Aurélien Guichard Finds Field Hockey and Perfume-making Good Sport – WWD

“When I dream, I don’t dream of perfume – I dream of playing ice hockey,” said Aurélien Guichard, laughing.

This may come as a surprise considering that he works as a master perfumer at Takasago by day; a co-founder of niche fragrance brand Matière Première and the creator of an organic rose centifolia and tuberose farm. But field hockey has been his passion — and obsession — since he was five.

The 45-year-old started playing on a pitch near his family’s Paris apartment and has been playing at national level since he was young. “I started out with a group of guys that I still play with today,” he said. There are about 20 in all, many of whom will remain close friends and attend his upcoming nuptials.

Field hockey isn’t a professional sport, so it’s never driven by money and instills deep friendships and solid values, according to Guichard. You play “because it’s just your passion,” he said.

Between the ages of five and twelve, Guichard trained and played a game once a week. Then the number of meetings for the adult team increased.

“It changed my life because it actually opened up an adult world for me,” he said. “Much [the men] were very successful ice hockey players – many of them played for the national team – but many were also successful business people.

“I remember spending maybe two or three years honing my skills but also being accepted as a human being,” Guichard continued.

He started playing nationally for France with the likes of India and Holland from abroad.

At the University of the West England Bristol in the United Kingdom, Guichard was first team captain in 1996, 1997 and 1999. He then returned to France and played in the country’s top division for around 15 years.

“I didn’t have much time to do anything other than work and play,” Guichard said. “But that was really what drove my life, dreams and goals for many, many years.”

He next moved to the United States and played field hockey for a New York team that became American champions. Guichard was a center forward, middle midfielder and most recently central defender for the French champions national team.

When he was captain of the Paris Jean Bouin or PJB team in 2019, it finished second in the European Cup. In 2022, Guichard’s Masters team won the French championship.

For the perfumer, fragrance and field hockey are not as far apart as one might think. “There are a lot of similarities to hockey – sport in general – and being a perfumer,” he said. To illustrate, Guichard pulled out some writings by the late perfumer Edmond Roudnitska from 1989.

“He was a sports fan and wrote this letter to his students while he was teaching perfumery,” Guichard said.

Roudnitska, in French, penned: “Be zealous in sports, it strengthens character, protects, gives breath and perseverance, it makes itself a faithful and trusted friend every day, which in the end always leads to success. Composing perfumes is a sport. Do it athletically, loyally.”

“When you create perfume, you don’t know if you’re going to win or lose,” said Guichard, whose best-sellers include Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez, Burberry Hero, Versace Eros and Gucci Pour Homme. “You have this uncertainty, but what drives you is the dream of winning or creating.

“When you exercise, you create with others,” he continued. “You are always driven by your fire – that is your passion. What matters is how much effort you put in.”

Practice helps make perfect.

“People don’t play sports to become champions, but they all play sports to improve,” Guichard said, adding that the same goes for fragrance creation. Both are strengthened by perseverance and human skills, as well as forged friendships and discipline.

“In the end,” Guichard said, “the important thing is to find joy in the effort.”

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