Sunday Reads: Jean-Claude Ellena Creates Magical Scent Symphonies For Hermès

Jean Claude Ellena
Photo provided by Hermès

The first-of-its-kind Hermès parfumerie debuted this month in the Financial District’s luxe shopping center, Brookfield Place. Designed by RDAI and RP Studio with 1,000 square feet of retail selling space in concrete, marble and leather, it features personal fragrances and candles for the home. The brand’s legendary perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena, whose latest scent, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li, launched in early spring of this year, talked to Haute Living about his artful yet personal approach to create scents that sing like an operatic aria.

How did you start your career as a perfumer?
I began at a young age of 17 in Grasse, France by making raw materials for a perfumery [Grasse is considered the birthplace of perfume since the 18th century]. Step by step I grew my perfumery business, and now I am nearly 70 years old. I have been working with Hermès for 11 years, and although I will slow down a bit I will not completely retire.

What made Hermès decide to create this one-of-a-kind fragrance experience?
Robert Chavez, Hermès’ U.S. CEO, decided on the idea of a dedicated parfumerie, and we supported it wholeheartedly. It’s the only one in the world. He believes in Brookfield Place and chose it as the spot for this unique shop.

Traditionally the French are more invested in fragrance than Americans. Do you think the trend continues?
Today I think it is really the same because it’s such a global world. In both America and France women use perfume in nearly the same way. And it was not like that in the past.

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