The making of custom perfumes is the key to understanding the work of a perfumer.
In nearly all cases we compose perfumes for someone or else with someone.
The first case is that of a company who wants a new fragrance. It will give a brief and we shall start making a set of proposals.
These will be presented to a person of the company who is in charge of the valuation of the fragrances. This “évaluateur” will judge the samples with different criterions, one of which will be the reaction of other persons to them.
It may be a board of specialists, some company’s employees or his own friends and family.
It depends on how far he brings his job into his private life.
Because the work of building the fragrance is based on a brief, this type of perfumes can be called “custom concept perfumes”
The second case is that of a private persons asking for a custom perfume, it is very obvious that the perfumer will work directly under his command, and the perfume will be based on the customer’s choice of ingredients, on his indications and sometimes even on his presence.
Because in this case the work of composing the custom fragrance is founded on the choice of the ingredients, this type of perfume can be called an “custom ingredient perfume”.
However there is not only the alternative between a “custom concept scent” and an “custom ingredient one” for a private customer.
A custom perfume for a single person does not need a brief because that which guides the nose of the person to the choice of the ingredients is greater and more relevant to her than a concept. It is her own emotional story since birth, narrated with scents.
In this case the equivalent of the brief comes as a second step, when the individual has chosen the ingredients. He will then have a more realistic idea of what he would like as a fragrance and at this stage he will write or explain directly to the perfumer about the fragrance that he desires.
This will be more than a conceptual brief because it will take into account the real smells and the emotions to them associated.
This is the real perfume, a real fragrance made for a real person, and the most interesting thing of such scents for the perfumer is the appeal they have to a large audience of people, they can often be best sellers.
The third case concerns indie perfumers, “the Indians” as the industry calls them.
The perfumer will composes a fragrance for his own line of products, following a concept, an inspiration, the fascination for a new ingredient or a long postponed project.
He comes up with some kind of scent that he finds himself completely unable to evaluate, and the first thing he does is to have people around him smell it.
It may be his co-workers, his friends, certainly his family. He will hear the comments, observe the reactions and adjust the fragrance in order to complete it, trusting the judgement of others.
The last case is that of another indie perfumer who thinks very highly of himself, who believes sincerely that he is the most talented perfumer around and that people have to accept what he does as pure artistic gold or else they are ignorant fellows.
He works alone, relying on stereotyped technique, making many versions of a perfume, he confronts them for month and at the end he decides for what is the best one and will never change his mind about it.
This is the worst fate for a perfumer, fortunately it is very rare, although many a perfumer had to go through such a stage or will keeps for years this tendency hidden in the dark side of his personality.