How Jean Patou Squeezed 10,600 Jasmine Flowers Into a 1.6-Ounce Bottle

The story of Joy, the costliest perfume you can buy

Henri Alméras, the legendary perfumer of Grasse, stared contemptuously at designer Jean Patou and his confidant Elsa Maxwell, the plumpish society columnist from America. It was 1930, and the pair had come to the south of France in search of a perfume to prop up Patou's couture empire—hard hit by the Great Depression. Patou and Maxwell had spent two days smelling through everything in Alméras' workshop—and rejected all of them. Finally, the perfumer grabbed one last vial and handed it over. "If you don't like this," he sneered, "I'll get a job herding goats."

@UpperEastRob Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.