The Scent


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The group walked around Aswan. The markets were full of spices, and Ellena smelled lotus roots; when macerated in water, the root produces a smell halfway between peony and hyacinth. He also found some jasmin sambac , which is full of indoles, molecules that smell overwhelmingly animalic. Feces are rich with indoles, he explained to Gautier and Dubrule, and so are decomposing bodies. But indoles were not their story, either. He wrote his observations down in a small orange notebook.

One morning, Ellena and his companions went for a trip on the Nile in an aged wooden motorboat; ancient ruins on the surrounding rock cliffs loomed over them as Ellena steered the party upstream. The Nile has an opalescent black hue that, in shallow depths, becomes transparent. It has a fresh smell. They motored past wild reeds and feluccas—narrow boats with tall triangular sails—until they reached a small island. Walking ashore, they began following a street that led to a Nubian village. It was during this stroll that Ellena saw, hanging low in the trees that lined the street, plump green mangoes.

The fruit has a complex, authentically exotic smell: it is rich and fresh simultaneously, a rare combination. The scent is also ephemeral. The fruit exudes an odor only when it is on the tree. Once you pick it, the smell deteriorates; within sixty seconds, it is essentially gone.

Ellena was beguiled by this elusive fragrance. Green mango, he suggested to his companions, could form the base of Nil. Dubrule pressed her nose into the branches, finding a hint of apricot and grapefruit. At one point, Gautier frowned; she detected the smell of nail-polish remover. Acetone is often used in perfumery, he told me; it provides a lightning-like jolt.

Creating the Perfect Fragrance with the Scent Creator

In the conference room, Gautier slapped the touche marked AG3 onto the table. Ellena was unruffled.

All three concoctions, he said, had been inspired by the Aswan mangoes. And the rejected AG3? Ellena smiled. When Dubrule had held a green mango outside the Nubian village, she had detected a carroty tinge.


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Gautier was pleased that Ellena had remembered to include this element in the perfume. She stood up sharply. Ellena rolled up his sleeves. Dubrule sprayed his forearms with puffs of his three viscous assemblages; they settled onto his skin in small slicks. The women smelled the three fragrances several more times, glancing at each other. They were expressly built to blossom and fade, over time, on the body. As a result, most perfumes today are constructed to smell good, for a few seconds, on a paper strip—which is a perversion, unless you happen to be made of paper.

Dubrule was definitive. She did have one concern: would men be able to wear it? Though Gautier was, wisely, cautious of being too radical for the market, she nevertheless had decided that the Jardins collection would be unisex. The European Union has a list of banned toxins and allergens and is constantly adding perfume ingredients to it.

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Meanwhile, Gautier stared at the transparent essai. He soon received a call from Gautier. Yet, she continued, changes were required. Both women thought that la persistance , the amount of time the fragrance lasts on skin, needed to be lengthened. And they wanted the smell of green mango to be more present on the skin.


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  • Good luck, Gautier said. Ellena was encouraged. At Symrise, Ellena had access to more than a thousand ingredients—some natural, some synthetic. He used only a fraction of them. Ellena is a minimalist in materials and a maximalist in thought. Over the years, he has refined a sort of Bauhaus School approach to perfumery: clean scents made from deceptively simple chemical formulas. Guerlain is baroque: put this in, and this, and this. Someone once defined sillage to me, rather metaphysically, as the sense of a person being present in the room after she has left.

    Creating a sillage that is potent but not overpowering is tricky. He then added a few more ingredients, including a natural distillation of honey. It took him two years to perfect his formula, which in the end contained twenty ingredients—very few, for a perfume.

    And it has a sillage worthy of Guerlain. A master perfumer like Ellena has memorized hundreds, if not thousands, of recipes for manufacturing smells. Many complex natural scents can be conjured with only a few ingredients. The scent of freesia, he explained, is created by combining two simple molecules: beta-ionone and linalool, both synthetics.

    To give freesia a cold, metallic edge, a touch of allyl amyl glycolate is added. The smell of orange blossom is made by combining linalool and methyl anthranilate, which smells like Concord grapes. In my presence, Ellena once dipped a touche into a molecule called isobutyl phenal acetate, which has a purely chemical smell, and another touche into vanillin, a synthetic version of vanilla. He placed the two paper strips together, waved them, and chocolate appeared in the air. I use two. The combined smell was a precise simulation of Coca-Cola. The art of perfumery, Ellena believes, is the art of gracefully combining different chemicals, some natural, some synthetic.

    The first perfume synthetics were created in the nineteenth century. Aldehydes, which were synthesized in the eighteen-eighties, are the key to Chanel No. Test your vocabulary with our fun image quizzes. Image credits. Word of the Day kind-hearted. About this.

    The Scent of Death

    Read More. New Words microworker. November 04, To top. English Translations. Get our free widgets. Add the power of Cambridge Dictionary to your website using our free search box widgets. Dictionary apps. Odin Reichenbach Aidan Quinn Captain Thomas Gregson Joe Tippett Enrique Ruiz Danny Binstock Zachary Fowler Michael Siberry Carson Mayfield Rachael Holmes Antonia Michael Bryan French Hutchins Pamela Dunlap Esther Kelton Kate Shindle Danielle Olivera Carol Halstead Caroline Gibbs Liz Carey Edit Storyline In the wake of a sculptor's murder in New York, Holmes and Watson must determine whether a long dormant serial killer has resurfaced; Watson suspects Holmes is keeping something from her.

    Certificate: TV Edit Details Language: English. Runtime: 41 min.

    Donald Trump Makes an Awkward Pitch to Black Voters in Atlanta

    Sound Mix: Stereo. Color: Color. Edit Did You Know? Trivia Elementary 's th episode.

    Goofs In the montage of interviews of dog bite victims, Mrs. Kelton says her alibi is that she plays bridge every Monday night.

    The murder being investigated happened on a Tuesday night.

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