Monday 15 April 2019


In a world of instant fame it is easy to forget that, for many, success comes after years of perfecting their craft. This can be said of Quentin Bisch, one of the current stars of the Givaudan stable of perfumers. From Yves Saint Laurent to Mugler and Fragonard to Jean Paul Gaultier, Quentin’s creations are varied and exciting. So, I thought it was time to discover his fragrance memories during “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
It’s hard to say which was the first, but one of the earliest that I recall is the smell of the paint we used at school. I was a child of around four years old. I can still smell it in my mind, so vividly, and it moves me. It’s a nostalgic feeling of a blessed untouchable time of innocence.

What was the first perfume you remember your mum or dad wearing?
My mum loved Shalimar and, even though she eventually moved on to others, this will always be HER smell. Others that she wore were Poison by Dior, LouLou by Cacharel, Kenzo’s Jungle L’Elephant, and even Coriandre by Jean Couturier. So, many memories! My dad was an elegant businessman with a leather briefcase and the smell of Guerlain’s Derby or Vetiver. I also remember him wearing Chanel Pour Monsieur Concentrée and Gucci pour Homme (Michel Almairac’s version).

What was the perfume of your twenties?
There were a lot of fragrances at home and, at the age of ten, I was already wearing Eau de Rochas pour Homme and Guerlain’s Habit Rouge. However, the perfumes of my twenties were YSL Opium pour Homme and Dior Fahrenheit. I had discovered Fahrenheit on my cousin, a girl wearing a “masculine” perfume, and very early on I realised that the idea of “gender” was really subjective and movable. It was the perfume of rebellion! Maybe that’s why I went to it, a sign of self-affirmation?

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
Looking back, it wasn't a mistake, but it definitely felt like it at the time. I was ten years old and my French teacher was wearing a bewitching perfume. I had to know what it was. When I eventually asked her she reacted super badly, told me to leave the classroom, and to apologise. I was mortified because it was my first day at a new school. Much later I found out that it was Opium pour Femme by YSL, and I guess that’s where my desire to become a perfumer began and, in fact, what started as a tense and awful situation convinced me that I needed to create such beauties.

You can only choose one perfume?
It would have to be Kelly Caleche Eau de Toilette by Hermes. I wear it and I love its woody leathery orris facet but also its rosy powdery elegance too. It’s a little piece of perfection.

What perfume should I try?
Definitely Nomade from Chloé because it’s versatile and yet still sophisticated. I always recommend it to a lady who seeks something not too cloying or extreme, yet with a really strong personality. In the air it is magical and so chic, a cloud of transparent and luminous woods and moss. You should also try Attaquer le Soleil Marquis de Sade from Etat Libre d’Orange. Some people love it, some people don't. I like the final result but I’m actually part of the second group, and it’s quite unusual for a creator not to love his own creation. Let me explain. Sade’s original writings aimed to speak to your true inner being and so I searched inside myself for something very personal. The ingredient cistus had always fascinated me because, whilst I love it, I always tend to reject it when it shows itself. It’s very sexual, very dirty! Etienne de Swardt gave me complete freedom to create and this perfume is a tribute to that freedom, a personal artistic expression. Still, every time my best friend wears it I literally jump away from him.

Nomade by Chloé is available from all stockists priced at £44 for 30ml or £62 for 50ml, and Etat Libre d’Orange Attaquer le Soleil Marquis de Sade is available from selected stockists priced at £125 for 100ml.


  1. Yes, you are a tease Stephan haha. Excellent read. Quentin is an absolute star.

    1. Hello Barry, I'm glad that you enjoyed the interview and yes, Quentin is an absolute star. Best, Stephan