Bottling the Memory Perfume


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Bottling the Memory

How three of the top perfumers - Christopher Brosius, Hermes's Jean Claude Ellena and principal of the Parisian school, Jean Guichard - go about their business.


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Perfume is magic worked by science. Its job - to capture the moment.

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Fragrance takes us back to good times, past loves, the moment we realised

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-our mother could smell of more than just mum.

-My mum was getting ready.

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That child's vision of the most beautiful princess was my mother.

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The message is romance, but the language is molecules,

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spoken by perfumers or noses. They're artists,

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scientists and philosophers.

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So many Americans want to smell clean. They really want to divorce themselves as much as possible

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from the way their own body truly smells.

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There are more astronauts than perfumers.

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They meddle with our memories, but their craft is a mystery. Who are they?

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Where are they?

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And how do you become one?

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In August, New York reeks.

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Below the surface, citizens endure the commute, breathing hot steel and perspiration.

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Above ground, a cacophony of scents

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riding on wet steam and rotting vegetation.

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If those odours provoke memories of good times,

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alternative perfumer Christopher Brosius will bottle them for you.

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'I think constantly about how things smell.

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'If I'm breathing in and out, on some level I'm working

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'because heaven knows I use a lot of things that have never before been considered as perfume.

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'The smell of the ink that comes out of a magic marker,

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'a box of crayons, a can of paint,

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'certain kinds of ink, paper bags, cardboard boxes, magazines. All of these things smell terrific.'

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# Do you know where you could be going? #

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Brosius makes scents that smell of real things.

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He has no truck with the mainstream fragrance industry or even most perfume wearers.

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So many Americans want to smell clean. That is one of the reasons

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that I Hate Perfume really came to be.

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Americans frequently have this idea that perfume is used by the French

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to cover up the fact that they never shower. This is utterly and completely ridiculous.

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The French are not afraid of the way people naturally smell.

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'In fact, sometimes perfumes are designed to really amplify that,

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'to make that really alluring and really erotic and really attractive.'

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One of his concoctions evokes the scent of a musky, unwashed body.

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This one has been known to scare people. It's really a love it or hate it thing.

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People smell it and go, "Oh, my God! I can't wear that. That's filthy!"

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Let's see what happens with that.

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I don't...dislike it. I mean, I'm not in love with it.

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-Uh-huh?

-But I wouldn't say I was scared of it. Actually, it smells kind of sweet to me.

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It's interesting, smelling around the human body, that there are certain parts that smell very sweet.

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This odd kind of sweet, spicy kind of mix.

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And that's what that particular scent is really all about.

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-Really? You like this?

-I think it's great!

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These scents can be challenging. Only the brave need apply them.

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There are lots of foods, particularly meats,

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that smell wonderful.

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Bacon! Bacon is divine!

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These are fantastic smells.

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One celebrity customer hated perfume, but wanted to remember good times at the family dining table.

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She came in here and she said, "I want something that smells good, but does not smell at all like perfume.

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"I want this." I said roast beef?

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Are you absolutely sure?

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And she said, "Yes, I am. I love it."

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And I said are you really, really, really sure?

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And she said, "Yes."

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Christopher Brosius finds beauty in what is real.

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French perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena creates fragrance inspired by fantasy.

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Ellena lives like a monk in a forest

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with a single lab technician and the sea breeze for company.

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He is the Obi Wan Kenobi of fragrance.

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I want to be alone, only with my thoughts.

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It's time to give more philosophy, to give more serenity, to give more spirit to perfumery.

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Ellena makes olfactory masterpieces with very few, very expensive ingredients.

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I like very much indeed the paintings of Cezanne and Matisse.

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And I like also abstract painting.

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I don't try to copy the reality. I don't care a damn about the reality.

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Because the illusion is more beautiful. It's like a dream

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and dreams are always more beautiful.

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'Perfumery is an esoteric art.

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'Talking to Jean-Claude, it's going to stay that way.'

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I think it's very hard for people to understand how to talk about fragrance as well.

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So maybe this is the best way to explain. I compare it to colours.

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Red, dark red. Dark and warmth.

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This is what I can do with perfume.

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Red, to me, is also hot. Can red be cold?

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Can red be cold?

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-Like blue can?

-Ah...can red be cold?

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Let me think about it.

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'If colour doesn't offer enough parallels, there's always texture.'

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-So you're saying smells have texture?

-Yeah. OK, I can take this one.

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The thing is, here the texture is... Now it's very cold

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because the steel is cold.

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It's cold and smooth.

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This is the kind of thing I can do with perfume. I can give, in this perfume, a kind of cold note,

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quite cold, and smooth.

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-Here it's very rough.

-Yes. The concrete.

-Concrete. Very rough.

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And, of course, I can play with both.

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Smooth and cold, harsh...and dry. Because this is very dry.

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-And I can smell the roughness?

-Of course you can smell it.

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Ellena is the nose for French lifestyle house Hermes,

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but allegedly doesn't have to make a whiff of anything until he feels inspired.

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If you ask me to make what you are looking for,

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there is a disaster already

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because I will not offer you a surprise.

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But if you ask me, "Give me a surprise," ah! I am ready to work

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month and month and month

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and sleep badly.

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I want to give you, to share and give you something that you say,

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"Ah! Oh, yes! Oh, yes, I like it."

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It's not a demand, it's a gift.

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If you like my way of doing things,

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this is a plus.

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But I like very much this approach because...we take the time.

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Before he was a sorcerer,

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Ellena was an apprentice at the school for noses.

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Located just outside Paris, it's run by the biggest chemical company in the fragrance world - Givaudan.

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The school trains perfumers who'll win contracts to create fragrances for big-name brands.

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Jean-Claude Ellena went his own way. Today students are prepared for a corporate life of strict budgets

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and stricter deadlines.

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Many apply, few are chosen.

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This year, there are five students.

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Some years they don't take any.

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The Principal is master perfumer Jean Guichard.

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He picks the noses of the future.

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The perfumer should be a mixture between a scientist and a poet.

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When I meet people, I know if they have talent or not.

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I don't want you to have people who say, "I am going to be a perfumer to make a lot of money."

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That doesn't interest me at all.

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Very often they say, "My dream is to be a perfumer since I am a little girl or a little boy.

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"And my grandmother say I've got a fantastic nose," and all that,

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but then when you look at that resume they have been doing nothing around perfume.

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And you have some people after five minutes you are bored.

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I say, "Well, I won't like to spend three years with them."

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I keep that in mind.

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Guichard wants cultured geniuses with winning personalities.

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Could I be one?

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We can try.

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Quentin Biche was a country boy with a dream.

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There were flowers everywhere at home.

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When I was of maybe eight, nine, ten years old, I wanted to create perfume.

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Quentin doesn't know anything about chemistry.

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But he was interested in perfume. He came to see me once.

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We talked about cinema...

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It was a complete disaster. He was trying to make perfume,

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mixing, you know, products he saw in shops.

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After a while, I was sure that it was over. And then one Thursday afternoon,

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I had the phone in my pocket at the time.

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I saw the 01, so Paris. I was like, "Oh!" "Hello, it is Jean Guichard."

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So I pre-selected him.

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He told me, "If you're still interested..." And that was it.

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-I think he's got a lot of talent.

-I was hired.

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I'm sorry.

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It's remarkable.

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I'm really lucky.

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We know in the school how to teach the technique. We don't know how to teach creativity.

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'Linda Song had the right stuff, despite her disadvantaged upbringing.'

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I grew up in a small town called Greeley in Colorado.

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Anybody in Colorado who knows it, their first reaction is, "Oh!"

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It was very different from Paris. It's funny. I tried to send flowers to my mom for Mother's Day

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and especially with being here and exposed to so many different seasonal flowers,

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I had all these grand ideas of what I was going to send her. That's just not available in Colorado!

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In the hall, a cabinet of liquid trophies.

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They are all products made by people trained by us.

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What do we have? Poison by Christian Dior, Lou Lou from Cacharel,

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we've got Obsession from Calvin Klein,

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we've got L'Air du Temps,

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and this one also is doing very well at the moment.

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That is One Million from Paco Rabanne.

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We say, you know, that one third of the products created in the world

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are created by people trained by our school.

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One day, I'm sure it will be their products that will be there. For sure.

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Right now, the students can only dream of creating scents that will make perfume history,

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that will carry us back to other times, places,

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and people.

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It makes me think of first love.

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It makes me think of...

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..being sixteen.

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The first time I smelt this,

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it was on a 17-year-old boy when I was 16 years old.

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And I was at school.

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He was an absolutely beautiful boy. I'm sure he still is.

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And I just assumed when I got close to him and smelt him

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that this was naturally what he smelt like.

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I just thought some boys were born magically fragrant and lovely.

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It was a big shock to find out he was wearing this.

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It was a defining scent for me

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in terms of how...intoxicating scent can be.

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In all honesty, I still have yet to find another male scent that matches this.

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The fantasy of what men could be like didn't match up to the reality of men.

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I don't think I've ever come across a man who encapsulates everything that I smelt in this,

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that I thought men could be. So far. It could change.

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Christopher Brosius is in the business of evoking memories.

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He profits from the sense of loss that fragrance exploits.

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# I remember sky... #

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Scent is really about emotion.

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There is an enormous connection between scent and memory.

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# Or at least I think... #

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People smell something and they immediately flash on an experience that they've had.

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The smell actually evokes the emotion that you felt at the time

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that you were experiencing the thing that became the memory.

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# Sharp as thumb tacks Coming down like... #

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You know, when people, without, you know,

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really thinking it or expecting it, pick up a bottle and suddenly they are really transfixed.

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They are in a different place and a different time and feeling something they'd utterly forgotten,

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but suddenly in this simple little bottle, here it is again.

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I have clients who keep them kind of as a modern smelling salt.

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If they're in their office and their boss is being more than a little demanding or incredibly difficult,

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they can take a bottle out of their desk drawer or their bag

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and smell it and, at least for a few brief seconds, they have a break. They're somewhere else.

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They feel better.

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Brosius has his own way of recovering times past.

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This is... the makings of...

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A Memory of Kindness,

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which is a perfume that is very, very important to me.

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It's really the smell of tomato leaves and tomato vines growing in a garden.

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I wanted that smell. Tomato leaves.

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One of the earliest memories I have is of...

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creeping very quietly

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one summer afternoon.

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I crawled under the tomato vines in my aunt's garden.

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-#

-It was a very good year...

-#

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I'm sitting... in the dirt, under the vines,

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which to a small child seemed kind of like a jungle.

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You know, it's like wild and it's another country in there.

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And...

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You know, when I was a child in the country, gardens were important, particularly vegetable ones.

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They fed the family, frequently, so they were really not to be messed with.

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And, you know, a lot of people would have scolded a child for going in there,

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but my aunt, that was not her way.

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She gave me a cookie and... I realised, you know,

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she is perhaps the kindest person I've ever known.

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And, um,

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so much of my childhood are memories involving her

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and that just all-pervading sense of kindness.

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And it all comes back to the smell of a tomato leaf.

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-#

-Who lived up the stairs...

-#

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So that's what that perfume is really all about.

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-#

-With all that perfume in the air...

-#

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-I can see you are transported as you smell this.

-Mm-hm.

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-Is that what people come to you wanting to experience?

-Yes.

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-Transport?

-Yes.

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Yes.

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-#

-Bali Hai call you...

-#

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A few streets away across Brooklyn is the home of fashion designer Sean Crowley.

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-#

-In your heart you'll hear it call you...

-#

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He's American, but pines constantly for an England that vanished somewhere around 1930.

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Having an English grandfather who was an Anglophile himself,

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growing up with lots of old things around, getting to know the comfort of a nice kind of worn-in thing,

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really sort of gave me the bug for all things English.

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-A bit of a mug.

-Another one.

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A pot with a handle.

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And thank you. It's complete.

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Crowley loves old Albion as only someone who doesn't live there can.

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He's got everything but the smell.

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There's an unmistakeably British weird, fusty, musty old smell.

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That I love. I don't know how you bottle that.

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I mean, the kinds of things I imagine. Tweed has a very distinctive smell.

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Certainly when it gets wet, it becomes quite pungent.

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It smells like a wet dog. If you could make it work, I'd wear it.

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I don't have a fragrance at the moment.

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Christopher Brosius is renowned locally for his alchemy.

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Crowley wants a scent that will take him across the sea without the inconvenience of leaving home.

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His vision may be a bit Sherlock Holmes, but it's a start.

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Brosius seems to be thinking more Bonnie Prince Charlie.

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-#

-Some day

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-#

-You'll see me...

-#

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Yay!

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Mmm.

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-So what is it that you're after?

-Well...

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-I mean, I'm an Anglophile.

-Mm-hm.

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I love old musty things.

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I'm a bit of an Anglophile myself.

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-Forgiven.

-Let's discuss your experience of England.

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-Well?

-Things like... You know, pipe tobacco.

-Mm-hm.

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-But where do you really smell it when you're there?

-Out of the pipe that I'm smoking.

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-That YOU are smoking?

-Yes.

-OK.

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-Cobblestones...

-OK.

-..are in evidence.

-OK.

-Wet tweed sleeve.

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That's one you should work on.

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-Of, you know, like an old army great coat...

-OK.

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-..packed in a crate for 60 years...

-Yeah.

-..kind of smell.

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-That is a strangely pleasant and distinctively English smell.

-That makes sense.

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-I love the smell of old books.

-You took the words out of my mouth.

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Well, put that one down. Old books. That was on there.

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Is there anything else you can think of that really means England to you?

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Whisky. Scotch.

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Mm-hm. All of these things really do fit together. It would make a very, very nice smell.

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Before they can create any fragrance, students at the nose school must absorb

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a great body of knowledge about scented raw materials, man-made and natural elements,

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animal, mineral and vegetable.

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In midsummer, Jean Guichard takes his pupils to Provence to study lavender.

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You know, they have to see the plant and maybe, you know, looking at the plant in the natural,

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when they work with lavender, it is not something abstract.

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That might give them, you know, some idea for, you know, a project or whatever.

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Lavender is a key note in a whole class of scents - the ferns or fougeres.

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There is one family very important. It is fougere, fern.

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That family is very successful for men. A big example are the old Brut from Faberge,

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Paco Rabanne for men, One Million.

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I always tell them work, work, work, but don't work like a rat in a lab

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because you won't have the ideas.

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-Can you hear the bees?

-Ah, oui. The bees.

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I like to be here alone with no noise around.

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No people talking, no cars. Just to hear the...

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To sleep in the middle of the field

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and think about the next future lavender.

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Not all ladies, but young ladies. Young ladies, yeah.

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Beautiful young ladies.

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So that is clary sage. Clary sage. We use that also in perfumery.

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It is a raw material that is very successful for men's products.

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And some people like, you know, that smell very much.

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But very often we say it is a bit sweaty, it smells like sweat, but not female sweat. Male sweat.

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Do you like the smell of it?

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Em...

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-Not.

-No? Yes, you like?

0:26:350:26:38

Yes, usually it is very controversial.

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After a few days in the sunshine, the students appreciate the value of getting out of the lab.

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Jean-Claude Ellena is also out of the lab, looking for inspiration

0:26:540:27:00

and finding it in Paris.

0:27:000:27:03

'On the top of the Hermes boutique,

0:27:120:27:14

'on the roof, we have a small garden.

0:27:140:27:17

'Nobody knows from the streets that we have a garden in the top.

0:27:170:27:22

'It's a very peaceful place. It's another world.

0:27:230:27:27

'So I play with that.'

0:27:270:27:29

Ellena has made the relationship between man and nature a theme of his recent fragrances.

0:27:350:27:42

And we have a pear. Pear trees here. That smells wonderful.

0:27:430:27:48

Roses here.

0:27:480:27:50

We have magnolia. Magnolia, yeah?

0:27:500:27:54

These then will be the elements in the perfume Garden On The Roof,

0:27:550:28:00

next in a series of fragrances inspired by exotic gardens.

0:28:000:28:05

Back in the south, Ellena visits specialist chemical suppliers

0:28:080:28:12

to order minute quantities of raw materials for his experiments.

0:28:120:28:17

If any of these make it into his finished perfume,

0:28:170:28:21

the order will be measured in hundreds of kilos, costing thousands of euros.

0:28:210:28:27

Back at his desk in the woods, the juices start to flow.

0:28:290:28:33

Here begins the story.

0:28:480:28:51

And for me it's not a perfume yet.

0:28:550:28:58

Maybe I have to bring in this perfume

0:28:580:29:02

the feeling of the sun.

0:29:020:29:05

The feeling of the dew of the morning.

0:29:060:29:09

Once he starts, there's no stopping Ellena.

0:29:090:29:13

Ideas tumble out and technician Anne Maynard turns every one into a chemical sketch.

0:29:140:29:21

-Anne?

-Oui?

0:29:210:29:23

-Here are...all the... How do you say?

-Tries.

-Tries.

0:29:270:29:32

-And this is about three weeks' work.

-All of this is three weeks' work?

0:29:320:29:38

Yes, mm-hm.

0:29:380:29:39

Per day, Jean-Claude can make...

0:29:390:29:43

..like, 10 or 12, maximum, tries like this.

0:29:440:29:48

-When you say you often clean it...?

-Because it's full.

0:29:480:29:53

-And I need to be...

-Yes.

-To keep them like this.

0:29:530:29:56

-I like to clean.

-Yes, but when you say clean I have a horrible feeling you mean throw them away.

0:29:560:30:03

-Yes, exactly.

-Any one of these could turn out to be a classic fragrance

0:30:030:30:09

-that the world would love.

-Yeah, but I have to decide.

0:30:090:30:13

-I have to decide.

-But...but some of those could be another Eau Sauvage or a Shalimar.

0:30:140:30:22

-Or...

-Maybe, maybe.

0:30:220:30:25

I'm very shocked by that cupboard.

0:30:250:30:28

In there. Great things, never to see the light of day.

0:30:280:30:32

'This is what makes great perfume so costly.

0:30:360:30:39

'The ingredients are expensive, development's a fortune

0:30:390:30:44

'and the creator kills all his babies.

0:30:440:30:48

'When it does emerge, this fragrance will become someone's scent signature,

0:30:490:30:55

'provoking memories of them whenever it's smelled for ever after.'

0:30:550:31:01

I'm outside of my parents' bedroom. She had like a dressing room,

0:31:010:31:06

my mother. Before she went out at night, there just would always be this lovely, warm smell.

0:31:060:31:12

It evokes in me...

0:31:140:31:16

..associations with glamour, of when my mum was getting ready.

0:31:180:31:23

A child's vision of a most beautiful princess. That was my mother.

0:31:230:31:27

And so, I suppose, it... that scent...

0:31:270:31:32

encapsulated not only memories of my mother, but...

0:31:320:31:37

also evoked feelings of safety and comfort, I suppose.

0:31:370:31:42

To work their magic, perfumers at the nose school must learn to recognise a vast palette

0:31:470:31:53

of scent notes.

0:31:530:31:55

In their three years here, they don't actually make any fragrance.

0:31:550:31:59

It's just one giant chemistry lesson.

0:31:590:32:03

First, I mean they've got to learn, you know, the raw materials. It's like the alphabet.

0:32:030:32:09

All scents are a combination of odorous chemical elements suspended in alcohol.

0:32:090:32:15

There's a lot to learn.

0:32:150:32:17

You have to memorise about 500 raw materials.

0:32:170:32:22

And to learn how to mix them in order to create something good.

0:32:220:32:27

Along with endless smelling, there are countless tests.

0:32:280:32:32

Quentin is the only student with no previous experience of chemistry.

0:32:350:32:41

What I don't like is when they come to see me without having worked enough.

0:32:410:32:47

Then they will lose time and I get upset.

0:32:470:32:51

He's been given the task of identifying individual ingredients in solution

0:32:510:32:57

and deciding their relative concentrations.

0:32:570:33:01

What amount did you have to find?

0:33:030:33:06

-10 for the coriander.

-That's OK.

0:33:060:33:09

-Black pepper, five.

-That's OK as well.

0:33:110:33:15

-Nutmeg, I say 10.

-That's OK as well.

-OK.

0:33:150:33:20

Missing a woody product, you know...

0:33:200:33:24

Not very far from cedar wood.

0:33:250:33:27

OK.

0:33:300:33:31

-Could it be kephalis?

-No.

-Cedrol?

-It is, yes. Very good.

0:33:320:33:37

-I had a really hard time finding them.

-He's a good student.

0:33:370:33:42

'My dream is to smell a perfume I have created on somebody who is in the street or subway or theatre.'

0:33:420:33:50

And that's...that's that's the dream.

0:33:500:33:54

Linda is further along the course and has a more complex task -

0:33:550:33:59

dissecting the chemical elements of accords or blends of notes.

0:33:590:34:04

Linda, she has learnt the raw materials. Now she learns how to mix them.

0:34:040:34:09

Hedione and Hexyl Cinnamic Aldehyde?

0:34:230:34:26

On this one,

0:34:270:34:30

in fact, there are three raw materials.

0:34:300:34:33

-And you have identified two out of three?

-Yes.

0:34:330:34:37

-So I identified eco essence...

-Yes.

0:34:370:34:41

-And isoraldeine 70.

-Yes, very good.

0:34:410:34:45

-And what is the third one?

-Linalyl acetate 114,

0:34:450:34:49

benzyl acetate 116, oil 117

0:34:490:34:53

and indoline 118.

0:34:530:34:55

Perfect. Very good. Very good.

0:34:550:34:58

So this one, it was difficult for you to find indoline?

0:34:580:35:02

-Yes.

-Yeah.

0:35:020:35:04

I find a lot of them very difficult!

0:35:050:35:08

And...

0:35:110:35:13

149 to 153?

0:35:130:35:16

I was missing one raw material.

0:35:160:35:19

If you don't know your raw materials perfectly, then you are losing your time.

0:35:190:35:25

The investment in this tiny student body is enormous.

0:35:260:35:30

They're recruited to fill specific positions in the Givaudan empire,

0:35:310:35:37

jobs that will be waiting for them when, if, they graduate.

0:35:370:35:41

Christopher Brosius is in London. He's researching its signature smells

0:35:490:35:55

for Sean Crowley's British scent.

0:35:550:35:58

'England, for me, is a real sense of eternity.'

0:36:030:36:07

-#

-Lays me down with my mind she runs...

-#

0:36:070:36:12

There's an underlying English smell here which I recognise as London.

0:36:120:36:17

Kind of dirty, urban smell.

0:36:170:36:20

It's been a while and things have changed.

0:36:200:36:24

The perfumer's scent memories are unreliable.

0:36:240:36:28

It's really just boring. The old ones had leather seats.

0:36:280:36:33

You know, so they had an inherent smell of their own.

0:36:330:36:37

I think from, you know, just like a decade or so of people riding in them

0:36:370:36:43

the leather was soaked with a much more interesting smell.

0:36:430:36:47

'It's changed a lot. There are a lot of things I've noticed that are very different.'

0:36:540:37:01

See now? It doesn't smell the same.

0:37:060:37:09

I was expecting a more diesel kind of smell.

0:37:090:37:13

-#

-Never a frown with golden brown...

-#

0:37:130:37:18

RUMBLE OF THUNDER

0:37:240:37:26

The scent of phonebooks hanging in the phone boxes.

0:37:280:37:32

They were always there on the chain, generally battered to hell.

0:37:320:37:36

A couple smelt absolutely dreadful. Apparently, there was no public gentleman's convenience nearby.

0:37:410:37:47

I realised that that phonebook smell is gone.

0:37:500:37:55

It's...just like the dodo. A thing of the past.

0:37:560:38:00

Client Sean Crowley was thinking mildewed frock coats and hansom cabs, but they're extinct.

0:38:040:38:10

At least the pubs are still clinging on.

0:38:100:38:14

Could I have a pint of Black Sheep, please?

0:38:140:38:18

'There is only the smell of beer in here.

0:38:180:38:22

'There is no longer the smell of smoke.

0:38:220:38:26

'I remember when I was much younger, the first pub that I ever went into, you could barely see the barkeep!'

0:38:260:38:33

It's a very London thing.

0:38:370:38:40

The problem is...

0:38:420:38:44

this is not something

0:38:440:38:47

that is going to translate well into something that can be worn.

0:38:480:38:53

Think about the scent of Stilton cheese. It's a wonderful smell.

0:38:530:38:58

You would not want to be anywhere near a person who smelled like Stilton cheese!

0:38:580:39:05

They're not things that you can really put on the human body

0:39:070:39:11

and it's gonna smell alluring in any way.

0:39:110:39:16

I have a client who's an actress with a director that she'd never worked with before.

0:39:160:39:22

Apparently, on the first day of rehearsal, he pulled her aside

0:39:220:39:26

and said, "Drinking isn't going to be a problem with you, is it?"

0:39:260:39:30

And she said, "No! Why do you ask?"

0:39:300:39:32

He said, "You really smell like whisky a lot."

0:39:320:39:37

And she said, "Oh, no, no! It's my perfume!"

0:39:370:39:41

And she had to bring him the bottle to show so that he would believe her.

0:39:410:39:46

And I thought, "Oh, you know, that's not something that I'd really considered before."

0:39:460:39:52

-But it's something to be mindful of.

-Was it one of your perfumes?

-Yes.

0:39:520:39:58

Alcohol is risky.

0:39:590:40:01

Dairy is a no no.

0:40:010:40:03

Sean Crowley's scent may be unattainable.

0:40:030:40:07

'The smell of a bus seat, the scent of wet London pavement,

0:40:080:40:14

'the inside of a taxi cab. You know, I need to be able to have all those little bits and pieces

0:40:140:40:20

'that can be assembled to create something that is really, for Sean,

0:40:200:40:25

'his ultimate London experience.'

0:40:250:40:28

Much of what perfumer and client were after has evaporated over time,

0:40:290:40:35

but there is one smell that will be forever England.

0:40:350:40:40

You know what? Different books from different countries smell slightly different from different periods.

0:41:120:41:18

English books have a very particular smell because it's so...

0:41:180:41:24

humid here.

0:41:240:41:26

It really does kind of saturate things.

0:41:270:41:31

These are books that lived in libraries where it was humid

0:41:310:41:37

for decade upon decade upon decade.

0:41:370:41:41

For heaven's sake.

0:41:440:41:46

Or there was a wood fire that was burned routinely. All of that soaks into the paper, binding and glue.

0:41:460:41:54

These English books smell like England because that's where they are.

0:41:550:42:00

Could a book from the right era have the right smell?

0:42:000:42:04

Does an edition of Bleak House smell of old floorboards?

0:42:040:42:08

-We have some of Dickens' first editions.

-Oh, really?

0:42:080:42:13

-Interesting. Could I just smell one of those?

-Of course.

0:42:130:42:17

'What I'll be doing for Sean is creating things that are a London that no longer exists.'

0:42:170:42:24

Oh, I see!

0:42:240:42:26

'A PG Wodehouse experience of England.'

0:42:260:42:30

-1862.

-Mm-hm.

0:42:300:42:32

In September, Jean-Claude Ellena takes his ideas for the garden on the roof scent

0:42:380:42:45

to his employers in Paris.

0:42:450:42:47

This fragrance must be a liquid expression of quality, craft and provenance.

0:42:500:42:55

Wearers must smell it and know it's more than just expensive.

0:42:550:43:00

He may have complete creative freedom, but even Ellena has a client to please -

0:43:040:43:10

the general manager of Hermes Perfumes, Catherine Fulconis.

0:43:100:43:15

FROM FRENCH:

0:43:160:43:19

Ellena has brought two possible versions of his scent, romantically named 52 and 53.

0:43:250:43:32

Now Ellena reveals a surprise - a third scent idea,

0:44:310:44:35

something that survived the cleaning out of his cupboard.

0:44:350:44:40

The philosopher nose will return to his forest to adjust, refine and dream some more.

0:45:490:45:55

Christopher Brosius is about to offer thoughts on the smell of Britain to his client, Sean Crowley.

0:46:030:46:10

He's memorised the smells of London and recreated them with a mix of ingredients

0:46:120:46:17

sourced from chemical companies.

0:46:170:46:20

The army great coast that he mentioned was very intriguing to me,

0:46:220:46:27

although I know that fabric smells have been a big challenge to really get right.

0:46:270:46:34

It's one of those kinds of smells

0:46:340:46:37

that the perfume industry overlooks.

0:46:370:46:41

It's like they're not interested in the smell of wool or tweed or cotton or silk.

0:46:410:46:47

They want things that are pretty, like flowers, fruits, trees.

0:46:470:46:52

The challenge is always do the aroma chemicals exist

0:46:530:46:58

that I can use to put this together?

0:46:580:47:01

Cos for them it's about, naturally, what is commercially viable.

0:47:010:47:05

And what they... Commercially viable, in this country particularly, means easy.

0:47:050:47:12

"What can we make a lot of and sell a ton of without really having to do anything about it?" Lovin' that(!)

0:47:120:47:19

It's been five months since Sean Crowley was last here.

0:47:220:47:26

He's ready to smell Britain.

0:47:260:47:29

'It would be nice to have a little jar on a table and just pick it up

0:47:290:47:34

'and have a remembrance, but I'd really like it to be something that I could wear.

0:47:340:47:41

'I mean, I think that would be the ideal.'

0:47:410:47:44

So essentially what we're going to do is sit down and we'll start with the prime note

0:47:440:47:50

and play with a whole bunch of blotters and I'll make more notes

0:47:500:47:55

-so that the accords can be then specifically made to...

-To just him?

-Yes, exactly.

0:47:550:48:02

This is a tobacco absolute.

0:48:030:48:06

You can sort of see...

0:48:070:48:09

-..kind of like where that's going.

-Oh, yeah.

0:48:110:48:15

-It smells like a pipe after you've...

-Yes.

0:48:150:48:21

Let's have a whiff of the firewood, which is very much an English drawing room fireplace

0:48:210:48:28

that I thought might be some of the background for that men's club idea.

0:48:280:48:35

Oh, yeah. That's nice.

0:48:350:48:38

We didn't talk about gin very much. Any thoughts on that?

0:48:390:48:44

Em...yes, please.

0:48:440:48:46

OK!

0:48:460:48:47

Cos I have to say that that is one scent that...

0:48:470:48:52

a lot of my English clientele, boy, do they get it!

0:48:520:48:56

-London dry gin...

-Hmm.

0:48:560:48:59

It's funny. I was in a pub, a nice, old, proper English pub

0:48:590:49:03

and it was the first one I'd been into for a while, certainly since the smoking ban.

0:49:030:49:09

Well, that wonderful sort of fusty, smoky, tobacco-y,

0:49:090:49:14

cut a little piece off and take it home atmosphere has gone.

0:49:140:49:18

-They call that progress.

-We'll get that kind of like human carpet smell, why not?

0:49:190:49:26

I like again that faintly mouldy,

0:49:260:49:30

earthy quality.

0:49:300:49:33

-It's like an animal smell.

-Mm-hm.

0:49:330:49:36

-Absolutely right. You can smell it?

-Yeah.

-Good. It's called wet sheep.

-Oh.

0:49:360:49:42

It's like the downmarket is just what you want sometimes.

0:49:420:49:46

You want the Cadbury smell. You want... What's my favourite one in England? Fairy Liquid!

0:49:460:49:53

-Dish-washing liquid.

-OK.

0:49:530:49:55

-Those are important.

-I just noticed - porcelain?

-Mm-hm.

0:49:560:50:00

-A tough note.

-Mm.

0:50:010:50:04

There will be more blending and shaping before the scent is ready,

0:50:040:50:09

but it's possible to smell a rough sketch now.

0:50:090:50:13

This is a lot.

0:50:130:50:16

-Somewhere in that cloud is England.

-Yeah. Sure.

0:50:240:50:28

I'm definitely getting, like you said, lots of...

0:50:330:50:37

-Green.

-..green, vegetable kind of...

0:50:370:50:40

-Is the chocolate in there? The Cadbury?

-It is.

0:50:400:50:45

-That's great. Thank you.

-Sure. What I would need to do then is go back with these notes,

0:50:450:50:51

-further refine those core English ideas.

-Mm.

0:50:510:50:56

-I'll put those together into...perfume!

-Right.

-Mm-hm.

0:50:560:51:01

Anglomania.

0:51:010:51:02

Perfume is always an art about time.

0:51:020:51:06

It takes times to create it,

0:51:060:51:08

it takes time to... think about it,

0:51:080:51:12

it takes time to really have it on the skin telling its story.

0:51:120:51:17

All of these things are about time.

0:51:170:51:20

In the modern world, time is a luxury that is not cheap.

0:51:200:51:24

'It's like having a suit made,

0:51:270:51:30

'but much longer! Having multiple fittings and going back

0:51:300:51:34

'and smelling and refining and tweaking.'

0:51:340:51:38

A bespoke perfume like this costs in excess of 2,000.

0:51:390:51:44

'It just adds one more layer to your life.

0:51:460:51:51

'You know, it's something that you look for that you didn't look for before, in this case smells,

0:51:510:51:58

'fragrances. And, I guess, fragrances from unlikely places.'

0:51:580:52:03

And so I really hope that maybe through this

0:52:030:52:08

we can actually find something that reeks of England.

0:52:080:52:13

It's going to be a long haul, but I look forward to it.

0:52:130:52:17

At the Parisian nose school, the students are aquiver.

0:52:240:52:28

They're about to meet a famous old boy, a man who once was what they are now.

0:52:280:52:34

Outside, master perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena is just another face in the crowd.

0:52:390:52:45

In here, he's a god.

0:52:450:52:47

One of the big perfumers. Wow.

0:52:480:52:51

It's like meeting a celebrity.

0:52:530:52:56

I was the first student of the school. The first one!

0:52:590:53:03

That was terrible.

0:53:040:53:06

I know a little bit about the school.

0:53:080:53:11

All of you know who is Jean-Claude. Our school has trained a lot of perfumers.

0:53:110:53:16

We think 30% of the perfumes created in the world were created by perfumers trained here.

0:53:160:53:23

-Unfortunately, that doesn't mean one in every three perfumes in the world is sold by Givaudan!

-Nearly!

0:53:230:53:30

We train some perfumers and, unfortunately, I hope you will not follow that example,

0:53:310:53:37

some of them leave us. Jean-Claude is an example.

0:53:370:53:42

Oh, thank you!

0:53:420:53:44

Thank you. Thank you, Jean.

0:53:460:53:49

Today they are going to leave the school and work for Givaudan.

0:53:490:53:53

What advice would you give them?

0:53:530:53:56

You have to believe in yourself and at the same time you need to have doubt because...

0:53:560:54:02

It means that you are creating feeling.

0:54:020:54:07

If you have no doubts,

0:54:070:54:10

you have a problem, I believe.

0:54:100:54:13

If you are too sure about yourself,

0:54:140:54:16

you close your mind.

0:54:180:54:20

And I'm sure that the customer can feel it.

0:54:200:54:25

So be sure, but at the same time be open.

0:54:250:54:29

Not easy. And I'm sure the customer can understand that.

0:54:300:54:35

Guichard is taking a risk inviting Ellena.

0:54:350:54:39

He's a star, but he's also a maverick who has written his own rules.

0:54:390:54:45

The students might get ideas.

0:54:450:54:48

He takes you because you are an artist and he likes to work with you because you represent what he is not.

0:54:480:54:55

I have no brief. No market test.

0:54:570:55:00

No market test on the perfume, on the bottle, no market test at all.

0:55:000:55:06

For me, marketing has nothing to do with the art. ELLENA LAUGHS

0:55:060:55:11

What I do in Hermes is what I do for me. The signature of the Hermes perfume is my signature.

0:55:130:55:19

The trainees have yet to make a fragrance,

0:55:220:55:26

but they've had a glimpse of the world of creative expression a perfumer can enjoy.

0:55:260:55:32

We could have spent all day with him, probably, just listening to everything he had to say.

0:55:320:55:39

There are so many things to think about now and to digest.

0:55:440:55:48

It's like new universes that open for us.

0:55:480:55:52

When he's talking about the details of how far he can go in his work,

0:55:520:55:57

it's something that we dream about and we hope to be at one day.

0:55:570:56:01

They may be destined for a different world from the man in the woods,

0:56:010:56:06

but their mission is essentially the same -

0:56:060:56:09

to create something that is more than just a nice smell,

0:56:090:56:14

a fragrance that has the power to inspire the memories of the future.

0:56:140:56:19

Such memories... come flying back to me.

0:56:260:56:30

As far away as my 18th birthday,

0:56:310:56:34

which was just after the war had finished.

0:56:340:56:38

Beautiful warm summer's evening

0:56:410:56:44

and this just gently wafting up from the flowers in the night air.

0:56:450:56:50

Oh, lots of lovely times.

0:56:500:56:52

I remember we used to go dancing, which was quite a lot.

0:56:530:56:58

It always found its way behind my ears or on my wrist.

0:56:580:57:02

Promises, promises, I guess.

0:57:020:57:05

I wore this perfume

0:57:070:57:10

when I got married and obviously it accompanied me on our honeymoon.

0:57:100:57:16

No matter what, this is the one.

0:57:210:57:23

It could only be French, couldn't it?

0:57:280:57:31

Next time, perfumers seek big opportunities in new economies.

0:57:350:57:40

European and the American business have not enjoyed tremendous success. These regions are exploding!

0:57:400:57:47

'It's not just about fine fragrance.'

0:57:490:57:52

-Is that the magical moment?

-It's one of those.

-'The secret is decoding local tastes and pandering to them.'

0:57:520:57:59

-She'll love this one.

-That's gorgeous.

0:58:010:58:04

'Tales from a liquid gold rush. Scents and sensibilities.'

0:58:040:58:09

Ahhh!

0:58:090:58:10

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2011

0:58:170:58:21

Email [email protected]

0:58:220:58:24

Perfumers are molecular chemists and sensual creatives who seek to trigger pleasurable memories and associations through our most primitive sense. We follow three different types of perfumer - or nose - to find out how they do it and what it takes to become one.

Jean Claude Ellena is in-house nose at French brand Hermes. We spend time with him in his studio in the woods, musing, sniffing and then creating a fragrance inspired by a secret garden. American Christopher Brosius is the Proust of perfume, a punk star with a mission to create scents that that can speak to us of times past - whether through the smell of tomato leaves or musty books. Jean Guichard is the principal of the Parisian school for noses. There are more astronauts than there are perfumers - so how does he spot the right stuff in students who may not be aware they have it?