Lifetime Achievement Perfumer: Annie Buzantian

Annie Buzantian says “What is wonderful about being a perfumer is being able to make someone else’s dream come true. When we do this, we have to go where no one has ever gone before – almost like an explorer who is discovering uncharted territory.”

Annie’s alter ego is both sage and maternal. Behind her sympathetic eyes lie tremendous life experience, and enough wisdom and humility to acknowledge each and every lucky chance she has had in her remarkable career. As Alfred Lloyd Tennyson once said, “I am a part of all that I have met…” and Annie believes that “what she has met” has had a deep influence on her work as a perfumer.

Born into an Armenian family in Constanza, Romania, Annie immigrated to the United States in 1970 with a fresh vision of the world and of herself. At this time, New York City was a hotbed of excitement: new ideas, fashions, and opportunities were exploding. Eyes and heart wide open, she observed her new surroundings with the voracious curiosity of a child.

Annie became the first woman to be named a Firmenich Master Perfumer in 1988 – an extraordinary honor which she cherishes deeply. She received the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Perfumers. Additionally, Annie is recipient of the Fragrance Foundation’s Perfumer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015. She is the first female perfumer to receive this prestigious award.

Annie creates fragrances with her instincts and intuition – they have never let her down! She still writes her formulas by hand and finds that ideas flow easiest from her that way. It is important to Annie that her fragrances “move the market”, each having an aspect that is “totally new.” She loves her fragrances and carefully names them, giving each one a particular personality. Finding the right name to suit each work-in-progress is an important part of her creative process.

Annie has a deep belief in work-life balance. As she puts it: “I absolutely can’t wait to go to work every morning……and I’m a very lucky woman because I also can’t wait to go home!”

She enjoys reading and cooking and, these days, she relishes “having the privilege to watch my grandsons grow.” In the past, she has created personal fragrances for her two daughters, now grown; recently it was her four year old grandson who asked his grandmother for a personal fragrance – which he now proudly wears!

She tells us “I have never met a flower I didn’t like — even those which have no scent. After all,

I have the possibility to create a special scent for each one!” Annie has always been driven by the insatiable desire to challenge the old perceptions of perfumery and to create modern beauty. With a twinkle in her eye and a knowing smile, Annie shares one of her favourite sayings: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” Undeterred by the challenges of the olfactive open road ahead, Annie is perpetually smelling, smiling, and creating – and for that we are truly grateful.

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