The Perfect Scent
A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York
By Chandler Burr
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805080377, 336pp.)
Publication Date: January 22, 2008
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From the New York Times perfume critic, a stylish, fascinating, unprecedented insider's view of an industry and its charismatic characters No journalist has ever been allowed into the ultrasecretive, highly pressured process of originating a perfume. But Chandler Burr, the New York Times perfume critic, spent a year behind the scenes observing the creation of two major fragrances. Now, writing with wit and elegance, he juxtaposes the stories of the perfumes--one created by a Frenchman in Paris for an exclusive luxury-goods house, the other made in New York by actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Coty, Inc., a giant international corporation. We follow Coty's mating of star power to the marketing of perfume, watching Sex and the City's Parker heading a hugely expensive campaign to launch a scent into the overcrowded celebrity market. Will she match the success of Jennifer Lopez? Does she have the international fan base to drive worldwide sales?
In Paris at the elegant Hermès, we see Jean Claude Ellena, his company's new head perfumer, given a challenge: he must create a scent to resuscitate Hermès's perfume business and challenge le monstre of the industry, bestselling Chanel No. 5. Will his pilgrimage to a garden on the Nile supply the inspiration he needs? The answer lies in Burr's informative and mesmerizing portrait of some of the extraordinary personalities who envision, design, create, and launch the perfumes that drive their billion-dollar industry.
Chandler Burr is the New York Times perfume critic and author of The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses and A Separate Creation. Burr, who earned a master's in international economics and Japan studies from the Paul H. Nitze School/Johns Hopkins, has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, U.S. News & World Report (where he was a contributing editor), and The New Yorker. He lives in New York City.