An Interview with Perfumer Yann Vasnier
By Mark David Boberick
October 1, 2011

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TPM: Yann, we are so pleased that you would take the time to speak with us. We want to congratulate you on creating Marc Jacobs Lola, the 2010 FiFi-Award Winning Women’s Luxe Fragrance. What has this amazing accomplishment meant to you and your career and do you feel that it has changed you as a Perfumer in any way?

YV: Great to talk to you, too and congratulations on the launch of The Perfume Magazine! About the FiFis, it is always a fantastic experience to win because it is great exposure, but it`s much more about the brand and its commercial success than an appreciation of a perfumer`s work.  We can`t be too disappointed if one does not win. Lola, Bang, the Six Scents collaborations - all have certainly been really important in my career, and having one of them win a FiFi is great recognition.

TPM: Can you tell us about the moment that you realized you wanted to pursue a career in the Fragrance Industry as a Perfumer?

YV: When I was around 10 years old, everyday after the beach, I would stop by the Divine fragrance boutiques in Saint-Malo and Dinard where they would have the hot niche fragrances of the day; first Annick Goutal, then Serge Lutens, and so on. One day, I finally met Yvon Mouchel, the founder, and since then I have created more than 6 fragrances for him.

TPM: Where did you train to become a Perfumer and how was your experience as a student?

YV: I trained at ISIPCA Perfumery School in Versailles. Under the supervision of Francoise Caron at Quest International, I had the best time; moving to Paris, studying what I loved, being employed and independent, what more could you ask for at 19?

TPM: You are now employed at Givaudan, the world’s largest manufacturer and creator of flavors and fragrances. Can you tell us about the period between graduating from ISIPCA and arriving at Givaudan? Was there any experience or lesson learned during this time that has had a significant impact on your work?

YV: It took a few years between being trained at Quest International in Paris, going to their headquarters in Ashford UK and studying further, becoming a junior perfumer, and winning the first projects for Comme des Garcons and Divine. Then, 8 years ago, I moved to New York and it is definitely here that success started to come my way. It went even further when Quest joined Givaudan 4 years ago, giving us so many more opportunities.

TPM: There have been several instances where you have collaborated with other perfumers on a fragrance (with Calice Becker on Lola, for example). Can you describe how the collaboration process works? What are some of the positive things that it affords you that you would not get if you were working on a fragrance alone?

YV: For big projects, where the competition and pressure are so high, working as a team definitely gives us time to breathe a little more. The collaboration also allows us to be more efficient; sending ideas back and forth to each other which brings new perspectives.

TPM: What has been the most important thing you have learned from your time as a perfumer thus far and how do you apply it to the work that you create?

YV: A Perfumer`s work is critiqued and judged every single day, sometimes really harshly. You have to take some distance and cannot take criticism so personally. This is often highly difficult.

TPM: As an artist working in an invisible medium, do you try to maintain a
signature style to the fragrances that you create while still keeping with
the brand’s vision?

YV: It all depends on the type of project that I am working on. I always try to push for the most signature, novelty, and elegance possible. But for a commercial project, you certainly cannot discard or ignore the client and the final customer, you need and you want to make him happy.

TPM: This seems to be a very busy Fall for you. You created Santal Blush, a new fragrance for Tom Ford, as well as several fragrances for a brand new niche line, Arquiste, which just launched at Barneys New York. How is the process of creating for a large Fashion company such as Tom Ford different than creating for a brand-new independent company?

YV: They both require something that is daring and new with great signature, which is always such a breath of fresh air. They both look for the highest quality and have great expertise, so the difference lies mainly in the direct interaction and availability of the designer.

TPM: With Santal Blush, you seem to have captured an interesting facet of sandalwood – it is both creamy and warm, and entirely magnetic. I was drawn right in at the first whiff. Can you tell us what your major goal was with this fragrance?

YV: It was really to compliment Tom Ford's new make-up collection, which is all about conveying sensuality, richness, texture, and creaminess for a soft, naked glamour.

TPM: Over the past 2 years, the fragrance industry has seen an influx and an over-saturation of oud-based fragrances. Do you think the oud craze is on its way out? If so, can you forecast for us what might be the next “It-Note?”

YV: I wish I knew what was coming next. I think, and deeply wish, that craft, quality and signature are on the rise again. But for the oud craze, the worldwide production would never be enough if all the claims of authentic oud used in fine fragrances were true.

TPM: Do you ever design a fragrance with the hopes that it might one day become a "Modern Classic?" Also, can you name any fragrance releases in the past 10 years that are significant enough in their construction that they may be poised to become Modern Classics?

YV: You always hope that your fragrance will become a classic, but there is much more in the mix to make a fragrance last on the market, today. I think Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, Victor and Rolf Flowerbomb, Dior Miss Dior Cherie, Dolce & Gabbana The One, and Chloe could already be called modern classics.

TPM: Can you comment for us on the proposed IFRA regulations and how they hurt or support the fragrance Industry?

YV: I think education and information made directly available to the public could possibly save some of our most favorite ingredients. Perhaps we could keep some fragrances around untouched with just a warning not to wear them directly on skin. It is always sad to see beautiful ingredients disappear, and it takes so much energy and work to replace them successfully.

TPM: As a Perfumer, Where do you find your inspiration?

YV: I can be inspired by anything, the beautiful, the ugly, and anything in art, music, or fashion. All of the senses can play their respective role. Looking at beautiful art always motivates me to create something beautiful in return, but at the end of the day, there is no better inspiration than the ingredients themselves; synthetics and mostly the naturals raw materials.

Thank you, Yann. It was a true pleasure and honor to speak with you. We appreciate your time and look forward to speaking with you again in the future.


Tom Ford Santal Blush can be purchased online through Neiman Marcus.

$195 / 50ml    $475 / 250ml

Special Thanks to:

Permele Doyle
Tom Ford Beauty

Pictures of Yann Vasnier provided by the Perfumer.

French-born Perfumer Yann Vasnier is the unseen artist behind a string of massive hits in the contemporary Perfume World - one of which went on to win the prestigious FiFi award in 2010. His Portfolio is an impressive list that runs the gamut from mass-market to niche fragrances including work for Marc Jacobs, Parfums DelRae, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tom Ford, Divine, and Donna Karan to name just a few. Yann currently resides in New York City and is a perfumer for Givaudan. His latest fragrance for Tom Ford Beauty, Santal Blush is already garnering rave reviews for its exceptional composition and is one of this Fall's hottest and sexiest new releases.

I recently sat down with Yann for his first Interview with The Perfume Magazine.