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Wednesday December 4, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday December 4, 2013 MYT 9:20:08 AM
by patsy kam
Fragrance of life: Trudi Loren believes the fragrance industry is going back to basics to meet consumer demands for more individual scents.
A perfumer is best remembered for her last successful creation but Trudi Loren has too many to count.
A PERFUMER is often known as the “nose”, and this person would be responsible for formulating the fragrance, deciding on its ingredients and the direction it would take. This would be, one imagines, someone not unlike a chemist in a lab coat, pouring various liquids into different test tubes, taking a sniff out of this and turning up a nose at that.
But Trudi Loren doesn’t wear a labcoat to work. In fact, she’s not even confined to a laboratory as she’s often out there in the world, having meetings with marketing staff, designers and fragrance houses.
What’s more, she’s every bit as compelling as the fragrances which she has had a hand in developing in the last nine years that she has been with the Estee Lauder Companies.
The 40-something attractive brunette hails from New jersey, United States but switches to French easily as she stayed in Paris for a few years when she worked for Givaudan Roure where she was responsible for the development of fine fragrances for Estee Lauder and other prestige fragrance houses.
She became senior vice president of Corporate Fragrance Development Worldwide for the Estee Lauder Companies’ Aramis and Designer Fragrances division in September 2004.
In this role, she was responsible for developing fragrances for the Donna Karan Cosmetics, Michael Kors Beauty, Tommy Hilfiger, Aramis, Kiton, Bobbi Brown, Calyx and Clinique brands.
“My main responsibilities are developing fragrances within the designer fragrance division as well as for Clinique and Bobbi Brown brands.
“I work on more than 40 fragrances per year so I am kept very busy smelling! I also oversee the development of the body products and scented sampling for every fragrance I develop,” said the amicable Loren, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently for a meet-the-media session.
With her finger on the pulse of the world of scent, she works with different designers to create fragrances that support each of their unique styles.
She has been instrumental in the development of iconic fragrances including Donna Karan Black Cashmere and Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise for women and men, DKNY Be Delicious franchise, Hilfiger franchise, Ermenegildo Zegna and Michael Kors collection.
Her previous international experiences also include a four-year stint in Hong Kong as well as spell in the Far East region.
Speaking with authority on the subtle nuances of different types of fragrances, Loren explained how fragrance production methods have evolved through the years, from simple distillation in the early years, to solvent extraction, to modern-day synthetics.
Looking at her youthful visage and well-toned slim build, it’s hard to believe that she’s been in the industry for 27 years, with a pair of 22-year-old twins to boot.
She started out in biochemistry, having graduated from Boston College, and began her career in the totally unrelated field of quality control.
Then, she became an apprentice perfumer at Roure Bertrand Dupont, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Apart from the standard floral (the largest scent family), oriental, citrus and woody fragrances, Loren also spoke about the lesser known fougere (fern-like) fragrances, more often found in grooming products, and her personal favourite, chypre scents.
Chypre (which means cyprus in French) is based on a harmony of oak moss, labdanum, patchouli and bergamot, and is an important category of fragrance in Europe.
The irony is, Loren herself hardly wears any scent as she’s around fragrances all the time, and if she does have one on, it’s probably something that she’s working on for the moment!
Much like everything else in this world, change is inevitable and the way fragrance is constructed has changed the most, she said.
In the past, more attention was given to the top and heart notes of a fragrance.
According to Loren, the “top note” will last for the first 20 or 30 minutes.
Eventually, the perfume will settle and become the “heart” of the scent, which lasts for about six hours.
The “base notes” of the perfume remain on the skin the longest.
“But today, there are more than 1,000 fragrances out there and you need to be able to grab the consumer’s attention within the first 30 seconds. There’s a whole paradigm shift in how consumers view fragrance and I see a separation in the market place.
“Now you have the consumer who is willing to pay for something unique, and this constitutes the higher end of the market where he or she wants a more individual scent which has more craftsmanship. There’s more involved in the creation process and this means going back to basics, and old accords are being used again,” she said.
A classic example would be Chanel No. 5, which has withstood the test of time. After the Depression in the 1930s, sales shot through the roof as people went for a proven scent.
Then again, some scents are “disposable” as they pop up as the flavour of the month, and don’t really stick around for long, for example, some of the celebrity-endorsed scents. Loren reckons the lifespan of such scents is only about six months.
For the industry, Loren feels the overall global view is very flat, however, there are pockets of growth and a lot of excitement in certain regions around the world.
“I see South-East Asia as being one of those areas. Although the climate is hot and mostly humid, there is a predisposition to wearing fragrance and an enthusiasm for it,” she concluded.
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Lifestyle, Trudi Loren, Estee Lauder, perfumer, nose
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