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The Perfect Scent

The Perfect Scent

A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York

Chandler Burr

Henry Holt and Co.

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From the New York Times perfume critic, a stylish, fascinating, unprecedented insider's view of the global perfume industry, told through two creators working on two very different scents.

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 Perfect Scent is the story of two daring creators, two very different scents, and a billion-dollar industry that runs on the invisible magic of perfume.

EXCERPT

Introduction

On June 9, 2004, just before 5:00 p.m., Jean-Claude Ellena was being driven to a meeting at the offices of Parfums Hermès in Pantin, just outside the périphérique to the northeast of Paris. Ellena was a famous ghost, a member...

Reviews

Praise for The Perfect Scent

“Filled with fascinating revelations about an industry built on illusions . . . entices you to marvel all the more at the power of fragrance.” —The Dallas Morning News

The Perfect Scent has drama, unforgettable characters, history, and location.” —Los Angeles Times

“An inside, Hollywoodesque account.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Burr winds his way deep into the secretive, dark, high-stakes world of perfumery, where following the scent can be hazardous to your career. . . . He smells the story in each bottle.” —Associated Press

“Passionate and captivating.” —The Toronto Star

“An appealing writer and an acute observer, [who] tells his two stories well.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Filled with fascinating revelations about an industry built on illusions.” —The Kansas City Star

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Chandler Burr

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.

Chandler Burr

Chandler Burr

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Chandler Burr at The New York Times