One would never expect the words “Guerlain” and “foul-smelling” to appear together. Yet there they were in countless tweets across France today after the stunning, offensive remarks made by Jean Paul Guerlain, the fourth-generation namesake and former nose of the famous fragrance house, in a television interview. Asked about the creation of Samsara, he said the 1983 perfume was made to seduce a woman, before adding (in French), “I worked like a n****r. Well, I don’t know if n****rs have always really worked.”
The quip caused a furor in France, prompting a quick apology from Guerlain, who said his words didn’t convey his real thoughts, adding he felt sorry if these “shocking remarks” tarnished the image of the Guerlain brand or its employees. The family’s last master perfumer hasn’t officially worked for Guerlain since 2002, but reportedly still consults for the company.