In Esxence, I met a charming and gifted person whose website proclaimed was the only “master perfumer” in Italy. While I enjoyed the scents very much, the title gave me pause. We’ve all seen it around. I’ve spotted it on an invitation to a press presentation just last week. It is thrown around with wild abandon in PR materials.
So I went straight to the source to get the lowdown: the Société Françaises des Parfumeurs, who should know about such things. It turns out there is no such thing as a “master perfumer”. With an exception: in certain companies, the title is bestowed to the best perfumers, but if they leave the company they lose it. It is mentioned in no professional nomenclature, in no work legislation. In France, the profession is actually something of a grey area. There isn't even a specific perfumer’s degree given out by a state-approved institution, even at ISIPCA, the perfumery school of Versailles.
So the next time you read about a “master perfumer” without the quote marks, you can tell yourself that 99% of the time, it’s one of two things: either some PR copy writer or journalist got carried away (usually the case), or a perfumer tried to pull a fast one for marketing purposes, if he/she isn't part of a big lab, where the rank is actually more frequently labelled "senior perfumer".
Please note that the draw for a sample of Corps et Ames, the newest from Parfumerie Générale, is still open. Just scroll beneath the French version of this post to enter.