Tome Sweet Tome: Chanel’s Reading List

The in-house perfumer for Chanel, Jacques Polge, reveals how 10 of his newly launched scents, collectively known as Les Exclusifs, mirror his favorite books.

Literature-inspired fragrances from Jacques Polge of Chanel.
Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 05/18/2007

As the in-house perfumer for Chanel, Jacques Polge has created some of the most memorable fragrances of our time—Coco and Allure among them. Now he reveals how 10 of his newly launched scents, collectively known as Les Exclusifs, mirror his favorite books.

This story first appeared in the May 18, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


Bel Respiro  Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, 1915-1980. Barthes evokes the smell of newly-cut grass. He says “ One day, I would like a perfumer to create a fragrance with this smell”.


31 rue Cambon  A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hem­ing­way, 1964. Hemingway describes a time when Paris was the capital of the world. 31 Rue Cambon is the capital of elegance in Paris.


N° 18  The Stranger by Albert Camus, 1942. The use of ambrette gives this fragrance unexpected singularity, in the same way that Camus’s enigmatic character Meusault is singular.


Coromandel  Venises 1970 by Paul Morand. Coromandel [evokes] the sensual images of the City of the Doges.


La Pausa  Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1934. The novel [about Scott and Zelda] takes place on the Riviera where Mademoiselle Chanel had her home, La Pausa.


Eau de Cologne  The Aventures of Tintin by Hergé. These stories are for readers age 7 to 99. The Eau de Cologne is for exactly the same audience, with its freshness and innocence.


Cuir de Russie  L’Allure de Chanel by Paul Morand. In this book, there is a description of Diaghilev and his entourage. Cuir de Russie reminds me of this period of the Ballets Russes.


Gardénia  La Faute by l’Abbé Mouret (or Emile Zola), 1875. Gardenia is a flower with a heady fragrance. The character in the book is intoxicated by the strong smell of the flowers.


Bois des Iles  Cities of the Plain by Marcel Proust, 1922. Proust is an unavoidable author, where perfume is concerned. Sodam and Gomorrah play between masculine and feminine.


N°22   Any book by Colette. At one time, she had her own perfume boutique. She enjoyed a great sensitivity for fragrance.