Interviews An Unknown Russian Perfumer: Yuri Gutsatz and Le Jardin Retrouvé, Part 1 of 2

An Unknown Russian Perfumer: Yuri Gutsatz and Le Jardin Retrouvé, Part 1 of 2

10/15/16 08:48:15 (5 comments)

by: Sergey Borisov

Once there was a time when perfumers were unknown workers. From the advertising, customers could find out the brand name and the perfume name – but not the name of its creator.

One of those unknown perfumers was Yuri Gutsatz, an emigrant from Russia (1914-2005). 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, chemist from Leningrad 

At the time, there had been no signs of Yuri’s future as a perfumer. But as the family had friends in Paris who were working in the perfume industry, together with a visa and a work permit, Yuri won a place in Parfums Mury. At the 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, worked at Jean Marie Farina cologne company, studied at Parfums Chiris and 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 he oriented his company in that direction. Amic invited young Gutsatz to a great team of Roure perfumers: there were Jean Carles, Germaine Céllier, Francis Fabron and other perfumers whose names have become legends today.

The tactics of gaining new clients was simple and easy – each new perfume approved by Louis Amic himself was immediately sent to all potential clients. Almost all the perfumes launched in the first post-war decade by Balmain, Balenciaga, Carven, Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, Jean d'Albret, Emilio Pucci or Nina Ricci were created by the Roure company – but there was a strict rule that the perfumers' name must remain unknown.

Soon this business model was copied by all the perfume companies – and with rare exceptions, perfumers' names were suppressed until the end of the twentieth century. At the end of his career, Gutsatz wrote an article “Oh Perfumer! Your name is No One!” showing that major perfume companies never even named their head perfumer in their corporate presentations.

Yuri Gutsatz in laboratory, 1935 

But back to our hero’s career. Yuri Gutsatz could have created many more perfume masterpieces, but in 1956 he was sent by Amic to India, then the world’s end, where almost alone, he established the Indian joint venture 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 Estée Lauder on behalf of Roure Bertrand Dupont. Yuri Gutsatz decided to quit Roure and create the very first niche perfume house – Le Jardin Retrouvé in 1975, to save perfume as an art.

As Yuri Gutsatz wrote in his epitaph to Louis Amic: “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 decrease in the 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 “unknown” perfumer Yuri Gutsatz, will relaunch Le Jardin Retrouvé, the perfume house established by his father. We interviewed him briefly about the new perfumes and concepts.

SERGEY BORISOV: It’s really is a wonder that your father, Yuri Gutsatz, who was a long-time senior perfumer of Roure Bertrand Dupont (now Givaudan), now is almost forgotten. What do you think are the reasons for this?

MICHEL GUTSATZ: My father Yuri Gutsatz was very active as Vice President of the Société Française des Parfumeurs (at that time STPF) until 2000 (he passed away in 2005). He was very well known for his unorthodox vision saying, in both his articles and his perfume critiques (I can share them with you if you wish), that marketing was destroying true creativity. 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 – the topic being “The Third Perfumery”(!!); Niche Perfumery didn’t have a name at the time, so they called it 3rd perfumery.

Michel Gutsatz, nthe ew head of Le Jardin Retrouvé

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 grow it (like L’Artisan parfumeur has grown), not wanting to open stores and of course not wanting to invite outside investors into the brand.

I consider it my personal responsibility, as his son, to help revise this: that 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 he never went all the way to pushing himself to 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 a temporary halt of production?

MICHEL GUTSATZ: It was founded in 1975. His vision was quite simple but revolutionary at the time:

- He wanted perfumery creation to take center stage again – 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 – only relying on the excellence of his perfumes.

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

 Le Jardin Retrouvé bottle, end of ХХth century

The brand thrived for 15 years – 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 into the brand. My mother, Arlette Gutsatz, and my brother Denis, pursued his endeavour until 2012 (when she passed away). And this is where my part of the story begins.

(Interview is to be continued soon)

Sergey Borisov

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

MEH



Previous Interviews Next


Advertisement

Fragaria
Fragaria

It's an honor to even read of such a man. Thank you for the article. Wonderful his son puts his father's name on the perfumes. What respect!

Oct
17
2016
Bstefcorbin
Bstefcorbin

Bravo! Very interesting and aptly titled article. A man before his time. Reading that he created for some heavy hitters in the 60's - (notably Mary Quant) seems very much in keeping with his free thinking artistry. If he's not in the text books - he should be. Thank you for writing a truly enjoyable article. (kinda like NPR) :)

Oct
15
2016
framorena
framorena

I Wish he will provide a better distribution of his father's work now! I' d be so happy to test his creations...

Oct
15
2016
donna255
donna255

I own the Sandalwood bought long ago from Les Senteurs.

Oct
15
2016
perfumecritic
perfumecritic

Fantastic research and interview, Sergey. Thank you so much for highlighting this very special brand. I became acquainted with Denis back in 2006 and was introduced to the simple beauty of Le Jardin Retrouvé fragrances, my favorite being their Cuir de Russie. I look forward to learning more about this new stage of the brand and reading the 2nd part of your interview.

Oct
15
2016

Add Your Review

Become a member of this online perfume community and you will be able to add your own reviews.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Popular brands and perfumes: