With a client list that reads something like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Azzi Glasser is a perfumer with a difference. Rose Gallagher meets the fragrance designer to talk the art of scent
Azzi Glasser, a legend of perfumery, is the lady behind my favourite scent, Illamasqua’s Freak. I didn’t know much about her, but from what I could gather she was somehow involved with all of the most powerful launches you could think of. Everything she put her name to had a slightly different story; she was linked to bespoke fragrances for clients like Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, and signature scents for brands like Jack Wills and Agent Provocateur.
I reached out to her a while ago to see if she might answer a few questions for me over e-mail, partly because I thought it would make a lovely story and partly to satisfy my own curiosity. What returned was an invitation to her home, to see the space that she works from, so that I could truly get a sense of her craft. Shortly thereafter ensued a journey into the Narnia of fragrance and the most sensory room I have ever experienced.
I can’t quite describe it, but there was simply a positive aura around Azzi’s impossibly tall house. When her assistant walked me through her living space I was hit instantly by a heady, warm candle, and she lead me into what can only be described as an Aladdin’s cave of fragrances. There, in a Bella Freud sweatshirt, leather skirt and Converse, sat Azzi.
“I fell into being a perfumer. I didn’t even know the word,” she told me when I asked how it all began. She didn’t go to uni, insisting that she was too impatient for it. “You determine your success depending on what you bring. I’ve always believed that the world is what you make of it.”
Two friends that saw the world as she did were Joe Corre and Serena Rees, then founders of Agent Provocateur. “You have to lead, and they were leaders,” she said of them. On holiday they discussed the possibility of collaborating on the first AP fragrance, and little did they know their vision would translate into one of the most iconic fragrances.
As we talked, my eyes were drawn to all of the nooks and crannies of this little room. Shelves upon shelves were lined with fragrance bottles and candles, tall and short, bright and dark, from every brand and name you could imagine. Alongside these trinkets, I noticed stacks of small, labelled boxes. Names of bespoke fragrance clients – the likes of Orlando Bloom, Jude Law – were present, and thus began a discussion about Azzi’s bespoke fragrances. “It normally hits me straight away,” she said when I asked how she knew where to begin with a bespoke fragrance. She will spend some time with the person, “almost like a therapy session,” she quips, and she goes a lot on energy and instinct.
See the full interview with Azzi Glasser in issue 47, out now and online