What is a Perfumer?
Perfumers are trained professional artists who create fragrances for a multitude of products. Artistic as well as scientific, perfumers study long hours and many years to achieve the sensitive balance required to create just the right scents.
The training process to become a perfumer is mentally intense, rigorous and lengthy. The first task for a trainee perfumer is to study hundreds of natural and synthetic materials, memorizing them according to their specific odor and category. Once a mastery of this olfactory memory is attained, one must be able to create both simple and complex fragrance accords. By combining, balancing and blending these raw materials in memorable and unique ways, new fragrances are developed. Much like a musician working with notes and chords, infinite possibilities can be expressed.
There are many important aspects to perfumery training, but it is the art of incorporating these unique fragrances into various consumer products that is paramount. The variety of products is wide and expansive. It ranges from alcohol perfumery for colognes and perfumes, to various base perfumeries for shampoos, lotions, soap bar, liquid soap, laundry products and candles. Ideally, a master perfumer can achieve proficiency in all media; however, reality dictates distinct specialization in the profession today. Usually modern-day perfumers aspire to particular genre through their proficiencies in the different segments. Fine Fragrance, Personal Care and Household perfumery being the main focuses today.
A perfumer is a creative! An individual who emanates change and expression. An innovator that seeks inspiration yet inspires others with their creations.
Perfumery is an artistic endeavor inclusive of the science around it. A blend of the two for certain yet led by the artistic vision that develops the fragrance. Someone who looks at things in a different way and formulates something unique or reproduces the human experience of scent identically to tell the story of the fragrance. This is what perfumery is all about.
As with all artistry, there is an interpretation that is part of the process. In painting, it is a visual stimulus, a model in a chair, a landscape horizon, a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Easy to see, but difficult to emulate. Likewise in music, there is a series of chords, a rhythm, a beat, leading to a crescendo. Wonderful to the ear, easy to hear, but again unique to its song.
In fragrance, there is the balance of the accords, the synergies of the ingredient notes, and the connections to the associated memories of experiences we all have. An invisible art, naked to the eye yet evoking mental images in your memory. A silent art with no decibels that can be loud and rhythmic. Inspired by what one sees and hears intrinsically associated with the smells that are around you. The scent stimuli are immersive and transport the individual to a time and place. Maybe it is new, creating a new scent experience, but likely you have smelled the elements of the combinations before.
Bringing together the scents, what we call the palette of fragrant ingredients, to tell the story of the fragrance is the Art of Perfumery. An individual who develops their senses to coordinate their expression of smell into beautiful interactive scents is the artist we call a perfumer.
These individuals are spread out among the different disciplines that have developed in modern-day perfumery. These include Fine Fragrance, Personal Care and Household each entails a required talent and many bridge over these defined segments. Creating in any of these is a labor of love and draws much satisfaction to its results.
The Fine Fragrance Perfumer works in the arena of luxury goods developing scents of beauty and intrigue. After years of study and memorization of fragrance notes and combinations, known as "accords", they are able to achieve an insight into the associations of scent combinations that inspire and tell the story of the fragrance.
As an artistic expression the discipline endeavors to combine the scents of human experience into a timeline and story of fragrant note combinations.
Other New Skin Applied Technologies
Personal Care perfumery is no less demanding as fine fragrance and even more so, with the added requirement of in-depth knowledge of multiple base media. This is the creative perfumer at work in our everyday products. Disciplined in lotions, cream, shampoos and conditioners and any other application used in personal hygiene that requires the beauty of fragrance.
In PC perfumery more scientific requirements and knowledge base of compatibility with the different product line is mandatory. Adaptation of even known fragrance combinations needs to be adjusted and reformulated to achieve the desired fragrance character. Solubility, the stability of chemistry, whether it be the pH or reactivity, and even maintaining the original properties of the base media is mandatory. In many ways, this is much more challenging and is only preceded by household perfumery in the difficulties of incorporating fragrance.
and many other variations of these general products.
The Household Perfumer, the creative perfumer who tackles the difficult mediums focused on keeping our world clean and healthy.
Education & Becoming a Perfumer
In recent times multiple institutes of Perfumery have become available. Historically, perfumery schools have been closely held in house at most of our prominent industry fragrance houses. With the growing interest and enthusiasm on going in the perfumery field this has begun to branch out into independent schools with accreditation from our industry companies, acknowledgement from government and our organizations. Below is a list of some of these schools all located currently in Europe. See additional information below for US based certificate only programs.
Higher education institution in the field of perfume, cosmetics, and flavouring
Ecole Supérieure du Parfum, School of creation & management in the perfume industry
Grasse Institute of Perfumery
Le Havre University,
Master – Chemistry - perfume, cosmetics and flavouring
Nice University - Côte d’Azur
Master FOQUAL (formulation-analysis-quality) option flavouring and perfume
Additionally there are new school curriculums with introduction courses in the the field located in the United States as listed below.
Fashion Institute of Technology - FIT
The Creative Fragrance Development Certificate Program
This is more of an introduction into the fragrance industry and gives an overall insight into the creative process and marketing aspects of fragrance. Good as an exploration into the world of perfumery.
Advanced Perfumery Certificate
Pratt Institute’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies proudly collaborates with Cinquième Sens to be the exclusive New York City provider of the Certificate Program in Advanced Perfumery. Additionally, we offer a Fragrance Creation Workshop, a hands-on opportunity to explore the artistic work of perfumers and make your own perfume.