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Dominique Ropion

Master Perfumer
International Flavors & Fragrances

© Michael Avedon
© Michael Avedon


The perfect poet, discerning connoisseur, Dominique Ropion is an oxymoron all of his own. Master of his art, still modest in spite of his success, he has an additional quality, one that is almost outdated these days: his kindness. How does that fit in with perfumery? Only because it makes his talent even more remarkable…

Awakening of the senses

“Even as a child, I could smell everything, even a handshake!” Dominique Ropion says amused, “I saw the world through its odours more than its perfumes.… Ironical for a Parisian who grew up with a mother and a grandfather who both worked for Roure in Argenteuil, one of the most important perfume companies of the 20th century. “I was very much aware of the profession very early on but the idea only came to me much later” he resumes a bit astonished. Even though I had had many summer jobs at Roure, once I passed my baccalaureate, I decided to study physics and become an engineer”…

The discovery of a vocation

The opportunity which made Dominique Ropion one of the great contemporary perfumers, took the form of a training course at the end of his studies in the chromatography department at Roure where he was asked by Jean Amic, the President at the time, to join the company’s school of perfumery. “I was told this profession was a journey of patience and learning and that fit me like a glove. I met Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Pierre Bourdon (the company perfumers at the time): everything was set up for me and I let myself be convinced“ he says.

Luck put him in the perfumery spotlight again at the beginning of the 80’s. One of his submissions was chosen at the end of a particularly challenging competition by Givenchy and this perfume, Ysatis, was to become one of the stars of the brand. His first masterstoke and at 27, the young perfumer suddenly became famous “the doors were flung wide open for me in the world of perfume – I had suddenly become part of an elite!“

The art of approach

After 12 years with Roure and 10 with Florasynth where he joined up again with Jean-Louis Sieuzac (an old accomplice from his time at Roure) and a short while with Dragoco, Dominique Ropion joined the IFF Fine Fragrance team in 2000 in Paris. A breath of fresh air, a new creative momentum, he was then able to further perfect his already famous know how and his craftsman’s approach (in the true sense of the word) and make his list of successes even longer. “I like the idea of working with perfume as an olfactive form, like a sculptor or an architect… Going to the core of a scientific study of the make up of a natural raw material and then suddenly being seduced by its beauty all over again is a great satisfaction for me“ says this discreet epicurean with that intellectual air he has about him.

Where do I get my inspiration? I often find it in a central theme composed around one raw material.
Then I work on its contours, its volume and contrasts. The vocabulary of music and perfume are often presented as being very similar but I think the job of a perfumer is a lot more tangible! A job he shares willingly with the members of the dynamic team he works with… A job he is still passionate about and believes will bring him new and even more exciting discoveries in the future.

What he has to say… About the photo…

I look a bit like a bandit, some kind of Mafioso! It’s funny; I didn’t think anyone would see me this way… I don’t look too nasty though, there’s even a little bit of benevolence about me! But what comes across is the impression that I look at things from a distance, a seriousness that is not quite me in the sense that I never take myself very seriously! He’s amused by the photo but it doesn’t bother him at all “those are things which are not really very important” says Dominique with a touch of wisdom.

Perfumes of the future

I would love to see volatile base notes, persistent citrus notes, anything that will change the order of things and transform the perception of perfume. But in order to do that we need to develop a new approach to formulation, similar to the famous “nouvelle cuisine” in order to produce other, more unusual effects.