August 31 2014

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Perfume, An Annotated Guide Book


Fragrance can be a mystifying beast. With all the celebrity endorsements, eye-catching bottles, elaborate marketing campaigns, and expansive ingredients lists, it’s often hard to sort out the winners from the stinkers. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez set out to do just that with their new book, Perfumes: The A-Z Guide (Penguin; 2009). A leading scholar in the field of olfactory science (and the subject of Chandler Burr’s tome The Emperor of Scent), Turin brings his renowned expertise to the table, where it mingles with Sanchez’s witty prose for a delightful read—and an excellent resource for all future trips to the fragrance counter. Aside from providing an introduction to perfume criticism and an education in what separates feminine and masculine scents, the authors cover a brief history of perfume and also provide a thorough “frequently asked questions” section. Ever wondered about the differences between an EDT, an EDP, and a Parfum? They’ve got the answer. But the brilliance of the book is in the nearly 1,800 reviews. Turin calls Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely a “charming floral” that “makes you want to buy furry toys” and describes Paris Hilton’s namesake scent as “competent but depressing,” while Sanchez depicts Guerlain’s Champs-Elysées as “a sharp and shallow floral to go with Lucite-heeled shoes and a ditzy high-pitched laugh.” Like we said, it’s a delightful read.

Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Group



  1. timmr says:

    I have the previous version of this guide and its amazing – everything they say in the review and more. It introduced me to many fragrances that I would have never sought out, like ones developed in the 1920s that feel completely modern and you won’t smell on everyone on the subway. Great purchase.

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