Meet the perfumer

Douglas Morel

In the world of fragrances, there is a journey that goes deeper than the nose can follow - a journey of passion, creativity, and discovery. From the refined balance of floral notes to the enchanting complexity of woody accords, each fragrance tells a unique story and evokes emotions deep within our being.

At Marie-Stella-Maris, we collaborate with the finest perfumers to develop unique scents that take you on an olfactory journey. We spoke with Douglas Morel, one of our perfumers who has developed No.07 Voyage Vétiver and No.10 Rock Roses. Learn more about the creative development behind our fragrances, the fragrance pyramid for both body and home, and the link between scent and emotion.

Hello Douglas! Can you introduce yourself?

Certainly! My name is Douglas Morel. I'm originally French, raised in Paris, but I've been living in Amsterdam for the past seven years. My journey into perfumery began with a fascination for ingredients, much like in cooking. After attending perfumery school in France, I ventured abroad for new experiences, eventually landing in the Netherlands. I started as a trainee perfumer and I was helping architects with an Amsterdam-based creation laboratory, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What inspired you to become a perfumer, and how did you enter this industry?

Interestingly, my initial aspiration was to become a chef, drawn to the world of ingredients and flavor combinations. However, my father, recognizing the challenges of becoming a renowned chef, gently nudged me in a different direction. It was a fortuitous moment during a car ride with my mom when I was 12 that sparked my interest in perfumery. I caught a whiff of a perfume called 'Lolita Lempicka for her', and that moment became a recurring theme. Eventually, through internships and mentorship, I found my way into the industry, with Francis Kurkdjian serving as a pivotal mentor figure.

What motivates and guides the creative process in developing a new fragrance?

The creative process varies greatly depending on the project and client. Sometimes, like with No.09 Nuit des Figues, the client has a clear vision, making the process more about refining and fine-tuning. Other times, it's more exploratory, where I start with a title or a story behind the fragrance, much like cooking a dish with a set theme in mind. Inspiration can come from anywhere – a memory, a place, or even a particular emotion.

What sparked the inspiration for No.10 Rock Roses?

It was the first time we were working with Marie-Stella-Maris. The idea was to fill an olfactive direction Marie-Stella-Maris didn’t explore yet. The vision became a fragrance that was modern, complex, and subtly spicy. The combination of labdanum, rose and gourmand notes was the perfect occasion.

Can you tell us more about the creation of No.07 Voyage Vétiver?

For No.07 Voyage Vétiver, the inspiration was deeply personal for me. This fragrance held special significance as vetiver was a scent my grandfather wore. 

After receiving the directive from Marie-Stella-Maris for No.07 Voyage Vétiver, we embarked on a journey of experimentation and refinement. Our goal was clear: to capture the essence of vetiver in a fragrance that resonated with personal significance and universal appeal.

We began by crafting various compositions, exploring different scent combinations to find the perfect balance. Grapefruit and lavender were among the initial trials, each offering unique nuances but not quite capturing the essence we sought. However, it was when we introduced sage into the mix that we found our breakthrough.

Sage proved to be the missing piece of the puzzle, complementing the earthy, nutty tones of vetiver with its aromatic depth and complexity. The combination created a harmonious duality, with the refreshing brightness of sage intertwining seamlessly with the grounding richness of vetiver.

With this discovery, we delved deeper into the fragrance, fine-tuning every aspect to perfection. Each iteration brought us closer to our vision, as we carefully balanced the aromatic side of sage with the earthy, woody nuances of vetiver.

The result was No.07 Voyage Vétiver—a fragrance that not only paid homage to my personal connection to vetiver but also captured the essence freedom and calmness, like a walk on the beach. Its unique blend of ingredients invites wearers to embark on a sensory journey unlike any other.

Why and how does scent have an impact on emotion and mood?

''The connection between scent, emotion, and mood is deeply ingrained in our psyche. Scientifically proven, certain smells can trigger physiological responses and evoke memories tied to our identity. However, the interpretation of scent can vary greatly depending on cultural and personal experiences, making it a uniquely subjective experience.''

Which ingredients or scent elements do you find most fascinating to work with, and why?

I find myself drawn to spicy, leathery, and woody notes, perhaps because they evoke comforting memories from my childhood. One such memory transports me back to the bustling atmosphere of the Damascus bazaar, where the aromatic symphony of spices transports me back to those vibrant streets, especially with the cardamom freshly grinded.

However, the complexity of fragrance creation becomes apparent when dealing with fruit notes. Unlike spices or woods, fruits present a unique challenge due to their composition. Extracting the scent directly from fruits is impossible. Instead, perfumers must rely on synthetic materials to recreate the essence of fruits chemically. This intricate process requires a deep understanding of fragrance chemistry to capture the nuances of each fruit accurately. 

Each ingredient carries its own story and emotional resonance, making the creative process all the more intriguing. While natural ingredients have their charm, I enjoy the versatility that synthetic materials offer, allowing for a broader palette of scents.

Are there specific scent combinations that are often underestimated but surprisingly work well in a fragrance?

Scent combinations can be highly subjective and dependent on individual preferences. However, one combination that stands out is the use of amber. Often misunderstood, amber can add sophistication and depth to a fragrance when balanced correctly, offering a refined alternative to more traditional notes.

Are there specific scent associations you try to avoid when creating perfumes?

As a perfumer, I approach fragrance creation with curiosity and open-mindedness. Rather than avoiding specific associations, I embrace the opportunity to explore unexpected combinations and push the boundaries of traditional scent profiles. What may have been unconventional in the past can evolve into something extraordinary in the future.

Can you explain the fragrance pyramid?

The fragrance pyramid is a conceptual framework used in perfumery to describe the evaporation rates of different scent components over time. Typically, it consists of three layers: top notes, heart notes, and base notes.

Top notes are the initial impressions of a fragrance, dissipating within 1 to 5 minutes. Heart notes emerge as the top notes fade, lasting several hours, while base notes form the foundation, lingering the longest on the skin. Achieving the right balance and progression of these notes is crucial in creating a harmonious and long-lasting fragrance experience.

Is the creation of a body fragrance different than a home fragrance?

Indeed, creating home or body fragrances requires a different approach than traditional perfumery. For example, a candle fragrance may require certain ingredients that enhance burn performance, while a body fragrance needs to consider factors like skin compatibility and longevity:


In cream formulations, longevity becomes crucial. To ensure a lasting scent experience, the fragrance pyramid is adapted, with a focus on enhancing the longevity of the base notes. This means that while the top notes still provide an initial burst of fragrance upon application, the base notes are formulated to remain prominent on the skin for an extended period, ensuring a lingering scent.

Body Wash

Body washes typically have a higher fragrance pyramid, emphasizing the top notes for an immediate burst of fragrance during use. Since body washes are rinsed off relatively quickly, the emphasis is on creating a memorable and invigorating experience through the initial scent impression. Therefore, lighter, more volatile ingredients are often used to achieve this effect.

Fragrance Sticks

Fragrance sticks, such as reed diffusers, require a different formulation approach. Here, the focus is on creating a consistent, subtle scent diffusion over an extended period. To achieve this, low-powder raw materials are preferred, as they release fragrance slowly and steadily. This ensures a gradual and long-lasting scent experience without overwhelming the senses.

How is the world of perfumes evolving, and what trends or changes have you observed in recent years?

The perfume industry has seen a proliferation of fragrances in recent years, with trends often inspired by those in other sectors. While gourmand fragrances have dominated the market for some time, there's a growing appreciation for unique, story-driven scents that offer a departure from the norm. That’s why I enjoy working with Marie-Stella-Maris, as their focus on individuality and authenticity are leading this shift towards more meaningful fragrances.

Out of all of the unique scents, which one is your favorite and why?

Without a doubt, Voyage Vétiver holds a special place in my heart. Beyond its olfactory appeal, this fragrance carries personal significance, evoking memories of my grandfather and resonating deeply with my own journey in perfumery.