Who were the De Laire factories ?
De Laire ? Have you ever heard about this name ? At first, no, unless from a professional of the perfume industry or a passionate. However, it is a myth for the perfumers-creators. But, why & for what reason ? In fact, many major fragrances contain De Laire bases, which have contributed the fame of these creations. The De Laire house can be compared to the image of Lesage, the famous embroidery house or Lemarié, in the fashion universe !… I am pleased, without further ado, to let you discover it’s history and know-how.
The De Laire bases
What is a base ?
Even though the De Laire factories are mostly known for their bases, I must tell you that this manufactory has been one of the specialists of synthetic raw-materials, of pre-perfumes, but also for the turnkey creation of fragrances.
More, the word base, has more than one meaning- that is to say,it can be an original accord, containing a « captive » or a mixture of raw materials which is used to simplify a formula.
On the other hand, it is important to know tha De Laire was not the only one, to create bases. Nevertheless, without the De Laire bases, Origan, Nuit de Noël, Iris Gris, Knize Ten, L’Heure Blue would have existed…
The most famous bases
- Bouvardia ( Après L’Ondée from Guerlain
- Prunol ( Femme from Rochas)
- Mousse de Saxe ( found in Nuit de Noël from Caron and Habanita from Molinard, but also L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouk from Guerlain )
- Ambre 83 (Bois ses Iles from Chanel )
The key De Laire molecules that are still in use
Among the different De Laire molecules, still in use today and produced by them ;one can mention :
- the Heliotrope (1869) a powerful odour of heliotrope
- the coumarine(1868) an odour of tonka bean
- anisic aldehyde an odour of hyacinth
- the terpineol (1890) an odour lilac
- The Baur musk (1888/1891), an animal odour equivalent the power and the animality of the natural musk.
Who were their famous perfumers ?
Three names can be mentioned, such as, Edmond Rounitska, Henri Robert and Guy Robert
Edmond Roudnitska took part to the creation of numerous bases.
In fact, this was initiated by Marie-Therèse De Laire, Edgar De Laire’s widow, which will allow him to use a more direct formulation. That is how he created You from Elizabeth Arden, in 1938, Femme from Rochas(1944) with the prunol base.
*Guy Robert, Henri Robert’s nephew, worked at De Laire ; We owe him Madame Rocha
De Laire, a family saga
Georges, Edgar, Marie-Therèse his widow, then Jean, François and Robert were the main actors contributing to the history of the De Laire manufactory. So, inspired by a true European spirit, the manufactories wil be located in Paris, London and Berlin. In fact, Georges’s a chemist specialized in pigments, had the genious idea to patent a certain number of chemical compounds with A.W Hoffmann, a german chemist, in charge of the chemistry unit at the London University.
Georges De Laire
Then, a few years later, Georges will discover with Ferdinand Tiermann, Hoffmann’s brother in law, and with Haarmann, another chemist, the famous vanillin. It will be in 1876, that the De Laire manufactories launched the production. From such a success, the first company of synthetic aromatic compounds took birth.
Georges will persuade Edgar, his nephew, to join him. In turn, he will make sure to surround himself with researchers such as the Professor Moureau( octane and heptane methyl carbonate, a green and iridescent note) the Professor Blanc ( phenyl ethyl alcohol, a rose absolute note) without forgetting Ferdinand Tiemann (ionone, a violet note, and Haarmann ( the vanillin procedure). Finally, all the success of the interprise, will be due to the close partnership between the researchers and the De Laire manufactories, who will produce and commercialize, the fruit of their research.
Edgar De Laire
After the war, Jean and François, Edgar’s two sons, will continue the family history. Then, François’s two sons, Robert and Antoine will take over by developing the company. That is how, Antoine will get into the compounds and the creation of perfumes in the United States, while Robert extended the family company in France, so to become a major supplier for the pharmaceutical industry.
It’s in 1987, that De Laire will be sold to Florasynth, then to Haarman&reimer, who will merge with Dragocco ,and today the Symrise company, since 2003. One must point out that Symrise still sells and produces the mythical De Laire bases, such as Amber 83, Bouvardia, the white honey the Prunol.. But, in 2010, the company started to launch new bases.
113 years afterward, De Laire is still present onto the perfumers organs ! I will write in a next article, about the new De Laire bases, launched by Symrise. If you have any testimonies, anecdotes or souvenirs, don’t hesitate to contact me via the application form of the website and I will be pleased to add them to the article.
I want to thank specially, Pascal Sillon, senior perfumer at Symrise for the time he allowed me to be able to write this report.