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Perfumes Paperback – 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: PROFILE BOOKS (2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846681278
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846681271
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,248,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

And no, it's not because we disagree on many things.
Perfume Lover
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez have written what is undoubtedly the definitive guide to perfumes.
Ronald K. Collins
Yes, the book is a delight to read, but I have found it much more fun to actually use.
D. Summerfield

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

309 of 329 people found the following review helpful By spheremusic on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Turin argues in his earlier book, _The Secret of Scent_, that smell is not so much about memory and biology, as is widely believed, as it is about beauty and imagination. He believes, furthermore, that one of the highest achievements in perfumery is what he terms "abstraction," that is to say, the creation of olfactory accords that, while perhaps alluding to natural smells, are novel and resistant to definition. These aesthetic axioms (which he presumably shares with co-author/wife Tania Sanchez) are the basis of the evaluations in this book, and we, as readers, have no choice but to take them or leave them. These axioms lead the authors to prefer complex fragrances over simple ones, fragrances that develop over time to linear ones, original and/or unique fragrances over skillful executions of old ideas, "interesting" (even if vaguely unpleasant) fragrances over boring (even if pleasant) ones, etc. In a nutshell, they apply the same standards to perfume that other critics usually apply to other arts. They want perfumery to be taken seriously as an art form, and say as much.

This is a legitimate view, and one to which I am highly sympathetic. That said, I think the authors overlook (or deliberately ignore) some of the factors that render the purely aesthetic appreciation of perfume difficult at best. First of all, perfumes are made to be worn. The final aesthetic effect of a fragrance is inseparable from the time, place, and person(s) involved. Of course this "framing" or contextualization effect is at work in all art forms, but it is arguably more important for perfumery than for others. Given the fact that perfumes are mixtures of chemicals, factors such as temperature, humidity, skin pH, decomposition, underlying body odor, age-related hyposmia, differing olfactory thresholds, etc.
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful By rob brown on April 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The only way to get the newer, updated edition of this book is to buy the paperbook edition.

The Kindle edition is actually taken from the older, outdated hardback edition; which is to say it does not contain the numerous updates, new reviews(~450) and new Top 10 lists.
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103 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Cologniac on April 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this on a whim and am *very* glad I did. This book is both extraordinarily educational and deliciously funny. Along with some nice, straightforward teachings by obvious experts, the book is filled with hugely entertaining mini-reviews of fragrances. The classics are hailed but dissected for the benefit of the class. The mediocre are called on the carpet and judged for both their virtues and their sins. And the trivial and forgettable are dispatched with short but laser-like descriptions of their one failed mission. Prepare to see your guilty pleasures nailed to the cross, and your true loves frisked rudely for shoplifted items. But trust me - it's not like a single Joan Rivers gag photocopied over and over - there's tremendous variety in the reviews. Many recommend superior but lesser-known fragrances that "did it better" - extremely useful to newbies. A lot of history is woven into the reviews - right where you need it. In fact, the education factor is at least two stars of my review. There's even a too-short glossary for people who might be put off by "aldehyde", "fougère", or "woody-amber". I would have loved to have seen more.

I enjoyed the fact that fragrance classifications were toyed with - and with extreme precision. For every "woody citrus" there's something like "evil tuberose" or "sad shampoo". But the authors don't spare themselves from the microscope, either - and hilariously so. [Spoiler: Tania admits to falling in love with one of my wife's favorites while drunk in the store, only to regret her romantic mistake upon sobering up.
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115 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Julie H. Rose on May 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got an e-mail from Amazon (not that it's personal) to write a review of this book. After looking over the others, I don't really see what I can add, but here's my four cents:

1. It's a bit sad to me that folks are so insecure. So what if Turin and Sachez have a different opinion than you? I have heard people say they were devastated that The Guide doesn't say "their scent" is great. It doesn't say some of my favorites are either, and I could care less.

2. Why is everyone saying it's bitchy? Yes, it's scathing, but it's not bitchy. There's a world of difference. Turin and Sanchez love scent and this comes through. They are having fun, I would imagine. And what do we do when we're having fun? Make jokes. Overstate. No, it's not bitchy, for it's never mean just for the sake of it.

3. These folks are professionals in their field. Dr. Turin designs new scent molecules. It is no wonder that they both go for the unusual and even the unwearable. The vast majority of the mid-scale department store scents smell the same: how would you like it if you had to test these on a regular basis? I'm sure your taste, too, would become more refined and gravitate to more bang than, say, yet another quiet white floral.

4. Folks, have some faith in your own opinions and just enjoy. The bottom line is this: this book is a great deal of fun. If you're looking for a list of ingrediants, google it.
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