One rarely gets to use ‘Chanel’ and ‘beef intestine’ in the same sentence, but perfumery is often a mixture of seemingly incongruous concepts. The heavenly aroma of jasmine wouldn’t be possible without the raunchy notes of horse sweat and moth balls. To make a mouthwatering berry, a perfumer not only needs materials that smell of roses and violets, but also of rot and decay. The art of baudruchage is another such example. Well before technology made possible vacuum tight seals, craftsman used a fine membrane of animal origin, a baudruche, to protect the liquid inside the glass bottles.
But if you’re feeling slightly put off by all of this dirty talk, please heave a sigh of relief. Today, the baudruche is usually made of synthetic fibers, onion paper or other natural (although not animal) materials. You can recognize the baudruchage seal by the fine, transparent skin around the neck of the bottle. Modern innovations aside, baudruchage is one of the most traditional and unique perfumery techniques. Since it is done by hand, one bottle at a time, few perfume houses resort to this labor intensive sealing method. Chanel, Guerlain, and Jean Patou* still employ it for the most precious item in their collections–the extrait de parfum.