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Master Perfumer: Jean-Claude Ellena

Posted by: Nikki Gaskins, on: Tuesday, 01 July 2014

“When the perfume feels perfect, then I know that it’s finished,” Ellena told Refinery29 last year. “The terrible thing is that if I smell it in two years, I might say, ‘Enh.’”


Born in Grasse, France in 1947—Ellena comes from a line of perfumers. As a child, Ellena learned a lot about scents simply by watching his father.


“My father did not drink, eat or even read without bringing to his nose the drink, meal, book or particular object,” Ellena once told the New Straits Times. “For him, things existed through their smells. He also taught me the importance of listening and sharing.”


Ellena’s father may have started the family trend in perfumery. Today, not only is Ellena an established perfumer—his brother and daughter are, too. Creating amazing scents clearly runs in the family.


The master perfumer began learning everything there is to know about perfumery at just 17-years-old in the south of France before eventually studying at Givaudan. In the late 1970’s, Ellena met Edmond Roudnitska, a talented perfumer who once created popular scents for Christian Dior, Elizabeth Arden and Hermès before passing away in 1996.


Under Roudnitska’s wing, Ellena learned how to create and formulate fragrance compositions. According to Artisan Parfumeur, he restricted his ‘palette,’ rethought the shape of his constructions and became more attentive to even the smallest detail. Roudnitska’s impact on Ellena was profound.


Today, he is now the exclusive in-house perfumer for Hermès. There, Ellena has created more than 24 fragrances since 2004. Just four years after arriving at the company, perfume sales reportedly tripled, and Terre d'Hermès, a fragrance he created, became the top selling scent for men in France.


According to perfume maker Frederic Malle, daily life is the inspiration for Ellena’s many scents.


“I have no interest in trying to reproduce nature. I want to transform it, create olfactory illusions. Perfume isn't only about the scent of flowers,” Ellena once told the Los Angeles Times.


Some of Ellena’s popular fragrances include:


Au The Vert
Un Jardin En Mediterranee
Terre D'hermes
Un Jardin Sur Le Nil
Voyage D'hermes
Un Jardin Apres La Mousson
Un Jardin Sur Le Toit


Along with his talent for creating famous scents that the world has come to love, Ellena is also an accomplished author.

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