery; his daughter, Odile Bongi, is also a perfumer.

Discovery of Style

“He was so friendly and human,” Annie says of Elie. “He was very generous with his knowledge: he shared and encouraged and had great belief in me—more than I did at the time. He believed that women could bring a different perspective and approach.” Elie’s combination of encouragement and creative prodding helped Annie flourish as a perfumer. “He was there in every way for me. He is responsible for who I am and what I do today.”

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