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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete revelation, loved it!
This has to be one of the most sensual books I've ever read in my life, and its about perfume. I have never read anything so sensual in my life as this, not poetry, not erotica, not anything. The authors desribes smells with the colours of a true artist and his sensitivity to words as well as smells, in fact to almost everything around him is extremely, beautifully...
Published 21 months ago by trishthedish

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As fleeting as scent
There are some interesting reflections in this diary and you don't have to work hard to find them because it is such a short book. It would be hard to say that Ellena is indulgent with his words and of 145 A5 pages, the average print content covers perhaps two thirds. Pedestrian comments account for about a third of this leaving maybe 60 page equivalents of 'insight into...
Published 17 months ago by S. Thomas


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete revelation, loved it!, 19 Oct 2012
By 
trishthedish (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
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This has to be one of the most sensual books I've ever read in my life, and its about perfume. I have never read anything so sensual in my life as this, not poetry, not erotica, not anything. The authors desribes smells with the colours of a true artist and his sensitivity to words as well as smells, in fact to almost everything around him is extremely, beautifully hightened. I could read it just for this wonderful writing style alone, so beautiful it almost makes you want to weep. I rushed out and hung around the local perfume counter for some time after this, sad but true, it cost me money, but I felt I knew more than many of the sales assistants by the time I got to the end of this book. Brilliant, heady stuff - read it if you love perfume and / or you love beautifully sensual writing that will blow your mind.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smell is a pleasure,perfume is literature, 30 April 2013
By 
the lambanana "the lambanana" (liverpool) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
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The diary of a nose.

The life of a parfumeur must have elaborate prose. To describe in such an elegant way what goes into the smells and fragrances of what is essentially smelly expensive water.

It's a bit like listening to a fashion expert describe clothes. Fascinating, but ultimately they are still clothes.

What did surprise me most of all is the author, Jean-Claude Ellena, is obviously French. To capture the poetry of the original French text is amazing. The translator should certainly be commended.

I rather like the authors turn of phrase. It doesn't surprise me though, as if you had to describe why you like your aftershave or perfume most people would simply say, "It smells nice" to at best, "it's a bit flowery"

But this author has had decades of being a "nose" so has gotten used to describing in elaborate, but lovely, prose the process and story behind a perfume.

If this has taken your fancy there is a lovely French best-seller that I could also recommend.Le guide du parfum pour elle et lui Or the film staring a nose.I Do (PrÍte-moi ta main) [DVD]

The author works in the epicentre of the perfume industry in Grasse in the South of France. I would warn you though that if the book has encouraged a visit-Don't. For such a glamorous, fragrant, expensive industry the town is rather drab.

Overall a lovely book that is a pleasant read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The poetry of perfume, 20 Jun 2013
By 
Mrs. R. "Polymath" (London, England, UK.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
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Jean Claude Ellena's book is less diary, more poetry meets philosophy. Yes, it does cover a year in his life, but not in a conventional way. There's a lot of blank paper. If Monsieur Elena's thought for the day lasts a few lines, that's what you get on the page. It's whimsical, creative, thought provoking, condfident and utterly French. The way a haiku represents a single thought in 17 syllables, Ellena's single thoughts take just as long as he wants them to.

I own some of his fragrances, from the full on blackcurrant blast of Yves Saint Laurent's In Love Again, to the light, clear recent Jardin creations for Hermes, and after seeing him in the BBC series Perfume I was fascinated to read about the way he works. (By the way, if you thought that Yves Saint Laurent had anything to do with his own perfumes, think again.) I think most creative artists dream of having the creative freedom and unconstrained budgets that Ellena has, and probably most of them dream of having his light clear way with words too.

Like his recent scents, this book has a lightness and clarity that gives us a deep insight into his life. He calls it A Year in the Life of a Perfumer, but I don't think it describes the life of any perfumer but himself. Very few have had the success to be able to create such a beautiful existence for themselves.

For people with some knowledge of perfumery, his list of 22 simple accords - one per page - at the back is worth the price of the book. For everyone else it must by a total mystery. For example: lilial and undecavertol make lime blossom. Sharing his knowledge is very generous of him. I just wish he'd write a whole book of those.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 23 May 2013
By 
elmsyrup (Cardiff, Glamorgan United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
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This is such a nicely put together, beautiful, lyrical book. It is in the form of a diary, with some recipes for making your own perfumes at the end. It's written by the nose of Hermès, and since that is one of my favourite perfume houses*, I was delighted to have the chance to read this. I think it is a book with limited appeal, but if you are a perfume geek like me with a loathing for celebriscents, you will love it. It captures the poetry and yearning of true perfume art.

*My other favourites would be L'Artisan Parfumeur, Tom Ford, Bond No. 9, and maybe Demeter for novelty and inventiveness. If you want to smell something really interesting or beautiful, seek out fragrances from any of those.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Nose by any other name......, 20 April 2013
By 
Dr. I. Cox "ian_cox9" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
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The DIARY of a NOSE
A Year in the life of a Parfumeur
Jean-Claude Ellena
(Not to be confused with a short story by Gogol or an opera by Shostakovich)
A "Nose" is someone whose exceptional olfactory senses (sense of smell) makes them unique for the blending of fragrance oils to create inspired new fragrances / smells reproducibly.
These are the day by day observations of a creator of fine fragrances at the company Hermes over the period of one year covering his thoughts, feelings, emotions and his sources of inspiration as he creates new fragrances.
I come to this book as an organic industrial chemist who was involved, with the more "industrial" fragrance houses in perfuming household products and ensuring the stability of the "smell". This gives me a certain resonance with the subject but my experience was still a million miles from the creation of a fine fragrance. Just as knowledge of pigments and paint materials does not make one an artist (but is useful background knowledge), anyone could come to this book and be carried along by his daily thoughts and emotional responses to life and fragrance - a soul laid bare.
We start with a visit to his disorganised chaos of a studio at Cabris in the Grasse area near the Italian border.
We progress day by day through his development of projects, worldwide travel, many sources of inspirations and views of perfume development, changes in the market - all with a sense of humour and candour. As this is a translation, this has captured the spirit of the original well.
Each day recorded has a "topic" - sometimes his work on a specific project, meetings with suppliers of raw materials (natural oils from plants and animals are supplemented with new synthetic molecules) - mention is made of traditional extraction of oils and also newer techniques like liquid carbon dioxide extraction - giving purer and less "damaged" oils, many of which are chemically unstable in air. His views from visiting China and Japan give a different perspective of East vs. West cultural preferences .
The book ends with a compendium of oil bends giving simple "smells" . Only ( slight) criticism is that there aren't full proportions given for these. Evidently scope for people to experiment
Whatever your chemical knowledge, this is a fascinating insight into a creative process - not too dissimilar to painting. The influences of commerce, fashion and other "distractions" or "constraints" are also covered
Recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As fleeting as scent, 10 Feb 2013
By 
S. Thomas - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are some interesting reflections in this diary and you don't have to work hard to find them because it is such a short book. It would be hard to say that Ellena is indulgent with his words and of 145 A5 pages, the average print content covers perhaps two thirds. Pedestrian comments account for about a third of this leaving maybe 60 page equivalents of 'insight into a parfumier'.

I say 'some' interesting insights because what may initially pass for profound can resemble a Susan Polis Schultz greeting card on scrutiny. Writing of Irises blooming and hoping they will bloom again next year Ellena reflects anthropomorphically 'what speaks to me and awes me is all that patience, the slow, sustained effort to achieve their opening once a year'. Given that parfumiers crush the poor little dears to pulp by the thousand to achieve their art, such observation is somewhat like a butcher reflecting on Spring Lambs being full of life.

I can imagine a few of the entries being written after a few glasses of red wine last thing at night when one becomes more poetic with each sip. There is some illuminating content but any insight into the life of a parfumier is obscured by the impression that Ellena wants to portray himself as an artist suffering for his cause ('I have been a slave to smells... as with all artistic work I have to work physically with the material and to have an understanding of it. This is the price I pay for being a composer of perfumes'). I will have to take his word that it is a tough life because evidence of his suffering is elusive.

An appendix of a dozen or so ingredients to make smells seems to be there to pad the book out to an acceptable thickness. 'Pear' can be created from fructone, hexyl acetate and rose (essence) whereas 'Yellow Apples' is made with the same first two but substituting rose with benzyl acetate. I could almost get the hang of this if I had aldehyde C-18 prunolide to make Gardenia.

If Ellena possessed the wisdom of Socrates, the poetic skills of Keats or the book had even described more of his day to day life I would have felt slightly less cheated but as it is I can almost imagine him asking how many words he could get away with. A bit more 'slow, sustained effort' and Ellena might have produced something with more substance or perception.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Moments of luminosity interspersed with the mundane, 4 Feb 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
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I'm afraid I didn't love this as much as most of the other reviewers here. There are lovely moments where Ellena captures something very elusive in his thoughts and writing, and I liked the way he depicts himself as both a craftsman and an artist. Indeed, his metaphors of a perfume being like a symphony or a classic novel, layered and dense, shot through with a mysterious alchemy, worked very well, and these insights lit up the book.

They are interspersed, however, with a more rambling and sometimes very mundane monologue about the tyranny of marketing departments, snippets of travel and so on that felt chaotic (and not in a good way) to me.

This is a short book, only about 145 pages and many of them are left blank as each `journal entry' starts on a new page.

So there are some gems here particularly when Ellena is talking about scents and perfumes in almost a metaphysical way. But these moments are more sparse than I expected, and there's a lot of padding to fill out what still remains a short and slight book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Craftsman and artist, 13 Dec 2012
By 
Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
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Jean-Claude Ellena is Hermes' 'parfumeur exclusif' and "The Diary of a Nose" provides a fascinating insight into the science, art, and business of perfumery. Some of Ellena's perfumes are created in a week, others after several months, and some only come to light after years of tinkering. His work revolves around the complex interplay of various smells and his expertise means that he can look at a formula such as 'fructone, benzyl acetate, cis-3 hexenol' and know that it means green apples. The challenge as a writer is to convey this world of smells in a way that is meaningful and satisfying for the reader, and this is a challenge that Ellena meets.

Having read his book, I will definitely be investigating the perfumes Ellena evokes so well as well as viewing my own perfumes in a new light. Refreshingly Ellena doesn't spell everything out for the reader and this, combined with the fragmentary nature of the diary entries, can sometimes result in opacity. Overall, however, "The Diary of a Nose" is an engrossing, stimulating, and enjoyable read which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in perfume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, 17 Jan 2013
By 
Book Critic (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not sure what I expected from this little (and it is little, just 145 small pages and those only sketchily filled) book. Probably something closer to a laboratory journal, a history of the creation of a specific perfume, a detailed examination of the science of perfumery. What I got was something far more delicious. Perfume and perfumery are discussed at length, of course, this is a perfumer's diary, but there's little of the laboratory here. This is the collected thoughts - on nature, the city, music, food, fashion, scent and perfume - of a man whose passion also happens to be his job, with a little gentle philosophy thrown in. The overall feel is that of a favourite blog; bite sized pieces of a life; a Tumblr or Pinterest without pictures. No illustrations are needed, the word-pictures are enough. It's no wonder Jean-Claude Ellena talks of `writing' or `composing' perfumes, and the pictures he composes have an enchanting, dreamy quality, in pastel colours, like distant music, watercolour landscapes, clean linen, pressed flowers, dried lavender. Beautiful and quietly extraordinary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Musings Of An Olfactory Alchemist, 25 Sep 2012
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The creation of a perfume is such an ephemeral art. Earlier this year
I took great pleasure in reading Denyse Bealieu's facinating book 'The
Perfume Lover : A Personal History Of Scent'. Whilst not a perfumer
herself, her personal experience of the industry, its history and the
opportunity of working together with fragrance creator Bertrand Duchaufour
afforded an intimate insight into the conception and realisation of a new
perfume. It became clear that Ms Beaulieu is a sensualist in every sense!

Jean-Claude Ellena, on the other hand, delivers quite another kettle of fish
in his beautiful little narrative 'The Diary Of A Nose'. Mr Ellena is an artist and
aesthete whose journal takes us on a far-less-clear journey in the ellucidation
of his chosen muse and craft. Although a little may have been lost in translation
he is also a poet at heart. As the "parfumeur exclusif" for Hermes he allows us
to step inside his small world, where his great knowledge of his subject and
highly cultured sensibility is manifestly evident in each tightly organised entry.

The invention of a new perfume is clearly an elusive process of trial and error;
a labour of love in which Mr Ellena attempts to conjure something tangible and
lasting from his raw materials (both natural and man-made). A latter-day
alchemist giving substance to the most fleeting impressions and intentions.

An engaging and touching ellucidation of a charmed life.

Recommended.
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The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur
The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena (Hardcover - 5 July 2012)
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