AskDefine | Define perfumer

Dictionary Definition

perfumer n : a person who makes (and sells) perfumes

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A person who creates new perfumes
  2. A person who makes or sells perfume


Related terms

Extensive Definition

The Perfumer is an expert on perfume composition sometimes referred to affectionately as "the Nose" (french: le nez) due to their fine sense of smell and skill in smell composition. The perfumer is effectively an artist who is trained in depth on the concepts of fragrance aesthetics and who is capable of conveying abstract concepts and moods with their fragrance compositions. At the most rudimentary level, a perfumer must have a keen knowledge of a large variety of fragrance ingredients and their smells, and be able to distinguish each of the fragrance ingredients whether alone or in combination with other fragrances. As well, they must know how each ingredient reveals itself through time with other ingredients. The job of the perfumer is very similar to that of flavourists, who compose smells and flavourants for many commercial food products.


Most past perfumers did not undergo profession training in the art and many learned their craft as apprentices under another perfumer in their employment as a perfume technician (in charge of blending formulas) or chemist. A direct entrance into the profession is rare and those who do typically enter it through family contacts. These apprenticeship last around 3 years.
Until recently, profession schools open to the public for training perfumers did not exist. In 1970 ISIPCA became the world's only school in perfumery. The candidates must endure a demanding entrance examination and must have taken university level courses in organic chemistry.
Givaudan and International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) have perfumery schools a part of their companies, but students must be employees of the company and must be recommended for acceptance into the school by their superiors.


Most perfumers are employed by several large fragrance corporations in the world including Firmenich, IFF, Givaudan, Takasago, and Symrise. Some perfumers work exclusively for a perfume house or in their own company, but these cases are not as common.
The perfumer typically begins a perfume project with a brief by the perfumer's employer or an outside customer. The customers to the perfumer or their employers, are typically fashion houses or large corporations of various industries. Each brief will contain the specifications for the desired perfume, and will describe in often poetic or abstract terms what the perfume should smell like or what feelings it should evoke in those who smell it, along with a maximum per litre price of the perfume oil concentrate. This allowance, along with the intended application of the perfume will determine what aromatics and fragrance ingredients can/will be used in the perfume composition.
The perfumer will then go through the process of blending multiple perfume mixtures and will attempt to capture the desired feelings specified in the brief. After presenting the perfume mixtures to the customers, the perfumer may "win" the brief with their approval. They proceed to work with the customer, often with the direction provided by a panel or artistic director, which guides and edits the modifications on the composition of the perfume. This process typically spans over several months to several years, going over many iterations and may involve cultural and public surveys to tailor a perfume to a particular market. The perfume composition will then be either used to enhance another product as a functional fragrance (shampoos, make-up, detergents, car interiors, etc.), or marketed and sold directly to the public as a fine fragrance.
Alternatively, the perfumer may simply be inspired to create a perfume and produce something that later becomes marketable or successfully wins a brief. This usually happens in smaller or independent perfume houses.

See also


perfumer in German: Parfümeur
perfumer in French: Parfumeur
perfumer in Russian: Парфюмер

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

atomizer, baker, bookdealer, bookseller, butcher, censer, censing, chandler, clothing merchant, confectioner, draper, drysalter, fishmonger, fishwife, florist, footwear merchant, fruiterer, fumigator, furnisher, furrier, greengrocer, grocer, groceryman, haberdasher, hardwareman, incense burner, incensory, ironmonger, jeweler, liquor merchant, newsdealer, odorator, odorizer, odorizing, parfumeur, parfumoir, perfuming, pomander, potpourri, poulterer, pouncet-box, purse atomizer, sachet, saddler, scent bag, scent ball, scent bottle, scent box, scenter, smelling bottle, spray, stationer, thurible, thurifer, tobacconist, vinaigrette, vintner, wine merchant
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