“Smells are things you treasure for a lifetime,” [Carlos Benaim] says. “As a young boy I would often accompany my grandfather to the marketplace in Tangier, and I remember the smells of the spices and fruits, oranges, peaches, melons and apricots — they are engraved in my memory.”
The Moroccan-born, Jewish Benaïm thus reminiscences of his childhood in Tangier before the Six-Day-War of 1967 made him move to Paris, then to Amsterdam and to Buenos Aires before finally settling in New York where he's still working today for International Flavors & Fragrances. His latest foray into cult fragrance is A Lab on Fire's "Liquid Night".
His appreciation of fragrances coupled with his knowledge of chemistry helped him establish himself early as one of the world’s leading perfumers with the classic masculine "green" Polo by Ralph Lauren bring his first breakthrough and popular commercial successes following; Flowerbomb for Viktor & Rolf, Giorgio Armani’s Code for women, Helena Rubinstein Wanted, Bvlgari Jasmin Noir and Yves Saint Laurent’s Saharienne among many many more.
An article by Jeremy Josephs which appears in The Jewish Chronicle online stresses his heritage: "He never has forgotten his Sephardi roots or the plight of Moroccan Jews who made their way to Israel rather than Europe or the United States. “They didn’t have the same opportunities as we were given,” he says. “To put it bluntly, Sephardi Jews in Israel were discriminated against in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.”
"Benaïm’s response is to have become first a donor, and now chairman of the ISEF Foundation, which attempts to combat social inequality in Israel by offering funding for higher education to gifted students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It has awarded over 18,000 scholarships since it was set up in 1977. “Israel’s greatest resource is the minds of its young. Our approach is a way of protecting Israel — by developing its brain power,” he says.
Carlos Benaim has also received the Leon Levy Leadership Award during the events honoring Moroccan Jewry and their heritage as seen at the American Sephardi Federation.
photo of mr.Benaim thanks to A Lab on Fire found with links via Facebook