Dominique Ropion, parfumeur Les Bains Guerbois
Dominique Ropion, parfumeur Les Bains Guerbois


The interview Les Bains Guerbois

A quote that defines you?

Man without patience is like a lamp without oil.
Alfred de Musset.

What is your first olfactory memory?

I grew up in Paris, so my oldest scented memories are mostly urban. At that time, I was not really aware of the significance of my sense of smell. I felt EVERYTHING.

I remember the smell of plastic from the new toys, the smell of the air blowing through the subway tunnels. Smells of hot metal and concrete.

Where does your passion come from?

As a child, I could feel everything, even a handshake! My mother and grandfather were employed at Roure in Argenteuil, one of the great perfume companies of the 20th century. I discovered this profession very early, but the idea came to me much later.

What does your typical day look like?

Feel, compose, repeat.

Do you have any “fetish” raw materials?

The classic flowers: jasmine, rose, tuberose, violet, with very few petals, we can reconstitute the entire floral olfactory spectrum! It is fascinating and the study of their chemical composition fascinates me.

Orange blossom: a raw material of great richness which declines its facets of the purest innocence to the most poisonous charms. A performance!

Cassia flower : A kind of mimosa but denser, rounder, more mysterious… A not easy ingredient, with sulphurous and aldehydic effects to tame, but that I like to work with…

The animal notes: ambergris, castoreum, civet, musk, the essentials in the writing of sensuality!

Sandalwood: naturally almost a little musky, one of the most voluptuous products in perfumery apart from the animal notes.

Do you use natural, synthetic or combination materials? Why?

I think that synthetic molecules, if we consider them as the fruit of modern perfumery, arrived in the profession to enlarge the palette of perfumers and enrich our creations. These molecules allow us to work with certain odors that we cannot extract from nature or to create completely unexpected scents. Of course, synthetic ingredients allow us to bring even more creativity to our creations.

Your favorite destination to find new olfactory inspiration?

The inspiration? I often look for it from a central theme, composed around a raw material that I want to evoke. Then I shape it, with reliefs, volume and contrast effects.

How do you train your nose on a daily basis?

I have always been very curious, and I like to smell and discover new smells, new associations. I also find some interesting combinations in gastronomy and cooking for example.

How do you know when the fragrance has reached its peak?

That’s always the big question. Did I go too far, or not far enough? You have to know how to listen to yourself and stop. Finally we feel it… it’s a bit like a drawing or a painting.

Do you wear your own designs?

I like to see and feel how they evolve on the skin. So I sometimes wear them.

The future of perfumery. Do you think that algorithms will be able to complement your work as a nose?

Volatile base notes, persistent citrus, anything that can change the order of things and transform the perception of perfumes makes me dream. For this, we will need to understand the formulation differently, as a new cooking of ingredients, to give them unexpected effects… For me this is the future of perfumery, and it is with technology and research that we can go further.

Which characters inspire you on a daily basis?

All the personalities are interesting and inspire me a lot. A character, a style of dress, a way of speaking or moving, all these small details that reflect a personality animate my creativity.

Have you ever created a fragrance for a specific person (child, parents, friends, celebrities, etc.)?

I don’t think so, but maybe yours!

Are there big differences (method, approach, spirit) between the houses you have worked for? Which ones?

I grew up and learned a lot during my various experiences, and I have always worked on perfume as an olfactory form, like a sculptor or an architect… To immerse myself in the scientific study of the constitution of a natural raw material and then to let myself be won over by its aesthetics is for me a great satisfaction of the spirit.

Define “1979 New Wave” in three words.

Textured, bold, magnetic