We are tremendously honoured to have been featured by nu.nl – the biggest Dutch news outlet. This week, Spyros Drosopoulos sat down with journalist Anna Lillioja to discuss his journey. Below is the English translation of the Dutch article.
05 May 2020 3.46 p.m.
Pied pipers, gravediggers, snake milkers, mattress testers and Netflix viewers. In this section, we interview people with a non-standard answer to the standard question: What do you actually do? This time, it is Spyros Drosopoulos (44), perfumer.
- Occupation: Perfumer
- Favourite molecule: Tabanone. Occurs in tobacco. Smells like: tobacco plant, but without thinking about cigarettes. Green, warm and metallic.
You know CK One, L’eau D’Issey, Acqua di Gio and all those other nineties perfumes that start with ‘aqua’? They have one thing in common: calone. A synthetic molecule discovered by Pfizer pharmacists in the 1960s.
It can smell like watermelon or a sea breeze depending on how it is used. In the 1990s, Aramis first applied it in a perfume: New West for Her. The beginning of a new maritime fragrance genre.
“My very first perfume was inspired by the sky on a hot summer day; how it changes from bright blue and warm in the afternoon to deep, sultry dark blue in the evening.” – Spyros Drosopoulos, perfumer.
According to perfumer Drosopoulos, perfumes are just like clothes: the commercial perfume world is primarily a business of copycats. If a fragrance is popular, other brands will try to decode the formula into individual molecules, in order to recreate it in a slightly different way. Drosopoulos also occasionally receives similar assignments. “I don’t have an ethical opinion about that,” he says. “I just see it as work. I prefer to create scents myself from scratch.”
Spyros Drosopoulos (44), perfumer. (Photo: private collection)
Perfume tells a story
Although Drosopoulos was already fascinated by smells as a little boy – he could not walk past a flower bed without smelling the different chalices – he first made a career as a psychologist in academia. At one point, he came across a perfume course and decided to join. He was sold, and a new hobby was born.
Spyros is now a full-time perfumer. He makes fragrances on commission and for his own niche perfume brand Baruti, with evocative names such as Berlin im Winter and Onder de Linde.
“Perfuming is just like DJing. Only the right mix creates an experience.” says Spyros Drosopoulos
This is what smells should do – according to Drosopoulos – telling a story, conveying a specific sentiment.
“I like to watch the changing skies,” says the perfumer. “From the windows of an apartment building or a plane. My very first perfume, Indigo, was inspired by changing skies on a hot summer day. How it transitions from a warm, bright blue in the afternoon to a deep, sultry dark blue in the evening.”
Smell beyond the top note
According to Drosopoulos, if you only smell perfume bottles in the drugstore, you don’t realize that transitions and stories are present in a fragrance. You only smell the so-called top note, the scent that evaporates first. It is a lot better to try a perfume on your skin, or on a piece of paper, that you can take home with you to smell during the rest of the day.
“Each ingredient has unique molecular properties. Some smells start to smell stronger after a while, while others are already faded.” Citrus notes, for example, evaporate quickly. Musk is one of the longest-lasting scents. That’s why you often smell a musky scent on the skin long after you spray on a perfume.
According to the perfumer, putting together a balanced perfume can be compared to DJing. “You can choose nice songs, but it is just as important that they blend together flawlessly. If you don’t mix them well, you get non-smooth transitions that will be difficult to listen to. If you do it right, you get an immersive experience.”