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The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York

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The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York

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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 Hermes, we see Jean Claude Ellena, his company’s new head perfumer, given a challenge: he must create a scent to resuscitate Hermes’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.

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