A long documentary on France 3 (52 mn) tells the story of the destiny of the house of Guerlain est.1828 as it endures in its 5th generation-of-noses era this time with a person who is external to the family, Thierry Wasser. There are some rare glimpses into the inner workings of and emotions surrounding the creation of Guerlain fragrances...
The director managed to catch Jean-Paul Guerlain on film breaking down and crying as he remembers the few hours preceding the death of his grand-father Jacques Guerlain.
Particularly enjoyable moments are the ones where Wasser sits down at a luncheon table with perfumers Jacques Cavallier and Alberto Morillas and they are all joking, sometimes in quite a Rabelaisian fashion as befits persons who go beyond social appearances and tacke frankly smelly raw materials.
The problem of fragrance reformulations motivated by regulations is addressed but none too extensively and critically. It is only hinted at that those rules regarding naturals are edicted by the very same fragrance companies which manufacture synthetic aromatic molecules.
The message which is affirmed throughout is that perfume is a work of the imagination and is part of a cultural patrimony. Some perfumers - like Cavallier - think of themselves as artists-cum-artisans, others - like Morillas - think they are artisans first and artists second.
When Wasser makes a link to the societal context of perfume, he is quick to add that perfume is not fashion. It garners meaning from longer periods of time, as when the perfumer connects the irruption of the AIDS epidemic with the rise of clean fragrances in the 1990s.
The link to the video is available only for a limited time but you can order DVDs from the TV channel.