The Sephora Glossy: Perfumer Louise Turner

The English-born nose gives The Sephora Glossy a peek into her creative process.


Louise Turner didn’t always aspire to be a perfumer, but she followed her nose. “My family lived in Ashford in the U.K., just near a fragrance factory—the factory site was quite smelly,” she says. As fate would have it, she got a job in marketing research at the company by chance. “Only then I discovered the fascinating industry of perfumery. I was hooked.” She has since created over 30 perfumes, including MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA’s feminine floral fragrance, Lazy Sunday Morning. Here, Turner gives us the inside scoop on the life of a perfumer. Take note. RENEE TRILIVAS

What exactly does a nose do?
Somehow, a nose tries to create other people’s dream. I try to interpret what I think people want to smell like. The creations are always personal, but as I am working for people I do not know, the creations are very abstract. I create, and then I adjust and readjust according to what the customers want.

Where do you find inspiration for fragrances?
I find inspiration from many different places, but more in nature. The English country garden is an easy way to get inspired and I definitely love flowers. Nature has got something we do not do as well, in terms of diffusion, trails, blooming, etc. For example, I have a great honeysuckle in my garden and it smells fantastic. I still can’t manage to do a honeysuckle that I am satisfied with in perfumery! There’s always a challenge to do better. You need to be perfectionist.

What is the biggest challenge of a nose?
The success rate of a perfumer is very low: Only one creation out of ten is approved on average. My challenge is to stay equally motivated, despite the success or the failure of my creations. I cannot predict which projects will work and which won’t, so I put all my heart in everything I do, no matter what.

What’s the best part of being a perfumer?
I think my favorite part is when I smell someone wearing my perfume in the street. I can get very proud! It is a real boost for me when someone has chosen to wear the perfume I created. Being a nose is a fantastic job. It is a tough environment, but the industry is fascinating.

Is creating a fragrance as romantic as it seems?
Perfumers have a lot of constraints with prices, regulations, and so on. Finally, the success rate is very low. But it doesn’t remove the dreamy aspect of being a nose. Hopefully, someone is going to fall in love with your perfume, and that is something almost magical to me.


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