Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent” as Want to Read:
Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent (Que sais-je ? #1888)

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  18 reviews
To women the whole world over, perfume means glamour, and in the world of perfume, Jean-Claude Ellena is a superstar. In this one-of-a-kind book, the master himself takes you through the doors of his laboratory and explains the process of creating precious fragrances, revealing the key methods and recipes involved in this mysterious alchemy.Perfume is a cutthroat, secretiv ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published November 15th 2011 by Arcade Publishing (first published January 1st 2007)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Perfume, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Perfume

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 238)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Courtney Johnston
My perfume collection recently expanded, in a single heady evening, to thirteen bottles. My collection of perfume books expands more slowly - they are more unpredictable beasts than their subjects.

When I impulse-bought 'Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent' on Amazon, I think I thought that it would be one of those artsy-sciencey floaty bits and bobs, in which Jean-Claude Ellena - one of the highest profile noses in the business, perfumer for Hermes, and also the maker of a number of highly regarded L'
This was an account of how new perfumes are created. The author is a Frenchman who works for Hermes, I believe, and created one of the new modern scents (which has been widely imitated) based on the smell of tea. Modern perfumers seek not just to recreate scents such the smell of roses, but to work with ingredients to create a new scent that is an artistic work. The author uses a large palette of ingredients; one can almost smell the wonderful aromas. However, this book was a little hard to foll ...more
Now that perfumers have become stars in their own right, it is not surprising that they are publishing their own books. Ellena is, of course, one of the most famous perfumers today (and I happen to like his sense of minimalism), so I was curious about his perspective on scent. In the "Introduction" he takes us to his workplace--his villa, far away from an actual laboratory. The "Introduction" is perhaps where he gets most personal. Chapter One is a brief overview of the history of modern perfume ...more
Dave Johnson
i had high hopes for this book since anyone who is into fragrances knows the name Jean-Claude Ellena. he's brilliant. when i saw that he had written a book, i was really excited at first, since i assumed that he would be writing a memoir of sorts, talking about his experience as a perfumer, his philosophy and methods, where he finds his sparks of creativity, etc. and when i found this for a dollar on the kindle store, i couldnt resist. :)

so...this is not a good book. the first quarter of this b
Isla McKetta
This is a book that didn't have a defined audience in mind and I think the reviews here on Goodreads reflect that. There is some decent information on what it's like to be a perfumer (though not quite enough) and some interesting tidbits about the science and history of perfume (though, again, not quite enough). What I most enjoyed was his thoughts on creativity and how his process works and how it could work for others.
Eva Demarchi
I Love how he bridges the gap between the "exclusive world" of perfumery to those who are trying to break into the industry!
Teri Zipf
By Jean-Claude Ellena, Perfumer at Hermes. Jean-Claude is French. He lives in a mansion overlooking the sea. He likes Jean Giono, and he makes perfume for Hermes. Right there you know, Jean-Claude is awesome.

The book isn't quite so awesome for the ordinary reader, and I don't think Jean-Claude really had that reader in mind. I think he was writing down his artistic process for young perfumers. That makes sense, even though I can't make sense of it. I'm going to leave it at that and point the ord
I dove into the french edition of this book prior to the english publication to tests my language skills. since i had studied my perfumery courses in french, the industry specific jargon and chemical names were not as much of a challenge as I thought. It was, slow going for me with my rusty reading skills, but it was enjoyable and informative. From what I could tell (and confirmed with the reading of the english translation) it's a very straightforward narrative of the process and probably not m ...more
I love Jean-Claude Ellena's perfumes and it would not be a stretch to call him my favorite perfumer. So when I saw that he had a book coming out I bought it instantly.

The book is very dry and enumerated save for about a third of it in the middle. In that third he describes -- albeit in a way that leaves you craving for more -- how is it that he comes up with his compositions and his thought process behind them.

The rest of the book was for me boring talk about marketing and the perfume industry.
Some of this book is incredibly subjective, like a genius talking about stuff he is preoccupied with and just assuming everyone else will understand. However, it "warms up" about halfway through and suddenly becomes very educational. It's also well-written and not bad at all as a philosophical manual (of life, not just perfume). I loved this glimpse into an esoteric world that fascinates me.
since this is a translation, it could be the translators style or it could be Ellena's style, but, i found it very straightforward narrative of the process and probably not much interest to anyone who is not passionate about the subject matter. It is, however, probably one of the best inside views of how perfume is made without taking the time to become a nose yourself.
Kate B
A very inside-baseball look at the world of perfumery from one of the masters of the art who has created many well-known scents for the House of Hermes. A lot of it went over my head, but it's fascinating to see the world through his eyes, and very revealing about the role of scents, fragrance, and perfumes in our modern world.
Packed with information, but amateurishly written. I felt like I was reading a high school research paper. On the plus side, it was interesting to learn how Hermès perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena (Terre d'Hermès and Un Jardin en Méditerranée, to name just two big ones) composes his creations.
A really interesting look at some of the easy to understand science of scent. Also cool to see what Ellena thinks, as he is a super-minimalist. I went out and smelled some of the things he made/mentioned in this book and I disagree with how proud of himself he is, but good stuff anyway.
This book was very dry. I was hoping for more poetry from someone who makes such beautiful perfumes.
it is jsz an awesum book for those who love perfumes
Sarah marked it as to-read
Mar 07, 2015
Michelle Louisa
Michelle Louisa marked it as to-read
Feb 23, 2015
sqrt2 marked it as to-read
Feb 21, 2015
Celine Zarate
Celine Zarate marked it as to-read
Feb 10, 2015
Carina Nebula
Carina Nebula marked it as to-read
Feb 10, 2015
Liz marked it as to-read
Feb 08, 2015
Kristina marked it as to-read
Feb 06, 2015
Jude marked it as to-read
Feb 05, 2015
Lily marked it as to-read
Feb 04, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume
  • The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell
  • The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell
  • The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York
  • The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of Scent
  • The Scent Trail: A Journey of the Senses
  • A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette's Perfumer
  • Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume
  • Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride
  • The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume
  • Branded Beauty: How Marketing Changed the Way We Look
  • Attempts at a Life
  • Grace: Thirty Years Of Fashion At Vogue.
  • Celebrity, Inc.: How Famous People Make Money
  • Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag: 31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  • Fuck You Heroes : Glen E. Friedman Photographs, 1976-1991
  • Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers
  • The Party after You Left

Other Books in the Series

Que sais-je ? (1 - 10 of 598 books)
  • La probabilité, le hasard et la certitude
  • Histoire de l'architecture
  • Histoire de Paris
  • La Relativité
  • La Relativité
  • Histoire Des États-Unis
  • Histoire de la musique en Europe
  • Les Grandes Philosophies
  • Les grandes philosophies
  • Le Roman Français Depuis 1900
The Diary of a Nose La Note verte Parfum: Ein Führer durch die Welt der Düfte (German Edition)

Share This Book