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The Perfume Story: An Interview with French Perfumer, Hervé Gambs.

For more than 20 years, Hervé Gambs, artistic director and floral fabric design initiator, imagines sensory experiences for unconventional luxury seekers. As a free thinker, his approach is meticulous and instinctive. He tries various olfactive ways and succeeds in giving a new refreshing meaning to the French traditional Haute Perfumery. He creates free, intimate and sensual fragrances as a mirror of his passion for authenticity. This contrast between raw and extreme sophistication soon became his trademark. In an exclusive interview, KM talk to the man that does it all, right from the aromatic distillation to the finish of a complete fragrance.
As a Frenchman with a rich cultural heritage of beauty and aesthetics, what drew you most towards the craftsmanship of perfumery?
Well, there are two kinds of perfumers: The chemical experimenters and then there are the designers. I am the latter. As designers, we work intensely and are detail oriented. For me, the inspiration that carried me forth as a perfume maker was nature and flowers. Back when I was an interior designer, the need for perfume came into my work as an important touch to add essence to my home and decorum and to feel emotionally receptive to the environment around me. Every perfume tells a story. In this field you have to be fast and creative. For me, perfume is a fashion accessory. It is more than an air; it is a statement and an identity of our personality. My brand is raw, intense and yet sophisticated.

As a former interior designer/decorator, how do you see the correlation between design and perfume?
I am a designer and I can design anything. Designing and perfume both require creativity and a lot of pondering to create a wholesome experience for the ultimate consumer. At the end of the day it is an artistic job and everything requires meticulous training.


What makes French fragrances different?
French people and culture are simple. Nothing is too spicy or too sensual. We keep it light and staying that way adds an air of mystery. We stand out because we fuse all traditions and cultures in the form of ingredients to create perfection as much as we can and as often as possible, and due to this reason, the world keeps buying French perfumes.


What makes the best perfume note for a specific setting, such as a house or for personal use? How do you distinguish?
18 years ago, I decided to create a perfume that gave me the idea of mowing a lawn in a garden of fruits and flowers. For me, a fragrance is a story and an ambience. When I smell a perfume, I am reading a story and recreating the whole scene of what it is like to be in that place and at that point of time. Same applies to a person. If this person is a woman and a city-based glamorous workaholic, I imagine a strong floral top note with small tinges of spicy notes. Those notes tell you her story: she’s feminine yet powerful.

Human beings are always receptive to stimulus, with fragrance being one such example. How according to you has a wave of an air with a beautiful scent created a revolution that people are willing to spend and go to lengths to buy it?
It is not possible to answer that question. Your question is very well thought out and I have answers inside my head but as a Frenchman I am unable to convey those words into English and to tell you what I feel. It is too complicated. But, I have to say that much of it has to do with sensation and emotions. We humans are emotional beings first and foremost; perfume just reminds us about that. I guess that is why it is a sensation everywhere.

What are your favorite notes for men and women from your collection?
Within my collection, I prefer Pink Evidence for women as it is sweet and fruity for a typical lady, but I have to tell you that most of my fragrances are unisex. We are living in a gender bending world and more men prefer to smell sensuous and vice versa.

How do you know when a particular fragrance has sophistication?
For me specific ingredients come to mind in regards to your question: When I think of sophistication, it is intense and raw, I think of patchouli, black chocolate, old leather and spicy notes to create an aura of sophistication. The idea with sophistication is that it is unmade, not trying too hard for perfection, yet being one, like a wood. It looks intricate, but you just got it from the tree and that is all there is to it. Somewhat like a readymade glamour.

Finally, what does it take to be a perfume maker? How tedious is the job?
To be honest, it is not hard at all. It is easy because I love it. Each morning when I wake up it’s a pleasure, it is a new day and I feel bad when I do nothing and so I might as well do something that I love. To me personally, I am a happy man when I work. I feel like it completes a cycle of my life and a long list of accomplishments and it is such an honor being surrounded by beautiful scent every day. I am happy that being around fragrance is a part of my life. It lifts my mood and fills joy in my heart.

More Information
For more info: http://www.hervegambs.fr/shop/en/