Perfumer Yann Vasnier on the creation of Mortel Noir for Trudon.
Perfumer Yann Vasnier has spent his entire career and schooling in perfumery, building a truly impressive body of olfactory work. After graduating from the prestigious perfume school, ISIPCA in Versailles (where he was a classmate of our co-owner, Ineke Rühland!), he went on to become one of the world's best and busiest perfumers. At Givaudan (where he and Ineke became colleagues), Yann has created fragrances for top designer and niche brands — from Tom Ford and Trudon to Comme des Garçons and Arquiste. We checked in with the perfumer himself to learn more about the recent limited edition reinterpretation of his Trudon fan favorite...
Q. Congratulations on the launch of Mortel Noir! What prompted the creation of this version and how is it different from the original Mortel?
A. Like most of the things you love, you always want more, more, more! Mortel Noir, from the original Mortel, has increased dosage, power, long lastingness, and a huge boost of Black pepper from Madagascar. It was challenging technical work, rebalancing all the elements of the formula.
Q. What is the creative process like when working with Trudon?
A. This is always super smooth, and direct discussion with Julien Pruvost and the Trudon team, always a pleasure.
Q. Does the historic significance of Trudon come into play in terms of the stylistic approach you take when working with them?
A. Yes, probably in a sense of impeccable quality of ingredients, of craft, a certain polish. No, because it’s really not what drives our creations, it’s more about an interesting story, a special signature and character first.
Q. You also created Elae, Médie and the original Mortel for Trudon. How would you describe each of these fragrances in five words or less?
Elae: solar, glowing, feminine
Médie: fresh, radiant
Q. During your time at Givaudan, you've worked in both New York City and Paris. Do you find it different to work with American brands than French brands and, if so, in what ways?
A. Of course, there are MANY differences. I love the American efficiency, casualness and fun. Love the French style, sense of detail, research and depth.
Q. What was it like to arrive in New York City for the first time as a young perfumer at the outset of your career?
A. It was definitely the best decision of my career, and also a great turn in my personal life. So many more opportunities in NYC, such openness.
Q. One of the notable collaborations you've had is with Carlos Huber of Arquiste. Your fragrance The Architect's Club is a top seller and staff favorite at our store. How did you come to work with Carlos and is there anything you can tell us about how this perfect perfume came to be?
A. I met Carlos through friends, he was an architect at the time, and already very passionate about fragrances. I presented him to Rodrigo Flores Roux, with whom he started his olfactive training. After, Carlos launched this very researched first line of fragrances with Rodrigo and I. Very intellectual, complex and polished. The Architects Club came as a more simple approach, an addictive smokey woody vanilla with a fun gin, juniper twist.
Q. We've noticed over the years that you've worked with many independent and niche brands in addition to the larger ones. How is it different working with smaller houses than with the big brands?
A. The process can be totally different — usually with smaller houses, you are much closer to the decision maker, which makes things much more fluid. But even in larger companies, it is sometimes possible to develop a strong relationship with the "art direction" which makes a big difference
Q. At mid-career now, what have been the highlights of working in fragrance thus far and what excites you for the future?
A. There is still the thrill everyday of learning new things, finding new ideas and different olfactive forms. And always the excitement for a new project, and of course of winning* it. Even if most of the time we lose.
*Perfume houses such as Givaudan submit perfume formulations to the brands in competition with other houses. Even internally at a house, perfumers may bid against one another for jobs.
Q. You and Ineke used to work with Francis Kurkdjian, who we all know went on to launch his own fragrance house. Is this something you would ever want to do?
A. It has always been a question people have been asking constantly. I always find a good excuse not to jump, and never pulled the plug.
Q. If you could create any perfume in the world, with no client or creative brief to accommodate, what would it be?
A. I would love to create a fragrance that moves me intensely like some music, touch, or works of art do — something that gives butterflies in the stomach like a first love? And develops like a beautiful movie, with lots of turns and surprises.
But at the end, It’s much easier to create for a brand, with a brief, a special request. So I would probably make myself a moodboard first, research themes and stories.
Q. What fragrance materials are you obsessed with at the moment?
A. I love to play with our new fresh spices extractions, like fresh cut ginger from Shimoga. And new upcycled natural fractions that bring new facets.
Q. You've spent your entire career as a perfumer. If you had chosen a different path, what do you think it would have been?
A. Architecture has always been on my mind, and now sculpture
is very attractive to me.
Q. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk perfume with us! One last question — what is a perfect day off in Paris for you?
A. Early wake up, swim, walk/run in garden/park/seine, easy lunch on a terrace, museum/exhibits, fun dinner with friends, and I always like a little boogie with some great music.
Learn more about Mortel Noir and the entire Trudon collection.