Veronique Nyberg holds forth on what it's like to create fragrances for Moschino. An exclusive e-mail interview.
S ome people are gifted and Veronique Nyberg is certainly one. Right from her childhood, Veronique had a passion for plants and scents. Surrounded by fragrant narcissuses, irises, daffodils and roses, Veronique moved, quite naturally, into a career as a perfumer.
Driven by her passion, she completed her Ph.D. in organic chemistry with an option in botany. In 2000, she joined IFF Netherlands where she entered the world of fragrances.
“Natural raw materials are a true luxury I discovered while working for Fine Fragrances and I have never grown tired of using them.”
What are the hurdles you face as a perfumer? How do you create ‘the smell'?
It is a real challenge! In fact, you need to give yourself enough freedom to come out with an interesting idea while working within the reality of a brief. As a perfumer, I'm always pushing outside boundaries and then using my imagination to translate my ideas for the concept, the brand, the market… You may think limits are hurdles, but sometimes you get the greatest ideas because you have to find a solution. Total freedom can be a nightmare…
What do you do when not creating a perfume?
Recharging my senses. I love to cook, visit exhibitions, walk, read… Those moments are very important for me, as person and as a perfumer.
Any one smell you feel you should have created or could have done better?
Nothing specific but I think it is every perfumer's dream to create an iconic fragrance that becomes the symbol of an era. Perfume is something very personal, intrinsically linked to emotions. An iconic perfume means that you have been able to “understand” or “touch” a generation emotionally; this would be a real achievement. Only time will tell if one of my perfumes will be an icon!
Your inspiration for ‘Glamour'?
The image of the Moschino Glamour woman has been a true inspiration. This woman is very glamorous and has a lot of humour. She does not take herself seriously and excels in irony. She is very feminine but not afraid of showing her strong character. She has allure, a confident bearing and a bubbly personality. She is a joyful, modern woman free to be what she wants to be!
Who, according to you, will choose “Glamour”?
I see this woman as very glamorous obviously! She is passionate… Fatally attractive, like an enchanting seductress…
What is the secret of creating a unique and captivating fragrance?
A strong and creative idea! Without that, you cannot be unique and captivating! Then, perseverance and hard work to turn the idea into a finished fragrance.
Do you need inspirations while creating a fragrance? What is your muse?
For me, inspiration is everywhere! I'm curious by nature and I like to see, touch, taste… I always keep my senses awake. You never know when a good idea strikes. It can be when I'm playing with my daughters, when I'm tasting a new dish, when I'm walking in the nature, when I'm wandering in a city…
Do you have a favourite fragrance among those you have created?
I created them and I'm not objective … It's a bit like asking if I like one of my children more than the other…
How do you create many fragrances without duplications?
The key is to have strong initial ideas. When you have a very specific, creative accord in the heart of a fragrance, you cannot duplicate yourself. The stronger the idea, the smaller the risk.
Is there fashion in fragrances and how is it created?
Yes! The trends we see in fashion, design… are linked to socio-cultural trends, to the era you live in… In the fragrance world, it works the same way. In this field, the perfumers are the “designers” of scents. They are the ones that will translate the socio-cultural trends into fragrance. For example, in the 1990s, fragrances were transparent. People were searching for a new harmony, a new balance in life. Since 2000, we are getting back to more textured fragrances,… There has been a change in society and a “reversion” of trend…
How long did it take you to become a good perfumer?
It is a constant evolution and a lot of work. It's been eight years and I think I'm just getting to a level of maturity. If you ask me in a few years, I will probably tell you that I'm still evolving…
Is there something that can not be learned, a talent, maybe?
You need to have sensibility and creativity. The rest is a lot of hard work, practice, patience and passion…
Does your sense of smell decrease after too much work?
You smell better in the morning because your nose is “fresh”. Obviously, the more you use your nose, the more you get tired, a little bit like your eyes when you work on a computer…
Your three favourite ingredients?
I like fruity and floral notes. It is hard to choose only three… I have been closely working with flavourists to translate flavours into fragrances. I enjoyed working on salty notes, because they are very difficult to translate into fragrances. I also like notes like passion fruit…
Factors to keep in mind when selecting perfumes?
Make sure it is a fragrance for you! You need to feel comfortable with it. You need to be able to make it part of your personality, of what you are and what you want to be.
How do you tell cheap perfume from quality fragrances?
I think long-lastingness and radiance are probably two good indicators.
Your top 3 fragrances?
Eternity by Calvin Klein; Very Irresistible by Givenchy; Alien by Thierry Mugler
What's the worst thing that can happen to a perfumer?
Lose its “nose”