Perfumer Q&A: Olivier Cresp
Master Perfumer Olivier Cresp is a true icon of French Perfumery. His great grandfather cultivated roses and jasmine and his father and grandfather traded raw materials. In fact, the Cresp family has resided in Grasse, France, the birthplace of French perfumery, since the seventeenth century. He’s a master perfumer at Firmenich where he has blended some of the most iconic fragrances of modern times including Versace Eros Pour Femme, Montblanc Legend Spirit, Versace Man Eau Fraiche and YSL Black Opium. In 2018, Cresp accepted the Lifetime Achievement Perfumer Award from the Fragrance Foundation. It’s likely he is responsible for several of the fragrances in your personal collection. Not only is he a remarkably talented perfumer, he’s charming and gracious.
As a child, Olivier would walk through fields of flowers with his father. Most evenings, just as other children may listen to a bedtime story, the Cresp family would smell the fresh blooms gathered that day. His early life wove an olfactive memory embellished by exquisite and complex scents. Extracted by man, the delicate allure of the flowers and their magical alchemy instilled in young Olivier an extraordinary artistic sensibility
Montblanc Legend Spirit
Named Master Perfumer in 2006 and Perfumer of the Year in 2007, he is a mentor to young talent. In the same spirit, he is also a member of a committee that promotes his craft and passion, and endeavours to afford perfumers the status of artist and creator. He began his career with Firmenich in 1992, and in 2012 was honoured with one of France’s greatest awards: the title Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
Versace Man Eau Fraîche
Olivier brings an incomparable scope to his profession, aided by keen observation and a sense of calm. A lover of food and all things refined, his perfumery is carefully created, delicately crafted and timeless. Ever intuitive, Cresp recognizes the importance of standing out from the rest. “One idea a year is enough, provided it’s the best,” he says with a wry smile. Curiously exploring the world of emotion, he is always searching for a powerful and unique concept that will turn heads again and again.
Atelier Versace Fleur de Maté
His most recent creation is Fleur de Maté for Atelier Versace, the ultra-premium fragrance collection for the famous Italian fashion brand. “Fleur de Maté is a concentration of magnetic energy of the darkest and most mysterious woods,” he says. The perfumer skillfully blended Atlas Cedarwood with patchouli and cypriol in a celebration of Earth and nature. Maté absolute underlies the deep and intense aspects of the fragrance, characterized by smoky and leathery tones. What takes the composition to a new level is the balsamic facets of cistus that envelop precious notes of incense.
Here, Olivier shares some of his favourite things:
“Jasmine Grandiflorum is one of my favourite flowers. This jasmine filled my parent’s garden with its scent from June to December.”
“The most important aspect of fragrance creation is the idea. It can arise from a childhood memory, a feeling, a conversation, a walk in nature. When I start a fragrance, I always begin with a visual, something from nature. I would describe my style as simple and authentic.”
“At any one time, I am working on five to twelve fragrances.”
“Ladies, a man will never remember your handbag, but he will remember your perfume.”
“Nature breathes new life into me. I love to forage in the undergrowth to collect mushrooms and taste them. I am a great lover of mushrooms.”
“I love to fish. I have a magnificent collection of wooden fly fishing bait.”
“I also love to collect vintage watches. I’m particularly attached to this super thin Piaget that my father gave me.”
“I’m very superstitious. It’s another family trait but this time from my mother’s side.”
“I particularly love pralines and sweet treats. They remind me of one of my greatest successes that opened the way to gourmand fragrances.”
“What am I most proud of? My Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.”