Perfumer’s Portrait: Bruno Jovanovic

Still only knee high to a grasshopper, Bruno was already jumping over the neighboring fences – just as he would any future obstacle – to steal roses to make his own concoctions. Already in pursuit of new odors, he put his nose into everything, including the aromas of his mother’s dishes simmering on the stove before they were even ready to eat. In the course of his budding sensorial fantasy Bruno even went as far as renaming his family: his father became Chamomile, his mother Violet and his grandmother Rosa. Today he still wonders if the unconscious temptation to measure everything olfactively already existed even then. A working class family, both parents left the house early and came back late. “Smelling the perfumes hidden in the blue velvet of my mother’s dressing table while she was away was like having her beside me all the time.”

Bruno discovered a whole new world the day he came across the profusion of different perfumes on show at the big department stores. “I was with a friend who came away with a bottle of Fahrenheit in his pocket while mine were full of miniature bottled samples. I had suddenly discovered a universe I had never imagined existed that I wanted to belong to. Every day, while everyone was at the canteen, I went back. The salesgirls would say “What would you like to try smell today? And I would leave with as many samples in my pockets as olfactive discoveries in my head.

Later on, he got hold of the Dictionary of Perfumes, his “Bible” that he knew off by heart in less than a year. His baccalaureate C under his arm, Bruno took a degree in Physics and Chemistry with one objective in mind: the ISIPCA. Although the careers advisor tried to dissuade him. Proselytism paid off: two friends took the entrance exam with him. But it was Bruno who came second out of 900!

With a flawless career path ahead he returned to France and IFF where he was welcomed with open arms. With his talent and originality, Bruno was able to bridge the gap between the American dream and the myth of French perfumery with the ease of a tightrope walker who in order to get to the other side must look nowhere but straight ahead.

For Bruno today is already tomorrow. “The immediate wake of a fragrance is too ephemeral to be interesting to me.” An aesthete, who works out everything intellectually, he is very much aware of the effect time has on raw materials. He feels so intimately linked with them that he can work out each step of their maturation and anticipate their final olfactive form. As intellectual in his creation as he is an artist at heart, he advocates Kant’s philosophy that “beauty is universal and has no concept”. And even if he has to take everything apart on the way, he always goes directly to the most essential. “The concept of a perfume is above all an idea that I would reduce into a few simple definitions”. A dreamer who also plays with the idea of what kind of perfume the impression of a painting or certain words would produce. “I find it just as fascinating to olfactively transpose “being 20” as interpreting the velvety texture of a yogurt.” Not in the least pretentious, Bruno sees his profession as a vocation where each creation incarnates both the expression of an art and his own sensitivity.

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