There is a saying ‘don’t mix business with pleasure'. For most this adage holds true, but when we look at some of our dearest friends, it seems we have met a few through our jobs.
Meet Givaudaun perfumers Rodrigo Flores-Roux, who hails from Mexico City ( his creations range from celebuscents to uber-niche fragrances and include Clinique’s Happy, all of John Varvatos’ scents, quite a few for Donna Karan, Six Scents Series 2 and 3, With Love Hilary Duff, two for Juicy Couture, Keiko Mecheri Ume, Houbigant Fougere Royale and Tom Ford Neroli Portofino ) and Yann Vasnier, born in Rennes, Brittany, France (whose first fragrance was Comme de Garcon’s Red Palisander, and his body of work includes a few for Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs, including the 2009 Fifi Award winning Lola, Keiko Mecheri Gourmandises, three for Parfums DelRae, two for Six Scents and four for Divine) Their accomplishments as perfumers are well-known. But it’s their real friendship, that puts the emphasis on the word friend in the phrase ‘friend-in-fragrance’, that sets them apart in the fragrance industry
Rodrigo, how did you and Yann meet? How did you become friends?
RODRIGO: the answer is actually twofold: I remember meeting Yann for the first time back in 1999 in Paris, at the Quest International offices. He struck me as incredibly stylish, but he was so shy and maybe I appeared as intimidating to him. Already I had heard from his mentor Francoise Caron that the guy was very talented, with a very precise vision towards perfume making, which of course I found very interesting.
Cut to 2003: Yann moves to New York from Paris and joins our small but formidable team at Quest New York. We clicked immediately: how couldn't we? Not only he was impressive in a colorful Emilio Pucci colorful shirt and slick Dior get-ups, I am always very receptive of knowledge and sensibility, of which Yann had tons. History has it that due to some renovations in the offices and the laboratory at that time, we had to share an office for a long while. We became very close and shared very important moments, some happy (new business wins), some emotionally intense (talking to each other about our relationships and families, and giving each other advice about them…) and some unfortunately less jolly, like a bit of an upset silence between us due to a misunderstanding while working on a project, which of course we overcame.
YANN AND RODRIGO: we are lucky and very happy all of this happened, we count on each other not only as a close friend and a great collaborator, but also, we consider that somehow, we are each other's accomplices and sidekicks in this industry!!
Yann , what is Rodrigo's best quality? And vice versa Rodrigo?
YANN: Rodrigo is an amazing and funny storyteller and an incredible source of information, we call him Rodripedia!!
RODRIGO: Yann is a very well-mannered guy; I always appreciate his elegance and good manners.
Rodrigo, what irks you the most about Yann? And vice versa, Yann?
RODRIGO: Yann is almost impossible to please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
YANN: Rodrigo thinks he is always right, which is even more annoying because he is right most of the time.
YANN AND RODRIGO: both of us are right!!!
Which of you is the more mischievous?
YANN: I would say we can both be pretty mischievous at given times.
RODRIGO: Definitely Yann, I'm more of a rakish rogue, but Yann is more devious. He shoots a wham!! but always has this innocent air about him.
YANN: Party, party, party, enjoying house and techno-music and sprinkling it with tequila. (Editor’s note: as I am transcribing this Yann is at the Boom Boom Room in NYC)
RODRIGO: a combination of what Yann said above, of course, and also going to the gym and gawking at Italian sculpture.
Both of you have worked with three very talented designers…Marc Jacob,(YV) John Varvatos (RFR) and Tom Ford. Please give us some insight into their personalities and your involvement in their fragrances.
YANN: Marc Jacobs is really intuitive, a perfectionist and definitely knows what he wants. Tom Ford loves to seduce and it's very interesting that you can smell that energy in his taste.
RODRIGO: John's approach is unique: "I'll know it when I smell it…" and if I may add, I feel privileged as he listens to me a lot. I do the same and we communicate easily and freely. Tom conceives scent as the utmost expression of an art director, he is challenging and with incisive tastes. He will ask for something daring and will dare you to please him. It's always about seduction, and his starting point is always the perfect combination of sex and brains.
Your collaboration on Donna Karan Gold. How was it to work side by side?
RODRIGO AND YANN: Donna Karan Gold is actually the fruit of a "trifecta perfecta": Calice Becker originated the gorgeous lily accord, Yann made it wearable and domesticated it, and Rodrigo worked ad nauseam on the wet, dewy, lush top note. We three brought something important and priceless to this fragrance that unfortunately was overlooked. Too edgy for its time???
Rodrigo, 15 words to describe Yann?
RODRIGO: Kind, funny, handsome, refined, adorably snobbish, sensitive, nonchalant, a charmer, cultured, techno savvy, media-lover, fashionista, likes a party, a "tetu" (Editor's note: LOL en Francais, c'est vraiement drole) and "Chanelophile" to the extreme!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yann, your turn… 15 words to describe Rodrigo?
YANN: Funny, warm, well educated, extroverted, outspoken, a story-teller, handsome, hairy(!!!!!), stubborn, aesthete, a refined decorator, leather-o-phile
Yann, If there is re-incarnation, what was Rodrigo in a past life?
YANN: a French bulldog, smart, assertive, cute, affectionate and muscular
And Rodrigo? Yann's former life..
RODRIGO: maybe he was Baron de Belmont , hmmm or a Egyptian cat… slick, sensuous and sexy.
I am sure you admire each other's work as perfumers. Which do you wish you created?
YANN: it`s a tie between Donna Karan Black Cashmere, John Varvatos Artisan and the gorgeous new Juicy Couture Peace, Love and Juicy!
RODRIGO: Yann's L'Homme Sage by Divine strikes a chord (is it the leather feeling?) and I enjoy wearing BANG very much. And I am always amazed at the animalic beauty of Tom Ford's Urban Musk.
Do either of you see yourselves doing what Francis Kurkdjian and Mark Buxton have done…start your own perfume line?
YANN: There are so many brands on the market already that the concept would have to be really fresh, new and different and with outstanding fragrances and as we have the chance to do that with our beloved brands like Tom Ford, DelRae, Divine etc… I don't really see the need.
RODRIGO: Agree… so much gravitas is needed that it's frightening to see how many brands just seem glib and land short.
What is Yann's quirkiest characteristic?
RODRIGO: Yann's ability to say "I don't like this" without any qualms!!!
What is Rodrigo's?
YANN: Rodrigo re-defines himself every day, he is one true "original of originals"…
Rodrigo, favorite restaurant in Paris?
RODRIGO: There are so many: I love Chez Julien on the Seine, in front of l'Ile Saint Louis. I wept of pleasure at Lucas Carton, before being transformed into Sanderans. Le Voltaire on Quai Voltaire makes me nostalgic and I love the endless handwritten menu and enjoy Thierry the waiter's dry sense of humor, and I was blown away at Arpege…
Yann, favorite restaurant in NYC?
YANN: Marea, for its delicious and finest seafood… and of course it’s simple but sophisticated service Bar Breton and Chef Cyril Renaud's catering when I`m homesick… and Madeleine for the taste of the best macaroons ever
What are you both working on next…
YANN AND RODRIGO: Currently, we are working on a perfume line with a good friend of ours who has an inmense knowledge of history. His ideas are scent evocations of a given moment and place, laden with precise historical "frames”, but still, alluring and seductive. We will reveal more about this exciting new concept in a near future. One thing we can say: we are loving this project.
– Michelyn Camen, Editor-In Chief
As if this interview wasn’t a draw in itself, well, what can we say? How about a fragrance draw for our readers, courtesy of Yann Vasnier and Parfums DelRae…1.7 oz of Coup de Foudre. To be eligble just enter a comment onsite. Draw closed December 16, 2010 at midnite.