Perfumes: The Guide Info

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Pompous names, bizarre ads, hundreds of new scents a
year?the multibillion-dollar business of fragrance has long resisted
understanding. At last the first critical?and critically acclaimed?guide
to perfume illuminates the mysteries of this secretive industry.
Lifelong perfume fanatics Luca Turin (best known as the subject of
Chandler Burr?s The Emperor of Scent) and Tania Sanchez exalt,
wisecrack, and scold through their reviews with passion, eloquence, and
erudition, making this book a must-have for anyone looking for a
brilliant fragrance?or just a brilliant read.


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Reviews for Perfumes: The Guide:

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Jun 16, 2008

This book is equally fun and frustrating. Turin is a major voice in the burgeoning world of perfume criticism, and he has a lot of knowledge and a gift for sharp insights. I often pick this up when I sample something new to see what the book says about it, and the reviews are very entertaining. What pains me is the 5-star rating system they chose to use. It appeals to our "bottom line" mentality but I worry it will lead less experienced perfume-lovers to start thinking in terms of rankings and This book is equally fun and frustrating. Turin is a major voice in the burgeoning world of perfume criticism, and he has a lot of knowledge and a gift for sharp insights. I often pick this up when I sample something new to see what the book says about it, and the reviews are very entertaining. What pains me is the 5-star rating system they chose to use. It appeals to our "bottom line" mentality but I worry it will lead less experienced perfume-lovers to start thinking in terms of rankings and to dismiss some wonderful scents. Anyone who has explored the world of perfumery knows that fragrances can be critiqued endlessly in terms of their quality, artistry, and execution, but there is also a deep personal connection to scent that isn't easily translated into an objective-seeming rating system. It's arguable whether star ratings on sites like these cause the same problems, but at least we get a chorus of opinions rather than one overarching "expert" guide. ...more
5

Aug 24, 2017

How could something as shapeless and evanescent as smell have a history and a culture?
[...]
For the moment, let's just say that, like all other arts, perfume should engage our attention to a satisfying end, first creating an expectation and then satisfying it in a way different and better than you hoped.
[...]
Perfumes seem to come in various weights and sizes, to have different personalities, to wear different clothes, to worship different deities. Some perfumes are facile and some are How could something as shapeless and evanescent as smell have a history and a culture?
[...]
For the moment, let's just say that, like all other arts, perfume should engage our attention to a satisfying end, first creating an expectation and then satisfying it in a way different and better than you hoped.
[...]
Perfumes seem to come in various weights and sizes, to have different personalities, to wear different clothes, to worship different deities. Some perfumes are facile and some are complicated; some are representative, some abstract. Above all, some are better than others.
Shots fired. This book gets down to the point quickly, and the authors don't mince words in their critiques.

As the title says, this is a large reference guide that contains a series of connected essays about perfumery. Before it gets into the reference part, you get history, science, methodology, etymology, explanation of the art and production of perfumery, chronology of hits and misses throughout the years, and a moment of silence for all the discontinued greats. Mostly though, what it is is a collection of reviews by two of the most trusted, respected, and valued reviewers in the industry.

The authors are husband and wife Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, and they are considered pillars of the community. This in itself is a huge deal because the perfume community is quite--what's the word--snobby. Turin is a biophysicist and Sanchez is a journalist, and reviewing perfumes is their hobby. Their backgrounds lend a scientific basis to this book and each review of the perfumes sampled. Turns out, there's actually a science to the scents you're drawn to, but of course it's not a hard science. More research is needed here.

What I find most interesting about this book is that it's made me realize I don't have expensive taste. As a matter of fact, I've never had expensive taste. My taste in perfumes, and perhaps in art in general, veer toward simple, clean, and generic. Most of the scents I like are maligned or dismissed by Turin and Sanchez as "simple," "too clean," "too generic," "mass produced", or "has been done before and done better." This last one is my favorite, and it's in reference to DKNY's Be Delicious--you might remember it as that perfume bottle that looks like a green apple.

While Turin and Sanchez and I don't have overlapping taste, we do seem to hate the same type of scents, like those "made" by pop stars and 15-minute celebrities. Those concoctions, literally and hilariously called "trash perfumes" in the book, are often sickly sweet, full of synthetics, but ironically don't last past the hour. Not worth the money and an offense to anyone within smelling reach because the wearer tends to over spray (to make it last longer).

Reading some of these reviews, especially the overly harsh ones, is exactly like reading well-written negative reviews of books I love. There's a strange sense of enjoyment in the critiques, but it's not all cattiness and snobbery. Turin and Sanchez do deconstruct the perfumes themselves and analyze each note and layer individually, to determine why it works or doesn't work. Since they write so well, are consistent, and are themselves critical of the whole perfume industry, I enjoyed this whole book from beginning to end and I learned a lot, especially from the negative reviews of scents I love.

But if you have never smelled a certain perfume before, such as those discontinued ones, it's hard to imagine what they were like just from descriptions of the notes. No matter how exact Turin's and Sanchez's words are, you'll never grasp what they say unless you've smelled that scent before. In that, our language and biology are extremely limiting.

Learning about perfumery is like learning a new language to me, and this book was a good place to start because it's got everything. While the language of perfume is new and foreign, the ideas are familiar because it's mostly a language of memory. Therefore, there's no accounting for taste. Hah hah. I'm only sort of kidding. The scents you're most drawn to are often connected to pleasant memories.

I've never been a fan of perfumes because of the way they smell--not a joke--but I've always been interested in their creation--recipes, concoctions, history, happy accidents, years of dedication to make one memorable lasting scent. The combination of essential oils and synthetic chemicals and their results are fascinating to me. I'm not a purist, so I do have an appreciation for the synthetics, mostly for their lasting power. A perfect combination would be mostly organics with some synthetics to make it last, but an ounce of something like that would be worth a cool thousand easily.

The scents I'm most drawn to are organics with fresh clean light fruity notes--"simple" and "generic," according to the authors. When combined with tea, these notes smell amazing to me. But what smells amazing to you (in the bottle) is not necessarily going to smell as amazing once it's on you (because of your body chemistry). So I haven't tried any on myself yet.

While I don't wear perfumes myself, I do like some on other people, especially when I smell a scent that "fits" the person wearing it. Strange concept, that--a scent that "fits" you. This goes back to taste with the addition of body chemistry. Finding a scent that hits both targets for you is an art in and of itself. The industry should consider putting more research into this, rather than pumping out a new scent every couple of months. If people understand what works or doesn't work for their body chemistry, they're more likely to try more perfumes and buy more in general. Just saying.

This book was fun and a nice escape from the world burning all around me. It allowed to go back in time to a time when the world wasn’t burning all around me–how many years ago was 2016?

Anyhow, perfumery will never be something I take seriously because, at its core, it’s still a frivolous luxury past time no matter how you dress it, but learning about the culture and community was a pleasant experience. I liken it to visiting a corner of the world that rarely get tourists. And now the knowledge will most likely take up space in my head rather than be applied in real life. And such is the burden of those who like to learn but not necessarily do.

Cross-posted at https://covers2covers.wordpress.com/2... ...more
5

Apr 18, 2008

Combine three of my favorite things, why dontcha: Very expensive perfume, mordant wit and Pynchonesque range on an esoteric subject. For once, the breathless prose in the book jacket does justice to the actual prose within: Turin and Sanchez actually DO separate the divine and good from the monumentally awful. No sacred cows here: They have the balls to nail Serge Lutens on his not-so-great stuff. And the writing! Sweet Lord -- I defy the reader to delve into this book at random and not find a Combine three of my favorite things, why dontcha: Very expensive perfume, mordant wit and Pynchonesque range on an esoteric subject. For once, the breathless prose in the book jacket does justice to the actual prose within: Turin and Sanchez actually DO separate the divine and good from the monumentally awful. No sacred cows here: They have the balls to nail Serge Lutens on his not-so-great stuff. And the writing! Sweet Lord -- I defy the reader to delve into this book at random and not find a review that is both literary and hilarious. I do, however, object to their review of Bond No. 9's Little Italy. The world is a better place for this fresh-oranges perfume, and the civet holds it without getting in the way. Small writ large, large writ small. Sometimes a book about one thing is really about a lot. Top drawer. Gorgeous. Ciao -- I have to go to the perfume counter. ...more
4

Oct 21, 2009

This is surely the only perfume guide to be blurbed by Hilary Mantel, Philip Hensher, and Dwight Garner (editor of the New York Times book review). It also got a review in the New Yorker, which is where I heard about it. Authors Luca Turin (a visiting olfactory scientist at MIT) and Tania Sanchez (an "avid perfume collector") are very clever and their writing, endlessly entertaining. In an introductory chapter on male fragrance, Turin notes that the male regimen is simple and low maintenance: This is surely the only perfume guide to be blurbed by Hilary Mantel, Philip Hensher, and Dwight Garner (editor of the New York Times book review). It also got a review in the New Yorker, which is where I heard about it. Authors Luca Turin (a visiting olfactory scientist at MIT) and Tania Sanchez (an "avid perfume collector") are very clever and their writing, endlessly entertaining. In an introductory chapter on male fragrance, Turin notes that the male regimen is simple and low maintenance: "Only Tom Ford and John Edwards really need to spend as much time in front of a mirror as a woman, and that because of their lines of work." Male orientals (the fragrance genre, not the ethnicity) "generally chart a surprisingly narrow route between the Charybdis of dandification (monogrammed slippers) and the Scylla of vulgarity (Tod's driving loafers)." On French masculines: "In the great tradition of Jules Verne and the voyage en chambre, the French have over the last decade perfected a type of fragrance somewhere between fougères and orientals that is to olfaction what Gap models are to advertising: smiling, handsome, studiously multiethnic, reassuring to the point of torpor." Their phrase-turning competes with the best art critics: "Trouble is, the first twenty woods you smell are the best, after which their salubrious chiaroscuro becomes dull."

In a FAQ section, they ask: "Why [in the book] aren't fragrances marked as feminine or masculine?" A: "Given that fragrances have no genitalia..." One review begins, "As George Santayana told us before we forgot who he was, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

The bulk of the guide is an alphabetical listing of perfumes, with ratings of 1-5 stars and prices of $-$$$$, a two-word summary of the fragrance (Noir by Christian Lacroix is "generic guy," Marc Jacobs Men is "sad fig," M Moi by Mauboussin is "ectoplasmic floral," Montana Mood Sexy is "not tonight," Sung by Alfred Sung is "jasmine diaper"), and a longer description. One-star fragrances tend to get shorter shrift: Can Can by Paris Hilton ("remedial candyfloss"): "Can it, by all means." Bluebell by Penhaligon's ("hideous floral"): "Repellent." White Red She (Armani) is the "fragrance equivalent of a Motel 6." Marc Jacobs Men is a "cacophonic mix of salaryman aftershave and a failed fig note." With Lotus Blossom & Water Lily by Jo Malone, "something was lost in translation in this discordant fragrance, half cinnamon, half bare floral, with a sour, unwashed smell like the sort of person who clears out one end of the bus." Nuit Noire (Mona di Orio) is "a hilariously bad fragrance, in which a very powerful sweet air-freshener note is overlaid with a loud civet fart..."

Perhaps perfumers should stop trying to capture that fresh baby smell in a bottle: Baby Grace (Philosophy)'s review asserts, "Never to be outdone in cuteness, Philosophy's packaging explains, "If God has a face, surely it is that of a child, and if there is a place called heaven, it must smell like a baby." In its gale-force strength, Baby Grace reminds me of the lethally huge toddler in Spirited Away. Good news though: despite the vast diaper, the prevailing smell is merely a bad mimosa reconstruction."

The authors are not above reviewing drugstore fragrances. The Wind Song (Prince Matchabelli) of today "is a cheap floral aldehydic, and - unless you're on the way to the prom, desperately need a smell for your cleavage, have only $5, and find Wind Song next to the beef jerky at the gas station - I see no reason to buy it." Of the 4-star Fuel for Life Men (Diesel): "The name sounds like a lottery for guys trying to ignore Prius ads, and the bottle, wrapped in a zippered, stitched distressed-canvas bag, conjures up third-world labor making frivolous objects for the idle rich. After all that, the fragrance comes as a pleasant surprise."

Some of their judgments are unexpected; Angel (Thierry Mugler), which to my untutored nose is a powdery disaster, gets a 5-star rave (though they also note it's "a joke"). They've made me insatiably curious to get a whiff of the 5-star Black (Bulgari), whose smell is "hot rubber." And pleasingly, they very much like two of my favorites, Calyx by Prescriptives (guava rose), and Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune (glowing grapefruit) by Guerlain. ...more
2

Oct 28, 2008

It was nice that Tom was thoughtful and bought me this book since fragrance is my obsession (and job!) After I flipped through it I realized the book was basically 2 people's opinion of different fragrances. To me fragrance is personal and everyone has a different thought of what they like. Fragrance will smell different on me then it will on the next person and vice versa. And what I think is devine someone else may think smells like a grandmother on fire. And NO I am not bitter just because It was nice that Tom was thoughtful and bought me this book since fragrance is my obsession (and job!) After I flipped through it I realized the book was basically 2 people's opinion of different fragrances. To me fragrance is personal and everyone has a different thought of what they like. Fragrance will smell different on me then it will on the next person and vice versa. And what I think is devine someone else may think smells like a grandmother on fire. And NO I am not bitter just because they gave a few of my fragrances low scores (a$$holes)!

It was all just written with very little passion and excitement most of it in my eyes was just to be coy and mean and pompous.. I could continue. If you want to go by 2 moron's evaluation of perfume then this book is for you. If you want to expierence fragrance for yourself dont beleive a word of it! ...more
4

Feb 03, 2009

I'm even more fascinated by the way people write about smell as I am about perfume itself. Perfume writers, at least the good ones, use some of the same language as wine critics ("citrus top notes"), but seem to be a more imaginative and witty lot. (I live for the Chandler Burr columns in the NYT fashion magazines.) Less pretentious too - It seems that you can't talk about smell for a living without an ability to call a stink a stink. I actually read this book cover-to-cover because the I'm even more fascinated by the way people write about smell as I am about perfume itself. Perfume writers, at least the good ones, use some of the same language as wine critics ("citrus top notes"), but seem to be a more imaginative and witty lot. (I live for the Chandler Burr columns in the NYT fashion magazines.) Less pretentious too - It seems that you can't talk about smell for a living without an ability to call a stink a stink. I actually read this book cover-to-cover because the hilarious put downs and ingenious deconstructions of the one star fragrances are just as interesting as those for the five star items. Put some check marks in the margins, too, in case my husband, who bought me this book for Christmas - thanks! - wants to buy me something else. ...more
0

Oct 28, 2011

this book never stops giving. the review for jovan's 'sex appeal for men':

Here is more evidence of the glorious world predating the Great Fall that occurred in perfumery circa the 1980s. Sex Appeal for Men, dating from 1976, is, to all appearances, an embarrassing artifact of silly seventies marketing. Inexplicably, I love the ridiculous blue box, which must have changed little in the last thirty years, with its retro typeface and bold claims of raw biological effectiveness. Example: 'This this book never stops giving. the review for jovan's 'sex appeal for men':

Here is more evidence of the glorious world predating the Great Fall that occurred in perfumery circa the 1980s. Sex Appeal for Men, dating from 1976, is, to all appearances, an embarrassing artifact of silly seventies marketing. Inexplicably, I love the ridiculous blue box, which must have changed little in the last thirty years, with its retro typeface and bold claims of raw biological effectiveness. Example: 'This provocative stimulating blend of rare spices and herbs was created by man for the sole purpose of attracting woman. At will. Man can never have too much.' (You can almost hear members of the wearer's family shouting, 'Put the bottle down! You can have too much!') Mesmerized, I read all of the text in earnest several times and was ready for the fragrance to be abominable. It is delightful, a fresh, handsome lavendar-and-amber oriental with an affecting, aromatic anisic-woody drydown, which offers the additional satisfaction of costing $20 for three ounces at standard retail. You know, this is what guys who smelled bad used to smell like. It smells great. Whatever happened to us? How have we fallen so far? Was it Watergate? Was it Samsara? Was it cable TV? When will cheesy guys smell good again? ...more
5

Mar 03, 2014

Bought the Kindle version specifically so I'd have on my phone. You never know when you'll find yourself wandering the perfume dept, and you could make some bad choices based on first impressions. These thoughtful, comprehensive reviews (which are also often funny) have led me to sample stuff I'd never have considered (Angel, Lolita Lempicka) and more fully appreciate what I'm smelling. Happy to know that no matter how appealing the bottle and pedigree, I never have to consider buying any of Bought the Kindle version specifically so I'd have on my phone. You never know when you'll find yourself wandering the perfume dept, and you could make some bad choices based on first impressions. These thoughtful, comprehensive reviews (which are also often funny) have led me to sample stuff I'd never have considered (Angel, Lolita Lempicka) and more fully appreciate what I'm smelling. Happy to know that no matter how appealing the bottle and pedigree, I never have to consider buying any of Creed's expensive stuff...and that eventually I will spring for a bottle of Joy. ...more
5

Jan 05, 2018

I knew next to nothing about perfumes until personal circumstances elevated my sense of smell to heightened Labrador, and suddenly I smelled everything. Along came Luca Turin, the very last Renaissance man, with an analytical mind that nevertheless tangents off into music, motor cars, design references, history or simple wit. His opinions are knowledgeable, excoriating, final, enthralled, and visibly stem from a profound love of scent. He talks of perfume exactly as anything that’s beautiful but I knew next to nothing about perfumes until personal circumstances elevated my sense of smell to heightened Labrador, and suddenly I smelled everything. Along came Luca Turin, the very last Renaissance man, with an analytical mind that nevertheless tangents off into music, motor cars, design references, history or simple wit. His opinions are knowledgeable, excoriating, final, enthralled, and visibly stem from a profound love of scent. He talks of perfume exactly as anything that’s beautiful but not exactly essential should be spoken of: as a feat of civilization that can be appreciated and enjoyed by all, like good food or furniture.

Turin is that absolute rarity: a critic - so, someone who absolutely relies on the work of others - who is also, absolutely, an auteur. No one will come out of this book without an appreciation of scent and a handful of opinions, and that’s exactly what a good critic should do. Everyone needs one of these per subject: on books, music, cinema - and they are incredibly hard to come by. If I ever met him I would thank him for teaching me an entire new language that I can use as I please. ...more
5

Jan 16, 2009

Perfumes: The Guide is a wonderful tribute to the art of perfumery written with humor and passion. The authors write about scent like others write about food or wine and, just like a good food or wine writer will have you seeking out food and drink, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez will have you running for the perfume counter to start sniffing away for that smell that will send you to nirvana.

The book begins with several essays followed by almost fifteen hundred fragrance reviews. A nifty glossary Perfumes: The Guide is a wonderful tribute to the art of perfumery written with humor and passion. The authors write about scent like others write about food or wine and, just like a good food or wine writer will have you seeking out food and drink, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez will have you running for the perfume counter to start sniffing away for that smell that will send you to nirvana.

The book begins with several essays followed by almost fifteen hundred fragrance reviews. A nifty glossary of materials and terms (aldehydes anyone?) is located toward the back of the book for those of us who can appreciate nice smells but are otherwise clueless as to the fascinating art of perfumery.

I'll leave you with a quote by Tania Sanchez from her essay "Beauty and the Bees":

"[Perfume should:] engage our attention to a satisfying end, first creating an expectation and then satisfying it in a way different and better than you hoped."

Thanks to Bellezza for bringing this book to my attention! ...more
4

Aug 03, 2011

This is not a book you can read back-to-back since the bulk of it consists of perfume reviews in alphabetical order. Part of me would have liked for them to be sorted into brands as opposed to names but no matter. The writing style's exquisite and hilarious and well worth the price of the book on its own. I read the lengthy introduction and then hopped from review to review, looking for my favourites and some I'd heard about. Very good resource book. My copy is on my Kindle and I can see now for This is not a book you can read back-to-back since the bulk of it consists of perfume reviews in alphabetical order. Part of me would have liked for them to be sorted into brands as opposed to names but no matter. The writing style's exquisite and hilarious and well worth the price of the book on its own. I read the lengthy introduction and then hopped from review to review, looking for my favourites and some I'd heard about. Very good resource book. My copy is on my Kindle and I can see now for the first time one of the big drawbacks of the ebook format - it's meant for fiction, really, for the type of text that is linear. With non fiction books of this nature where you just want to flip through it quickly, read entries that are pages away from each other, you really need a physical copy. Very interesting read nonetheless and it certainly made me want to go out and purchase some new bottles. Their review of my current scent, Tom Ford's Black Orchid, which got three stars, is spot-on (cucumber dipped in chocolate). This will appeal to the perfume lover and to the casual reader alike, Luca Turin is one of those authors who'd get you interested in anything. ...more
5

Jan 01, 2009

A brilliant discussion of many of the perfumes available as well as information about the perfume industry and male and female scents. Turin and Sanchez write incredibly well informed reviews of over 1500 scents, some of which are bitingly sarcastic due to the dross they are reviewing. This book is an essential guide for anyone interested in perfumes, and training their nose to pick out the gems from the rubbish.

Some people who have read the book have been offended that the scents that they love A brilliant discussion of many of the perfumes available as well as information about the perfume industry and male and female scents. Turin and Sanchez write incredibly well informed reviews of over 1500 scents, some of which are bitingly sarcastic due to the dross they are reviewing. This book is an essential guide for anyone interested in perfumes, and training their nose to pick out the gems from the rubbish.

Some people who have read the book have been offended that the scents that they love get poor reviews - some of my favourites weren't particularly highly rated. This doesn't really bother me as I find the reviews are just so witty, and I have to say that I know that some of my perfume tastes are not particularly classy. To be fair, the price of a perfume doesn't appear to have much effect on the rating that it's given - Turin and Sanchez are quite happy to diss some of the most expensive perfumes available. With these it's often a case of "The Emperor's New Clothes" in that we are asked to believe the hype that a scent is particularly wonderful just because it is expensive.

Now all I have to do is source some of the more interesting sounding scents. ...more
5

Oct 12, 2008

I don't wear perfume much.

I picked this up from the new books shelf at the public library and opened it to a few random pages. "Hilariously vile 50/50 mix of cheap shampoo and canned peaches." [one star] "...it feels you know your lover well enough to no longer bother closing the bathroom door." [four stars out of five]

The authors take perfume seriously but still know how to have fun with it. This is not one of those guides to perfume you find in a women's magazine (you know, the sort that has I don't wear perfume much.

I picked this up from the new books shelf at the public library and opened it to a few random pages. "Hilariously vile 50/50 mix of cheap shampoo and canned peaches." [one star] "...it feels you know your lover well enough to no longer bother closing the bathroom door." [four stars out of five]

The authors take perfume seriously but still know how to have fun with it. This is not one of those guides to perfume you find in a women's magazine (you know, the sort that has you take a personality test and decide if you are 'floral' or 'clean' or 'sporty'). The authors seem more interested in talking about what they like/dislike and why rather than dictating what one should wear (although they do have definite opinions on that as well). They are very opinionated, which I found refreshing. Reviews are starred from one (vile) to 5 (sublime) and have a brief description (e.g. "fruity chypre" or "tooth decay") followed by reviews, some as short as a single, potent line ("A very bare violet-leaf masculine with a slight smell of wood glue."), others up to a page and a half, sprinkled with anecdotes, historical tidbits, and insider information. A few pages in, I grabbed a sticky note and pasted it to the back cover so that I could take notes (the holiday season is arriving and I am shopping for a perfume for one of my sisters). The sticky note is now covered from margin to margin with increasingly shrinking scrawl. I don't know what I'm going to be buying, but I do have some ideas for what I'll be testing. This book is an entertaining read, especially for those who are fans of short stories and personal ads. An alphabetic index of the perfumes reviewed would have been helpful but the book is in alphabetical order, at least. ...more
5

Dec 28, 2018

In a word, wow. I could have never imagined that a book that is 1500 perfumes reviewed in alphabetical order could be that exciting. I started reading being only mildly interested in the topic and finished a few months later appreciating perfume on the whole new level and already having collected a box full of perfume samples. As 1500 reviews only got me craving more, my copy of 'Perfumes 2018' from the same authors is already on its way from Amazon. Thank you for showing me the new world, LT In a word, wow. I could have never imagined that a book that is 1500 perfumes reviewed in alphabetical order could be that exciting. I started reading being only mildly interested in the topic and finished a few months later appreciating perfume on the whole new level and already having collected a box full of perfume samples. As 1500 reviews only got me craving more, my copy of 'Perfumes 2018' from the same authors is already on its way from Amazon. Thank you for showing me the new world, LT and TS. ...more
3

Dec 30, 2008

This book is tough to rate. On a positive note, the writing is some of the most original and expressive that I've ever had the pleasure to read. It's funny and thought-provoking, and full of interesting tidbits about the perfume industry. You won't be able to resist reading Turin's reviews about your favourite scents (or scents that you despise).

On the other hand, reading "Perfumes: The Guide" is a bit like reading an encyclopedia. Hundreds of different perfumes are reviewed, sometimes with a This book is tough to rate. On a positive note, the writing is some of the most original and expressive that I've ever had the pleasure to read. It's funny and thought-provoking, and full of interesting tidbits about the perfume industry. You won't be able to resist reading Turin's reviews about your favourite scents (or scents that you despise).

On the other hand, reading "Perfumes: The Guide" is a bit like reading an encyclopedia. Hundreds of different perfumes are reviewed, sometimes with a single sentence, other times with multiple paragraphs, but each review is independent of those around it. It would be a great "bathroom reader"-type book... you can pick it up, open it to any page, and find something amusing to hold your attention for a few minutes. It wasn't a book that I could read for hours on end, but I think I'd like to own a copy of it so I can peruse it at my future leisure (my review copy was from the library).

If you're looking for insight into which scents are the "best", you'll be disappointed. Everyone's nose is slightly different, so a perfume that Turin raves about might be one that you find appalling. Turin hates one of my favourite perfumes, "Light Blue" by Dolce & Gabbana, but NYT perfume critic Chandler Burr loves it, so even the experts disagree. I purchased small sample of a scent called "Lime, Basil, Mandarin" (Jo Malone) because Turin was so passionate about it, but I don't find it all that special and it's not something I would recommend to others.

If I was to try to sum up this book in one sentence it would be, "Read it for the entertaining and original writing, don't read it to try to become a perfume expert." ...more
4

Jul 23, 2012

I got this one from the library and decided that I need to have my own copy, preferably in hardcover, as I love the quality of the pages and heft of the book in my hands. friends: hint hint ;)

I have to thank the Turin/Sanchez team for turning me onto some of their opined masterpieces (Guerlain's l'heure bleue, Bulgari Black). There are some frags to which I've never been exposed and now yearn to sample. So, I thank them for that. And I'll try real hard not to resent their opinion that one of my I got this one from the library and decided that I need to have my own copy, preferably in hardcover, as I love the quality of the pages and heft of the book in my hands. friends: hint hint ;)

I have to thank the Turin/Sanchez team for turning me onto some of their opined masterpieces (Guerlain's l'heure bleue, Bulgari Black). There are some frags to which I've never been exposed and now yearn to sample. So, I thank them for that. And I'll try real hard not to resent their opinion that one of my favorite perfumes, according to TS, is a scrubber. I humbly disagree.

And, I think that is the beauty of perfume as an art. It's totally subjective and very personal. While I value their opinions and writing (funny, smart...if a little snarky) as "experts" in the field who have deep knowledge of notes/accords and know what perfumes are supposed to invoke some sort of olfactory orgasm, my own opinions about the scents I love are just that--my own opinions. The star ratings will not persuade me or dissuade me from smelling as many perfumes as I can just so I can form my own opinion too.

Nevertheless, it's a great book and am glad to heave read it for the exposure to some spectacular fragrances heretofore unknown to me. ...more
1

Nov 22, 2012

An extract from this review handily sums up Turin's approach to scent:

"Vibration theory lay dormant for the past three decades largely because it lacks a plausible biological mechanism for converting intramolecular vibrations into neuronal activation. Recently, however, it was resuscitated by a physiologist and perfume critic named Luca Turin. While implausible, Turin’s proposal is certainly a delightful potpourri of creativity, conjecture, extrapolation, and isolated observations. And it’s An extract from this review handily sums up Turin's approach to scent:

"Vibration theory lay dormant for the past three decades largely because it lacks a plausible biological mechanism for converting intramolecular vibrations into neuronal activation. Recently, however, it was resuscitated by a physiologist and perfume critic named Luca Turin. While implausible, Turin’s proposal is certainly a delightful potpourri of creativity, conjecture, extrapolation, and isolated observations. And it’s brazen: a universal theory of smell based on one man’s olfactory impressions. In a grand substitution of ego for psychophysics, Turin claims that Turin’s theory successfully predicts odors because they smell the way Turin says they do." [my emphasis]

If you want to read what an egotistical bore thinks of different perfumes (remembering, of course, that he is always right) then go ahead. I found it intensely irritating and completely unhelpful... albeit with a few funny one liners that weren't quite enough to recover it for me! ...more
5

Jan 30, 2013

This is a good and enlightening read about the perfume industry. The first 50 pages have changed my opinion about scent and the way I look at it. They encourage people to like what they like and not fall prey to assumptions and advertising, or even their opinions. They inform you about how to test perfume and why you should be skeptical about industry pablum. Great stuff. I'll never look at perfume the same way again. In fact, some of the perfumes I own are too screechy. They're being tossed This is a good and enlightening read about the perfume industry. The first 50 pages have changed my opinion about scent and the way I look at it. They encourage people to like what they like and not fall prey to assumptions and advertising, or even their opinions. They inform you about how to test perfume and why you should be skeptical about industry pablum. Great stuff. I'll never look at perfume the same way again. In fact, some of the perfumes I own are too screechy. They're being tossed whether pricey or drugstore. As for people being upset about their reviews, they're just opinions. Relax. I own several that they hate and a few they deem masterpieces. Que sera sera. ...more
5

May 06, 2011

I would recommend this guide for anyone looking to navigate the daunting world of scents. There's a lot of stinky water out there, and some that is just perfect, and this book helps readers understand WHY. The first few chapters are a wonderful introduction to the industry. The individual reviews are comprehensive, well-written, and from my limited experience so far, spot-on. I originally checked out Perfumes: A Guide from the library but ultimately ended up buying it because I think I actually I would recommend this guide for anyone looking to navigate the daunting world of scents. There's a lot of stinky water out there, and some that is just perfect, and this book helps readers understand WHY. The first few chapters are a wonderful introduction to the industry. The individual reviews are comprehensive, well-written, and from my limited experience so far, spot-on. I originally checked out Perfumes: A Guide from the library but ultimately ended up buying it because I think I actually reference it in the future. ...more
4

Oct 31, 2010

Recommended to me by my friend John Q., this book is a must-read for smell obsessives like myself. The reviews are structured like the perfumes they describe: bottom notes of memories and evocations, middle notes on origins, similarities, and similar attempts, and top notes of incisive commentary. While I would not suggest anyone select a fragrance based on any of the reviews (smell is very personal!) the authors list all the notes that go into each fragrance, which is quite useful for those Recommended to me by my friend John Q., this book is a must-read for smell obsessives like myself. The reviews are structured like the perfumes they describe: bottom notes of memories and evocations, middle notes on origins, similarities, and similar attempts, and top notes of incisive commentary. While I would not suggest anyone select a fragrance based on any of the reviews (smell is very personal!) the authors list all the notes that go into each fragrance, which is quite useful for those looking for a new signature fragrance. ...more
4

Mar 23, 2008

While I don't always agree with Luca Turin's and Tania's assessments of commercial fragrances, they are interesting to read and never fail to entertain. I'm "virtually" acquainted with Tania via the Makeup Alley fragrance board, and I think she brings a nice balance to Luca's writing. The essays at the beginning of the book are worth the price of admission. If you don't know who Luca Turin is, start with Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent for some context.
4

Jan 02, 2016

It's true, reading books about perfume is like dancing about architecture. Still, the snark here cannot be beat. I am also very envious of people who, unlike me, can detect all these scents. Even with lots of sampling I mostly get Flowers, Not-Flowers, and Cake. I am the ideal Bath and Bodyworks customer, but after reading this I feel less bad about that.
5

Apr 20, 2008

While it seems like a daunting task, Turin and Sanchez manage to evoke, in words, all of the emotion (and emotional baggage) that we associate with scents. While their raves are sweetly poetic, it's their biting, laugh-out-loud negative reviews that make this well worth a read.
4

Jun 09, 2008

If you are beguiled by scent as I am, you will find this funny and witty and sly and astonishingly informative. The fact that they write a lovely paragraph about my favorite perfume (Songes by Annick Goutal) does not hurt.
2

Jan 08, 2017

I know everything about fragrances now.

2-stars: Some of the descriptions were creative and fun to read, but overall these authors are snobs.

Wear what you like, folks. (Spritz conservatively.)

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