BBC Perfume Documentary Preview - airs tonight (Tues 28th June), BBC4 9pm

by Grant Osborne, 28th June, 2011

For the last year or so, everywhere that Basenotes went, it seemed that a man named Ian Denyer was filming. FiFi Awards, Fragrance launches, Fragrance fairs, he was there filming everything that was happening in the industry. And now, Tuesday night on BBC4 we see the first part of Denyer's work - part one of a three part documentary on the world of perfume.

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

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    • Persolaise | 28th June 2011 06:53

      Comic Sans??!?!? But surement, you are joking!

      Thanks for the preview. Sounds like it'll be excellent.

    • donna255 | 28th June 2011 08:12

      I am so excited about this series!!!! Yes perhaps I do need to get out more. Don't care. LOL

    • Pour_Monsieur | 28th June 2011 10:07

      Yep really looking forward to this , its been getting tons of press this past weekend too

    • gandhajala | 28th June 2011 12:30

      Comic Sans walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says : 'Sorry, we don't serve your type'... *groan*.

      Looking forward to settling down tonight to watch this.

    • teardrop | 28th June 2011 16:29

      Thanks Grant for those juicy tidbits, now l'm even more excited! :2vrolijk_08:

      l'm on a night shift tonight, but l've double & triple-checked that this is on my SkyPlus, l simply cannot miss it!

    • CoL | 28th June 2011 20:30

      They would have to show it on a non-HD channel!!! :rolleyesold:

    • CoL | 28th June 2011 20:36

      LOL!! I have been over and over my Sky channels looking for BBC 4, lol it's written as BBC Four! HA!

    • Persolaise | 29th June 2011 16:09

      If you watched episode 1 and you'd like to share your views on it, please click here to be taken to the discussion forum thread.

    • nonnative | 2nd July 2011 14:16

      I was surprised when I realised Italy is out of the bbc4 broadcasting zone! I would have thought it was visible in all Europe!


    • nonnative | 2nd July 2011 15:41

      The documentary is divided in four parts on you tube! Search for Perfume something old. Great work. Well shot and interesting.

    • Hanz Medina | 5th July 2011 06:50

      OH Wow! Please Please Please Please attach an online link! I dont live in the UK! No fair! Help!