We are often asked about our favourite books about perfumery, and there are plenty out there to stick your nose into, but these are our favourite. Instead of poetic perfumed prose these are the most comprehensive books written by perfumers and professionals of the perfume industry covering the art of perfumery, the perfumer, the industry, and of course, ingredients – giving proper insights into the world of fragrance, and the profession of a perfumer, rather than whimsical words on pretty perfumes. Enjoy, and we hope they pique your interests in perfume even further.
A LOOK INTO THE LIFE OF A PERFUMER
1 – Jean-Claude Ellena – various titles
Revered perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena has a host of books for you to get your nose into, Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent (2011) The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (2012), and the eagerly awaited Atlas of Perfumed Botany, due to be published in 2022.
A man with quite the career, Ellena has worked for a plethora of respected perfume houses from Van Cleef & Arpels to L’Artisan Parfumeur, he was in-house at Hèrmes for many years and more recently worked with Frederic Malle.
Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent offers a view of perfumers within the industry as well as invaluable insights into his working life. A master of understated sophistication in his compositions, the fascinating detail that Ellena only uses a palette of 200 ingredients is just one of his impressive attributes. Touching on the beginnings of modern perfumery, the harvesting of ingredients to the end of a fragrant creation with trademarking, production, marketing and safety regulations, Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent is a comprehensive guide that never feels too complex for the reader. A veritable handbook on the intricacies of the perfume industry and the trials one faces as a perfumer within it.
The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur is a more intimate telling of Ellena’s life, work and travels for a year beginning in October 2009. If ‘Perfume’ told the story of a craftsman within the industry, ‘Diary of a Nose’ is that of an artist. Detailing creation and inspiration, and concluding with a ‘Summary of Smells’ – an immensely interesting section for any budding perfumers – Ellena lists text-book examples of everyday smells and how they can be composed.
“To ‘make’ plain chocolate, I recommend adding patchouli; for a ganache, a trace of civet; for ‘orangette’, orange zest; for an After Eight, spearmint; and for the smell of cocoa powder, concrete of iris.”
A worthwhile read for anyone looking to get into the mind of one of the world’s most celebrated perfumers.
Also look out for the Atlas of Perfumed Botany which promises to lead readers on a poetic, geographic and botanical journey of perfume discovery. Offering a captivating cartography of fragrance that charts the botany, geography and history of perfume composition accompanied by botanical illustrations. One we’re sure we will be coveting as soon as it’s released.