The Diary of a Nose is the story behind the creation of a perfume, from the head perfumer at Hermès.
Perfume creation is an exclusive and secretive endeavour. What is day to day life like for a perfume-maker? How does the creation of a new scent begin? How do you capture the essence of a smell on the skin?
For one year, Jean-Claude Ellena kept a diary of his life as 'parfumeur exclusif' ('le nez' or 'the nose') for Hermès. Believing that creating a scent is like creating a work of art, and describing himself as a writer using 'olfactory colours', he explains how all of the five senses come into play when creating a perfume. He also reveals how inspiration can come from a market stall, a landscape, or even the movement of calligraphy, and concludes this charming, perceptive diary with recipes for natural fragrances, each made up of three synthetic ingredients, to create the illusion of smells like freesia, orange blossom, grapefruit, pear, chocolate, cashew and cotton candy.
This is the story of a quest to capture what is most elusive. Jean-Claude Ellena offer readers a rare insight into the secrets of his business, his art, and his life as one of the world's most important and admired perfumers.
Perfume may only linger on the skin or in the air for a brief moment, but it's big business, with revenues from magazine advertising sales alone reaching over $550 million last year. For Ellena, however, who has been the parfumeur to the house of Hermes for nearly a decade, a wondrous smell is about joy and beauty, not its impact on the marketplace. His diary, written with a keen eye for detail, covers his experiments with scents like mint and mandarin orange, his travels and inspirations (winter pears he buries his face in at an Italian) from late 2009 through summer 2010. Coming from a family of parfumeurs, he found his calling early, ending up at 16 at the factory that was the official supplier to the house of Coty during the first half of the last century. "I went into perfumery as if into a religion, joining a firm that occupied the premises of a former Capuchin monastery." Ellena was and remains fascinated by every aspect of the creation of a fragrance, from distillation and extraction to research and manufacturing. In his illustrious career he has designed more than 40 perfumes, including Voyage d'Hermes and Terre d'Hermes. In achieving a transporting scent, Ellena's goal is for the pleasure to be released and shared by the wearer and those around him or her, a passionate philosophy that turns a fragrance into more than the sum of its notes.