Mother’s face didn’t change at all. She simply looked at me without expression for a long time. Finally she said,”Well, Fabienne, I am afraid that is impossible. First, you have to be a man. You have to be French, and have to be from a family which is a French perfuming family…” Then she went on to outline the long and tortuous path a perfumer must take to become a master perfumer.
I was perplexed. I loved my mother’s favorite fragrance, Bandit. As a matter of fact it was the first thing I ever smelled when I was born, the first breath I ever took was full of Bandit! My mother had applied it liberally before setting off for the Delivery Room that June 20th evening and so I was set for my first encounter with the world. My Fairy Godmother would be Bandit.
Funny thing is,that Bandit is one of the world’s greatest perfumes and it is French. However, it was made by a woman!!! Yes, Robert Piguet* actually was not the inventor of Bandit, it was a woman, Germaine Cellier! She was a perfumer of astounding talent. Her contributions to perfume include: Bandit, Jolie Madame, Vent Verte, and Fracas!
So, mom never knew this but her cherished notion was not quite right, her favorite fragrance broke her cardinal rule of masculine creation, it was made by a woman. Oh, and I became a perfumer. Perhaps Germaine Cellier influenced me at birth! I actually think my mother would be amused.
*Robert Piguet was a designer who hired Cellier to make a perfume to compliment his clothes collection. He took the credit for the creation, just as many Haute Couture houses do now, chemists are hired but the House takes the credit. C’est le game.
That is a picture of my mother a few years before I informed her of what I wanted to be.