Currently in France as in many countries all over the world, we must stay home, safe and warm! But even from afar, we still think of you. The opportunity to help you chase away boredom with a few fragrant distractions. With these films and books about perfume, we take your little nose on a journey to the heart of the 7th art and literature. Let’s continue to share our passion for perfume together and improve our olfactory culture!
A star is born: the perfume
At home, you like to curl up on the sofa to (re)discover classic movies. Films, by their very nature, are audiovisual experiences that appeal to only two of our five senses: hearing and sight. In 2020, the idea that a film can actually stimulate our nose remains premature. Yet there are countless moments in the cinema when we can almost touch, taste or smell what’s happening on the screen.
However, relatively few films have really explored the power of scents. But if you look a little closer, cinema and perfume have a lot in common and trigger all sorts of emotions in us. There are finally some great films that have given perfume the starring role, or at least the supporting role. Here is our inspired selection for all perfume lovers.
Perfume in the spotlight
When we talk about perfume and cinema, how could we not mention Tom Tykwer’s Perfume released in 2006, inspired by Patrick Süskind’s emblematic work. If the novel is far more famous than its film adaptation, it could also occupy a long rainy Sunday! To set the scene, we find the character of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, endowed with an incredible sense of smell, during the 18th century in France. His consuming passion for smells will eventually turn him into a murderer. A dark and breathless story that will tickle your nose!
Another classic to devour during this time: Scent of a woman with Al Pacino. In the main role of an irascible former soldier who has gone blind, the actor plays Colonel Slade, a great seducer who chooses women thanks to his sense of smell. This film offers us a poignant account of the deprivation of the senses that can lead to new ways of looking at life, seduction and love.
In another style, we also recommend Coco before Chanel. This eponymous biopic takes us into the tormented love story of the instigator of the famous Chanel n°5.
Although perfume is still sometimes shy in the cinema, it has inspired many authors. In our libraries, there are a multitude of books about perfume, so much literature and fragrance can be closely linked. The house of Guerlain has even created a short story writing contest, open to all, on a theme full of scents. Fiction or reality, here is our selection of small and large readings to occupy your nose.
Feed your eyes with scented words
Before immersing yourself into a good novel, we highly recommend reading Nez, la revue olfactive. Created in 2016, it covers all the cultures and practices related to olfaction and perfume. And there’s plenty to say! The passionate editors deal with perfumery, of course, but also with art, science and anthropology. The magazine is published semi-annually, and you can buy it directly from the website to read it on your tablet or on your computer, sitting comfortably in your sofa by the light of a scented candle to create a cozy atmosphere as you wish!
We continue this selection with the Grand Livre du Parfum published by the magazine Nez mentioned above. It is an essential book that will allow you to enrich your olfactory culture and to know the basics of perfume creation. This book deals with many aspects of perfumery: from the mechanics of the sense of smell to raw materials and the variety of manufacturing techniques. Something to satisfy your curiosity and excel in high society!
This time, it is the perfume historian Elisabeth de Feydeau who introduces us to La Grande Histoire du Parfum, from Antiquity to the present day. A work as beautiful as it is interesting, which will take you into a precious and bewitching universe. If you are looking for books on perfume that reflect the richness and complexity of this world, do not hesitate to bury your nose in these pages.
Among the great classics of books on perfume, we can also mention the ABCdaire du Parfum. A book that is easy to read and take everywhere (from the living room to the bedside table!) that you will devour in no time. Small but complete, this abecedarium will give you all the keys to understand the world of fragrances.
Have you ever dreamed of living the life of a Nose, even for a few moments? That is what the nose Jean-Claude Ellena offers with its Journal d’un Parfumeur. In this book, he shares his daily life as a fragrance designer and gives us a fascinating olfactory experiences. In the same vein, Dominique Ropion shares his experience and memories in his work Aphorismes d’un parfumeur. A surprising and revealing testimony to a fascinating profession.
Some perfumed stories
We were telling you about Patrick Süskind’s novel The Perfume (a great classic) earlier. It seems that we have found a worthy successor with L’odeur of Radhika Jha, who explores the world of scents. In this fiction, Lîla, the heroine, is forced to leave the great African spaces where she was born for the Parisian suburbs. Her powerful and singular sense of smell will then become her only landmark in this unknown environment. With her nose as only guide, you will live all sorts of adventures at her side.
How about a comic book about perfume? La maison des fragrances is the fruit of the collaboration between comic book writer Corbeyran and Christophe Mot, a fragrance professional. You will discover the Capella, a large family of perfumers from Grasse plunged into a war of succession. Who will take over the perfume company? The story comes to life thanks to the cartoonist Piotr Kowalski.
Among this non-exhaustive list, we hope you will find what you are looking for. To escape for a moment, to learn more about the Perfume or simply to satisfy your curiosity! This selection is also yours. We would be delighted to enhance it with your suggestions… So do not hesitate to share here the films and books on perfume that inspire you!