related industries: food, paints, adhesives – stumbling into perfumery by accident and never looking
back. In France, people seem to be generally more
aware that perfumers exist, and since the most
famous perfumery schools are there too, seeking
perfumery as a profession is more intentional.
In France, the strong presence of the fragrance
industry and the concept of perfumery are more
integrated into the everyday experience, though the
role of a perfumer is still somewhat mythologized.
“When I tell people back home what I do for a
living, they say ooh, you’re a nose!” says Julie and
laughs, “but actually the reason you are able to
differentiate between smells or be more sensitive to
smells is because of all the training we have done.
At the beginning of your career, all you need is a
normal nose – but no special smell ability beyond
that. The nose is an important tool, but it’s our
brain we use as perfumers.”
Our brains develop new neural pathways when we
study smells and train our nose. Similar to increas-
ing your IQ by study, it is possible to increase our
smelling prowess by conscious smelling.
Julie compares trained perfumers to musicians: “If someone has a musical ear, they can train
themselves to hear both the music and the individual
instruments. For someone who is not trained in
music, they will just hear the overall sound. It is the
same with smells.”
Le Loto Des Odeurs
Julie did not grow up in a fragrance-oriented
family. Her parents were interested in herbal rem-
edies and aromatherapy – just not perfume. “I had
a nanny as a child and it was her massive perfume
collection that first got me curious,” says Julie. “My
cousin and I used to play this game called ‘Le Loto
Des Odeurs,’ and a while back she told me how
annoyed she used to get when I won all the time,
even though it was her game.”
In Le Loto Des Odeurs, players have one or two
boards and try to successfully match one of the scent
vials from a possible 30 with pictures on their boards.
“When I was young I saw a film called ‘Fanfan’
with Sophie Marceau, in which she was a student at
ISIPCA,” explains Julie. “I decided on the spot – she
is doing my job; that’s what I want to be."
Julie went on to complete a Masters degree in
chemistry of flavors and fragrances from Le Havre.
She started her fragrance career at Mane, working
as a chemist. Julie enjoyed the work but felt frus-
trated: “My job seemed to be taking me further from
smelling materials and working with them creatively,
so I talked to my boss about it. He told me about a
new school, Grasse Institute of Perfumery (GIP), that
had opened up a few years ago.”
“I contacted GIP, and they gave me a chance to
study what I wanted. I did their course the following
year,” Julie explains.
Her internship after GIP was at Fragrance
Resources as a compounder. This turned out to be
Julie’s winning lotto ticket: “It just happened that as
I was about to finish my internship, someone left the
company and they offered me the role of a perfumer’s assistant. So, I was there at the right time. You
The “Open Perfumery Degree”