My fascination with all things olfactory goes beyond the delights of the nose, it’s an experience. Sweet smelling notes cased in a beautifully designed bottle will always be my weakness, and M.Micallef Parfums is the epitome of it all. In a world where mass fragrance has a firm grip on the market, M.Micallef Parfums takes fragrance back to the days where it was an art to be appreciated with carefully handcrafted, gold and crystal studded bottles filled with exquisite scent.
Founded by Martine Micallef and her husband Geoffrey Nejman, I recently had the opportunity to pose a few questions to the lady behind one of my favourite fragrances, Mon Parfum Cristal, a delicious gourmand blend of Bulgarian rose, toffee, Madagascan vanilla, musk and amber.
What was it that ignited your interest in fragrance and eventually led you to founding M. Micallef? I founded M.Micallef with my husband in 1997, and it has been a joint venture of love and passion since the first day . I am an artist and I love to work with my hands; I love creating, designing, painting and combining elements of art. When I met my husband in 1992, I owned two beauty Salons in Cannes and Geoffrey was a banker and managing the finance department at a lab in Grasse. We would both speak about perfumes a lot and what he experienced in the lab, and it helped us to decide to create our own company and develop a brand. M.Micallef Parfums was born…
What are the things that inspire you when creating a fragrance? What does the process of creating a fragrance entail? Creating a perfume starts with a mood and a flash in my mind. It often happens when we travel and are in changing environments. It is either Geoffrey or myself coming up with the idea. Geoffrey then goes to the lab and starts to mix the first ingredients that appeal to the idea with our senior nose.
It is a long process and it can take 6 months and more, but sometimes it is done in no time. We use the finest ingredients and we do not save on ingredients costs. It is always a mix of best natural ingredients and some synthetics that are of the highest olfactive quality. We decided to target the high end of the consumer market from the start and decided to produce luxury with magnificent packaging and scents with rich and natural notes. I think it was the right choice since these consumers are connoisseurs and enjoy great quality.
What are your favorite raw materials to work with? Your best job is when you like something yourself, so I would say that ingredients like rose, jasmine, iris, ylang, aoud, vanilla, gaic, osmanthus and styrax are among my favourites.
Scents usually trigger memories, events and important people in our lives. What was your earliest and favourite scent memory? I think it is going back to the perfume my mother wore. It reminds me of childhood and the warmth and sensitivity of my mother holding me in her arms.
What kind of training is required to create fragrance? There is a special school to attend to become a perfumer, I think it’s a course for a 3 year period. But I strongly believe that the key to become brilliant in this science is to be born talented and gifted for the creation of perfumes. Theoretical knowledge would not be enough to become a master perfumer.
Any advice for budding perfumers? It is really difficult to advise and to say something. To be a perfumer… or not to be…? Perfumery is so interconnected with passion, dreams, feelings and personal inspirations and moods that you cannot be the external adviser.