Interview with Top Perfumer Vlad Rekunov
Vlad Rekunov is a perfumer and Director of the Association of Manufacturers of Perfumes and Cosmetics. His mentor, Sophia Grojsman – recipient of the “Living Legend Award” from the American Society of Perfumers – has created dozens of best-selling perfumes for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Lancôme and Calvin Klein.
OCA: Tell our readers about yourself and how you started out in the field of perfume in Belarus.
VR: I’ve been in the world of perfume properly for sixteen years now. I can say without false modesty that there are few areas of the industry in which I haven’t worked. I started out trading: wholesale and creating a small dealership network. There was a lot of literature, meetings and briefings, but sales were growing and the dealership network was becoming more and more independent. In the end, this all came crashing down, though. Something had to change. At this time fate suddenly introduced me to Sophia Grojsman, one of the most respected perfumers in the world, a Belarusian who has produced a number of world’s best-selling fragrances and a luminary in the industry.
OCA: To work on the creation of a new perfume must be a special creative process, something shrouded in mystery to the average person. Are there any defined steps in the realisation of your ideas?
VR: It’s a combination of practical knowledge and intuition. It’s about the surface of the skin, the feel, the woman’s wishes, which are formed not only from her words, but with looks, gestures, a flutter of eyelashes, fingers or lips. In these actions hides the magic, the secret connection of nature, its sources and the sense spreading throughout the body. A harmonious chord of sweet perfume will spread all over the skin, penetrate into every cell, creating a special world, an aura.
OCA: You are one of the few students to work with world-renowned Sophia Grojsman. How did you meet and what have you learnt from her?
VR: Sophia has always been an open-minded person. I was introduced to her in Paris and she took me to the Champs Elysees, showing it to me through her eyes. Recognizing her, managers of the perfume stores would run up to her and invite her in for coffee. Around her neck, she wore an incredibly large pearl set in silver. Her huge eyes radiated a significant amount of energy, differing in their signals depending on her mood.
OCA: Together with Sofia Grojsman, you have developed a unique Belarusian perfume under the name PaVetra. What are the prospects for this project and what do you see in the future?
VR: We plan to develop a line of PaVetra as a men’s fragrance associated with the different spheres of Belarusian life. I don’t want to give too much away now, but we’ve dedicated a lot of time and energy to this. The objective of the aroma PaVetra is elegance and we’ve already received a lot of interest from partners, investors, public agencies and delegations.
OCA: You already have a number of ambitious projects, such as personal perfumes for celebrities and leaders of nations, including Vladimir Putin. Tell us about your know-how and what you plan to bring to the perfume industry?
VR: For sixteen years, I’ve been gathering a lot of ideas and projects, from the fields of technology and entertainment to more utilitarian needs. Each project developed, some requiring just a single person, others partners and investors. I try to trust fate and connect with others who share my interests. So, for example, the project to create the largest bottle of perfume in the world had to wait until I met Edgard Zapashny, and together we’re in the Guinness Book of Records.
OCA: You are never standing still, constantly evolving, and the fact that one of your projects was included in the Guinness Book of Records just goes to confirm this. Do you plan to reach such a level as to create a fragrance for the Queen of Great Britain, for example?
VR: It would, of course, be a great honor. The Queen is the personification of the nation and is known for her role in maintaining the country’s image and the highest level of aesthetics. Is there a level of nobility above this? Probably not.
OCA: You’ve worked on a number of unusual projects; including the creation of a unique perfume for the Eurasian Creative Guild. Tell us how you managed to convey the essence of the Guild in such an unusual way?
VR: A fragrance for any company needs to mirror that organisation. In this case, it was important to personally meet with Marat Akhmedjanov and David Parry. The recipe I used softened the sharpness of the spices. It speaks of modernity, transparency, the femininity of violets, the English climate, the freshness of citrus zest and it leaves a sweetness on the lips after you inhale.
OCA: Is there a secret formula for a universal scent that will suit everyone regardless of their mood and the time of year, a perfume which will be always popular, irrespective of the era?
VR: All aspire to this, but it reminds me of the desire to find the philosopher’s stone or the elixir of youth. More likely – though still not easy – would be to create a fragrance that would adjust for the human condition and bring about significant changes on the skin of different people or at different times of the day and year. Existing attempts to solve this riddle have been quite simple and small. Still, to create a fragrance associated with an event that will stay in the memories of people forever, that is eternity.