Monday, December 9, 2013

A Fragrance Anecdote with IFF Evaluator & Author Karen Gilbert

I conducted a really direct, honest interview with Karen Gilbert, whose recent perfume book "Perfume: the Art & Craft of Fragrances" I reviewed on Perfume Shrine the other day. [The full interview is found on Fragrantica on this link.]

During our back & forth Gibert intimated the following interesting anecdote, which if nothing else proves that fragrance development is in reality far from what the average perfumista think it is. Let's give it to Karen.

Pic provided by Karen Gilbert for use on PerfumeShrine

"My role at the UK [IFF] office was to service projects which often had a very short turn around time. Sometimes we would only get a week or 2 (or less) to submit fragrances for a brief and we were juggling many different projects at a time. Unless it was for a huge launch like Lynx or Unilever or for a product that had technical challenges like a new type of antiperspirant base a perfumer wouldn’t even get the project – we would submit from what we call “shelf” fragrances which are collections developed for particular trends and already tested in product bases. I remember one particular brief for a mass market eau de toilette fragrance that we had no time on and the only suitable submission I had was a showergel fragrance that was less than half of the budget price we were given. I knew it would work but the client wouldn’t pick it if it was too cheap so I just altered the price to be in line with the other submissions. It won the brief and as far as I know it’s still in the fragrance market today, which goes to show that cost doesn’t always give an indication of quality."

Now, this is what I call honesty! Thanks, Karen!


  1. She is a very beautiful woman.

  2. Yes, isn't she? Her smile is very genuine looking and she has regular features and bright eyes.
    But the best part is she's probably lovely to know as well.

  3. Maria17:24

    There's a lot to be said in defense of industrial production, I don't even know why this story makes me sad. Wasn't it Octavian Coifan who used to label 'shampoo scent' lots of fragrances on the market? Your blog and his were my first ones. Oh the age of innocence :-D

  4. Maria,

    absolutely it is as you said, a sad but true story. It should go to show all those people who still think it's all about "the art" etc. that it is not. The budget of a mass market bath foam could do fine for a fine fragrance these days; in fact I found one bath foam which would overperform as fragrance. Scandalous!

    Glad my blog and dear Octavian's were popping your cherry so to speak. But even gladder that you continue to read me after all this time. :-)


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