Spotlight on Collaboration: Annie Buzantian, Master Perfumer at Firmenich
December 10th, 2015
Born into an Armenian family in Constanza, Romania, Annie Buzantian immigrated to the United States in 1970 with a fresh vision of the world and of herself. At this time, New York City was a hotbed of excitement: new ideas, fashions, and opportunities for women were exploding. Eyes and heart wide open, she observed her new surroundings with the voracious curiosity of a child.
To this day, Annie embraces everyday life as a wondrous place to find inspiration for her fragrances. She is driven by the insatiable desire to challenge the old perceptions of perfumery and to create modern beauty.
Annie recalls finding her first job as a laboratory assistant at Universal Oil Products as “a stroke of luck.” She was quickly promoted to the position of a perfumer trainee there, and in 1972 was recruited by Firmenich to start-up their gas chromatography laboratory and to become their first perfumer trainee. Working alongside Master Perfumer Elie Roger, within a year she had created her first fine fragrance: Love’s Musky Jasmine.
“Perfumery offers limitless possibilities.” She attributes this conviction to her lack of classic perfumery school training and her dedication to intuitive creation. “When I arrived, I knew nothing except that I loved mixing colors together,” she recalls. A classically trained pianist and an accomplished cook, she approaches perfumery as she does cooking: “Life is about fun and enjoyment,” she says. “I like inventive yet simple ingredients that are easy to understand and to love.”
Her fragrances favor green notes for their sparkle and happiness, but her notable career has evolved around rose and jasmine. In 1988, Annie was named Master Perfumer at Firmenich, the first woman to hold this title.
In 2003, the American Society of Perfumers honored Annie with a Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2015 she also received the Fragrance Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. “Creating a fragrance is a long journey,” she cautions. “In the end, if a fragrance is not beautiful, it’s not finished!” She pauses, then adds with a quiet affirmation, “My most beautiful creations are my two daughters.”
Life is about fun and enjoyment, I like inventive yet simple ingredients that are easy to understand and to love.
What does creativity mean to you? How do you define it?
I define creativity as the ability to make connections between many different experiences, taking you to imagine and invent something out of the box.
What inspires you to be creative?
I am inspired by the different facets and occasions we pass in our lives. It isn’t about a single object, time or place, but the many circumstances that bring me to appreciate those objects, times and places and inevitably ignite creativity.
What aspect of creativity at COTY do you like?
COTY has always been a wonderful partner in their appreciation of creativity. I love COTY’s openness to out-of-the-box ideas and their culture of cultivating newness and innovation.
What does the Marc Jacobs Fragrance brand represent to you?
Marc Jacobs is the epitome of chic with an effortlessly confident vibe. He is able to achieve a luxury that still has substance. His work and his brand are infused with an authenticity and rebelliousness that ultimately creates luxury with an edge.
What is your favorite COTY fragrance?
Suffice to say, I love the fragrances I’ve created together with COTY which recently include Marc Jacobs Decadence, Marc Jacobs Honey and Marc Jacobs Dot.
If you had to describe Marc Jacobs Decadence, in one sentence, what would you say?
It is luxury with a touch of irreverence.
Your skincare must have:
A brand you admire:
Hermes. They know who they are. They are always true to themselves and their DNA.
What was your first job ever?
Lab assistant for a fragrance house.
Fill in the blank: Always, Always, Always:
Stay true to yourself.
Fill in the blank: Never, Never, Never:
My rule of thumb for: Meetings: Keep it short and to the point. Travel: Only for vacation.
Energy of choice:
Fav vacation spot:
Turks & Caicos
One golden piece of advice:
Always keep your work/life balance.
Greatest lesson learned:
Life is not a dress rehearsal, so enjoy it.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.
Early riser or burn the midnight oil (stay up/work late)?