Nose – the ‘smell good movie’ revealing the scent secrets of Dior perfumer, François Demachy

Nose is a more than a documentary following Dior perfumer François Demachy, it’s a paean to the raw ingredients of perfumery, and the hardworking people who grow and harvest the ingredients around the world.

Having first premiered at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, the film has just been released – watch the trailer, below, read our review and find out where you can watch…



Dior describe it as ‘A true “smell good movie” Nose sheds light on one of the most secret jobs in the world.’ And while we mostly remainly quarantined, what a wonderful way to travel by your nose it is.

‘Perfumes are a language everyone understands, but few people can speak’ Demachy explains as he sits in his office, filled with endless bottles and piles of books, later commenting that ‘For me, a perfume is a land of sharing.’ Fascinatingly, when asked what his first ever perfume was, he reveals ‘The first thing I did was a perfume intended to whet the appetites of bovine, so they would eat the fodder.’ Quite a leap to his life, now, and yet in this film we get to see how he works with the growers of the materials he so loves, eventually whetting all our appetites with their distilled passion.

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, Demachy travels for three days to visit the patchouli plantations, and says for him, it was the most rewarding part of filming Nose.

‘We took a small plane, then a four-wheel drive, followed by a hike through a few isolated villages in the middle of nowhere. That in itself was already an enjoyable adventure, but then there was this magnificent reward at the end, and I finally got to see my favorite ingredient in its natural environment, on these steep slopes… It’s quite moving to see this… This is where it all begins for perfumery.’ François Demachy remarks as he watches the freshly picked patchouli being washed (and having covered his arms in the fragrantly oily residue).

Fragrance writer Eddie Bulliqi makes an apperance at several points during the film, discussing the links between music and fragrance, and the creative process; but again, it’s the growers who are most celebrated in Nose, even more than the often romanticised life of a great perfumer.

From the idyllic fields of jasmine and rose in Grasse, we meet the women who own the land and discover exactly how hard it is to work those so-pretty fields. And we hear from Patrick Lillis, a ‘Celtic ambergris broker’ from County Clare, Ireland. As the wind and rain lash the shore, Patrick and his dog walk beside the broiling sea, and this gruff-voiced, sou’wester-wearing man waxes lyrical on the magic of ambergris in perfumery.

‘It’s a personal taste thing, you know?’ he says, while sniffing a white (and therefore older, stronger) lump of the precious material. ‘It’s quite a profound, animatic smell… Some people say it adds another dimension to perfumery, that a normal perfume is 2D and this is 3D. It’s the best natural fixative for perfume, and it’s oleophilic – it grabs hold of the oils. But it also does another thing which is a little bit magical: it transforms other fragrances.’

Simply put, Nose is a feast for the senses, and a much-needed way for us to feed the wanderlust we’re all experiencing. Gorgeous, swooping shots of landscape and sumptuous close-ups of dew-speckled flowers accompany this portrait, that goes beyond the work of Demachy, and invites the viewer to fall as passionately in love with the world of perfumery as he and all the people behind the scenes so obviously are…

Nose is now available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

By Suzy Nightingale

To celebrate the unveiling of La Colle Noire, we talk to Dior’s perfumer François Demachy about a life in scents

As readers of our magazine The Scented Letter will have realised from our latest Provence & Perfumers edition, Grasse’s position as the centre of perfumery is being reaffirmed. Dior‘s restoration of La Colle Noire, Christian Dior‘s home there, is another step in the Provençale town’s renaissance.

To coincide with the villa’s reopening, Dior have launched a fragrance of the same name – a stunning, multi-faceted woody-rose, ‘a sunny composition in homage to the land of Grasse, which plays a vital role in the history of Dior fragrances, and to its flower queen, Rose de Mai’, featuring an intense concentration of the Rosa Centifolia which grows there.

Dior Perfumer-Creator François Demachy (see portrait below) is steeped in the area’s history and ingredients, having spent his entire childhood in the town. His workshop is also based in the town, once again. On a recent visit to London, we caught up with this charming, gentle ‘bear’ of a man, and asked him to share his scented thoughts and memories. We’re delighted to share them with you here…

What is your first ‘scent memory’?
Aside from the perfume of my mother…? I remember that when I was a child, my father ­– who was a pharmacist – was going to launch a fragrance of his own called Eau de Grasse Impériale, a classic eau de Cologne, and he asked me to smell the different samples. (As for the scent of my mother? She used to wear two perfumes: Miss Dior for day, and Chanel No.5 for night – and serendipitously, I ended up working for both companies…)

When did you decide you wanted to be a perfumer/create your own perfume?
Quite late, around the age of 21, and really by accident. I wanted to be a doctor or a dentist, but I wanted to be independent which meant earning money to pay for my studies. So to earn some money, I got a job working for a perfume factory, Charabot. I found it impossible to do my studies and work at the same time; as it happens, Charabot were looking for some trainees, and I thought, “why not?”

What are your five favourite smells in the world?

  • The smell of the sea.
  • The smell of pine trees, by the sea: that wonderful resinous aroma of the wood.
  • The jasmine fields, which I still visit every year, to meet the growers Dior is in partnership with – in Grasse for the Jasmine Grandiflorum, and India for Jasmine sambac.
  • Rose – of all the flowers, I find it the most interesting.
  • Olive oil – the first pressing from the olive, with its green fruitiness.

If you could choose one fragrance ingredient above all others, what would it be?
Patchouli, because it is so amazingly versatile: you can use it in almost any quantity, in fragrances for men and women. But I also love it because it has a bad reputation!

What’s the worst thing you ever smelled. (Honestly!)
The smell of the stubble when a corn field has been burned.

What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?
For women, Clinique Aromatics Elixir, which is such a beautiful Chypre, I love the Chypre family. For men, I’d love to have created Eau Sauvage – it looks simple, but in the same way that Mozart makes music look simple.

If you could have created a fragrance for a historical figure, who would it be?
Napoleon. Of course! Because he was a connoisseur of fragrance but also very curious. I admire him as a character.

What’s the first fragrance you bought?
Eau Sauvage. It was end of the 60s and I remember there was basically a choice between two: Eau Sauvage and Brut. No contest.

And the first bought for you…?
An English fragrance, Yardley Sandalwood. I remember the dark green bottle. It was a gift from my father; my mother died very young and he married an Englishwoman.

Do you have a favourite bottle design, from those that have been used for your fragrance creations?
I truly like the very elegant bottle of La Collecton Privée: it looks simple, but all the proportions are very carefully calculated.

How many perfumes might you be working on, at one time?
Right now, about eight or nine.

Does your nose ever ‘switch off’?
No. But you can switch off the mind. Normally I don’t eat spicy foods or garlic, but in the summer I allow myself to enjoy them – and it definitely changes how my nose functions.

How long, roughly, does it take you to create a fragrance?
Anything from 12 months to two years.

What can each of us do to enhance our appreciation of fragrance?
Take time. Don’t rush, ever: enjoy the process of exploring and trying fragrances.

Dior La Colle Noire from £165 for 125ml
Buy it at Dior