Perfumes – The Guide
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:
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.
Adore or odour?
Chanel No 5
Chanel Pour Monsieur
AND THE WORST…
Creed’s Love in White
Some of these five-star landmarks definitively changed the history of perfume, and some stand the test of time because they continue to smell fantastic, decade after decade.
By Tania Sanchez
Mitsouko by Guerlain (1919) Dark, rich, and exquisitely beautiful.
Habit Rouge by Guerlain (1965) A soft and rasping scent, like stubble on a handsome cheek.
L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain (1912) Guerlain at its best; a wearable praline.
Opium by Yves Saint Laurent (1977) The most distinctive spicy oriental ever.
Pleasures by Estée Lauder (1995) This antidote to the loud fragrances of the 1980s; smells fresh out of the bath.
Shalimar by Guerlain (1925) The perfect little black cocktail dress, translated into fragrance.
Angel by Thierry Mugler (1992) A huge, brassy belly laugh of a scent.
Vol de Nuit by Guerlain (1933) This is what quality smells like.
White Linen by Estée Lauder (1978) The smell of snow in sunshine.
We rank fragrances, giving five stars to masterpieces, four stars to excellent fragrances, three stars to solid, yet uninspiring ones, two stars to disappointing scents, and one star to fragrances so vile they insult the smeller. And we call them like we smell them. One startled PR assistant asked coauthor Luca Turin, after he requested an actual perfume and not just press releases, “What will your opinion rest on?” He answered, “A triangular appendage in the middle of my face—called the nose.”
By Lucia Turin and Tania Sanchez
- Badgley Mischka
- Gorgeous Fruity
- The first thing I noticed was a big, breathtaking fruity top note, which I promptly forgot about, since what doesn’t have a big fruity top note these days? The second time, I was floored by the lushness and freshness, reminding me of ripe fruit before everything goes to brandy—peaches, mangoes, lychees, pineapples. Like church bells on Easter morning, this is simple and perfect and sure. It’s like a novel in which the hero discovers that his friend is the most beautiful girl in the room, and only familiarity prevented him from seeing it was time to face the facts: It’s love.
- Beyond Paradise by Estée Lauder
- Symphonic Floral
- What is so impressive about Beyond Paradise’s masterful portrait of a fresh, fictional, ideal tropical flower is that the image holds steady for hours. It takes a lot of work to make something this accomplished appear this easy. Lovers of exotic beach-fantasy florals put out by niche firms should pick up the weird sci-fi rainbow nipple bottle at the Lauder counter and give it an honest try.
- Calyx by Prescriptives
- Guava Rose
- Calyx maintains a perfect balance between clean crispness and rosy sweetness without ever falling into either camp completely. For a scent of the ’80s—1986, to be exact—Calyx also manages to smell incredibly fresh and modern. This scent helped inspire the next generation of fruity, clean florals, although none have really improved on it. It’s one of those rare fragrances you could wear your whole life.
- Chinatown by Bond N.Y.C. No. 9
- Gourmand Chypre
- The plucky Bond No. 9 has produced its masterpiece. Chinatown is one of those fragrances that smells immediately, compellingly, and irresistibly great. It’s both oddly familiar and surprising. Some people find it too sweet. To my nose it smells like a corner of a small French grocery in summer, in the exact spot where the smell of floor wax meets that of ripe peaches. A treasure in a beautiful bottle.
- Lolita Lempicka by Thierry Mugler
- Herbal Angel
- With most of the many fragrances inspired by Thierry Mugler Angel, the first thing you think on smelling them is: Hello, Angel. Not this time. Lolita Lempicka keeps the sweet, woody stuff but skips the push-up bra. The fragrance is snappy and smart, the ideal accompaniment for flirtatious banter from prim girls in glasses. It’s also a clever feminine that clever men can wear. I once got on a subway just as a pretty young man stepped off in a cloud of it. Bonus: darling bottle.
- Kaleidoscopic Floral
- I have no idea whether this perfume will still be around in ten years, but I will make sure I have enough of it to last me a lifetime. Missoni is one of the most accomplished fragrances to be created in years. The fragrance alters as it dries on the skin; it’s beautifully modulated, and then it has a luminous, almost minty accord. The subsequent effect is a perfume that feels very much alive, somehow composing itself as it goes along. Most other perfumes are rapidly fading photographs; this one is a movie.
- Tommy Girl by 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. Tommy Girl’s origins were explained by its creator Calice Becker, who asked a chemist to sample the air in the Mariage Frères tea store in Paris to figure out what gave it its unique fragrance. To this tea base an exhilarating floral accord, traje de luces, was added to form Tommy Girl. Hilfiger’s public relations team asked Becker for a reason to label the fragrance as typically American. A botany expert was called in, and, to everyone’s surprise, the composition fell neatly into several native American varieties of flowers.
- Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, copyright ©2008 by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez.