Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez just published their Perfumes The Guide 2018, the first new version of the book in ten years. The Kindle version was released on June 28th, while the paperback version came out on July 13th or 14th.
I thought that everyone knew about the release, so I was astonished to hear more than a few people say in the niche/artisanal sample giveaway thread that they had no idea there even was a new book! It has been the subject of quite a few discussions in the perfume world already, which is one reason why I didn’t think to add to it with a review of my own here, but I’ve changed my mind after the comments, particularly as a good number of you went off to buy the book following my post and others have asked for my thoughts on certain fragrance assessments. So I decided to write a review, though it will be a little unconventional at times.
A bit of background context might be useful since the later parts of this review will rely on my ad hoc commentary on Twitter. As noted up above, the new Guide was first released on Kindle in late June for about $9.20 or £7.34. I’m not really one for digital books and, in fact, I don’t own a tablet of any kind. Some of you might be the same. Mr. Turin kindly explained that one could download the book to read on one’s phone with the Kindle App or something called Kobo. I’m a dinosaur who prefers my books to be tangible, on actual paper, and in my hands, but my impatience to read the new version led me to explore uncharted territory and try the Kindle App. It was much easier to set up than I had expected and I dove into the new Guide within minutes. (Flipping around between sections on a phone is still nowhere as easy or speedy as it is with an actual book, in my opinion, but it’s probably a question of one’s comfort zone and what one is used to.) Thankfully, the concrete version came out two weeks later and I quickly bought that one as well.
Though people asked me both privately and publicly about my thoughts on the book I hesitated to write an actual post on the subject here on the blog for a few reasons. First, I approached the book from a very particular perspective, one not necessarily shared by many other readers. For one thing, I’m not a producer, creator, nose, or perfume house; for another, I’m not a basic, every day perfume user. I’m certainly not like some of the commentators whom I read on one site who complained vociferously that the book didn’t cover enough big mainstream or designer brands and who opined, either angrily or querulously, that it included too many small indie, artisanal, or niche brands that they had never heard of. Unlike one chap who sneered at all the “unknown” artisanal brands and said he would have preferred a wholly specialized book covering 500 mainstream masculines — listing many names which, ironically, I had never heard of and which, I would venture a guess, most of you haven’t heard of, either — I was quite delighted with the new, heightened emphasis on niche, artisan, indie and luxury brands. After all, that’s my particular area of focus and interest, not Estée Lauder, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Elizabeth Arden, Clean, Burberry, or Lamborghini flankers. (Yes, apparently, the latter are a thing, all four of them! Who knew?!)
Another reason for my different perspective is that I approached the book as both a writer and as a blogger. When I first started this bizarre experience called perfume reviewing, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez were my role models. I didn’t want to write pieces that were 100% positive, gushing, gooey, and filled with fluff 100% of the time. Nor was my goal to fluff up the perfume houses or the noses, let alone seek ad clicks and benefit advertisers, as some sites (which shall remain nameless) do.
I didn’t give a hoot about any of them because my goal was to benefit the consumer, not the brands. Specifically, those who couldn’t buy everything or had a budget and who consequently needed factual, analytical, and critical assessments of the pros and cons of a scent, rather than romantic fairy tales or eloquent literary abstractions. In fact, my ideal intended target audience were those who were as OCD as I am and who wanted as many facts as possible, including information on the development of a scent, the adequacy or lack thereof of the drydown, the sillage over time, if the scent was filled with synthetics, whether the fragrance was worth the price when taken as a whole, what others thought of it, a compilation of relevant follow-up links all in one place, including retail links, and more. Turin and Sanchez didn’t do those things, but they were candid and blunt, sometimes brutally so, and they could write beautifully with erudition and wit. They were my role models — only I would dissect things in 3,500 to 7,000 words, not in one to three perfect and perfectly succinct broad overview sentences. (The day I’m that succinct is the day you know I’ve been kidnapped and I’m secretly sending you a coded S.O.S.)
As a writer, my admiration knows no bounds. The cleverness, deft wit, and range of fragrance knowledge displayed continuously and repeatedly in these reviews is as impressive as the wider erudition and the beautiful writing. On a purely technical basis, they’re both fantastic craftsman. I mean, I cannot even begin to fathom how one can summarize a scent, complete with brilliant metaphors, analogies, or wit, in just three or four sentences. My text/SMS messages are longer. (No, seriously, they are.)
A further reason why I’ve avoided writing about the book before now is something much more mundane: redundancy. If you follow me on Twitter, I’ve probably bored you silly already with my two separate, long threads, wherein I tweeted while reading the book in live or semi-live time. The first one was at the end of June when I downloaded the Kindle version and wrote late at night and into the early morning hours. (Initially, with a glass of wine before I snorted most of it out on my shirt over some of the hilarious biting snark.) The second thread was last week after receiving the paperback which enabled me to read more closely, comprehensively, and without skipping around. There were things that I had missed the first go-around which I covered there, as well as revisiting some points of confusion which I’d referenced in the first thread.
[On a completely unrelated note, if you don’t follow me on Twitter, I don’t necessarily recommend signing up to do so, because I don’t tweet much about perfume. In fact, for the longest time I didn’t tweet anything but links to reviews on the blog. The rest of the time I stayed silent. These days, I tweet quite a bit more, but it’s increasingly about politics, the Supreme Court or the law, dogs, or something inconsequential which is non-perfume related. It’s a boring, low-key, rather mundane Twitter feed, to be honest. All of which makes it even odder that the infamous Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci, late of the Trump White House, followed me last week. No, I don’t understand it, either, even if neither of us are fans of Steve Bannon.]
Returning to the subject of the new Guide, one reason why it’s worth explaining that I’ve approached things from a different perspective than some is because the book has drawn a lot of criticism in some quarters. In fact, I would venture to say that the first book had nothing even remotely resembling what has ensued over this one during the last few weeks. It’s not only the angriest of backlashes, not only have some people completely trashed the book, but some of it has also included highly vitriolic personal attacks against the two authors. One reason why might be the fact that more than half the book consists of One Star or Two Star reviews — more than half! Another is that many tiny houses received brutal reviews.
When it comes to several indie or artisanal houses, I can understand the impetus for the emotionally charged responses, on a theoretical basis at least, even if I personally don’t like a particular scent. A number of the brands are extremely small companies without a wide fan base or a plethora of gushing rave reviews. My personal rule has always been to stay silent and not write negative reviews in those cases. When reading the Guide, there were a few brands for whom, after the 4th or 5th scorching, blistering review, my heart just hurt — and they’re not even brands that I’ve championed or written about!
In a few cases, the authors’ issue seemed to be the technical skill demonstrated or, to be precise, the lack thereof. Mr. Turin’s Twitter response to some of the teeth-gnashing fury would seem to indicate as much. He tweeted: “if you sell a fragrance as an artisan for more money than Antaeus or Shalimar, you should be judged accordingly. This is no longer a Crafts Fair, no more excuses.”
In Mr. Turin’s introductory essay in the book, a sentence in his final paragraph stands out as further testament to this thinking or approach: “In this guide we have tried to treat the largest and smallest firms roughly equally, because both pretentious mediocrity and talent seem to be about equally distributed throughout the fragrance world.”
That equalizing treatment may seem unfair and it can be quite painful to read at times but a close scrutiny of the introductory essays and of a few niche reviews make it abundantly clear that the authors have lost patience with the pretentiousness and cynical codswallop involved when people simply launch brands for the sake of making money or put together any old olfactory mishmash of things accompanied by ludicrous PR text. It’s the lack of heart, soul, authenticity, and care which are being singled out in those cases. Not every case, mind you, but in a few. And I tend to find myself agreeing. If you saw the prose and hogwash on one or two websites, like the one whose name includes the word “Blood” or the absolutely ludicrous word salad used to describe a different brand’s Raphael-inspired fragrance, you probably would as well.
In the past, many of you who read this blog have pointed out, mocked, rolled your eyes at, or expressed your frustration over cynical marketing ploys or asinine PR prose for mediocre fragrances that come with ridiculously high prices, so should it be any surprise that Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez feel the same way? (Even more so after smelling more than 1,200 fragrances in a year, when merely a fraction of that number would be enough to make you or me feel cynical about the current perfume landscape.) The authors make their feelings known in the opening essays, both explicitly and implicitly, and that’s when they’re not pointedly referring to rip-offs or to how many “so-called independents are now created with what they call a successful ‘exit strategy’ in mind, i.e. cashing in and selling out.”
Take for example the following quote from Tania Sanchez’ opening essay which is merely one of many examples of their understandable frustration with certain trends in niche perfumery:
What confused and perplexed me were two completely different, unrelated matters: first, the issue of inclusivity or scope of coverage; and second, the occasional to frequent dissonance between the star rating and the nature of the accompany text, particularly for fragrances given Three Stars or Two Stars.
With regard to the dissonance issue, there are a number of fragrances, including some Three Stars, whose accompanying text basically reads as though their scores should be significantly lower. To me, some Three Stars read like Twos, while many, many, many Twos read as though they should really be Ones or, were it possible, no stars at all. I realize it’s a question of personal, subjective textual interpretation, but I found a number of reviews implied something along the lines of: “I had to scrub this one after a few hours;” “I can’t imagine anyone in their sane mind wanting to wear this;” “this is the most mundane thing ever;” or “this is an embarrassing and poorly done fragrance.” In those cases, the accompanying star rating didn’t match, in my opinion. To give you just one example, the review for Eau Sauvage Parfum essentially boils down to: “I was acutely embarrassed to have seen through this” bad magician’s “sorry secret” because the fragrance is complete “gibberish” whose “coarseness” of materials and “the total absence of the magical grace of” its precursor render it a “failure.” Reading that you, too, might wonder why it received Three Stars (“Good”) rather than the seemingly more warranted Two Stars (“Not Good”) or even One Star (“Avoid”).
With regard to the issue of inclusivity, there were a number of brands about which I would have enjoyed reading Mr. Turin or Ms. Sanchez’s perspectives, either because they are very popular, very big, or staggeringly expensive houses. To name just a few: SHL 777, Armani (e.g., Privé), Jovoy, Montale, Mancera, Fragrance du Bois, Clive Christian, Henri Jacques, & LVMH’s new Louis Vuitton brand. On Twitter, the guys from “Wafts from the Loft” pointed out two others which I forgot about and which I, too, would have liked reading about: Profumum Roma and Xerjoff. I’m sure there are others we’ve forgotten as well.
The reasons for the omission have not been made clear. In some cases, I think it’s due to the difficulty of obtaining samples of some of these brands in Greece. A larger part of it appears to be that some brands didn’t submit anything, perhaps because they missed the deadline, they forgot, they didn’t know, or because they didn’t want to. (Hiram Green and Arquiste, for example, apparently fall into the latter category.) On the other hand, the Acknowledgement section thanks the owners of a few perfume stores (e.g., Franco of Luckyscent) for their “assistance,” which could suggest that they sent samples, so who knows?
Still, at the end of the day, you have to realize that the book covers more than a 1,200 fragrances and that’s quite a Herculean feat of sniffing in one year. Furthermore, new editions will be released every year which will include additional scents, so the next one(s) may well cover some of the omitted brands.
When taken as a whole, is this a perfect book? No. But, as I said on Twitter, few things in life are perfect, not even my beloved Teutonic Overlords. (Shocking, I know. But, yes, even the Hairy Germans have a few flaws. Microscopic ones, mind you. That’s as far as I’m willing to go.)
Even so, I think this is a brilliant book written by two brilliant people. Whether or not one agrees with them about a particular fragrance assessment doesn’t change that fact, in my opinion. There are few things as subjective as scent and, arguably, nothing more driven by a whole range of personal, idiosyncratic variables. I’m always befuddled when I read comments on perfumery which are clearly posited on the assumption that there is one Absolute Universal Truth or a Right and Wrong in perfumery. There isn’t. We’re talking about invisible molecules which are interpreted or filtered through millions of different lenses, background experiences, personal body chemistries, individual tastes, biases, spectrums of knowledge, and so on. This is not akin to 2 + 2 always equals 4. You have your beliefs, I have mine, and they have theirs — and none of it should change what you love, I love, or they love. They know that, which is why they brush upon the issue of subjectivity in one of the opening sections when they write: “These reviews are not objective assessments deriving from scientific analysis. They, like all criticism, are the work of informed subjectivity.” [Emphasis added by me.]
So if you get angry upon reading The Guide, please keep in mind that the authors are not expecting their views to replace your own. I do not know Ms. Sanchez but from what little I know of Luca Turin as a person (which is admittedly not a lot), I would bet money that he would never expect you to change your feelings about the fragrances you love. In fact, I have the feeling that he would be disappointed in you if you did.
Plus, who agrees with every critic 100% or even 80% of the time? I haven’t with Turin and Sanchez and you don’t with me, but that’s the nature of the field. Even if a large number of people disagreed with The New York Times‘ notable restaurant critic Pete Wells after his now infamous scathing critique and star take-down of Thomas Keller’s Per Se (which triggered a veritable earthquake in the restaurant world) that doesn’t change the fact that the man knows a good deal about food and a damn sight more than the average person. The same holds true here.
Bottom line: the new Guide is a brilliant book in my opinion, a fascinating roller coaster of a ride, filled with little gems or pearls of insightful wisdom and, if you have even the smallest interest in perfumery, it is unquestionably a “Must Read” and “Must Buy” in my opinion.
So that’s my broad overview and perspective on the book, but when it comes to the specifics of why I think it’s such an exhilarating ride, I can’t add much more than what I already wrote on Twitter in two long threads. There is apparently a nifty new device that “unrolls” threads to make them easy to follow and that’s what I’ve used here to share my earlier comments with you. You’ll basically accompany me on my roller coaster ride of live-reading the book, even if it’s sometimes a random compilation of spontaneous gut reactions. But at least you’ll get a sense of what’s in the book if you haven’t decided to buy it yet.
Please keep in mind that Twitter is not my forte or my ideal medium; that the character limits are my nemesis and make it difficult for me to express myself as I normally do; that I make five times more cellphone auto-correct errors than the average person; and that I posted both threads late at night when I was sleep-deprived. Also, just to let you know, WordPress kept screwing up the formatting of the “unrolled” text when I copied it here, so I took the liberty of changing the line and paragraph breaks in order to make the delineation between tweets clearer and easier to discern.
TWITTER THREAD #1 – June 28-29th:
1/2 — Sitting down w/ the new #PerfumeGuide by @Turin_Luca /@taniasanchez and a glass of wine — reading, laughing, wincing, nodding, then wincing or laughing some more.
2/2 First time I’ve ever read a book on a phone but I was too impatient to wait for the paperback. Opening up the first pages felt like Christmas & opening a present — except better. This has epic scope, they’re both brilliant, and I would never want to return it.
May need a 2nd glass of wine, though, for some of the particularly brutal reviews or for the scathing or shrugging dismissal of a few personal favs. Separately, I’d forgotten that it was possible to wince, cringe, AND laugh at the same time. This book is impossible to put down.
I feel as though I should be live tweeting my reactions to this book as I read because, wow, what a rollercoaster of reactions. I went from a physical “yeah!” fist in the air to gasping “Oh.My.God!” out loud 2 min. later at something on the next page
Poor Amber Loup, I will hug you tightly no matter what. Yay for Satori getting recognized, esp. for Hana Hiraku & creativity. Confused why some 2 Stars read like they should actually be 1 to no Stars.
🤣🤣: L’Orpheline (Serge Lutens) ★ incense cashmeran This from Serge Lutens? If he doesn’t care anymore, why the hell should we? LT
Laine de Verre (Serge Lutens) ★★ aldehydes cashmeran Interesting zingy accord, amounting to approximately one fifth of a fragrance. LT 🤣🤣
Hilarious. Choked on my drink at:
“It’s as if Estée Lauder came out with an extension line for Knowing that included a floor cleaner. TS”
“Smells like the aisle in a home improvement shop where the cheap carpets are exhaling their volatiles. TS”
Decided it was safer to splutter water after this one:
“This is to an actual perfume what nylon mesh is to dupioni silk. TS”
The Gabrielle review is EVERYTHING w/its digs about hereditary titles and Christopher Sheldrake being passed over but probably, inevitably coming in to save the day later with a significantly improved flanker “by way of explanation and apology sometime soon.” Burnnnn!!!
I honestly don’t understand how Bogue/Gardoni’s Gardelia gets 2 Stars but some crap Kilians get 3s or 4s & TF’s Soleil Blanc gets 3. (3!!) 😕🤔 Most other differences in opinion I can understand or figure out but that one? Oh well, differences in scent make life more interesting
🤣 “Ten-foot-tall Yankee Candle. The stuff of nightmares. LT”
You and me both. 🤣
Thanks for the warning:
“Nuclear-powered amber, stuns all life forms within range. I had to give my nose a two-hour rest after this one. LT”
I’m shuddering at the mere thought of it. If it did that to you, it would probably keel me over with my aromachem. sensitivities.
The sardonic, dry, cynically mocking punch-line to the One Star review for a big brand scent is what I believe the youngsters would call “a mic drop”:
“Shabby little thing, barely distinguishable from a thousand other shabby little things out there. Should do well. LT” 😂🔥😂
😂 3 in a row!😂
•”Skillful and utterly dull melon-cucumber thing. LT”
•”Skillful and utterly dull jasmine thing. LT”
•”Skillful and utterly dull fresh-peachy thing. I wish there was some time-delay material that would suddenly take a rabid bite out of where you sprayed it. LT
You really MUST buy this book if you have any interest in perfumery. That last trio of reviews, directed at a huge multinational brand (won’t spoiler it. Get the book!) had me literally LOL. The Teutonic Overlord can’t understand WTH has been happening for the last 2 hrs. 🤣🤣
For all that I appreciate the pithy barbs at mainstream bilge & the large, rich conglomerates, I appreciate even more the heightened recognition and attention given to artisanal & indie perfumers in this new edition. 👍👍👍
But my heart hurts for one tiny C° which got scorched alive. They’re not my thing, but it might have been kinder to skip them entirely perhaps? They’re tiny & it’s not as though they receive endless attention or hyperbole so that a counterbalance was needed. I just feel for them.
I fully admit, though, that I have an impulse towards the underdog (quite separate from my dog obsession in general), so maybe I’m not as objectively steely as the critic profession necessitates or requires?
Regardless, this book is riveting, compelling, and hard to put down. Nay, IMPOSSIBLE to put down. Informative & educational for novice & expert alike. A definite “Must Read” that takes the perfume lover on a rollercoaster of reactions from one page (or even paragraph) to the next
Reading it was practically an interactive experience for someone like me: Grins as I fist pumped the air, physical wincing, grimaces, “OUCH” repeated out loud, a few head scratches & admittedly, one or two glares & muttered “WTH!!s”.
But that rollercoaster is precisely the joy of the Perfume Guide, whatever the edition. That instinctive, visceral emotionality parallels the perfume experience itself and it’s also what makes the book so compelling, so hard to put down.
It takes skill and talent to do that to your readers, but Mr. Turin & Ms. Sanchez also bring great knowledge (technical, comparative, vintage, new, industry related and otherwise) to many of their summations. (Excluding the eviscerating one-liner, one-star reviews that is. 🤣)
In an attempt to parallel or adopt the authors’ admirable pithiness, bottom line: 5 Stars, Must Read.(*)
(*) Don’t read while drinking red wine and wearing a white shirt. You will splutter/snort/choke/spew it out at some point, making a total mess of yourself.
MUST add one final one because it’s genius, incomparable & @Turin_Luca’s brain is astonishing. One single ¶ references: Barbara Cartland’s boudoir, chintzes, Cicero, Catalina, & “a young woman with a tubful of spackle on her face” gaslighting senior citizens over reformulations.
I bow down in total awe. Barbara Cartland’s chintzy boudoir & *CICERO*?!! “‘Nothing has been changed, Madam, you’re just losing your marbles’”…!! Wowser. There is no-one in the perfume world who can create, then traverse, whole worlds in a few sentences like LT does. Bravo! 👏
TWITTER THREAD #2 – July 16-17th:
[Thread] @Turin_Luca/@taniasanchez’s #PerfumesTheGuide2018 paperback version arrived today. Funnily enough, each version came out on a terrible news/politics day so, once again, it’s a badly needed escape.
Going to tweet again while I go through a portion of it, finding new gems, areas of disagreement or befuddlement, and/or laughs. I find books much easier to read in detail or flip through than Kindle/digital stuff on a phone.
It’s so easy to miss little tidbits while squinting at small text on a phone. TS’s line regarding a SL fragrance made me grin: “These goth names lately seem to come from a parody Serge Lutens Name Generator.” 🤣
So true. Some remind me of the “what’s your stripper’s name” meme.
Also, after a fragrance I tested last week, I agree more than ever w/ TS’s introductory essay section on some men’s fragrances, their intentional aromachemical force & the gross “panty-dropper” obsession in some quarters. “Rubbing alcohol sized to destroy New York City” indeed.
Unchanged: my confusion regarding Bogue Gardelia’s 2 Stars. On my skin & to me, it’s clearly a riff on vtg Mitsouko & a chypre-oriental, not a green floral bouquet. Not meant to be a gardenia soliflore, imo. And, to me, on my skin, it’s lovely.
Imo, Roja Haute Luxe is even closer to vtg Mitsouko parfum. He’s basically implied as much. And, imo, it’s also lovely. Opulent, too. I thought LT loved Mitsouko, but I guess decades of copies or riffs are not all that interesting, even if nicely done?
Hurrah for 4 Stars for Sammarco’s Bond-T. I missed that in reading/skipping around the Kindle version. I love Bond-T. I don’t experience narcissus absolute, but I do experience the rest that LT described (and a whole lot more). So delectable. Congrats Giovanni S! Well deserved.
🤣 at one of the Guerlain One Star reviews: “First, the good news: Guerlain cannot sink any lower. Now the bad news: if people buy this, they will try. LT” 🤣
Ditto, imo, re. their over-priced Middle Eastern line w/ Godzilla woody-amber synths & (faux) “Oud.” 🙄 Hideous.
Completely agree on the observations in one YSL review re. L’Oréal’s pattern & practice re. fragrances. Same regarding LT’s assessment of the Vestiaire Collection. Granted, I’m biased & I despise L’Oreal for what they’ve done to a house I once loved, but still: Hear, Hear!
Once again, I grinned at the Cuir Garamante review where TS tells LT it’s stuffed w/ woody-amber. I’m with her. The mere *memory* of its rasping, grating & totally generic, banal woody-amber faux leather (w/ generic fruitchouli no less!) is making my lip curl. Go Tania!
😂 “I now know what a mall in hell smells like. LT”- regarding one of seven (7!!) Marc Jacobs’ Daisy flankers.
I’m laughing so hard, particularly as that’s exactly how I feel about Ropion’s 10+ La Vie Est Belle flankers & his further copies thereof for niche brands.
This explains so much regarding a number of fragrances put out by certain famous noses who have a very high annual output:
@Turin_Luca, I’m now desperately curious about Stalin’s favourite Georgian reds? What were they like? What would you compare them to, varietal or region wise?
Also: you found them in Singapore??! That’s… unexpected.
Hm, confused. The text & stars don’t always seem to match. Text of some reviews reads more like a 2 star, 1 Star or, were it possible, even a no-star review. E.g: Eau Sauvage Parfum (3) reads like a 2; TF’s Soleil Blanc (3) reads like 2. L’Artisan’s 2* Caligna reads like a 1.
I suppose it’s a fine line b/w “Not Good” & “Avoid.” Plus, text can be interpreted differently. But *many* 2 Stars seem, to me, to read like: “You’d be crazy to go near this.” Or: “cheap, terrible garbage that I couldn’t stand (or scrubbed).” Ergo, more like a 1 *. To me at least
Dug out my sample of Dali Haute Parfumerie’s Fluidité du Temps Imaginaire (by Albert Morilles) in response to the review and, damn, it’s the same on my skin! Pastel tutti-frutti floral with fabric softener. Crazily enough, it DOES smell a little like my doctor’s waiting room. 😂
Took a brief break to glance at the news, saw it was as hideous and infuriating as ever, and fled back to the book for mental escape. Thank god for momentary chuckles like: “Mawkish fruity floral with a disconcerting animalic note. Like reading a romance novel at the zoo.” 🤣
Dreckigbleiben: I can’t imagine writing a long review, as mine typically are, in which I had to reference this fragrance’s name repeatedly.
Also, it’s a brave firm that chooses a name starting with “Dreck-‘.
4 Stars or not, it sounds it’s filled w/ overly strong smoky synths.
“Treffpunkt 8 Uber:” another long name I’m glad I haven’t had to reference repeatedly in a review. Keeps making me think of Steampunk, even if that’s not the meaning. Unum’s Io Non Ho Mani-etc-etc-etc-etc still gets the “Most Awkward Name” award.
Speaking of Unum, I’d really love to know if they failed to send in samples for review, forgot, didn’t care, or something else. Same with: SHL 777, Armani (e.g., Privé), Jovoy, Montale, Mancera, Fragrance du Bois, Clive Christian, Henri Jacques, & LVMH’s new Louis Vuitton brand.
I initially read “Limon de Cardoza” as limon cordiale, and now I’m craving limoncello.
The scent does not have the same appeal.
Definitely not craving “Lucky Wish,” a “lemon freesia” Anna Sui scent described simply as: “fingernails on blackboard.”
Is there such a thing as a “good” freesia scent, sans excess shampoo, hairspray, Bounce, or plastic shower curtain notes? I haven’t encountered one yet.
What brilliant writing from TS, what an analogy. I know a few Europeans who imagine American women fit this bizarre, binary stereotypical construct. But they conjure up the image of Lynn Wyatt (or even Ivanka Trump) rather than Jean Smart.
I shuddered at: “the most demonic woody-amber in memory seized you in its supernatural grip and rattles you till you fold. TS”
Was it Amber Xtreme? Also, while I’m cognizant of the masculine/Bro trend, materials like this just make me want to plaintively wail: “whyyyyy?!
What an erudite and clever review. I haven’t tried the scent, so I can’t speak to the “white on white” metaphor, but I recall only 4 or 5 fragrances from Alberto Morillas that I really liked or loved. He’s at 449 now??! 😲 Holy moly!
If I had to smell 4 Lamborghini flankers, 7 Marc Jacob Daisy ones, 3 La Vie est Belles, 5 Estée Lauder Modern Muses, 4 Cleans, 3 CK Ones, 4 Trésor/Nuit Trésors, hideous L’Oreal YSL swill, & untold Guerlain LPRN/Aqua Allegorias/bad faux Middle Easterns, I would shoot myself.
Whether or not one agrees with particular reviews, there’s no denying the bravura endeavor of smelling even a tenth of this stuff. (Black Opium alone put me in a filthy mood for a week. Let alone some of the rest.)
And, again, whether or not one agrees with individual, particular reviews, I find so much of the writing to be incisive, witty, astute, and/or brimming with actual voice or character. Sometimes a harsh, possibly biting one — true. But they take a stand & don’t straddle fences.
Like it or not, it’s refreshing in an age when far too many sites are all gushing, all hype, all accolades or, at best, wishy-washy waffling. LT & TS say what they actually think. (They also express themselves brilliantly & with great clarity. As a writer, I find that admirable.)
Having said that, I think people should smell, test, or wear what they like based on their own personal style or preferences. Nothing is written in stone in perfumery. There is no one Truth, no one Absolute. Scent may be the most subjective product in the world. So many variables
I will continue to love what I love & hate what I hate, regardless of their ratings. You should too. I doubt the authors would expect otherwise.
I don’t think one’s personal feelings about indiv. scents changes the fact that the book, as a whole, is a masterful, beautifully written and bravura accomplishment filled w/ invaluable information, insider tidbits, wit, candor & erudition.
What I said 2 weeks ago in the first thread still applies: it’s a rollercoaster ride of Ouches, Yays, LOLs, gasps, and winces that’s both exhilarating, informative, and entertaining to read. (The subtle Nazi dig at Chanel in “1932” put me in a good mood for a whole hour.)
I’ve observed the reactions & controversy swirling around the book but, imo, the fact that it manages to elicit such a range of intense emotions makes it worth reading even more. It’s a particular accomplishment in the otherwise milksop world of perfume reviewing.
No, The Guide is not perfect in my opinion, but few things are. (Not even German Shepherds, believe it or not. Shocking, I know!) Imo, there is a definite need for critical, candid looks at scent, especially given the PR-driven hogwash I read in magazines.
That’s it for tonight. More tomorrow perhaps, depending on how much I need to block out the rage-inducing horrors of the news and escape. I’m going to go re-read the several L’Oreal trashings for the 4th time w/ a big smirk and a glass of wine
I realize this has been an unconventional book review and the post is nothing like my usual way of writing or analyzing things, but sometimes one must just go with the flow. I couldn’t possibly write anything as spontaneously instinctive, candid, or genuine as I did in these two threads in the late hours of the night and morning. At the very least, it should give you a good idea of what a visceral, immediate experience reading the book can be, and I think it will be the same for many of you who have just bought a copy.
If you haven’t yet bought the book, I think it’s really worth doing so. I meant what I said towards the end of the second thread: it’s an accomplishment when something hits you in the solar plexus as often, repeatedly, and emotionally as this book does. It takes no-holds-barred candour, bold self-expression, and authenticity to do that. Moreover, covering more than 1,200 fragrances across the entire fragrance spectrum is a bravura feat — equal parts mastery and masochism, if you ask me. (Extreme masochism. Have I mentioned the slew of horrible flankers they sniffed? It would kill me.) Will you agree with everything they’ve written? I think I’ve made it clear that the answer is “No.” (Ambre Loup, I will love you always!) But I’ve also tried to make it clear that they’re not Moses on high and that disagreements don’t change either the entertaining fun of the book or its insights and value.
Finally, if you’ve only just purchased the Guide, I want to single out one thing which I thought was brilliant and which I think you should read before you go diving into the scores for your favourite fragrances: Ms. Sanchez’s introductory essay. I thought it was fantastic, astute, insightful, and accurate. Her broad overview analysis included, among other things, a discussion of: the overall state of the industry; changes thereto in the ten years since the last book; trends in niche or quasi-“niche” nowadays; the explosion of artisanal brands and their various approaches; trends in men’s fragrances (which also included a glorious reference to the gross, loathsome “panty dropper” obsession in some quarters); how “oud is the new vanilla;” and loads of highly relevant technical issues, such as the limited palette of materials for good bases in perfumery, its subsequent impact on fragrance structures and drydowns (“the drydown has become a minority interest”), and the trend towards over-compensating with strong woody-amber aromachemicals.
If this rather unconventional book review has piqued your interest but you have not yet purchased a copy, here are a few retail links: Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Amazon France, Amazon Germany, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Italy, and Amazon Australia.
I believe a hardback edition will be issued much later this year as well, possibly as a signed version, but I’m not sure of the exact details at the current time.