International Women’s Month: Cécile Hua


Welcome to International Women’s Month! Scents of Self will be celebrating with tributes to the female pioneers of perfumery all month long, culminating with a workshop on Saturday, March 26. Next up: Cécile Hua!

“My heroes are the people who try to stay true to their vision despite the industry and its pressure, the ones fighting against soulless products, the ones making sure there is a connection between the juice, the name, the packaging and the positioning: anybody who loves the product enough to make sure it will be done right. How do you expect an emotional response to a product that you don’t love yourself?” -Cécile Hua, Basenotes, 2008

My greatest perfume regret is selling my bottle of M.A.C MV3. I was 21, and I told myself that I needed the $50 a lot more than I needed another bottle of perfume. Three years later, MV3 is now going for $179 on Ebay, when it can be found at all. As well it should! MV3 was the perfect sweet leather.

The nose behind MV3, of course, is today’s International Woman, Cécile Hua. The French-Vietnamese Hua earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in chemistry before attending Givaudan’s perfumery school. She won the first Fashion Group International Rising Star Award for Fragrance Design in 2003, and has been working for the fragrance firm Mane for the past 13 years.

In interviews, Hua overflows with passion about the perfume industry’s future. She acknowledges perfumery’s current realities, the “soulless products” and “disposable commod[ities]”, but looks toward “a better tomorrow, where fragrance design will be given back the attention it deserves.”

And until that better tomorrow comes, Hua brings the same level of gravity to every project, even the soulless ones. With dazzling versatility, she jumps effortlessly between cheesy celebrity fragrances (Paris Hilton Fairy Dust, Jessica Simpson I Fancy You) and challenging niche compositions (Charenton Macerations Asphalt Rainbow, Atelier Cologne Grand Neroli). Cécile, you’re welcome at my basement perfumer compound anytime. (Bring some MV3!)