portrait of sue


The Creator of Tiffany’s First Perfume Reveals Secrets Behind the Scents 

For more than 40 years, Sue Phillips, one of the world’s most renowned fragrance experts, has created fragrances for brands, celebrities and connoisseurs at her ultra-chic and discreet “SUE PHILLIPS FRAGRANCE” perfume boutique on New York’s tony Upper East Side. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, Phillips takes her clients on a journey of scents, sharing secrets, histories and the effect of the rarest of ingredients she has collected throughout her storied career. Their bespoke perfume formula is recorded in her database and can be reordered at any future time. Now, “The Nose that Knows” finally relates her relationship to fragrances.  Years in the making, Phillips’ long-awaited and much-anticipated book The Power of Perfume: How to Choose It, Wear it and Enjoy It! (Central Park South Publishing Company; $19.95) is finally here and available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble 

The 280-page book, premiering in bookstores worldwide and Amazon is filled with highlights from Phillips’ career, myths about perfume and little-known-facts about the intoxicating effect of fragrance on all your senses. The Power of Perfume: How to Choose It, Wear it and Enjoy It! also includes photos of celebrities Phillips has worked with throughout her career. She has created fragrances thousands of Fragrance Lovers, and for the Hollywood elite, from Katie Holmes to Jamie Foxx and Zendaya, and the late Cicely Tyson.  There’s plenty more in Phillips’ book, but to reveal it would ruin the surprise.  “It’s an homage to perfumes, fragrance and scents (which ever you want to call it) and how it really helps people gain confidence, reflect their individuality and create a signature,” says Phillips. “I always ask my clients, ‘Why wear what everyone else wears when you can create your own?’” 

Phillips, a native of South Africa, has lived in New York for years. An internationally recognized expert on fragrance, she has worked in senior level positions at many of the beauty industry’s top companies, including Elizabeth Arden (working on licensees Chloe and Lagerfeld), Lancaster on the Davidoff brands and Chopard, Trish McEvoy and developed her first 3 fragrances;  Lancôme Paris and Burberry, where she created scents for its “Society by Burberry” brand. It was at Tiffany & Co., though, that Phillips achieved her renown: creating first ever scent, TIFFANY, which became one of the company’s top sellers. She followed that up with Tiffany for Men. Phillips ventured out on her own in 2009, creating a signature atelier in New York called “The Scentarium”  Last year, when the building was sold she created a pop-up “scent experience” at Vanessa Noel Shoes on the Upper East Side.    

“My mission,” she says, “is to diffuse fragrance out of the bottle and to create memorable fragrance ‘experiences.’”

Phillips traces her love of fragrance back to her childhood. Her mother, Grace Phillips, was a musician and South Africa’s foremost calligrapher and made sure to surround the family with art and culture.  She was inspired by her mother’s singing and performing, and observed her mother’s exquisite artwork, Phillips says.

“Art, Music and Culture were inculcated in me and serendipitously it was part of my DNA which I never fully realized.”

Until one day, when an unexpected curiosity struck.    

“I started to think about colors and sounds and what they would smell like,” she says. “In South Africa there’s beautiful bright sunshine and gorgeous light and natural foliage and flowers and I would correlate fragrance and color and think about what could that smell like.”

She was on to something. Scent, scientists have long known, is the most powerful of the five senses — and the only one that connects memory, emotion and taste.  

“Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense after sight,” Phillips explains, “but it is the most forgotten and ignored. Our factory hub in our limbic system triggers memories and emotions. People also tell me that when they are cleaning out an attic, and they come across a memento from a loved one, such as a scarf or a book, that they are immediately reminded of that person or situation. It is so powerful!” “

Sadly due to Covid-19, many people have been affected by sensory loss and they report how devastating it’s been for them; they are not able to enjoy food, and therefore socializing becomes challenging because without being able to taste and smell, they opt out of getting together with friends and family over festive occasions”

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