Friday, February 13, 2015

Olivier Polge: "You Don't Make Beautiful Fragrances with Complicated Ideas"

"Preferences change. In the 1990s, people wanted a very light fragrance. Today that’s not the case.

There are now so many heady scents, like ouds galore. I’ve heard that superstrong scents are meant to please customers in places like the Middle East and Russia. 

That’s a reality: Certain stronger scents do better in the Middle East, and Asian countries like their scents lighter. But I try not to be so opportunistic. I care less about geographic territory than spirit territory. Is this scent in the spirit of Chanel?"

Olivier Polge on the left, at the advertising campaign of Valentino Uomo, via

The above snippet comes from an interview of perfumer Olivier Polge at Chanel (formerly creator of the gorgeous Dior Homme, Balenciaga Florabotanica, Balenciaga Paris and all its flankers, Guerlain Cuir Beluga, Valentino UomoViktor & Rolf Spicebomb, the newest Mugler Les Exceptions fragrance series and of the perfume best-sellers FlowerbombLancome La Vie Est Belle, and Dior Pure Poison) given to the New York Times and Bee Shapiro.
Please find the interview in its entirety on this link. 

As we had reported before, concerning Olivier Polges' first scent for Chanel, named Misia after Coco Chanel’s friend Misia Sert, which joins the Chanel Les Exclusifs lineup of more-experimental scents midmonth (retailing at $160), the young perfumer is at the helm of the prestigious French house from now on, succeeding his father Jacques Polges. (Who in his turn had succeeded Henri Robert, who followed Ernest Beaux, essentially making Olivier only the 4th ever in-house head perfumer at Chanel).

 Smelling of lipstick, rose and powder, Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia perfume is said to conjure the dressing-room scents of the Ballets Russes.


  1. I am looking forward to smelling this one . It is coming to Australia .

    1. I bet it would!
      I believe you'd probably like it. :-) Looking forward to your opinion when you do smell it.

  2. Interesting interview. With an explanation for the name: a blink to the Russian market (presumably planned before the sharp decline in oil prices). Come think of it, for that market they might have played on the whole Beaux/Rallet/No 5 controversy.

    1. M,

      very probable. After all, Russian plutocrats and Middle East are the bread & butter of the luxury industry, no?

      But I very much doubt they'd tarnish the legend (and myth) of No.5 with any implication that there might be some other perfume which preceded its "innovation" or its pedigree. ;-)

  3. Miss Heliotrope07:18

    It is insteresting that perfume is still meant to be different in different cultures. So many of today's fashions, pushed by international companies, are meant to be universal. Maybe scent is still so intimate, or maybe the status of it - showing personality or the like (mind you, I am Australian, and internats rarely see us as having individual perfume needs) - just curious -

    1. The globalization of the market is certainly one of the short cuts into greater profits, so it should be the objective of every consumer good industry, I suppose. But yes, cultures do define in large degree tastes for this or that. Take toothpaste, for instance, which is minty or cinnamony in flavor. Mint is more of a US/UK reference and markets were influenced by that due to the huge cultural imprint of Anglo culture on the global village. Fennel on the other hand is more of a strictly restricted "taste" that is particular to the Italians, the Greeks, the French, so only local brands (or naturally made toothpastes) use it.
      Fragrance isn't totally different in that regard, though the addendum of image-glamor-prestige skews the scales sometimes.

  4. "Complicate dideas"....I'm speechless At one edge we have a kind of perfumers, such as M. Roucel, who affirmed to created his best scents in just 15 minutes; and on the other edge we have different kind of perfumers, such as J. Kerleo. who needed 5 years and almost 1000 attempts to create "1000 de Jean Patou".

    1. I think we're faced with more secrecy of the fragrance industry with quotes that are meant to blur waters rather than clear them. A prominent natural perfumer has declared that perfumery is actually rather easy and you need taste and elegance to make something worthwhile, not nuclear science knowledge. ;-)
      You may take that as you like, of course.

      Thanks for coming on board and hope you enjoy it here.


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