Paris Perfume Week: A Fragrance Event à la Française – Part 2

2024 . 04 . 24 | written by Ermano Picco

Add to my selection

Essencional's original content


Fragrance lovers

The Bastille Design Center

In the bustling streets of Paris between Place de la Republique and the Opera Bastille, where the blooming gardens facing Haussmann style buildings and the eclectic spires of Saint-Ambroise fill the air with spring smells, a new fixture has taken root to celebrates the olfactory tapestry of the city and beyond. From International Fragrance Day, March 21st to 24th, 2024, the Bastille Design Center – an industrial building dating back to the 19th century, refurbished into a cultural space – played host to the inaugural edition of Paris Perfume Week (PPW).

The venue at the PPW24

Halfway between trade show and festival, the event organized by Nez – the olfactory cultural movement has traced a new groove on the French perfumery landscape by gathering about 3000 visitors. The debut was particularly appealing to the French perfume lovers community, making a significant 60% of the audience come to discover 50 international exhibitors, not to forget the noteworthy amount of young students from the various perfumery schools that booked their seats to the 34 Smell Talks and the 24 workshops.

Romain Raimbault, director of the event, explained in an interview published on the Paris Perfume Week website his intention to “create links between various artistic domains, such as perfume and cinema, fashion, gastronomy, music, which will be highlighted, to emphasize the fact that smell is everywhere and plays a crucial role in our lives.” Given the success of the first edition, one can’t help but look forward to the PPW 2025.

Workshops & Lectures

The team at Nez – the olfactory cultural movement has joined forces to draw up a busy calendar of Smell Talks, putting the spotlight on the French Perfumery leading figures, which definitely shaped the event as a true learning hub for Perfumery Schools students, and one of the cultural highlights of the year.

Le rayonnement de la parfumerie du moyen orient

The first talk I was able to attend was Le rayonnement de la parfumerie du moyen orient (The sparkles of Middle Eastern perfumery). Leveraging on a 30-year presence of Eurofragrance in the Arabic Gulf, perfumer Soizic Beaucourt talked about cultural aspects like the traditional uses of perfumery, the love for opulence, the art of layering, and how they impacted the perfumery taste worldwide. Madame Beaucourt also talked about iconic ingredients presenting the audience with three blotters: the first dipped in Indian oud, the second in the classic Mukallat accord (the world itself identifies a fragrant oil, mostly featuring rose, oud, sandalwood, and saffron), and the third in the classic musk accord that digs its roots in the Islamic traditions, for along with Taif rose, musk is used in the purification rites of the Sacred Kaaba in Mecca. Fascinatingly she also talked about the cross-fertilization that Western perfumery had as well on the young consumers taste in the Gulf, resulting in a new take often called French-Middle Eastern style.

Guillaume Tesson interviewing Marc-Antoine Corticchiato of Parfum d’Empire

Celebrating 20 years of Parfum d’Empire, Marc-Antoine Corticchiato started his Masterclass with a love declaration to plants and their smell remembering how this led him, then a young chemist, to attend ISIPCA, and later to compose his first perfume: Eau de Gloire. Many beautiful creations have paved these 20 years, but when asked by the chairman Guillaume Tesson what’s the creation he’s most proud of, he replied Le cri de la lumière that plays the luminous note of vibrant ambrette absolute from Floral Concept. To celebrate this milestone though the perfumer took inspiration from horses, a great passion for him, blending the most exquisite Vietnamese oud and narcissus from Aubrac for the wildly baroque Ruade. While talking about the crystal-clear sensation While saying he’s never been drawn to the industry, Mr. Corticchiato nicely jokes with the audience about raw materials: it’s easy to get them, you simply ask to companies for samples. Wandering through the fields, that’s only for the press… His vision of perfumery is all about simplicity, for perfumes aren’t aimed at specialists, they are meant to give emotions, and when asked what will be in the future, Marc-Antoine Corticchiato hopes his creations will be able to touch the people.

Isabelle Chazot of the Osmothèque

The President of the Scientific Committee of the Osmothèque Isabelle Chazot briefly illustrated the Project NOMEN, the proposal of a classification for perfumes of historical interest. The aim of this non-regulatory nomenclature is to value the contribution of various experts (historians, scientists, perfumers, etc.) and classify historical perfumes in 5 categories according to their likelihood: freshly re-weighted formulas, adaptations, reconstructions, interpretations, and evocations. Along with an effective visual representation, the lucky audience was able to smell treasures like Coty L’Origan (re-weighted), Parfums de Rosine Le fruit defendu (re-weighted), and Le Parfum Royal from the I century AD (reconstruction).

Alexzander Abodaye Cole and Jeah-Christophe Herault interviewed by Sarah Bouasse

The second day at the PPW the presence of perfumery students was significant, for they filled the lecture hall for many lectures, included the talk Le mentorat en parfumerie (mentoring in perfumery) held by IFF VP perfumer Jean-Christophe Herault and his apprentice Alexzander Abodaye Cole. While confronting two generations of perfumers, Mr. Herault pointed out the importance of handing down method and knowledge yet respecting one’s creative freedom. He also talked about his memories as a junior perfumer when his mentor was legendary perfumer Pierre Bourdon who first of all wanted him to read Proust’s La Recherche to expand his sensibility and lexicon about smells. “Perfumery is first and foremost a verbal art” – Mr. Herault said, for once you train studying raw materials to building your own palette, the important goal is finding poetry in raw materials and their correspondence with words. Such inspiring words are a reminder of where magic happens with the art of perfumery.

Musk Tonkin grains showed by Olivier David

The interesting journey eminent Professor Olivier David traced in the talk La chimie des parfums (the chemistry of perfumes) spanned more than a century of perfumery ingredients, starting with naturals still in use or banned ones, vegetal or from animal origins like the famed Tonkin musk, and later discussing the birth of synthetics that made great perfumery, like vanillin that was discovered 150 years ago by Karl Reimer and Ferdinand Tiemann, and still rocks!

Mathilde Laurent signing copies of her book “Sentir le Sens”

Especially for young women aiming to become parfumeures no one is so inspirational as Mathilde Laurent, a contemporary Priestess of Perfume not only for being the first woman perfumer since 2005 at the helm of the house of Parfums Cartier, but also for rising in many ways awareness about olfaction and perfume as a form of art. A natural charmer, she started her Masterclass chaired by Sarah Bouasse by sharing the creative process of her latest project with the Cartier Foundation, the olfactory staging of Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire. Working closely with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the project took her 5 years to fine tune the synesthetic interpretation of the Russian Composer emotional notation and make it spatially suitable to a theater. For example, following IFF studies about Scent and Emotion, she translated the “anxiety” notation on the score with a green ananas note also redolent of kerosene. Since perfumery is a form of art, it’s not fair to confine fragrance to a single form of vaporization, like the industry too often tends to do. “It is often better to face the challenges ahead, rather than starting from a blank sheet doing what we’d like to do” – Laurent says about creativity while looking back at her career. Her final line to the young audience is an invitation to be bold “The best ideas are the ones everyone is afraid of”.

Dominique Roques signing Ermano’s copy of “Le parfum des forêts”

On the third day one of the most inspiring lecturers was for sure a living legend in the industry, Dominique Roques with the talk Le destin des arbres à parfum (the destiny of perfume trees), introducing his second novel “Le parfum des forêts” (the perfume of trees). The memories of his travels and his personal research led him to a deep awareness about how the destiny of trees is the destiny of human being itself, and every time men in the past endangered species like rosewood, or sandalwood, this not only meant the disappearing of raw materials from the perfumer’s palette, but economic and human tragedy. This thankfully in the long run also rised awareness on sustainability, bringing for example solutions like sandalwood plantations in New Caledonia, or making fair-trade productions (one of his latest projects in Oman) when it comes to Boswellia Sacra, the incense trees, that were tragically devastated by the US aromatherapy industry in the past.

A fun moment was kindly offered by Céline Ellena during her talk L’Illusion de l’olfaction (the illusion of olfaction) where in the best family tradition, she played tricks with iconic raw materials to show how the art of perfumery is all about olfactory illusion, where one plus one never equals to two. One for all, the green tea accord that made history in 1990s built around the association of hedione (light jasmine) and beta-ionone (fruity violet).

On a side note, the conference room in the basement that was accessible via a narrow spiral staircase was pretty cramped for the audience, and often half of the public was standing, not to name Françis Kurkdjian Masterclass on Saturday where many people were left out, me included. So for next year, I dearly recommend the organization to keep up the great job with Smell Talks, just in a wider hall.

More than 20 Smell Talks will be available in French in the Podcast by Nez. If international translation was not provided in loco, another earnest advice I give Nez for this year, is to dub podcasts at least in English for during the show I got lots of messages from foreign perfume lovers that would love to listen to them.

Fragrance Companies in the limelight

Luzi olfactory exhibition

Various Fragrance Companies were showcased at the PPW, like the Spanish Eurofragrance that held a talk about the Middle Eastern, and Iberchem. On the first floor, the family-owned Swiss company Luzi set up a remarkable exhibition featuring visual artworks and fragrant creations. That’s where I met a friendly face, perfumer Mark Buxton who showed me his luscious concoction Orchid Vanilla in the 4711 Acqua Colonia Collection Absolue juxtaposing mouthwatering red berries and sophisticated exotic florals boosted by bourbon vanilla. Another exciting encounter was with perfumer Sidonie Grandperret who showed me Let’s Dance, a deep cedarwood and patchouli base shaken by swirls of spices and vibrating mineral citrus she created as the signature of the dance themed Lausanne Film Festival 2024.

Journey to the core of perfume plants by LMR Naturals

Of course, given the long-term collaboration for the iconic Nez+LMR Naturals notebooks, LMR Naturals welcomed visitors in a dedicated room with “De la rose au citron… Voyage au cœur des plantes à parfum” (from rose to lemon… Journey to the center of perfume plants), a cultural and olfactory exhibition built around 20 emblematic natural raw materials paired with their colorful notebooks.

Parfum d’Empire Exhibition

Iconic raw materials showcased in the Parfum d’Empire exhibition

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Parfum d’Empire was the leading event of the PPW, and along with the above-mentioned Masterclass with Marc Antoine Corticchiato, a round table on raw materials with the founder of Floral Concept Frédérique Rémi, and Essentiel Oud President François Ducreuzet. Inspiring and unique raw materials as the core of the creative process of the perfumer made the theme of Quand le parfum des plantes parle (when the perfume of plants talks), the multi-sensory exhibition in partnership with the two natural raw materials suppliers. Childhood memories of wild Corsica, along with spirituality and retro aesthetics form an experiential path connecting each creation and its centerpiece natural material as the idolized uncut gem all framed in a dreamlike Wunderkammer.

Exhibiting Brands

Though the PPW 2024 was only a few weeks after Esxence, the affordable booths of the niche perfumery Parisian event turned it into a good opportunity for debuting and small independent brands to be showcased. The small venue with limited access to a few hundreds of paying visitors per day, made it also a perfect moment for meeting new and longtime partners and friends, enjoying its intimate dimension. So it was a good chance to reconnect with brands I missed in Milan and for exciting discoveries. Let me continue the highlights on perfume brands started by my fellow editor Karen Marin in the first part of our PPW Best of Show.

Angelos Créations Olfactives

Angelos Balamis of Angelos Créations Olfactives welcomed me with the usual laid-back warm welcome and presented me with its latest introductions all swirling around a tobacco theme. First of all Karíkia eau de parfum that’s inspired by the family stories of Angelos ancestors carefully preparing the soil and growing tobacco in Greece. The result is a super comfortable fruity tobacco, deep and warm with almost edible honeyed accents textured by a complex floral tapestry. Then was the turn of Irida Extrait which Angelos proudly showed me for the top-notch quality of iris he used. The scent that made a finalist for the Art & Olfaction Awards 2024 in the Artisanal category bears the name of the ancient Greek Goddess of rainbow. Smelling it all the amazing facets of the real deal are there: the moist greenery, powdery florals, yeasty hints along with the apricot-like fruitiness. Just a pinch of cinnamon and tobacco warm-up the drydown highlighting the yummy iris white chocolate creaminess.

The Different Company

In the huge bustling Milanese show I totally missed Cherigan Paris 1929 and The Different Company, so I looked forward to talking with Luc and Sophie Gabriel about their recent launches. The restoration of Cherigan set a meaningful milestone adding to Les Iconiques Collection the reinterpretation of Bleu Imperial first launched in 1945. A sumptuous floral chypre with leather hints, the extrait de parfum is now available in a limited prestige edition. “Since we sadly had to discontinue Jasmin de nuit, we wanted to gift our loyal customers with a new exciting white floral” – M. me Gabriel explained while handing me a blotter with Red Burning Night, the news chez The Different Company. Created by Brazilian perfumer Marion Costero, the fragrance is deeply evocative of getting lost in Marrakech at night down the tangle of narrow streets and sunburnt walls covered in blooming jasmine.

ERIS Parfums

Meetings between perfume historians are always fun, for after a long time you start talking about new and vintage discoveries like you’re browsing a family album. The latest page added by ERIS founder Barbara Hermann is the charming Delta of Venus. Inspired by Anais Nin collection of erotic stories, Mrs. Hermann and perfumer Antoine Lie turned them into a tangy, green fruity-floral scent built around a mouthwatering guava accord that makes quite a statement.


The newest and most interesting discovery I made is for sure the Swiss brand NEYDO based on the idea of translating into scents olfactory dreams, that is when you dream about smells that in my mind draws a sort of cathartic ouroboros. In addition to a good value for money ratio (to be reckoned in the current skyrocketing prices trend), the line of 6 fragrances spans various olfactory families from fruity-floral to chypre, passing by the indispensable gourmand housed in a cool design. My favorite is Wood Haze, where the skillful hands of Bertrand Duchaufour blended Palo Sando and Sandalwood with spices and chypre hints for a mellow mystical woody halo.

The Legacy of Paris Perfume Week

As the inaugural edition of Paris Perfume Week drew to a close, it left behind a legacy of inspiration and sense of community, also spread across the city with off-site initiatives (like independent perfume labs open days) that will impact the future of the fragrant landscape. Especially for small brands, independent perfumers and retailers, perfumery students, and consumers alike, the event marks a new era of recognition and opportunity for French Niche Perfumery.

Therefore, big congratulations to Nez and all the organization of Paris Perfume Week. Now it’s time to commit to building on the success of the inaugural edition, with plans to evolve the event in the years to come. By continuing to champion small brands, foster creativity, and celebrate the artistry of perfumery, Paris Perfume Week will hopefully find its place as a must-attend event on the global fragrance calendar.