François Robert and Elodie Durande are the noses behind each fragrance at Ffern. Together with Owen Mears, the founder of Ffern, and his sister Emily Cameron, the Creative Director, the team conceive and develop the seasonal scents. François, a fourth generation master perfumer and descendant of the venerable Robert perfume dynasty, brings with him an unparalleled wealth of knowledge and experience. Elodie, by contrast, carries the fire of youth with a passion for experimental and innovative natural perfumery. Together, they make the perfect pairing.
François is the 4th in a line of master perfumers who have earned a reputation as perfume’s royal family. It all started with Joseph Robert, François’ great grandfather. Joseph was a chemist, and perfumery tutor to the renowned François Coty. Working from Grasse (perfume’s world capital) in 1884, he developed a process for extracting absolutes (pure perfume oils) from natural ingredients. The invention had a phenomenal impact on the world of natural perfumery, opening up a plethora of ingredients that were more diverse, and stronger than anything seen before.
The son of a natural perfumery icon, Henri wasted no time in cementing the family’s reputation. At age 20, he joined his father (then head perfumer at Antoine Chiris - perhaps the greatest perfume house of all time), working alongside Ernest Beau and Henri Alméras. In 1923, he became head nose at perfumes D’Orsay - in 1934 he returned as head nose at the house of Coty - finally, in 1952, he took over from his one time colleague Beau as second ever head nose at Chanel.
By this time, François’ own father, Guy, had taken up the family mantle - raised in Grasse, Guy joined Henri in New York, working for Coty in the early 40’s, before returning to Paris where he became the city’s most sought after - and most prolific - nose. Through the second half of the 19th century Guy created hit after hit; Hermès Doblis, Rochas Madame Rochas, Hermès Calèche, Dior Diorressence, Gucci No 1, Gucci Pour Homme and Amouage Gold included.
It came as no surprise to the family, then, that at age 14 a young François announced his intention to become - in Robert style - a great nose. His formal training began immediately, at the house of Rochas, and he has been pushing the boundaries of modern perfume ever since.
In need of a protégé to continue the work of the Roberts - a new custodian of their family secrets - François’ curiosity was piqued by a promising young student at the school of perfumery in Montpellier. Elodie Durande, he noted, had an extraordinary nose - and an extraordinary propensity for natural perfumery (a very particular balancing skill given the complexity of natural oils). So impressed, in fact, was François’ by Elodie’s talent, he invited her to come and train with him in Brighton.
As Elodie has evolved into a bold and innovative nose with a reputation for taming the wildest of naturals, so too their partnership has evolved - François wealth of experience and razor sharp nose meets Elodie’s passion for naturals and creative drive; it is a partnership perfectly suited to our work at Ffern. We seek to draw from the best of perfume past - and combine it with a new vision for perfume’s future - restoring the artisanship that perfumery once was, and building from it the art that perfumery will become.