Born into a family of perfumers from Grasse, Vincent Ricord, 44, grew up in Nice before moving to Paris. He now joins the French composition house TechnicoFlor. Interview.
Tell us about your background?
Everyone in my family, except my father, was in the industry, which made me dream. They'd talk about the smells they'd discovered on their travels. My mode of expression was more music or drawing. I was lucky enough to know that this profession existed. I learned by starting with an internship at Expressions Parfumées at the age of 19, where I was only supposed to stay a few weeks, but ended up staying for... 15 years! During my apprenticeship, I was able to discover all the trades involved in a composition house, while learning about raw materials and major accords, before becoming a young perfumer. I was able to formulate all kinds of products: eau de toilette/perfumes, cosmetics, personal care products, solid cosmetics, home fragrances, and all this under the watchful eye of great perfumers.
What are your favorite raw materials?
I don't have any, but some materials resonate with me in a more personal way, like the scent of my childhood décor: orange blossom and lavender, especially since I moved to Paris! I also love patchouli, which reminds me of a jazz singer, and the dazzling scents of the Middle East, where I was lucky enough to work: saffron, oud, papyrus, incense... Each ingredient takes me on a journey. You can't create a perfume if you don't dream about it; perfume is above all an emotion. Each essence is an opportunity to explore new creative fields.
Why did you choose to join TechnicoFlor?
What I immediately appreciated about TechnicoFlor was the family spirit. Coming from a family of perfumers, joining a family-run composition house makes perfect sense to me. The values of transmission, which I hold dear, are an integral part of the company's DNA. Beyond the family dimension, I was attracted by the energy of the teams and the company's commitment to the environment and society.
What's your mission?
As a committed perfumer, we must continue to transmit emotions while building the perfumery of the future, with challenges that are no longer the same as before: eco-responsibility. We have to create and produce in line with the challenges of today and tomorrow, without altering the sensoriality of our fragrances and the emotions they convey. TechnicoFlor has always been at the forefront of this field, and the Flor-Index, our eco-score, for example, measures the environmental and societal impact of fragrances, validated by Afnor certification.
What are your passions outside perfume?
I'm a music lover, I play guitar and bass, and I also paint a lot. I hesitated for a long time between perfumery and music, but today I continue to play for pleasure. As I'm naturally curious and lucky enough to have a creative profession, all the arts nourish me enormously. Whether in music, painting or perfumery, you try to compose: it's the same language.
How would you characterize your style?
I work on a wide variety of creative concepts, and I also respond to our customers' specifications. When people tell me they recognize my olfactory signature, it both pleases and frightens me. Redundancy in compositions scares me. I always try to provoke "accidents" in my creations so that they can appeal and create emotion. What fascinates me about formulation is the ability to transform an accident into an opportunity, to make harmonious what might otherwise offend the senses. One of the fragrances I've created that moves me is Eau Révée d'Ikar de Sysley, in which the singular freshness of lentisque leaves, the bittersweet effect of bitter orange and the sensuality of iridescent woods are intertwined.
What inspires you to compose?
What drives me when I create is associating an image with a chord, conceptualizing it. For example, a tuberose dipped in a glass of milk. Or a small frozen orange eaten frosted on a hot summer's day. The happiness of this frosted emotion is a strong emotion, and I'm going to put it in a scent, with a mint leaf if it's an eau de Cologne. The image creates the initial emotion. I love listening to projects and people and telling their stories in fragrance.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a hibiscus and fig accord, a macaroon-raspberry heart and patchouli "in a tuxedo": a mood note that is a digression from a perfume I found in my perfumer uncle's car in a Malongo coffee tin...