5 mn with… Yann Vasnier

Profession: Perfumer

Who are you Yann?

I’m 33 years old and I come from Brittany, France. I’m a perfumer for Givaudan in New York. I started my career 13 years ago at Quest International in Paris as a trainee perfumer, under the mentoring of Francoise Caron and studied at the same time at ISIPCA, the perfumery school at the University in Versailles.

Why and when did you decide to make perfumes?  

I grew up in a family that is passionate about gardening and spends a lot of time taking care of roses, trees, and many other flowers. My oldest brother studied botany and after graduation became a landscape architect. We’d all follow him throughout France and Europe to visit the most famous gardens. Since age 13, I’d spend all my money on fragrances, buying all the new scents and starting my collection of Chanel. I was obsessed, and still am, by Chanel. The brand, the person, the crafts and Karl! When in St Malo and Dinard I’d visit the Divine perfumeries, especially Yvon Mouchel, because he was the only one who had all the niche fragrances of the day: Camille Goutal, Serge Lutens…We became friends and I created six fragrances, the first one in 2002, called l’Homme de Coeur.

Could you take us through the perfume creation process?

Everything originates from the inspiration we receive from the client, it can be a story, images, music, colors, anything that will help us create the fragrance that represents their brand. After we speak about the inspiration, I go to my computer and create the first trials combining and mixing different types of ingredients. These then go through the lab and are compounded and put into alcohol. Next I smell the first perfume samples with a person we call an evaluator- the evaluator specializes in specific brands and is very focused on the client and their taste- they help the perfumer fine tune the first offering to the client. After we make our first proposal to the client there is a lot of back and forth and we work to improve the fragrance with each new iteration.  It is a very intense and competitive process. We are in competition both inside and outside the company. In the final stage, the final fragrances from all the houses are compared against each other and usually there is a consumer testing that decides the winner.

How do you find the perfect scent to suit one person?

I love making fragrances for friends; it’s such a breath of fresh air to be liberated from the commercial considerations. I usually ask what fragrances they wear or have worn in the past to discover a pattern in their taste and then we talk about their favorite foods, colors, places music etc. Once I have the picture in my mind all that’s left is to get amazing ingredients and distill this image into the perfect scent.

 If you could do a perfume for someone, who would it be?

Hmmm…anyone with an interesting story to tell, the Obamas, Catherine Deneuve, Rania Of Jordan, Peter Beard, the Schnabels, Kanye West, Karl Lagerfeld…

What does a city like NY brings to you?

Lots of energy and so many opportunities to meet exceptional people. Working in NYC is so different than working in Paris.

What is your favorite place in the city?

I love the 18th floor at the standard, the Boom Boom Room, love the room, the view, the fun crowd. I love my apartment in Chelsea, perfect in winter with the fireplace, great in summer with the terrace! I love walking around Chelsea, west village, the Hudson, Soho, Nolita- so inspiring!

 What’s next? Any project?

Always a ton of projects to work on, big ones, small ones.

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