This week’s fragrance lover is a perfume writer, scent expert and perfumer. Tomoo Inaba Profice is the talented Nose behind Zoologist Nightingale and Moth. As well as being a prolific reviewer, he also teaches classes about perfume creation and ingredients. Tomoo lives on the island of Kyushu in Japan with his two dogs.
What question do you get asked most often?
How did you learn perfume making? I’m an independent perfumer, reviewer and journalist and have visited farmers and distillers around the world. Reviewing over 3,000 fragrances was nice training to me, but naturally, the best training was “copying”. Vintage and masterpiece fragrances always gave me knowledge and inspiration.
What’s your first scent memory?
I grew up playing with my grandmother’s garden. There were many fragrant plants, fruits, and vegetables in there. Every season many fragrant flowers bloomed: in spring, cherry blossom, narcissus, jonquill, mimosa, sweet pea, wisteria, daphne, violet, hyacinth, yuzu blossom, orange blossom and magnolia. In summer, it was new-mown lawn, ginger lily, peach, and fig. The smell of osmanthus and ginger lily in particular told me autumn had come, so I knew a variety of scents automatically. (My mom and dad didn’t use fragrance, so I don’t have their fragrant memories.)
What was the first fragrance you bought?
Even now wearing perfume in many schools is forbidden, so kids and teenagers are using fragrant softener though, I did not wear it. My first perfume was Gianfranco Ferre Uomo when I was around 18. Thinking about it now, that tobacco leather juice was too dandy to me, but my taste was different to others from back then. Many of youngers love light and fresh scents.
How did you discover us?
Le Jardin Retrouvé was sold in Japan until 2010, the same year Denis Gutsatz, who was a brother to Michel, opened the official web store. I got in touch with him and he gifted many fragrances (Pavot, Seringa, Pivoine and more) to me. He sometimes did sales, so he used to have many Japanese customers before Michel and Clara revived the brand in 2016.
What does fragrance mean to you?
Fragrances enrich our lives and minds, just as flavors make our meals more delicious.
What do you think the fragrance industry needs in the future?
There are many copying products in the world. With scientific advance, copying by machine became easily done. Actually owners in India and South Korea asked me to create copy products. Of course I did not accept that offer. Copyright of a scent should be more severe. Safe solvents (like a cyclodextrin) tp replace alcohol will be used more in the future.
The scramble of rare natural materials should be limited. Mysore sandalwood is needed by Hinduism, more than perfume. And do you know how the murder by natural Oud scrambling is caused? It’s called Agar wood mafia. Every perfumer can create imitation Oud and Mysore sandalwood. Using regal oil is good social responsibility in needy areas, but some of independent perfumers use rare oil because they don’t have the skill to create those accords, and sell it at extreme prices as if using rare oil. It’s the same thing for fur. If people get satisfaction with fake fur, the animals will not be killed for that.