Iberchem Exploring The Scent Of Success

Iberchem: Exploring The Scent Of Success

Luz Vaquero, head perfumer at Iberchem, with over two decades of experience, shares her insights on leading Iberchem's creative direction, Middle Eastern perfumery, and the future of the fragrance industry.

In this exclusive interview, Luz Vaquero reflects on the dynamic nature of her profession, shares what to expect from Iberchem at this year's Beauty World Middle East, and delves into the unique charm of Middle Eastern perfumery.

Luz Vaquero, as a perfumer for more than 20 years and one of the key figures in Iberchem's success, what has it been like to lead the company's creative direction?

I would say fascinating and complex at the same time. It can be challenging to manage a large group of people in an environment that is both creative and scientific. Being the creative director of Iberchem has allowed me to lead an incredible team of more than 20 perfumers around the world, with whom I not only share my experience and knowledge but also learn from them every day. I am surrounded by so much talent, and this encourages me to grow every day. There is nothing I love more than discovering a fragrance that surprises me, and this is something my team manage to do quite often.

Years ago, aspects such as naturalness, neuroscience or biodegradability were not as relevant as they are today. Thanks to these changes, I have grown as a perfumer, not to say reinvented myself at times. To be successful in this context, one has to be innovative and take risks. This would not have been possible without the creativity that my profession requires.

Beauty World Middle East is around the corner. What innovations can we expect from Iberchem at this year's edition?

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BWME is one of the most important events in the world of perfumery, especially because the Middle East and the market’s taste in fragrances are so unique; strong individual characteristics and trends are undoubtedly specific to the region.

Every year, Iberchem tries to surprise and present new creations filled with elegance, creativity, and quality in a way that is both original and innovative. For example, five years ago, we were among the first companies to pair fragrances and augmented reality. This year is no different, and we have a collection that will surprise the visitors.

Without going into too much detail, we can say that we explored the relation between perfumery and the creative and production processes of another industry, with which we have found many similarities. The result is a collection based on originality, personalisation, and the quality of the raw materials.

Where do you see the fragrance industry going? What will be special about the Middle East?

The fascinating thing about the world of fragrance is that there are no limits: perfumery is always open to new concepts, new ingredients, and new combinations. As long as quality is maintained, creativity can go on.

Having said that, we must highlight the megatrend around the concept of wellness. Well-being is more relevant than ever, and this is also reflected in fragrances, with many products designed specifically to impact people’s mood.

Lately, we also notice a strong Asian influence in perfumery, particularly from Japan and its attractive culture, which now influences perfumery worldwide.

Why is Middle Eastern perfumery considered a type of perfumery in its own right?

There are several reasons for that. Firstly, because of the raw materials; the Middle East market has a very sophisticated taste for premium raw materials.

Unlike European perfumery, where citrusy and fresh scents are usually preferred, the Middle East characterise itself by the use of ambery, smokey, and woody accords punctuated with other notes (spicy, floral, etc.).

Scents are also deeply rooted in local culture and traditions. One thing I found fascinating when I first traveled in the region was the Bakhoor. I just loved to discover a new medium to enjoy a fragrance. I also remember someone telling me that here, a person’s scent should remain in the room once she or he has left.

Over the last few years, we have witnessed a large enthusiasm for Middle Eastern perfumery in Western countries. One day, I was reading a magazine talking about the “new” trend of
layering and I thought, “This is something they’ve been doing forever in the Middle East!”.

How would you describe your career as a perfumer, what have been your successes and what have you learned along the way? 

My career has been based on hard work and perseverance. I remember that when I started as a perfumer, there were very few women in the fragrance sector and in STEM programs in general. It was quite a challenge to break through and be recognised. In the same way, perfumery, like chemistry or nature, is a changing environment, one that is in constant evolution, with new challenges every day.

I started to be part of this world 24 years ago and every day, I rediscover it. I am very fortunate to be one of those people working on something they love. I definitely consider myself a very lucky person. I always try to approach every project with the utmost interest and put my personal touch on all of them.

What project are you the most proud of and what do you consider to be your personal touch?

Over the years, I have worked on so many projects that to mention just one would be unfair. There are so many that have captivated me. But if I answer that question only based on the originality of the project, then I guess I could say to create Spain’s official perfume for the country’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. To be able to represent your country
at such an important event was memorable.

As for my personal touch, I do have some go-to raw materials that I like to include in my creations. In general, I like my creations to be bright and elegant. I like to surprise without being too bold. For instance, I am very fond of the iris. I find it elegant and discreet but it elegantly wraps any fragrance without drawing all the attention. Also, my conception of top notes differs slightly from what perfumers typically do. I like it when the top notes are not too ephemeral, giving the fragrance a whole new rhythm.

What are your expectations for the future?

I expect the world of fragrance will continue evolving. This is why it is exciting to think about the future and that I will always have something new to discover.

Undoubtedly, the figure of the perfumer will change with the introduction of new technologies and scientific investigation. For instance, we now witness the use of artificial intelligence in perfumery, something that would have seemed from another world ten years ago. At Iberchem, we have recently launched VITA, a digital assistance tool that provides precise naturality data to accelerate the development of natural fragrances. Overall, I am confident that the best is yet to come.

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