Search Blogs

Past Posts

"Knowledge is universal but opprotunity is not"

Here I share with you my passionate journey in the world of fragrances!!

Share this |

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linked More...

Latest Posts

So, here I go from Sri Lanka to France to Singapore. It has been an amazing experience for me so far in the world of fragrance. I cannot tell how much I miss the French culture after living and studying in France for a year! And on top of it all to be studying perfumery is nothing but a wonder. It was amazing to trip to Grasse (the birth place of French perfumery) during the end of May and we got to visit the Fragonard and Mollinard perfumeries, the facility of MANE, the creative centre of Expression Parfum and the adorable fields of May Roses, Jasmines and Tuberose!! If that’s not enough here’s a plus: we got to stay in Cannes!! The harbours full of luxury yachts, the red carpet, the beach and the setting were nothing but mind blowing! And now here I am in Singapore ready for my next adventure as a summer intern at IFF Singapore!!!

Heard of IFF? Well even though it’s hard to miss these big players in the flavour and fragrance industry I have to confess I myself didn’t know about IFF or any company of a similar role for that matter, until I was exposed to the know-hows of the industry (about 5 years ago) through the ‘magic book’ (that’s how I like to call it), “the Secret of Scent” by Luca Turin. Let me tread along the path of fragrance here, not forgetting the massive operations of these MNC’s flavour wings.

Now let’s see whether these names sounds familiar; Christian Dior, Lancome, Paco Rabanne, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Estee Lauder, Yves Saint Laurent etc. for the perfume/fashion brands to P & G, Unilever, Colgate Palmolive etc. for the consumer goods companies. Even though we know these brands, most of the fragrances behind most of these successful brands are created by significant individuals/teams called the perfumers of Flavour and Fragrance houses such as IFF. Some of the other big players in the industry are Givaudan, Firmenich, Symrise, Takasago and MANE.

I consider myself really lucky to be selected as a summer intern at IFF in Singapore in the department of fragrance. I am still in the process of learning the functions of the department and I have come to realize how important the concept of ‘fragrance’ is in one’s life. Here, the office smells so good and it is such a privilege to get to smell all the creations! With beautiful smells and beautiful smiles, happiness and success is all you can find here. But it still comes at the cost of loads of tiring hours of hard work!

I’m still just a week old here!! I have a feeling that the summer is going to fly by, but before that, need to make the best from my opportunity here and enjoy the food in Singapore!!

Ok, back to smelling now!

Melani Fernando wink
Posted by Melani Fernando on Jun 16, 2015 8:31 AM BST
“A perfume is nothing without the skin and it’s this relationship which is magical’- Georgio Armani

Bonjour!! Ca va toi?
I just cannot believe how time has flown by. If there is one place on earth that will suck up all your extra my opinion, it’s Paris!!
It has come to the last month of an amazing journey in cosmetics and perfumery!! And I cannot digest the fact that I’ll be saying good bye to France soon. However it is going to be a month of much activity with 7 written exams, 5 detailed lab reports to submit, a day of training at Chanel and a week in Grasse (The birth town of perfumery)!! Whoa!!
Studying at ISIPCA, has given me much insight in to all the know-hows in the fragrance industry and the knowledge I have acquired is amass. We as students are blessed to be in touch day-in-day-out with the only perfume museum of its kind, the ‘OSMOTHEQUE’!! Here you would find all the rare works of artistic perfumery which have been forgotten. They are the only authority who is able to recreate some of these famed works using their original formulas. It has been such a privilege to get the chance to smell the original creations of the perfumers before they were modified with time mainly to meet new regularity standards. I hope to write about the OSMOTHEQUE in a future post where I would certainly tell you a lot more being an insider ;)
The historical trail of perfumery surely inspires the work of any young perfumer-to-be. So I thought of sharing some facts about the beautiful history of perfumery with you. The word perfume comes from the word ‘per fumum’ which means ‘through the smoke’. It has been found that perfumes were discovered at the time when fire was discovered as it had been a practice to burn resins in fire to honour God. And eventually the priests became the first perfumers.
Perfumes are treated as cult objects in each religion. And even the bible says that the three wise men gifted Jesus Gold (resembling ‘king’), Myrrh (resembling ‘man’) and Frankincense (resembling ‘divinity’), where both Myrrh and Frankincense are perfumery raw material and to-date they are burnt in churches as a symbol of purity. The written history of perfumery was first sighted in ancient Egypt where there had been laboratories and certain ancient formulas for perfumes were found written on the walls at the entrances of Egyptian pyramids. Initially perfume was only for the Gods and humans were forbidden to use them, if otherwise it would mean that they are similar to God. The first perfumes were used as concentrated oils or in solid form, until the technique of distillation was discovered. The very first perfume of its kind with a written formula was called ‘Khyphi’ which was an ancient Egyptian blend of honey, wine, jasmine, myrrh, coriander, cinnamon, saffron, juniper and incense. Thereafter during the days of King Alexander the Great, perfumery raw material such as nutmeg, cinnamon, saffron, ambergris and musk were traded along the silk-road from the Arab world together with other spices. These raw material were traded in equality to Gold. And Arab was called ‘Happy Arabia’ as the traders became very rich. Arabia became the centre of trade of oriental raw material from India and China introducing them to the West.
Then during the time of the crusades Venice became the centre for the trade of perfumes where rich Arab sellers often went there. The tradition of blowing glass bottles for perfumery also began here. It has been recorded that the first book on perfumes was written by an Italian alchemist. However in France, the first perfumers were apothecarians and doctors. The two most important places in the history of French perfumery are Montpellier and Grasse. To-date Grasse is regarded as the birth place of French perfumery. It is believed that once the Queen of Hungry (1370) who was very old and feeble used a magical perfumery portion of rosemary water to regain her youth and later it became a wanted product by every woman then lived. It is said that the Queen not only wore it as a perfume but also bathed in it and also drank it. Most of these ancient perfumes were initially used for medicinal purposes. Then came the era of the ‘Eau de Cologne’ meaning ‘Water of Cologne’. This is a universal scent which to-date is the most sold and used perfumery product in the world! It was first produced by Saint Maria Nouvella, the convent in Italy as a vinegar. A young man having a love affair with a nun of the convent went on to Cologne to prepare this magical formula where he became an apothecary after passing out from the faculty of medicine. However until the end of the 19th century eau de Cologne was used as a medicinal product. Jean Marie Farina was known to be the supplier of Eau de Cologne for Napoleon 1st who was believed to be a heavy user of Eau de Cologne. He used it as a hygiene product and as well as a drink. It is only after this the famed brand ‘Roger and Gallet’ was born.
During the times of the Kings and emperors the role of perfumers were quite pronounced and they were some of the wealthiest at the time. Each King and Queen used to have their own personal perfumer who would compose exclusive formulas for them. And the perfumer became a position of honour at the Royal court. Then came the blast of perfume production in the 20th century where many industrial houses were opened. Perfumes through this time underwent lots of change giving birth to perfumes such as Jicky-Guerlain, Fougere Royale-Houbigant, Chanel No.5, Odor di Femina-Francois Coty, Oregan Coty, Shalimar-Guerlain, Opium-YSL, Pour un Homme-Caron, Eau Sauvage-Dior, Polo-Ralph Lauren, One Million-Paco Rabanne, Le male-Gautier etc..
However, in the 2000s the Cologne made a re-entry to the industry and many industrial houses produced their own version. It is now the trend to create Niche brands of perfumes in dedicated perfume houses rather than targeting the masses for economic advantages. Even the most famed brands have opened their lines of high-end perfumery reflecting back on the culture at the Royal courts of the Kings. i.e Armani Prive (2004), Chanel-Exclusive (2006).
I hope this short reflection gave you an idea about the 'Epic Trail of Perfumery' through the years. :-) And with that, it’s time to cook something… 11.00h.
This is Melani signing off from Le Chesnay, France! Hope to see you soon..after my exams!! Phew!! Je suis Fatigue!!! indecision
Posted by Melani Fernando on Jun 16, 2015 7:51 AM BST
Hi there!!

It has been a long time since I last wrote. To tell you how long, I was surprised to find out that my previous blog doesn’t exist anymore.
I was an undergrad writing about my research experiences back then, today I’m a graduate student in perfumery and whoa! life is exciting here.
After a brief stint as an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Chemistry, University of Colombo (where I met and tutored an amazing bunch of students), I’m here as a graduate student at ISIPCA (Institut Supérieur International du Parfum, de la Cosmétique et de l’Aromatique alimentaire) the famed Perfumery School in France.
It has been a life changing experience to be studying in France with an awesome set of fellow students from all over the world and to get to know more about the perfume industry by living it! Even though I’m based in Versailles which is a royal city in France I’m constantly exposed to the GLAM in Paris and unforgettable experiences at shopping malls (Not to shop really, but to visit all the perfume stalls just to smell all my favourite perfumes on the strips)!
It was as a kid that I developed a subconscious interest in perfumery, smelling my mom wearing all the perfumes my dad used to get her. Eventually when I made it to university to study chemistry, I learned that pH chemistry was not in the schedule and was not taught in any of the course work (an area very important in perfumery). Therefore I knew I had to figure out my way if I needed to go forward in the field. I took to Organic Chemistry and now I’m so happy that I’m continuing my studies in perfumery which is very much related to chemistry and a perfect blend between science and creativity!
However it has been quite tight regarding the course work. Heaps of reports and bundles of papers and of course lots to memorize! Including smells of raw materials and 100s of famous perfumes!! :-D Well it’s not so much fun when you need to smell accurately at an exam! All you’ve to blame is your poor nose at the end. Ha ha!
It has been an amazing 5 months so far! And I’m ready to go ahead. But I have to admit I miss home and my part time job as a radio host!
Will keep you posted on the latest from France :-D In perfumery studies of course!
Ready to go out for a jog in the cold in my new sweater from Decathlon,
Melani Fernando laugh
Posted by Melani Fernando on May 15, 2015 10:10 AM BST