Cartography of fragrance between botany and geography of perfume composition

Atlas of Perfumed Botany is a beautifully illustrated encyclopedia of the art and botany of perfumery by renowned Jean-Claude Ellena, the french “nose” of the luxury brand Hermès for fourteen years and Creative Director of Fragrance at the perfume house Le Couvent since 2019. Released in French in 2020, the English language translation by Erik Butler is due on 5th April 2022 from the MIT Press. It’s 168 pages and is available in hardcover format.

Scents present a thousand and one blandishments to attend to, and one must understand them before one can grasp what their traits represent as a whole; fragrances are complex and secretive, and they will not reveal their charms without a token of love. In Atlas of Perfumed Botany, virtuoso perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena leads readers on a poetic, geographic, and botanical journey of perfume discovery.

This is an accessible and well-written atlas of scented botanical materials used in perfume and in a very knowledgeable way and very clear that he knows what he’s talking about. The book’s chapters are arranged thematically: woods & barks, leaves, flowers, fruits, gums & resins, seeds, and roots. Each entry includes the name with botanical (latin) nomenclature.

For perfume makers, each smell carries with it a multitude of associations and impressions that must be carefully analyzed and understood before the sum of all its parts emerges. All perfumers have their own idiosyncratic methods, drawn from their individual olfactory experiences, for classifying fragrances. Ellena offers varied and fascinating cartography of fragrances, tracing historical connections and cultural exchanges. Full-page entries on plants ranging from bergamot to lavender are accompanied by detailed and vivid full-color botanical illustrations created by Karin Doering-Froeger.

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/atlas-perfumed-botany

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