I met Bertrand Duchaufour on 16 September 2018. It was a test moment for "Ocaso", launched on the same date, at Pitti Fragranze. Ocaso was crafted by Stéphanie Bakouche. At the time, Stéphanie was already known, but not yet in the star constellation of niche perfumers. Stéphanie and Bertrand worked together for many years, with him as her master and so she invited him to pass by our booth. He arrived at our stand accompanied by his compagnon de route Mark Buxton and so I received not one but two "perfumery gods". Oh my! Bertrand and Mark! They spent some time testing Ocaso perfume, and, to this day, I can't imagine what they said to each other.

On that day, I was a sole owner of a young perfume brand. I felt his well-known distance. Bertrand is not given to talking to people he doesn't know very well and, like those "special ones", has little patience for "mere curiosity seekers who claim to have strong opinions" on perfumes.

It was initially hard to enter his world. As time went by, I saw him much more often and we began to share and discuss our projects with him, in Paris, in Milan... and that's how the cold, frigid old “Duchaufour’s image” disappeared. Once you get to know him, he has an enormous emotional generosity and a way of speaking and communicating with great gentleness and an almost compassionate glance.

Along with Jean-Claude Helena, he is one of the two greatest of his generation, and certainly the greatest in niche perfumery.

He has created three or four perfume masterpieces in a universe where it is difficult to reach one. Perfumes like Timbuktu, Mohur, Eau d'Italie, are milestones in perfumery over the last 25 years, and of course then there's Jubilation XXV. In these times of online information overload, “perfume critics' search for the new” tends to ignore the past. Seven or ten years ago, almost all the critics on YouTube (Instagram wasn't relevant yet) considered Jubilation XXV a masterpiece of the decade, for some of them the best perfume of all time. Today, no-one talks about it anymore (as for me, I've always had a very difficult relationship with this perfume, I've never understood it or liked it very much, despite recognising both the multiplicity of the notes and the boldness of the overall scent. You don't always have to follow other people's opinions, not even Bertrand's...)

Going back to that 2018 day, while I was sniffing the blotter sprayed with Ocaso next to him, he looked at me and simultaneously dared Stéphanie (as if reinforcing his masterclasses to her) and said: "- For me, in a perfume, everything is balance, balance". I believe he meant that it's balance and equilibrium that make a perfume dynamic, and I'll never forget that seminal phrase.

He is a free being and an independent mind. He's relatively austere and difficult, someone who doesn't want to be put in a straitjacket. He's straightforward: a few years ago, he came to visit me at the Esxence stand, where we were launching the perfume "Sela". The whole stand was covered with a photograph from the "Sela" campaign. He, who is a "niche" man and who reads the market in the light of niche perfume brands, stared at big, beautiful pic of Sela campaign and said: “- Pedro, that’s wrong; you shouldn’t communicate the perfume, but the brand 'Comporta, Comporta, Comporta'". I think he was wrong because that photograph was brutal, and it was blowing away all other booths around us. He thought I was wrong because the brand still needed to gain its market positioning. I respected his opinion and the rationale behind it; but I didn't think he considered mine. With his blasé look, he certainly thought I was a new kid on the block and, maybe he was right, that's what I really am, learning from him every day.

His trademark is the vibrancy of leather scents.

Bertrand, you're not going to like reading this: all right, I accept that I also like the way you use violet and other botanical notes. But leather is your hallmar, Mr Bertrand Duchaufour! Not the vintage leather of Knize's Ten or Cuir de Russie. no, you are mostly into that nuanced leather smelling of the dry ebony culture of Africa, or the softly complex leather suede. There's no bold humid astringency or vintage harshness. You willl always be leading the team in combining hyper-volume molecules in a modern tone.

When a perfumer has more than 300 perfumes to his credit, it's not possible for all of them to be extraordinary. Yet, it is a great achievement to have delivered 10 or 15 superlative ones. I believe WILL falls into that category.