Dior Master Perfumer Francois Demachy

Today at the New York Saks Fifth Avenue store Dior’s Master Perfumer Francois Demachy will be speaking to Dior fragrance fans about key notes, ingredients and trends in fragrance. The talk, followed by a bottle-signing by Demachy, begins at 6:30.

But we got the answers to a few perfumery questions early!

SG: What are some of your favorite notes to use in fragrances and why?

Demachy: Women are tired of not being taken seriously by the many perfume brands and they want a more assertive fragrance that reflects their strong character and their particular way of life, one that sets them apart from the masses. That said: Jasmine for its floral sexiness, Rose for its feminine image, Patchouli for its mystery and amber for its magic.

SG: What has it been like to work with a prestige beauty brand like Dior?

Demachy: I feel very proud to work for Dior. Especially when you think about the Dior heritage and the master perfumer who came before all of us – Edmond Roudnitska. It is a wonderful legacy to continue to nurture and build upon today. Dior perfumes represent true eclecticism. They also symbolize new challenges, new adventures. The fact that the perfume house was founded at the same time as the fashion house, the very same year, was something that attracted me to Dior because it was proof of a certain philosophy. Miss Dior, Dior’s first fragrance, is still around and considered the classic chypre fragrance.

SG: What is the training like to become a master perfumer?

Demachy: You start young! I was 16 when I started work at the Mane perfume factory in Grasse to earn pocket money. I worked as a warehouseman on Thursdays so I could go out and have fun on the weekend! After Mane, I went to work at Chiris and then at Charabot, which were also perfume distillation companies. At the time Grasse was a town awash with fragrances. In certain seasons, the streets were bathed in the scents of lavender or rose. I can still remember the smell of fresh jasmine in the early morning as I was on my way home from the nightclub where I had spent the evening. It was fantastic.

in September 1972 management invited me to enroll at the in-house perfumery school (at the time, it was the only way to learn the profession). Soon after that, Henri Robert, who was looking for young perfumers for Chanel, asked his suppliers if they knew anyone, and my name came up, among others. I was very impressed to meet the man. And then he gave me a difficult test to perform: every evening, I had to recognize seventeen different scents on coded scent strips. I passed the exam with flying colors and was hired by Chanel. I went to Paris in late 1977, and have been there ever since.