In an interview given to Osmoz, currently running a very interesting series on the professions of perfumery, Ann Gottlieb, who worked on Estée Lauder classics like the first Private Collection and Alliage as well as blockbusters like CK one, Calvin Klein Obsession, Carolina Herrera 212 and Marc Jacobs Daisy and Lola, declares:
“My favorite raw material is probably vanilla. I also adore fruity notes. I think that I had a lot to do with the trend when fruity notes became really important in the ‘90’s. One of the reasons that occurred is because of a company called Bath & Body Works… and I was fortunate enough to be the first “nose” for that line. For the first four years I was responsible for all of the fragrances that their stores, and that those of their sister company, Victoria’s Secret, launched. (…) The preponderance of fruits in those lines had a strong influence on fine fragrance. (…) BBW stores were everywhere (in the U.S.) and people kept on smelling fruits, like strawberry. Things that, up until then, women had found almost nauseating. These fruity notes then came into the public domain much more, and people started loving those notes.”
Ok, so now those of us who still find overpowering fruity notes nauseating know who to blame for the olfactory clobbering we get as soon as we step into the mall. Not to mention the gagging fumes wafting from any given group of male teenagers, since Ms. Gottlieb is also behind the Axe fragrance portfolio…
While one can only salute her string of hits, a considerable achievement by any standards, one can’t help but be a little sorry she unleashed them on the unsuspecting world. Ann Gottlieb’s style seems to epitomize the post-Estée Lauder American school of perfumery: clean, loud, adolescent and easy. No wonder the notes Ms. Gottlieb can’t stand are on the dirtier side of the spectrum: honey, blackcurrant, grapefruit and… peach, which she says reminds her of B.O. Oddly enough, one of the fragrances she says she likes to wear when she’s not testing the ones under development is Guerlain Chamade, the first to feature… blackcurrant bud.
Amended on May 17: Unlike what the title of the Osmoz interview in French announced, Ms. Gottlieb is not a perfumer but a fragrance development consultant. I have modified the blog post title in consequence.
Illustration: Elton John by David Lachapelle