The master perfumer Raymond Chaillan gave a spectacular conference last night in Paris at the SFP (Société Française des Parfumeurs) where he presented his ideas about this art and the relations to other aesthetic forms. He also drew a portrait of the fragrance industry today underlining aspects that maybe others would not dare to publicly express today. Combining his sense of humor and a sharp irony with fine cultural references in a very vivid talk, the perfumer brought his entire experience to show how the world has changed and how the young generation could improve this universe. Raymond Chaillan, with more than 40 years of experience as a perfumer, started at Chiris, then joined Roure, Firmenich, Argeville and Dragoco as chief perfumer. He authored many famous perfumes like Signoricci 2 (Nina Ricci, considered his masterpiece) and worked also in the team that developed Givenchy III (my favourite), Opium (YSL) and Anais Anais (Cacharel). He evoked the obsession with secrecy (even today I doubt that creators from his generation would reveal what they used inside their fragrances) that gradually endangered the cultural heritage of this industry. The young perfumers have no idea about the products they used even in the 60's-70's and many things have been lost or cannot be transmitted. While speaking about music and painting, he rejected all the parallels that have been drawn up saying how useless and senseless they are like any other academic conversation. He also rejected several other contemporary approaches he described as "artifice du langage" and rejected with irony several myths of the industry created around legendary perfumers. His presentation was extremely rich, dense and profound but I will not enter the details and nuances so well captured in French - "le discours du Roi" as they say. He gave several ideas that I will explore by myself. Hearing a perfumer from another generation with such a different style in terms of composition is always inspiring. While he was evoking several perfumes he did when he worked for Firmenich, I suddenly realized that not only those creations are impossible to find, but I hadn't the slightest clue about those products, completely vanished today. Nobody has access to the products of Firmenich (like "Bois doré" and I'm not speaking 1900's) and as I often said, the perfume industry is like a huge coffin. Perpetual death is the curse for too much beauty. Creators and their ideas vanish from Earth every 20 years without leaving any trace and every time the new generation has to reinvent anything because nothing is truly preserved and known. Every week I pray to Saint Anthony of Padua for old bottles and forgotten products because perfume history is not science but miracle. I waited 15 years to smell an old creation from the swiss Chuit Naef and I perfectly understood what master perfumer Raymond Chaillan said. Understanding a masterpiece is not obvious, it is a revelation.
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Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art