Dior’s ‘Nose’ on Perfume and Process

The house’s master perfumer describes how tons of flowers grown in the south of France are concentrated into fragrance.

GRASSE, France — Smell is the most powerful of all the senses. Even the merest whiff of a fragrance can conjure childhood memories otherwise long forgotten.For François Demachy, perfumer for Parfums Christian Dior, there is one smell that transports him to his boyhood in Grasse in the south of France. “The smell of lavender for me is a memory of very clean linens,” he said. “My grandmother would whiten her sheets by putting them out on the grass to dry in the sun.”Mr. Demachy still works in G...