Edmond Roudnitska, a legendary French perfumer, is the creator of some of the most famous perfumes of all time: Eau Sauvage, Diorissimo, Diorela, Femme, Le parfum de Therese. Many of his perfume creations are still carefully preserved by admirers of his work and perfume history. The fragrant compositions he created for Dior, Hermes and Rochas brought him the title of mastermind among perfumers, and young perfumers still study his creations, day and night, to learn the secrets of the perfumery craft.
Edmond Roudnitska was born on March 22, 1905, in Nice, in the south of France. He wanted to be an opera singer, but life took him elsewhere. At the age of 21, he started studying perfumery in Grasse, the perfume center of France, and the following year he moved to Paris, where he constructed perfume bases for DeLaire.
Ten years later (1949), in settlement of Cabris, together with his wife Teresa, he founded Art et Parfum, a small laboratory in which perfume masterpieces were later created.
Cabris is known for its laboratory and the famous gardens that this perfume grandmaster made. Over the years, Roudnitska transformed the dry, desert soil, lost on Grasse’s town’s slopes, into a spacious botanical garden in which hundreds and hundreds of trees and rare plants you can still find today.
The first perfume, It’s You, was launched by Elizabeth Arden in 1938, and in the whirlwind of war in 1944, the first commercial perfume was presented, which was a huge success. We’re talking about Femme, a fragrance that Edmond Roudnitska created for the Rochas house. Unique in the perfect balance of delicate female leather and a thick, fragrant note of ripe plum. The composition is a harmony of aldehydes, fruits, woody notes, and musk, and it is not intended for everyone. Only a femme fatal can wear it. This perfume was remade in 1989 when the famous perfumer Oliver Cresp added the sweetness of peach and a note of cumin. Femme de Rochas is still in production, and fans of vintage perfumes keep vintage bottles produced in different years with a personal, priceless value.
However, the peak of Edmond Roudnitska’s career was achieved through his collaboration with Christian Dior, for whom he created perfume classics: Diorela, Diorama, Eau Sauvage, Diorissimo. These perfumes have inspired hundreds, if not thousands of others. So much power, creativity, and enchanting exhilaration emanated from these magical creations.
Interestingly, Roudnitska created Diorissimo for the needs of Christian Dior personally. Wanting to please his friend who loved the lily of the valley and believed that it brought him happiness, Roudnitska faced a significant challenge because fragrant oil could not be extracted from its flower. To get what he wanted, in his garden on the hill’s slopes that still exists today, he planted lilies. He spent hours and days smelling them until he realized that the aromachemical compound hydroxy citronellal (C-10 H-20 O-2) could be used to create an “elusive odor.” The rest is history.
Diorissimo was not the only perfume he dedicated to a dear person. Le parfum de Therese was dedicated to his wife Teresa, and it was the only perfume she wore during her lifetime. According to many perfume experts, this unique combination of sensuality and humble simplicity is the core of his work. The fruity watery accord of melon and mandarin opens the composition; in the heart are fragrant notes of rose and plum and base made of cedar, dry leather and a large dose of molecules called Calone. Calone in the industry, also known as “watermelon ketone”, is an unusual scent that has an intense note of “sea wind” with mild floral tones. At the time he created it (around 1960), it was a genuinely revolutionary perfume. Still, it took 40 years to be released to the market. Only a year after his death in 1996, the famous Frederic Malle came to visit Teresa to get the right to launch him. Teresa decided to hand over the formula to Malle and, in that way, secured immortality for the beautiful perfume of Edmond Roudnitska. Le parfum de Therese was introduced to the market almost unchanged, with a slight increase in the vanilla aroma. Roudnitska thus, once again proved to be a pioneer of his industry.
During the 1960s and 1970s, he continued to produce fragrances for Christian Dior. Focused primarily on quality instead of quantity, with Eau Sauvage Roudnitska again set the perfume scale high. This time, too, his creativity in mixing chemical and natural raw materials comes to the fore, resulting in a perfume based on the hedione, molecule mixed with the scents of lemon and jasmine, a compound that perfume experts call a “lightening composition”. Although Eau Sauvage was first produced more than 50 years ago, it is generally accepted that it is the most innovative fragrance of the 20th century.
Edmond Roudnitska described his thoughts on perfumery as an art in the books L’intimite du parfum, L’esthetique en question, Que sais-je? And Le parfum.
He died quietly at the age of 91 on his estate, which he loved so much. In short, his work can be described in a few words: unique quality and beauty without compromise.
Edmond Roudnitska has signed 17 perfumes, including:
- Christian Dior Diorama (1948)
- Christian Dior Dior-Dior (1976)
- Christian Dior Diorella (1972)
- Christian Dior Diorissimo (1956)
- Christian Dior Eau Fraiche (1955)
- Christian Dior Eau Sauvage (1966)
- Elizabeth Arden It’s You (1939)
- Elizabeth Arden On Dit (1952)
- Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse
- Hermès Eau d’Hermès (1951)
- Hermès Grande Eau d’Hermès
- Mario Valentino Ocean Rain (1990)
- Rochas Femme (1944)
- Rochas La Rose (1949)
- Rochas Mouche (1947)
- Rochas Mousseline (1946)
- Rochas Moustache (1949)