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A Nose by any other 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
(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