PERFUMER SCENT EXPEDITION: MADAGASCAR
With 90% of its plants and animals found nowhere else, Madagascar is a wealth of biodiversity like no place else on earth. This island off the coast of Mozambique is Symrise’s exclusive sourcing location for the best-in-class vetiver, vanilla and other exceptional raw materials.
To gain a deeper understanding of these incredible ingredients and the world they come from, Symrise sent a delegation of perfumers straight to the source. They were introduced to the sourcing practices used to distill such essential raw materials through a community that has been harvesting and honing their process for generations. For V.P., Senior Perfumer, David Apel of Symrise New York, this trip was “a game changer.” Perfumers are creative, with their own methods and criteria for the use of new raw ingredients in their fragrances formulation. To explore these ingredients at the source and collaborate with each other was the most effective at sparking inspiration for the perfumers as well as the farmers.
Curing vanilla isn’t just a process, it’s people.
– David Apel, V.P., Senior Perfumer, Symrise New York
"Curing vanilla isn’t just a process, it’s people," explains David Apel, “It’s not that one bean is better than the next or one botanical is better than the next. It’s the skill. This inherent knowledge that they’ve [farmers] just passed on and on.”
Millions of vanilla beans filled the curing facility, their aroma swirling seductively, becoming more complex with every breath: fruity at first, becoming more balsamic with time. The perfumers were able to see the entire curing process, by which the vanilla gains its unique character. From plump green beans being tossed onto a table to the intricate hot soaking method to the lengthy wire rack drying stage, the group was able to learn the profound difference any such change in procedure can affect the final product. “After an experience like this I’m never going to be able to use vanilla in the same way again.” said Perfumer Isaac Sinclair of Symrise Brazil.
Beyond vanilla, the group was exposed to countless new raw materials, as well as familiar ones that now seemed new due to the resounding quality. To encounter the materials in their natural setting: living, blooming, fragrant with life is an experience that profoundly affected these perfumers future consideration of ingredients. To detect a hint of salt air in the citrus, or the freshness in pettigrain from a mandarin leaf as opposed to bitter orange was exceptional and inspirational.
To exchange with the farmers, with communities, and realize that through creating perfumes, by using their materials, this helps the country develop. That definitely makes me want to use them in my creations.
– Emilie Coppermann, Master Perfumer, Symrise Paris
Interacting with the farmers, living with them, seeing the love and care that they put into the growing, harvesting and distilling of the plants, the Symrise group discovered a deeper connection to these essential raw materials encountered every day in the lab. “To exchange with the farmers, with communities, and realize that through creating perfumes, by using their materials, this helps the country develop. That definitely makes me want to use them in my creations”, says Emilie Coppermann, Master Perfumer, Symrise Paris.
To experience Madagascar is a feast for the senses. Of flora and fauna, sights and scents, ingredients and imagination. To see more of what the Symrise perfumers explored in Madagascar, watch this video and join their journey.