cover image Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur

Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur

Jean-Claude Ellena. Rizzoli Ex Libris, $24.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-8478-4042-7

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. (Feb.)