New Dior Nose documentary reveals impressive lengths gone to create top-secret perfume formulas


The head perfumer at fashion house Dior has shed some light on the painstaking process of creating a single bottom of the perfume.

François Demachy appears in new documentary Nose, which was released on Amazon Prime earlier this week, as he revealed the impressive lengths the brand goes to to perfect its scents.

The creator visited farmers spending 1,400 man hours devoted to hand-picking seven million full jasmine blooms from its fields in Grasse, in the South of France. 

Meanwhile he also travelled to Indonesia to see the rare patchouli flowers growing in their natural habitat for the first time. 

François Demachy appears in new documentary Nose, which was released on Amazon Prime earlier this week, as he revealed the impressive lengths the brand goes to to perfect its scents

François, whose role as a perfumer was compared to a ‘ballet dancer’ in the documentary, said the extreme lengths to source the perfect ingredients for a scent are all worth it.

He explained: ‘A perfumer is an artisan. It requires creativity and intuition as well as a lot of expertise. It’s a sort of fragile balance between these two aspects.’

The formula to create each of the designer’s perfume is stored in an immaculate spreadsheet, while every surface in his office is covered in small vials of liquid. 

François added: ‘Perfume is about human relationships. there is always a human connection. To me, perfume is in its essence, a human journey.’

Meanwhile viewers are also taken behind-the-scenes of a jasmine farm in Grasse, where the farmers spend hundreds of hours farming the flowers for Dior's perfumes

Meanwhile viewers are also taken behind-the-scenes of a jasmine farm in Grasse, where the farmers spend hundreds of hours farming the flowers for Dior’s perfumes 

J'Adore, Miss Dior and Dior Addict are just some of the fragrances that Francois oversees, making sure that each perfectly adhere to the secret formulas (pictured, Miss Dior)

J’Adore, Miss Dior and Dior Addict are just some of the fragrances that Francois oversees, making sure that each perfectly adhere to the secret formulas (pictured, Miss Dior) 

Meanwhile his wife Alexandrine said her husband’s creative process regularly begins after meeting somebody new.

She explained: ‘He often envisions perfumes based on the people he meets. It’s no surprise women inspire him a lot. 

‘Blondes, brunettes, they’re all different when it comes to perfume. But for him, it’s about finding what people like. That’s his challenge.

‘When he sees someone he thinks, what would suit them? What would I do for him or her? The person comes first, then comes the inspiration.’

François revealed his inspiration for a scent will often come from an encounter with a stranger, and he will set about crafting the perfect perfume for them

 François revealed his inspiration for a scent will often come from an encounter with a stranger, and he will set about crafting the perfect perfume for them 

After drawing inspiration from a person, François can begin crafting the symphony of ingredients for the perfume.

Among the ingredients often used in Dior perfumes is the patchouli, with the creator travelling to Indonesia to see the blooms in their natural habitat.

He confessed he was stunned and could barely contain his emotion, revealing: ‘I had never seen patchouli like this, here in Indonesia… I find it quite moving to witness this. This is where it all begins for perfume.’

Meanwhile he also revealed  one of his favourite smells to use in perfume is ambergris – or whale vomit.

Ambergris is considered a sea treasure and floating gold because of an odourless alcohol that is extracted to make a perfume’s scent last longer. 

HOW IS DIOR PERFUME MADE? 

Dior owns fields of jasmine and rose that have been used in the perfumes for decades.

It takes 1,400 man hours of flower picking to collect seven million jasmine flowers to make one kilo of the jasmine essence.

The extensive and labour-intensive process to create the jasmine makes it twice as expensive as gold.

The essence is used in some of Dior’s signature scents.

It takes dozens of ingredients to craft the perfumes which are all kept under tight security, but some of them include bergamot, rose, cedar wood, mandarin, citron, coriander and gaiac wood.

It is a rare secretion from whales which is used as an expensive ingredient in perfume production – such as Chanel No5 – to make its scent last for longer.

Irish Ambergris supplier Patrick Lillis explained: ‘Lots of people think it must be disgusting but when they smelt it, they couldn’t believe how sweetly beautiful it is.

‘It’s audiophilic, it grabs the eyes and it keeps them on the skin. It transforms other fragrances.’ 

An odourless alcohol called ambrein is extracted from ambergris and used by perfume makers to make a perfume’s scent last longer – particularly by the producers of more expensive perfumes.

The role of a fashion house's chief perfumer was compared to that of a ballet dancer in the level of training necessary

The role of a fashion house’s chief perfumer was compared to that of a ballet dancer in the level of training necessary 

Ambergris comes from sperm whales, which eat large volumes of cephalopods – marine animals such as squid, octopus and cuttlefish.

Scientists have theorised that the substances is produced to ease the passing of the tougher elements to these sea creatures, such as shells and beaks through a whale’s digestive system.

Some believe that whales then vomit up the substance, earning its nickname, but Richard Sabin, a curator of marine animals at the Natural Museum, believes otherwise.

While visiting Indonesia, the perfumer was stunned to see the rare flowers in their natural habitat, and could barely contain his emotion (pictured, a girl burying her face in the flowers)

While visiting Indonesia, the perfumer was stunned to see the rare flowers in their natural habitat, and could barely contain his emotion (pictured, a girl burying her face in the flowers) 

Another ingredient within some of the world’s most expensive perfumes is jasmine, which the fashion house harvests from farms in Grasse. 

Crucially, the flowers can only be picked between 8am and midday when their scent is at its height.  

This provides enough flowers for just a single kilogram of the absolute – or core – scent used in Dior’s perfumes, and the manufacturing process is so expensive that the resulting jasmine ingredient costs twice as much as gold. 

The effort put into the crafting of the formulas in Dior's private labs has proven their worth, as in three months in 2016 Dior's perfume and cosmetic sales leapt by nine per cent to £1.02 billion

The effort put into the crafting of the formulas in Dior’s private labs has proven their worth, as in three months in 2016 Dior’s perfume and cosmetic sales leapt by nine per cent to £1.02 billion

In their French laboratory the absolute liquid is kept under lock and key, and even Demachy himself doesn’t have access to it. 

However, he is still in charge of selecting the exact amount of flowers needed to create those scents for the magic to happen inside the bottles. 

The effort put into the crafting of the formulas in Dior’s private labs has proven their worth, because in three months in 2016 Dior’s perfume and cosmetic sales leapt by nine per cent to £1.02 billion.

Nose is available on Amazon Prime Direct from today 

MAKING SCENTS: CHRISTIAN DIOR’S ICONIC FRAGRANCES

Miss Dior: The actress Natalie Portman is the face of one of Dior’s most popular scents, which contains Grasse and Damascus roses and a peony accord, over a base of white musk notes

J’Adore: The fragrance contains essence of ylang-ylang and Damascus rose, plus jasmine grandiflorum from Grasse and Indian jasmine sambac. Charlize Theron is its face

Dior Addict: Addict has a top note of Sicilian mandarin, and white flowers, jasmine Sambac and Tunisian neroli blended over a sandalwood essence

Dune: A top note of mandarin with a peony accord and a vanilla base

Dolce Vita: The fragrance contains magnolia and cinnamon over a cedar base

Poison: This oriental classic has a top note of coriander, layered over tuberose and opoponax – the gum from a tree that grows in Africa and the Middle East

Les Escales des Dior: A range inspired by travel, notes include sweet orange essence and pink peppercorns

Les Creations de Monsieur Dior: A collection of classic floral fragrances, Diorissimo, created by Christian Dior himself in 1956, blends lily-of-the-valley with essence of ylang-ylang, jasmine absolute, and rose de mai absolute  

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