The first episode "Something Old, Something New" airs tomorrow at 9pm and focuses on the contrasts of a new launch at Tommy Hilfiger, and how things are done at Guerlain. We had the chance to see a preview of the first episode, and it provides a fascinating insight into the industry - and lot's of chance to say things like "Oooh look - it's Aurélien Guichard!", which doesn't happen enough when watching television.
Here's the blurb from the beeb:
Today, all perfumers face the same challenge: how to make their fragrance stand out in a market crowded with product. We spend a year with two very different perfume houses as they attempt to win over the next generation of consumer.
In Paris, the ancient house of Guerlain looks outside the family for the first time for its next perfumer-in-chief. But Thierry Wasser has to tread carefully - adapting the iconic fragrance Shalimar for the 21st century without upsetting the old guard. When esteemed head of the family Jean-Paul Guerlain lands himself in hot water with a racist remark, the slow transfer of power is dramatically accelerated.
Meanwhile at Estee Lauder in New York, executives are devising a mass-market fragrance for designer Tommy Hilfiger. Getting the concept and packaging right is as important as important as the smell. But will buyers get this liquid rendition of rock and roll?
I don't want to spoil to much of what there is to look forward to, and I'm not a paid TV reviewer (here's Grace Dent at the Guardian, doing a far better job than I could do), so instead I'll leave you with my bulleted list of notes I made whilst watching the programme. If you have the chance to watch the programme tonight, I'll be re-watching it and tweeting with hashtag #bbcperfume, if you fancy doing the whole twitter tv thing.
- The whole first episode provides anyone with an interest in the industry to excitedly shout at the television because you see a perfumer or bottle designer you admire
- Chandler Burr does what any self-respecting perfumista does when he runs out of arm-space when doing a perfume-sniffathon - yes - he uses his knees!
- Jean-Paul Guerlain "I'm not able to live without perfume, and without horses"
- Macy's on West 34th Street is apparently the most important scent retail space in the western world.
- We see how much scent Chandler Burr gets delivered to his home. Once scent makes Chandler Burr say: "Wooooooh, doesn't dissappoint!"
- "Scent is invisible so the packaging has a lot of work to do"
- Thierry Wasser takes us on a tour of Jacques Guerlain's lab, where he created the likes of Shalimar
- Jean-Paul Guerlain on Wasser: "...very gifted and I think he'll do a good job, the most important thing is that we get on together"
- You may get a little teary-eyed when Wasser talks about his relationship with Jean-Paul Guerlain. This is even more poignant when Wasser is interviewed after Guerlain's racism gaffe.
- “We wanted to keep the creative process very creative” - Lauder's Veronique Gabai-Pinsky on the creation of Hilfiger's Loud
- “What does it really say? I know what it says - you know what it says, but what does it really say?” - Hilfiger on the campaign for Loud
- Spotted: Comic Sans in use at the Guerlain factory
- Wasser has a look though some of the original handwritten formula’s for the Guerlain classics.
- Wasser "Shit happens!"
Perfume airs on BBC4 9pm Tuesday 28 June. If you miss it, you can also see it at midnight, and 3 o'clock in the morning. You can also watch it after the event on BBC's iPlayer. Those of you outside the broadcast zone of the BBC, we sympathise -- if we find out about it airing elsewhere we'll let you know.
Pics: BBC/The Garden Productions Limited