The Master Perfumers Series: Sophia Grojsman
The first in our #MasterPerfumers series - creators that inspired the world and OLFAC3 Perfumes.
An Obsession with Roses
One of my favourite master perfumers is the legendary Sophia Grojsman, a Belarus-born American perfumer with an endless fascination with the rose; a flower she uses in most of her creations.
Her mastery with the rose in all its facets as well as her 'hug me' accord* has influenced modern perfumery as we know it today.
Over the past 30 years, Grojsman having created some of the most game-changing perfumes for well-known brands, making her one of the most prolific perfumers of our time. She was the first perfumer to inverse classical proportions of ingredients in perfumes, revolutionizing the classic perfume structures of having top notes, middle notes and base notes and began the era of monolithic perfumes of linear structure in the early 1990s. What this means is that her creations had the same flow and impression that leaves one instantly breathless, from the first whiff.
The Rise of a Legendary Perfumer
Sophia is one of the most talented of perfume creators who rose to dizzying heights in the perfume world in the 1980s, especially with the still popular Lancome Tresor. She designed many timeless perfume creations, of which Calyx, Yvresse, and Eternity are perhaps the most famous. Legend has it that as she stuttered at the Paris lab, changing her fragrance concoctions over and over again and finally headed home wearing one of her creations. As she was walking home, she noticed an unknown lady following her. She stopped to face and confront the person behind her, and to her surprise, the lady said to her before she could say anything, "Wait, I just want to ask you what perfume you are wearing." That was when she realized she got it right, and Paris by YSL was born.
The true measure of the success of a perfume is when it fulfils its mission: To give your aura a pleasant feeling of comfort and freedom and make you attractive to others.
The Art of Scents
Just like any other work of art, a perfume that moves you and the people around you takes time to create. My most loved compositions took me many hours that went into months to balance and to reiterate, and that was after the laborious process of coming up with numerous variations until I came up with one I was happy with. Then came the true test - for my inner circle to try it and tell me if it was any good. There were too many times to count where I had to start over, but it didn't matter. What mattered was the end-goal - creating an exquisite perfume unlike any other, a perfume that when I wear it I would feel subliminally happy, confident, seductive and sexy. A composition that would make others say "Wow. You smell amazing. What perfume are you wearing? And where can I get this scent?"
The true measure of any creation of art, and perfume is the art of scents, is how your creation makes others feel, how it affects them and people around them. As a creator, what you think of and how much you love your own creation is secondary, at best.
Sophia's creations were my signature scents long before my learning and training began, starting with Perry Ellis 360° (1992) and Bvlgari Pour Femme (1994). I loved the scents so much that when they were discontinued, it pushed me to attempt to re-create them, using the Grojsman’s accord.
Grojsman’s journey inspired me. It marked the beginning of my learning and training in perfumery and my journey as an independent perfumer in faraway Malaysia.
BVLGARI POUR FEMME
Bvlgari Pour Femme is a feminine classic which will adorn you just like precious jewellery. This was my signature scent in my early 20s well into my 30s. The delicate floral bouquet opens with bergamot, violet leaves and orange blossom. In the heart dwells luminous jasmine Sambac picked at dawn, when its scent is romantically soft. Jasmine is followed by sensual mimosa and always feminine rose. The base unites powdery coldish iris, musk and sandalwood.
Top notes: Bergamot, Raspberry, Peach, Coriander, Sichuan Pepper
Middle notes: Iris, Bulgarian Rose, Heliotrope, Orris Root, Egyptian Jasmine and Lily-of-the-Valley, Violet, Carnation, Orange Blossom
Base notes: Musk, Sandalwood, Amber, Vanilla, Benzoin, Styrax, Cedar.
PERRY ELLIS 360°
360° by Perry Ellis is a floral fragrance for women. The summer fragrance, launched in 1992, is a gorgeous mix of warm and cool tones. Juicy melon and tangerine are the tantalizing top notes. Their sweet, energizing profiles inspire your spontaneity. Soft water lily is joined at the middle by earthy green herbs, lavender and sage. Fresh and exhilarating, they awaken your senses. Amber and musk infuse a feminine sensuality into the perfume, with a dash of vanilla adding a lingering sweetness. It was my go-to scent in my formative years, from when I was 17 to about 21 years old.
Top notes: Tangerine, Melon
Middle notes: Lily, Osmanthus, Rose, Water Lily, Lily-of-the-Valley, Lavender, Sage, Vanilla.
Base notes: Musk, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Amber
Other perfumes by Sophia Grojsman you may love:
ESTEE LAUDER WHITE LINEN
* Accord: In the same way you hold down several notes in music to create a chord that has a unique sound, in perfume, an accord is a scent made up of several perfume notes, or ingredients, that blend together to form a distinct fragrance.