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Monday, October 5, 2015

"Perfume does not have a function. It's more than a function. It's not necessary. It's not particularly useful."

Thus presents the aphorism perfumer Jean Claude Ellena. And Christine Nagel, co-head perfumer at Hermes perfume development, quips: "It's impossible to wear a perfume that you don't like. If you took more time to smell people rather than looking at them you would understand them better. If you took the time to do that."


A very interesting interview of both Jean Claude Ellena and Christine Nagel is uploaded on the NY Mag on this link by Kathleen Hou. They explain how we can't be with people whose smell we don't like, whether Hermes soap is superior to all the other soap around, how marketing and perfumery work in weaving fragrant stories and how the two perfumers have almost fallen in love...with each other's work that is. Read on for interesting insights.

13 comments:

  1. I have just spent the last 3 weeks sniffing my way from Delhi to Miami to Moscow.
    I have not visited the 'western world' in 4 yrs so this was quite the adventure.
    All the Hermes I tried was a bit watery & wan for my tastes- perhaps I have truly been Indianized'?.
    As far as superior soap goes nothing beats good old olive oil based Maja as far as fantastic scent & gentle yet thorough skin cleansing (stocked up on Maja soap & dusting powder in Miami).Other than that Miami's kind of boring & pedestrian as far as fragrance goes. Perhaps I'm a bit jaded being a native Californicator though?
    Delhi's getting very upscale in it's taste in fragrances (just you pay no never mind to the Victoria's Secret fragrance shop in the duty free shopping area of IGIA though).
    Moscow was like WOW. Muscovites certainly spend a lot of $'s on perfume (funny how the prices for perfumes in Moscow were quoted in US Dollars).
    The Russians were smelling good but dressing badly.
    Yes, it's true we can't stand to be around people whose smell we don't like. I have often used perfume as a instrument of non violent protest in having to deal with persons I don't like. "Stink wars". I pitted TM's Angel vs a miserable co worker's copiously applied White Diamonds. It worked like a charm!

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    1. How very interesting!!!

      The newer Hermes scents do cater to a different aesthetic, that's true. They're quite light, though not watery really (apart from watery meaning "diluted" which is alas true for multiple brands due to the allergens threshold necessitating it).

      Russia is suffering from post-communism consumerism; everything deprived of is becoming the object of idolization. Which shows something of human nature. (The same happens with religion; everyone I know of Russian descent has fallen head over heels back into the church)

      How cute and fun that Angel was used against White Diamonds; I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of your office watching everyone else's reactions!! :-D

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  2. I did not know Hermes had soap.... but .... as Bibi says ... she does not like it and prefers Maja ---- oh my , that is a soap!!!
    Sadly Roger & Gallet were "soaps" but .... not anymore - very weak and they took carnation away !
    Must try to hunt out a Maja soap box in the stores ... rare here !!!!!!!!!!!

    You know Helg ...... its those rotten Shower Gels and Washes that have made soap crumby and not very popular now.
    Hell ...... I am a "old lady" :( LOL !

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    1. I believe I last saw in the Jardin series? Or does my memory trip me?
      I used to love the R&G soaps myself. They lasted long too. We have so many local made brands though.

      The gels and washes are so very often scented with fruity scents, which is a total turn off for me personally. But I do like the classic Italian Felce Azzure washes.They smell of powder, juniper and musk and are incredible! http://www.fishpond.com.au/Beauty/Felce-Azzurra-Classico-Shower-Gel-250ml/9999824359074

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  3. I still only use wonderful perfumed soaps. Years ago every time I bought a perfume and they had a soap, I bought it. I ended up with lots of soaps and am still using them up. I have not bought a bar of soap in a grocery store for decades. It is a true luxury.

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    1. Smart move on your part Phyllis! Soap doesn't spoil really and even if one is wary of using it one can put it in the linen and it gives off the loveliest scent to clothes and stuff.

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  4. Also, I couldn't agree more regarding how one must love how a person smells in order to love him/her. The sense of smell is undervalued by most people, but it is one of the most important senses. A whiff of something can bring back memories of years ago.

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    1. Maybe people are aware of the smell and its effect on liking or disliking someone but don't quite realize it as such? They don't put that much importance to it consciously though it does influence them a lot.

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  5. This is totally true. The sense of smell and the ability to love someone go hand in hand when you first find yourself attracted to a person.
    I also recall the smell of my grandparents' house, a place I loved to be. I haven't been there since 1978, however the smell remains with me to this day.
    love, jean

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    1. A lovely story and memory to share with us, Jean, thank you so much!

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  6. Thanks for the link, Elena. I'm always happy to read anything Ellena has to say. And Nagel is interesting too :-)

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    1. They do have a wonderfully intellectualized view of perfumery (JCE especially), it makes for thought-provoking reading indeed.

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  7. I do actually wear perfumes I don't like, many of them smell heavenly on me too. I do it because I want to understand why I do not like them.

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