What it is to be young...

Rodolfo

Basenotes Junkie
Jun 2, 2008
Last week I received a bottle of Polo, Cosmair EdT version, I guess it's from the early 90's. I thought it was excellent. I noticed that the nose is Carlos Benaïm, 1978. I don't know Mr. Benaim's age but it seems that it was one of his first perfumes (for sale) and making an approximate calculation he must have created it when he was 30 years old or probably less.
I thought again of something that I sometimes think: is it possible that perfumers make the most significant perfumes of their career in the first third or half of it? Obviously this type of question is quite interpretative and subject to personal, subjective tastes. Although I want to make it clear that I do not say "better" or "good", but "significant".

Yesterday's after-dinner and for fun I used a few minutes of free time to check the portfolio of some noses known to all and of which I have the inclination to think about the above. Surely some authorship is not correct (sorry about that), but I consider the list intriguing:

Carlos Benaïm
Polo 1978
Quorum 1981
Herrera woman/men 1988/1991
Eternity men 1989

Olivia Giacobetti
Premier figuier 1994
Philosykos 1996
Dzing! 1999
Passage D'Enfer 1999
Hiris 1999
Tea for two 2000
Iunx main line 2003

Jacques Polge
Ungaro 1977
Antaeus 1981
Diva 1983
Coco 1984
Tiffany men 1989
Egoïste 1990

Dominique Ropion
Ysatis 1984
Safari woman 1989
Amarige 1991
Jungle woman 1996
Une fleur de cassie 2000
Vetiver extraordinaire 2002

Pierre Bourdon
Kouros 1981
Green irish tweed 1985
Cool water 1988
Jil Sander III 1991
Feminite du bois 1992
Erolfa 1992
Dolce vita 1994
Silver mountain water 1995
Millésime imperial 1996
Live jazz 1998

Maurice Roucel
K de Krizia 1980
Missoni 1981
Iris silver mist 1994
24 Faoubourg 1995
Envy woman 1997
Helmut Lang EdC/EdP 2000
Musc ravageur 2000

Bertrand Duchaufour
Dia man 2002
Avignon 2002
Timbuktu 2004
Dzongkha 2006
Bois D'Ombrie 2006
Paestum Rose 2006
Sienne L'Hiver 2006
Jubilation man 2008
Aedes de Venustas 2008
Sartorial 2010

Alberto Morillas
Xeryus 1986
Rochas Byzance 1987
Sybaris 1988
Romeo Gigli uomo 1991
CK one 1994
Acqua di Gio 1996
Pi 1999
Mugler cologne 2001

Jean Claude Ellena
First 1976
Eau de campagne 1976
L'Eau du navigateur 1982
Eau parfumée au thé vert 1992
Declaration 1998
Dia woman 2002
Un jardin en méditerranée 2003
L'eau d'hiver 2003

Edoard Flechier
Davidoff 1984
Poison 1985
Montana parfum d'homme 1989
Gomma 1989
Vendetta uomo 1991

Francis Fabron
Le dix 1947
L'air du temps 1948
L'interdit 1957

Francoise Caron
Eau D'Orange verte 1979
Michelle 1979
Charles Joudan un homme 1981
R de Capucci 1985
Le 3eme homme 1985
Kenzo parfum 1988

Jean Kerleo
Jean Pato Lacoste 1967
1000 1972
Eau de Patou 1976
Patoou pour homme 1980
Ma liberte 1987

Christopher Sheldrake
Ambre Sultan 1993
La myrrhe 1995
Cuir Mauresque 1995
Encens et lavande 1996
Santal de Mysore 1997
Muscs Koublai Khan 1998
Tubéreuse criminelle 1998
Chergui 2001
Fumerie turque 2003

Sophia Grosjman
White linen 1978
Paris 1983
Eternity woman 1988
Tresor 1990
Yvresse 1993
Bulgari femme 1994
Jaïpur 1994

And so on...

Paranoia? Product of the intake of a few whiskeys at home? Just a very personal opinion? Product of my love of vintage? :unsure::ROFLMAO:
 

ascentofdreams

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
May 18, 2021
Not directly answering your question, but I remember in an art class during high school, being told by a teacher about research on artists and that the most creative, innovative period of life where the biggest contributions of artists/writers/musicians/etc were made was shown to be in their late 20-mid 30s.
 

Bonnette

Missing Oakmoss
Basenotes Plus
Jul 25, 2015
People in their 30s are young enough to be spirited, engaged with life, invigorated by ideas and imagination, and old enough to have experience of the world. Creativity of all kinds flourishes in such soil.
 

Darjeeling

Basenotes Institution
Oct 29, 2012
Once you get older the wear and tear on the knees and ankles mean they can't keep up with the high stakes game of commercial perfumery.
Sure, some mature and develop other skills to keep them in the game, but they just don't have that same magic they had when they were younger :p

Also, once creative people have had success with their early/youth-driven creativity they sometimes tend to spend the rest of their career basically remaking the same things, either as deeper exploration or for the commercial reason that that's what the market and their employers want from them.

Maybe some may have to talent to graduate to Picasso's level and spend the last years of their life painting pictures of vaginas, or whatever the perfume equivalent of that would be.
 

strangelight

Basenotes Member
Jun 9, 2022
I think what you've noted is common among artists across all mediums, where many of the greatest work is done early in a creators career - though there are of course many late career masterworks too. I think there can be a lot of reasons for this. If you've heard something along the lines of "you have a lifetime to write your first novel, a year for your second" it's part of the same idea - you may have spent your whole life trying to give life to certain ideas in your head, you hone your skills, you finally come in full control of your gifts say around the age of 30, and you create one or more masterworks - but where next? You still have the skills but not the years and even decades of letting an idea marinate.
I also think youthful creations have a certain energy and vivacity to them, and crucially people are generally much hungrier pre-success and therefore perhaps work harder. There are great qualities that only come with age and experience too, but they tend not to be the sort that can revolutionise a medium or capture the hearts of the young. If you're a fan of films, a good comparison of the virtues of youth vs age would be Martin Scorsese's raw early work like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and his more recent slow sombre films such as The Irishman and Silence.
 

Cook.bot

Flâneuse
Basenotes Plus
Jan 6, 2012
Once you get older the wear and tear on the knees and ankles mean they can't keep up with the high stakes game of commercial perfumery.

Why in the world would you need your ankles and knees to create perfume? It seems like a job you could do perfectly well even from a wheelchair or on crutches.

(Oh, I just noticed this was Darjeeling, so now I'm thinking he was just taking the piss. 😝 )
 

Cook.bot

Flâneuse
Basenotes Plus
Jan 6, 2012
Also, once creative people have had success with their early/youth-driven creativity they sometimes tend to spend the rest of their career basically remaking the same things, either as deeper exploration or for the commercial reason that that's what the market and their employers want from them.

You know, I kind of think that's what Roudnitska did, but I'm so glad he did it. Each of his variations on his theme got better and better.
 

Rodolfo

Basenotes Junkie
Jun 2, 2008
I feel somewhat surprised by the comments .... I find them a bit depressing! I refuse to accept them. :ROFLMAO:

I think that at 50, 60 and older one can be able to do wonders as if she or he were 30, why not? That at 30 years of age you have more drive, energy, desire to show things, to proof your talent etc etc well, it could be. But at 50 or 60 you may also have positive skills that you didn't have at 30; experience, patience, knowledge, breadth of vision, time... will it be nothing more than a cliche to turn the page and to something else?

Unless something similar to what happens to chess players for example can happen? Those who know a little about the chess world know that from the age of 40 you can be a great player but most likely you will no longer be among the first and you will decline. The great champions have always been young champions, and increasingly so. Now the great rivals of Magnus Carlsen (31) are a handful of teenagers. Why? It is natural, something physiological. Memory, brain performance declines. It is nothing exaggerated but gradual, and playing against 20-year-old boys, well, in the long run it shows. Will something similar happen with smell? ---- I ask from my complete ignorance. If it were so and it was related to the trend exposed in the thread, it would be a reason that I could accept... it's life! But I don't think so (someone with knowledge of biology/medicine show off please).

But I must admit it attracts a lot of attention to me. I already say, in the end it all comes down to tastes and opinions, but I see a trend like this in many of the most well-known noses. Of course I'm not saying that all of their great perfumes were created in the first half of his career... not all of them. But as I say, I personally see a trend, a very significative group of them.

The first fragrances (always speaking of big brands) that Carlos Benaïm created were Polo and Quorum. Quorum was an impressive success in Spain, for decades. And Polo a historical icon. He must have formulated them when he was in his twenties.
Kouros was one of the first perfumes created by Pierre Bourdon, in 1981, and was soon followed by Cool Water. I think he left school around 1975.
The same with Edoard Flechier who created another icon, Poison, in 1985, after creating Davidoff for men a year earlier.
One of the first fragrances created by Francis Kurkdjian was Le Male in 1995, when he was 26 years old.
Francoise Caron created wonders like Eau D'Orange Verte, Michelle, R de Capucci and Caron Le 3eme homme between 1979 and 1985, when she was 30-35 years old. They were her first titles in the big brands.
Francis Fabron's earliest commercial perfumes include Balenciaga Le Dix (1947) and L'Air Du Temps (1948), aged about 34.
etc etc etc... They are all very very big hits to start a career, it is inevitable to notice.

Or maybe therein lies the reason? Because of them, these perfumers are famous and have a reputable career. Of other noses, mediocre, with little talent or bad luck, we know nothing. Because their first creations have not been successful and were relegated to a more or less marginal plane. Could be? Although this would not explain everything.

In any case, if what many of you mention in the thread is true, I prefer not to believe it. Live in ignorance. I will be happier.
 

imm0rtelle

Basenotes Junkie
Apr 2, 2021
One of the first fragrances created by Francis Kurkdjian was Le Male in 1995, when he was 26 years old.
I'm not impressed by Le Male, or at least the formula currently available. Eau Noire (2004) is much much superior of a lavender fragrance. This is Francis at 35 years old. I think most think his Baccarat Rouge 540 (2014) is one of his crowning achievements, made when he was 45. I feel like through age, Francis gained wisdom, and technical skill, that he didn't have at 26. I believe that someone with talent and drive will continue to create beautiful pieces.

Also, Olivia Gicobetti likes it when brands don't whore out her name when they try to market their fragrance.
K: Today you seem to be picking your projects very carefully, working at your own pace that’s very different from the heart rate the modern perfumery is used to. Is it the lack of good ideas from the brands, or the new raw material regulations, or some other reason you don’t do as many perfumes as you used to do before?

O
: I make as many perfumes as before, but my name is not always mentioned. Some brands want to put the name of the perfumer forward at all costs, others, on the contrary, prefer to keep it quiet. This is the case with the recent perfumes I have made. Personally, I’m very happy to disappear behind another creator — it’s the game of this shadow profession.

It is hard to really know what she has made recently. But if the rumours are true, I really like some of her fragrances for Celine.
 
Apr 8, 2021
I completely disagree with the idea that many artists produce their best work when young.

Just look at the amazing artistic evolution of Picasso, Matisse, to give to very obvious examples. Many artists followed that kind of trajectory. In music, how about Beethoven's late string quartets? Compared to his earliest works in the genre... an entire universe apart, they are still some of the most mind-blowingly innovative music ever in my opinion. Sibelius's musical development is quite amazing, too. Verdi's greatest operas are those from his middle and late periods. Etc. etc. (Notwithstanding that many famous artists and composers died young, so we'll never know how their mature style would have developed.)

Now, on the original question - could it be more about changing trends in mainstream perfumery rather than the individual perfumers' (waning) creativity? Think about how much care and resources were lavished on developing a single new designer perfume in the 70s, 80s or even still in the 90s compared to today's quick-moving market (flankers of flankers of flankers and whole "collections" being released at once)... I've no idea, but just a thought.
 

growly

Super Member
Apr 23, 2018
Possibly it's just part of the human experience.
You make a great fragrance, a great album, star in a great action (or comedy, or romcom, or whatever) movie.

People see, hear or smell what you did last time, and they want more of the same.

You're already 'part of the system'.

If you keep making variations on a theme eventually people will grow tired and say you have no originality. Break out in a new direction and they could forget your earlier work if you're hugely successful. but if you fail it may be a long time before you work again.
 

LiveJazz

Funky fresh
Basenotes Plus
Mar 16, 2006
I feel somewhat surprised by the comments .... I find them a bit depressing! I refuse to accept them. :ROFLMAO:

I think that at 50, 60 and older one can be able to do wonders as if she or he were 30, why not? That at 30 years of age you have more drive, energy, desire to show things, to proof your talent etc etc well, it could be. But at 50 or 60 you may also have positive skills that you didn't have at 30; experience, patience, knowledge, breadth of vision, time... will it be nothing more than a cliche to turn the page and to something else?

Maybe it's less to do with age itself, and it's more about tenure in the profession. A talented young perfumer might be more prone to think outside the perfumery box. They have been influenced less; their ideas are still untainted by the machine of corporate brief selection and refinement. They haven't yet found their groove, or their biases.

As stated already, nothing wrong with finding a groove and perfecting it, but the influential work is the stuff that comes out of left field and knocks everyone over. Finding that thing might just require a fresh set of eyes, and in a professional and artistic content, fresh eyes are simply more likely to be young eyes.

Find a natural talent like Giacobetti or Bourdon and start them off in perfumery at 50...I bet they'd still knock us over.
 

Foxsbiscuits

Super Member
Oct 8, 2003
I propose two types of perfumer's creative process - The "solo voice" and the "variety show"

"solo voice" is them bringing their self and personality through the perfume and once it's produced they aren't saying anything new after that, they're refining or developing what they've already said. For example Jean Claude Ellena refining his spicy/minimal/mineral/transparent aesthetic at Hermes, I can sniff half of that brand and picture him. His fragrances carry his philosophy about life/perfume and his work is deeply personal and meaningful.

The "variety show" by contrast can make something completely different each time. Perhaps they will make fewer masterpieces but there will be variety. This could be Mathilde Laurent for Cartier where Panthere, L'Envol, Roadster, Baiser Fou don't share similarities.


I'm not saying one is better than the other but it seems relevant if we are assessing when they make great work because the "solo voice", once given the correct conditions, is able to say the bulk of what they want to say immediately. A case of "You've smelt one, you've smelt them all". The "variety show" might take 50 perfumes to finally find a random accord that hits a home run in their late career.
 
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