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The 10 finalists for Quintis’ Sandalwood Reimagined competition were recently unveiled, with the two winners to be announced at WPC in Miami in early July. Who were the five senior perfumers chosen, and what inspired them? Here are their profiles.
Quintis, a company specializing in the ethical production of sandalwood, collaborated with the American Society of Perfumers to launch the Sandalwood Reimagined competition last October. Open to all, it intended to “unleash creativity by reimagining Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) in a fragrance to honor the art of perfumery and the forgotten scent of an old substance.” Participants had until March 31, 2022 to reveal their creation, which had to contain at least 1% of the company’s white sandalwood essential oil in a 12% eau de toilette, as well as their creative goal.
An independent jury of perfumers selected 10 creations out of approximately 300 submissions from around the world, dividing them into two categories: Global Winner and Emerging Talent. Below is a focus on the five senior perfumers who are among the finalists in the first category.
Elodie Durande, Quintessence Fragrances, United Kingdom
I was born in 1992 and grew up in a small countryside village in Normandy, France. Drawn to the world of scents ever since I was a child and having both a creative mind as well as the rational brain of a scientist, perfumery was a perfect combination of the two. I studied chemistry before embarking on the two-year perfumery course (Licence ProPAC) at the University of Montpellier and worked as an intern in Grasse. That summer, completely by chance, I met master perfumer François Robert. He took me under his wing, guiding me and giving me the opportunity to explore my dream of becoming a perfumer. I started working with Quintessence Fragrances as an intern eight years ago; after six months, I joined the evaluation team. Three years later, I had the opportunity to continue my training as a junior perfumer, mentored by François, and I officially became a perfumer three years ago, in Brighton, England. I feel scents in textures, shapes and colors. I strive to create fragrances that are capable of triggering people’s emotions, transporting them to new places or back in time to deep memories.
This fragrance was inspired by a trip to Myanmar I made two years ago, just before the pandemic took the world by storm. I have a specific memory of an old man carving wooden beads made from sandalwood on the warm pavements of Mandalay Hill. The air was filled with incense smoke emanating from the many temples along the hill, spices from the adjacent market stalls and floral notes from the fragrances worn by local women.
This fragrance takes you on a journey to a destination you will soon discover. To create a multidimensional fragrance with sandalwood as the star of the show, I turned to the warmth of spices and a mystical, smoky incense accord on top. A floral heart combined with an addictive and almost gustative facet with rum, Tolu balsam and vanilla, and a combination of delicate and creamy musks for a soft and skin-like finish.
Jennifer Jambon, Argeville, France
As a child, I used to play at blending herbs and plants to make perfumes. I enrolled in the master’s degree program in flavor and perfume chemistry at the University of Le Havre (France). I went on to achieve a postgraduate degree in perfumery at the renowned ISIPCA in Versailles. My vocation has taken me to Switzerland for my internship at Firmenich, then to Ireland for IFF and all the way to Chile, where I worked as a perfumer for the South American market. I then went back to Europe and lived in London for eight years, working as an in-house perfumer for the luxury brand Molton Brown. After 15 amazing years living abroad, I returned to France, and since 2017, I have been a cross-category perfumer for Argeville.
For this fragrance, I was inspired by the feeling of freedom when traveling through Australia. I remember especially the diversity and vastness of the sandalwood forest, the ochre mountains in the background at sunset while the precious, sacred perfume oil is harvested.
Violet leaf, combined with magnolia and mimosa blossom, gives a natural floral green start. Then the precious sandalwood rounds the powdery iris to give a creamy, rich texture to the fragrance. Finally, balsamic benzoin, mystic olibanum and gourmand tonka bean enrich the perfume’s body and liner on skin.
Gwen Gonzales, Givaudan, United States
My path to becoming a perfumer was defined from a very young age. My mother, an ardent lover of fragrance, would suggest we take small moments to enjoy the smell of a fresh apple, or vegetables harvested from our garden, or her freshly baked cakes. I spent much of my childhood abroad, which would prove fertile ground for experimentation with both foreign and familiar scents and ideas. My favorite childhood hobby was making simple fragrances for friends and family. I would mix homemade plant tinctures with essential oils and hadn’t anticipated that my love of perfume could translate into my job. Initially preparing for a career in medicine, I propelled into the world of perfumery and joined Givaudan as a laboratory technician. I am fascinated with what I call “Jekyll and Hyde” molecules, and finding the balance between their natures. I love to craft unconventional fragrances that are transportive, which can be quiet and huge at the same time.
I was inspired by an experience of enjoying a small, hidden patch of forest during a trip to the Nuesa Forest in Colombia. The sky was bright but filtered by the canopy of trees. The breeze was cool and it carried the scent of fallen eucalyptus pods, which smelled of both the characteristic camphoraceous, refreshing notes as well as an unexpected loamy, green, blackcurrant facet. The forest floor was covered with fallen soft pine needles piled so high that with every step you felt like you were floating. It released a slightly hay-like, earthy, woody aroma, which was enveloping. The entire atmosphere was magical and serene, invoking both the meditative and the sacred.
The fragrance was built around a harmony of the soft, warm and cool elements of sandalwood. The cool aspect appears as the fragrance opens with an airy cloud effect of a eucalyptus seed pod accord, which is brightened by petitgrain, bitter orange oil and a hint of spearmint. Invigorating warm notes of pink pepper, allspice and cardamom create warmth and wrap around the heart of a soft, fruity poivre de cassis accord along with orris and saffron. The highlight of the background is the sandalwood which is then framed by amber, vetiver, fir absolute, tonka bean and sesame.
Mathieu Lenoir, European Flavors and Fragrances, United Kingdom
My first olfactory playgrounds were spring in Paris, our family orchard in Saint-Léger-des-Aubées, a storm in Dinard, freshly cut hay drying on the sunny slopes of Sainte Foy-en-Tarentaise, loud crickets in the lavender of Oppède-Le-Vieux, a tomato from my organic field in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, and so much more…
My first contact with perfumery was at Cinquième sens with Monique Schlinger. I then started my training with Pierre Bourdon and Benoit Lapouza at Fragrance Resources in Paris and went for a two-month internship at Chanel with Jacques Polge and François Demachy. I then joined the Givaudan perfumery school in Grasse with Françoise Marin. I was mentored by Jeffrey Hodges at Givaudan Argenteuil and sent to Singapore. I came back to France as a senior global perfumer for haircare. Then I was hired by Firmenich Asia. I am currently the global head of perfumery at European Flavors and Fragrances in the United Kingdom.
My perfumer’s career has offered me jasmine blooming at night in Grasse, a carpet of frangipani flowers in Bali, testing my creations in a street hair salon of Bangkok, and a trip from Bangalore to Mysore.
Inspiring, nourishing, essential and pure. What could be more fascinating and beautiful than milk? What could be more precious than sandalwood milk? Sandalwood oil has many facets and I have always been obsessed with its “warm milk” nature, its nutty side; it is the noblest wood in our palette and the closest to a perfect skin scent. Santalum album is impalpable but present; it surrounds you with a cloud of beauty, freshness and sensuality to accompany you nicely on your journey. Santalum album will complete you.
Carrot seed oil, davana oil and safranal blend in an orris accord to give a colored, warm and sensual intensity. This is wrapped in a sheer, aqueous, fresh veil of cold spices like cardamom and pink pepper, set on a solid citrus woody backbone to endow the composition with good linearity and diffusion.
Celia Orozco Cirimbili, GRC Parfum, Italy
I’ve always loved perfumes. As a young child, I would constantly beg my mom to buy me new ones and even had one of those make-your-own-perfume toys. After studying chemistry, I went to Spain for an internship at Eurofragance. It was there that I decided I wanted to be a perfumer. I then went to the perfumery school in Grasse called GIP and after finishing my studies, I was offered my first job at CPL Aromas in the United Kingdom, mostly in the fine fragrance and cosmetics market. Four years ago, I joined my current company, GRC Parfum. Here, I work as a perfumer focused on the fine fragrance sector. There was much to discover about the Italian market, and I am still learning about it. Raised in France but from a Spanish family, this multicultural aspect of my life helps my creative process, as does my love for music, dance, opera and everything to do with sound in general. Curious by nature, I am always up to discovering new places and new countries; traveling helps me recharge.
An ingredient that is often used but not always apparent straightaway, sandalwood is intimate, sensual and mysterious. Like a painter working with lights and shadows, I used diverse ingredients to emphasize the sandalwood, putting it center stage while blending it so that sometimes it feels like it’s hiding – like a game of hide-and-seek. Inspired by its Oriental origins, I wanted to create an ode to the East.
The opening accord of spicy black pepper, elemi and sparkling pink pepper positions this scent as unisex. The powdery facet of orris confers a velvety texture to the creaminess of the sandalwood, while the olibanum brings a mystic feature. A cushion of white musks conveys a “skin-on-skin” feeling, giving an atmosphere of intimacy. At the same time, the backdrop of nagarmotha and vetiver sweetens the trail.