Bonjour a tous!
New Year’s has come and gone, school has finished and I received my diploma as <<student perfumer>>. So now what? you may all be wondering? Well, so am I!! I am now officially, a student of perfumery! The next step, technically, classically, is to train under a Nez for 9 more years before ever hoping of attaining the title of ‘Perfumer’. This is the tradition. I respect that- but how to do it? As you know, I have been offered an internship at Mane & Fils for 3 monthes beginning whenever I choose. I had heard rumours of what the placement involved, but about a week ago, I phoned the director of the department where I would be working to get a detailed description of the project. As it turns out- they are creating a data-base containing descriptions of all the most commercial mainstream –shampoos, shower gels, and fabric softeners– from the 8 main marketing regions of the world. It would be our job to smell, evaluate/categorize 100’s of these products and enter the info into the reference library. Interesting? Perhaps. But for 3 monthes, full-time, with no hope of working with raw materials, or creation on any level, I question its value. At least for me. If I was hoping to get my foot in the door with Mane for a future job, maybe. But I have to remember why I came to France in the first place- to learn the art of perfume creation in the classical French tradition. True, there are some great and creative formulae in shampoo and shower gel (believe it or not), but I would not have any contact with the creation aspect of these. However, I was feeling still very unsure of my decision so went to see the director of PRODAROM (http://www.prodarom.fr/UK/prodarom-accueil.htm) to ask his advice. He agreed that perhaps this was not ideal or me, so made a call which got me an interview at Payan Bertand, a Grassois company founded in 1854. (http://www.payanbertrand.com/index.php?_lang=GB&&alias=society) There I met with the director of the perfumery department and had a brilliant conversation that helped me feel inspired if nothing else.
This man asked me what I wanted with their company (I said, an internship in the creation lab- working with raw materials), and he asked, for how long can you dedicate yourself to us? (To which I answered truthfully, seems how I’m running low on $- for 1 to 3 monthes). He then told me that realistically, for a period as short as that, there was not a lot I would learn! Of course! He then said, what I really need to do, is set up my lab and get to work practising, because with a year of school under my belt, this is the only way to continue to learn anyway- even under the tutelage of a Nez, one can only continue to learn by constant practise. He gave me his card and said that he would be there for me if I had any questions at all, and that they could send me samples to help get started. And that was that. I left feeling quite elated and by the time I got home, I thought, but what if I was to offer myself to them for longer, for a serious length of time. So I proceeded to write a letter saying that I would be happy to dedicate myself to Payan Bertrand for 2-5 years either here in Grasse or at another of their subsidiaries internationally. I now await….. But of course, what he suggested is what I really want to do! Of course! My passion and love is studying the raw materials so I can fully express myself and create beauty in this medium. But I also know how much I don’t know…and only time and guidance can fill in those blanks. so how to make the most of my remaining time in the mecca?
Yesterday, I phoned the perfumer Michel Roudnitska. (www.art-et-parfum.com/legend.htm Read the articles here about Edmond as they are most interesting) I was put into contact by a wonderful woman I have come to know from Toronto who is a friend of his. (http://web.mac.com/sixthscents) And next week, I have an appointment with him! This man is the son of Edmond Roudnitska who was a master perfumer and who created many masterpieces. Their approach to perfumery is the one I am most interested and inspired by- that this is an art form and one that connects deeply with our inner selves. It is about beauty and the expression of it. As well, Edmond was the man behind many of JC Ellena’s ideas, including simplicity in formulation. He was a thinker and always worked outside the constraints of pure commercialism. I feel like I am going to the source with this move, rather than taking the path most travelled.
Other than this wonderful upcoming experience, I am also trying to decide when and where for my next steps once I leave France. (I feel sad even saying that…but I console myself by saying- I’ll be back) There are a many options written on post-it notes and stuck all over the wall beside me! – 1.a month in Mexico- resting and studying my books- while I wait for the snow to melt in Nelson. 2. a month in Rome volunteering in a cat sanctuary in the ruins (this is something I ‘ve wanted to do for years)(http://www.arkonline.com/rome.htm) 3. going straight to Montreal to check it out seems how I am seriously attracted to the idea of living there. 4. going straight to Nelson to get to work on my business (it’s so cold and there’s tons of snow!!) 5. contacting an Irish perfumer I have found out about and seeing if he would take me as an intern (postscript…. I tried to contact this man and sadly found his obituary- see below) Those are the main ones- there are others, like travelling in Tunisia, Morocco or Turkey that have been ruled out due to high cost….who knew it was so expensive in these countries! It’s cheaper in Grasse!
Since I am feeling quite up-in-the-air right now as to what the ‘best’ decision is…I am very open to advice! I am feeling quite humble these day actually and aware of ‘all that I don’t know’, so if anyone out there has a perspective, I am interested to hear!
And by the way, as I wait, I am going through all my perfume samples (all the Miller Harris and many Annick Goutal, for example) and evaluating, dissecting and note-taking. A great way to keep my nose tuned up!
Also in a few days, it will be exactly one year since I arrived in France! Un anniversaire d’importance!
Arthur Burnham [May 14, 2007]
Arthur Burnham, perfumer and founder of Arthur Burnham & Partners Ltd., has passed away. Burnham’s 35 year career in fragrance included an apprenticeship at Roure Bertrand Fils et Justin Dupont, where he was the only British apprentice. He also spent 18 years with Dragoco UK. Burnham’s distinctions included a chairmanship with the British Fragrance Association. A talented rowing crewmember at Cornell, Burnham narrowly missed selection for the 1964 Olympics