To help us craft our first ever fine fragrance, we travelled to Grasse, the perfume capital of Europe, and enlisted the expert nose of one of the world's most distinguished and innovative perfumers, Jean-Charles Niel. We asked him to reveal his inspirations, thoughts and passions.
What or who inspired you to become a perfumer?
Scents have always been part of my life: my father was in the business of botanical extracts and growing up, I used to spend a lot of my free time at the factory and on the flower fields, so it seemed only natural to follow this direction.
As far as you remember what was your first connection
I have fond memories of weekends with my father in vaulted cellars watching women practise 'enfleurage', an age-old process for extracting a flower's fragrance. The mystery of this underground environment combined with the intoxicating smell of jasmine and tuberose is simply unforgettable.
Did you have any formal training?
I started by learning the different extraction and distillation techniques in the factory my father was managing, before attending the prestigious Givaudan Perfumery School in Geneva, where I was appointed perfumer after three years of training.
Where do you get your inspiration from when developing a new fragrance?
I draw my inspiration from many things: unusual food combinations in fusion cuisine, Verdi or Mozart operas, Impressionist art, taste, sounds and colours - anything can start the creative process!
What is a typical day like in the life of a perfumer?
Smelling, tuning, smelling, fine-tuning, re-smelling and adding or taking something out of the formula, smelling again until reaching what you think should be the perfect olfactive symphony. At the end, you feel an exhilarating sense of pride and satisfaction but a terrible feeling of frustration for all the ones that didn't make it.
How do you smell so many different scents in one day?
Smelling for perfumers is like training for athletes, tasting for chefs or practising scales for a pianist. It's part of the job so you just end up doing it naturally.
What makes Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.1 unique?
The exceptional amount of natural ingredients, distilled to the highest standard by Laboratoire Monique Remy, a concept which in all my years of experience has never been pushed so far.
Born and bred in Grasse, the heart of perfumery, Jean-Charles is a distinguished French perfumer with over 30 years' experience creating some of the world's finest perfumes. He takes his inspiration from music, art, tastes, sounds and colours, and believes creating perfume should be "dynamic, brilliant and simple".
What did you enjoy most about creating Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.1?
A total freedom of creation, blending smells of my own choice, without cost considerations, keeping only in mind (or...in nose) the final harmony and character of Botanical Essence No.1.