Near-50 is not the best age to be starting from scratch but that is exactly what Thierry Wasser did when he joined the house of Guerlain nine years ago. Nine years on, the perfumer continued the legacy of his mentor Jean-Paul Guerlain in creating some of the brand’s bestselling fragrances – a feat he attributes to his beginnings in botany. He tells us more about his path to creating Guerlain’s latest fragrance, Mon Guerlain.
What was the high point of your time at Guerlain?
I joined Guerlain when I was 47. Usually at that age, you’re at your peak and there is nothing left to achieve. But there I was, starting at the bottom as an apprentice to Jean-Paul Guerlain [the last Guerlain family master perfumer], learning about manufacturing and sourcing from scratch. I felt like a kid again and it was an enlightening moment in my life that I’ll always remember.
What was the biggest takeaway from your time working with Jean-Paul Guerlain?
He once told me: “It’s not possible to speak about our craft in words.” The imagination needed to create fragrance, the concept, the creativity – none of it can be taught. So I learnt everything simply by observing him.
Is it difficult to live up to the Guerlain family legacy?
I don’t let that affect me. Guerlain's third master perfumer, Jacques Guerlain, had his own style, Jean-Paul had his, and I have mine. I can’t be a copycat or manipulate my work to look like someone else’s. I simply have to feel strong and comfortable enough to express myself in my own way, knowing that the house of Guerlain has confidence in my abilities.