An interview with Gérald Ghislain - Mastermind of Histoires de Parfums

Gérald Ghislain is the person behind the Histoires de Parfums line, which he founded in 2000, following training at ISIPCA. He has also recently launched two new lines: The Scent of Departure and Alice & Peter. 

First of all, congratulations for building such a solid line of fragrances. Several of your compositions have achieved a "pillar" status in the fragrance world. Who is, beside you, behind your line?

Everybody is behind our perfume line! I might have met some of your readers and something they said, or something they wore inspired me!
I always keep my eyes wide open as my everyday life, as well as all my travelling are inexhaustible sources of inspiration. I often bring ideas to life while walking ... I enjoy strolling in each city I discover. Feeling the atmosphere of it, hearing the sounds around me, admiring the architecture ...Those are very unique moment where I can give birth to my ideas. For instance, I will always remember the way my youth in the South of France, and this blend of Mediterranean scents, that really moves and inspires me.

Besides, and as I am very curious, I am also influenced by new trends and I spent so my free time reading magazines, going to the cinema, discovering new blogs in the Internet. I almost don’t sleep at night so I have some extra time to get new information. So behind our line, I would say there is you, but also all my imagination.

Of course, I am in a collaboration with my small laboratory team, Magali Senequier who is our designer, and all the “hands and noses” that want to help !

There are rumours that some of your fragrance have been recently reformulated (one of these being 1740). What's true about it?

This is great! I love gossips! (laughs) It makes business so much more exciting ! But unfortunately I have to refrain those rumours, as none of our fragrances have been recently reformulated.

Out of respect for our customers, and because we take their desires and expectations very seriously, we would never have changed our formulas. When a man wears 1740, he expects to communicate the identity of an audacious gentleman! He wants everybody to enjoy the impudence of the spiced wooden scent, and to accept patchouli's and and everlasting flower's invitation to pleasure!

But it is true, and every perfumer unfortunately experienced it, that scents are made to evolve, tochange, to transform themselves according to the selected raw materials.

Also, even if we pay close attention to our suppliers' and products' quality, our materials may change year on year. In fact, a bottle of perfume is a bit like a good bottle of wine! Add a little bit more sun than the previous year, or a little bit more water, and your harvest as well as your fragrances won't be the same. 

Each vintage brings out the character of the materials in its own way. As regards 1740, we use for the fragrances specific flowers known for being more oxydable, as patchouli and everlasting flower : the longer you will have one bottle, the more your perfume will evolve.

2011 and 2012 have been two very prolific years for you. Some new Histoires De Parfums (L'Olympia Music Hall), the first three releases in the Edition Rare Series (Ambrarem, Rosam and Petroleum) and two brand new lines launched (The Scent of Departure and Alice & Peter). There is a lot going on at Histoires De Parfums...What are these new lines about? What's the concept behind them?

In everything I do, from Histoires de Parfums to Alice & Peter including The Scent of Departure is sensuality. What truly counts in perfume, is sharing something unexpected with the people you love, and make it possible to them to seduce with your fragrances. Sensuality must be part and parcel of the creations I introduce. Sensuality is exciting to my mind as it triggers something which is bewitching.

The Edition Rare Series are similar to poems to me. After having created olfactive novels, I was looking for a shorter form based on aesthetics. Ambrarem, Rosam and Petroleum are three haikus built around very rare and precious materials.

When I started thinking of doing a perfume for L'Olympia, I wanted vicariously to experience perfume through stories of others. I was really seduced by the history of this legendary Music Hall, conceived and then patiently built over the years by Bruno Coquatrix. I tried to share a perfumed tale about the legendary Parisian venue and to invite my customers to take a seat in to experience the concert of scented notes.

The same mood drove the creation of Alice & Peter's world : I invented a fantasy dreamworld where everyone can let his mind wander, take a break from reality to go back to an innocent and more playful time. I imagined a first perfume collection taking the form of five savory and evocative cupcakes... But be curious ! New items are about to come...

Finally, The Scent of Departure is a new global fragrance concept that has been taken off a few months ago ! I travel all over the world and spend my life waiting in airports, watching suitcases moving along carousels, and visiting cities.... One day, I got the idea to capture the essence of the cities I love and am so drawn to. I am talking about the cities that inspire me with their architecture and atmosphere, and with the incredible almost magnetic allure they hold.... So I began traveling with the idea of using fragrance to translate my impressions of 20 very unique cities !

At all the recent Fragrance Fairs around the world (Element Showcase, Fragranze 2012 etc) you presented a new trio in the Edition Rare Series. Veni, Vidi and Vici. The first three were caracherized by a common denominator (Oud) of which you presented three different iterations: an animalic one (Ambrarem), a vegetal (Rosam) and a mineral one (Petroleum). What is the common denominator of the new trio? And what will be the main differences between the three iterations of Veni, Vidi Vici?

I think that in the same way as Julius Caesar fought on the ancient battlefields, we face nowadays new challenges. I wanted to give people the chance to relive the power of the roman victorious words in their day-to-day life, with the help of three new intense fragrances. Veni, Vidi, Vici is a way to reconnect with powerful natural elements. Veni represents the earth, nuturing as much as wild. Vidi, the wind that carries us over seas and oceans, and allowing us to take our gaze beyond the horizon! Vici finally, embodies fire! Vici is an olfactive mix of passion and power! It encourages mankind to create as well as destroy!

Are you planning to enrich your former Library Of Scent series?

I've been wanting to take part into a practical commitment to a charity for a very long time. But as I am working and travelling all over the world, it has always been very difficult to get involved in the day-to-day life of an organization. That's why I decided to help with my skills as a perfume creator, and to create a new fragrance for the defense of childrens' rights...This perfume is going to be a universal scent ... That's all I can tell at the moment (laughs).

If you were supposed to enlarge your Library of Scents line by composing a masculine and a feminine fragrance inspired by living characters, who would they be and how the fragrances would smell like?

This fragrance would be neither feminine nor masculine! I would love to create and develop a perfume for the human of the future! Who knows? Maybe that in 100 years time gender won't exist anymore? I could send beyond earth thousands of small space capsules containing fragrances samples, as a gift to the next human generation!

Which historical fragrance do you think you would have loved to create?

Without a doubt the cologne given to me by my first love when I was 13, Mûres et Musc created by Jean Laporte.

After all this oud craze, what do you think will be the next hype?

Histoires de Parfums! (laughs) 

What's your most used aromachemical and what it smells like?

I love using powdered, slightly woody animalic notes : that is why I tend to use Para Cresol for its castoreum and civet scents.

Ambroxan is also one of my favorite aromachemical as ambergris is well blended with animal notes.

Iso E Super is finally a very intriguing scent, that has some sort of skin aroma. I love the way this chemical appears on the surface of the skin and then vanishes so quickly ! It is magical.

What's your blockbuster release so far?

I don't really like to talk about my fragrances as “blockbusters”. My perfumes are like my children :I love each one of them equally, it is therefore hard to say which one is my favourite... It is also very hard to talk about a best-seller, as fragrances are very personal.

Yet it would seem that “1969” is one of my major work. The success of this edition probably remains in the sensuality and the erotism of 1969 mythical year.

What should we never expect from Histoires Des Parfums?

Others expectations to become mine. I have a free mind.

Do you smell new perfumer's fragrances? If so, who's one to watch out for in your opinion?

Absolutely. When you spend so much time working on your own perfumes, it is important to create space and time to have a look at others creations. I was quite interested in Lady Gaga's perfume.Not on an olfactive point of view of course (laughs), but I found the product quite innovative as the fragrance was black. I also long for Louis Vuitton's entrance in the perfumery. I wonder if their scents will be as ambitious are their recent collaboration with the street-art world?

Interview by Alfarom. Originally appeared on Basenotes.


  1. Great interview--thank you again, Alfarom!

    Happy New Year, too!

  2. Hugs, Sherapop! Happy New Year to you too.

  3. Thanks for doing this.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. Congratulation for your interview. Friends of mine who also had the opportunity to meet the phenomenal "Gérald" told me that indeed he is a great figure! As we say in french:"Haut en couleurs!".
    I'm looking forward to smell the three last "Edition Rare" Series (Veni,Vidi,Vici).
    Once you've discovered them, tell me what do you think about it! I'm so curious.
    Enjoy your future interviews... and so we will do as well!

  5. thanks guys for your kind words...