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Interview with the Perfumer Jérôme Epinette

Interview with the Perfumer Jérôme Epinette

The numerous awards Jérôme Epinette has earned in recent years speak volumes about his creative and technical expertise.

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These include Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year for Atelier Cologne Café Tuberosa at The Fragrance Foundation Awards 2018 and Fragrance of the Year – Universal Luxury for Byredo Tobacco Mandarin at The Fragrance Foundation Awards 2021. 

Industry accolades aside, you’ll probably know him for his quality work for a variety of designer, niche and celebrity brands, including:

  • Byredo Bal d’Afrique EDP (2009)
  • Nest Midnight Fleur EDP (2012)
  • Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin Cologne Absolue (2014)
  • Frapin The Orchid Man EDP (2015)
  • Vilhelm Parfumerie Dear Polly EDP (2015)
  • Ellis Brooklyn Myth EDP (2016)
  • Floral Street Black Lotus EDP (2017)
  • Olfactive Studio Flash Back In New York EDP (2018)
  • Zara Vibrant Leather EDP (2018)
  • Commodity Velvet EDP (2018)
  • Ariana Grande Thank U, Next EDP (2019)
  • Guess Seductive Noir Homme EDT (2019)

Born and raised in Burgundy, France, Jérôme Epinette joined the French fragrance and flavour company Robertet in 2003 after completing his studies, which included a Master’s in Biochemistry. 

Jerome Epinette

His creations for Swedish niche brand Byredo established his perfumer credentials, with other companies quickly lining up to get a piece of his distinctive magic.  

Fernweh Editions Fern & Petals Candle

Now based in New York City, the 46-year-old speaks to Everfumed about where it all started, his love of woods, and working with Ariana Grande.

Who or What planted your passion for perfumery?

My mom, who owned perfumes stores in Burgundy when I was young.

It gave me her passion for them and allowed me to discover the world of perfumes.

You studied at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery. With hindsight, what one thing do you do you wish they had taught you that you had to learn for yourself?

I had everything I needed to start there, from discovering and remembering a lot of synthetic and natural ingredients, to visiting fields and factories to understand the harvests and the technology behind them.

Experience follows when you join a company.

Tell us about the first fragrance you created as a professional perfumer and your thoughts on it now.

I created Montblanc Femme Individuelle EDT the first year I joined Robertet [2004].

Michel Almairac, my mentor, helped me realise this first fragrance. It is still relevant, as it was a gourmand chypre, a very popular family as of right now.

You’re VP Fine Fragrance Perfumer at Robertet. What does it involve?

It’s a more global role, making sure all the perfumers have access to internal and external resources.

I am now more involved in new processes on naturals ingredients.

Is there a distinctive Jérôme Epinette style? Or is it more about the client brief?

Every single perfumer has their own signature, and it comes from the ingredients they love to use. I am obsessed with woods, so you will find them in almost all my creations. 

You’ve created several fragrances for brands such as Atelier Cologne, Byredo, Vilhelm Parfumerie and Zara. Is that how you prefer to work?

For Zara, creating several fragrances for the company makes it easy to understand each new project. 

For niche brands, I enjoy collaborating with those clients very much, because there is a close connection between myself and the owners of the houses.

I feel I am part of the brand and that motivates me to come up with something unique.

How did you work with Ariane Grande to create Thank U, Next and God is a Woman?

As soon as I started working closely with her, you know more about what she likes and what could be relevant for her and her brand. 

Fernweh Editions Candles

We had specific ideas that we presented to her through luxe brands.

She is passionate about perfumes and incredibly involved in the creative process so as soon as she loves something or sees the potential, she will go for it.

Congrats on your recent Fragrance Foundation UK Award for Floral Street Arizona Bloom (Best Independent Fragrance). What made that project different from others?

Every project is different. Michelle Feeney, Floral Street owner, had a specific idea and presented it to me.

Floral Street Wonderland Peony EDP

That close collaboration eased the creating process and we produced a more gender-neutral scent.

What project have you just completed that you can share with us?

Byredo Mumbai Noise EDP

Apparently, you considered a career in wine. Is that something you still find time to enjoy?

Yes, every summer I spend time in France testing and collecting wines.