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Meet The Founder

MEET THE FOUNDER: AZZI GLASSER

Verity Douglas
Writer and expert1 year ago
View Verity Douglas's profile

The A-List's go-to perfumer and ‘nose’ behind the scents of Bella Freud, Agent Provocateur and countless bespoke blends for luxury hotels and Hollywood actors, Azzi Glasser finally granted our wishes by launching The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi — a range of evocative fragrances fueled by unique (and delectably scented) scenarios.

three bottles of the perfumers story shot in a studio on a pink background
{Cult Beauty} Hi Azzi, to kick things off, could you tell us about you — and how you wound up in the fragrance space?

{Azzi Glasser} I have always been creative. When I was 19, I invented ‘fragrance rock pot pourri’ and when Cosmopolitan published a feature about me, I was approached by several fragrance houses — one of which offered me a job I couldn’t refuse. When they tested my nose, I achieved one of the best results ever and it was then that I realised the power of my nose and all its opportunities.

I worked with a British fragrance house as Global Creative Commercial Director for ten years and, during that time, I met Joe Corré and Serena Rees, the founders of Agent Provocateur. While holidaying together in Costa Rica, we talked about launching a perfume and once we returned, we launched Agent Provocateur Parfum. It won numerous awards and proved as popular as icons like Chanel and Mugler's Angel. I had no idea it would be such a massive success, as it smelt so different from any other perfume on the market, and the concept and fragrance were contrary to industry trends at that time but, it worked perfectly.

I started to create bespoke fragrances around 17 years ago — first for Kylie Minogue as she was a massive fan of my AP fragrance — followed by Helena Bonham Carter, Noomi Rapace, Cindy Crawford, Laura Linney and many others (my first male customer was Jonny Depp)!

With this expansive portfolio behind me, and such an iconic fan base, it was time to launch my own brand: The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi. It’s a brand that tells your story through your very own DNA ‘scent print’, all based on your character and style.

{CB} Scent is so personal, with different people being drawn to vastly different notes and blends. What triggers these affinities — and how do you help to identify what suits a person?

{AG} People are individuals, with different characters, personalities and styles. I could see a demand from people to be more unique and to stand out from the crowd — The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi was born to fulfil what I saw as a gap in the market. The focus in the industry was always on ingredients, rather than how they could tell your story, but by analysing character and style, I’ve made it possible to build a fragrance wardrobe for multiple moods, moments and memories.

{CB} And which notes work for you? Do you favour one signature scent or do you mix things up to suit the seasons?

{AG} I have never really been a fruity or flowery, sweet-scenting person. I personally love more woody, sensual perfumes that have a unique, individual character. My signature perfume for 15 years now is Sequoia Wood — it really is a head turner! The composition is layered around the sensual and deep richness of sequoia wood, enhanced by the flirtatious freshness of neroli and palmarosa with a kissable base of cedar, patchouli and white musk oils.

My ‘Character & Style’ is: sensual, creative and avant-garde and this fragrance gives me so much joy that it's become a part of me. I get five or six comments every day on how wonderful I smell! To me, one of the nicest compliments I could get.

{CB} You’re known as a bit of a rebel within the perfumery world. What do you feel differentiates you and your methods from other, more ‘typical’ names in the industry?

{AG} I think, as a perfumer, I do get categorised differently; probably as I am so linked to Hollywood and iconic artists in the press. It is important to create art through perfume — scent is something you cannot see or touch but that you purely feel, and the importance of this sense can sometimes get forgotten. There are lots of boundaries, particularly in the beauty industry and most perfumery brands centre themselves on fragrance families and popular ingredients. My method, is to create perfumes that can connect to the individual — that personify their character and compliment their style to act as the ultimate finishing touch.

{CB} The Perfumer’s Story is all about telling a story and evoking a scenario through scent. How do you decide which tales you want to tell?

{AG} I want to tell the stories of each and every one of you so, The Perfumer’s Story had to start somewhere — with 12 individual perfumes created and centred around the wearer’s individual ‘Character & Style’. The first line of its kind, my collection retains a timeless allure that doesn’t succumb to the passing whims of market trends. Instead, each offering encapsulates the individual essence of the wearer, creating a signature fragrance that manages to be both mysterious and relatable — enabling the fragrances to tell their own stories.

{CB} …and which comes first — the story or the scent?

{AG} The story comes to me first and for the consumer, the scent comes first.

{CB} You’ve also collaborated with some incredible individuals and institutions. Is there one that stands out as a personal ‘pinch me' moment?

{AG} Well, if I was to be honest there are many ‘pinch me’ moments — especially with Helena Bonham Carter who adores her signature fragrance and tells me the wildest stories from her many journeys and calls it her ‘Amour’. I have just recently visited Cannes Film Festival as I worked with Jude Law on his upcoming film, Firebrand — he was still ‘wowing’ all the crowds with his favourite fragrance of mine — Mystere Vetivert — which not only matches him, but his style perfectly.

{CB} Speaking of high-profile clients (Jude Law, for example), where do you begin when someone asks for something just for them? What’s your process?

{AG} I work very closely with each of my clients and remember working on Cindy Crawford’s bespoke perfume, which was commissioned for her 50th birthday by her husband. Some say it’s bit like a ‘fun therapy session’ but really, it’s all about getting to know their personality and their character and how they would like to portray themselves to the outside world. Once I have a clear picture — a bit like a DNA print — I look at their fashion and style; from clothing to accessories, how they wear their hair... their little idiosyncrasies — and match these elements when composing their fragrance formulation.

I always explain how I carefully select the fragrance ingredients, firstly as the ‘main characters’ (a bit like a film director choosing their leads), and then my supporsting ingredients to tell the story — which becomes their signature perfume. It becomes part of their life — something they enjoy wearing every. single. day.

{CB} Do you ever meet an obstacle and what do you do when that certain something proves elusive?

{AG} I do remember having to create a particular perfume for Helena Bonham Carter when she was playing Bellatrix in Harry Potter — I based it on poisonous flowers but, of course, you cannot touch them so I had to recreate the scents through head space technology. It was long and technically challenging but so worthwhile. As Helena says: “Some people say that the past is another country and in a way, [Azzi] makes ‘passport perfumes’. I know she always makes them with passion and love — and that cleverest and sensitive, poetic nose of hers.”

{CB} Shopping for fragrance online still feels risky for many — how can people empower themselves to make ‘safer’ decisions when purchasing perfume?

{AG} I really realised this issue during the pandemic as you couldn’t go into shops. It was during this time I developed my AI.zz — a robotic perfumer, based on my brain, which asks the consumer a series of questions to gather invaluable insights — their DNA ‘scent print’ — and steers them towards the best perfume match. Because my fragrances are categorised by the ‘Character & Style’ of the wearer, you can identify which sounds the most like you and find your 'scent soulmate’.

{CB} You’re pioneering in the world of ‘fragrance architecture’ having devised custom schemes for spaces such as Annabel’s and Chiltern Firehouse. What are a few of the secrets that we could deploy to make our homes feel more sensorial?

{AG} I think homes are our sanctuaries and the importance of smell when you enter your home marks the point of difference which everyone is looking for. I created a unique home candle collection based on ‘fragrance architecture’, designed to bring unique character and style to the different interiors and living experiences around the home — perfectly tailored to match ‘scent personality’ with living space. Each candle evokes specific moods of warmth, richness or decadence — transforming spaces and providing them with a fresh identity and ambience. For example, Black Moss is the most welcoming and memorable fragrance for the entrance to your home, while Tuscan Suede has an ‘intimate and entertaining’ character and style, making it perfect for your living room or study.

{CB} And finally, what’s the next chapter in The Perfumer’s Story?

{AG} The next chapter is an exciting one as we launch with Cult Beauty — my favourite online beauty boutique, and we’re planning to open more doors globally with some exciting products that are in development. Our main objective is to bring joy to the world, and scent is a great tool that has a massive impact on your mind, body and soul.

Thanks so much Azzi! We’re thrilled to introduct you to The Perfumer’s Story by Azzi — tell us which scents are your favourite below...

SHOP THE PERFUMER'S STORY >>

Verity Douglas
Writer and expert
View Verity Douglas's profile
Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...
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