A trip to Grasse would not be complete without a little perfume making class so I decided to try out the offerings of both Galimard and Molinard. I had heard that Fragonard was quite touristy and the fact they have their logo plastered on evey bit of empty space in and around Grasse I decided to skip that one.
Most of the perfumeries have a perfume making class on offer to visitors and as the time allocated is only 1 or 2hrs they are oviously aimed at the tourist market as a fun way to fill an afternoon with a personalised souvenier to take home.
Galimard offer a 2hr class for 45 euros in which you get to take home 100ml bottle of your own creation. The perfume comes in a standard amber stock bottle or you can choose a glass spray bottle for an extra 12 euros. The operation is very slick and the studio can accommodate large groups each student having their own workstation with an organ of 127 materials split into Masculine and feminine Top, Mid and Base notes. The materials are Galimard bases which make it very easy to create a balanced perfume without too much knowledge.
The class started with a very quick (30 second) introduction of how a fragrance is constructed and we were given a box of either “masculine” or “feminine” notes from which we were instructed to pick our favourite. Once we had done so we discovered that this was to determine which base notes we could choose from. Anyone with a good knowledge of fragrances may find this a bit frustrating and as a teacher myself I found it a bit irritating as it cancelled out a lot of materials that I would have liked to choose from. (I realise that I am not the target customer for this class but even so I would have taught it differently). Once we had picked 3 base notes we moved to the mid notes and then to the top before waiting for the tutor to give us the next step. Smelling of each material was done directly from the bottle cap rather than a smelling strip so it was a bit difficult to get a full impression.
I had decided to make a leathery, ambery chypre and wanted to include a drop of the civet base for fun – the tutor was having none of it though and he kept saying no no not this – it is too strong. I didn’t feel that any of the top note accords was quite right for my composition and asked if I could pick some of the other base and mid notes instead. He looked slightly exasperated but agreed that due to the type of fragrance I wanted to make that it would be ok.
Once we had settled on the materials and written them down on the worksheet, the tutor wrote the proportions of each to be used in the blend to make it harmonious rather than let us choose our own. This is obviously to ensure that each participant goes away with a fairly decent fragrance but kind of takes the fun out of the experiment I feel.
All in all it was a fun afternoon event but unless you have no clue about perfumery it wasn’t particularly educational. It was very well organised, the tutor was very nice if a little scripted and unlike Molinard it didn’t feel rushed.