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Perfumist Pulkit Malhotra Interview: Decoding the art of crafting fragrances

Pulkit Malhotra, a trained perfumist and the owner of Mocemsa, shares important insights into perfumery market in India, and why Indians must address the significance of scent right now


Pulkit Malhotra, Head, Mocemsa

What drove you to introduce Mocemsa in India? 
I wanted to create something different. If you would see most brands have similar price points (high) and marketing strategy (luxury product). For me, fragrances are a luxury not be relished by the affluent few but should be available for all. Our single focus has and will be to provide luxury at an affordable price.

Well it has only been four months since we launched the brand in India and we have had an overwhelming response. All the fragrances are being appreciated; people are liking our product quality on offer and specially the price points, so in a sense we are trying to provide luxury at affordable prices with no compromise on quality, rather our parameters of quality are much higher than the industry standards.

Would you share some initial challenges of your enterprising journey?
Firstly, it is always difficult for a new brand to make its space in the market but with Indian public still developing in terms of consumption of perfumes our task becomes even more challenging. India is a big market for deodorants and roll-ons. Many people still don’t know much about perfumes and is regarded as a luxury product. We are obviously catering to the urban cities where the consumer is much more aware and open towards perfumes, but my main focus is to capture the market which still has not opened to the notion of using perfumes. This would require a change in the mindset, which certainly can’t happen overnight. It requires a lot of time and effort.

Tell us key highlights of some of the lines of perfumes that you have introduced.
The house of Mocemsa offers 12 distinct fragrances, 6 for men and 6 for women. Ten of these fragrances are priced at Rs 2500/ which are:
For women: Be naughty (75ml) & The proposal (75ml), Loveberry (100ml), Water lily (100ml) and Royalé (100ml)
For men: Noir (100ml), Rougé (100ml), Mystic Ocean (100ml), Tuxedo (100ml) and Royal (100ml)

The last two (Al ameer and Al Ameera) are the signature Oud collection, priced at Rs 5000 (mentioned below). This collection has been made using the most exclusive and rare raw materials.

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Mystic Ocean from Mocemsa

What do you have to say about consumption pattern in India? 
With change in climatic conditions across regions, people’s preferences for fragrances also change. The Indian consumers most importantly expect two things from their perfumes. First, it has to be long lasting, secondly, it needs to have a good spreading.

Since large parts of India are characterized by hot and humid weather conditions people largely prefer strong and wide spreading fragrances, which can provide lasting effects. But this is a myth that only strong and pungent fragrances are long lasting. Lasting is more about the kind of raw material used to make the fragrance that provides lasting effects. So if you are using the correct raw material to formulate your fragrances, even soft perfumes can have lasting effects.

We believe climatic conditions have a strong role to play in fragrance formulation. All our offerings in India have been carefully crafted to provide long lasting effects irrespective of the fragrance family they belong to. As per our assessment, most popular fragrances in India are generally based on floral notes for women, and for men, aquatic, lavender and musky notes are readily accepted. The market of fruity fragrances is still on a low here, where as in Europe or America a lot of the younger population prefers fruity fragrances with top notes of red apple, lychee and strawberry, even sometimes mixed with floral bases.

While making fragrances for Mocemsa, I had particularly kept in mind the local conditions and in order for my fragrances to sustain, I needed to replace certain raw materials with the others to give the long lasting effects. For instance, geranium oil from Egypt performs better in hot and humid countries than geranium oil from China.

Tell us about your expertise and education in manufacturing fragrances?
I learned the art of perfumery at Grasse Institute of Perfumery, Grasse, France. The institution taught me the true art of crafting fragrances. From smelling and understanding the notes of synthetic and natural raw materials to blending them together to make accords of flowers, fruits, leathers, teas etc. The true art lies not in recreating a desired note but in understanding how different raw materials react with each other and eradicating unnecessary ingredients from a formulation and also, adapting your fragrance composition to different applications like candles, detergents, fine fragrance etc. Many people don’t know a single fragrance does not necessarily work for all applications and it is the perfumer’s duty to tweak/adjust the formulation accordingly as per the required application to ensure best results.

I was fortunate enough to learn the science of distillation & extraction process of synthetic and natural raw materials, which has been instrumental for me while procuring raw materials. Another invaluable lesson taught was genealogy that is the history of the fragrances and the design houses where it all began, how people used fragrances from early years till date, how the brands have evolved and the concept of timeless fragrances.

So the school taught me not only how to create fragrances but also the aesthetics of brand formation, which has been very helpful to me over the years with Mocemsa.

What inspires you personally?
For me crafting a fragrance starts with an idea or an inspiration. After you have an inspiration you start mixing the synthetic and natural raw materials in order to achieve the inspiration that you have in your head. For instance, when I was creating Al Ameera, one of the two signature oud inspired fragrances in Mocemsa’s collection, the inspiration was a princess sitting in the garden of roses and her body is wrapped with the gold leafs. The notes of the fragrance are saffron on top to give the warmth of the gold combined with the 10th century Persian rose at the heart surrounding the garden and sandalwood oil at the base to give the soft creamy texture of ones skin.

Similarly, Mystic Ocean is my ode to Barcelona. It is inspired by the citrus tinge of the favourite local drink Gin & tonic with subtle nuances of sea salt and sand coupled with the warmth of the yellow sun in cool breeze. I have tried to bottle my love for the city in Mystic Ocean.

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Al Ameer from Mocemsa

Some tips for the fragrance lovers and buyers on how to select a scent and understand its language.
Perfume is a very personal choice; but according to me in order for a person to select a fragrance he/she should keep these factors in mind.

  1. Personality: If a person loves playing sports, then he would like fresh, aquatic, a little red fruity fragrances. Women generally like floral notes of jasmine and white flowers. A working male professional would love to wear subtle fragrances with woody notes, gourmand notes. Women may go for gourmand notes, for e.g., our Royale is based on patchouli and orange flower which is a highly in demand for office going women.
  2. Occasion: The clothes that you wear in the morning are not the same that you wear at night. It goes the same way with the fragrances, you like wearing fresh aquatic notes (for men) and light florals (for women) in the morning, whereas at night, you like wearing woody, gourmand notes (for both genders).
  3. Construction: Concentration of the fragrance oil present in the perfume bottle is also a very important point. One should be aware of all that is written on the perfume box. What does Eau De Parfum stand for or Eau de Toilette. There is everything written on a perfume box provided the buyer knows what these terms mean. We at Mocemsa put 25 per cent fragrance oil in the bottle making it an EDP (Eau De Parfum), giving customers longevity of the fragrance on skin.
  4. Authenticity: Make sure the fragrance comply with IFRA regulations. International Fragrance Authority regulates the usage of certain raw materials, which are harmful for the skin and body.
  5. Compatibility: Always apply the fragrance on the skin to check the outcome of the fragrance as every persons skin smells different. Hence, the fragrance when applied is bound to smell different from each other.

As I said, perfume is a very personal choice, it’s better to know what fragrance a person is already using or is comfortable with to get an idea of the kind of fragrance he/she can buy. Just like with clothes as people don’t experiment too much and stick to their basic aesthetics, perfumery is much similar and a very drastic change in fragrance choice might repel the individual.

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Tuxedo from Mocemsa

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