At the 2023 Fragrance Foundation Awards on June 15, The Fragrance Foundation honored Nicolas Hieronimus, L’Oréal’s CEO, with its prestigious Hall of Fame Award. A major player in the fragrance industry for more than a decade—and the 6th CEO of the L’Oréal Groupe in its 113-year history—Hieronimus’s accomplishments cannot be understated.
Beginning in 2011 as President of the L’Oréal Luxe Division, Hieronimus’ unique vision paved the way for L’Oréal to become the world’s fine fragrance leader. Iconic fragrances such as Lancôme’s La Vie Est Belle, Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium and Libre, and Si by Armani were introduced with great success under his leadership, and his forward-looking focus on sustainability and technology ensures that L’Oréal will continue to thrive and inspire into the future.
How does it feel to be honored with the TFF Hall of Fame award?
I am personally very honored to receive this prestigious award from The Fragrance Foundation. Fragrance is a very important pillar of our French heritage and L’Oréal has an important role to play as the world leader in fine fragrance.
I humbly believe this award is also a collective recognition of the passion, dedication, and fragrance know-how of our teams, it’s a great tribute to all the fragrance teams at L’Oréal.
What have been the most impactful actions you’ve taken that have resulted in L’Oreal becoming so successful in fragrance?
I chose to bet on 3 important elements: quality, creativity, and experts’ collaboration. I empowered the team to over-invest in the quality of ingredients and concentration. This was also true for bottle designs. I pushed for creativity and uniqueness in all elements of the mix including naming and advertising. A fragrance, even a blockbuster, needs to create emotions and be memorable. It cannot be mainstream. And this could only be achieved with a unique collaboration of all our in-house experts and our external partners. I am referring to our dedicated in-house fragrance team, who orchestrates all our fragrance creations in partnership with the greatest fine fragrance houses, our marketing creative minds, and our in-house industrial teams partnering with the greater glass manufacturers. A magnificent orchestra.
Over the past decade or so we have built an unparalleled portfolio of complementary and aspirational luxury fragrances. I’m very proud to see our iconic launches, like La Vie Est Belle, Black Opium, Si or Libre are such incredible success stories.
What are some of the ways that L’Oreal is leading the fragrance category into the future?
As a leader, L’Oréal has always had a strong ambition to lead the future of fragrance, which like the rest of the beauty industry, is increasingly being driven by sustainability and technology.
We’ve also been exploring the power of cutting-edge technology to enhance the fragrance experience for customers. For example, with Scent Station by Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, which helps customers find their perfect fragrance by analyzing their emotional olfactory profiles.
Why do you think that fragrance is so important in the beauty world as a whole?
Fragrance plays such an important role in fostering individual wellbeing and contributing positively to society and culture.
Throughout history fragrance has had the power to stimulate our senses, our memories and our emotions and it can be linked also to self-confidence and mental wellness. We’re seeing today, post pandemic, that fragrance is perhaps more relevant than ever, because it helps us connect with ourselves and with others.
What is your personal connection with fragrance?
I have a deep love for fragrances – for me, like music, creating a great fragrance is more than just choosing the right combination of notes, or accords. It amazes me how different notes can be combined, like a symphony, to create harmonies that are original, memorable and have the ability to connect with people.
Given the nature of my role, I’m constantly trying new and different fragrances. Yet, I have to admit that I’ve a soft spot for Armani Privé’s Cyprès Pantelleria and the new YSL masculine fragrance to be launched next fall…
How do you personally and professionally stand for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?
This is a topic that is very close to my heart. A more inclusive world is also a fairer, more empathic world. A world that is open to more perspectives is awash with creativity. As a leader, I’ve seen first-hand that diverse teams with a range of different perspectives create more interesting products.
But it’s more than just the composition of our teams, we need to ensure that DE&I is reflected in everything we do – from product development through to representation in advertising. That way we can satisfy all beauty needs and desires in their infinite diversity and deliver ‘beauty for each’.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about perfume right now, and what do you predict in the coming years?
I’ve been fascinated to see the rapid regrowth of perfume post-pandemic – it’s a real testament to the social nature of the fragrance category. We can now see fragrance playing an increasing role in boosting both well-being and self-indulgence.
As we look towards the future, I believe that innovation will complement the traditional creative process. Advances in technology such as AI will help us boost creativity, invent new ingredient combinations, build new fragrance experiences in store, and capture new consumers outside of the traditional channels.
I look forward to some exciting times ahead!