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

Les Parfums – charming new French comedy film about a ‘nose’: watch the trailer here!

Les Parfums (‘Perfumes’) is a just-released and utterly charming French film following the life of a feared and reclusive ‘nose’, and her troubled realtionship with her new chauffeur.

The English-subtitled film is a gentle comedy, but takes a serious (and very well presented) look at the life of a perfumer, and it has been released in the U.K. Now showing at selected Curzon cinemas,  it’s also on Curzon Home Cinema (to stream at home, for those of us not near one of the venues or who prefer to watch from the comfort of our homes).

Curzon Home Cinema says: ‘Anne Walberg (Emmanuelle Devos) is a master in fragrance who has fallen from grace amongst the upper echelons of the perfume industry. However, her skills are still in demand from companies looking to mask the smell of their odorous products. Over the years she has become selfish and temperamental. When she hires Guillaume (Grégory Montel) – a down on his luck chauffeur with too many points on his license and a rocky relationship with his young daughter – they strike up an unlikely friendship. Together they look to repair their lives and create a new signature scent to return Anne to her previous fame.’

Our review:

There are so few films about perfumers and our sense of smell, and we were thrilled to discover this new movie more than lives up to expectations. Following the rather hapless chauffeur, at first, Guillaume’s first clue to the trials and tribulations ahead with his new client is when she sniffs him, names the brand of his cigarettes and, when he offers her one, throws the packet out the car window. Other clues to her profession (and her character) come when Ms. Walberg demands that he help her change the sheets in a hotel room, declaring: ‘They use a fabric conditioner full of galaxolides for that “clean” smell. I hate it!’
Asked to recreate the smell of an ancient cave to diffuse at a tourist attraction, Ms. Walberg takes Guillaume along with her, rubbing the walls. ‘Mineral, earthy, camphor, touch of moss… Iris root’ she bids him write down in her notebook. Later, she asks him to smell something she’s created on a blotter. He complains that he doesn’t know what it smells of, but she gently encourages him to say whatever thoughts come to mind. ‘Trust yourself.’ Before we know it, Guillaume is in the supermarket, sniffing various shower gels – under the watchful gaze of a bemused security guard. ‘Something quite mellow…’ he says, as the guard shuffles closer, clearly unused to such behaviour in Aisle 5.
The extent of of Walberg’s’ fame is revealed when she smells Dior J’Adore on a waitress and casually tells Guillaume she created it. (In fact, it was composed by perfumer Calice Becker in 1999, but this is a fictional film, after all). Later we learn that, after she became famous with her photo adorning the cover of magazines, she ‘began to lose (my) nose.’ She thought that ‘with my experience of blending I could do it from memory.’ But after making a mistake, her confidence in composing fine fragrance was truly troubled and Devos lost her contract. Her sense of smell came back, but ‘the perfume world is small,’ and so with her reputation struck down in flames, she stuck to smaller, industrial and functional fragrance jobs while avoiding the public gaze.
Suddenly, Walberg loses her sense of smell again. Terrified, she decides to part ways with her pushy agent and, under the treatment of an anosmia specialist – who describes the condition as when ‘The nose and the brain stop working together,’ she begins her journey back into the fragrance world. But can this chauffeur with ‘a good nose’ actually help her recover her reputation and heal his own life…?
Les Parfums is a wonderful evocation of that joy of sharing a love of fragrance, of watching someone develop and explore their own sense of smell. And it’s also a healthy reminder that anosmia – losing one’s sense of smell – can be a terrifying and life-changing experience, even if you don’t happen to be a perfumer. A gentle film that’s slow in pace but nonetheless completely gripping because of the sensitive character portrayal by the two leading actors, there’s some stunning shots of the French countryside and those Parisian streets we miss so much, too. A paean to the world of perfume and the gift that is our sense of smell, we say this is a must-watch for anyone who loves fragrance.

Now we’ve caught your interest, watch the trailer, below, and allow yourself to fall for Les Parfums’ charms…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Versace’s Holiday saga: Sarah Baker’s glam-azing project

Multi-media artist and perfume-house founder, Sarah Baker, has collaborated with none other than Donatella Versace and supermodel Helena Christensen as part of the most 80s-tastic spectacular campaign you’re likely to see this season.

Dripping with decadence, every aspect of the project exudes the kind of soft-focus glamour Baker’s artistic endeavours are known for – from the fashion and art magazine, a six-part Jackie Collins-esque romantic saga through to the drop-dead gorgeous photography.

 

 

We first met Sarah Baker through her innovative, often tongue in cheek (and always provocative) series of short films (scroll down), photography and performances that explore the seemingly luxurious worlds of celebrity, fashion and fragrance through a Vaseline-smeared filter that has long been inspired by her passion for romantic novels and soap opera storylines. Baker was so inspired by scent, in fact, that she went on to make her previously fictional fragrance brand a reality – launching a fascinating collection of fragrances she created in collaboration with niche perfumers.

 

 

Central to this new Versace project is Baroness – the second issue of the British fashion and art magazine, founded by art and creative director Matthew Holroyd and Dazed & Confused editor in chief Isabella Burley, with this issue written by Baker and guest edited by Donatella Versace. It’s available to order online (click the link) and at all Versace flagship boutiques.

Baker and Helena Christensen, lavishly dressed head-to-toe in Versace (obvs), then feature as the main protagonists of the six-part Versace’s Holiday Saga, a series of short films which veritably bristle with glitzy scandals and opulent intrigue, following protagonists Angelina and the Baroness (played respectively by Baker and Christensen), ‘as they navigate tumultuous affairs and overcome adversities.’ Sounds like the average festive family get-together, right? Well perhaps, but with added blackmail letters, a pop song called Spritz Me With Your Love, and the glamour turned up to eleven, dah-ling! Watch the glam-azing trailer below…

(Then head to versace.com, to read the story and binge-watch them all.)

Says Sarah: ‘It was incredibly rewarding for me to work with Donatella Versace and Baroness Magazine. I have so much creative inspiration for the future of Sarah Baker Perfumes and my own art practice — I’m eternally grateful to continue to work in both worlds.’

A while ago we interviewed Sarah at her studio to delve into her personal scent collection for our #ShareMyStash feature in The Scented Letter Magazine, and she told us many Top Secret projects were brewing – but we had no idea quite how thrilling they would be!

If your penchant for glamour evoked in a frivolous, fun way has been tickled, why not check out the trailer for the short film that began Baker’s love affair with fragrance, below?

And if your sybaritic nature really needs feeding, we suggest you head to Sarah Baker Perfumes to further indulge your senses…

By Suzy Nightingale