Sabine de Tscharner has spent the last 25 years living her childhood dream, to be counted among the world’s leading perfumers. Sabine has developed several signature fragrances for Aera, including this year’s limited-edition holiday season fragrance, Glow. Recently, Sabine shared thoughts on her career and the science and art of creating fragrances.
What inspired you to become a perfumer?
At age 14, I suddenly became aware and fascinated with the astounding variety and emotional power of scent. I experienced an “aha moment” that started me on the path of becoming a perfumer. It’s quite an arduous course — requiring at least 10 years of study and training. But it’s very rewarding. My job is my life calling and I love it.
What about the fragrance creation process might surprise someone outside the industry?
The number of people involved — it’s a big team effort. Also, the dozens of modifications necessary to find the perfect scent balance. It’s delicate work — like making lace.
What do you have in mind when first developing a fragrance for the home?
I think about what emotions the fragrance will trigger. The occasions where scent will enhance the enjoyment of the moment. I also think of color. Shimmering gold is what I had in mind for Glow. (Note: Sabine was delighted to find that gold is the color we chose for Glow’s package.)
Tell us about developing Glow.
Glow is a journey into the multifaceted smell of vanilla. It’s the result of collaboration with Philippine Courtiere, a French perfumer based in Dubai. She conceived the original vanilla bourbon scent, which I was asked to rework. I added a touch of rum and a sheer floral honeysuckle note to make it a bit more complex and airy. It’s very much like vanilla in its natural state — more vanilla bean rather than a vanilla cookie. Glow was designed specifically for the Aera diffuser. It’s ethereal, like the smell of a fresh vanilla blossom.
What are your favorite fragrances for the holidays?
In Europe, we have a tradition of making and hanging pomanders — oranges studded with cloves, so I love the combination of citrus and clove. Evergreen is inseparable from the season. And of course, I adore Glow.