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Article  •  28 March 2017

 

Surprising perfume facts

Five things Amanda Hampson learned while researching for The French Perfumer.

  1. The term ‘perfume’ is derived from the Latin ‘fumum’ meaning ‘through smoke’. The fragrant smoke of burned materials was thought to be divine, sending prayers to heaven.
  2. Perfume was once a privilege of the rich and the cost of materials was irrelevant. From early last century, the decadent and rare raw materials began to be synthesised to make perfume cheaper and therefore more widely available.
  3. A kilo of the best quality French jasmine comprises five million blossoms and costs around $50,000 – that’s triple the price of gold.
  4. A perfumer (known as a ‘nose’) is an artist who ‘paints’ with layers of fragrance. It’s a long and involved process with many ‘drafts’ that are put away to be revisited and revised over the development period.
  5. Perfumers attempt to capture a moment or a feeling. Jacques Guerlain was inspired to create L’Heure Bleue (The Blue Hour) when walking by the Seine one evening. He set out to capture the sense of that twilight hour when ‘the night has not yet found its star’.

The French Perfumer Amanda Hampson

In the tradition of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a charming historical novel set in the South of France by the bestselling author of The Olive Sisters.

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