Perfume interview: meeting the perfumer Paul Guerlain

Feb 02, 2023Tiphanie Nguyen0 comments

Constraint in perfumery is often an incredible asset to creativity, a driving force.” -Paul Guerlain

portrait of perfumer Paul Guerlain

Today, we take you to meet Paul Guerlain , perfumer at IFF who created Pleine Lune , our seductive and mysterious floral alongside Anne Flipo .

Observer and curious , discover his story, his journey, his inspirations for the creation of Pleine Lune and the challenges he encountered when composing natural perfumes .

Good reading !

The journey and inspirations of Paul Guerlain

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?

I trained as a perfumer at IFF first in New York then in Paris . This is where I had the extreme happiness of becoming a student of Anne Flipo . I owe him a lot. She passed on her knowledge to me and allowed me to reveal my abilities.

What ultimately made you want to become a perfumer?

I come from a family of perfumers , so I smelled very young. Coming home from school I saw my grandfather working on notes, with an array of wimps around him.

He never trained me, but it was he who made me want to become a perfumer.

What are your inspirations?

The sources of inspiration are endless I would say. Nature, people, art, I like to observe what surrounds me.

Inspiration, ideas we don't summon them, they often arrive when we don't expect them.

How do you manage to transcribe words, an inspiration or a memory into a perfume?

I create a dialogue . What I like when I create is to create a dialogue between raw materials. I like to make them meet, that's how they attract each other, oppose each other, reveal themselves... That's how I work.

Do you have an olfactory signature? If yes which one ?

I don't think so... or maybe it's constantly evolving .
The danger is perhaps having one. To create is to constantly evolve, to renew oneself.

Paul Guerlain and Bastille…

What are the challenges of composing perfumes with 95% natural ingredients?

For this project, it was indeed a question of having a very high proportion of ingredients of natural origin. But constraints in perfumery are often an incredible asset to creativity, a driving force . As the palette becomes smaller, it is necessary to find new sources of expression, while guaranteeing the finesse and durability of the final creation.

What did you like/like about the Bastille adventure?

The approach and commitment of the team and the creative challenge . I liked this desire for transparency. The creative freedom we had on this project as well.

From a more personal point of view, this perfume was also an opportunity for me to create alongside Anne Flipo . Working with Anne is always a pleasure and a great learning moment. I come out of it growing every time.

Can you describe to us in 3 words the perfume that you signed at Bastille?

Full Moon : Sensual, delicate, biased

Pleine Lune Eau de Parfum from the Bastille brand

What did the Pleine Lune brief inspire you when it was presented to you?

Above all, the brand presented its approach to us, this desire for transparency, and the specifications. On the creative side, we had territories of inspiration, but no brief in the strict sense . This leaves room for creative imagination.

And we end this fragrant interview with these last 3 questions:

For you, a perfume is…

A travel.

And a perfumer is…

An explorer. Being a perfumer means exploring new ideas, new horizons, new combinations of raw materials every day.

Finally, what is your motto?

Dialogue! Dialogue between materials so that they respond to each other, oppose each other or come together.

The olfactory portrait of Paul Guerlain

We now move on to the olfactory portrait . Let's go !

Your personality in 3 words? Curious, passionate, observant.

Your first olfactory memory? Ylang in Mayotte. I am 5 years old, I visit plantations with my grandfather, I will remember it all my life.

A smell you hate? White vinegar. This smell should be banned! But apart from that one, I don't really have a scent that I don't like... the challenge as a perfumer is to find the combination that will reveal the beauty of each of the raw materials.

A smell you love? The smell of rain.

A favorite raw material that you like or would like to work with? Vetiver.

An original association? Tuberose and matcha are an original combination. The false innocent and the creamy addiction.

A legendary perfume? Dior for men.

Natural, synthetic or both? Both !


So ! Now you know Paul Guerlain like the back of your nose .

To discover the perfume interviews of other perfumers who have signed Bastille perfumes, go to the "Perfume Interviews" section of our blog - they arrive very quickly, a little patience!


Photos: Michael Avedon


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