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On 12th of March, Jean-Claude Ellena and the team from Le Couvent
(https://www.lecouventparfums.com ) visited Cinquième Sens for our
conference Entrepre ‘nez.
We enjoyed listening to Jean-Claude Ellena for over one hour.
We are delighted to share with you some excerpts from this conversation.
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“If I don’t have red, I use Blue” said Jean-Claude Ellena quoting Picasso to a
colleague who was moaning regarding the disappearance of molecules for
regulatory reasons.
Then Jean Claude Ellena explained to us that he believes there are 2 types of
perfumers: technicians and artists. It is easy to guess that he is the latter.
He shared with us the never ending debate between Roudnitska and himself
regarding Beauty : for Roudnitska Beauty is something universal whereas for
Jean-Claude Ellena it is cultural. This divide remained and affected their
friendship at some point in time.
Giono is Jean Claude Ellena’s favourite writer so much so that he presides
the association “Les amis de Jean Giono”
(http://www.rencontresgiono.fr/lassociation.html).
He recommended reading the famous novel “The Horseman on the roof” which
is set in Europe during a time of Cholera… More importantly from his book
“The diary of a nose” we understand that, like Giono, he is a “writer of
perfume”.
Then the conversation moved on to technology and how it affected his work.
Chromatography first, unveiling all the mysteries of formulae, then head-space.
Finally, the increasing importance of marketing divisions and fragrance
evaluators stepped in.
He believes that marketing teams see perfumers as technicians not as artists.
The	usual	comments,	“please	add	a	bit	more	of	this”	or	“remove	a	bit	of	
that”,	is	not	his	cup	of	tea.	
When	he	joined	Hermès	he	did	it	on	his	own	terms:	no	involvement	from	
marketing	divisions,	no	brief,	no	consumer	panels.
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The	day	after	his	collaboration	with	Hermes	ended	was	the	day	when	
Frederic	Malle	asked	him	to	work	with	him.	
He	created	for	Frederic	Malle		Angeliques	sous	la	pluie,	Cologne	Bigarade,	
L’eau	d’Hiver	and	more	recently	the	audacious	:	Rose	&	Cuir.	
	
Married	to	an	Irish	lady,	hence	a	tea	lover,	he	told	us	how,	at	home,	the	
smell	of	freshly	brewed	tea	was	constantly	floating	in	the	atmosphere.	
It	was	very	inspiring	for	him.	He	even	went	to	the	famous	tea	house	
Mariage	Frères	and	asked	if	he	could	spend	some	time	there	to	work	on	the	
different	teas	to	recreate	this	smell.	They	kindly	obliged.	
10	years	later,	he	finally	created	the	perfect	green	tea	accord.	
At	first,	several	companies	turned	it	down	when	Jean-Claude	Ellena	
presented	it.	
One	day,	the	CEO	of	Bulgari	contacted	him:	they	wanted	to	have	a	signature	
scent	for	their	stores.	He	said:	“Something	like	a	cologne,	with	100%	citrus	
notes,	something	unisex.”	
Jean-Claude	Ellena	came	up	with	two	creations:	one	with	the	green	tea	
accord,	one	with	natural	citrus	notes.		Bulgari	immediately	chose	the	one	
with	the	green	tea	accord.	
It	was	so	successful	that	shortly	after	he	had	to	adapt	his	creation	for	a	fine	
fragrance:	L’eau	Parfumée	au	Thé	Vert	was	born.	
	
Quizzed	about	other	perfumers,	he	kindly	confessed	that	he	likes	the	
creations	of	Alberto	Morillas,	Jacques	Cavallier	or	Bertrand	Duchaufour.	
	
Nowadays	he	enjoys	reading,	and	painting	in	watercolours	but	quickly	adds	
that,	contrary	to	his	perfumes,	he	will	not	show	any	of	his	watercolours.
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Creating	perfumes	is	an	art	that	he	cannot	stop	practising.	Jean-Claude	
Ellena	was	very	enthusiastic	when	Le	Couvent	Perfumes	contacted	him	
recently.		It’s	an	adventure	where	he	can	work	hand	in	hand	with	the		
younger	perfumers	to	create	new	fragrance.	It	needs	to	be	a	success	to	play	
duet.	Of	course	Jean-Claude	Ellena	has	a	sixth	sense	when	it	comes	to	this.	
	
	
	
Finally,	when	he	is	asked	about	the	trend	regarding	tomorrow’s	perfumes,	
with	a	mischievous	smile	he	says	“	And	what	about	now?	What	about	the	
present	?	...”	
	
Before	leaving,	he	prepared	for	us	a	few	examples	of	olfactory	illusions	with	
the	juxtaposition	of	smells	on	paper	blotters:	
	
Vanilline + HE Orange = Panettone
Vanilline + HE Orange + HE Cinnamon = Gingerbread
Vanilline + HE Orange + HE Cinnamon + HE Lime = Coca - Cola
Fructone + Ehyl Maltol = strawberry
Fructone + Ethyl Maltol + Methyl Anthranylate = Wild strawberry
	
	
PS	:	For	more	on	this	subject,	try	reading	“	Diary	of	a	nose”,	Jean-Claude	
Ellena	
	
Author:	Stéphanie	
	
Let	us	share	with	you	a	few	photos	of	this	special	event.
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Conf'entreprenez #6 Jean-Claude Ellena - Le Couvent