She has been called “dark” because of her taste for burnt, from Lolita Lempicka’s liquorice to the tarry tea of Bulgari Black. But you could just as well see her in green or mauve – anise and heliotrope are her favourite notes – or clad in red like her diabolical Hypnotic Poison, whose apple-shaped bottle conjures both the forbidden fruit and the tree of knowledge. Did the fairies of Grasse, a wing beat away from her native Cannes, hover over her crib? Menardo is gifted with a musical sense of accords, of a composition’s melody.
She nurtured that gift at ISIPCA, the Versailles-based international school of perfumery, cosmetics and food aromas, where she was taught by Isabelle Doyen, and then at Créations Aromatiques (now Symrise) with her mentor Michel Almairac. From 1991 to 2018 she worked at Firmenich. On November 5th 2018, Annick joins forces with Symrise to embark on a new adventure. A gift that can also be understood as an offering. In an industry that seeks originality while requiring perfumers to listen to their clients’ demands, she composes her scents for those who can hear.
How would you define a good fragrance?
It’s a fragrance that strikes me like a flash as soon as I smell it. It’s that simple. For instance, when I smelled Chloé. It’s all in the accord, in the way raw materials are associated. Who cares about the quality of the ingredients? Because if the idea is bad, ingredients... It’s the idea that’s precious! A fragrance is good when the accord surprises me. The pillars are there, they answer one another, I see the pattern, I feel the melody. When a juice is well built, when it’s legible, when it has a backbone, you just need five to seven products to make up the note.
What do you love the most
about your job?
I love formulating and developing. Re- cently, I was wondering why some of my juices were so successful. Actually, every time, it’s because of someone I connect with. I’m at my best when I develop with a person who’s willing to listen to the story I want to tell in fragrance. I don’t know how to explain my approach, except to people who can follow me, who I like as individuals. I don’t work for a brand, but for a person. It can be the designer, a project manager I get along with, or a couturier, for instance, Hedi Slimane for Bois d’argent. I had never met him, but I felt I knew him. Just going on what I’d read about this designer who was also a musician and photographer.
Your fragrances are often very distinctive. What characterizes
I couldn’t say. When I’m told there’s a Menardo touch, I guess it’s because I use certain materials. Actually, it’s very sim- ple, very animal. It’s the reptilian brain, the subconscious mind that does it. It’s normal that people perceive things about me that I’m not able to see. All I know is that there are things I can’t do anymore. I quit praline in 1997 with Lolita Lempicka. What’s done is done.
Do you have favourite notes?
Heliotropin. I’ve always loved it and I’ve always used it everywhere! I love anisic, almondy, cyanhydric notes with bitter facets... actually, I love bitterness.