Perfumer Spotlight: Pascal Gaurin

Meet the perfumer behind our latest fragrance, Noisette. Noisette is a reflection of individuality and peaceful inquisition. A contrast of instincts, it appears soft but unwavering, subtle but strong, quiet but confident while brewing close to the skin in a place held only for those we allow into our precious human spirit. Learn more about the creation, the process and the perfumer himself. 

Noisette is a sophisticated, reticent, and textured fougère that lingers on the skin. Pulses of French lavender and orris awaken the mind and body. A delicate wrapping of ambrette seed, musk and amber leaves a calming warmth and gentle embrace brings serenity to the soul.

 

At 19 years old, Pascal radically changed course to follow his dream. Early on, his fascination with craftsmanship was a way to connect with his great grandfather, a sculptor of bronze, and also gave him the certitude that one day he would work with luxury products. While preparing to enter business school, HEC in Paris, Pascal picked up an issue of Vogue and read an article on the perfume industry and decided that his single obsession would be to create perfume. Pascal began working as a perfumer in Hong Kong. Eventually, he made New York his home. Pascal is most inspired by dense essences, like resins and deep woods. His taste for darkness originates from his grandparents’ home in Creuse, France, where the forests are very dark and it always feels like nighttime. “You can feel the vapors of mushrooms, leaves and bark.” he says, and it only takes the smell of a bale of hay, an uncultivated field or a stable to bring a smile to his lips. “I love frontal materials, those you need to tame like a sculptor does stone.”

 

 

M d. E What fragrance did you create for MAISON d’ETTO and why?  

Noisette is my first creation for Maison d’Etto. I met Brianna at an event and we discussed the idea of working together on a fragrance for her line. A few weeks later, we started collaborating on what would become Noisette.

Brianna wanted to re-create a memory she had riding a horse called Noisette, which means Hazelnut in French. She rode this horse through a field of lavender while she was spending time in the south of France. It just so happened that I was starting to play with a new Lavandin Extract created by Laboratoire Monique Remy, which is an IFF subsidiary responsible for pure, natural products. I suggested that Brianna work in the Lavender, in combination with Natural Orris Concrete and Ambrette Seed from Laboratoire Monique Remy, in order to create a very luxurious and atmospheric note.

 

M d. E What is your process? How do you create?

It may sound cliche, but as a perfumer I consider myself to be an olfactive storyteller; therefore, I not only need a story to tell, but most importantly, I need the right person in front of me to bring me into his/her/their universe. When I am really moved and captivated by a story then the olfactive translation comes easily. The part of being a perfumer that I love the most is the feeling of digging into someone’s brain to extract their emotions, and then translate that expression into an olfactive creation. I design with the hope that I can match their story with the scent I create. The first time they smell the fragrance I know right away by looking into their eyes if I have achieved this goal.

 

M d. E What moves you about scent?

How it triggers your most intimate memories. 

 

M d. E When did you realize you wanted to be a perfumer?

After High School, I was studying economics and preparing for the exams to get into business schools in Paris and I read an article in Vogue describing the backstage of the fragrance industry. Then, that same week, I saw a television interview of Jacques Polge, who was the Perfumer of Chanel at the time. That week I realized what I wanted to do. 

 

M d. E What was your path to becoming a perfumer?

I studied chemistry in Paris University at Pierre & Marie Curie, and then I was accepted at ISIPCA, which is the Perfumery School in Versailles-France. I was recruited out of school by IFF. I started my career in Hong-Kong where I worked as a trainee and junior perfumer for three years. Then IFF transferred me to their Headquarters in New York City, and now I get to meet passionate brand engineers and creative dreamers nearly every day.  

 

M d. E. How did you discover IFF?

If you want to be a Formula 1 driver, you know Ferrari, Mercedes or McLaren…If you want to be a perfumer, you know IFF.

 

M d. E Who were your biggest mentors and what did you learn from them?  

My first mentor was Pierre Bourdon the Perfumer of Davidoff Cool Water and YSL Kouros. He offered me an internship during my last year at ISIPCA. My secondary mentors were Sofia Grojsman, Perfumer of Lancome Tresor, Calvin Klein Eternity for Women, Estee Lauder White Linen, and Jean-Claude Delville Perfumer of Kenzo Parfum d’Ete, Clinique Happy, and Estee Lauder Pleasures for Men when I arrived in New York.

 

M d. E What was your first scent memory or what scent evokes the strongest memory for you?

I have three very distinct scent memories that I’m fond of: The smell of the dark forest reminiscent of oak, moss, and Lentisque where my grandparents used to live, Y by Yves Saint Laurent that my mother wore for 20 years, and Anais Anais L'Original by Cacharel for the first girl I kissed.

 

M d. E What fragrance do you wear?

The ones I work on.

 

M d. E What is your favorite and least favorite scent? 

My favorite scents constantly change. I don’t have a least favorite. 

 

M d. E  Your grandfather was a bronze sculptor. What artists or designers inspire you today?

Cinema and music are by far the art forms that I relate to the most in what I do. I admire Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino or David Kelley for their talent to create a complex story from a white page. I admire Ridley Scott, David Fincher and Denis Villeneuve for translating a story into beautiful images. Musically, I am usually attracted to writers  and composers who manage to create memorable moments and deep emotions with chords and words. A few of the most inspiring to me are: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie, OK Computer or KID A by Radiohead, Dummy by Portishead, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea by PJ Harvey, After The Gold Rush by Neil Young, Ten or Gigaton by Pearl Jam, Born to Die or Norman Fucking Rockwell by Lana Del Rey, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, and endless Memorable Riffs by Keith Richards or Jimmy Page to name a few.

 

M d. E  Where are you from and where do you live now? Where do you dream of traveling?

I am from a Paris Suburb. I currently live in New Jersey. Simply traveling back to France to see my family would be a good start.

 

M d. E  What’s next for you?

No idea…that’s the exciting part! Hopefully continuing to work with Maison d’Etto and helping to contribute to the olfactive DNA of new or established luxury brands. 

“Anything that expresses extreme contrast – that’s what inspires me most.” — Pascal Gaurin

Gaurin typically gives out the Proust questionnaire before working with a client. We thought it would be interesting to flip the script on him. The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. Here we go!

 

    1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    2. Cycladic Island, facing the sea surrounded by my family.

 

    1. What is your greatest fear?
    2. This questionnaire and anything threatening the life of my children.

 

    1. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
    2. Never fully enjoying the present.

 

    1. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
    2. Being unreliable.

 

    1. Which living person do you most admire?
    2. Anybody who takes a stand to fight injustice.

 

    1. What is your greatest extravagance?
    2. A VPI turntable and the time to use it.

 

    1. What is your current state of mind?
    2. Anxious, but happy.

 

    1. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
    2. Pride and Patience.

 

    1. On what occasion do you lie?
    2. Very rarely, but if the outcome benefits the person I am lying to.

 

    1. Which living person do you most despise?
    2. Anyone who uses their position of power to lead by fear instead of example.

 

    1. What is the quality you most like in a man?
    2. Admitting his weakness and flaws.

 

    1. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
    2. Not being a man.

 

    1. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
    2. My family.

 

    1. Which talent would you most like to have?
    2. Ubiquity.

 

    1. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    2. Getting rid of my anxiety. 

 

    1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    2. Creating the illusion that my wife could not find anybody better than me to start a family with. And the result…my children.

 

    1. Where would you most like to live?
    2. A place where I don’t have to shovel snow.

 

    1. What is your most marked characteristic?
    2. Sincerity…I have been told.

 

    1. What do you most value in your friends?
    2. Honesty.

 

    1. Who is your hero of fiction?
    2. Dory (Nemo), Ellen Ripley (Alien) and Andy Dufresne (Shawshank Redemption).

 

    1. What is your motto?
    2. “Imagination creates Reality”— Richard Wagner

 

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