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The Sense of Scent by Mathilde Laurent

After starting her career at Guerlain, where she authored her first successes (Pamplelune, Guet-Apens…), Mathilde Laurent became Cartier’s in-house perfumer. From the “Heures” collection to La Panthère, and from Carat to L’Envol, she expresses a sensitive, personal vision, promoting a free and artistic perfumery.

“Because it is directly linked to the vital breath that gives us life; because it is intrinsically connected to our very existence, for me, smell is the king of the senses. The sense of life.” Over the course of thirteen chapters, to be read in any order, Mathilde Laurent reflects on her career, her explorations, and shares her convictions about a craft she wants to enable the widest possible audience to discover: perfumery. Defending a “perfumistic” vision of her profession, she strives to “bring sense, emotion, symbols and art” to her creations. In her view, imparting true and accurate information about the world of perfume is the only way for people to appropriate it, enjoy it and, more broadly, to learn to contemplate the world through the sense of smell. This personal, engaged narrative is a genuine manifesto for olfactory sensibility.


“Many people imagine that smelling well is a matter of sensory acuity, and if they think they’ve got that quality, they conclude they could’ve been perfumers. But that’s got nothing to do with it. I hereby solemnly declare that I don’t smell any better than anyone else. When I’m away from the office, spending a weekend with friends, I’ll never blurt out, ‘Hey, the neighbor has just struck a match!’ My speci "city as a perfumer isn’t a physical superpower, a kind of ‘super-nose’ that nature has endowed me with, but my culture of odors. A lengthy learning process that has enabled me to know, for instance, whether what I’m smelling is jasmine or orange blossom. The aroma of kiwi or baby spew. Nail polish or Arlequin candy. What makes a perfumer is their capacity to discriminate smells, to analyze and name them – in short to understand them with their intelligence, but also their intuition.”