Fragrance : Artistry and Creativity


Edmond Roudnitska : A Legacy

Mr. Roudnitska started his career in 1926. Since that time many changes have taken place surrounding the point of view of art, creativity and perfumery. His interests were broad and encompassed collaborating with researchers in olfactory studies, ecological restoration and the arts.

Much of his life was spent defending the creative side of the perfumer's artistic copyright, thus giving legal legitimacy to this "art of perfumery." In his book "Le Parfum" (The Perfume) he comments on the judgement rendered by the Paris appeal court. In "Le Droit du Parfum" (The Right of Perfume) he expands on this topic.
On of his greatest contributions to the art of perfumery was the concept of shapes and form in fragrance creation that he began to discuss in 1944. This concept has been widely recognized throughout the fragrance industry. He told me, "what counts is that you think of the form and use the minimum amount of products in the creation of a perfume." In "L'Esthétique en Question" (The Question of Esthetics), he emphasized many times that the survival of perfumery as an art depended upon an educated public.

The shape of a perfume derives from an aesthetic combination chosen and desired by the perfumer. The fragrance formulation results from an assembly of constituents which gives rise to an overall phenomenon which is anything but simple addition.


Everything Edmond Roudnitska wrote about perfume was designed to develop our awareness of the world within; our inner space, our feeling about ourselves, our desires and ambitions. How perfume can help us deal with these aspects of our being is its most important function. If a perfume is well made with a clear and distinct form, it can help us gain awareness and mental clarity. Roudnitska speaks always of perfume not "fragrance" which lacks the profound significance and emotional impact of a real perfume - a work of art, a masterpiece.

Much of his later writings reiterate the need for the public's education and ability to understand and recognize the beautiful. "The right of everyone to live in beauty is affirmed and one can see the public's appetite for beautiful things growing."

For the perfumer with a well-trained consciousness the sense of a smell is above all a sense of knowledge, of verification, of entry into a special universe infinitely rich in signs which the composer turns to his aesthetic ends.

Mr. Roudnitska was a master perfumer who created "Femme", "Chiffon" and "Moustache" for Marcel Rochas in 1943, 1946 and 1948. For Christian Dior he created "Eau Fraîche", "Diorissimo", "Eau Sauvage" and "Diorella", among others.

He welcomed visitors, many were aspiring perfumers. He once said "the contact is immediate with the young and there is instant rapport which comes from the earth and soul and that is the level that I am working from". His greatest influence was that he was one of the few independent perfumers and he created for his own pleasure, having complete freedom to make diverse and unusual perfumes without regard to price or mass market acceptance.

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with such an incredible man and shall miss him as we know many others throughout the world shall as well. To sum up his legacy in these few words is impossible. He persevered against all odds in pursuit of his dream.

In fond memory, Christine Malcolm & Kathryns Degraff