ECAL / CLAIRE BOURRASSÉ & ISABELLE STAUFFER
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Nose, Paris. Choosing perfume is a matter of science

Packaging and branding influence buying trends, especially when it comes to fashion. A blind test allows customers at Nose Paris to find a fragrance that reflects them.

A modern literary salon

In Paris, in the 1700s, scientists, artists, and intellectuals would arrive at Marie Anne Doublet’s every Saturday at the same time. Each of them would sit in their own chair, marked by their portrait. The parlor saw the likes of astronomer Jean Jacques Dortous de Mairan, writer Jean-Baptiste de Mirabaud, sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet, and diplomat Charles-Augustin de Ferriol.

They would talk about what was happening in the city – theatrical performances, news reports, ongoing trials, the latest in literature and music, court stories, – and they would log those news they considered to be “true” and those they considered to be “unlikely.” At the end of the day, servants would transcribe these notes into a daily bulletin to be distributed amongst the guests. Writer Monsieur de Bachaumont, a friend of Doublet’s, presided over these meetings.

Monsieur de Bachaumont has a street dedicated to him in Paris, in the Montmartre district, wherein 2012, at number 20, opened its doors perfume shop Nose Paris, a modern literary salon. This salon examines not news stories, but fragrances. In the time since they opened, the team of experts behind the store have identified and classified more than nine thousand perfumes based – of course, – on those created in the 1700s.

Mon nose

The study of the scent and composition of each perfume has led to the creation of a collection of over 450 exclusive scents. As at Madame Doublet’s, where the brightest minds of the time of various backgrounds and extractions would gather, it is also through a mix of ideas that something new was born at Nose.

The seven founders created Mon Nose, a technology that helps customers find the perfect scent through a test. After having answered five questions about previous choices in perfumes, Nose makes a first verdict and offers a selection of five fragrances from the over 500 available. It is then time for the second test, a more precise one, in which the blindfolded customer smells each perfume from a paper sampler. This is born from the idea of not letting packaging or branding influence us, just smell. The test can also be taken from home, with the five samplers being mailed to the customer.

The experiments from the team at Nose Paris also produced a perfume that was destined to triumph on the big screen – L’Air de Panache. In Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, Ralph Fiennes plays a purple tailcoat-wearing concierge enveloped by a cloud of perfume. An eau de toilette ‘with an intense and tonic opening sublimated by aldehydes notes and completed with a hint of mystery symbolised by a green apple. The heart is concentrated around jasmine, Grasse country flower, and rose, worn by dandys. Finally, gourmand and animalic notes,’ reads the description on the website.

L’air de Panache was created by one of the seven “noses” at Nose, Mark Buxton. Born in England, raised in Hamburg and based in Paris for more than twenty years, Buxton is also a wine expert, a cook, and an antiques aficionado – particularly interested in Art Déco. His first collaboration as perfume creator was with Comme des Garçons, who opened the way into Haute Parfumerie. He has created fragrances for Givenchy, Versave, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier, among others, but also for niche perfumers – Linari, House of Sillage, Zoe Karssen, Le Labo. After taking a break in 2009 – when he launched a collection of fragrances bearing his name,– he creates Roboris for Milan-based perfume house Calé.

In search of new fragrances

Calé Fragranze d’Autore is owned by another Nose Paris founder, Silvio Levi, a chemist with a passion for formulas, and Esxense pioneer, an annual event dedicated to artistic perfumery in Milan. The team is completed by Claire Delahaye de Villers, Didier Negiar, statistics and database expert Antoine Calmus, president and marketing manager Nicolas Cloutier – a Quebecer settled in Paris – and Romano Ricci. Great nephew of French couturier Nina Ricci and nephew to “nose” Robert Ricci – who in 1949 created, along with Francis Fabron, the female perfume L’Air Du Temps, still in production today, – Romano founded the artistic perfumery brand Juliette Has a Gun in 2007.

Diptyque, Kilian, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Artisan Parfumeur, Juliette Has a Gun, Creed, Acqua di Parma – the fragrances created by these brands join Nose’s artisanal ones, and those created for the house of The Laundress, Odin, Linari, Cire Trudon, Carrière Frères. The Nose team travels the world in search of new fragrances and to showcase their own to the public – modern-day travelling perfumers.

They draw inspiration from the character depicted in a Gerrit Valck illustration and printed by Nicolas de L’Armessin in 1697, kept at the British Museum, entitled Habit de parfumeur – a perfumer with a perfume burner as a hat and his vials arranged on a display case worn as a coat. In collaboration with an artisan collective, Nose have teamed up with Naomi Goodsir – Australian fashion, perfume, product and packaging designer at Grasse, where she resides – to create a capsule inspired by the perfumer in Valck’s illustration that allows them to travel with the collection of fragrances: a bag reminiscent of the boutique’s colors – there’s the copper of the lamps, the brown of the lab stools, the burnt wood of the finishings, the black of the façade – a series of compartments to arrange the vials and test tubes to sample the scents discovered during their travels, a hat in the same shade of green as the jasmine that decorates the store front.

Footnote

From the walls of every street of a cultural capital – such as is Paris, – emanate the echoes of stories. A plaque in rue de Bachaumont pays homage to Bruno Lenoir and Jean Diot. Here, at 11:30 p.m. on January 4th 1750, Bruno, a twenty-year-old cobbler, and Jean, his forty-year-old servant, were detained on claims of homosexuality.

Imprisoned at Châtelet, they underwent a process that sheds a light into the repercussions that being a homosexual in France during the Age of Enlightenment carried. Both were stripped of any property and burned on the 6th of July, tied to a pole erected on Place de Greve, and their ashes scattered – they were the last homosexual couple to be sentenced to death in France.


20 Rue Bachaumont

Paris, France

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