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' perfume business and challenge le monster of the industry, best-selling 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.
©2007 Chandler Burr; (P)2008 Tantor
"Exhilarating....An unusually grounded depiction of a business built largely on artifice." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A thorough and often hilarious account of perfumery's colorful characters, the science and art of fragrance creation and the human experience of scent itself." (Publishers Weekly)
Fascinating account of fragrance and the path from concept to the shelf. Hearing about the creation of a Hermes perfume by Jean-Claude Ellena was delightful. However, as mentioned in the previous review, the narrator made frequent errors in French pronunciation glaringly obvious even to one who has only had French in school. These errors distracted greatly from the listening experience--like fingernails on old-fashioned blackboard--and they occured almost every time he narrated anything in French. I finally gave up listening about half way through and got the book to read. Compare to Julia Child's and Marcella Hazan's recent biographies which contains a lot of, respectively, French and Italian, and were both pleasures to hear. I hope when Audible chooses future narrators, it will pay more attention to the narrator's fluency in whatever foreign language the book includes.
Avid Reader :)
I recc getting the book. The narrators abuse of the French language is more than egregious.
Who made that call?
The story is fascinating just get the book.
Yes, the story is great even though my ears bled from listening to the bad French.
Bilingual narrators do exist. Pls find them.
This industry has a long and distinguished history. And the marketing gurus are masters. But the truth is that this industry and the world of high fashion is so far removed from my real life (I haven't purchased perfume in 20 years), that I had a very hard time listening to the whole book. If you are interested in the marketing and historical aspects and can suspend disbelief cc the product, there is a lot to be gained from this very interesting book. If you are into the lifestyle and understand the culture of stars and if you care about their world, you will enjoy it all the more. For me it is much adieu about not very much.
Enjoyed the book tremendously but had a hard time ignoring incorrect pronunciations. For example, The term chypre is pronounced 'sheep ra' not 'kyp ra.' This is a basic term in perfumery.
Mel Foster's narration is awful due to his complete ignorance of the French language and his laughable pronunciation of common French words, let alone French poetry or fragrance terms. Too bad because the book itself is excellent.
Let me start by saying that I had just finished "The Secret of Chanel No. 5" by Tilar Mazzeo when I read this book, and that audiobook turned out to be a great segway for this one. The Chanel book was a lot more biographical, while this one delved into the closed-door realm of the perfume industry - its tricks, strategies, financial structure, scientific methods, and marketing. Chandler Burr follows the creation of two perfumes including Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely from start to finish.
This was an extraordinary work in terms of the amount of research that went into it, and I thought that most of the writing was very well done. Chandler Burr did a magnificent job of presenting the facts of the industry without forgetting to present the art of it. He has a delightful off-the-cuff style that balances what could have been an overly serious take on the creation of perfume. He offers a lot of insight, but he also allows the listeners to create their own perceptions of the industry and the science and marketing behind it.
This book did not receive a perfect Overall score from me because it included unnecessary foul language that distracted from the material. The occurence of these terms are somewhat sparse, but I would say that they appear about 15-20 times throughout the book. I find the use of these terms (the F-bomb, profanity) to be tacky, distracting, and out of place in what could have been a five-star work. There are also descriptions of some scents that, while they do exist in nature and are used in the industry, I could have lived without knowing about. I didn't subtract stars for that because those scents are part of the perfumery world, but I subtracted stars for foul language that could and should have been omitted.
Beyond the language, this would be a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in perfume, how it is made, how it is marketed, and how much it really costs in terms of money, time, and resources. Just be warned that after hearing about certain scents that are used to create perfume, you may never be able to wear some of your favorites again.
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