Thierry Wasser is the current in-house perfumer at Guerlain. Born in Switzerland, he originally trained to be a botanist before enrolling at the Givaudan perfumery school. Impressed by his natural talent for the craft, he was promoted from apprentice to perfumer at the age of twenty-four and stayed with the firm for twelve years before joining Firmenich in 1993.
During his time at Firmenich, Wasser was credited with an remarkable number of both commercial and designer hits, including Dior Addict, Calvin Klein Truth, Emporio Armani Diamonds, and Lancome Hypnose. Perhaps less well-known is the fact that he also composed Darling, Kylie Minogue’s first fragrance which launched in 2006 and was once used to scent the singer’s wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s.
Wasser’s 2008 appointment as Guerlain’s in-house perfumer was the first time the position had been held by a person from outside the Guerlain family. At the time, there was no in-house perfumer, with Jean-Paul Guerlain having retired six years earlier and LVMH (the firm’s parent company) having neglected to fill the position. During the six year gap, LVMH began to outsource the production of fragrances, including to Wasser’s then-employer Firmenich. He first met M Guerlain while working on Quand Vient La Pluie and Iris Ganache. The two began working closely together, and Wasser took the helm at Guerlain shortly thereafter. His first fragrance for the brand as in-house perfumer was Guerlain Homme.
In a 2008 interview with Wallpaper* magazine, Wasser spoke of the learning curve he faced when joining the celebrated firm: “It is all fairly new because at Firmenich we had people to look after (the sourcing) side and I used what is the standard offering of raw materials. While at Guerlain…well, M Guerlain is the Indiana Jones of fragrance. He has travelled the world to find raw materials. It is a special skill…you have to put on wellington boots and go out in the field. And that is a big part of what I am learning with M. Guerlain. He has spent his life travelling.”
Since Wasser’s appointment, Guerlain has made a concerted effort to appeal to a younger customer, most notably with the launch the fruity-floral La Petite Robe Noir in 2012. In the three months after its launch, the fragrance sold over one million units and continues to be a best-seller.