Perfumes: The A-Z Guide

( 17 )

Overview

The first book of its kind: a definitive guide to the world of perfume

Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are experts in the world of scent. Turin, a renowned scientist, and Sanchez, a longtime perfume critic, have spent years sniffing the world’s most elegant and beautiful—as well as some truly terrible—perfumes. In Perfumes: The Guide, they combine their talents and experience to review more than twelve hundred fragrances, separating the divine from the good from the monumentally ...

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Overview

The first book of its kind: a definitive guide to the world of perfume

Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are experts in the world of scent. Turin, a renowned scientist, and Sanchez, a longtime perfume critic, have spent years sniffing the world’s most elegant and beautiful—as well as some truly terrible—perfumes. In Perfumes: The Guide, they combine their talents and experience to review more than twelve hundred fragrances, separating the divine from the good from the monumentally awful. Through witty, irreverent, and illuminating prose, the reviews in Perfumes not only provide consumers with an essential guide to shopping for fragrance, but also make for a unique reading experience.

Perfumes features introductions to women’s and men’s fragrances and an informative “frequently asked questions” section including:
• What is the difference between eau de toilette and perfume?
• How long can I keep perfume before it goes bad?
• What’s better: splash bottles or spray atomizers?
• What are perfumes made of?
• Should I change my fragrance each season?

Perfumes: The Guide is an authoritative, one-of-a-kind book that will do for fragrance what Robert Parker’s books have done for wine. Beautifully designed and elegantly illustrated, this book will be the perfect gift for collectors and anyone who’s ever had an interest in the fascinating subject of perfume.

Read Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez's posts on the Penguin Blog.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Americans have an obsession about scent: Each year, we spend more than $5 billion on cologne and perfume. Sixty-six percent of men and 72 percent of women wear perfume or cologne. More than 500 new fragrances are launched each year. With all these "can't sniff at" statistics, the need for a definitive guide to the world of perfume should be nearly self-evident. Presiding over this authoritative, beautifully illustrated reference are two noted specialists: Dr. Luca Turin is a leading scholar in the field of olfactory science, and Tania Sanchez is an avid perfume collector and expert who has written hundreds of perfume reviews.
Dallas Morning News
After spending the better part of a weekend reading a galley – often aloud to anyone willing to listen – I'm convinced Turin and Sanchez offer some of the most stylish, erudite and hilarious criticism in any subject field.
New Yorker
While the authors embrace point systems and science, they also offer vivid, funny, evocative descriptions of the smells they write about...To enjoy Perfumes, you don't need to know, or even to like, perfumes, such is the brio of Turin's and Sanchez's prose...This is fun to read – and a rare pleasure, too...The joy of Turin and Sanchez's book, however, is their ability to write about smell in a way that manages to combine the science of the subject with the vocabulary of scent in witty, vivid descriptions of what these smells are like. Their work is, quite simply, ravishingly entertaining, and it passes the high test that their praise is even more compelling than their criticism...Its blend of technical knowledge and evocative writing is exemplary in the strict sense: people who write about smell and taste in any context should use it as an example.
Publishers Weekly

Less a guide in the sense of helping people choose the perfect fragrance than a wide-ranging, critical review of some 1,200 perfumes, both famous and obscure, this comprehensive book is unfailingly entertaining. A collaboration between Turin, a well-known olfactory scientist, and Sanchez, a perfume collector and critic, the book brings their exquisite connoisseurship to life in a contagious manner. Their passion for a few scents and their outrage at the others' failings make for entry after entry of hilarious, catty comments interspersed with occasional erudite, eloquent disquisitions. French perfumery Guerlain is subject to both: Jicky is "an object lesson in perfumery... a towering masterpiece," while Aqua Allegoria Pivoine Magnifica is "like chewing tin foil while staring at a welding arc." Other startlingly evocative metaphors abound, especially those comparing perfumes to people, whether someone real (Amy Winehouse, Paris Hilton) or a general type (socialites, someone ill with bronchitis). This will be a must-have for anyone who already loves perfumes, though many of the reviews will cause violent disagreement, and those who aren't utterly perfume-obsessed will still appreciate the opening essays on olfactory science, the history of perfume, general types of fragrances and how to choose perfumes. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In this guide to fragrance selection, renowned fragrance biophysicist Turin (The Secret of Scent) and writer/editor Sanchez (a frequent contributor to MakeUpAlley.com) review more than 1200 men's and women's fragrances in highly accessible, occasionally snarky, richly descriptive language. Sanchez's introductory essays are both illuminating and highly engaging. She brings a witty, intellectual edge to her account of the changing industry and the complex process of choosing scents. Sanchez and Turin employ the star-system and offer two-word synopses for each scent. For all fashion-focused collections.
—Savannah Schroll Guz

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143115014
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 286,182
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Luca Turin is a leading scholar in the field of olfactory science. He holds a PhD in biophysics from University College London.
Tania Sanchez is an avid perfume collector and expert. She has written hundreds of perfume reviews on several perfume Web sites.
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Read an Excerpt

Cool Water (Davidoff)
• *
• *
• aromatic fougère

This beautiful 1988 composition made Pierre Bourdon famous and was imitated more times, I’ll wager, than any other fragrance in history save Chypre. The problem with successful masculines is that you associate them with the legion of aspirational klutzes who wore them for good luck. Trying to assess CW without conjuring up the image of some open shirted prat with hair gel is a bit like the Russian cure for hiccups: run around the house three times without thinking of the word wolf. This said, unlike Chypre, CW belongs to the category of things done right the first time, like the first Windsurfer and the Boeing 707. Countless imitations, extensions, variations, and complications failed to improve on it or add a jot of interest to this cheerful, abstract, cheap, and lethally effective formula of crab apple, woody citrus, amber, and musk. Now let women wear it for a decade or two. LT

L'Air du Désert Marocain (Tauer) ***** incense oriental
The sweet, resinous smell of amber, the smell of the classic perfume oriental, has long been weighed down with vanilla and sandalwood ballast, decorated with mulling spices, bolstered with musk, made come-hither, ready for its closeup, and we are quite used to it—but this is not amber's first life. Perfume, as has been pointed out many times, means “through smoke,” named for the fragrant materials burned to clean the air and therefore the spirit. Since the angel Metatron sees fit to deliver his messages to the world nowadays via the guitar of Carlos Santana, it only makes sense that the as yet unnamed angel of perfume chooses to speak through an unassuming Swiss chemist from Zurich with a mustache and a buttoned shirt. L'Air du Désert is talented amateur perfumer Andy Tauer's second fragrance, after the rich oriental rose of Maroc pour Elle; one hale breath of Désert's vast spaces clears the head of all the world's nonsense. There is something about the ancient smell of these resins (styrax, frankincense) that on first inhalation strikes even this suburban American Protestant with no memories of mass as entirely holy, beautiful, purifying, lit without shadow from all sides. Even without the fragrance's name to prompt me, I would still feel the same peace when smelling it that I've felt only once before, when driving across the Southwestern desert one morning: all quiet, no human habitation for miles, the upturned bowl of the heavens infinitely high above, and the sage and occasional quail clutching close and gray to the dun earth. Each solitary object stood supersaturated with itself, full to the brim, sure to spill over if subjected to the slightest nudge. Wear this fragrance and feel the cloudless sky rush far away above you. TS

Eternity for Men (Calvin Klein)
• *
• mandarin lavender

An interesting twist on the perennially pleasant citrus-lavender accord using the (musically speaking) flattened note of mandarin rather than straight citrus, or the corresponding sharp of lime. This is a very skillfully composed and likable fragrance, but I wish more cash had been spent on the formula. It smells good but cheap, which would be fine if the overall structure were unpretentious as in Cool Water, whereas it is distinctly aspirational. LT

Spellbound (Estée Lauder)
• medicated treacle
Powerfully cloying and nauseating. Trails for miles. Frightens horses. Gets worse. TS

Tommy Girl (Tommy Hilfiger)
• *
• *
• tea floral

No fragrance in recent memory has suffered more from being affordable than Tommy Girl. It’s as if it were deemed less desirable for being promiscuous. Despite all the historical evidence to the contrary (Brut, Canoe, Habanita, and the first J-Lo), the world is still crawling with naïve snobs who’d rather believe their wallet’s loss than their nose’s gain. Tommy Girl’s origins were explained to me by creator Calice Becker, who was brought up in a Russian household, with a samovar always on the boil and a mother with a passion for strange teas. At Becker’s instigation, the legendary chemist Roman Kaiser of Givaudan sampled the air in the Mariage Frères tea store in Paris to figure out what gave it its unique fragrance. From this a tea base was evolved, in which no one showed much interest. The idea waited several years until Elléna’s excellent but only remotely tea-like Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert (Bulgari) came out in 1993. Its success made it possible for Becker to submit a tea composition for the Hilfiger brief. She won it, eleven hundred formulations later the perfume was finalized, in collaboration with a brilliant evaluator who went on to study philosophy. Tea makes excellent sense as a perfumery base, since it can be declined in dozens of ways, as flavored teas will attest: Soochong, Earl Grey, jasmine, and so on. In that respect it could serve as a modern chypre, a mannequin to be dressed at will. Tommy Girl clothed it in a torero’s trafe de luces, a fresh floral accord so exhilaratingly bright that it could be used to set the white point for all future fragrances. Remarkably, late in the project, Hilfiger’s PR firm asked Becker to give them so e reason to label the fragrance as typically American. Quest’s resident botany expert was called in, and to everyone’s surprise found that the composition fell neatly into several blocks, each apparently typical of a native American botanical. So it goes with projects whose sails are filled by the breath of angels. LT

The composition miraculously turned out to fall into accords typical of native American botanicals? Put me on record as skeptical. Tommy Girl smells great, though, and has been copied relentlessly. TS

Beauty Rush Appletini (Victoria's Secret)
• Jolly Rancher

Victoria's Secret has determined that its customers need (1) cleavage and (2) to smell precisely like dime-store candy. You may discern an implicit insult to the male mind in this pair of facts. TS

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Table of Contents

Introduction to Perfume Criticism     1
How to Connect Your Nose to Your Brain     1
Feminine Fragrance     7
Beauty and the Bees     7
The Classical and the Romantic     16
Masculine Fragrance     19
Masculine Elegance and What It Smells Like     19
The Wasteland     25
Chemistry and Art     31
A Brief History of Perfume     31
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions     39
Perfume Reviews     51
Glossary of Materials and Terms     367
Top Ten Lists     371
Best Feminines     371
Best Masculines     371
Best Feminines for Men     371
Best Masculines for Women     371
Best Florals     371
Best Chypres     372
Best Orientals     372
Best Quiet Fragrances     372
Best Loud Fragrances     372
Index of Star Ratings     373
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2012

    Excellent Book

    I found a couple of great reviews for colognes I was considering buying and their descriptions were very accurate and written in a compelling manner. The book is a good read from cover to cover and both informed and entertained me. Well worth buying if you have an interest in perfume.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2010

    fashion fun

    As a critical reference book for the art and science of perfume, this book is a sheer delight. For anyone fascinated by fragrance, confused about what to buy - it is informative and fun to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2010

    useful and entertaining

    a great read, the honesty is much appreciated and makes this guide indespensible.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    This book is well, entertainly and sparklingly written, like a f

    This book is well, entertainly and sparklingly written, like a fine perfume itself. I carry it around with me just to dip into. Exuberant, fizzy, informative and modent, buy it if you are a student (or wanna-be like me) student ot perfume!

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    Posted December 8, 2009

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    Posted April 18, 2011

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    Posted January 19, 2010

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    Posted August 26, 2011

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    Posted December 26, 2010

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