Passing the sniff test

Special to The Times

Ever wondered what human existence smells like? Now's your chance to get a big whiff.

Inspired by the upcoming film "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," which is based on Patrick Suskind's bestselling novel, perfumer Thierry Mugler and a perfumer from International Flavors & Fragrances decided to bring some of the story's nicer scents to life, or at least, to nose.

The movie, opening Dec. 27, tells the tale of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a young 18th century French perfumer who becomes obsessed with the intoxicating aroma of beautiful young women and seeks to capture their scents at any cost, even if that means murder.

IFF perfumer Christophe Laudamiel had already begun the undertaking after reading the book, so when Mugler approached the group with the same idea, Laudamiel, who has also created such award-winning fragrances as Elton John's Black Candle and scents for Abercrombie & Fitch and Ralph Lauren, was ready to go.

Their creation: a very limited (only 150 have been made) edition of 15 scents, including Baby, Paris 1738, Virgin No. 1, Psyche, Ermite, Salon Rouge, Sea, Nobless, Orgie and Aura, a delightful blend of 84 ingredients. However, I've been warned not to sniff Human Existence, which reportedly smells absolutely vile.

And the cost of the set?

Just $700. Which is a darn sight cheaper than the steep price Grenouille eventually pays.

Elizabeth Snead writes the Styles and Scenes daily blog at

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