Perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain has caused controversy in France for using a racial epithet on television while discussing the making of his fragrance Samsara, CNN reports. Guerlain said (translated from French to English by CNN):
"One day I told her -- and I still called her Madame -- 'What would seduce you if one was to make a perfume for you?' and she told me, 'I love jasmine, rose and sandalwood.' And for once I started working like a [racial epithet]. I don't know if [racial epithet] ever worked that hard."
In French: "Pour une fois, je me suis mis à travailler comme un nègre. Je ne sais pas si les nègres ont toujours tellement travaillé, enfin..."
Guerlain later apologized via a statement reading, "My words do not reflect in any way my profound thoughts but are due to an inopportune misspeaking which I vividly regret." And the Guerlain brand was quick to point out that he retired from the company in 2002.
French group SOS-Racisme along with France's finance minister Christine Laguarde were shocked by Guerlain's remarks. Laguarde told French radio on Saturday, "It's pathetic. I simply hope this is just senile and grotesque, that the apologies will really be sincere and gracious, but this is truly pathetic."
WATCH Guerlain in the original interview: