Born in Nancy, France, and trained in Grasse, the home of French perfumery, Bertrand Duchaufour is widely regarded as one of the masters of modern perfumery. In a career spanning over three decades, the highly sought-after nose has worked with some of the most prestigious names in the biz, including Acqua di Parma, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Comme des Garçons, Penhaligon’s, Eau d’Italie, Givenchy and Dior.
The creator of modern classics such as Comme des Garçons Series 3, Incense: Kyoto, L’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu, Penhaligon’s Sartorial and Amouage Jubilation XXV took time out of his busy schedule to talk about his creative process, success and current projects.
What fragrance are you wearing today? I don’t wear any fragrance. I try to keep the most distance possible with fragrances and scents. If I can work in a pure way of abstraction, I will do it.
What’s your guiding principle when you create a fragrance? To keep distance and to let time act as much as I do. I am driven by imagination, but that is always driven by an idea or an image. Conceptualisation is important. It’s impossible to have any input without it.
I never know. A success is always a surprise. There is no recipe.
Do you ever take trends into account in your creative process? No, never. I try to be completely free regarding that, even if I go wrong!
Is being a nose a gift or a skill? Both. It’s a gift as soon as we want to do something with it. It’s a skill as soon as we work hard and constantly to improve it.
How do you know when you have created a winner? I never know. A success is always a surprise. There is no recipe.
You have created well over 100 fragrances. Is there any particular fragrance that has a special place in your heart? Yes, maybe two or three of them, such as the original Eau d’Italie and L’Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubéreuse.
What projects are you working on at the moment? I am working on different fragrance collections for brands such as Phuong Dang and Pont des Arts. Those brands are unknown at the moment and I have developed global collections for them. It is very exciting! I continue to work for other brands like Enchanted Forest, Grandiflora, Neela Vermeire and many others in the same way.
What smell is the most evocative for you? The smell of earth. It’s the biggest and deepest one!