05 February 2013

writing Perfume


have you ever been given a perfume-and wondered why? what possessed the giver? if you steered them to your favorite perfume-that's one thing-but if you didn't, surely you wondered.
With the inevitability of Saint Valentine's Day looming-and surely you have suitors lining up to bestow love tokens-your Must Have-darling- as in I Must Have this, darling!
No-not perfume this time-but a book.
Why suffer through any whiff of a smell that is not the perfume of your heart? The Diary of A Nose by Jean-Claude Ellena has opened my senses to writing perfume.

The books takes us through brief glimpses in a year in the Life of A Parfumeur (Ellena)-& though there are moments while reading it I feel a little lost-I follow him along as he "creates an illusion that is actually stronger than reality" and I "enter the scent and follow the path."
I think the Diary is much like Ellena's creations-& as he writes "smell is a word, perfume is literature." 
Must everything constantly be explained-can't we just admire?
Furthermore- Ellena says "A perfume does not necessarily need a subject, a concept...If it is beautiful it exists in itself." 

Ellena is the exclusive parfumeur at Hermes since 2004. Interesting-Hermes maintains all of its perfume creations- the first in 1951-by famed perfumer Edmond Roudnitska-Eau d'Hermes.
1 of my favorite perfumes is Hermes 24 Faubourg (created in 1995), and the dearest to me is Eau des Merveilles. Both represent a time & place in my own story. I continue to use Faubourg today. Ellena has devised a variation on the Merveilles theme with L'Ambre des Merveilles
It tempts me- and as Ellena says~ "I like the idea that a man or woman can choose a perfume at twenty and is still able to buy it when he or she is sixty, having indulged in a few infidelities." 
Indeed & having indulged in Ellena's own creation for Frederic Malle L'Eau d'Hiver-I confess.
It might be time to dally there again.

 Ellena discusses his muses and his methods- Music-Yes, Painting-Yes, Chemistry-No.
well-I don't have to know it all-some things must remain a mystery-much like Perfume.
All I know is perfume is an essential to my day. It's the accompaniment to whatever I do whether ordinary or extra-and so it is with Ellena "who wants to  surprise and amaze with an everyday smell"-he thinks it might be the pear-I leave that to him.

...& about the 14th? ask for the  book-No mystery there. 

 all photographs by pgt.



  1. He seems like an amazing man--thank you for the suggestion. And I am fidele in my love of his work too, although it changes with the seasosn. Just as I always have music playing in the background, I always am wearing some sort of perfume or other--both bring up the tone of an "ordinary" day.

  2. Looks like a very interesting book. I'm sort of fascinated by perfume, but not always a huge fan. I go through periods when I wear it, and others when I don't. Right now, I'm wearing a Le Labo fragrance, but Hermes Caleche, was the fragrance of my wild and younger years.

  3. Being a fragrance junkie and novice perfume oficianado, this book intrigues me. I've read several other books on scent, and even though it is chemistry, it's more art than anything. My day is not complete too, without the application of scent to mark the season, occassion, or my emotion. To me, it's as essential as brushing my teeth before I go out. Thanks for the heads up on the book!


  4. Ellena's "The Diary of a Nose" will be a must-read, now that you've featured it here, Little Augury. Many years ago I read the fascinating "The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession" - Chandler Burr... along the same lines. I never tire of reading olfactory-related accounts and am one of those people who actually reads all the perfume articles in magazines - though ironically, am not a purchaser of many perfumes.

    Just as fascinating, I think, is the 1986 National Geographic smell and odor survey/article (complete with Louie Psihoyos photo of Cincinnati Hill Top Research underarm "sniffers"...).

    Here's a scent history: crayons, peppermint, oranges, honeysuckle, moss, essential oils, imari, ysatis, knowing, dove, johnson's, gap om, gap grass, sandalwood, lavender, fireball candy, incense, lemongrass, tocca stella, axe snake peel, good clean dirt, paper tomes.

  5. This looks to be a fascinating read, I have never been able to wear perfume, sensitive skin and allergies, but I am interested in knowing how someone who lives scents gives words to the different meanings to this sense.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with reading this book,



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