Perfumers seem to endure forever. It is one of those professions where you just keep going for decades. Even after you’re gone, as long as the bottles keep coming, to the customer, it is like you never left. However, once one of us does leave, especially in the fiercely competitive but passionately connected world of non-industrial perfume, it leaves a hollow space. This week Indie perfume lost one of its matriarchs with the death of Fabienne Christenson CEO and Perfumer at Possets Perfumes at the age of 65.
Fabienne met with the type of barriers most Artistic and Indie perfumers faced once she first revealed her passion for fragrance. She didn’t have the right last name and wasn’t born in Grasse. She didn’t have a chemistry degree from the Sorbonne nor did she do her perfume training at Givaudan. Therefore she couldn’t be a perfumer. Yet she was one of the early ones that said, “I think you are full of it”. In 1992, when Posset opened as an aromatherapy company, five mega corporations made 98% of all fragrances and flavours worldwide, and an Indie market was non-existent. Now, those five corporations still make the lion’s share, but this ragtag group of industry rebels, hippies, and outsiders that make up Indie, Natural, and Niche perfume are shouldering their way into the market, and Fabienne was part of the vanguard. She was also an early adaptor of e-commerce back when there were maybe five or six companies selling perfume online.
Possets has never been a big company, and in time younger brands adopted the model she helped forge to greater success. Yet, Possets has always been a precious brand; opting for juice over packaging and uniqueness over trends. Fabienne’s creations always felt special, something to love and hold on to forever. The fate of Possets is yet unknown, but I can’t see it being the same without her.
Fabienne’s life confirms my belief that perfumers are born, not made as she said so herself:
The first breath I took on Earth was redolent with Bandit, the great chypre by Robert Piguet. My mother had “dosed herself liberally before going off to the Delivery Room” and so from the beginning I was fated to be a perfumer.
I tip my pipette to you dear Fabienne and wish you a fragrant peace. I hope that your family and friends find some measure of comfort in knowing that you paved the way for many others to follow their dreams because you were so brave.
Update: Before her passing, Fabienne transferred ownership of the company to Jennie and Tom Murphy who will reopen Possets on December 1st 2016. We here at DS&LG wish them success in their endeavour.