The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York

The Perfect Scent A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York From the New York Times perfume critic a stylish fascinating unprecedented insider s view of the global perfume industry told through two creators working on two very different scents No journalis

  • Title: The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York
  • Author: Chandler Burr
  • ISBN: 9780312425777
  • Page: 320
  • Format: Paperback
  • From the New York Times perfume critic, a stylish, fascinating, unprecedented insider s view of the global perfume industry, told through two creators working on two very different scents.No journalist has ever been allowed into the ultrasecretive, highly pressured process of originating a perfume But Chandler Burr, the New York Times perfume critic, spent a year behind tFrom the New York Times perfume critic, a stylish, fascinating, unprecedented insider s view of the global perfume industry, told through two creators working on two very different scents.No journalist has ever been allowed into the ultrasecretive, highly pressured process of originating a perfume But Chandler Burr, the New York Times perfume critic, spent a year behind the scenes observing the creation of two major fragrances Now, writing with wit and elegance, he juxtaposes the stories of the perfumes one created by a Frenchman in Paris for an exclusive luxury goods house, the other made in New York by actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Coty, Inc a giant international corporation.We follow Coty s mating of star power to the marketing of perfume, watching Sex and the City s Parker heading a hugely expensive campaign to launch a scent into the overcrowded celebrity market Will she match the success of Jennifer Lopez Does she have the international fan base to drive worldwide sales In Paris at the elegant Herm s, we see Jean Claude Ellena, his company s new head perfumer, given a challenge he must create a scent to resuscitate Herm s s perfume business and challenge le monstre of the industry, bestselling Chanel No 5 Will his pilgrimage to a garden on the Nile supply the inspiration he needs The Perfect Scent is the story of two daring creators, two very different scents, and a billion dollar industry that runs on the invisible magic of perfume.

    One thought on “The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York”

    1. I finished this book a while back. I'm not sure what to say except that Chandler Burr knows the perfume industry inside out. Knowing that, it seems odd to me that there are no scandals, everyone behaves perfectly well and fairly. This just isn't how business works, this is how PR works. Another revenue stream for the author? Additionally Sarah Jessica Parker has far, far more input into 'her' perfume than any of the other celebrities who have no input at all, they are just advertising faces on n [...]

    2. Time on To-Read List: 1 year (5 months on physical pile, given by a friend)Reason for Still Lurking on To-Read: Not What Fingers Spasmodically Reach ForMotivation For Finally Picking It Up: I read the first few pages (and then didn’t stop). Man, if you would have told me that I would read, much less enjoy, much less THROUGHLY enjoy and insist upon reading aloud from on multiple occasions, what is essentially an industry analysis book, I would have held out my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Kelly. [...]

    3. I have probably worn cologne less than a handful of times in my life. I have no real interest in perfume. And yet, I was drawn to this book precisely because of my lack of interest in the subject. Perfume is something I so rarely think about that the idea that whole lives revolve around this intrigued me (just as say, a book about hair care products probably would, or laundry detergent). Burr, who covers the perfume industry for the New York Times (again, another surprise--that someone on a news [...]

    4. It's quite likely that anyone with a fanatical perfume hobby, such as me, will eat up this book. I certainly did. It covered some territory I already knew, but on the whole it was quite the eye-opener about the strange and magical and illogical world of modern perfumery. Burr's assorted opinions on various fragrances are at times hilarious (he compares certain popular scents to weed killer and nerve gas), and always evocative ("the scent of a European man removing his underwear in August"--okay, [...]

    5. I enjoyed this immensely. It's one of those books one carries around reading aloud from. Full of fascinating chemistry tidbits as well as the slightly less fascinating celebrity/designer ones. Burr's scathing, off-the-cuff assessments of current perfumes are hilarious, as are his other asides. Here's a favorite quote:"Perfumers are deeply strange people simply because their sensorial perception of the world is so highly trained. The educated olfactory capacity makes spending time with them not u [...]

    6. I am slightly anosmic so I'm very curious about what it's like to experience perfumes. Chandler Burr writes about perfumes using evocative images from your other senses so that I can kind of experience the perfume. Here is an example:"Lovely" is the lightest olfactory party dress of powder and sweet, the scent equivalent of the terrific wrap of soft floating mesh fabric I saw one summer enveloping the shoulders of a young woman, a physical cloud she wore elegantly through the East Village street [...]

    7. This was a bit of a let-down after having just read Chandler Burr's previous book. It was hard to get excited about Sarah Jessica Parker nor even about the perfumer Jean Claude Ellena. Details about industry and the celebrity stuff didn't grab me. Turns out he wrote this at an outdoor cafe in Rome. Not a surprise - you can tell his priorities were elsewhere.

    8. The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr is the story of creating and marketing a fragrance for the very rich and two disparate approaches taken by luxury houses in the trade. One, the anonymous (to the public at large) but indispensable perfumier working for an absolutely top-of-the-line house (in this case, Jean-Claude Ellena for Hermes), the other, the launch of a "celebrity scent", in this case Sarah Jessica Parker's for Coty. My first thought, even before opening the book, was "There's such a thi [...]

    9. Let me preface this review by saying that I don't know anything about perfumes. I had no real awareness of it growing up (my mother never wore scents) and even though I'm always curious, the sheer cost of "getting into" perfume has put me off it for the time being. However, I picked up this book because I love the behind-the-scenes details of any industry and perfume has always been extra mysterious to me.I'm usually pretty slow when it comes to reading nonfiction but this book just sped by for [...]

    10. I've recently gotten very interested in perfume, so of course I was dying to read this. Burr is the perfume critic for the New York Times (who knew?), and he follows the creation of two perfumes -- Lovely, a celebrity scent for Sarah Jessica Parker created by a commercial house in New York, and Un Jardin Sur le Nil, created by luxury house Hermes' new in-house "nose," Jean-Claude Ellena. I got the feeling that Burr spent so much time with the people in the Parker camp (especially Parker herself, [...]

    11. The Perfect Scent takes you deep inside the perfume industry on both sides of the Atlantic, where we get to be voyeurs through the creation of two distinctive products - one for a celebrity in Manhattan, one the arcane art of a traditional french perfumer. This is an excellent book that leads the reader into the strange world of an industry, tradition and set of skills that most of us would know nothing about. It makes no apology for getting into extreme detail, or for not dumbing-down the story [...]

    12. The story alternates between the development of two perfumes; Un Jardin sur le Nil, and Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely.Un Jardin sur le Nil was developed for Hermès by their new in-house perfumer and his story contains information about the history of the modern perfume industry as well as information on the French aspects of perfumery.Sarah Jessica Parker's story was fascinating as she is one of the few celebrities to have proper creative input into the design of a scent featuring her name. Her [...]

    13. The information that Chandler Burr was able to dig up and touch upon during his year 'inside' the perfume industry is amazing. He really does get in and write about things that the common fragrance consumer would not know, and the industry might not necessarily want him/her to know, about what goes into the making of two particular fragrances. They were fascinating stories to follow, filled with interesting characters.I was not, however, a fan of Burr's writing style, which became too parentheti [...]

    14. YMMV on this one, depending on how much you know about the perfume industry. Since I knew zilch, this was a fascinating read and I couldn't get enough of it. From the super prestige scent-making at Hermes, to the more commercial celebrity scent-selling at Coty, it provided a really interesting, and contrasting, view of how the perfume industry works today. If you're interested in the subject, I'd definitely recommend it, despite Burr's tendency to translate French, etc. immediately after using i [...]

    15. I picked at it, and liked a lot of it, but I don't think I'll finish it. It reminds me of food writing, in the way it makes you think about a sensory experience. What goes into creating the scent of a perfume (a lot!), the evolution of techniques, different schools of thought, inside baseball and backbiting -- fun stuff. But the book is kind of ponderous and I'm losing interest. Also, the author clearly has a crush on Sarah Jessica Parker (he follows her around as she's developing her perfumes) [...]

    16. Mr. Burr also wrote about Luca Turin - and having read Turin's "Secret of Scent" which I liked very much, I went in search of Mr. Burr's work.That and my Mom read it and recommended it and my interest was piqued when she told me it recounted the making of Hermes, Le Jardin Sur la Nil, which I wear. In fact, the book should be an interesting reflection on our house, as I own Le Jardin Sur la Nil and Kate owns both Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely (profiled in this book) and her subsequent scent, Cov [...]

    17. This book follows the launch of 2 perfumes: Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker and Un Jardin sur le Nil (sp??) by Hermes. Given my recent obsession with perfume, it is a perfect book for me to read. And how cool that I actually have smelled (and liked) both perfumes being launched? If you decide to read this book, hie thee to a Sephora and get samples of each of the perfumes. It will make reading this smellarific! ;)

    18. Though Burr wields a deft pen- he repeatedly manages to evoke complex smells with prose so evocative you want to sneeze- the overall effect of this book is one of stultifying materialism and shallow fashionabilty. "So much time for so little purpose" aptly describes this book and the industry it portrays.

    19. This is as close as you'll ever get to action adventure writing in the world of perfume. It clearly illustrates, and name drops like a pro, the New York and Paris experience of bringing a scent from licensing agreement to consumer market launch - if you were ever interested not for the anosmic or those who could careless about the business of international fragrances.

    20. I'm not quite sure why I find his books so fascinating--is it the subject matter or his writing? Either way, I finished it in one day, and immediately went online and ordered a bunch of perfume samples so I could find out what he was talking about.

    21. I enjoyed the glimpse into this industry, the little I've heard of before was in a novel, Perfume: Story of a Murderer, which took place in the late 1800s.  Scent is a difficult thing to write about, probably, and the novel did an excellent job.  Chandler Burr, author of The Perfect Scent just does okay. The book also needed an editor, I felt, because I swear I was told what the molecule for the scent of cotton candy was 4 times.  And each time it seemed as if it was supposed to be new inform [...]

    22. 3.5 stars.A fascinating book about the perfume industry. The Sarah Jessica Park half the book was significantly more interesting than I thought it would be, but my main interest was in Jean Claude Ellena (partly because he created one of my favourites, Terre D'Hermes), and his creative process regarding Un Jardin sur le Nil, which is captivating.I wasn't overly keen on the writing style, it seemed very 'American'. Burr wins some points however, for his undisguised hatred of Hugo Boss scents.

    23. A Delightful VoyageWhat fun to read this book. Burr is clearly impassioned by his subject and he describes his elegant cast of characters with enthusiasm and panache. We fall for SJP and JC Ellena and the charming Parisians from Hermes, as well as the New Yorkers from the major conglomerate. I feel I learned a great deal.

    24. Read for a book club, missed the discussionwould never have picked up the book otherwise yet really glad I did even if it did go on a bit longif you are a fan of actress Sarah Jessica Parker the book has quite a bit of her in it.

    25. This is an insightful, funny and fast-paced reportage of a year in the last of the mysterious arts - perfume-making - focusing on two diametrically opposed approaches - art and commerce, Paris and NY, Latin and Anglo-Saxon, and whatever other pair we might think of. Burr follows two central threads: the story of Hermès’ Un Jardin sur le Nil (an artistic endeavor by one of the world’s most respected perfumers, Jean-Claude Ellena, with a stratospheric budget and a mandate for surprise), and S [...]

    26. More a narrative than a business tool, this book is light for any one with experience in product development. In any case, it is still plenty interesting to hear stories about famous scents.

    27. An interesting insight into the fragrance world, and it follows the creation process of Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil and SJP's Lovely. I could have gone without reading page 248-249. What was that all about? It was so in depth and explicit. Isn't there a better way to describe an unusual musk instead of saying it smells like an anus or an uncircumsised penis?

    28. I find it a bit hard to rate non-fiction books, simply because it becomes difficult to distinguish between how well the book is written and how much I enjoyed the subject matter. I personally love reading about perfume - it's almost like food-writing to me, so make of that what you will. This book follows Chandler Burr, perfume critic for The New York Times, through the creation of two very different scents -Un Jardin Sur le Nil for Hermes, and celebrity fragrance Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely. It [...]

    29. I picked this up on a whim thinking it would be fun "research" for a trip to Paris. I had no idea how much fun Chandler Burr would make my "research" even though I didn't get my interlibrary loan copy until the day after I got home! Expecting to return this rather quickly along with all my other over-due research books, I couldn't resist after reading in the preface where he discusses the memory of his grandmother primarily as, "a fragrance: of fresh citrus and the green leaves of the poisonous [...]

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