Scent of a Scam – Tomislav Vrbanec, the perfumer

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“A lie repeated many times gradually becomes the truth.” – that’s what people say. But, it will only be so if un-truth is not clearly unmasked as a lie, and then flagged. That’s exactly what Mirisna did – again – and will continue doing every time my nose picks the scent of scam. Again, all I had to do is to introduce Mirisna, point to my sources and kindly ask for a fact-check of the published information.

As telling a big untruth on an international perfume portal does not possess the same weight as selling a story to a local journalist who barely has an idea that the fact-checking exists, or to insufficiently educated and highly suggestible perfume lovers, or to local entrepreneurs with the best intentions combined with a staggering dose of confidence and a very low level of knowledge about cosmetics in general, Mirisna contacted Grasse Institute of Perfumery for fact-check of Mr Tomislav Vrbanec claims regarding his education and diploma.

More precisely, I asked for the confirmation of the one sentence in his interview published on English and regional Fragrantica, as higlighted on the pictures bellow:

* * *
Pun miris (28.5.2018.), regional Fragrantica (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro) – Intervju: Tomislav Vrbanec, Vlasnik Hrvatske Parfemske Kuće
Interview

So, here it comes – loud and clear:

Tomislav Vrbanec, the founder of brand Croatian perfume House / Hrvatska Parfemska Kuća, and owner of the two firms – Aroma Fragrance Lab Ltd registered in London UK, and Institute of Perfumery d.o.o. based in Čakovec, registered in Croatia, is n-o-t a perfumer educated on Grasse Institute of Perfumery.

Moreover, Mr Vrbanec, whose Croatian firm is named “Institute of Perfumery” (and yes, in English, literally) did not attend a-n-y session on Grasse Institute of Perfumery, e-v-e-r.

Like others before him, he simply usurped the title issued by our famous school, but without having the slightest certificate.” – that was the reply of Mr. Alain Ferro, the director of Grasse Institute of Perfumery.

“Usurped”, and then announced to the internationally connected perfume community.

I also passed to Grasse Institute of Perfumery the information that Tomislav Vrbanec, allegedly their alumni, founded a perfume production company in Croatia at the beginning of 2020 and named it – Institute of Perfumery,

Yes, that sounds amazingly similar, except Grasse is not in the title, and the other small and very beautiful town is – Čakovec. However, the pattern of playing with well-known and respected names is known: the name of the Mr Vrbanec’s London firm, before it was changed to Aroma Fragrance Lab was – Aroma Fragonard / Aroma Fragonard Lab!

Hoping to get the information if Mr Vrbanec ever attended/finished any of the short (one or two-week) sessions in Grasse Institute of Perfumery, I let the respectable Institute of Perfumery know that “the only educated Croatian perfumer” on the official site of his Institute of Perfumery offers masterclass sessions.

Here is the razor-sharp and crystal-clear, yet indeed very kind official reply:

For those who are not that familiar with the education of perfumers, or maybe for those who happen to be easily impressed by headlines, the title of perfumer with a GIP diploma is exceptional and utmostly respectable. In a world of perfumes not many are entitled to claim it.

That 18-months education (long term programme) Mr Vrbanec “usurped” in the interview for Fragrantica, results in an official diploma recognized by the French government.

In the societies which condemn any kind of theft, a false claim on the diploma / an usurpation of the title is taken seriously, by default.

To confirm eligibility for the long-term programme on Grasse Institute of Perfumery, the candidates go through the serious assessment process and are selected through the interviews and tests, including a test of calculation and logic, a test of creativity, tests of olfactory recognition. Their motivational letters and interviews are carefully evaluated. Givaudan, IFF, Simryse, Firmenich, Mane, Robertet – these are the names some of the sponsors in past long term sessions.

However, Mr Tomislav Vrbanec chose to promote himself and his perfume business with the title of the educated perfumer in that particular school. Thanks to the international, national and local media and published un-truth, those who didn’t know better – believed.

Those who know better also know that not having a diploma is really not the issue any more: there are many successful self-thought perfumers/ perfume creators, who are also respected, praised and rewarded in perfume community. As anywhere else, in the perfume business and within the perfume community the truth is rarely the key issue – the opposite of truth is the problem.

It is always about honesty, transparency and fair play.

Credibility.

From the interview of Mr. Vrbanec for local Croatian portal Evaraždin,


From the part of the Interview published for the local Croatian portal, Evaraždin, illustrated here: 4 years in Grasse school, 360 000 his own perfume formulas (in a referred interview for Fragrantica 10 000 perfume formulas is claimed.) Note: this claim is perfectly allowed, so 360 000 and/or 10 000 might be the truth. Since Mirisna is a perfume blog – I will leave to my readers of a specific profile to make a personal opinion on both claimed numbers. There is also the public confession that Mr. Vrbanec made a “copies of original perfumes” in his laboratory/factory, which under some circumstances might have been legal, and is not relevant anymore. However, this seems like a not well-thought long-term strategy if you simultaneously promote your business through the international perfume portal of Fragrantica’s profile. In Fragrantica Interview he skipped these tricky details. According to dates, the interview on EVaraždin was published 6 days (3.6.2018) after the interview on Pun Miris/Fragrantica (28.5.2018).


Here comes another interview, for the university students’ portal X-ica (named after a student’s card) – the article: Tomislav Vrbanec: nosite miris koji Vam se sviđa!, 1.10.208, x-ica team .Mr Vrbanec vividly and in a detailed way described what were his student’s days like:


For the English speaking readers: “Master Perfumer”, he is the creator of worldwide known perfumes for high-street brands, but you don’t know that he is widely recognized and as a result presented in Fragrantica, the school was in fact “the academy”, rigorous selection, 10 candidates applied and 8 were accepted, he struggled with chemistry classes, he had to learn the names of ingredients and materials, about the mentors: they did not learn him “what is what , but how to recognize it“, powder/ the powdered scented material is a basic perfume material (like jasmine) 100 ml bottles of perfume materials are ideal for beginner students to play with, he by accident broke a plate full of materials and because of that the laboratory was closed for two weeks!…

Mirisna comment: students / buyers deserve better than fiction.


As I did not ignore the interviews and Mr Vrbanec’s statements upon which not only the perfume lovers base their decisions on buying, but the small business owners base their decision to invest in their own perfume brand, Mirisna decided not to ignore Tomislav Vrbanec’s masterclasses, organised and marketed by Abeceda ljepote (in translation: “The alphabet of beauty”), founded and owned by Mrs Draženka Pleško.


Abeceda ljepote owned by Mrs Draženka Pleško has already organized a perfumery course led by Tomislav Vrbanac. They advertised Mr Vrbanec as a “Master Perfumer who won the prestigious Perfume Extraordinaire France award“. This really unbelievable false claim was removed from the site, but only after Mirisna published it in the text “Tomislav Vrbanec / Hrvatska parfemska kuća – iskustvo kupnje – s dopunom”. The fact that Tomislav Vrbanec won the FIFI Award Mirisna does not intend to comment since all information about the winners of the most prestigious world award / “Perfume Oscar” are available. Mr Vrbanec’s on-line courses of perfumery are still marketed and sold by Abeceda ljepote.


Though these masterclasses may sound like a joke, as a perfume blogger I am not ready to treat those commercial masterclasses as a joke: the misinformed Croatian perfume lovers and perfume buyers invested 1700 kuna (around 220 Euro) in 3 hours of education. If, as marketed, the masterclass is really led by the formally educated perfumer, or, on the other hand, it was clearly stated that the lecturer is not a formally educated perfumer and does not possess any formal und well-known certificate – Mirisna would not have any objection.

I do strongly believe that is perfectly OK to sell whatever amount of anything, of whatever value, for whatever price – as long as you are not misinforming or hiding need-to-know facts, and as long as you made every reasonable effort to provide the possibility of the informed buy.

Mrs Draženka Pleško did not do any of that – the masterclasses organized by Abeceda ljepote offered the education led by the man who made the false claim on his education title, introduced Mr Vrbanec as a man who won FiFi Perfume Extraordinaire Award, and promoted the man who named his firm after the famous Grasse school, but did not felt the need not to invest in his credibility the minimum of attending at least 1-week long short term session on GIP,

All at a price that per hour exceeds the price of sessions in credible and respected Institute of Perfumery – Grasse.

This is a featured photograph /an illustration under the sponsored article published on Croatian national and influential news portal Index.hr. Behind Mr Vrbanec is the slogan is “Let’s buy Croatian”. At the time the article was published, Tomislav Vrbanec did not have a company registered in Croatia, and his brand Croatian perfume house was, in fact, the brend of his firm registered in UK. So, Croatian perfume lovers could not have bought a Croatian perfume from Croatian Perfume House. Here is the translation of the article: “Perfumes which they are all trying to trick us into”.

Lastly – but not finally – Mirisna also decided to further explore the scent of cosmetic product labels on a couple of fragrances created by Mr Tomislav Vrbanec and manufactured, as claimed, in his laboratory/laboratories/factories. He is not the responsible person for those products. The responsible persons are – in almost all of the cases that are now being investigated – the small business owners and public persons who unfortunately along with their money invested their professional and personal credibility and reputation.

Unfortunately, those brands and small entrepreneurs did not know enough and, unfortunately, they trusted too much. Also, unfortunately, they missed to ensure themselves with sufficient legal and professional support before placing the product on the market under their own responsibility and name.

Unfortunately, unfortunately, unfortunately, Unfortunately.

Mirisna will report on that too, because no matter how many times the un-truthful information is repeated – it does not become a truth. And if removed or deleted – the scent remains. Only – unfortunately – this scent does not smell like the perfume.


Featured photo: Index.hr,


Mirisna expresses deep thanfulness to Perfumery School in Grasse. GIP provided the fact-check, thus making the publication of this article possible.

Thank you, honorable perfume people!


Update: 20.08.2020.

Fragrantica/Pun Miris removed the information about the non-existent GIP diploma from the interview, since it is a proven fraud.

The rest of the interview with Mr Vrbanec is left on-line. To be continued.


Update: 26.08.2020.

The text was updated with an ilustration of Mr Vrbanec interview for X-Ica, and Mirisna’s comment bellow the images. Mirisna thanks the reader for the information.


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About The Author

Iva

I write about perfumes that express unique olfactive beauty, manifest integrity as individual expressions of art, catch my attention, tickle my imagination, challenge my senses or the way I tend to think.

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