Vogue CS in English
Emma Vincent: I admire the strength and skills of women around me
Michaela Dombrovská1. 2. 2023
She worked her way up to perfumery from scratch. Today, she creates iconic perfumes for a brand that is at the forefront of sustainability, transparent business and taking waste minimization to the next level.
Lush perfumes often draw on the inspiration and stories of the founding family. Is it then difficult to capture such an assignment in a fragrance?
Each perfumer has their own style, and draws upon their own experiences. The majority of the perfumes created at Lush are based on a theme, or using a muse for inspiration. There is no pressure for me to try and replicate or duplicate an assignment from the founding family. If myself, Mark or Simon Constantine were given the same brief, each perfume would smell very different from each other and that’s the beauty of free expression.
What is important to you and to Lush when choosing ingredients?
I feel I have a closer connection to the materials I use by seeing them grow in situ, understanding the processes used for extraction, the climate and impact these materials have not only to the land, but also the people. Our buying teams work incredibly hard to build and maintain relationships with growers/farmers with the ultimate purpose of leaving the world ‘lusher’ than we found it. Sustainability and regenerative growing practices are key for us to continue to use these beautiful natural materials. My job is relatively easy in comparison as I have the best starting point due to the incredible quality we purchase and produce.
I’m trying to harness this imposter syndrome into personal growth.
What was your journey to becoming a perfumer? And your introduction and connection to Lush?
My Lush journey began labelling pots and bottles as a Christmas temp in 1999, straight after leaving high school. I worked alongside Simon Constantine to create a quality control system to check for adulteration to our essential oils and absolutes, as well as learning to mix/compound the fragrances for perfumes and products. For a number of years I travelled with the buyer to see how the materials were grown, processed, and I checked the quality standards. Eventually over time I became the buyer for natural ingredients and Essential oils/Absolutes which was incredible, and then I became a mother, and could no longer get to travel as much as I did. My fragrance creativity began in 2015 (after a Lush career of several job roles) with product perfumery for our new Oxford Street flagship store in London which opened that same year. We manufacture the products, distribute and retail the products in our stores. Although I don’t have the same technical training as those in the perfume houses of Grasse, I have managed to teach myself some techniques enabling me to create fragrances for various product applications which are predominantly unpackaged. 2019 saw the opportunity for me to create my first collection of perfumes for our ‘Perfume Only’ Lush store in Florence Italy, inspired by its history, art, and architecture of this beautiful city.
Who is your role model?
I don’t have a specific role model, I’m generally inspired by women as a whole. As a woman and a mother I understand first hand the patriarchy that exists in society still today, and admire the strength and skills of women around me, particularly mothers working hard to build their careers while striving to ‘have it all’ and feeling the pressures of social media to do it all perfectly. I’ve made some perfumes recently based on this; they might never be released, but it was an opportunity to express my personal emotions that are relatable to me, and shine a light on women.
If you could go back in time and create any of the existing perfumes in the world, which one would it be and why?
Chanel N°5. Although this is not my preference in scent profiles to wear, it’s such a prolific perfume. It was created in a new era of perfumery due to the scientific discovery of synthetic materials. This and others changed a landscape of perfumery that had existed for more than 4000 years. It was so iconic that it became part of a permanent collection in the Museum Of Modern Art in New York. It would be amazing to also brag that Marilyn Monroe wore and spoke about your perfume as well.
What do you enjoy most and least about your profession?
The best thing about my job is the complete creative freedom I have. Being able to express myself fully without the restraints. I’m truly privileged, and recognise this isn’t normal within the industry. Travelling is a huge enjoyment. Being able to see and smell the ingredients is incredible, but meeting the people, and learning about cultures and history is fascinating. I ask lots of questions because I'm so curious about people and educating myself first hand. A downside can be that I get the equivalent of writer's block due to the vast amount of new creation, and sometimes ideas and combinations don’t come easily. This is part of the job, but another thing I’d say is not particularly enjoyable are the occasional dark and sad places you go to when expressing yourself through fine fragrance. When a new collection is released to the world there always comes a feeling of insecurity as the perfumes are so personal to me, and are so subjective to everyone else. But I’m trying to harness this imposter syndrome into personal growth. Like those women who inspire me.
Emma has worked at Lush for over twenty years. She designed one of the perfumes for Lush Perfume Only in Florence, Confetti, for her own wedding. She loves reading fragrance magazines and is inspired by (amongst other things) travel, good food, nature, art, history - and most of all, people. You can buy Lush products in Prague at OC Palladium, OC Nový Smíchov and OC Westfield Chodov, and they are also available (for the Czech Republic and Slovakia) online. This article was also published in Czech. Join Vogue Leaders on LinkedIn.