Who: Cécile Zarokian, independent perfumer. Cécile has created fragrances for some of our favourite brands, including Evody, Jovoy, Amouage and Coudray, to name just a few. After a classic French perfumer training, including four years working for Robertet, she set up her independent fragrance company seven years ago and has since created over 80 perfumes. She is one of a growing number of successful independent female perfumers who bring a modern narrative to fragrance creation.
Today I’m wearing Red Shoes by Jacques Fath because I’m going out tonight. When I created this fragrance, I was inspired by a picture of Fath’s famous red silk evening dress, which fitted the model Bettina’s curves perfectly. The bustier on the dress was theatrically highlighted with a royal blue stole tied around her narrow waist.
I wanted this fragrance to illustrate an intense femininity and sensuality, a satin-and-silk sensation. Red Shoes is a cocktail dress, a red-carpet gown and in order to produce this ‘WOW’ effect, it also had to be classy, elegant and opulent, with a powerful, projecting sillage.
With this ‘olfactive dress’ on, you simply cannot go unnoticed – but not in an obvious or a tacky way, the fragrance is subtle and elegant at the same time through an intense femininity and sensuality.
When I work I don’t wear fragrances because I prefer to stay neutral and when I’m done working I usually wear my on-going creations. Besides that, I choose a fragrance according to the event, time of the day or night, season or mood, and wear it behind my ears, on my neck and my chest.
I do scent my clothes, usually my scarf and my top. Actually, I see my perfume collection as an olfactive wardrobe and I always choose my fragrance according to the occasion or the mood, just like my clothes.
Fragrance is obviously very important for me because it’s my work but it’s also way more than that. I’m lucky enough to earn a living from my passion. I’m usually wearing my creations in order to test them but I also love to light some candles at home in order to warm the atmosphere and feel cosy. I also wear perfumes from other perfumers on the market that I like, that make me feel good,- I think fragrance is always kind of related to seduction.
I don’t see being a female nose as a problem in my everyday work. Of course I run into misogynists sometimes, it’s never pleasant but I can handle them…It’s not that big of a deal.
Usually I don’t really have a limit in money for ingredients in my creations, I’m lucky that my clients trust me and give me carte blanche most of the time. What makes a difference is when it’s not for a commercial purpose, when it’s a personal and artistic project, such as the one I did with the illustrator Mattieu Appriou, which showed in Paris, London and at the Triennale di Milano in 2014, where we correlated six paintings and six fragrances in a perfect harmony. The two creative universes inspire each other, paint brush following olfactory narration, nose lead by sketch.
I was always sensitive to smells in general, not just fragrances, but I didn’t consider it as a future career. It’s when I met a friend of a friend that studied at ISIPCA (the reference school for perfumery training, founded by Guerlain) that it caught my attention. I was so interested that I did my research on the whole perfume world, and moreover the perfume industry and applied to the school afterwards.
The best bit of my job is when I have consumer feedback, when they wear my perfumes and tell me all about them, how they make them feel and all the kind words they use.