NOTES : JACQUES CHABERT
Today, we spoke to master perfumer Jacques Chabert, who worked on our Les Cayes, Seven Islands & Calicut. After a substantial career at prestigious brands such as Chanel, Naarden Quest (now Givaudan) and Firmenich, Jacques founded his own fragrance company in 1992 near Grasse, France. In his beautiful art-filled laboratory, he works on developing creative and cutting edge fragrances, carefully selecting only projects that inspire him and always insisting on using the highest quality of natural ingredients to highlight their beauty and performance in fine fragrance.
Could you tell us a little about your journey towards perfumery?
The fact that I was born in Grasse represents, I guess, a good part of my first journey.
I remember collecting Jasmin flowers in the summer holidays in order to make some money. It was hard work, it made me sweat; yet my clothes and even my skin were impregnated with the smell of the jasmin flowers until the end of the day. This led me to appreciate the compliments I received on how good I was smelling.
It certainly was the beginning of a new journey for me as a perfumer-to-be.
What’s your strongest olfactive memory?
Probably Jasmin for the reasons exposed above. But I remember also, as a perfumer apprentice, when I got to smell Ylang Ylang oil for the first time, I thought “This is a perfume on its own!“
Ylang Ylang. Image source.
Perfumery is a scientific art – could you talk to us about instinct versus science when you sit down to create a fragrance?
I have no scientific background to back up my creative career, the way Churchill had no explanation for his longevity apart from “Whisky and Cigars”. I think however that having a rational, scientific approach may be beneficial for certain applications in perfumery. As far as I am concerned, I have got to be content with solely instinct.
When it comes to ingredients, it is often noted that Naturals have a more positive public connotation as compared to Synthetics. Could you break down the importance of these ingredients in perfumery?
Up to the end of the 19th Century, fragrances contained only naturals. They mostly contained citrus for the top notes and resin for the dry downs. The use of synthetics in the 20th century helped develop a perfumer’s creativity tremendously with, notably, molecules that did not even exist in nature.
Chanel 5 is probably the most famous among them but Jicky before, and Shalimar revolutionized the spectrum of creativity as well.
Today the conscience for naturals is back, very strongly, probably for environmental reasons as most synthetics are derived from petrol.
Could you advise us on how to choose a fragrance correctly?
Certainly not. Choosing a perfume is very personal, it is impulsive and it should remain so.
Which one is your favourite Bombay Perfumery fragrance?
As far as I am concerned I like very much Les Cayes and Seven Islands.
Seven Islands by Bombay Perfumery
What are the smells you associate with comfort? travel? love?
Comfort : I would say floral notes such as Orange flower, Linden but also soft Leather.
Travel : Perhaps aromatic notes or Chypres but also some florals.
Love : Probably Orientals such as Shalimar or Mitsouko for the” classics” today some combinations of Oud with Rose may be appropriate for this mood although Florals such as Tuberose may be also a good idea.