Ellena’s homage to the olfactory art

Ellena’s homage to the olfactory art

“Pleasures, small pleasures: I like the pleasures we pilfer from everyday life, they brighten the day,” writes Jean-Claude Ellena in The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur. “They are mundane, they feel repetitive, they reassure. If we overlook them we deprive ourselves of the joys that make life bearable.”

For those who consider fragrance one of these small but essential pleasures of life, Ellena’s book is a delight. After reading it, one comes away with a better understanding of the physical process behind the making of a new fragrance as well as an appreciation for the creativity and confidence required in the discipline of the olfactory arts.

For Ellena argues that perfumery is not a science but an art. “Smell is a word, perfume is literature,” writes the world-renowned nose.

Ellena is the “parfumeur exclusif” for Hermes and has crafted Terre d’ Hermès and the Jardin series for the legendary French house since coming on board in 2004; among his long list of other creations, he designed Angeliques Sous La Pluie, Cologne Bigrade and L’Eau d’Hiver for Frederic Malle Parfums.

Besides being a masterful perfumer, Ellena writes beautifully and succinctly of the emotion, history and stories that fragrance can evoke. So if you enjoy fragrance as well as a good read, it doesn’t get much better than this.

The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur, $39, www.hermes.com, www.chapters.indigo.ca


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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.