‘Perfume is about relationships. There is always a human connection.'
The House of Dior has given us a rare look inside its world this month, releasing its own documentary, NOSE.
The film, directed by Arthur de Kersauson and Clément Beauvais, follows Dior’s perfumer François Demachy over two years, providing a rarely seen insight into the Maison de Parfum’s creative process.
In a word, this film is eye-opening, and if like me you previously envisaged a perfumer (or ‘nose’ as they are known) making up their scents by throwing a few bottles of essence together, think again.
From the May Roses of Grasse and the Calabrian bergamot, to the Indonesian patchouli and Sri Lankan sandalwood, Dior’s ingredients are mindfully sourced. And its creations are clearly the result of expert techniques, exceptional raw materials, and passionate women and men all over the world who have dedicated themselves to this craftsmanship over many years.
‘Dior perfumes would not exist in their present state if it weren’t for this human network, which is essential to my mind,’ explained François Demachy. ‘One of the most interesting parts of my job lies in the human adventure, in these exchanges, of expertise and skills, but also of the love of nature that unites us. There are some magical moments.
‘For example, when I’m in an Indonesian village, thousands of kilometres away, I can feel disoriented, but then, when I’m standing next to a wood-fired patchouli still, I get my bearings again. I almost feel like I want to swap places with the person carrying out the distillation and do what they are doing. This exchange over raw materials, and these shared gestures, which are a part of perfume making, are emotionally powerful.’
He continued: ‘We have created bonds everywhere, like in Sri Lanka, where we have set up a sort of sandalwood “nursery,” because this precious and fragile wood requires a lot of time (over 15 years!) and attention in order to flourish. We have a relationship of mutual trust with local producers, sealed with a handshake that counts as much as any signed contract.
‘I really appreciated taking Arthur de Kersauson and Clément Beauvais to these places, so that they could film all the people who work to cultivate the flowers and the noble raw materials that are indispensable to our perfumes. Without this shared desire, nothing would be possible. With them, we are supporting a job well done, high quality, slow time and mutual trust.’
From start to finish, NOSE is stunning, beautifully told, set against extraordinary landscapes, and accompanied by an idyllic french soundtrack.
There are a lot of subtitles to get through, but if you’re looking for an hour of escapism, this is it.
NOSE by Dior is now available on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, and Google Play.
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Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.
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