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Heritage Perfumery – A Bridge into the Future – Interview with Jerome Lesquendieu

The House of Lesquendieu is one of those brands that are viewed as "perfumery gems" in the industry, with an impressive history behind and most certainly a bright future ahead.

Everything began in 1900 when Joseph Lesquendieu, a visionary French pharmacist with a passion for fragrances established his own business in Paris in the form of a perfume and cosmetics company.

For more than 70 years, this brand has been praised and appreciated all over the world for the quality of its perfumes and the innovative take on harmonizing exquisite ingredients.

In what I consider to be both a stroke of luck and a great privilege, I had the pleasure of discussing with the current master behind this brand, Joseph's grandson, Jerome Lesquendieu.

Jerome is as passionate about perfume as his grandfather and in his quest for excellence, he combines the sophistication of the past with modern knowledge, resulting in amazing fragrances that exude timeless elegance and nobility.

Jerome Lesquendieu takes heritage perfumery to another level, picking up the torch of creation and creating a bridge between the past, and taking us well into the future.

Is there a difference between American and French perfumery?

They represent two different approaches: France specialized in perfumes centuries ago. French niche perfumery is an ancestral know-how. We produce a lot of essences in France thanks to years of knowledge acquired especially in Grasse. At Lesquendieu we create in phase with history, memories of the past, based on the perfumer’s feelings… Each region of the world has its own ways.

French perfumers are often in this profession because their parents and grandparents were perfumers. How did you become a perfumer?

Perfumery is a family matter and a passion handled down from father to son. It started for me with my father whom I accompanied in the factory always with sparkles in my eyes. One has to fall in love with fragrance: you need to be passionate to become a perfumer.

Reflecting on my conversations with other perfumers, I sense that mentors play a key role in developing a young perfumers’ knowledge and abilities. How was your development in the perfume business?

No perfume school for me but a family affair.

At Lesquendieu noses play a key role in the development of our DNA. It is important to us to keep this small and beautiful industry alive and let it live through education. Transmission is a dear topic to us Just as my father used to do with me, Noses handle down their knowledge and know-how.

In 2016, we relaunched five historical formulas based on the archives I found. Actually, my grandfather spent years writing down his memoirs to assure his legacy.

In 2020, we are establishing the third generation with the same values and level of excellence that has been driving us for more than a century. A new project is on the way…

On the topic of collaboration, do you like to work with evaluators when creating fragrances?

At Lesquendieu our vision remains the same as of 1903, creation must know no boundaries. Thus we let our noses’ creativity express with no limits. This is how from our point of view, we create timeless, outstanding fragrances.

Going further we, since the very beginning do not include any form any budget constraint in the creative process. This way, we believe the perfumer inspiration can express entirely.

How do you feel about creating from a fragrance brief or design brief? Are they necessary? Or do you prefer to work with clients that allow you to work without a specific brief?

This has been done in our house and still is. They are however not necessary as the perfumer and the client will create the brief together. We take the time to listen to their needs and expectations and add our expertise. Our approach is to accompany the client in the discovery and making of their own fragrance.

What place does storytelling have in fragrances? With the growth of niche fragrances, it seems every fragrance needs to have a story.

Fragrances always carry a story. Every creation is the expression of a nose’s emotions, memories, travels, life moments… behind every perfume a perfumer is telling something. These meanings allow you to identify to a fragrance and recognize yourself in a Maison’s values. In our case you will find that every single Lesquendieu creation has a story to tell.

What role does chemistry and the development of new molecules play in scent trends? In niche and now in commercial perfumery, the use of amber notes is everywhere. It seems all the big perfume houses have two or three of their own trademarked woody-amber molecules and everyone seems to be using them in their fragrances.

Of course we always keep an eye on trends and new developments. Trends are a reflection of the expectations of consumers. But the thing with trends is that they go away sometimes as fast as they came. At Lesquendieu our approach is to get rid of these considerations and create bold, timeless fragrances to pass through generations.

Do you have a particular style or approach to creating fragrances?

Timeless, passionate, traditional, 3 words composing our motto.

Do you make any fragrances at home for yourself?

As a fragrance lover I used to play with the perfume organ to mix and create home fragrances and candles. It is one of the privilege to work in this beautiful industry.

Who are your favorite artists and painters?

Personally, I have an interest in all forms of art from music to sculpture. If I had to pick two examples I would say I really like the works of Robert Doisneau for his sincere life scenes and Ivan Aivazovsky for its mysterious, dreamlike atmospheres and his work on the lights.


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