An artistic conversation with Gabriel Gabor, Certified Perfumer-Creator and Founder of Parfums de Gabor, Haute Perfumery, Paris
August 8, 2019
Dear readers, whether it is a luxury bespoke suit or a pair of well-made leather shoes, when it comes to refined craftsmanship, one can pick up the evidence from the details of the craft, when it comes to the story or raison d'être behind, one needs to listen to the creator, by all means, the tailor or the artisan, and one thing that fascinates me most of the time, is when I was listening to these artisan’s talk, about their aesthetic, inspiration, even their journey before having these remarkable artists to put their work right in front of our eyes, this also applies to perfume as well, although the very essence of a fine perfume is a form of liquid (the design of the bottle and packaging also count by the way), the ‘craft’ derives from the know-how and technique by the perfumer, using his sensitivity to combine certain fragrant together, in the right amount of essence, and sometimes, the perfumer requires to be an artist as well when working with their perfume designer clients, to interpret their vision from the concept to reality, therefore, their effort is no less than an artisan in suit-making or leather shoes making.
Speaking of perfumer, I recently came across the work by a youthful French Perfumer, who brings his knowledge about French perfume making, plus, his sensitivity and passion about niche fragrance in an innovative and refreshing way, yet, maintaining the French perfume making heritage, and interpret it in a very stylish and modern way, that derives from the work by Mr. Gabriel Gabor, a certified Haute Perfumer as well as the Founder of his very own high end niche fragrance brand, Parfums DE GABOR. With Headquarters based in Paris, Gabriel completed his certified perfumer studies in Grasse, the world capital of perfume in France and started his career as a artisanal perfumer since 2010, creating unique fragrances for designers, actresses as well as offering countless olfactory workshops for selected group of young perfumers, designers as well as fragrance connoisseurs. Having involved in a high end fragrance development project with a world renowned couture brand, then later in 2016, having his Oud fragrance participated at the Beauty World Middle-East Dubai Fragrance and Cosmetics Fair, making his name being recognized by the industry, and now, Gabriel is a member of the Société Française des Parfumeurs in Versailles. For this time, I am very thrilled to have this French perfumer gentleman to have a conversation with us, sharing his passion about fragrance, his work and gentleman lifestyle.
My Modern Darcy: Hi Gabriel, it’s been a delight to have you here, as I know you have been away for vacation, how did you like your summer holiday?
Gabriel Gabor: Thank you for your question. This year my summer holiday got a special spiritual meaning, I decided to realize the El Camino, most exactly it was a walking tour from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, on foot, 290 km, it gave me a full recharge in my creativity, I smelt the nature all day long, new doors opened, I am more fit than ever.
MMD: I came across that you have a very interesting metaphor about your dream career when you were young, so, can you tell us about what intrigues you to become a perfumer?
GG: It was not so easy to fight and try to accept the critics during more than 8 years. I wanted to create perfumes as professional perfumer with real perfumer education and work in fine perfume laboratories, not just mixing up interesting fragrance raw materials in a hidden lab. When I explained my goal to my friends or to my university teachers they told me: “It could be like I am dreaming to become an astronaut...” One part of this is true, thousands of people are continuously trying, dreaming to become an astronaut but their dreams stay as a never-ending fantasy. Same dream as a perfumer profession. Having a good nose, sensibility and passion do not give you evidently a direct space trip in the universe of modern perfumery. Nowadays there are more astronauts on Earth than perfumers. When I worked as marketing trainee at Perfumes Christian Dior during my Master university year for my first diploma, specializing in Luxury Marketing, I had to realize how long and hard the road of a perfumer if not coming from a traditional perfumer family. I had to face with almost impossible obstacles, endless waiting, rejections and not kept promises because of vanity.
MMD: In your opinion, what is the trickiest part to become a perfumer? Or as a French (perfumer), do you feel that you have a ‘mission’ to uphold the legacy about French perfume making?
GG: The trickiest part of the development to become perfumer is inside the nose and the mind. Getting above old limits of scent identification and sensibility, overpassing your constructive creativity limits. Smelling, feeling and believing.
To uphold the legacy about French perfume making: Nowadays just a few French perfume made from original French natural ingredients. During centuries France was blessed with the unique high quality of Jasmin, Rose, Neroli, Lavender, Mimosa, Violet leaves, Blackcurrant buds production. In 2019, many companies from different countries worldwide are offering lower quality natural, or even synthetic reconstructions of traditionally French ingredients, I believe that a perfumer-creator must be proud to have the chance to use the exclusive French natural ingredients during his / her fragrance creations. A real life-long mission for a France-based perfumer to create niche perfumes including French ingredients, it is a real luxury and engagement for maintainable production of naturals in France, on the other hand, new innovative techniques give new smelling sensations due to the most recent extraction ways of traditional raw materials. Our DE GABOR perfumes have the unique French touch due to the French ingredients and the secret French style perfume structures.
MMD: You have been both a perfumer, and, a perfume brand Founder of your own brand, can you share with us the challenge(s) that you faced in the two different roles from the past, and how did you overcome them?
GG: The keys for these roles are inside, I have always been felt high responsibility in my work, paid extraordinary attention to details but understood the overview in problem solving and managed situations. Maybe I am not the quickest one in work but I never let out something from lab and from my office if it is not great enough, not among the best creations. In this case, whether I work on international projects for other companies, or, for my own brand, the results based on honest work, I take risks and responsibility in my life and for my perfume brand as well. As perfumer, luckily I swim in the waves of creative ideas, so focusing on the priority projects, inviting new ingredients in the formulas under creation due to the smell-analyzing techniques, waiting for weeks for new special ingredients are also big challenges and they influence my weekdays. I cannot separate the 2 roles any more, since a decade ago they were part of me as my creative left hand and my organizing right hand, the resolution of my difficulties arrived because I had listened to my inner voice and followed my nose.
MMD: How did you define a good bottle of fragrance? What are the key elements and why?
GG: A good bottle of perfume starts great and you can immediately feel the personality behind, the first impression of the perfume, the charming heart notes, and the long-lasting base notes are principal factors for love and success. In global, you feel that the fragrance has a character, not just a nice creation with recognizable beautiful ingredients. A good perfume emphasizes your image, your lifestyle and lets you connect to the feelings of the present, on your skin the perfume really comes alive. A good perfume is like a great painting, many colors can vibrate but the harmony of the shapes and facades lets you discover the round story.
MMD: Among the fragrances in your collection, which one is your favorite and why? Also, which one will you recommend for a gentleman during the summer time?
GG: It is very difficult to answer, it is like a question to a parent to answer which child is his or her favorite. If you are ready for glamour and for a real gourmand love with long-lasting erotic French touch, the answer is your DARLING. If you are excited by the smell of real leather; leather jackets, cops, by the touch of the leather on your skin, you are opened for fetish games, LEATHER FOREVER assures your remarkable charm, manifesting as an emblematic perfume among all leather scents of nowadays.
A recommended perfume for a gentleman during summer evenings is the GENDERS perfume with the exclusive saffron content and with sophisticated spicy notes in the top, with elegant woody, modern oriental heart notes. This multi-gender perfume gives a radiant woody-ambery allure to the ‘male’ gender*. The warm aromatic vibration in the air with the elegant spicy-floral notes seduces your company during a fascinating summer event or in a casino.
*For ‘male’ gender means: for men and brave women with male character.
MMD: OK let’s switch the topic about style, can you share with us what’s your personal style? What outfit assemble makes you the most comfortable and representing you?
GG: My style is in harmony with my personality, I do not follow others in style as I have only one life with this life goal, if I could not live in my style, just imitating others, in that case I would be like someone else and would lose my time and my own style for nothing. I was never a guy with shabby holey jeans just for fun, I have always loved pure colors with their energy, contrasts in an elegant way, I like black as really black, red as cherry or raspberry red, but I have never ever liked pastel colors. I love smelling, meeting clients, working in elegant suits, I pay much more attention for the nuances and details than generally expected. The right combination of colors and shapes gives a unique outfit, I could never wear decadent clothes, I prefer fitted, slim-fit or tailor-adjusted shirts in the lab even after gym. For weekends I keep my "élégance légère" with simple Lacoste shirts or Armani T-shirts due to their long-lasting quality. Black, white, nice nuances of grey and blue make me feel comfortable in any ephemeral trends but I am never too shy to wear the timeless shiny black leather on Saturday nights.
MMD: A ‘modern day gentleman’ and ‘fine fragrance’, how did you find these two terms associated with you?
GG: Like this: “A fine fragrance creator in modern days for gentlemen.”, if you really check the meaning behind your sentence above, this is exactly what it is! This gives a short description of my actual daily work / life: a modern day-dreamer gentleman creates fine fragrances, every workday I am in the fragrance lab, smelling more than 150-270 smell strips (touches) per day, being involved in creation of more than 7-11 perfumes during the same period, dreaming about olfactive messages of past and present arriving by the smell of fragrance ingredients. Other aspects: wondering in front of some Chagall paintings, changing clothes after clients visit or gym, or just simply going out to a Chill-out bar or a fancy terrace viewing Monaco Monte Carlo when the wind brings the smell of jasmine from the gardens below.
MMD: What is the proper way of applying a fragrance?
GG: I do not know why, but perfumers receive this cliché question minimum 12 times per year, in the internet, even right illustrations can be found from 2 clicks by google, where and how to apply a fragrance. For example https://bespokeunit.com/fragrance/apply/
The key of applying: avoid eyes, lips, urethra and damaged skin (sunburn, injured), but all your erogenous zones of your body have thinner skin, rich in veins, are ideal places for perfume application boosting with your own pheromones. There is no only one type of proper way, it depends on the density of the perfume (Eau Fraiche, eau de cologne, eau de toilette, eau de parfum, extrait de parfum, perfume oil) and some part different for men and for women, a large range of articles focusing on this question and list of dissertations about can be found in University libraries. The best way is spray once or twice on your skin from minimum 15-20 cm distance, all the good perfumes will change on your skin in 5-10 minutes and the heart notes of your perfume become dominant. If you like to keep the almost same smell of the perfume for hours, you can spray a bit behind your ears, on your clothes, on your hair, on your comb also. For men, the body hair is also a perfect place to keep the perfume all day long on the special surface of the tiny body hair (chest, back, arms).
(and a joke: The best way is the ‘Chinese elite’ way, the application is, as we heard it in France at the Perfume Institute, is like this: a full bottle of perfume (minimum 100 ml or bigger bottle), just in front of the mirror in order to increase richness, self-esteem and seduction; in the right place of the house / apartment according to the bagua map.)
MMD: Apart from the outer look, what other qualities do you think that a modern day gentleman should have?
GG: Some from the long list: respect rules of mobile-phone use, during a dinner it is not so great to watch the screen instead of the meal or the face of your partner. Hand-care, right cut for beard and mustache. Cultivated in modern art, knowledge in gastronomy and vinery. Up to date in astro-sciences and modern technology such as cars & planes. Informed about good hotel rooms. To be polite, self-responsibility, patience, and good skills for listening.
MMD: if someone approaches you one day and ask you about how to become a successful perfumer, and even a perfumer Founder, what kind of advice will you give him/her?
GG: Be honest, respectful to yourself, close your eyes and be brave to see your dreams. Just follow your nose, smell, discover, enjoy! Start to jump and move back and forward then open your eyes, there is no only-one way, and it is not possible to give a magic advice which is good for everybody, maybe just one or two: be responsible for your own dreams, and follow your nose!
Special thanks to Mr. Gabriel Gabor.
Image courtesy of Haute Parfumerie DE GABOR, Paris.