Meet Daniel Gallagher, Founder and Sole Perfumer of Gallagher Fragrances, a Maryland-based fragrance house. Learn how Daniel became a perfumer, how Jean-Claude Ellena influenced his techniques and, drum roll please....he is a Major in the Air Force, how cool is that!
Q: What is your title?
A ll the things! But really, I don’t have any singular title. If anything, I’ll occasionally sign formal-ish emails as “Founder and Sole Perfumer.” I’m also the web designer, customer service representative, bottler, crimper, labeler, packager, and mail courier :)
Q: How long have you been interested in scent and perfume? How did you start learning about it? Did you have any mentors along the way?
Truthfully, up until a few years ago, I was the normal “one fragrance” consumer. I alternated between a few staples, which were Acqua di Gio, Emporio Armani He, and Burberry for Men. So, at most, I only ever had 3 bottles of fragrance in my wardrobe, but normally just used up a whole bottle and then bought a new one. My fragrant adventure really began after I had bought a completely new fragrance, Paco Rabanne’s Invictus, which having switched from my normal 3 staples, was already like walking on the wild side. I returned home from work to hear my wife mention to me that a co-worker of hers actually wears the same fragrance. Maybe it was a “guy thing,” but I ended up giving that fragrance away because I wanted to wear something that was a bit more unique that my wife would only relate to me.
In hindsight, I now realize that this mindset may have been a bit silly, because quite literally, millions of other people wear Invictus around the world, but I digress. I set out to my normal go-to retailer to try and find a new fragrance that fit my style, but as I was testing fragrance after fragrance (admittedly judging only based on the first ~60 seconds and only on a blotter), it was almost as if they all smelled similar, but in different ways. Slightly let down, having found nothing that fit, a light bulb went off and I started to wonder, “how hard could making a fragrance be?” Almost 3 years later now, and I can tell you that it is much harder than most can imagine.
Much like learning a new instrument, I learned how to “perfume” as it were, through trial and error, and repetition. By no means am I an expert, and I can’t blindly name every perfume or every component of every perfume that I smell, but I always enjoy the challenge and sitting down in my lab and trying to create something. I exclusively utilized the Web to learn how to perfume, referencing several perfumery forums, e.g. Basenotes, and frequently querying the Good Scents database. Though, I would argue that you can read every book or forum post ever written on perfumery and still not know how to perfume until you actually sit down for countless hours with your materials.
There are thousands of materials and countless more being released annually, so it’s safe to say that I’ll never finish learning, and in a way, that is part of the excitement. I can’t say that I’ve had a singular perfume mentor, so to speak, but instead I have been mentored/influenced by sampling all of the fragrances that I have come across in my perfume adventure.
If I had to single out one perfumer with whom I feel somewhat influenced by, at least in technique, beliefs, or methodology, I would have to say Jean-Claude Ellena. After having read a couple of the books he has released, I can safely say that we have at least some commonalities in our approach. Do I like or love all of Jean-Claude’s creations? I can’t say I do, but for every perfume that you or I may dislike, there is going to be at least one person in the world who loves that same perfume.
Q: What is your process or your inspiration for a new fragrance?
Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. In that way, I guess you could say my process is repeatable, because I just “go with the flow.” I may sit down in my lab with one goal, but find myself a million miles away...it can be tormenting at times, but there is always something to enjoy about the quest.
Q: How do you know when a fragrance you’re working on is finished? How long does it take you to create it from start to finish?
I don’t think I really ever know if something is truly finished, because even after “finishing,” I find myself tinkering or wondering if I should add or try this or that. But once I order everything that comes with a launching a new fragrance, there’s not a whole lot that I can change. The amount of time each creation takes varies. In some cases, I’ll work on an idea and not make much progress, so I’ll shelf the idea for a while and come back to it some time later, as was the case for my latest release, Rosé All Daé.
Q: How has your style evolved since you first began creating fragrances?
When I first started out, I was under the self-imposed impression that my formulae should be as complex as possible. As I have come to know my materials, I’m able to do more with less in some ways and in a fewer amount of trials. Now, I only make compositions as complex as they need to be, favoring simpler compositions.
Q: You are a Major in the United States Air Force, we thank you for your service. Can you tell us more about your day-to-day in the military and how it competes or compliments you being a perfumer?
Let’s just say that I’m the only artisan perfumer that I know of in the Air Force, though I have not really performed an exhaustive search. I keep my Air Force work and my perfume business separate, but as you can imagine, the two are all but polar opposites :D
Q: What are you most proud of with your brand or your fragrance compositions?
I’m most proud that the brand has grown and it is still progressing. I’m still in awe with every order I receive. A great deal of my free time is spent improving my craft and my business, and to have the support of so many is inspiring.
Q: If you could describe your brand in 3 words, what would they be?
Bold, Unique, and Dedicated.
Q: What’s next for you?
I have an upcoming release that I’m naming “O’Fraiche” that’ll be available to order in the latter half of March, (we at Olfactif can't wait!) which features notes of Italian Bergamot, Blackcurrant, Concord Grapes, Orange Blossom, Rectified Birch Tar, Dried Tobacco Leaves, Australian Sandalwood, Orris Butter (15% Irones) from France, Double Distilled Haitian Vetiver, Indonesian Patchouli, Musk, and New Zealand Ambergris.
I’m also trying to link up with retailers to try and make the brand more accessible, namely accessible to sample in person, because seeing (and smelling) is believing. Shelf space is understandably limited in any perfume boutique, so I’m hoping for the best, but I know, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and so I’m doing my best to be patient ;) I receive emails from people all over the world asking where they can sample my fragrances in person, but unfortunately, I have to let them know that there’s currently no place to do so, even here in the United States. So, I’m hoping to see Gallagher Fragrances in a few boutiques before the end of the year :)
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