4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The poetry of perfume,
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.