In 2011, the top grossing advertising category in consumer magazines was toiletries & cosmetics, including fragrances, with over $550 million in revenue and over 3,300 pages sold. To say that this is big business, is an understatement. But have you ever wondered how your favorite perfume, your signature scent, was born and why you identify with it the way you do? A scent has incantatory powers, capable of transporting you to your past, of kindling fantasies. In the hands of the truly great, perfume creation is a kind of alchemy. Jean-Claude Ellena, exclusive parfumeur for Hermès since 2004 and creator of Voyage d’Hermes and Un Jardin sur le Nil, considers himself a “writer” of perfumes, but how exactly does one do this? Ellena has a sublime gift; his concoctions are as finely composed and evocative as a haiku and Rizzoli’s new publication THE DIARY OF A NOSE allows us to catch a scent of Ellena’s process, from germination to marketing. He is also a conjurer of sorts: “I create an illusion that is actually stronger than reality . . . you enter the scent and follow the path.” THE DIARY OF A NOSE is a collection of Ellena’s meditations on the world of scents, and what stirred his creation of some of the world’s most desired fragrances. Inspiration can come from anywhere—a market stall, a landscape, or even the movement of calligraphy. Though each scent has its own distinct character, a gifted perfumer creates olfactory experiences that are intensely personal and unique, that transform on the body and leave a trace of us lingering after we have left a room.
Images © The Diary of a Nose by Jean-Claude Ellena, Rizzoli ExLibris, 2013. The Diary of A Nose is available for purchase here.