The Perfect Scent: A Year Behind the Scenes of the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York

Chandler Burr, Author . Holt $25 (306p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8037-7

New York Times perfume critic Burr (The Emperor of Scent ) follows the creation of two new scents—Un Jardin sur le Nil by French luxury house Hermès, and Lovely, a celebrity fragrance by Sarah Jessica Parker—in a kind of travelogue through the international perfume industry, “one of the most insular, glamorous, strange, paranoid, idiosyncratic, irrational, and lucrative of worlds.” The former perfume was conceived by Hermès, informed by a trip to Egypt, then crafted by Jean-Claude Ellena, who represents a breed of “ghosts” known in the biz as perfumers. For the latter, Parker worked as artistic director of a corporate scent-making team. Burr illuminates perfumery's clash of cultures and values—French artistic purity versus American commercialism. Worldwide, this highly secretive industry's PR machine propagates several anachronistic myths. For example, it insists that perfume ingredients are naturally derived (the overwhelming majority are not, because of concerns about quality control, ecological impact and allergies, among others) and that the big names on the bottles are personally involved in creating scents (perfumers alone typically do this; Parker was a rare exception). Burr makes a strong case that this mythmaking works to the industry's detriment, and that inviting the public behind the scenes might help to reverse the industry's declining sales. Burr's is a thorough and often hilarious account of perfumery's colorful characters, the science and art of fragrance creation and the human experience of scent itself. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/05/2007
Release date: 01/01/2008
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-0657-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-5657-3
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-60640-561-1
Paperback - 306 pages - 978-0-312-42577-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-3657-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-4356-5655-0
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4299-2465-8
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