/ Making Scents: The Art of Perfumery

Making Scents: The Art of Perfumery

Jan 24, 2014

Master perfumer Harry Frémont reveals what it takes to create a classic fragrance for a modern woman.

Modern Muse is Estée Lauder’s first new fragrance in 10 years, and the man who created the scent is none other than master perfumer Harry Frémont, the man behind a long list of bestselling fragrances by Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang, to name a few. We had a chance to talk to Frémont firsthand about the art of perfumery, where he finds his inspiration and his latest creation, Modern Muse.


Soriyya Bawa: Where do you find your inspiration when creating a new scent?
Harry Frémont: For me, my two biggest sources of inspiration are nature and women. For nature, I love gardening. It is a big part of who I am and how I energize myself. When I find a smell I like in nature, I love trying to study it and attempt to exalt it in order to use it in a new fragrance. As for being inspired by women, I try to appreciate the image they want to project of themselves and create fragrances that could enhance their life and style.

SB: What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with?
HF: I love working with many ingredients. Flowers are wonderful as they are the ultimate expression of femininity through nature. I also enjoy using all kinds of woods and musks for their sensuality. In contrast, materials that can make fragrances more optimistic, playful and fun, like citrus or fruits, are also exciting. And secretly I love working with aromatic notes because they remind me of growing up in the South of France.

SB: How has your personal approach to perfumery changed over the years?
HF: I think it is all about communication. When I started, I didn’t realize this. Perfumery is not an act of solitude. Today, a perfumer needs to listen, interpret, explain and communicate with the people he is working with, whether internally or with the client. Also, creating a fragrance is all about connecting the dots and putting together the pieces of a puzzle. You need to have your own vision and integrate everything people are telling you about the fragrance you are creating in order to make it right.


SB: How would you describe the art of perfumery?
HF: The more experience you have, the more quickly you are able to achieve the vision you have for the fragrance you want to create. Creating a fragrance is all about translating something: an emotion, a colour, a lifestyle, a concept. Some perfumers compare this to music or painting, but for me, it is more like sculpting with clay — you create a primal olfactive form and then you add more details and more facets. Sometimes you realize something is too much, so you reduce and readjust an aspect, the same way a sculptor will with his medium. With experience, you are able to visualize the fragrance you are creating. Experience is paramount to achieving your vision.

SB: How have fragrances and scents changed over the years?
HF: Fragrances are always a reflection of their time. We don’t create the same fragrances for 10 or 20 years because fashion, lifestyle and values are always changing. From time to time, fragrances are created that engage people emotionally and transcend the passage of time. These are the fragrances that will become classic.

SB: What are some tips for wearing a fragrance in this season?
HF: The best way to experience a fragrance is on your skin. Also, spraying fragrance on your hair will leave a nice trail as you move your body. I also think it’s nice to spray some fragrance on your jacket in the chilly months — then you’ll be able to experience the fragrance every time you put your jacket on to go outside.

SB: When wearing a fragrance, do you have any suggestions for how to make the scent last longer?
HF: Layering a fragrance with body lotion is a great way to make a fragrance last longer, as is using a more concentrated perfume version. I recommend always having a small-sized bottle in your bag to enjoy, so you can reapply on the go.


SB: What was your inspiration behind the Modern Muse scent?
HF: Modern Muse was inspired by a new vision of modern femininity. It celebrates the vibrant, confident woman who inspires others with her independent spirit and creative, irreverent style.

SB: How would you describe the scent of Modern Muse?
HF: Modern Muse is a lush, floral, woody fragrance. It’s comprised of two contrasting facets: a sparkling jasmine accord and a sleek wood accord, which personify the intriguing duality of today’s woman, who is soft and feminine, yet confident and dynamic, all at the same time.

SB: How did you begin the process of creating Modern Muse?
HF: The development of Modern Muse was a very exciting journey. I worked closely with Karyn Khoury, the renowned “nose” of the Estée Lauder Companies. We started with an idea, a vision of the type of woman for which the fragrance was created. Modern Muse was inspired by today’s modern woman, so Karyn and I spent a lot of time talking about who the modern woman is, how she lives her life and what matters to her. As a perfumer, my job is to translate these emotions and concepts into a fragrance. It was this chic new vision of modern femininity that informed the ingredients that were selected to bring this idea to life.

SB: What type of feeling are you hoping to evoke in women when they wear the Modern Muse fragrance?
HF: I hope women will feel fantastic about themselves when wearing Modern Muse — happy about their life, confident, optimistic, and most of all, very feminine.




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