Our noses

Francois Robert and Elodie Durande are the noses behind our work at Ffern. They are the perfect compliment; unmatched experience and raw talent.

Francois 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, Francois’ great grandfather. Joseph was a chemist, and perfumery tutor to the renowned Fracçois 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.

Grasse, circa 1884

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.

Guy at work during a lesson with Henri

By this time, Francois’ 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; Hermes Doblis, Rochas Madame Rochas, Hermes Caleche, Dior Diorressence, Gucci No 1, Gucci Pour Homme and Amouage Gold included.

Francois on a Ffern shoot, 2018

It came as no surprise to the family, then, that at age 14 a young Francois 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 protege to continue the work of the Robert’s - a new custodian of their family secrets - Francois’ 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 Francois’ by Elodie’s talent, he invited her to come and train with him in Brighton.

Elodie on a Ffern shoot, 2018

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 - Francois 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.