Perfumer’s Portrait: Edmond Roudnitska

Edmond Roudnitska was more than just a creator of fragrance. He also devoted much of his time to understanding the true sense of the words “to create” and “Creation”. Despite being born in Nice (in 1905) in the South of France not far from Grasse, the fragrance capital of the world at that time. Roudnitska actually entered the fragrance industry lacking education in the vocation that his was later to dicover. With no background in perfume, he learned everything from scratch but was soon promoted to take charge of the physico-chemical control of a fragrance company. A year later, Roudnitska was sent to the Paris aera to take over from a top perfumer of the company where he was essentially self-taught. A fantastic career followed thanks to all his work and efforts as well as his creative genius. His entire life was a constant creation. Through the course of his life. Roudnitska met many influential people from the world of fashion, art and science. Among the most prominent were Marcel Rochas, Christian Dior and Emile Hermès for whom he created his best known fragrances which are still on sale on the international market today. In 1946 he founded “Art et Parfum”, a private creative laboratory for perfumery first based in Courbevoie (near Paris) then located in Cabris near Grasse, also his home, where he lived until his death in 1996.

Edmond Roudnitska is remembered today as one of the most important perfumers in history: as a “perfumer composer” and the inventor of modern perfumery. His encounter in the 1950s with Serge Heftler-Louiche, the founder of Parfums Christian Dior and Frédéric Malle’s grandfather, was decisive. Together they created many legendary perfumes: Diorella, Eau Fraîche, Diorissimo… Later came the most famous of all, Eau Sauvage, whose launch coincided with the public’s recognition of Edmond as the first “nose” of the perfume industry.

Edmond Roudnitska began his career as a chemist at Roure Bertrand Dupont, where he developed an encyclopedic knowledge of natural and synthetic raw materials. This breadth of knowledge enabled him to develop the distinctive minimalist style that was so ahead of its time, and that led to his legendary, secret masterpiece, Le Parfum de Thérèse. Only she, his wife, was allowed to wear it; but as a token of their shared family history, and as a sign of appreciation for his nascent Editions de Parfums, she entrusted the formula to Frédéric Malle after Edmond Roudnitska’s death.

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