Interviews To The Unknown Perfumer

To The Unknown Perfumer

10/10/16 16:38:03 (6 comments)

by: Sergey Borisov


Once there was a time, when perfumers were unknown workers. Looking at advertisements, customers knew the brand name and its perfume, and did not know nor care about its real creator.

One of those unknown perfumers was Yury Gutsatz (1914-2005), an emigrant from Russia. Born in the family of chemist David Gutsatz in St. Petersburg, he was separated from his father when he was a 10-year-old boy: the family moved to Berlin and his father stayed in the USSR.
 

David Gutsatz, a chemist from St. Petersburg

There were no signs of Yuri’s future as a perfumer. But the family had friends in Paris, working in the perfume industry. So, together with a visa and a work permit, he was offered a place at Parfums Mury. At that time, Parfums Mury produced excellent perfumes like Le Beau Soir (1922), Violetera (1923) and the most famous Le Narcisse Bleu (1925). Then in 1939/1940 he fought for a year in the Legion Etrangere, then worked at the Jean Marie Farina cologne company, learned more at Parfums Chiris, until in 1945 destiny brought him to meet Louis Amic, the head of Roure Bertrand Fils & Justin Dupont, the largest perfumery and chemical giant at the time.

During the war, Louis Amic realized that soon new people – including couturiers – would enter the perfume industry – and oriented his company into that direction. Amic invited young Gutsatz to a great team of Roure perfumers: there were Jean Carles, Germaine Cellier, Francis Fabron and other perfumers whose names have become legends today.
 


His tactic of gaining new clients was simple – every new perfume after Louis Amic's approval was immediately sent to prospective clients. Almost all perfumes launched by Balmain, Balenciaga, Carven, Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, Jean d'Albret, Emilio Pucci, and Nina Ricci in the first decade after World War II were created by the Roure company, without disclosing the names of perfumers. Soon this business model was copied by other perfume companies. With only a few exceptions, the names of the true creators of perfume hits were kept unknown, until the 20st century. At the end of his career, Gutsatz wrote an article “Oh Perfumer! Your name is No One!” lamenting the fact that major perfume companies did not disclose perfumers' names, not even at their corporate presentations.

 

 

Yuri Gutsatz in his lab, 1935.

Yuri Gutsatz could have created far more perfume masterpieces, but in 1956 he was sent by Amic to India, where almost alone, he established the Indian joint of Roure Bertrand Fils & Justin Dupont and the Tata Group. He worked as a technician and top manager, perfumer and marketer, accountant and planner – he was the Jack of all perfume trades.

Upon his return from India, Yuri worked to create fragrances for Mary Quant, Emilio Pucci, Emmanuel Ungaro and Estee Lauder on behalf of Roure Bertrand Dupont.

Yuri Gutsatz decided to quit Roure and create the very first niche perfume house – Le Jardin Retrouve in 1975, to save perfume as perfume art.

As Yuri Gutsatz wrote in Louis' epitaph: “Louis was afraid that the rapid and radical transformation of the perfume industry from the metier to mass production would lead to a general level of decrease in taste, imagination and elegance in perfumery. And if I started my own perfume business Le Jardin Retrouve, to let people smell the simple and true natural perfumes – it is only because I agree with Louis Amiс. Fragrances must be created by perfumers, not by marketing departments”.
 


In October 2016, Michel Gutsatz, the son of the “unknown” perfumer Yuri Gutsatz, will relaunch Le Jardin Retrouvé, the perfume house established by his father. We met and talked about the new perfumes and perspectives.

SERGEY BORISOV: It seems extremely unfair that your father, Yury Gutsatz, who was a senior perfumer of Roure Bertrand Dupont (now Givaudan), is unknown to a wider circle of perfume lovers.

MICHEL GUTSATZ: My father Yuri Gutsatz was very active as Vice President of the Société Française des Parfumeurs (at that time STPF) untill 2000 (he passed away in 2005). He was well known for his very unorthodox vision of perfumery, stating in both his articles and his perfume critics (I can share them with you if you wish), that marketing destroys art. It is in this spirit that he created Le Jardin Retrouvé in 1975 – one year before Jean Laporte created L’Artisan Parfumeur. In this sense he is the true founder of what is now known as Niche Perfumery.

I can share with you that in 1984, the STPF organized a debate between him and Jean Laporte on the topic “The Third Perfumery”(!); that is what the niche perfumery was called at the time.
 

Michel Gutsatz, the new owner of  Le Jardin Retrouvé.


MICHEL GUTSATZ: The reason why he is now almost forgotten (except by perfume aficionados) is that he kept his brand as a family business, not wanting to expand it (like L’Artisan Parfumeur has grown, for example), not wanting to open stores and of course not wanting to invite outside investors into the brand.

I consider it y personal responsibility, as his son, to help revise this: this is why, for instance, we have decided to put his name on the bottles of all Le Jardin Retrouvé perfumes: Yuri Gutsatz, Créateur-Parfumeur. He was always defending the critical importance of perfumers – but himself never went all the way pushing himself center stage. That was his personality.

SERGEY BORISOV: Le Jardin Retrouvé was the very first niche independent perfume house. What were the ideas your father founded the brand upon, and what were the problems that led to the temporary stop of production?

MICHEL GUTSATZ: His ideals were quite simple, but revolutionary at the same time:

– He wanted perfume creation to be back at center stage – using the very best ingredients in the very finest tradition of French fine perfumery.

– His battle was against cost-cutting and the constraints imposed by marketing. This is why he wanted to have no marketing budget for his brand, relying exclusively on the excellence of his perfumes.

– Additionally he wanted to offer the very best perfumes at accessible prices.


Le Jardin Retrouvé flacon, end of 20st century


MICHEL GUTSATZ: The brand thrived for 15 years – perfumes were sold in the US, Canada, all over Europe and in Japan. But wanting to keep it as a family business, after 2000 (he was over 85) he put less and less efforts in the brand. My mother, Arlette Gutsatz, and my brother Denis, pursued his endeavour till 2012 (when she passed away). And now my part of the story starts...

[Interview will be continued soon]

Sergey Borisov has been involved in perfumery since the early 90`s when he had his own perfume-devoted program “Close to Body” on Krasnoyarsk radio (1993). As a perfume enthusiast (known as moon_fish), he became famous in Russia for his translation of  Luca Turin's Perfume: Le Guide. He collaborated with GQ, Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Interview, Forbes, Allure, Robb Report, Flacon, Departure, RBC-Style, TSUM-Magazine (2008-2016). His own online columns for RBC-Style.ru, Vogue.ru, and GQ.ru (2006-2015) have earned him international recognition and an invitation to be an editor for the Russian edition of “The Little Book of Perfumes” by Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez.  In 2013, Sergey joined the Fragrantica team

 



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Islandaromatika
Islandaromatika

So great to see this company brought into the spotlight, and given their due! Thank you for doing this. Can't wait to read the next installment! -Robert H.

Oct
11
2016
Mari_tokyo
Mari_tokyo

Great article!
I love Le Jardin Retrouvé. Arigato from Japan.

Oct
10
2016
kl99
kl99

I have always said that the name of the real creator should be written on every single bottle!

Great Article. Interesting...But no one of the perfume of Le Jardin Retrouve here on Fragrantica has a reference date, a year of birth, it would be nice to know.
Thank you.

Oct
10
2016
NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

How wonderful that we are finally able to give praise and thanks for such beauty to Yury Gutsatz and the many other "unknown perfumers" like him, many now lost to the ages. I hope we can someday tell all of their stories here on Fragrantica.

Thanks, Serguey!

Oct
10
2016
lemonzest
lemonzest

Marketing destroys art, lowers the standards.

Wise words and a commentary on the general culture of the past 100 years.

Oct
10
2016
matty64
matty64

Great article, thank you.

Oct
10
2016

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