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    • Chandler Burr

      Features
      by Published on 22nd January 2008 12:02 PM

      Editor's note: This is the last of our exclusive 'deleted scenes' from Chandler Burr's book, The Perfect Scent (out today). Chandler has written a brief paragraph explaining the context of the piece at the start, and the extract is rounded off with a brief Q&A.

      Details of how you can obtain the book, as well as the chance to discuss this extract can be found at the end.

       

      This is a section I wrote around two things. First was the famous Proust quote about smell, memory, & the Madeleine. I had to go look it up. Everyone has heard of it, and no one I know—including me—has actually read the thing, or at least I hadn’t read it. You think it’s a little paragraph you’re going to whiz through. In fact, it turns out to be pages and pages of extremely densely written text. The guy goes on and on. I read it in French and then, because I didn’t really understand it, I read it in English. I spent hours getting it down to an essential core that I liked. ...

      Features
      by Published on 21st January 2008 11:45 AM

      Editor's note: This is the penultimate exclusive 'deleted scenes' from Chandler Burr's forthcoming book, The Perfect Scent. Chandler has written a brief paragraph explaining the context of the piece at the start, and the extract is rounded off with a brief Q&A.

      Like the previous sections, this extract is not edited but nearer an initial draft - as such you may find notes from the author about descrptions to insert later.

      Details of how you can obtain the book, as well as the chance to discuss this extract can be found at the end.

       

      This is an analysis by Yves de Chiris, one of the perfume industry’s most experienced executives and consultants, of the marketing of perfumes. I got it via a long telephone conversation with Yves where he spoke and I got it into the computer as fast as my fingers would move. I think it’s extremely interesting, but my editor and I finally decided we couldn’t figure out how to change it from a simple direct word-for-word repetition of what Yves was saying. I wound up using this information in a somewhat different, more organic form elsewhere in the book.

      * * *

      The perfume industry guru Yves de Chiris (he of ...

      Features
      by Published on 19th January 2008 12:00 PM

      Editor's note: This is the fourth of our exclusive 'deleted scenes' from Chandler Burr's forthcoming book, The Perfect Scent. Chandler has written a brief paragraph explaining the context of the piece at the start.

      Details of how you can obtain the book, as well as the chance to discuss this extract can be found at the end.

       

      I sat in on a meeting at Hermès’ Pantin headquarters in which Michael Edwards was interviewing Jean-Claude Ellena re several of Ellena’s recent perfumes, which Edwards was classifying in his database. I was absolutely fascinated—I use Michael’s database every professional day of my life—and I assumed the scene was a slam-dunk to make it into the book. But in George—who is not a perfume guy and whose job it was, as my editor, to make sure that the book would be readable by the general public—it set off an alarm bell. He found it “inside baseball,” which of course was (as I pointed out) the whole point of The Perfect Scent. He agreed and at the same time was adamant (“There’s inside baseball and then there’s falling down the rabbit hole’.&rdquo. Also it was neither truly Jardin sur le Nil nor Lovely. So it got cut. Honestly, I think it was a mistake, but we erred on my editor’s side in this case

       

      * * *

      Ellena left the rue du Faubourg headquarters and went back to the Pantin Parfums Hermès offices for a 2:30 p.m. meeting with Michael Edwards. Edwards was the perfume industry's "newspaper of record" as some New York perfumers called him. An Englishman who lives in Sydney and Paris, Edwards created and maintains the world's largest database (accessible only by subscription) of perfume information, www.fragrancesoftheworld.info, which classes, describes, and gives creator and other information of thousands of perfumes. He has come to interview Ellena. They meet ...
      Features
      by Published on 17th January 2008 02:13 PM

      Editor's note: This is the fourth of our exclusive 'deleted scenes' from Chandler Burr's forthcoming book, The Perfect Scent. Chandler has written a brief paragraph explaining the context of the piece at the start, and the extract is rounded off with a brief Q&A.

      Details of how you can obtain the book, as well as the chance to discuss this extract can be found at the end.

       

      I wrote this section first to emphasize the constant struggle I go through trying to put in just the right number of molecular names. A delicate balance, and I wanted to say something about what my editors will and won’t allow in The Times. I lose battles there every day. And second because I wanted to communicate what smelling the raw materials is like. Near the end of the editing process, George decided we simply already had enough on raw materials in the book, so he asked me to take it out.

      * * *

       

      Writing about synthetics in the Times column has been something we've had to balance, but only due to intellectual block. I'm instinctively, maybe compulsively, into it; at the same time, there's a right-time-and-place question. It's Sunday morning, you're leafing through The Times, ...
      Deleted Scenes from 'The Perfect Scent'
      by Published on 15th January 2008 01:52 PM

      Editor's note: This is the third of our exclusive 'deleted scenes' from Chandler Burr's forthcoming book, The Perfect Scent. Chandler has written a brief paragraph explaining the context of the piece at the start.

      Details of how you can obtain the book, as well as the chance to discuss this extract can be found at the end.




      *

      I actually don’t remember why my editor wanted this cut, and I strenuously disagreed with him—and still do; I love this section—but you pick your battles, and I gave up on this.

      * * *

      The fact is that perfume as an art ...

      Features
      by Published on 13th January 2008 04:48 AM

      Editor's note: This is the second of our exclusive 'deleted scenes' from Chandler Burr's forthcoming book, The Perfect Scent. Chandler has written a brief paragraph explaining the context of the piece at the start, and the extract is rounded off with a brief Q&A.

      Details of how you can obtain the book, as well as the chance to discuss this extract can be found at the end.

       

      Like the previous section, we were originally envisioning the book as being about me as the Times critic and only later decided to cut that thread, so this section was out. You’ll notice that I sometimes write things just barreling straight through without stopping to check the spelling of Whoopi or to find an example of “a polyurethane piece of shit like TK__________.” I like TK’s (an editorial mark meaning “information To Come” but written TK because there are relatively few instances of the letters T and K coming together in English so it’s easy to search for).

      * * *

       

      The brand-new first-ever New York Times scent critic, and so I went on The Today Show—got up early, a hot August day, got a car service up 3rd Ave, then west on 50th [TK 50th?] to Rockefeller Center, into the green room, onto the set, tripping over the electric cables snaking everywhere and cameramen with headsets, and Matt Lauer was the nicest guy, slightly incredulous to be honest ("But how do you describe a smell?") but still game enough (as we're waiting to go on air he's telling me how he doesn't wear scent because in our time we had, what, Drakkar Noir? and what is that stuff? and I replied that he was 110% right, it's unwearable, and then felt guilty because perfumer Pierre Wargnye, who created it—it was revolutionary when it came out, OK?—is one of the nicest guys I've ever met and one of the best communicators on perfume construction around; at the end of the segment Matt shoved his wrist at me and asked what he was wearing and I think I said, "Uh, you?" and he shouted, "Purell!").
      I went on Whoopi [TK SPELLING WHOOPIE?] Goldberg's morning radio show (she and her guys get up really early), rode my bike over to 6th and 42nd just after dawn, was supposed to be on air ten minutes and we kept going the whole hour, I'd invited my buddy Mike Strong to watch and he showed up earlier than me, they put him in a booth and Whoopi sees him and motions to him to get his ass into the broadcast room and hang out next to her, we're all going nuts, it's like a party and she turns out to be a complete knowledgeable smell freak with very decided opinions, stuff she hates, and scents she totally loves. (I should stop being so surprised. My friends Alexia and Ethan invite me to their place in Brooklyn for dinner, they're also inviting over her book editor, Panio, and his girlfriend Molly who turns out to be Molly Ringwald, and Molly turns out to be a complete perfume connoisseur and knows—and has worn—virtually every fragrance I've ever smelled, so we talk perfume all night.)
      The Washington Post ran something nice, and a Chicago Tribune columnist said, "This guy's job should have been mine," and we couldn't figure out if she meant it nicely or as a dig. (Mostly nicely, she told me later.) Others were much less nice, like the columnist (the column was titled "Smell of Excess") who began tartly, "Those of us who toil in the trenches of journalism ...
      Deleted Scenes from 'The Perfect Scent'
      by Published on 11th January 2008 01:57 PM

      Editor's note: This is the first of our exclusive 'deleted scenes' from Chandler Burr's forthcoming book, The Perfect Scent. Chandler has written a brief paragraph explaining the context of the piece at the start, and the extract is rounded off with a brief Q&A.

      Details of how you can obtain the book, as well as the chance to discuss this extract can be found at the end.

       

      I wrote this section for the first draft of the book for obvious reasons: given that this would be my first book written as The New York Times perfume critic, I logically assumed I would want to explain how I became that critic. I liked it; my editor, George Hodgman, didn’t. He felt it distracted from the two central narratives, Hermès and Sarah Jessica Parker, and that this degree of detail wasn’t necessary in The Perfect Scent. With some reluctance I agreed to take it out—I think ultimately George is correct—and if I ever write a book about my adventures as the Times critic, it’ll go in there.

      * * *

      A few weeks before the Hermès piece came out in The New Yorker in March 2005, Francesca Leoni introduced me at a party to Stefano Tonchi, head of fashion at both The New York Times Magazine and T, which is The Times' fashion magazine. Francesca had already mentioned me to him—both she and Stefano are from Florence—he was very welcoming, said, "Oh, yes! You! Come see me Friday in my office." ...



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