How Antipodes fragrances are created

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Yves Dombrowsky, who creates the fragrances used in Antipodes products, is a ‘nose’. That means the French-born perfumer can recognise and name more than 1,000 different scents. He crafts fragrances from scratch, using essential oils and aromatic fractions (or extracts) to create combinations from key scent families. These include floral, citrus, chypre, woody, amber, leather and Oriental.

Yves, who started his career as an environmental microbiologist, learned his specialist trade in France from a perfumer who worked for Chanel. He moved to New Zealand in 1990 and draws inspiration from the natural environment.

He became involved with Antipodes in 2005 when CEO and founder Elizabeth Barbalich approached him to create distinct, natural fragrances for use in cleansers, moisturisers and serums.

As a nose, Yves’ role is to gather as much information from the client as possible. “Perfume is like the aura of a product – you can’t see it but can feel it via the nose,” he says. “I need to find out about the client’s vision, colour, imagery, and even what the packaging will look like.”

Yves feeds this information into a specially-designed computer programme which suggests which oils and aromatics should be used. He then heads to the lab to create fragrance magic. The test fragrance is eventually sent to Grasse, France, where it’s adapted for factors such as viability, consistency and effectiveness.

When Yves first started working with Antipodes, it took about a year to achieve the perfect blend of colour, style and archetype (why someone likes or dislikes a smell).

“Back then, we didn’t have the technology to blend more than three or four scents at a time. We were mainly working with orange and lavender oils and aromatic fractions such as natural citral, limonene and linalool.” These days, it can take less than 24 hours to create a scent.

Yves estimates he has created between 20 to 30 fragrances for Antipodes over the past decade. “I enjoy working with Antipodes because their values align to mine in terms of natural, innovative, scientific-based skincare products. It's a joy to create new fragrance combinations for Antipodes.”