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The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  124 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
An intimate exploration of inspiration and creativity, from the "parfumeur exclusif" of the house of Hermès. A scent has incantatory powers, capable of transporting you to your past, of kindling fantasies, of creating a vivid mise en scène—literally out of thin air. In the hands of the truly great, perfume creation is a kind of alchemy. Where does inspiration for this visc ...more
Published January 22nd 2013 by Rizzoli Ex Libris (first published 2009)
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Maya Panika
Jan 17, 2013 Maya Panika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 c ...more
Jul 07, 2012 Sophia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jean-Claude Ellena is a "nose", one of a small, talented and highly-trained group of experts who create fine fragrances. In fact, he's one of the most highly respected "noses" in the business, having designed iconic fragrances such as First for Van Cleef and Arpels, as well as many of the famous perfumes of Hermes. In The Diary of a Nose, he tells us a little of his methods, explaining the painstaking process of developing a fragance from its initial inspiration, through the laborious testing an ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Sps rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: language, 600s
In which Jean-Claude Ellena sets out to prove he is a true Frenchman, i.e. an intellectual and an aesthete, crafting works of art rather than "the icy perfections of the mere stylist" (As Mr. Charles Rennie Mackintosh would say.) He quotes Fernand Braudel on capitalism (p.45) and Charles Trenet on music (p.67) and travels the globe and namedrops and drinks tea.

He is PoMo and BoBo all at once: "When I want to evoke a smell, I use signs that--taken separately-- have no connection with the thing I'
Mayra Correa e Castro
Jean-Claude (França, 1947) é um perfumista muito, mas muito famoso – mas não é um pop star. Trabalha há quase uma década para a mesma casa, a Hermès, que não é lá uma marca faiscante comparativamente a outras que detêm linhas de perfumes próprias, como Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein, Diesel ou mesmo a Chanel. Filho de perfumista, nascido em Grasse, já trabalhou pra grandes casas de fragrâncias, como Givaudan e Symrise, criando perfumes para Bvlgari, Balenciaga, Giorgio Armani, LArtisan Parfumeur ...more
Michael Meeuwis
Pleasant enough for what it is, although pretty insubstantial. This is a short series of diary entries from a perfumier who works for Hermes, in which he talks about various influences--quotidian and developmental--over his work. He gives an interesting account of the development of discernment over a lifetime; I think this will be very interesting to anyone working in an artistic field other than perfume, as he presents essentially what was to me an account of taste in a field whose very differ ...more
Aaron Hrenko
Aug 23, 2016 Aaron Hrenko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Diary of a Nose” contains entries written by Jean-Claude Ellena over the span of a year. Despite what the title might suggest, it’s not a description of the daily life of a parfumeur or the creation of a scent. What it is is a peek into the mind of one of the most renowned and innovative noses of all time. Each entry is very short, usually a few paragraphs, and contemplates a specific theme. As you read each word you feel like you’re meandering through the thought process alongside Ellena h ...more
Apr 16, 2015 Iris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This is the diary of an artisan-artist who imposes ascetic limitations on himself, after decades of study and experimentation. What separates him from more familiar types of artisans and artists is his luxury medium: scent. His knowledge of odors and their origins is akin to an accredited sommelier's ability to discern a wine's place and time of origin through infinitely subtle tastes. Unlike the sommelier, the perfumer proceeds to create something new by referring to an incredible memory of the ...more
In my life I have, to date, fallen in love at different times with a mere two lovely eau-de-parfums. One, launched in 1977, was inspired by the Orient. The second is a floral/fresh first marketed 1978. Since then I’ve never felt any necessity whatsoever to wear any other. So I was intrigued when this book, ”The Diary of a Nose” turned up in a charity (thrift) shop. I simply had to buy it (and at such a reasonable price, too)..

Having read other reviews of this book on Goodreads, I opted to ignore
Dave Johnson
Aug 04, 2014 Dave Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I mentioned in my review of his previous book, Ellena is genius perfumer and is really a celebrity in the perfume world. Though I didn't like his previous book and found it tedious, I was still very excited to read this, since it was entries from his diary over a year's time.

Overall, I was very pleased with this book. It managed to keep the spirit of the first book but was what I really wanted from the first book without all the boring details. I do have a few criticisms. It's a short book,
Chantal Ladias
Dec 09, 2013 Chantal Ladias rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is one of these books that you do not want to rush when reading it.. Like a meditation book it brings reflections and insights about what marketing is and what branding is ... Jean Claude Ellena is authentic; the real thing...he explains his love and passion for perfumes as he expresses the process from thought to market; the art of creation. His thoughts are interconnected and his inspirations are coming from the earth, the wind, the fire. he is totally in touch with reality, the present and ...more
A meditation on being a parfumeur. Unlinked entries in diary form of what Jean-Claude considers his view of making perfumes and his influences and aesthetic to be. Interesting, thought-provoking, but not big on plot... or linearity...
Nathan Truong
The Diary of a Nose (2013) by Jean-Claude Ellena is a collection of a fine parfumer who worked on one of my mother’s favorite cologne’s, Declaration by Cartier. He gives interesting ideas, thoughts, and his understanding of the world through smell. At times it feels he sits high and mighty, but there’s a sincerity and eloquence to him that allows you to trust him.
Dec 07, 2013 K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The dream perfume is one that can be smelled and experienced in the moment, for the time of one inhalation, but not one to be worn. It is not an ornament, or an item of clothing, nor is it a protection. It is pure emotion. This concept might be confusing because imagining a perfume in this way takes us outside its usual codes. I dream up perfume as a poetic offering, a 'sudden ravishing delight of unpredictability' . . ."
Aug 04, 2014 Evelina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was, as could be expected, a very poetic, elegant, immensely inspirational book by one of my favorite perfumers. What I didn't expect from it was how subtly J. C. Ellena was seducing his readers throughout the book: to smell, to live, to think, to love just a touch more deeply.
It is a breathtaking book that I will be keeping near me at all times.
Maman à Paris
Jun 04, 2016 Maman à Paris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
simple et merveilleux, un plaisir de lecture pour l'amatrice de parfum que je suis.
Feb 26, 2013 Pia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
- somewhat interesting but mostly along the lines of stream of consciousness
- no proper cohesion
- a bit of insight regarding perfume process but mostly just wishy washy thoughts
- writing was quite poetic at times
Aug 10, 2013 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the little book - it was a very interesting read. It is truly a diary of thoughts, impressions, and day to day written by someone with "smell" on his mind. Relaxing......
Mattie Egerter
Apr 14, 2014 Mattie Egerter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good read, but nothing spectacular. I got very bored reading it after a while, but I do have some nice/memorable quotes from it about smells and sensations due to smells.
False Millennium
Given his long history with perfume, I would have expected more...insight and philosophies behind creating some of the world's most famous perfumes.
Megan (Magic & Musings)
Read for Booktubeathon. A rather quick read, enjoyable to hear about the craft, but nothing hugely special.
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