Costume designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud spent 15 weeks researching costumes prior to anything being finalized. In total, over 1400 costumes were made. After they had been shipped from Bucharest, the costumes then had to be aged and dirtied, and once they were ready to be worn, director Tom Tykwer insisted that the actors wear them continuously for several days at a time - even to the point of sleeping in them, as this was a common practice in the period in which the film is set.
The Fish Market scenes were shot in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. 2.5 ton of fish and 1 ton of meat was used over the course of the shoot, and people as far away as 6 miles reported a bad smell in the air.
Producer/screenwriter Bernd Eichinger, had been trying to get novelist Patrick Süskind, with whom he was friends, to sell the rights to the novel from the time of its original publication in 1985, and Eichinger very much considered the film to be a dream project. In 2001, he finally managed to convince Suskind to sign over the rights, for 10 million euro.
During preproduction, director/screenwriter Tom Tykwer, Director of Photography Frank Griebe, Production Designer Uli Hanisch, and Costumer Designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud studied the complete works of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Joseph Wright in order to ensure the film's aesthetic correctly captured 18th century France.
Author Patrick Süskind is known to be very skeptical and for a long time did not want to sell the movie rights to his novel. His experience with producer Bernd Eichinger and others who desperately wanted to turn "Das Parfum" into a movie was shown in the satire Rossini (1997), for which he wrote the screenplay himself. His character is the strange author Jakob Windisch, Producer Bernd Eichinger is portrayed in the character Oskar Reiter. In Rossini, the book everybody was fighting over was changed into a novel about the Loreley-legend. Other characters in this movie are caricatures of the Munich media business.
Because Tom Tykwer considered the orgy scene to be a dance which needed choreographing, he turned to a dance troupe to help him put the scene together; La Fura Dels Baus. Their chief choreographer, Jurgen Muller, and his assistant Lluis Fuster were primarily responsible for the scene. 50 'key players' were selected from La Fura Dels Baus, who would all be clearly seen on camera. Another 100 experienced performers were also selected, who would appear in the background and at the periphery of shots. These 150 dancers combined with the 600 extras to make up the entire assembly of 750 people.
The orgy scene was filmed in Barcelona, in the Poble Espanol, and took over a week to complete. According to the official website, there were a total of 750 extras in the scene, with 40 makeup artists and 35 wardrobe assistants constantly on hand at any given time.