Jean Claude Ellena

In this section, La Grivoise, we examine a personality from the world of the art of living through a few questions. History to discover unsuspected facets of our guests. The cheeky.

He is the author of iconic perfumes for Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Cartier... As the exclusive nose of Hermès for 14 years, he then develops the Hermessence, Jardins, Colognes collections... Since 2019, Jean- Claude Ellena is the exclusive olfactory creative director of the Maison de Parfum Le Couvent. For Yam Savoir-Faire, our host delivers.

Text: Jérôme Berger
Portrait: Oriana Fenwick

My untruth (What we imagine about you and which is not true) I am perceived as hard, but in fact I am demanding. I work and work beyond the deadlines to be met: the need to go as far as possible in the response is the goal; which is not in contradiction with the moment when I know the perfume is finished, the moment when I feel that there is nothing to add or take away.

My hidden secret (A little mania, an unexpected indulgence, a secret that you usually keep to yourself...) As I love cooking, I add a spoonful of orange blossom water to a strawberry salad. They then take on the taste of wild strawberries. From now on, there will be no more secrets...

My greatest love in life is... simply LIFE. I am alive and, through my five senses, I enjoy it. It is through them that I perceive and through reason that I create. All creation is a putting in a certain order of what I feel, feel, live.

What I really don't know how to do... Iron a shirt, and I love perfectly ironed shirts!

If I had led another life, I would have wanted (to be or to do)... Another profession, rather artistic: musician, cabinetmaker, draftsman, writer, painter..., but also cook, plumber... Marguerite Duras said of herself: “When you're smart, you can do anything. I share his opinion. This does not mean that we excel in everything: she who loved to cook was not a three star. But listening to other professions means opening up to creation.

My perfume, there now? May is the month of the rose centifolia. She is not beautiful, but she intoxicates you with her perfume. Better not to sleep next to it, she would stop you.

My lands of origin, destination, inspiration... (These regions of the world that transport you in your activity as well as in your personal life) Italy, for its joie de vivre, its exuberance, its enthusiasm, its carelessness ; and Japan for the opposite of what I have just attributed to Italy, for its seriousness, its patience, its meticulousness, its art, its poetry.

My news Three Absolute Botanical Colognes for the Perfume House Le Couvent: Aqua Amantia, Aqua Millefolia and Aqua Palmaris. The first evokes the garden of the Taj Mahal, the second of Babylon and the last of the Alhambra. Two existing gardens and another dream. As it was about Colognes Absolues, I wanted the subject to be direct, clear, obvious. It is not easy to be simple without being simplistic, that is to say elegant and understandable. We worked on three notes, three flower absolutes: hibiscus, verbena and neroli or orange blossom. These are known themes that needed to be interpreted differently. I am happy with the result.

My daily tool My nose, a pencil (I prefer) and a notebook or loose sheets.

Earth and its notes It can be dark, heavy, oily, compact, hard, wet, dry, light, fluid, fine... These are the terms that must be interpreted in a perfume. Of course, there is vetiver, patchouli, and also many synthetic substances. But, in the end, choices will have to be made, because to create is to choose.