Love

Smell is the ultimate sense of love and desire.

A cornerstone of social and romantic relationships, it was long considered an underrated sense at the mercy of a more primitive and animal instinct. Thanks to its pivotal role, it is now praised as the "sense of desire".

Videos

Testimonials

  • The fragrance that you will smell, you will never be able to smell this way again. It’s a fragrance called Beyond Paradise, which you can find in any store in the nation. Except here it’s been split up in parts by Estée Lauder and by the perfumer who did it, Calice Becker, and I'm most grateful to them for this. And it’s been split up in successive bits and a chord.

    So what you’re smelling now is the top note. And then will come what they call the heart, the lush heart note. I will show it to you. The Eden top note is named after the Eden Project in the U.K.

    The lush heart note, Melaleuca bark note -- which does not contain any Melaleuca bark, because it’s totally forbidden.

    And after that, the complete fragrance. Now what you are smelling is a combination of -- I asked how many molecules there were in there, and nobody would tell me. So I put it through a G.C., a Gas Chromatograph that I have in my office, and it’s about 400. So what you’re smelling is several hundred molecules floating through the air, hitting your nose.

    And do not get the impression that this is very subjective. You are all smelling pretty much the same thing, OK? Smell has this reputation of being somewhat different for each person. It’s not really true. And perfumery shows you that can’t be true, because if it were like that it wouldn’t be an art, OK?

    Luca Turin, biologist and writer Excerpt of TED conference
  • The story of Eau de Merveille, de Hermès
    It's called Eau de Merveille and it was made by a brilliant artist named Ralph Schwieger. Ralph got the commission from Hermès. And what they said to him was “ We want to do something that...” the conflict was getting out of the ocean, and the smell of skin. The smell of human skin has a very very specific smell. It's a beautiful smell. In particular, it's a beautiful smell when you have sun. And it's a strong sun. At the beach of course you have this extraordinarily strong sun, you have the scent of the ocean, but a dark scent, not a clean, sort of fresh deodorant “Marine”. It's really sea water and it's... and it's dark But the sun is this light, and how we created this, is with the combination of several materials. One was salicylates. And salicylates give you a smell of salt, of mineral, of flint of stone, and to that he added a synthetic molecule called ambroxan, which I believe is a a true synthetic. It was isolated in part originally from ambergris. And it gives the oceanic scent. And you come out ... With these Ralph created this extraordinary work. Eau de Merveille. And it gives you the smell of the skin warmed by the sun, and the beach, and the hot sand. What you get is heated stone. And the smell of the ocean. And the salt. It's extraordinary.

    Chandler Burr, reporter and writer Excerpt from an interview that took place during the filming of “The Empire of Scents”
  • With man’s adoption of an upright posture and the devaluation of his sense of smell, the whole of his sexuality – not just his anal eroticism – was in danger of becoming subject to organic repression.

    Sigmund Freud “Civilization and Its Discontents” (1930)
  • The scent and art
    We're in an extraordinary position here, the beginning of the 21st century to have before us a new medium of art. One of the major mediums of art that has not recognized as such. And that medium is scent. Scent is a major artistic medium that is the equal in every way of paint, of clay, uh, of steel sculpture, of film.

    When you discuss works of olfactory art, you have to discuss them as full works, as entire works. To break them apart into little pieces makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It makes sense in marketing. Ultimately, it's stupid. It's... it's reductive. It's ridiculous. And it impoverishes the work, and the conversation about it. You have to apply an art and historical vocabulary to these works. It's the only thing that makes sense. It doesn't have to be a traditional one. Uh... In the exhibition that I curated in the museum of art and design, the art of Scent, 1892 to 2012, I did apply traditional vocabulary and there are works that fit perfectly, and that you understand better by applying this vocabulary.

    Chanel Nº5 is one of the greatest works of modernism, period. It's not just a great work of modernism in scent. Which it is. It's probably, arguably the greatest work of modernism in scent. But it is also, one of the greatest works of modernism including paint, and music, and literature. It's absolutely extraordinary. It follows modernist principles, it completely breaks down the old tropes.

    Diorama, one of the greatest works of abstract expressionism ever created. L'Interdit, abstract expressionism.

    Drakkar Noir, extraordinary industrialism. Extraordinary!

    Chandler Burr, reporter and author Excerpt from an interview that took place during the filming of “The Empire of Scents”

Photos

  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    The crew's cook

    Nicolas Fransolet

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    The crew's driver, the production assistant and Nicolas Fransolet, the director of photography

    Nicolas Fransolet

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    Kim Nguyen, the director

    Nicolas Fransolet

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Nicolas Fransolet

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Nicolas Fransolet

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    Arnaud Dorimay, the soundman, Andréanne Chartrand, the assistant director, and Nicolas Fransolet, the director of photography

    Nicolas Fransolet

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    Lucie Tremblay, the Producer, and the owner of hostel

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    The crew's photography

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    Nicolas Fransolet, director of photography, and Kim Nguyen, the director

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

    Share
  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    Arnaud Dorimay, the soundman

    Andréanne Chartrand

    Share
  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

    Share
  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

    Share
  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

    Share
  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    Nicolas Fransolet, director of photography

    Andréanne Chartrand

    Share
  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    Kim Nguyen, the director

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    Lucie Tremblay, the producer

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

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  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine
    Nicolas Fransolet, director of photography, and Kim Nguyen, the director

    Andréanne Chartrand

    Share
  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

    Share
  • Filming at Tisslit, a Moroccan village near Taliouine

    Andréanne Chartrand

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Experiences

  • Choosing a fragrance (Part 1)

    • First, find out which scents you prefer and which fit your personality and style. The more specific you are, the better the salesperson will be able to direct you.

    • Shop for your perfume in the morning. Morning is when we are most open and receptive. In the evening, after a hard day at work, your mind may be taken up with day-to-day concerns.

    • Try the perfume on a blotter before trying it on your skin. This will prevent you wearing a scent you may end up not liking.

  • Choosing a fragrance (Part 2)

    • If you really like a perfume, try it on your skin. Different skins react to perfume differently. Trying a fragrance on your skin is therefore the best way to know whether it suits you. It is better to spray it on your wrist rather than your neck. This will also prevent the scent from ending up too close to your nose.

    • Never try more than three perfumes in a row to avoid saturating your sense of smell. If ever you do, try smelling coffee beans - perfume stores often have them on hand for this purpose.

    • If you truly dislike a scent that remains on your skin, one way to remove it effectively is with alcohol-free cleansing milk. The greasier the texture, the better it will work.

Merchandising

  • The Emperor of Scent

    The Emperor of Scent

    Chandler Burr

    Luca Turin has dedicated his life to scents. This obsession is the basis for his writings about the perfumes that have introduced him to the merciless but otherwise quaint world of perfumery. At times funny and poetic, this biography also takes the reader on a discovery of colour and the melody of colours.

    Learn more
  • A Natural History of the Senses

    A Natural History of the Senses

    Diane Ackermann

    From the song of the whales to roman mythology, from science to literature, passing through art, this passionate voyage through stories as surprising as they are interesting maps the history of our 5 senses like you have never read before.

    Learn more
  • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

    Patrick Süskind

    The saga of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a serial killer born with an absolute sense of smell, whose ultimate quest is the creation of the ultimate perfume: that of his first victim. An engrossing literary classic to be devoured.

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  • Perfumes: the A to Z guide

    Perfumes: the A to Z guide

    Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez

    The ultimate guide to smells. A brilliantly written must-have for lovers of fragrance.

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The Olfactory System or Retro-olfaction

Taste and smell are both chemical senses; taste and olfactory sensations are provoked by the stimulation of certain cells in the nervous system, by specific molecules. Discover their pathway to your brain!

  1. 1

    Directly via the nasal passage: The odorant molecules suspended in the air enter the nose, arriving in the nasal cavity and connecting with the olfactory bulb.

  2. 2

    Retro-nasal stimulation: by breathing in through the mouth or by retro-olfaction, which means that volatile molecules liberated during mastication and odorant molecules are transmitted by the internal nares in the rear throat, continuing all the way to the nasal cavity and olfactory bulb.

  3. 3

    At the base of the bulb, located in the superior nasal concha, the odorant molecules become soluble upon contact with the olfactory mucosa (or epithelium), and consequently come into contact with the olfactory receptive cells.

  4. 4

    The olfactory neurons react to odorant molecules, sending an electric type signal all the way to the cortical area of the brain (the primary olfactory cortex) and towards the hypothalamus, stirring emotions or behavioural reactions notably linked to memories.

Nose vocabulary

  • General glossary

      • Ageusia

        The loss of taste functions of the tongue, particularly the inability to detect sweetness, sourness, bitterness, or saltiness (Wikipedia)

      • Anosmia

        The inability to perceive odour or a lack of functioning olfaction—the loss of the sense of smell (Wikipedia)

      • Aromacology

        The science that studies the influence of fragrance on mood and behaviour

      • Bouquet

        The characteristic scent of a wine or perfume

      • Dysgeusia

        Distortion of the sense of taste (Wikipedia)

      • Enfleurage

        A specific process that extracts the fragrance of the flowers in contact with a fatty substance. Both sides of a glass plate fixed in a wooden frame are smeared with an animal fatty content and then covered with flowers. The spent flowers are replaced until the fat is saturated with fragrance. The floral essence is separated from the fatty substance by means of a solvant.

      • Fragrance

        A pleasant, sweet smell

      • Hypogeusia

        A reduced ability to taste things (to taste sweet, sour, bitter, or salty substances) (Wikipedia)

      • Hypothalamus

        A section of the brain responsible for the production of many of the body’s essential hormones… The hormones from the hypothalamus govern physiologic functions such as temperature regulation, thirst, hunger, sleep, mood, sex drive, and the release of other hormones within the body. (Healthline) It is particularly the centre of the emotions; smell is the only sense that is in direct contact with the hypothalamus.

      • Odour

        A quality of something that stimulates the olfactory organ (Merriam Webster Dictionary) Both “smell” and “odour” imply a more natural, raw emanation than "perfume", for instance.

      • Olfactometry

        The testing and measurement of the sensitivity of the sense of smell (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

      • Olfactory apparatus or olfactory system

        The whole system that is needed to have a sense of smell

      • Olfactory hallucination (or phantosmia)

        The perception of a smell in the complete absence of any physical odour (Wikipeida)

      • Parosmia

        Olfactive dysfunction that is characterized by the inability of the brain to properly identify an odour’s “natural” smell (Wikipedia)

      • Phantosmia

        Olfactory hallucination lasting longer than a few seconds

      • Reek

        A foul smell

      • Scent

        A distinctive smell, especially one that is pleasant

      • Stench

        A strong and very unpleasant smell

      • Androstenone

        A derivative of testosterone, this hormone is present in the sweat and urine of male mammals and corresponds to a sexual signal. However, this link has not been proven for humans. This hormone is distinctive as it triggers very different chemical reactions depending on the gene structure of the person smelling it.

      • Aroma

        A distinctive, typically pleasant smell Usually applied to edible substances, or more precisely to retro-olfaction, meaning that they can be sensed by normal olfaction (through the nose) or by retro-olfaction (through the mouth, at the back of the palate). An aroma is in principle volatile. So if a foodstuff has no volatile molecules, it won’t have any aroma.

      • Aromatic

        Having a pleasant and distinctive smell (Oxford Dictionaries)

      • Cacosmia

        An unpleasant perception of an odorant due to nasosinusal or pharyngeal infection (Wikipedia)

      • Effluvium

        An unpleasant or harmful odour or discharge (Oxford Dictionaries)

      • Essential oil

        A concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. An oil is "essential" in the sense that it contains the "essence” of the plant's fragrance—the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived. (Wikipedia) Previously mainly use in the perfume industry, essential oils are now more often used in the cosmetics and aroma industries.

      • Hyperosmia

        An increased olfactory acuity (heightened sense of smell) (Wikipedia)

      • Hyposmia

        A reduced ability to smell and to detect odors (Wikipedia)

      • Mephitis

        A foul smelling or poisonous stench. (Oxford Dictionaries) Mephitis was the Roman goddess of noxious vapours.

      • Olfaction

        The action or capacity of smelling; the sense of smell (Oxford Dictionaries)

      • Olfactory

        Relating to the sense of smell (Oxford Dictionaries)

      • Olfactory bulb

        A neural structure of the vertebrate forebrain involved in olfaction, or the sense of smell (Wikipedia)

      • Olfactory mucous membrane or olfactory epithelium

        A specialized tissue inside the nasal cavity that is involved in smell. (Wikipedia) )

      • Perfume

        A pleasant smell. Implies a composition, a creation, a blend of smells.

      • Phéromone ou phérormone ou phéro-hormone Pheromone

        A chemical substance produced and released into the environment by an animal, especially a mammal or an insect, affecting the behaviour or physiology of others of its species (Oxford Dictionaries)

      • Retro-olfaction

        A term primarily used in the art of tasting: Action in which air is expelled through the nose during tasting in order to better appreciate certain aromas

      • Smell

        A quality in something that is perceived by the faculty of smell; an odour or scent

      • Stink

        A strong, unpleasant smell; a stench

What does smell mean to you?

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