Christophe Ludamiel: “Fragrance at 50% on the basis of plagiarism or blending, it’s time for a code of ethics”

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Independent perfumer, maker of perfumes for the brands The Zoo, Strangelove NYC, Richmess and BéLAir Lab Tokyo, after working at Procter & Gamble and IFF, is calling for a revolution to build the perfume industry of tomorrow, more ethical, more creative, giving true reality. A place for Attar as an author. Maintenance work.

What do you think of the industry today?

What seems obvious in other industries has not yet been proven in ours. It’s not fashion or cosmetics that run the jewelry or the film industry, is it? Well, so it is with perfumery: it is the foundation business model It has been applied since World War II, and today we find ourselves with large groups producing shampoos, nail polishes or pesticides that decide the quality and beauty of perfumes. we made ourselves hi jaker “.

What are the consequences of the way perfumes are made?

The current perfume industry is 50% dependent on plagiarism and modifiers, I even wonder if 75% of perfumes are not based on an existing formula. If you take The big perfume bookand that you consider the important place occupied by chromatography [une technique qui permet de séparer et d’analyser les composés odorants d’un produit, comme une création de la concurrence par exemple] In the “Creating a Fragrance” chapter, this chapter reveals a great deal about the state of the industry. A process called “inspiration” in our linguistic parlance which would be illegal in music without royalties. This can come from customers (big name brands have been known to order copies) or poorly educated perfumers, this is nothing new so everyone thinks it’s normal. Also, formulas should not exceed $30 to $40 per kilo, which is very low. For this price, even synthetic vanilla is expensive. Can you imagine using jasmine from Egypt, Grass or India at $3000 or even $6000 per kilo? To keep this business, the industry hires docile people (like I am), who hide behind industrial secrecy and public ignorance, or they use smoke screens like history, which prevent ‘progress’. I love Osmotheque (I also invite you to become a patron of perfumes like myself for 300 euros in order to help them), but you must be aware that the past is also about castes, slaves, racism and the law of the strongest and that it is not a good idea to present Marie Antoinette at long conferences as an inspiration for perfumes.

What would you like to change?

The industry must take charge. First, the inner perfumer needs to be clear. Would you go to a fancy restaurant without a chef? When you arrive, you ask how it works, and you are told: “The Armani name appears on the dishes, but they were made by others who also work in the Zara and Victoria’s Secret canteens!” Ask L’Oreal how many perfumers they hire for all of their perfume brands (Armani, Lancome, Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent, Diesel, etc.). Did you hear zero? Ask the same question to Coty (Gucci, Boss, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Burberry…) or Interparfums (Mont Blanc, Van Cleef, Jimmy Choo, Moncler, Oscar de la Renta, Coach …). You will get the same answer. Can you imagine a fashion house without a designer? unimaginable. It is also time that we put in place a code of ethics for creativity. What do you do against plagiarism? When perfumers are asked, they must dare to refuse. And those who make it have to bear it and take credit for the original authors. We must be able to distinguish between the perfumers who are the creators and those who are the same as the designers at Zara. It’s great to be a designer at Zara, but it’s not the same job. This would make it possible to protect structures that are true olfactory creations. We are at a crossroads, perfumers will have to choose: continue to work quietly without morals, or change certain ways of creativity and get more recognition and better wages to achieve interplanetary artistic successes.

Perfume brands and collections that carry their license, and orange perfumes that have an in-house perfumer. © BeautyMatter, DreamAir, 2022

You defend the idea that perfumes are recognized as works and that perfumers thus obtain rights as authors ?

Absolutely: perfume is like a song, so we should be treated like composers. It seems to me that the composer gets half the rights to the song, so why not do the same? We can say 50% for Armani and 50% for Attar. I also think that Giorgio Armani or Ariana Grande are not aware of the treatment to which perfumers are subjected. They themselves will not accept it in their field.

What other developments might be helpful?

Of course, perfumers should be able to pump more money into their formulas, for reasons of quality and in defense of farmers around the world – without increasing the consumer price, because it is already very high. Perfumes that cost $1 or less to formula sell for $60. I think the margin is enough to allow perfumers to put $2 to $4 into the formulas. This may make it possible to use more beautiful natural or synthetic raw materials. Today, when a brand claims to use an ingredient, it is often present in exact quantities or at least less than the marketing suggests. From 100 or 200ppm in the center (ie 0.01 to 0.02%), we have the right to quote raw material from many major luxury brands. When using this dose, the olfactory effect is minimal. Therefore, this threshold should be raised. On all of these topics, perfumers must communicate directly with the public and brands without being filtered by L’Oreal, which has its expertise in making shampoos. If they are informed and educated in the sense of smell as in wine and spirits, the public can spend their money knowingly. There could be a commercial perfume manufacturer that offers really cheap generic formulations, equivalent to H&M or Ikea, and L’Oréal, Coty, and the like will support them. A step above, designer perfumers with real creations, similar to Nike. And finally, creating luxury perfumes that match the ready-to-wear from Saint Laurent.

What actions did you take to achieve things?

I’m debating with composition houses that do the heavy lifting, and with farmers to advocate for ingredients and create a fair use label for natural products in perfumery. She began contacting large groups to include a code of ethics that was posted on the Internet and soon a hundred people signed it; I have also asked the SIPC (International Society of Creative Perfumers) that we write an open letter to inform the public and establish an ethical committee within it. Also with this in mind, I give several conferences, and we’ll create with Saskia Wilson-Brown, founder of the Institute of Art & Taste, the legal Wikicommon for the formulas offered by perfumers. In the meantime, on the Instagram account @fragrance.drama, formulas, including mine, and chromatography of successful fragrances are now regularly posted. This highlights, for example, the fact that legend by Montblanc copy of proud From Abercrombie and Fitch. This breaks the long-standing culture of secrecy in perfumery. We must also strengthen the educational aspect. In Isipca and beyond, students have almost no access to any formula. Can you imagine learning music without the musical notation, by ear only? With these formulas and analysis posts, I also hope that the audience will realize the complexity of our work and that they will appreciate our art even more.

How is the industry reacting to your initiatives?

I wrote a letter to L’Oreal this summer discussing all of these topics, and I’m waiting for their response. But no one questioned everything I said and wrote on these issues. At the latest edition of the WPC (World Perfumery Congress) in July, SIPC member perfumers agreed that they wanted to be given credit for their creations. I have been contacted by several colleagues who tell me that they cannot express themselves publicly but agree with my approach. If we’re being honest, we won’t be able to sit idly by.

The interview was conducted in September 2022.

Photo: © Hilary Swift for Nose, Olfactory Journal No. 11

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Report “Transformation of Perfume Speech”

Anne-Sophie Hooglu

Having become a journalist after studying history, she practiced her pen for ten years at the Nouvel Observateur, smelling successively the atmosphere of courtrooms and then the scent of Parisian tables. She joined the team of Auparfum, then Nez, in 2018, and since then has written for various group publications, notably in the collection “Les Cahiers des naturelles”, or Parfums pour Homme (Nez Editions, 2020).

See all his articles

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