The creator of masterpieces Madame Rochas, Amouage Gold & Gold for Men, Dioressence, Calèche and the original 1955 Doblis by Hermès is no more: Perfumer Guy Robert died on Monday 28th May. His mantra: Un parfum doit avant tout sent bon (a perfume should first and foremost smell good).
One small anecdote (and some perfume quotes I will address below) shows us how historical memory is fleeting when it comes to perfumes and perfumers' work. Despite Robert's amazing and historically important work, not everything is recorded and much of what passed behind closed doors has escaped the written word. Like Robert's unknown perfume called Chouda...
According to Luca Turin, as quoted by Chandler Burr: "I got to know Guy Robert particularly well. He's a professional-level jazz pianist, writes fiction, is a terrific cook. You should hear him talking about olive oil. He knows the only place to get it. He took me to one of the best restaurants I've ever been to, Le Bistro le Paradou, west of Aix. He's in his seventies now. He's been in the business a long time, has bad relations with Jean Amic, the old head of Givaudan. It's a small world, Grasse. Everyone's screwed everyone else at some point, literally and figuratively."
Guy Robert's wit and realism were unparalleled. He said of Piguet's Bandit scent: "A beautiful, but brutal perfume." And on Ernest Daltroff of Caron, lamenting current state of affairs in perfumery: "Today, when copycats make money, and perfumers are discouraged by lawyers and toxicologists from using some of nature's most fascinating products, Daltroff's creations are a reminder of what true perfumery is all about. He devoted his unique taste and sense of balance to a quest for fragrance perfection." [quotes via Michael Edwards, Perfume Legends]
And on composing: “We are like painters: some use simple colors, others prefer sophisticated ones. It's the result that matters” [quote Guy Robert, Les Sens du Parfum]
Guy Robert belongs to a clan of perfumers as is typical with classic French noses; nephew of Henri Robert, the second perfumer after Beaux at Chanel and famously the nose behind Coty's Muguet de Bois, Chanel pour Monsieur, Chanel No. 19 and Cristalle, while Guy's own son is François Robert who worked on Lanvin Vetyver and the newer Les Parfums de Rosine scents. Between 1949 and his death he worked for six different fragrance houses (Hermès, Rochas, Dior, Gucci, Amouage and The Pink Room), learning perfumery, creating perfume and then supervising groups of perfumers.
In his work he served internatioal clients but also involved in the training of new perfumers. Guy Robert considered 'Amouage Gold' a symphony and the crowning glory of his career.
Robert was not without author's credentials either: His Les Sens du Parfum (where he lists some of his favorite perfumes, among them the original Quelques Fleurs, Coty's Cordon Vert alongside Coty's Chypre, Ambre Antique, Emeraude, L'Origan and devotes space to the opus of Germaine Cellier) is considered a handbook into appreciating the art of perfumes, while he served as President of La Société Française des Parfumeurs.
He will be sorely missed. Our condolences to his family.
Guy Robert's known perfume oeuvre comprises, apart from scented products for the body, perfumers' bases and cosmetics:
- Hermès, Doblis (original) (1955)
- Rochas, Madame Rochas (1960)
- Hermès, Calèche (1961)
- Christian Dior Dioressence (1969)
- Rochas, Monsieur Rochas (1969)
- Hermés, Équipage (1970)
- Gucci, Gucci No. 1 (1974)
- Gucci pour Homme (1976)
- Amouage, Amouage Gold (1983)
- Amouage, Amouage Gold Men (1983)
- The Pink Room parfum No.1 (1997)