William Andrews, Fragrance Creation Team Procter & Gamble Prestige in the UK, gives fascinating insights into the world of perfumes. After revealing secrets about the latest BOSS fragrance MA VIE Pour Femme, today the Prestige Fragrance Scientist talks about inspiration and preferences of scents and odors.
Mr. Andrews, is there a current trend in the design of fragrances? Are there trends at all?
People make the mistake of thinking that fragrances are fashion-driven and that we have fragrance trends similar to fashion trends. That’s not true, because fashion trends repeat every six months and fragrance trends exist longer, maybe 3 to 5 years. This is mainly due to the design process: It will take about two or three years to create a new fragrance. Also the ideas of perfumes are driven not by clothes fashion but they are driven by socio-cultural trends. It’s about what people are doing and what’s going on in the world.
Where do you find inspiration for the design of a perfume?
Our team is more like creative directors in perfume design. We all have trained noses, but we are not perfumers. Perfumers drive the conceptual ideas and get their inspirations from everywhere. They are very well-traveled people and they are very aware of culture and cultural changes. They love food and wine and they love people and history. I think what seems very abstract for some people is their ability to take one of these points of inspiration, maybe a particular place, and convert it into a smell.
Do you take the psychological effect of a scent into account while creating a fragrance?
Not directly. We cannot say, “This fragrance makes you feel happy.” What we are doing is creating a scented image of a fashion house. We consider the perfume as the perfect finishing touch to anyone who loves wearing HUGO BOSS and it prepares them to be motivated, successful and confident whatever they are going to do.
How do you source your materials?
What is very special in our office in Egham, where I’m sitting now: we have a fragrances laboratory that is used by our in-house perfumers and it contains about 2,500 scented ingredients. You can literally go from bottle to bottle, smelling and learning and it’s absolutely fascinating. We have access to virtually all the raw materials in the world and receive ingredients from all the perfume oil suppliers worldwide. This is a very unique position.
Are there different preferences of what men or women like in different countries?
Yes, there are different preferences in gender and in the markets. You might find that Spain and France have a particular style they like, Germany and the UK – and interestingly China are very similar, and the US is different again. It is a little bit of a problem because different cultures like different smells and associate a perfume with different things. Two extremes in the world right now are Brazil or the Middle East and Japan. While people in Brazil and the Middle East love wearing perfume, Japanese people don’t appreciate perfume in the same way. In Japan, a good scent is a neutral smell, without a dominating character. So the perfume business is very small in Japan.
In which countries do women use the most perfume?
I think the Middle East and Brazil are both fascinating perfume loving regions. In the Middle East they have a deep relationship with odor in their culture: you would not believe how much perfume is worn there. It’s an enormous amount. They wear different types of perfume depending on their status in society as well as personality. They really understand how perfume works and what it can do as a scented handshake for other people.
With so many new scents hitting shelves: Do you think that a woman should have one signature scent – signature fragrance wardrobe?
The idea of perfume is fun. The question is: How do you find the right perfume that fits you? I would say you have to select and buy a perfume with the same care and attention that you would for a piece of clothing. But this has become more difficult. In the whole of the 1960s, there were 62 perfumes in the world – in a whole decade! Last year, we launched 1,400 perfumes. With this, having the fashion house connection is more important than ever because people can have access and can better understand what the perfume means.
Thank you for the interview, Mr. Andrews.