The last day of school

serge lutensserge lutensserge lutensToday was the last day of school and in the evening as I walked through the rooms turning off all the lights, I was struck with how fast time goes by.  So much has happened since the beginning, since I first entered this space- tears, fights, camaraderie, many shared lunches in the sunshine, laughter and amazing creativity, and most importantly, so much learning.  All those days have come and gone.  Tonight as I stood alone in the dark in the classroom and played all this through my mind, I felt nostalgic but fulfilled.  I feel a bit sad that it’s over, but at the same time, I’m ready for what comes next.  Unfortunately, I don’t yet know what is around the corner and so it felt fitting to just be in the moment and stand in the dark and breath in all the scent from these last months, fully absorbing all that I have learned.

I have chosen this path of perfumery.  I know it is a difficult one.  I am chasing and tasting on occassion the harmonics of an elusive and ethereal medium.  The path I have seen so far is strewn with competitiveness, fragile egos, commercial, legal and artistic limitations, misconceptions, and fear.  It is also lit with the light of dreams, creativity and magical artistic interpretation- and it is that perspective that I am dedicating myself to.  So- it’s the eve of a new chapter and it’s also the eve of the Winter Solstice- the longest night of the year.   Tonight is the time to stop and reflect and rest.

ps I will receive one of the internships….although it may not be in the creation department, but rather evaluation and marketing.  Everything will be confirmed after the holidays.


the Finale! (part I)

Last night was fantastic!  We got to the hall mid afternoon to get all set up for the evenings festivities, and by 5:30, when the guests started arriving, we were ready.  

The evening began with speeches from the director ASFO (the organization that created GIP), followed by the Mayor of Grasse, then the owner/director of Mane- Mr Mane, followed by a presentation of the brief itself.  There were about 80 people in attendance, all seated.

Earlier we had flipped a coin with the other team to decide the order and the coin decided that we would go first.  So it was I who opened the presentation of our team.  I have always been paralyzed by public speaking in the past, but last night, I was so exhausted and emotionally expanded, that in a way, it was easy.  I felt connected with the audience, knowing they all were members fo the perfumery world, be-it perfumers, evaluators, raw material producers etc.  Our presentation went off perfectly.  (much of it was rewritten over the last few days) and we finished with a sigh of relief and a huge thank you to all the people who gave us chance to have the experience.

After the other team gave their amazing performance, and a bit more formalities were attended to; the winners were announced…and……

The other team won for their marketing- and our team won for the perfumes.  We had two- one Eau de toilette  (Green Zest) and then my fragrance  (Black Licorice) as a room fragrancer and hair gel.  The prizes are 4  three month internships with Mane and Fils.  The final word is yet to come in as to who will receive these, but we should know tomorrow.

I will write more then……….

Friday- and the 3rd presentation

Well…a report as promised in my last entry….this afternoon was the 3rd presentation….we went to the headquarters of Mane & Fils to give our most convincing (hopefully) performance yet.  After enetering the huge Mane compound, we were escorted to our parking places by two pompiers (firemen- it’s high security at this company-as there are many volatile materials being mass-produced here), and then we were shown into the building to a room marked ‘Auditorium’.  It was all so incredibly formal and serious that I was worried that not only were we late, but two members of my team were not going to arrive for another fifteen minutes or so because they were trying to print off a booklet for our presentation on a borrowed colour printer.  Tension wa high as we entered the room and our two marketing teachers greeted us and one immediately gave us hell for being late. 

Anyway….a long story short….the other team took our place since members of our team were late and their PowerPoint presentation was not only flawless, but brilliant. They chose to represent Apple as an interpretation of the brief  (we chose SONY) and everything was perfectly polished and well-researched and organized.  At this point I seriously considered vacating the building and /or ‘bowing out gracefully’ because I knew what was to come.  In this, I mean- our team.   And here I want to be as optimistic as possible and paint the silver lining and so on……..and see downright failure as a chance to learn and grow.  Because, to be honest, this is what we did.  Not only did we end up with the wrong file for the video prensentation (the one with all the typos, mistakes in layout etc), but…well, I’ll stop there.  Put it this way; everything that could go wrong- did.   I was so embarrassed, that I had to take deep breaths and resist with all my strength the urge to exit the building and run for home.  It was horrifying.  *(explanation?  members of the team having kids, beng pregnant, or having Italian boyfriends or just not bothering to show up for meetings, language barriers, power struggles- etc. *see below for a further comment on this …)

The good news is that the final final presentation will be Monday night in front of 100 people or so we have a chance to redeem ourselves.  My perfume will continue as the perfume in a hair gel application as well as a room fragrance in the form of aroma sticks.  Mio, from Japan, will present her perfume as the final contender against the perfume of the other team.  (my perfume is just too delicate and fine to compare with the synthetic powerhouses that it’s up against. That said, I am disappointed , but Max Gavarry loves it, so I can live with that endorsement!)

So that’s all….I’m exhausted and full of mixed emotions.  Off to bed to let it all soak in and tomorrow I will go to my pottery class and try to pour all the energy into the Zen of Clay.

*here I want to make another comment about ‘passion’. To reiterate, by several prominent and respected people in the industry, I have been told that ‘passion’ is absolutely necessary to be successful in this business. (perhaps any highly specialized arena), and in my 0pinion, this is a perfect example of why. Throughout the Fall term, some students continue to come to school every day, and work and practise and forge ahead in their development. Others, sleep in, go travelling, hang out, and if they do show up, it is late, and because the teachers wait for everyone to come before  they begin class, the keen students suffer a loss of instruction time. Another factor, is that most of the time at this school the study is self-directed. This is so that the students can practise the scales, or the raw materials over and over and learn for themselves how to be creative in this medium.  (it’s a bit of a lonely art in that way) Obviously, this is not an ideal setting for many!  However, it is a great way to know, in one year, if perfumery is the appropriate path for each individual…. The question is- do you love it enough???

2.5 hours to go

Here we are at school working like crazy to finish the marketing material, packaging and products themselves before the final presentation for the I-Community competition at Mane. At three o’clock (or later- this is France after-all) we will present the result of the last 3 monthes work to a panel representing these three areas of business.

My Black Licorice perfume is now ready; I think!  It’s so hard to know when to stop a creaion.  Like a painter also, I’m sure….when is the painting done?

 I will write more tonight to let you know how it all went….