Jérôme di Marino

Jérôme di Marino

Jérôme di Marino

Hello Jérôme, congratulations on your collaboration with MCM. What was your reaction when you learned you were selected by the luxury brand to collaborate on a scent?
I was quite surprised! They wanted me to work solo on this project which is quite rare in the industry, because usually brands brief multiple fragrance houses so there’s always a competition with other perfumers. MCM trusted me enough to make it on my own so I felt privileged and very honoured to have been chosen.
Tell me a little bit more about your experience. Have you always known that you wanted to become a nose?
I’ve always been attracted by creative jobs and when I was younger I wanted work in architectural design but it wasn’t convenient for me because of personal reasons. So I studied chemistry but at the end, I still had this unsatisfied feeling and still wanted to be creative. I discovered the fragrance industry, when I was living in the South of France. Naturally, I was influenced by the proximity of Grasse. I passed the exams required for the Grasse institute of perfumery and that’s how it all started. During my work experience, particularly at Givenchy, I learned about the different products, as well as the marketing development of a scent which we don’t usually learn in fragrance houses We tend to think that in a perfume, the most important thing is the juice but actually its not. Its a combination of a scent, a bottle and the communication around the product. After a few years, I was recruited by Takasago, the fragrance house owned by Francis Kurkdjian. Francis was my mentor, he trained me during two years where he taught me everything from the stories behind Shalimar to the success of Lancôme La Vie est Belle. Its been three years now and I’m still working with him on projects.
Tell me a little bit more about your work as a nose.
Its special. Each day is different because we’re working with such a wide range of customers from different cultures. You learn a lot everyday about the different tastes in different countries, for example, in France we don’t really like too much lemon in perfumes because we often use it in dish washing products, so it smells cheap. A scent really depends on the country and the culture. When I develop perfume, I have to think about the brand as well as the preferences of the the people who will want to buy the product.
Do you have a favourite scent?
I love oriental products but I don’t have any specific favourite… I do like vanilla and spices. Its complicated because I’m working with so many different scents everyday so even if I don’t like some, I’ll still use them. The point is to make a scent for customers and for a brand so my tastes aren’t the main thing. Of course, when I love something I might use it a little bit more but I try to keep my distance from my own taste.
How would you say you distinguish yourself from other noses?
Probably by my age. I’m younger than most perfumers so I might be more sensitive about what people of my age would like to wear. I nourish myself from many things from pop culture to travels, which I take my inspirations from. I’m very connected to my age group and to discovering new things. That’s the main point. I feel that sometimes, there’s the risk of sticking to the same pattern just because it works and when that occurs, you end up missing all the trends. There’s new trends every years and many brands follow them, La Vie est Belle was a huge hit hence nowadays, so many fragrance houses use a sweet, gourmand scent in their products.
But there still are some timeless fragrances, don’t you think?
Sure, there are classics but they’re getting old. Nowadays when you smell J’Adore by Dior and you smell new feminine launches you can see the difference and that J’Adore is starting to smell a little bit older. There’s a well known effect in perfumery that goes like this: it starts with the success of a scent sold by luxury brand and then a few years later, the scent is used in shower gels, skin care products and deodorants. When this happens customers change their opinion on the scent, its not chic anymore. But of course, there are some timeless products that are masterpieces.
I love that each day is kind of a reboot: you start a new project, a new concept and even if the brief says the scent needs rose, which is the classic thing, there are thousand of ways to make rose in perfumery, it can always be different and creative. [Jérôme di Marino]
How did you translate MCM’s aesthetic into three different perfumes?
The first thing that comes to my mind was the idea of travel. MCM are selling bags and one of their most iconic bags is a backpack that can be used as a travel bag. So I had this idea of a travel experience. So that was the starting point and then it was the idea that the brand isn’t linked to one location: it was born in Germany and since the last decade, it has been owned by a South Korean group. So there’s different influences: you have the legacy of the brand as well as the vision of the Korean supervisor. We wanted both aspects of the brand, so we crafted this collection and the idea of nomad fragrances that are linked to different locations… I mean the brand is called “MCM Worldwide.”
The scents used are Incense, White Tea and Orris, does each scent represent a part of the world?
Yes, its kind of a sensorial journey we started in Asia and went West. White Tea is referring to Asia and its tea ceremonies, Incense is a reference to middle eastern Egyptians and the mystical idea of incense burnt to the ancient gods, Orris is for Europe and more precisely Tuscany.

In Asia, White Tea is a quality of tea that comes from China and its very precious because each leaf is picked by hand by farmers. So its the purest quality of tea because its natural and free from any process which also explains why its the most expensive tea. This was the starting point, we wanted it to be fresh so we added a white top of bergamote and Neroli which were combined with creamy sable wood dried so the result is this musky scent. That’s the first stop of the journey. The next stop, is the Middle East with Incense. We chose incense for its mystical and spiritual aspect, it’s quite lemon-y and resinous as well so its a product that’s very contrasted. We wanted to work around it in this way, in a contrasted way, so we topped the lemon-y part of it with a bitter grapefruit note and we pushed the resinous note with a darker product which is Cystus, a small tree from the South of France. Then the journey ends in the West with Orris. We’ve worked around the Orris because its one of the most precious product a perfumer can work with. Its actually a flower that has no smell, so in perfumery, we use the roots. What makes it so expensive is the length of the process: the flower grows during three years and then the roots have to be mature for three more years so at the end it takes almost ten years. We worked around the Orris as a woody note, so it doesn’t smell like a flower, and we combined it with pink pepper corn which is very fresh and lemon-y. Its a very sophisticated and chic fragrance. All our fragrances are unisex so I didn’t want to put any masculine or feminine product.

What do you like the most about your job?
I love that each day is kind of a reboot: you start a new project, a new concept and even if the brief says the scent needs rose, which is the classic thing, there are thousand of ways to make rose in perfumery, it can always be different and creative. For instance, if you ask a painter to paint this room, he can paint it in a thousand different ways. It really depends on the perfumer, everyone has there own style. That’s the best part of it, that’s why I was so attracted by creative jobs.
How long does it take you to elaborate a scent?
It depends more on the customer than on my point of view. For this collaboration, it took me eight months which is quite short for a fragrance development because sometimes it takes a year or two. The main thing I liked about this project is that it all went very fats, the idea of each fragrance is very straightforward, we didn’t want to move it too much. We wanted to have a clear message.
Is there anyone you’d like to create a scent for?
I guess someone a little bit crazy, like a painter or an artist… perhaps Dali.
MCM celebrated their collaboration with Jérôme di Marino on the 23rd of March. By Jessica Leclercq Photos Saywho.fr

Jérôme di Marino

Jérôme di Marino

Hello Jérôme, congratulations on your collaboration with MCM. What was your reaction when you learned you were selected by the luxury brand to collaborate on a scent?
I was quite surprised! They wanted me to work solo on this project which is quite rare in the industry, because usually brands brief multiple fragrance houses so there’s always a competition with other perfumers. MCM trusted me enough to make it on my own so I felt privileged and very honoured to have been chosen.
Tell me a little bit more about your experience. Have you always known that you wanted to become a nose?
I’ve always been attracted by creative jobs and when I was younger I wanted work in architectural design but it wasn’t convenient for me because of personal reasons. So I studied chemistry but at the end, I still had this unsatisfied feeling and still wanted to be creative. I discovered the fragrance industry, when I was living in the South of France. Naturally, I was influenced by the proximity of Grasse. I passed the exams required for the Grasse institute of perfumery and that’s how it all started. During my work experience, particularly at Givenchy, I learned about the different products, as well as the marketing development of a scent which we don’t usually learn in fragrance houses We tend to think that in a perfume, the most important thing is the juice but actually its not. Its a combination of a scent, a bottle and the communication around the product. After a few years, I was recruited by Takasago, the fragrance house owned by Francis Kurkdjian. Francis was my mentor, he trained me during two years where he taught me everything from the stories behind Shalimar to the success of Lancôme La Vie est Belle. Its been three years now and I’m still working with him on projects.
Tell me a little bit more about your work as a nose.
Its special. Each day is different because we’re working with such a wide range of customers from different cultures. You learn a lot everyday about the different tastes in different countries, for example, in France we don’t really like too much lemon in perfumes because we often use it in dish washing products, so it smells cheap. A scent really depends on the country and the culture. When I develop perfume, I have to think about the brand as well as the preferences of the the people who will want to buy the product.
Do you have a favourite scent?
I love oriental products but I don’t have any specific favourite… I do like vanilla and spices. Its complicated because I’m working with so many different scents everyday so even if I don’t like some, I’ll still use them. The point is to make a scent for customers and for a brand so my tastes aren’t the main thing. Of course, when I love something I might use it a little bit more but I try to keep my distance from my own taste.
How would you say you distinguish yourself from other noses?
Probably by my age. I’m younger than most perfumers so I might be more sensitive about what people of my age would like to wear. I nourish myself from many things from pop culture to travels, which I take my inspirations from. I’m very connected to my age group and to discovering new things. That’s the main point. I feel that sometimes, there’s the risk of sticking to the same pattern just because it works and when that occurs, you end up missing all the trends. There’s new trends every years and many brands follow them, La Vie est Belle was a huge hit hence nowadays, so many fragrance houses use a sweet, gourmand scent in their products.
But there still are some timeless fragrances, don’t you think?
Sure, there are classics but they’re getting old. Nowadays when you smell J’Adore by Dior and you smell new feminine launches you can see the difference and that J’Adore is starting to smell a little bit older. There’s a well known effect in perfumery that goes like this: it starts with the success of a scent sold by luxury brand and then a few years later, the scent is used in shower gels, skin care products and deodorants. When this happens customers change their opinion on the scent, its not chic anymore. But of course, there are some timeless products that are masterpieces.
I love that each day is kind of a reboot: you start a new project, a new concept and even if the brief says the scent needs rose, which is the classic thing, there are thousand of ways to make rose in perfumery, it can always be different and creative. [Jérôme di Marino]
How did you translate MCM’s aesthetic into three different perfumes?
The first thing that comes to my mind was the idea of travel. MCM are selling bags and one of their most iconic bags is a backpack that can be used as a travel bag. So I had this idea of a travel experience. So that was the starting point and then it was the idea that the brand isn’t linked to one location: it was born in Germany and since the last decade, it has been owned by a South Korean group. So there’s different influences: you have the legacy of the brand as well as the vision of the Korean supervisor. We wanted both aspects of the brand, so we crafted this collection and the idea of nomad fragrances that are linked to different locations… I mean the brand is called “MCM Worldwide.”
The scents used are Incense, White Tea and Orris, does each scent represent a part of the world?
Yes, its kind of a sensorial journey we started in Asia and went West. White Tea is referring to Asia and its tea ceremonies, Incense is a reference to middle eastern Egyptians and the mystical idea of incense burnt to the ancient gods, Orris is for Europe and more precisely Tuscany.

In Asia, White Tea is a quality of tea that comes from China and its very precious because each leaf is picked by hand by farmers. So its the purest quality of tea because its natural and free from any process which also explains why its the most expensive tea. This was the starting point, we wanted it to be fresh so we added a white top of bergamote and Neroli which were combined with creamy sable wood dried so the result is this musky scent. That’s the first stop of the journey. The next stop, is the Middle East with Incense. We chose incense for its mystical and spiritual aspect, it’s quite lemon-y and resinous as well so its a product that’s very contrasted. We wanted to work around it in this way, in a contrasted way, so we topped the lemon-y part of it with a bitter grapefruit note and we pushed the resinous note with a darker product which is Cystus, a small tree from the South of France. Then the journey ends in the West with Orris. We’ve worked around the Orris because its one of the most precious product a perfumer can work with. Its actually a flower that has no smell, so in perfumery, we use the roots. What makes it so expensive is the length of the process: the flower grows during three years and then the roots have to be mature for three more years so at the end it takes almost ten years. We worked around the Orris as a woody note, so it doesn’t smell like a flower, and we combined it with pink pepper corn which is very fresh and lemon-y. Its a very sophisticated and chic fragrance. All our fragrances are unisex so I didn’t want to put any masculine or feminine product.

What do you like the most about your job?
I love that each day is kind of a reboot: you start a new project, a new concept and even if the brief says the scent needs rose, which is the classic thing, there are thousand of ways to make rose in perfumery, it can always be different and creative. For instance, if you ask a painter to paint this room, he can paint it in a thousand different ways. It really depends on the perfumer, everyone has there own style. That’s the best part of it, that’s why I was so attracted by creative jobs.
How long does it take you to elaborate a scent?
It depends more on the customer than on my point of view. For this collaboration, it took me eight months which is quite short for a fragrance development because sometimes it takes a year or two. The main thing I liked about this project is that it all went very fats, the idea of each fragrance is very straightforward, we didn’t want to move it too much. We wanted to have a clear message.
Is there anyone you’d like to create a scent for?
I guess someone a little bit crazy, like a painter or an artist… perhaps Dali.
MCM celebrated their collaboration with Jérôme di Marino on the 23rd of March. By Jessica Leclercq Photos Saywho.fr