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The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York is a book with two stories on the creation of perfume.  In NYC, Sarah Jessica Parker and Coty Int. launch SJP’s Lovely perfume. In France, newly crowned in-house Hermes perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and Co. creates and launches Un Jardin Sur Le Nil for the luxury house. The author Chandler Burr is the scent critic for T: The New York Times Style Magazine with a background in economics and Asian studies, but seems very comfortable in this insular industry of chemistry and art. The book is a quick read at less than 300 pages, and quite a page turner since it switches seamlessly between the two stories of perfume creation that are so very different from the other, but so similar in the end. I did not know a lot about fragrances before reading the book, but I did have an interest. I always find it comfortable to read an informative nonfiction book to learn and be engaged. For example, I understand now that synthetics are actually better than naturals in fragrances, why American brand fragrances all smell the same, how one does pay for the art and not just the materials, and a host of other things. I was fascinated by the articulate Ellena. I think people who have a vague interest in the olfactory arts should read it as well as those interested in fashion/beauty as a whole especially from a business perspective. Not to mention the French parts of the books are so very French in tone; I wish Burr had written this book in French. He captures the Gallic culture very precisely as a fluent speaker. A light, informative nonfiction read.

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