Interviews Pitti Fragranze: Pierre Guillaume of Parfumerie Generale and Phaedon

Pitti Fragranze: Pierre Guillaume of Parfumerie Generale and Phaedon

09/25/14 18:11:14 (2 comments)

by: Sergey Borisov

I love to chat with Pierre Guillaume about perfumes. He's open and sincere. He is always ready to disclose any ingredients of his perfumes and talk about his plans. He's a happy and successful perfumer. So great to meet and talk with him!

Serguey Borisov:
Hello, Pierre! Nice to see you again! What's new? What a perfume is that? The bottle design is very new. Are you going to launch a new perfume brand?

Pierre Guillaume:
You should remember, Serguey, that there's a three-year tradition of Parfumerie Generale to create some capsule perfumes for the Pitti Fragranze event. There was trio Cose Verde, Arabian Horse and Feve Tonka in Fragranze 2012; last year we presented a duo, Ironic Bliss and Indian Rhapsody. This year I decided to introduce only one capsule fragrance, Mojito Chypre. The reason is to complement our new perfume, Liqueur Charnelle from the Huitième Art collection of Parfumerie Generale presented here also, which is devoted to iconic French cognacs. So—Mojito and Cognac.

And once again, the idea of a perfume came from my Russian friends. And it was not about alcohol drinks first, by the way! [laughs] First, my friend Victoria told me that there are not very many strawberry perfumes on the market, and that's a pity.

Serguey Borisov:
Except, maybe, new Miss Dior by Christian Dior, which is gourmand with a strawberry nuance …

Pierre Guillaume:
Exactly! I made some research and found that it's totally true—strawberry is not popular! I realize that a strawberry accent can be very sly and tricky …

Serguey Borisov: ?

Pierre Guillaume: Yes, tricky. It can turn into a chemical, synthetic accent, like chewing gum … Something that could bring a cheap feeling to the perfume. And I started to think how can I turn that cheap feeling into something more niche and elegant. And the idea of the transformation came to me here, in Florence, last year, when I was drinking a Strawberry Mojito. The cocktail was very fresh and tasty, I thought “Wow! That's the perfect idea to illustrate the strawberry effect!” So here it is—Mojito Chypre.

In the base notes I tried to tone down the anecdotal strawberry effect to make the "fun" strawberry accord more serious and perfume-like. So I used a chypre structure with Patchouli, Vetiver, Labdanum essential oils, Vanilla and Oakmoss absolutes that I used before. And I think it's a most wearable perfume, I'm not sure but the feedback is very positive so far. I believe it's fresh and wearable …

Serguey Borisov: Let`s try it … And how did you build the Mojito accord?

Pierre Guillaume:
[spraying on a blotter] As for  the Mojito accord, we used Lemon, Lime, Limette, Corn Mint (Mentha arvensis), which is the richest in menthol oil, also some synthetics like Anethole, Carvone, Hexenal, Hexenol, some rum ester (Ethyl Oxyhydrate), Aldehyde C16 for its fruity effect … I think that's all … oh, sorry—I forgot to mention some musk accord in the base notes that is made of Velvione, Habanolide, Exaltolide …

Serguey Borisov:
Smelling it, I think it's a perfect perfume for an evening in a night club!

Pierre Guillaume: Yes, I think so… The opneing notes are huge!

Serguey Borisov:
It's big and far-reaching by its sillage, so one could use it to become a Pharos, a "smellhouse" (by analogy with lighthouse), or a meeting point … It's so loud and unimitable, one could find another in a dark hall just by that smell! The smell is like a green laser light!

Well, Mojito Chypre is better described as a green explosion with a long-lasting echo. The Big Bang smells like a Tuberose and White Flowers Explosion with Greenery; insofar as I could smell the basenotes from a ten-day-old blotter, it has a faint smell of sweet strawberry vanilla bonbons. So sorry that there were no samples of it—just one original bottle with the new PG logo.

Pierre Guillaume:
The new Liqueur Charnelle is coming in new Cyclope black bottles. Here I should mention that we have made some changes with Huitième Art Parfums: all the bottles are black, 50 ml and 100 ml; all the white Cyclope bottles were discontinued; simultaneously the brand was folded into Parfumerie Generale as the Huitième Art collection.

The changes are in concept, too—the starting point of Liqueur Charnelle was not some unique natural ingredient, but a great human-made smell: a glass of Cognac! Because when you smell a glass of Cognac, you realize that there are a lot of things to think about. It has such a great bouquet!

When you research the smell, you can smell dry fruity notes like dried apricot, vanilla, prune, caramel, orange… and also dry flower notes like linden blossom, violets… And of course, it was not my very first experiment—I have tried white wine alsom, as wines are so rich with their smells. So I wanted to create some alcohol that will smell of liqueur but not very sweet, with less sugar.

Serguey Borisov: Why not?

Pierre Guillaume:
Because there are already some sweet perfumes in the collection. [laughs] So I tried to create something dry and spicy instead.  You find black pepper, pink berries, elemi (it's a lemony intense note with balsamic sillage), ginger, cinnamon in the top notes.

Then comes the accord “Bouquet de Cognac” with a lot of blonde tobacco, vanilla and coumarin; and in the basenotes you find some Musk accord, and I'm sorry, but there are some synthetic woody notes like Caranal, Ambrocenide, Boisambrene, Timberol, etc., sorry again, but people like it now. It's not the choice of the perfumer but the taste of the customer now. It's not a matter of synthetics by themselves but the skill of the perfumer and what he/she could do with the materials that counts. In Liqueur Charnelle those woody molecules participate in creatikng a dry feel, to make the Cognac more dry. Also I find Oxyphenylone molecule to be very useful to make a raspberry accent in basenotes.

Serguey Borisov:
Say it again, please?

Pierre Guillaume:
Frambinone, or Raspberry Ketone. It has a fruity balsamic smell, being very long-lasting. So the basenotes are Raspberry, Blond Tobacco and Coumarin.

Some people would find some similarities with Tabac Rouge by Phaedon Paris (vanilla, cinnamon, blonde tobacco), but Liqueur Charnelle is more dry and manly. It is a really dry fragrance. To be honest, when I started to work on Liqueur Charnelle, I imagined it as a true masculine perfume. For example, Phaedon Paris Tabac Rouge has Benzoin—here, in Liqueur Charnelle you find Coumarin and Frambinone. That's a difference. Sometimes you can find similarity in the structure and logic of perfume, sometimes there are just a couple of notes that fool your nose. 

As far as Liqueur Charnelle was launched in alcohol parallel with Mojito Chypre, I'd say that they are very different by their moods or situations to be used in (with good correlation to alcohol consumption). Mojito Chypre is more shocking, created for energetic party animals at cool night clubs, for loud crowds, blinding lights and big noise, while Liqueur Charnelle is made for small talks in quiet gentlemen's clubs, or for rendezvous in elegant restaurants.

Liqueur Charnelle is made from three parts. The first part is fruity, spicy and sweet like apricot, violet and rose jam in a fine Cognac snifter. The second part smells intoxicating, as only Tobacco and Vanille can do (think Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, Naomi Goodsir Or du Serail, Phaedon Tabac Rouge with all its charm and orientality). And the last part is pale dry woods and ambergris that stands for masculinity and for an empty dry barrel of Cognac.

Serguey Borisov:
As I can see, you also present new Phaedon Paris perfumes here. Please, introduce them.

Pierre Guillaume:
These are three perfumes that we created for our own retail boutique, Haramens in Clermont-Ferrand.

Poivre Colonial is one of the new Phaedons. It's an infusion of Woods, Oakmoss, Grapefruit, Cacao absolute and Pepper. It's ethereal transparent wood like Terre d`Hermes, L'artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu, Parfumerie Generale L`Eau Guerriere… Black pepper is the star of the composition, and Cocoa absolute complements it. And in the base notes are the usual suspects such as Vetiver, Cashmeran, Patchouli, Cedarwood … [spraying]

Serguey Borisov:
Smells masculine and very easy to wear… Is it a limited edition?

Pierre Guillaume:
As for the masculine side of Poivre Colonial—it's rather made for men, but not only.
As for limited edition, no. But it's strictly for Haramens now. Haramens for us is kind of our laboratory, kind of a nursery. It's a place where I can evaluate perfumes and determine what works for my customers. And we test our new perfumes there first, it's like our own retail playground there.

Serguey Borisov:
So Haramens serves you like your very own marketing department?

Pierre Guillaume:Yes, but more experimental.

The second is Patchouli Javanaise—a double infusion of Patchouli de Java: Patchouli Full and Patchouli Coeur. And some wood. No musk at all. It's a kind of washed Patchouli, more light and transparent. It's sort of stereo-Patchouli.

And now, the joke of the year. L'Eau de Concombre! Cucumber water!

Why? I'll tell you the story—during the last year, one customer came into Haramens every day and asked for something perfumed with a fresh cucumber note. My partner Mike has to say “No-no-no!” every now and then. One day I called Mike from my lab about 3 PM and asked why he's so upset, what has happened? And he told me about The Cucumber Problem. So when I came three hours later, I brought with me a small spray bottle of Cucumber perfume. Just in case the customer returned and asked again. So she came the next day and fell in love with the fragrance—that's the story of L`Eau de Concombre. It's an aquatic scent, but not about oceans—it's about watermelons and cucumbers. The accord of cucumber was pre-fabricated; plus Freesia accord, Adoxal, Canthoxal, Calone, Mint, an active cucumber element with long chemical name, Exaltolide and Galaxolide Musks, so the formula was really short, about 14 components only.

Serguey Borisov:
Yes, it`s good and fresh and easy. I think it could be very popular in Russia. It's green, fresh, and there is the historical aspect of it, since I remember the rather simple Soviet Cucumber tonifying lotions of my father.

So, cher Pierre, I'd love to thank you for our interview. I really appreciate your openness and I do believe that Fragrantica readers will appreciate that also.

Pierre Guillaume:
Thank you, Serguey! And best wishes to Fragrantica readers!

Photos from Fragranze 12 by Elena Knezhevich


Serguey Borisov

Serguey Borisov has been known in the Internet world of perfume under the nickname moon_fish for more than 10 years. Now he writes about perfumes for and, and contributes on the subject for glossy magazines.





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Great find Serguey! Strawberry is a note whose time has come! Have been looking for a good strawberry perfume with limited success. Just imagining a huge bowl of fresh berries and their incredible fragrance keeps me looking! The perfumes that do have strawberry, either smell too sweet and synthetic, or the strawberry note is too faint and subordinate. I did find two so far that are very good, but still want that natural fresh ripe smell. Definitely trying these!


So excited for Mojito Chypre! I am hearing good things about it and I agree, strawberry is a note that needs to be explored further. There's nothing prettier than the smell of fresh, real strawberries


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