Passion for Perfume: A Portrait of Perfumer Andy Tauer


Andy Tauer is an independent perfumer from Switzerland. He has already made his mark on the world of niche perfumery within a very short period of time by launching three fragrances to connoisseurs' acclaim, Le Maroc pour Elle, L'Air du Désert Marocain, and most recently, Lonestar Memories. Tauer came relatively late to perfumery, yet he did not start his journey on this new path completely unprepared as he is a doctor in chemistry. He is also one of the perfume bloggers that I like and esteem and am glad to have as a neighbor in cyberspace. His always sincere and sometimes very funny posts on his blog, Perfumery, are recommended readings.

Please tune in again tomorrow or the day after tomorrow as I will review his latest release, Lonestar Memories.

I am hereby inaugurating a new series on TSS which bears the title Passion for Perfume - Portraits and which will be devoted to offering portraits of people who are passionate about the fifth sense and all things perfumey and aromatic.

TSS - I am struck by how the sense of place as well as your travels are made to be an integral part of your work... Morocco, Texas, not Switzerland. Is this distancing from the familiar necessary for you to create perfumes? [Note: In a way, I am reminded of the quest for light and colors by painters like Van Gogh or Gauguin -- northerners travelling to the south or to exotic lands for inspiration.]

Andy Tauer - Not really, part of my inspiration is based very much on my immediate surroundings and is nourished by jogging trips in the woods nearby for instance. Of course, the exotic ambiance of the uncommon helps trigger associations and sometimes is finally closer in memories than the settings of everyday...

It interests me very much to know how perfumers relate to the dimension of time in their art. Do you think about temporality and if so, how do you incorporate or express time in your perfumes?

That's a thrilling question, for two reasons. First, time is a key factor
in the composition of a perfume. When developing a perfume formula one has
to take many factors into account, like: the strength of a note, the
interplay of notes, and the development of notes over time. Hence, from a
practical point of view, time and development over time are constant
companions that trouble a perfumer, also because the development of a note
in the time dimension also depends on the type of support. Skin is different
from fabric or paper. And then, the development of a note over time depends
on other notes, some of which hold notes back, extending them. Thus... a
complicated game to play.

Then there is the second aspect, as perfumes are created in a certain period
of time, in a cultural context which is also "time dependent."
As I am part of today, embedded in a web of influences, thoughts, pictures,
sounds of today, my creations will also reflect part of this cultural reality I am in right now. Subconsciously, a lot of influences that are time-dependent are there, finding their way into a composition. Thus, my perfumes are perfumes of today in a sense, made in a tradition of yesterday, with the goal of being wearable still in 20 years. Looking at the classics like Coty's Chypre: Clearly, you can see this perfume standing in the cultural context of many years ago, but still... it is a masterpiece that outlived its epoque of creation.

I find that there is the expression of an inner life and an almost mystical dimension in your creations, especially in your two first perfumes, L'Air du Désert Marocain et Le Maroc pour Elle. I think that if you were to present your perfumes to a Sufi, somehow, it would accompany his or her meditations well. Is religion or spirituality a source of inspiration for you?
Religion is not an inspiration, as I am not a religious person in the strict sense. Spirituality.... hmmmm... difficult to say; I would say rather not, but then... what is spirituality? Maybe I am wrong here and my friends could provide you with a more accurate answer.

Personally, I was very sensitive to the exceptional sense of balance and truly outstanding velvety mellow quality of your perfumes although I would say that Lonestar Memories appears slightly more rugged and excessive. What is the most remarkable quality that you like to find or create in a perfume?

For me, very personally and not thinking in any marketing terms, a perfume must do two things: it must first wake the wearer, in the sense that it should be something new, a little disturbance from what he/she is used to. Secondly, it should make its wearer beautiful. It should melt with the skin and let it glitter; it must lift the wearer and render her/him a feeling of beauty, attractiveness and importance.

What is for you the art that is closest to perfumery?

I think it is composing: Not that I compose music, but I can see the analogy. You can compose music on paper, then you or someone else produces it (using an instrument) and then it is played, released and disappears into eternity. But for a very short moment it is there, the tone and it will touch whoever hears it... to tears eventually.

Despite the originality of your perfumes there are undeniable similarities between them; I'm especially struck by that thought after having smelled Lonestar Memories -- Is there an Andy Tauer base like there is a guerlinade base?

Ah.... again, a difficult question: Sometimes you should not ask the writer of a book the question what's it about.... I think it all boils down to my freedom to work with material that I like and to create without boundaries (except legislation and recommendations such as IFRA). Thus, naturally, I tend to work with cistus, vetiver, sandalwood and other notes that I love. Et voila: We have a signature of some kind....

What are your favorite oldest aromas, that is your olfactory patrimony, and what are your favorite new aromas?

I will talk about single notes. In one of the first batches of natural essences I got was cistus. I still remember my wow...ohh... when I first sniffed it. Clearly: A favourite of mine that has since then followed me. A new discovery to a certain extent is Okoumal, a synthetic compound that is quite diverse in its effects, tricky to handle but with a wonderful lifting quality to woody notes, a hint of tobacco and ambergris and quite an elegance.

The worst sin for a perfume or perfumer?

Perfume: To be boring.

Perfumer: To make something boring.

Can you tell us about an artistic goal for you in perfumery that you haven't reached yet?

I still have not managed to get a decent Orange Flower soliflor. I have something, but I do not like it. As a matter of fact, I so far did not manage to get a soliflor that I would find pleasing enough to send out.

Luca Turin characterizes you as an "amateur perfumer" in the best possible sense since he compares you with François Coty. Do you accept this characterization (beyond the compliment)?

Oh, absolutely. If he characterized me as an educated, industrial super-trooper perfumer I would have my doubts....

Of course, I am an amateur, I have never visited a perfumery school... and I am somewhat proud of that fact. And glad... there is something about schools I do not like.... Then there is another aspect: I am also an amateur in the sense of how I started my business. I am on a steep learning curve and hope to become more professional in this sense, too. But things need time and there is plenty of time to move on.

Do you think a perfumer should be considered an author, that is benefit from intellectual property rights protection or do you think the question of authorship in perfumery is not such a clear-cut concept? As you know, very different conclusions were reached recently both within France (the Cour de Cassation ruled in June 2006  that perfumes could not be considered works of the mind, while the Cour D’Appel previously, in January 2006  had ruled perfumes could be granted copyrights protection.) and in the Netherlands.

Honest answer: I do not really think very much about this question. For
me, it does not really matter to have my perfumes protected by intellectual
property rights. If one day a perfume comes to the market that builds upon
my formula, extending it and modifying it: That's a compliment for me. If
someone would just copy my formula and bring a "breeze of the Moroccan
desert" perfume to the market: Well, be it... I'd bet my clients would not
appreciate this copy.

What is your next project?

I have a fragrance project  I am working on right now: It is based on lavender as head/middle note, fresh, green, spicy, woody...

Finally, what are the ten perfumes that you think everyone should try once in their lives?

Chypre (Coty), Jicky, Mitsouko, Heure bleu, Cuir de Russie (Chanel), Diorissimo, Que sais-je (Caron), Knize Ten, Tabac Blond, and... Davidoff GAME just to see why I proposed the other nine scents.

Could you please clarify for me what you mean regarding your allusion to Davidoff Game?

Game by Davidoff is just one of a series of very market-oriented scents that do not have to do a lot with perfumery as I understand it

Thank you very much Andy Tauer for sharing your thoughts on the complex and beautiful universe of perfumes and aromas.

Where to find the blog:
Where to buy: (US), (world wide)

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19 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Great portrait. Thanks to both of you for having the conversation!

  2. I typically wake up, check emails, check perfume blogs, and today, right after reading Andy's great interview with a perfume lover on his site, I come here and you're interviewing Andy! I don't care if they say Mercury retrograde clogs communications, these two great interviews, intelligent and insightful, discredit that theory.

    Thanks, H, Thanks Andy. Great stuff.

  3. "The worst sin for a perfume or perfumer?

    Perfume: To be boring.

    Perfumer: To make something boring."

    Hear, hear!!

    Thank you so much for this interview!

  4. Wonderful!

    I think I have tried most of the ten fragrances listed in the interview...except for Game. I think I will skip that one, H!


  5. Cait,

    Thanks and you're most welcome! I enjoyed this exchange very much too.

    Mimi Froufrou
  6. Anya,

    Thanks! Sometime it's better to ignore such negative influences as Mercury retrograde and keep on trying!

    Mimi Froufrou
  7. Marina,

    My pleasure! I think we're all here to try to understand why we are so passionate about perfumes and the mystery appears bottomless. Mr. Mimi Froufrou says that perfumes are my religion and god cannot be boring, otherwise it's not god anymore:)

    Mimi Froufrou
  8. R,

    Thanks! I must confess Andy has titillated my curiosity and I will give Game a sniff, at least in the bottle, at the next opportunity. I am one who believes that you can learn as much from a bad movie or book as from good ones. Of course, unsatisfactory perfumes make you physically cringe much more readily.

    Mimi Froufrou
  9. Excellent interview! Thanks!

  10. Ina,

    Thanks! I love your interviews too!

    Mimi Froufrou
  11. What wonderful questions and wonderful answers! The only scents he mentioned that I've yet to try are Que sais-je and Game - must remedy that.

  12. Great interview! Thanks so much, I really enjoyed it. In Tauer's list of must-try scents, I wonder if he was referring to Que Sais-Je by Patou (rather than Caron)?

  13. Elle,

    Thank you so much, Andy was a great interviewee!

    Mimi Froufrou
  14. Angela,

    Thanks, glad you enjoyed the interview! I think it's Caron (he added it in between parenthesis.)

    Mimi Froufrou
  15. So glad you followed up with a question as to why GAME. Too funny!

    Lovely interview, and nice selection of questions you chose. Well done! That was a great read.

  16. Katie,

    Glad you enjoyed the interview! I also enjoyed very much re-reading Andy's answers and finding new meaning in them.

    Mimi Froufrou
  17. Thank you for this great interview.

  18. Jenny,

    My pleasure. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    Mimi Froufrou
  19. Very interesting learning more about Andy Tauer! I haven't smelled his creations yet but he's a handsome man with an interesting mind. Andy, don't worry about being called amateur--some of the most talented people in every artistic field are self-taught, and conversely, some of the most schooled have no creativity at all. You can study comedy and never be funny, you know? You know when you have a natural gift, so go with it and it'll take you there. I'm a fan of yours in cyberspace. xoxo


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