Lucas: My last review posted on Friday was titled ‘tempus fugit’ which is a latin maxim meaning ‘time flies’, ‘time passes’. You could not disagree with it because time certainly flies although its tempo seems to vary depending on situations and circumstances. Along with the arrival of the month July came the time for my own celebration. Since the first day of July – which happened to be yesterday, Chemist in the Bottle is a 6-years-old blog! We shall blow those six candles together and share the birthday cake because without you I wouldn’t continue to do it for so long. Every year is a milestone for me and 6th anniversary is as special as 10th or any other. This year I thought of something different as my way of saying ‘thank you’ so now my dear friend Jillie will have a voice.
Jillie: About eight years ago I couldn’t fail to notice a new arrival bursting onto the Now Smell This site… a young man (who I mistakenly thought was English!) who had a passion for perfume far beyond his years and a talent for engaging other readers with his comments and questions. I was in awe of his determination to set up his own blog, on which he now has loyal readers of his own, and I have almost literally seen him grow up over those years, maturing and developing, following his passion for perfume and making his way into the world as an adult, shyly at first, but now with confidence. His reviews are always interesting, written with verve, honesty and imagination and I appreciate his detailed accounts of visits to exhibitions like Esxence which are almost as good as being there myself. On the grand occasion of his sixth anniversary of setting up his blog, I am thrilled to be able to ask Lucas a few questions about his life, interests and skills, and to find out what makes The Chemist in the Bottle who he is.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure. I turned 28 not that long ago. I’m based in Poznań, Poland which is quite close to my home town. I currently work as a fragrance evaluator. I think I was lucky to get a perfume related position just after completing my MSc of cosmetics chemistry. I was interested in scent since I was a teenager and actually it was because of it that I decided to study chemistry at the university. In Poland it’s difficult to get a job right after graduation, without work experience. Somehow I made it.
What was the scent that first interested the teenaged Lucas?
Was it by any chance Prada Amber Pour Homme?
In my family there aren’t any perfume wearing traditions and myself I started paying closer attention to what I smell when I developed myopia, I was around 11 or 12 then. But it wasn’t until a couple of years later when I got really interested in perfume. Back then Prada Amber Pour Homme had a special place on display as a new perfume. I liked the bottle, the name of Prada wasn’t an alien to me so I tried it and got hooked! It felt very elegant, powerful yet subdued. Stylish and classy at the same time. Other perfume smelled much more sporty. Prada stood out to me.
As a child were you interested in odours and fragrances, and was it obvious to your parents that you had a more than ordinary sense of smell?
Absolutely not! I was just an ordinary boy who liked to discover the world around him by seeing things, touching things, smelling or tasting them. I used all the senses. I was definitely a visual person & vision still plays a very important role in my life. My nose got better at noticing smells when my vision got worse in 4th (or 5th) grade of elementary school. Then through reading different blogs and websites I learned about perfumer as a profession. And then the idea sprouted in my head.
How did you get the job as fragrance evaluator?
It’s a funny story because it was actually one of my professors who told me that such a position will be available in Poznań. She phoned me in the middle of a summer break after my 4th year and said I should submit my resumee. So I did! Few days later I was invited for a job interview and then for a second round as well. The latter one involved olfactive abilities test – I was given a fragrance and I had to pick its notes and suggest possible use, like shampoo or a cleaner. Originally I didn’t get the job. For a while I was an intern there and eventually few months later I was hired full-time.
What does fragrance evaluator even do?
They evaluate fragrances. To say it in the most general way I help customers in finding the most suitable scent for them. They send me briefs that contain detailed information about a project. With that data I am able to browse through a fragrance library and pick fragrances that in my opinion will be fitting customer needs the most. So in the end instead of receiving 20 different proposals the company that asked for support will only get 5 for example. It’s kind of like a preliminary judging and putting myself in customer’s place to throw away something that I believe they won’t like at all.
Have you ever thought of creating your own brand?
Oh yes! More than once actually. I even had some perfume ideas (including their names) and a brand’s name. But then I realized that it’s not exactly what I want. You have to realize that owning a brand is business after all. You have to earn money in order to survive on this competitive market. You have to have some economy and marketing knowledge in order to be successful. Changing a perspective from a consumer to a producer surely makes a difference & I have a feeling that it doesn’t look so pretty anymore when you’re on ‘the other side’ of the counter. Plus nowadays anyone can have a perfume brand if they have money. Even Youtubers do that now! They hire a perfumer on contract, find bottle manufacturer, production line and so on. If I could only take care of a creative aspect of a fragrance and have someone else taking care of all business-related stuff then perhaps I could launch my own perfume line. Who knows what the future will bring, right?
So being a “nose” might be in your future soon, with luck?
No, not soon. First you need to be enrolled to one of the schools which itself is not easy. Then the training is at least 4 years of intensive learning before one is able to speak of themselves as of junior perfumers. Even after you achieve that you have to keep smelling to improve your abilities and be up to date with new raw materials. I do hope that one day in near future I’ll find a place at one of the perfumery schools.
Who are your favourite noses right now?
I bet this wouldn’t surprise you if I say it’s Daniela Andrier (Givaudan) – through her Prada creations (she’s sort of an in-house perfumer for the brand) she became my idol & I am never failed by her creations. I also like fragrances signed by Jerome Epinette (mostly those done for Atelier Cologne) or by the new generation of perfumers, like Cecile Zarokian or Luca Maffei. They’re just a couple of years older than me which makes me envious.
I think that most of your followers know how important the iris note is to you, and suspect it always will be. But what are the perfumes you are most likely to be wearing right now?
Do you have a current favourite?
That’s true – iris is a note that holds a special place in my heart (in my nose?) Well, it’s summer now and to it’s the time of the year when I prefer to wear uplifting and energetic fragrances. Lot’s of citrus, airy florals or even something slightly marine does the trick for me. I don’t have 1 favourite, especially that lately I’ve been testing a lot of new things that are great for this time of the year. At the moment I love to wear Clementine California, Green Water, Nuda Veritas, Eau des Sens, Aqua Decima among others. My last discovery is Chanel Paris-Deauville which is great!
You are passionate about Italy. What would be your ideal Italian meal to eat with friends? And thinking of your homeland – what is your favourite Polish dish?
Italy is a great place to be but when it comes to food I’m really open. I just love Italian food, so I’d be happy with pizza, pasta, lasagne or risotto. My favorite Polish dish is zupa pomidorowa – a tomato soup. Especially the one that my grandmother makes.
How do you like to relax? Do you take part in sports, listen to music, go to see films – and if so, what do you like to do, listen to and watch?
For relaxation I do like to listen to some music, particularly jazz and smooth jazz. Its the kind of music that helps me wind down, especially the sound of saxophone. I don’t go to the cinema often but I like a good film – be it a well done comedy, thriller, adventure movie or a fantasy one. In terms of sports I’ve never done any winter sports except of ice skating. But in spring/summer season I ride a bike and go swimming more often.
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Well, that’s a great question. My current employer is an international distribution company. Because it’s just a partnership agreement I have no influence on what fragrances are being created for the library. I can only chose from fragrances I have available. I’d like to go beyond that and actually take part in fragrance creation process myself. For that reason it’d be ideal if I could move into one of big fragrance manufacturers and work there. And of course I still have a dream of being trained so that I can become a perfumer one day. But many years may pass until that dream becomes reality.
Jillie: Thank you for telling us about yourself. Congratulations on your six years of posting to us, and I hope there will be many more! Here’s wishing you lots of good luck for the future – and hoping that one day we will be able to wear your creations.
Lucas: Thank you Jillie for your smart questions. I do hope everyone finds this review at least a bit entertaining. I’m very curious what the future might bring my way but whatever it is I assure you that Chemist in the Bottle readers will be one of the first to find out. And don’t forget to visit the blog in the next few days – there’ll be a 6th anniversary giveaway with some lovely prizes.