The Guide: Discussion

 

As promised, today´s a revisit of Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, now that more of you have had a chance to read it. For my earlier review of the book, click here. I propose a free-for-all discussion of any aspects of the book that interest you, with the gentle reminder that we are all adults, theoretically, and we can disagree and still maintain some civility. Please don´t make me come on here and moderate.

The Guide has been a hot topic and occasional source of hard feelings since its release. Obviously I don´t agree with everything in it. My personal approach is the grain-of-salt angle; if I´m in agreement with LT and TS, well, then – we are all genius. If I´m in disagreement – someone is wrong, and it isn´t me, is it? I´m grateful someone thought the topic was of sufficient interest to publish a book on it, and I welcome any converts to the brave new world of perfume obsession. Lurkers – today may be the day to let your hair down and post your first comment! I´m also sending a shout-out to Mercedes and other commenters on The Guide over the past couple of weeks to reiterate your criticisms.

I probably spend a little time each day, often before bed, browsing the book. I´ve folded down the corners of various pages, with the earmarked perfume reviews falling into three general categories, and here are a few examples:

Vindication. I´m going to leave aside reviews of classics like Chanel No. 5 and Mitsouko, which would have shocked me had they awarded anything less than five stars. More rewarding to me is to see scents I think of as underdogs get a little love from the authors. This is especially true when my admiration for a particular scent comes with a small but (I´m being honest here) persistent fear that my love for that scent indicates I have crappy taste. Gucci Rush would fall into this category. It´s a wonderful, weird, brash scent – warmly human but surreal, hairspray and milk. Having TS award it five stars (“… it smells so new, so confident, so reckless, so of-the-moment, Rush manages at every stage to feel cozy and alive…”) gives me an absurd amount of pleasure. A different kind of vindication is seeing LT give Serge Lutens Rousse two stars and call it “one fine mess” from “the periode bizarre.” Heh. Another example is Dior´s Hypnotic Poison (four stars, LT), the “almond” Poison, which I´m wild for, almost as much as the original, and which LT describes as “dark, velvety and autumnally muted, and … radiates in a way that only a great perfumer could have arranged… it was done by Annick Menardo, which explains everything.”

Provocation. Having the authors pan something I like, or love something I hate, doesn´t send me into the spasms of fury I´ve seen elsewhere on the boards and blogs. My reasoning: if I start with the construct that criticism is opinion, no matter how well- or ill-informed, and I disagree with that opinion – then I guess we have a difference of opinion, and I´m okay with that. I am sure it would feel more personal if I were the actual perfumer (and more about that in a bit), but as someone said elsewhere, if you put your creation out there for public consumption, someone, somewhere is going to hate it. Anyway, LT gives Hermes Hiris one measly star (lots of lame stuff got at least two) and manages to pay Hiris creator (and one of my favorite perfumers) Olivia Giacobetti a backhanded compliment at the same time, lauding two of her other fragrances as “great insofar as she manages to break with her usual manner: delicate florals with a pale, sour note reminiscent of clothes washed with unscented fabric softener.” Yeow, that smarts. And while we´re on the topic of perfumers, LT seems to have his favorites and not-so-favorites. Further, I generalize that he is not a big fan of pared-down, minimalist compositions. I could go on for paragraphs citing examples of ratings I totally disagree with, but will name just a few: Marc Jacobs Men (one star); MoslBuddJewChristHinDao (five stars, and puh-leaze), Serge Lutens Sarrasins (five stars), Secretions Magnifiques (ELd´O, five stars, kill.me.now), Apothia Velvet Rope (one star.)

Revelations. Perhaps my favorite part of the book, these are reviews of fragrances I have tried that highlight some aspect I hadn´t noticed or appreciated. Or, they are fragrances I haven´t tried and now want to try, desperately. A random sampling from My Must-Retry list:

L´Artisan Vanilia (“unfettered, hilarious, boisterous, totally devoid of chic” – that last bit is a compliment in context.) LT gives it five stars and makes it sound like a riot, which I totally missed.

L´Artisan Patchouli Patch – four stars from LT and an ode to its development, which he says includes my BFF helichrysum (everlasting flower or immortelle) in the middle. Wow, really? I’ll check it out.

Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan – this may be the only Hermessence the authors liked. TS gives it five stars and talks about the milky aspect of the fragrance, which gets my attention, and calls it “a perfume of pure happiness.” Need to unearth my sample.

A random sample of the New To Me and Must Try category:

Etro Gomma (LT, three stars) “a classic leather in the Knize Ten mold, but more floral, composed by the great Edward Flechier.” Never heard of it.

Profumo.it Grezzo (LT, four stars). “A beautiful woody-fruity confection based on an accord that smells like cedar and apricots (osmanthus?)” He goes on. I want it.

Lady Stetson (TS, four stars). She compares it favorably (and actually prefers it) to Chanel No. 22, which I like very, very much, and no, I am not kidding, although she describes the bottle as hideous. Buy It Now at your local CVS.

Mauboussin (LT, four stars). “An oriental situated somewhere between the first Kenzo Jungle and Fendi´s Theorema, with a skilful combination of warm, mouthwatering dried-fruit notes and clean, uplifting woody-resinous incense and olibanum,” done by Christine Nagel. What was that? Oh, look, and there goes my credit card levitating out of my wallet for an unsniffed purchase.

A couple more thoughts and I´ll shut up and let you dive in. First, I have a relatively high tolerance for snark, and I believe I heard/read that the authors axed a couple of their reviews as too mean. Furthermore, perfumers have to suck it up and take the criticism of their oeuvre just as other artists do. Having said that, LT´s reviews of Mona di Orio´s line seem so vitriolic I can´t help but wonder if there´s a personal element in there. This from a review of Carnation (LT, one star): “She also says she studied with Edmond Roudnitska, but her creations suggest she paid little attention.” Lux – one star, LT, “dire citrus.” Nuit Noire – one star, LT, “a hilariously bad fragrance” with “a loud civet fart.” Oiro – one star, LT, “third-world air freshener.” I spoke of respecting others´ opinions, and LT´s got me beat on any level of technical knowledge of perfumery, but … seriously, come on. One star? For all of them? Did their PR drone make LT mad? This is the only set of reviews that taken together make me uncomfortable.

And last — Do fragrances change according to the wearer´s chemistry? This is a question in the interesting Q&A in the book. TS starts her answer, “For a long time, LT believed the answer to be absolutely no, and that all assertions to the contrary were marketing ploys” etc., and reading that, one expects a paragraph later on in the question explaining how LT´s changed his mind. I´ve now read that question several times, and it´s never clear to me in what way he´s changed his position, which I think he´s held firm to on the various talk shows and interviews. If I read this right, they concede that skin maybe creates nuances in the top notes, but that all drydowns are equal. I am in no position to argue with LT on the technical merits – but, as almost anyone has experienced in a group sniffing situation, fragrances seem to smell different on different people. I know that´s not a reasoned argument; it´s merely a statement. Most folks who´ve sniffed fragrances simultaneously on other people would agree with me, science or no science, and I´m not just talking about the top notes. Fragrances go inexplicably wrong – sweet or sour, musky or strange – on various people at various times. For another educated view on skin chemistry, see Victoria on her recent post on Bois de Jasmin (and so wonderful to see you back, V!)

Enough from me. The floor´s open. Your thoughts?

  • Jamie says:

    My favorites have always been the eau de whatevers. I like subtle understated fragrance to wear but love fragrance on everyone and have hardly ever had a bad fragrance encounter. I found the book entertaining, educational and to a certain degree, poetic. I pretty much know nothing about what is good perfume, only know what I like. I thought it was so much fun to read about perfumes I own only to find out that they are considered “perfect” or “damaged goods”. It wouldn’t stop me from wearing any of them just because Luca and Tanya’s stars say so. It sounds like most of you commenting know quite a bit about perfumes and their inventors/houses. I found a mini bottle of cool water at a thrift store for .50 and although it is suppose to be for guys I think it is really very fresh and lovely. My favorite all time fragrance was Aqua Ingelsa by erbe Midani and if any of you know where I can find it I would love to hear from you. It wouldn’t be one that would probably have ever made it into the book because it was just a lavender eau de toilette, nothing special except to me.

  • delfina says:

    I spent many hours in the last few days reading randomly the reviews in the guide and I really am surprised about all the resentment Turin and Sanchez are getting, on the boards and, partially, here too, even if in a much more civilized way.
    I find the book really enjoyable at the very least and what strikes me is that passion for perfume comes out really clearly through their writing.
    Of course the first thing I’ve done is to look for validation, but hey, it’s part of the game (anyway the first part I think) and, to a certain extent, a game we all were looking for, even those who have made bitter (in my opinion way too bitter sometimes) comments about the autors’ choices and preferences and the question of subjectivity.
    I think diplomacy is not the main quality that is to be expected from the two guys, and imho this is somewhat what makes the guide something to read and not just to consult every now and then. Even readers who aren’t familiar with them and don’t have a clue who they are before buying the book, I think are given a sort of key by the bluntness of the authors’ opinions and language and should be able to take the reviews with a grain of salt. A “calmer” attitude would have been, in my view, more confusing and more difficult to weigh in relation to one’s personal taste.
    As for the succinctness of the one-liners several of you have commented (when I read the first comments I still hadn’t received my copy) I was expecting more of them, judging from many reactions. Most reviews I find long enough or, even when concise, well thought.
    That said, I wish there will be a second edition where some of the missing lines are reviewed and some more indexes (per house at least, that in my opinion is the biggest fault of the guide) are added.

  • Victoria says:

    March, the funny thing is that I wrote my post simply based on a number of questions I have received from readers about skin chemistry. In the Guide, I went straight to the reviews, skipping the intro sections, so I had no idea Luca/Tania wrote much on skin chemistry. I will read them later.

    The main thing that prompted me was my own discovery of how much skin chemistry can affect scent. I often smell the same perfume on 5-15 different people, depending on a project and whoever can lend their arm, and I never fail to be astounded by differences. It is really fascinating. Plus, in the fragrance houses, this is known and taken for granted. Some perfumers will not send samples to the client unless they test them on several different skins.

    • March says:

      V, I do find it a hugely interesting topic. And of course I am at the mercy of experts, because I don’t have a leg to stand on in terms of personal scientific knowledge. But as I already stated, I have the same anecdotal experience. In a group of people trying the same fragrance, it smells different on different people, and in ways the group can articulate and *agree* on (sweeter on her, more leathery on him, etc.) You stated all sorts of reasons on your post why this makes sense, and thank you.

  • nubs says:

    I shall be taking this one out at the library and I do look forward to reading it. I have a sneaking suspicion that I have seen most of the contents throughout the fora and blogoshere.

    I would like to thank the Posse for what is perhaps the most balanced discussion about this book I have ever seen. Kudos , you have done what no forum can.

    • March says:

      Thanks. Balance … we worked at it. I know it can get a little wild on here, but I really prefer to let people have their say. I don’t want to babysit, as I have said before. And at the end of the day, I am quite pleased that The Guide, like Chandler Burr’s book, brings attention not just to perfumes but the idea of perfumery as an art form and legitimate, interesting topic for discussion.

  • Nina says:

    Erin, I’m a little puzzled. If you go to a book group to discuss a book, would you consider it ‘one-sided’ because the author isn’t there to defend him/herself? Should book groups be banned because criticism of the author’s work is unfair? Would you want to be sitting there analysing ‘Atonement’, if Ian McEwan was present and listening to your every word, ready to pounce if you interpreted his words ‘wrongly’?

    I see this as pretty much a book group.

    And just about every other day we discuss the work of perfumeurs fairly robustly. It’s rare (not sure I’ve ever seen it) to have someone object to criticisms of a perfume on the basis that it might be offensive to the artist. What’s different about this book?

    • Erin T says:

      Nina, I must be honest, I would love it if McEwan showed up to discuss Atonement at my book club – especially if he would talk about the rumours that he cribbed sections of that book off a romance novelist. And I’ve never been to a book club where people took stylistic choices really personally or mused on how the author’s personal lives or industry connections affected their choices. To my mind, part of what’s great about TS/LT and the Guide is how available the authors have made themselves to us. Perfumistas were super-interested in Luca writing another guide – I saw plenty of them encourage him to write another – but then people say: “Well it’s not for us knowledgable folks.” (Sorry, would love to continue, but gotta run my daughter to day care… I’ll check in later.)

    • zenwoman says:

      Agree with Nina. Also, we now have an author and what appears to be an editor weighing in. Looks like this blog has been jacked!

      • Erin T says:

        ZW, do you mean Francesca? I’m just a random blogger…

      • March says:

        Francesca is a friend of mine, and a perfume fan, who also worked on the book, although she was not the editor. She is welcome to comment on this blog anytime she wants to, as is Tania, assuming the comments stay more or less on the topic du jour and don’t turn into some smackdown. :)>-

  • Tania says:

    Anya, just for the record, Luca and I tested the same natural perfumes you recommended to both of us, on skin and paper. I did not have a cold. Neither did two of my friends who also tested the scents. We all agreed with Luca: they were not particularly impressive. He was in fact complimentary to scents by JoAnne Bassett and Desire in Sunlight, and he also liked a couple of yours, which you sent on much later.

    Luca has also excoriated the perfume industry for the waning use of naturals, and has always held that a judicious combination of naturals (for complexity) and synthetics (for structure) was ideal.

    Also, your assumptions about the reasons for the shutting down of his blog are unfounded. People have lives outside the Internet, you know.

    T

  • Tania says:

    Hi, March,

    Interesting discussion! Makes me sorry the publisher has been pitching the book as the “Robert Parker” of perfume, when it’s becoming clear we’re actually the Lester Bangs of perfume.

    We’d like to write you to answer some of the questions that have been building up about the book—not about the style of criticism, which people are free to love or hate, or the assessments, for which ditto, but just some factual clarifications. Could you send us your email? Ours is [email protected].

    Best,
    Tania

    • Nina says:

      Tania – with apologies to March for answering a post addressed to her – the ‘Contact us’ link is up near the top left-hand side of the page, as it is on most sites. I’m a little puzzled, therefore, why you asked for an email address, unless (being cynical here, sorry) it was an excuse to publicise your own email address?

      I was actually just about to post to this thread what a relief it was to at last be able to have a discussion about the book *without* the thing being invaded by one of the authors. There have been few discussion threads about this book on the web that haven’t, sooner or later (usually sooner) had LT parachuting into it with all guns blazing. Although there’s often some kind of disclaimer that ‘we don’t object to criticism’, that’s not how it looks from where I’m standing.

      These threads end up becoming blood baths. I, for one, would be grateful if you could leave at least one place where we could discuss the book without the authors leaping in to defend themselves.

      • Erin T says:

        So, Nina, you would prefer a one-sided discussion? There are plenty of us besides the authors who find some of the stuff on this post pretty offensive, but didn’t have the heart (or balls, what have you) to counter for fear of getting flamed again. I say Tania’s entitled to defend herself, and I would say March would agree. Ms March? 😕

        • March says:

          What March Says: I thought about inviting Tania to participate in the discussion, but then didn’t, for two reasons:

          1) That would make some people too shy to comment;
          2) On the other end of the spectrum, it would potentially devolve into an ugly series of personal attacks about current issues and past grievances that we’ve seen in other venues recently.

          Clearly the book is a hot topic, and I am enjoying the discussion. As I said at the outset — I am grateful for anything that brings niche perfumery into the arena as a legitimate topic of interest, and spreads the word to a wider public.

          March The Maleficent Decrees: I am willing to indulge some amount of back and forth on here, but I am not having this post blog-jacked so people can nurse old wounds. If things head that direction, I will turn comments off, sorry.

          • Erin T says:

            Sounds great to me!

          • Francesca says:

            Me, too. And I’d also like to say that in all my dealings with Tania and Luca while I was working on their book, they couldn’t have been more reasonable, professional, and charming. Plus I now have an interest in the fascinating and beautiful subject of perfumes.

      • kathleen says:

        But we still don’t know why the criticisms in the book, at times became so personal ie Mona di Orio. I would welcome hearing that.

      • Tania says:

        Sorry, I overlooked the Contact link. The blog authors are free to delete my comment if they like.

  • sylvia says:

    saw it at marshalls a few weeks ago for 10 bucks. almost bought it but then remembered that i haaaate it.

  • chanel22 says:

    I have an article from Vogue in 1992 or so, it’s squirreled away somewhere. The author went to Paris and visited with Jean-Paul Guerlain and Polge among others. The article is quite indepth. In the interview with Jean-Paul Guerlain, she asked, “Does Mitsouko really smell the same on everyone?” His reply was, “Yes, if the bath properly”. The Guerlains have been making perfume for 200 years, so I’m inclined to listed to what they say. “If they bath properly” and all that includes like lotions and the rest. So, it seems to me that right after a shower with normal, non deodorant soap, all perfume will smell the same on everyone. I believe it. The reason for using tester strips is that they allow the evolution of the fragrance to slow down to a couple days what would occur due to body heat in a matter of hours. If you are really going to get technical about a fragrance’s contruction, you have to analyze it on a tester strip. I have a strip with Chanel #5 on it, you could still smell it clearly after a month.

  • delfina says:

    Two hours ago I receved my long awaited copy of the guide and, of course, the first thing I’ve done is to browse and lokk for the scents I love, to see what they say. Dreadfully I read that L’Artisan is planning to discontinue Dzing!. I know that rumors of this have been coming and going for a long time now, but I wonder (maybe because the book’s status as The Guide :-)) if this time is for real.

    • delfina says:

      what’s with the emoticon? It just had to smile discreetly, not lol…

      • March says:

        Our emoticons are insane. I keep hearing different things about Dzing! It’s been in production long enough, we should be able to find bottles on fleaBay for awhile. But still, it’s wrong to kill of Dzing! [-(

  • mimmimmim says:

    I love Nuit Noire, and it’s one of the perfumes I don’t want to run out of. At least I won’t have to fight Turin to the MdO section in a shop! With so many of the classics being discontinued or replaced (eg almost all Patou’s back catalogue, Lanvin Rumeur), finding perfumers like MdO and lorenzo Villoresi, both of whom make perfumes that I adore and that shouldn’t be reformulated too soon has made me very happy.

    I also started to sample Carons in recent years, and while I can’t compare what I’ve smelled to vintage scents, they’ve all been incredibly beautiful and I’ve yet to find one that I wouldn’t want a full bottle of.

    Perhaps I should get the book and purchase only the one-star scents…

    • March says:

      Someone further up joked about starting a fanzine for one star scents. Certainly I have my share of one-star favorites. It seems like Caron and the Mona’s made people the most cross.

  • Lizzie_J says:

    :)>-
    I, too was uncomfortable with the Mona di Orio vitriol. It seemed so mean-spirited. As a newbe I am a little surprised by how many perfumes were left OUT of the reviews, including most of my favorite niche fragrances. And I wonder by LT did so many more reviews than TS, whose writing style I prefer, and who does not seem to have that hateful edge that LT exhibits far too often IMHO. On the positive side I have enjoyed sampling many of the fragrances that they’ve given 4 or 5 stars. The decanters out there are benefitting from my own levitating credit card!

    • March says:

      I’ve smelled a lot of product, and even I am enjoying getting out there and doing some revisits. Wearing four overlooked fragrances as we speak! I may need to go shower. :d

  • A says:

    I am late … is someone still reading 🙂

    1) I agree with some opionion here, it is more a book about LT taste. We know he likes things that smell bad with something that smell good in order to mix them.
    As in “The secret of scents”, there is no humility and honesty in the words of LT.

    2) Strange changes in LT opinion about a lot of perfume (Dune, Poison, …) and we are not in the reformulation section.
    Why, I dont know.

    3) No information about which vintage is used. I am tired to hear the sentence “I have tested a Vintage version of …”. It is always used as a SUPER argument (a god like hammer) in order to justify something.
    If you want to use Vintage you can, but please give us reference about which vintage is used.
    It is even strange, I am on the Vintage market since 10 years. When I found an old bottle, it take me times to judge if it is the original juice or a fake or a turned juice.
    There is a lot of “False Vintage” now (you can even remake a sceal at Guerlain if you want). Nobody speaks about …

    I know the scientist world perhaps better than the majority here. It is an ugly world. LT theories about smell have been rejected by a huge majority. I am sorry for him, it is not a fair world, but he has to accept it.
    When he writes the “Secret of scents” … he makes beleive the reader that he is right. The end of the book is full of bitterness and personal attacks …
    LT react as a PhD 1st year student. But Luca is no more a student, he knows exactly what is the scientific world.

    “Perfume : The guide” fellow the same schema, a brillant introduction full of knowledge in order to justify a second part full of bitterness and personal opinion.

    My single post cannot change minds against the all-stars Luca Turin.
    I only hope that he doesnt want to win glory whit this guide because he lost a scientific battle.

    • March says:

      Well, I am reading, but the next day.

      I’m not a scientist, and I’m not in a position to judge his scientific opinion. I can only argue against things that seem obviously wrong (like his refusal to accept skin chemistry) based on most people’s experience.

      I like his discussions when they teach me something new about a fragrance, and the rest (including the ratings) I don’t worry about. There is plenty of room for a wide range of opinion.

  • sylvia says:

    im mildly appalled by how cheap the whole thing was. this book needs to be a big coffee table book w/ glossy color photographs of the fumes, not weird blue line drawings of select bottles. and yeah, a series of indexes. by house, by name, by nose. that way you can also say “hey a lot of such and such’s creations are getting great reviews. let’s see what else there is by them i can try and what page to find that review on”

    • March says:

      I would have loved the indexes. Maybe next time? Regarding the production — I’ve not heard them say it, but wonder if they were deliberately not being the really expensive Michael Edwards-type coffee table book. Maybe this was supposed to be a more useful, portable series of helpful vignettes. Whether you think they achieved that is another question.

      • Francesca says:

        It was never meant to be a big coffee -table book.Originally , it was going to be the sort of guide you could stick in your back pocket or bag and take out sniffing with you. And then it grew..

        • March says:

          Thanks, Francesca. I was going to leave you out of it, but suspected this might be so. A couple of times already I’ve wished it were smaller (like Zagat’s) so I could stuff it in my purse.

    • chanel22 says:

      I do agree that it seems a little light on production cost. I love Michael Edward’s Perfume Legends, but I don’t think that was the intent here, nor do I think a book as expensive as Michael’s would have sold well right now. I do think the title of Luca and Tania’s book is a bit misleading as it’s not really a guide in the traditional sense. Perhaps ‘Everyone’s Entitled to Our Opinions’ might have been more accurate. It’s a fun book and I’m glad they published it. I do wish it were a bit more organized. You leave it feeling more confused than clarified. I’d love a list from them of all the current perfumes in the market rated like stocks and bonds as “buy”, “hold”,or “sell”.

  • GGS says:

    Late to the party, but enjoying the hundreds of postings and the many choosing to “delurk” for this topic. Everything has been said! My two scents..ummm…cents? Well worth the 20 bucks. I buy books all the time that I will never read twice, and this one is likely to referred to many times. And it made me laugh out loud. Priceless!

    Despite The Guide’s flaws, I hope it sells well. I’m sure it will launch some new perfumistas and encourage publishers to pay attention to this market.

    I’ll buy the second edition. I’ll buy Chandler’s next book. I’d buy one written by Victoria, Robin, Marina, Patty, March and Lee, Christopher and many other favorite perfume writers/bloggers.

    I also second the suggestion above that a “he said, she said” format would have been interesting. If Tania truly doesn’t find her opinion differs from Luca’s, please add another co-author or two for a future edition. Differing opinions would be much more interesting, and even out the impact of personal prejudices/preferences.
    –Gail

    • March says:

      I do wish they had done more contrasting reviews, but someone else up there argued (perhaps correctly) that maybe the editors/publisher were concerned about presenting a unified view — you know, it’s either a great perfume or it isn’t. I think the contrast makes for better reading, though. And I have to say, I find it hard to believe they agreed about so many fragrances.

  • Kathryn says:

    As someone just beginning to educate my nose, Perfume The Guide is a bit of a disappointment. The glowing prepublication review in the New Yorker a while back promised a comprehensive, well thought out and organized guide by people who really knew their stuff. I was thrilled. I knew there had to be more out there beyond the offering of Sephora. Finally, here might be the way to identify some of those intoxicating fragrances that occasionally come wafting my way from passers by.

    While waiting for the book, I started to read and then devour perfume blogs. The indexes of fragrance reviews, noses and houses on Now Smell This are wonderfully helpful. Basenote’s explanations of top notes, middle notes and base notes in individual fragrances have provided many revelations. The evocative prose and imagery of Bois de Jasmin illuminate the art as well as the science of scent. The witty and informed commentary of all who comment on the Perfume Posse is stimulating, provocative, and ultimately balanced. And the fragrances you all have led me to smell– the Malles, Ormonde Jayne, Lutens, Tauer.–what wonders there are out there. It is like discovering a continent you never knew for certain was there, but always hoped would exist.

    Does Pefume the Guide come close to synthesizing what can be found on the blogs? No. It is quite a scattershot affair. It is clear that Mr. Turin and Ms. Sanchez have strong opinions, but only occasionally apparent what the basis for those opinions are. Sometimes they are very funny. Almost as often, they seem pointlessly rude. Once in awhile the rudeness rises to the level of abuse, which isn’t amusing. Mr. Turin’s prose at times approaches the poetic. Ms. Sanchez writing has a tendency to veer into the purple. She, in particular, would have benefited by a better editor. But however interesting, or not, their writing styles are, you can’t count on them to explain why a scent is good or not. A one-line review such as “Like getting lemon juice in a paper cut” doesn’t really tell you much other than that they don’t like it.

    Which is not to say that the book has not been well worth reading. There are a lot of bits and pieces of chemistry, history, industry gossip, and fragrance architecture. Every once in a while there is a review that explains a lot about a lot, especially the Turin reviews of classic scents from Chanel, Guerlain, and Dior. Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Turin clearly both have a wide knowledge base and ability to decipher fragrances that are quite extraordinary. If I keep at, eventually I may be able to understand more of the unstated reasons behind so many of their opinions. But in the meantime, I will keep reading the blogs as a reliably helpful guide to exploring and understanding perfume. I thank you all.

  • Chanel22 says:

    O.K. I’m gonna say it–it seems like the results are cooked a bit. When it comes to five stars, Guerlain and Estee Lauder win by a landslide, remember E.L. makes Aromatics Elixir, Tommy Girl and many others. I think these firms do make good fragrances, but so do lots of other firms that have been completely ignored or slammed. I have held Luca Turin in the highest regards for a very long time. I have read his blog many times and printed out his comments everywhere, but there is something not quite right here.

    • March says:

      I’d argue that the “something wrong” is he likes particular styles of perfume, and/or particular noses, and to whatever degree a fragrance house has a defined scent strategy, some houses come out ahead. I don’t see anything nefarious in that, but I think it’s a subjective thing. On the other hand (I know I said this before) I can’t see how you could do a guide with ratings and have it not be subjective. It’s subjective by definition if you’re including any opinions.

      • chanel22 says:

        Good point! I have a French perfume guide by another author from the mid 1990s. It’s a beautiful little hardback with color pictures, available only in the French Language. It beautifully done, but I was just looking at it with new eyes last night. After exhaustive reviews of every Guerlain, Patou, Caron, Nina Ricci and yes, Estee Lauder, there is only a scattering of others. It is clear, this is a traditional viewpoint. There was only one Creed reviewed, no Floris, nor Penhaligon.

  • mharvey816 says:

    I’ve already posted about this on MUA but I feel strongly enough about it to reiterate the main points here. To me, The Guide is almost a fragrance version of those books that Paula Begoun used to put out about makeup, skincare and haircare products (“Don’t Without Me!” et al). It’s the opinion of the author(s), who claim expertise in criticism based on yadayadayada and whose resulting writings can be taken as gospel, heresy or somewhere in between.

    HOWEVER (you knew there was one coming), I object very strongly to the reviews where the snark/vitriol/attack is directed towards a person or people, such as the perfumer (as already discussed here re the MdO scents), or towards the person who actually dares wear the unloved scent.

    Trash all the fragrances you want, oh authors, but touch not a hair on the head of any fragrance lover. To say that the person who wears Chanel Allure is sending a “signal that her status excuses her from being pleasant” is just plain wrong. And bizarre, frankly: when I posted this quote on MUA and asked posters to guess which fragrance was being trashed, it took many, many tries before someone came up with the right answer, and that was only with several additional hints. One expects such over-the-top reactions, however wrongly directed, for something dramatic like Angel, or Poison, or Giorgio. But Allure? Really?

    I’m loaning out my copy to other interested parties, and frankly, if it doesn’t come back any time soon, I’m good with that. I’m not sorry I bought it but I’m hoping to help others decide via borrowing mine if they really need to spend the money as well. YMMV as always.

    • March says:

      The Chanel thing was a little bizarre. I don’t like Allure much, but I wouldn’t have chosen it for that example, and I don’t agree with it either. And there were other things like that in there. I think they were trying to be entertaining (and clearly you were not entertained.) But I understand the distinction between making a statement about a fragrance and making assumptions about its wearer. This is one of the areas I think got people more riled up, and thanks for pointing it out.

  • moi says:

    Pros:
    1. The general luv from both LT and TS thrown Estee Lauder’s way. Some of the world’s most underrate scents, IMHO, especially my precious Azuree and Youth Dew. Word.

    2. I now feel somewhat less bashful about my sometimes secretive long-time love of Acqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile.

    Cons:
    1. WTF re: Tabac Blond? It’s brilliant. I will wear it always, even if it means eating hot dogs.

    2. Snooze-arama on all the flanker reviews.

    3. WTF Part Deaux Re: Balenciaga. Not a single review of a single scent? If nothing else, muy snark opportunities.

    4. Why in the heck would you leave out 4711? It’s worth inclusion for historical value alone.

    5. Borneo 1840: With what nose is he smelling this thing? Chocolate vomit’s all I have ever gotten. And really don’t care to get again.

    • March says:

      Well, you’ve used the Secret Handshake regarding Borneo, one of the two samples I bagged and threw away. So you’re welcome here.

      1) Yay Azuree and naughty youth-dew, and Cinnabar. Can’t remember what they said about Private Collection.
      2) Hey, Iris Nobile is great stuff!
      3) I went through a trying-Balenciaga phase and don’t think I liked any of them.
      4) 4711!!! Squee, another fan. Maybe they think 4711 is ubiquitous, like air, and thus not worth mentioning?

  • violetnoir says:

    Yep, I bet Delrae is heaving a big sigh of relief, lol!

  • Arwen says:

    This is a great topic!
    I bought the guide and I have had great fun reading it. It turns out I have perfumes in all varios “star” denominations, so I guess my taste fluctuates in any given day (or even several times during a day).
    I find the book entertaining, but I don’t necessarily agree with their opinions, but I like the book and I am glad that they are out there talking about it and getting the conversation about perfumes to the main public.
    My favorite “perfume book” is by Michael Edwards about French perfumes. I find it interesting that several of those French masterpieces got a bad rating on “The Guide (Must, L’Air du Temps, Cabochard, Cabotine)
    It seems to me that they trashed most “great” perfumes that have been reformulated.

    I don’t understand that Allure and Must have one star and Dune has five, since they are somewhat similar and they seem to have good ingredients. I don’t understand the love for Tommy Girl and Beyond Paradise. I don’t think the authors particularly like some ingredients (incense). I don’t get it that in Bois d’Encense Mr. Turin is urging us to get it because there is nothing like it, but it only gets 4 stars.

    On the positive side, my list of things to try is growing. Even perfumes that are not featured in the Guide have made my list of “must-try” just because they are referenced, as in Dolce Vita. I had samples of Dolce Vita when it first came out, but I was much younger and was not into woody scents. Now I want to know why I dismissed it the first time, or if my first impression was right.

    Since several perfumes I own have only one star, I think that I should not be too harsh on other one star perfumes. Maybe I will really like some of them.

    But it does not matter what your position is about the book, it has brought us all together to talk about perfumes and that is the value of this and other books.

    • March says:

      I know what you mean about the referencing — I’m interested in a couple for the same reason. And I dug up my sample of Dolce Vita too — great fragrance, but the drydown is close enough to Feminite du Bois I think I’ve got that covered. It’s a fragrance I find beautiful, but with all that fruit it’s like a big dress from the 80s. I can’t imagine where/how I’d wear it.

      I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that the rating system is a little off — there seems to be some flexibility there.

  • Disteza says:

    OK, I didn’t mean to post so many times on this, but the skin chemistry thing has been bothering me all afternoon! It absolutely does not account for the biological reality (and I apologize for the length and candor of this): our skin performs many functions that directly affect perfume wear (temperature control, excretion, absorption). It is reasonable to assume that the amount of oxygen I am absorbing or the amount of urea I am excreting (it comes out of your pores too) may differ from someone else depending on my body’s needs at that time. It should therefore be reasonable to assume that, chemically speaking, the perfume may have a different interaction with substances on the skin based on how the skin is performing it’s core functions at that time. (think running, alcohol byproduct excretion, hopefully not at the same time!)

    Now, let’s throw the much maligned sebum into the mix. Sebum is composed of wax monoesters, triglycerides, squalene, and other free fatty acids. I’m sure there’s room for some chemical interactions with at least some of the perfumes out there. Since it’s a fact that sebum levels differ among people, wouldn’t it also make sense that the level of interaction between the skin products and perfume would differ as well?

    However, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as the skin supports vast ecosystems of microorganisms, each of which add their own excretions and absorption needs to the mix. I think I’m going to stop there and let my inner biologist simmer down for now, hopefully she won’t feel compelled to write a novel on this tonight.

    • March says:

      The skin chemistry thing drives people (who have a much better sense of the biology than I do) right up the wall. All I can offer up is, based on years of personal experience smelling the same fragrance applied at the same time on a group of people, they are wrong. 🙂 Liz Zorn wrote an interesting thing about skin chemistry on her blog (which she accidentally deleted, i hope she puts it back up) and Victoria at Bois de Jasmin has done the same.

    • Existentialist says:

      LT universally trashes all “sport” fragrances, and while I have never tried any of them, I wonder if they are specifically designed to only really release any scent when the wearer exerts herself? I’d love to hear if anyone knows.

      • March says:

        It would make sense, wouldn’t it? There’s an argument up there for trying all the fragrances on paper only, for consistency, but I’m not buying it. How can you evaluate something that is designed to be worn on skin without wearing it on skin?

  • violetnoir says:

    I am happy to see this type of book published and marketed throughout the media. Tania is a talented writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed “The Emperor of Scent,” but I have some observations:

    1. If we all have our own distinctive baseline body odor (just ask my dog!), it’s silly to say that a certain perfume will smell the same on everybody;

    2. I think we as bloggers and posters on the various blogs and perfume websites do just as good, if not better, a job of taking a critical look at perfumes when we review them, which leads me to believe that…

    3. The book is really designed for the beginner or novice, not folks like us who really “know” perfume and can intelligently articulate our likes and dislikes;

    4. I don’t find myself rushing out to test all of the perfumes that they rated highly, and after thinking about it for a while, it may be due to the fact that…

    5. The snark level is just a bit too “cute” for me. On balance, I think Chandler Burr does a better job of giving us a reasoned and professional review of a fragrance. Even if one doesn’t like the quality or balance or whatever of a fragrance, I really don’t understand the “hate” level given to MdiO, Le Labo, and even Caron fragrances. And, finally;

    6. What–No Parfums del Rae reviews? Huh?

    Hugs!

    • March says:

      R —

      1) true
      2) also true! :d
      3) honestly, I can’t decide WHO the target is. I do wonder whether my fictive Barnes & Noble reader would pick it up, browse, and drop it like a hot spud, baffled.
      4) I’m sort of punting the ratings. It’s more if they mention something (like immortelle or milky notes) that appeals to me.
      5) I find Chandler Burr hilarious, but I know his glibness is too much for some folks.
      6) Oh, I don’t know. I’m thinking Delrae Roth is breathing a sigh of relief that Debut wasn’t dismissed as bilgewater or something.

      • Existentialist says:

        Thinking about the target audience is troubling. When I was a new perfumista, I took a lot of what I read at face value. It took a while to get my bearings, figure out what I like, etc. A book might seem to be even more authoritative, and a new perfumista-in-training could be led to think all sorts of things were not worth investigating, and that something was wrong with me for not liking/loving some other things. Sorry if someone else has made this point already.

        • violetnoir says:

          That’s right!

        • March says:

          Seriously, think about the weird stuff we smell, and the huge range in that book, without a lot of detail about the houses. I wonder if for a person not very familiar with perfumery whether it would be like trying to decipher something written in another language.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Does anyone else find it interesting that any perfume by Calice Becker is automatically rated by The Guide as The Best Thing Ever Created Ever?

    She created Tommy Girl and Beyond Paradise (the women’s and men’s versions), as well as several of the By Kilians. And oh my, By Kilian Beyond Love has just become the best tuberose perfume!

    Coincidence? Discuss.

    • March says:

      C’mon. Calice Becker is GEEN-YUS. If she made Light Blue it’d be genius too. /:)

      I do agree there seems to be some judgment going on stylistically in terms of the nose.

    • le Chat says:

      Easy …

      The Guide :

      -My friend and the people I like do good perfumes
      -The people I dont like do bad perfumes

      I am sorry M LT but this time it is too big.
      You said you judge only the juice … it is curious than on more than half of your review you know the nose who create the perfume, the people who makes the molecule …

      I still beleive that you prefer to bash someone than to try to understand it. You consider that Perfume is an Art … but you dont consider nose as artist.
      You like molecule … you like your taste … great

      Perfume The guide … is the guide to understand LT taste.
      We are free to fellow you …

  • Renee says:

    The book has made me laugh out loud a few times and that pretty much sells me. The snark level is fine with me, and the one-sentence negative reviews are fine with me, too. In some cases, there just isn’t anything to say, other than “harsh floral” or whatever. So why say anything? I dunno. I guess to show that they’re not invested in impressing with the writing itself. In each case, the reviewer is expressing an opinion. You find it insightful or amusing or informative, or you don’t. I would not have been any better informed with a page long explanation of why any of the one-liners sucks. *shrug* The flip side of the one-liners is the what? like, two pages? for Beyond Paradise. Dude. Write a chapter on it and it won’t faze me — I still can’t stand it. Maybe some people appreciate the explanation of why he considers it great. For me — It doesn’t move me: case closed. If I can have that reaction to BP, why can’t they have their identical kind of “it stinks, period” reactions? is my reasoning.

    The idea of using the book as a reference kind of boggles my mind. Almost any of us agrees with one review and disagrees with another — why bother trying to impose some kind of a priori authority on it? The writers are very well qualified to critique, yes. That in now way means we’re compelled to agree. I’m sure it was never their intention.

    As far as the “stuff smells different on different people,” yeah, it does, period. And not just the top notes. I do think LT is wrong there. But I agree with him completely that for purposes of critique, a paper strip is the way to go. You’re talking about the perfume itself on its own, not as modified by skin chemistry (or, ideally, by how you feel about the perfumer). Besides, how in the world would you account for all those variables in a review, when you have 1500 reviews to write? It becomes impractical and unwieldy.

    • Nina says:

      I agree that 1500+ scents is too many for skin testing, unless you have a lot more authors/testers than two. But a perfume isn’t designed to be critiqued from a strip – it’s made to be worn on skin, and the development can be a very different experience from the same juice on cardboard. Perhaps this is telling us that 1500+ scents is too many to ‘review’? Perhaps it’s possible to categorise that many, but leave the in-depth consumer reports to the bloggers?

      • March says:

        I agree that they should be tested on skin — I have the sense, maybe wrongly, that you can’t get the full effect unless it’s on skin. And writing this, I believe there is one scent in the book that TS says she liked *until* she tried it on her skin and found it inexplicably horrible. So they must have tried some of them.

    • March says:

      I think the reviews in the middle length were the most enjoyable. As you and another commenter said, no amount of discussion is going to change our minds about Beyond Paradise. I did enjoy the discussion of, for instance, the different concentrations of Chanel No. 5 however. I knew they smelled a bit different as they always do, but not that they were *that* different. And now I’ll have to go reinvestigate the EdT.

      There are certainly more complete references to fragrance available online, and it doesn’t seem to me from the content that LT and TS were trying to fill that niche in the first place, going for more entertainment value.

  • zenwoman says:

    When an author chooses to call a book “The Guide” rather than “A Guide” it is either implicitly intended as a joke or it is an assertion of authority and an invitation to trust. If you intend the thing to be a joke,your sole responsibility is to be funny. If, however,you mean for the reader to take your authority seriously, you can be as witty as you want and one can disagree with you on particulars; but there can be no doubt about your integrity in the essentials of knowledge, judgment, consistency of evaluative technique and your discipline over base personal motives.

    Intentionally or not, I think the authors tried to have it both ways. It doesn’t work: the responsibilities to subject and reader are too different and that may explain why we’re seeing such a clash on the boards where happy disagreement is a way of life. I think it also explains the “I-liked-it-at-first-and-then-puked” phenomenon.

    In the end(correctly or not),I assumed that the authors meant this to be more than a parlor game. Because I felt that they violated every standard of integrity in evaluating the work of others, I hated the book — a completely unexpected outcome for me.

    • March says:

      Thanks for the eloquent comment. Judith and I discussed up there somewhere that we would have hoped for a somewhat different book. Given the excerpts I’ve read from LT’s original Le Guide in French, this is pretty much what we could expect, I think. I wonder whether working on it with TS, someone who shares his sense of humor, brought more of the snark out. Hard to say, since I can’t read French and so have not read the entire original.

      But you raise interesting points. Certainly there’s an argument for a higher degree of scholarship in something that purports to be The Guide. If they’re being the perfume version of The Yuppie Handbook, all bets are off, but I think they were serious.

  • Patty says:

    Okay, I’ll wade in.

    I do like the book, I think it is meant for a much more mainstream audience than hard-core perfumistas.

    I’ve read through much of it, but it sits over in the corner, and it won’t be a reference like I had hoped. I would have loved lists of notes, some history on the older scents (some got that treatment, some did not).

    It can’t be all things to all people. However, the snark, which can play very well used very sparingly, plays better sometimes on the internet than it does in a book that is much more permanent. Not sure why that is. But I’ve cut down a LOT on the amount of snark I put into any review now, mostly because I know some hard-working perfumer tried to make the best scent they could with the sketch they were given. I may think its dreck on me, but I know my dreck is often someone else’s Holy Grail, and vice versa.

    So while the one-liners are funny, I don’t think it holds up in a book as well as it does in the quick-disappearing internet.

    • March says:

      My hope (maybe misguided) is that people will pick the book up on a whim at B&N, browse a few pages, discover that there is a Whole Wide World of Fragrance beyond what’s on offer at Macy’s, and get online. Eventually winding up on our blog. :d To that end, the book is great.

      I hear you on the snark. Another commenter up there said having it in print, from a publisher, tends to give it more weight. So I feel bad for the folks who got rained on. OTOH Anya says up there that it doesn’t seem to make much difference in sales one way or another. I’d be curious whether you feel like you see any changes on TPC orders you could trace back to the book. I hope there’s a run on the Monas.

      • Patty says:

        We are having an incredibly run on the five-star scents, like Beyond Paradise, Beyond Paradise Men, Tommy Girl. It’s ridiculous. You couldn’t give those samples away three months ago.

        • zenwoman says:

          I can’t stop thinking of Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont. The long-suffering Margaret catches Grouch en flagrant with another woman and he says: “Are you going to believe me or your eyes?”
          Long ago and far away people thought that was funny. Now they’re swillin’ the Kool-aid.

          Well, not this kid, baby. I’m taking a stand: “I will defend to the death your right to prefer Tommy Girl to Chanel No. 19, but to say Tommy’s ‘better’ is wacked.”

        • sylvia says:

          true story!

        • March says:

          That is freaking hilarious. Sub-urban woman I am, I keep thinking, why don’t they just go to the mall? But know that’s not true of everyone. Giggling at you filling orders for viles of BP to tuck in next to your vintage Caron and the CdG and whatever.

  • risa says:

    I’ve honestly been quite surprised at how upset this guide has made some people. Luca Turin has always been a snarky, opinionated person, and anyone who knows Tania knows she’s even more so. I’ve frequently disagreed with Turin and Sanchez on their opinion of things, so the guide (I have a hard time capitalizing it) reads to me like a watered-down Zagat’s of perfume.

    That said, I love comparing my notes with theirs, because then when I hear them pan a particular perfume in a certain way, I know to seek it out – and vice versa with high-star scents. Any perfumista worth his or her nose knows how to seek out the subtle nuances in everyone’s “palate.”

    • March says:

      There is certainly something to be said for discovering your reliable Evil Fragrance Twin. Not naming any names, but there are some bloggers I can rely on — if they love it, I know not to bother. 🙂 And I am quite confident some of the Posse readers use me as precisely the same kind of indicator.

  • Kim says:

    pros:
    1) it exists – love it or hate it, at least there is finally a published book of perfume criticism
    2) gives me lots in the revelations category – should keep my nose busy for awhile!

    cons:
    1) from the perspective of criticism, it is hard to examine the work of a line or a perfumer because there is no index organizing the scents in such a manner. I think the book needs an index by house and by perfumer – then I could wander through all the Chanels or read up on all of Sheldrake’s work – kind of like what you get with a good poetry anthology. Also lacking are dates – so one can get a sense of chronological development by house or perfumer
    2) can’t understand some of what is missing (like Fem-d-Bois?) but I guess they are saving such things for the update (so we will then all buy it again?)
    3) I agree with others that the line between the star-ratings seems thin at times – some get only 4 stars but the comment says the perfume is wonderful – so tell me why it only gets 4 stars rather than 5
    4) I also agree with others that the low ratings would be more informative with explanation of why only 1 star – Must by Cartier and Sisley’s Soir de Lune are examples of that – I really like them – but only 1 star and Tommy Girl gets 5? Beats me?

    • Maria says:

      Kim,I agree that the book needs an index if it’s going to be useful as a reference–by perfume house, at least. By nose too–fantastic.

      • March says:

        I think different indexes (indices? :d ) would have been helpful — perfume, by house, by nose. And yes, I know it’s in alphabetical order, but that doesn’t mean these others wouldn’t have been helpful. That’s part of what feels rushed to me; you wonder if they were up against some sort of drop-dead date.

        • Anya says:

          Makes you wonder what they wrote the book on? Clay tablets? Any program for writing has a way to quickly produce an index as you write. I created an index for a USGS booklet I wrote in 1980 on a DEC-10 computer and didn’t even realize I was programming at the time but I forged ahead knowing how important an index is. Skip ahead to 2007-08 – it’s automated, fer crying out loud.

          • March says:

            Anya, I skipped you on purpose up there, I want to think about what you said. I remember the dustup on LT’s blog on the naturals, and the somewhat mild, bitter taste has stayed with me. If I recall correctly, he did like some of your fragrances, yes? I remember a lot of drama about other naturals being not natural.

            I know zip about publishing, but the more we kick this around today, the more I wonder if they ran out of time.

          • GGS says:

            2nd the lack of index. Major flaw.

    • March says:

      I’m glad you’re getting the revelations too! And we both have some new must-smells. I’ve kicked this around elsewhere below, but we are all in agreement that various types of indexes would have been welcome (by nose, by house…)

      Maybe they felt like one star was cruel enough without going on and on and on? I found some of the most interesting reviews the, say, two or three star ones, when they explain how it could have been much higher with certain kinds of tweaking.

  • Nina says:

    I think the whole book is misnamed anyway. Something called ‘Perfumes: the Guide’ ought to be, duh, a GUIDE. As in a definitive list of manufacturers, releases, concentrations, noses, reformulations, and any amusing anecdotes and/or history. If the GUIDE is going to describe the scents, I want to know how it performs – longevity, sillage, similarities to other things… But wait, that kind of useful information is already available! It’s on PerfumePosse, NowSmellThis, Perfume Smellin’ Things and other Really Useful blogs.

    The book ought to be called ‘Perfumes: our Prejudices’, which would be both accurate and suitably snarky.

    The other thing that I have doubts about is how they tested these. On that Good Morning America interview, LT talked about testing by sniffing a paper strip throughout the day. Is that how he does it? Because I need to tell him that the way a juice smells on a strip of cardboard can be a looooooong way from how it handles itself on skin.

    And his conviction that it’s a myth that perfumes smell different on different people makes me wonder if he’s spent much time actually smelling juice on skin? As in, how it’s actually utilised by the people who buy it? Or (and here I’m probably going to be sued/edited), does his vibration theory predict that there SHOULD be no difference?

    • Anya says:

      Nina, love your post, as I love all of them, but a funny acronym just jumped to mind. You wrote about Really Useful Blogs. I just need a good RUB a day and I’m happy :d

      About Luca and his scent strips: he admitted to this way back in 2005 when he trashed all the natural perfumes sent to him. (He also admitted he’d had just gotten over a flu and a cold, which to the average man would maybe signal perhaps not to evaluate perfumes with a dinged nose.) Natural perfumes in particular need to be skin tested for the nuances to evolve, more so than perfumes containing a linear aromachemical. The NP is at a distinct disadvantage with a scent strip eval, since Luca admits the molecules of natural aromatics are (for him) too complex (for the most part) to comprehend (how they can be tamed in a perfume.) He has since come about (a bit) on NP’s. Hasn’t helped or harmed the art a whit, see below for my take on Profumo reviews re: Luca’s influence on sales or acceptance.

      His frankly bizarre (former) contention that all perfumes smell the same on everyone is just that – bizarre. We can use the word bizarre, yes, without fear of lawsuit? After all, it’s just my opinion, isn’t snarky and is valid, IMO.

      About Turin’s writings helping or harming a perfume house: in 2005 he did like a natural perfume by Profumo. Wrote about it in his blog. Profumo is a friend of mine and has told me that despite two subsequent lovely writeups by Luca, one in Duftnotes, and several perfumes in The Guide, it has not resulted in one sale that can be attributed back to the review.

      • March says:

        Anya, I didn’t go back and read that post, but I remember it — most of it. As I recall the hot topic (which sort of overtook the rest of the debate) was LT was insisting that many/most of the fragrances he’d received were not, in fact, all natural, a debate I found interesting, frankly. He is a chemist, and he might very well know. And if a line is touting itself as all natural, using that as a sales feature, it should be true. Of course when the SA at Barney’s L’Artisan tells me L’A is all natural, what are you going to do, other than laugh? Chanel does the same thing… I think he agreed your fragrances were all natural. I do understand the idea of natural scents needing to open up on the skin; certainly that has been my personal experience, and I can’t quite see how one could test *any* fragrance solely on paper and assess it just from that. Skin matters.

        I think there are a couple of all-naturals in The Guide he liked. And thanks for the info about the profumo sales. Actually, based on some of today’s comments, I am hoping Mona di Orio sees a spike in sales from people who are curious about the fuss.

        • Anya says:

          Hi March:
          He said and has continued in several venues to state two slams against the naturals he received then, and a bit afterwards:

          1. Some of the natural perfumes he received contained synths, e.g., alpha ionone.

          He may be right – I know one of the perfumers sent me some raw materials she was using (after I requested them) and they were synth. She was naive and a bit aggressive and it didn’t seem to shame her, but she was committed to using all-natural, she just didn’t know she had purchased synths. NP has come a long way in the 2.5 years since that, and we strive constantly to check against adulteration – a slightly different, but related problem. Another perfumer who was perhaps a bit not forthcoming *was* sneaking some synths into his perfumes. He’s since quit perfumery.

          I use – not in an launched perfume (yet) – an alpha ionone natural isolate. Luca may not have know of the existence of such a substance at that time, as it does seem he was very (by his own admission) deficient in knowledge of raw materials. (Still is, IMHO re: rose oil — he has no idea how to evaluate it, seems to think the scent strip or right out of the bottle tells the story, LOL.)

          2. He mocked that we claimed to have fruity or musk and other notes that are typically synth in perfumery in our palette. He was clueless, sad to say, of the fact we create “fruity” accords, and use musk ambrette seed which we just call musk when we list our notes. There were a few other scent descriptors he challenged us on, claiming we were using synths unknowingly (not speaking of the first perfumer I cited) but he just didn’t realize we create fantasy accords. Oh, I just remembered! Violet flower – a slight, pale violet flower scent can be created with raw natural materials. That was one of them.

          Then there’s the whole other situation of him shutting down his blog after that. I think it became evident he didn’t know how to manage a blog, keep the peace and make money off it (referring to a summit he had in the Fall of 2005 in NYC with Burr, Tania and others.)

          There is a lot of finesse required in running a blog or forum – ask me how I know with 1500 in my Yahoo group, 100 in the Guild, and 50 students.

          It does seem he’s gotten a lot meaner, or perhaps just a little more desperate since the blog closed down and I actually feel sorry for him. Just think if this book isn’t a best seller – what then? His TV appearance was abysmal, and most here don’t like his radio interview.

          Blogs such as this and all the other wonderful ones have as much savvy writing and community interaction as one could wish for, and we’re all here everyday, flitting from one to the other. We built the blog community for perfumery on the web, starting in the Spring of 2005, and his book deal was a direct outcome of that, not the original Guide. That and a connection at Viking 😉

          At least that’s my take on it.

          • March says:

            You are obviously much more able to address the question of the natural ingredients in perfumery than I am. And I understand that people can be deceived. If I recall correctly in Chandler Burr’s most recent book, the people who source some of the ingredients (like jasmine) can lie about their provenance as well. We all have to take a certain amount of these things on faith until proven otherwise. I knew about the ambrette (I believe you and I discussed this once when I emailed you with a question about natural vs. synthetic musks). And of course natural perfumers can create “fantasy” accords like synthetic perfumers.

            How do you feel about the Aftelier scents, I wonder? I find them surpassingly strange, but enjoyable.

          • Anya says:

            Hi March
            Natural Perfumers are very aware tha tthe perfumery industry ahs been a game of smoke and mirrors and adept con games for centuries. We source the best we can, train our noses every day, rely on reputable suppliers and when in doubt, text, and even a GCMS can be hinky without a great scientist to read it who has a good archive of the norm to work from and years of experience as a nose.

            Aftelier perfumes are as different from mine, or Sharini’s, or Salaam (Profumo Dominique Dubrana) as day and night, and I find hers very romantic, sophisticated, quirky and exotic. And speaking of fantasy accords, her “fig” accord is brilliant!

          • Erin T says:

            Anya, I am happy to be your friend’s first Guide-related purchase. I have been tracking profumo.it for a while, since Luca first mentioned the Oakmoss scent in his blog post about bitterness, but for a while the English part of the web site was not working. I don’t really understand the sampling procedure, either – do I really need to spend $128.00 CAD to get six samples in a wooden box? I know naturals/oils are expensive, but surely there is a less elaborate and expensive way to try these? March, get Patty on ordering some for TPC – Grezzo, Oak Moss and Hindu Kush, please! :d

          • Anya says:

            Erin, I am sure you will be delighted with Salaam’s perfumes, they are enchanting. I spoke with him the other day and reminded him again how I have trouble navigating his site, and where in the heck is the sample page again I asked? /:)

            First, for the English version: http://www.profumo.it/perfume/home_english.htm Then go to the left column Products and from there the Sample icon on the middle of that new page. His samples are generous – 5ml – and the prices vary from $10 to $20 Euros, and boy did I faint when I ordered some raw materials from him the other day with my pitiful USD.

            Perhaps the Decant Queens are needed – they can offer much smaller samples and protect your wallet.

            On the upside, if you do find some of his perfumes you love, you’ll be able to grab 5mls at a great price!

      • Tania says:

        Anya, if you really feel this way, why do you keep asking us to send you a free copy of the book?

        • Erin T says:

          Right on!

          • Anya says:

            I asked you, you were of no help. I asked Luca, he didn’t reply. The book reviews are stale now, the book has been out a few weeks, reviewed to death by much more talented writers than me, so I won’t be reviewing the book. No biggie.

      • Tania says:

        “…(referring to a summit he had in the Fall of 2005 in NYC with Burr, Tania and others.)”

        Anya, I did not meet Chandler Burr until 2006. No “summits” were held at any time.

        Also, we sold the book to Viking in the usual way. We did not have “a contact at Viking.” What we had was an agent who found us a publisher.

      • salaam says:

        Quote: “About Turin’s writings helping or harming a perfume house: in 2005 he did like a natural perfume by Profumo. Wrote about it in his blog. Profumo is a friend of mine and has told me that despite two subsequent lovely writeups by Luca, one in Duftnotes, and several perfumes in The Guide, it has not resulted in one sale that can be attributed back to the review.”

        There are mechanisms in marketing and communication tantamount to a full-fledged mystic.
        I feel that I have to intervene in order to make it more clear what can be the impact of a good review of Luca Turin on a small perfumer’s business like mine.
        I have had several experiences with classical medias, the typical example is the one I had with an article in Italy in a fashion monthly, Velvet, that was published in one million copies, many of which were available for weeks in hairdresser saloons and medical waiting rooms.
        The article described a course of Natural perfumery and how we realized, together with a journalist, the “Velvet perfume”.
        There were 3 pages about this, with my full address and telephone number.
        I received only one phone call asking me if the Velvet perfume was on sale, and zero email.

        When Luca Turin wrote his first positive review on his blog, I said to my small daughters “I have had my perfumer’s laurea” (laurea is the scholarship degree before university”).
        He has been the first one to write about my perfumes as worthy of talking about.
        When he wrote his second review on NZ Folio, it was a step further towards recognition, and I was awaiting for an avalanche of requests for my scents and for personalized fragrances.
        I was expecting a lot of fuss about this article because I perceived it as a small bomb, it was the official recognition that natural perfumes could compete with commercial fragrances even with the standards of aesthetics of this very commercial perfumery.
        Nothing of this happened, but blogs started to write about my work and fragrances, and I was in some way admitted in the perfumistas community.

        When “The guide” was published, I made ready a bunch of the “Grezzo perfume” although I did not expect any significant change in the sales. In fact I did not sell any more than usual the reviewed perfumes, except a few samples, but what I instead really hoped for happened very shortly after, a perfume house called me to produce a juice for them.
        I understood that I was now starting to be considered also in the industry ambient.

        By the end, counting the facts, I have to say that the reviews of Luca Turin had a lot of positive effect on my self esteem and have a huge short term potential of commercial growth for me, if only I could transform myself into a business shark.
        I also must say that no one like Luca Turin, and now Tania Sanchez, gave such a positive and concrete help to Anyas work in the NP league for the recognition of natural perfumery, still by counting the facts.
        AbdesSalaam Atar
        Profumo.it

      • salaam says:

        Quote: “About Turin’s writings helping or harming a perfume house: in 2005 he did like a natural perfume by Profumo. Wrote about it in his blog. Profumo is a friend of mine and has told me that despite two subsequent lovely writeups by Luca, one in Duftnotes, and several perfumes in The Guide, it has not resulted in one sale that can be attributed back to the review.”

        There are mechanisms in marketing and communication tantamount to a full-fledged mystic.
        I feel that I have to intervene in order to make it more clear what can be the impact of a good review of Luca Turin on a small perfumer’s business like mine.
        I have had several experiences with classical medias, the typical example is the one I had with an article in Italy in a fashion monthly, Velvet, that was published in one million copies, many of which were available for weeks in hairdresser saloons and medical waiting rooms.
        The article described a course of Natural perfumery and how we realized, together with a journalist, the “Velvet perfume”.
        There were 3 pages about this, with my full address and telephone number.
        I received only one phone call asking me if the Velvet perfume was on sale, and zero email.

        When Luca Turin wrote his first positive review on his blog, I said to my small daughters “I have had my perfumer’s laurea” (laurea is the scholarship degree before university”).
        He has been the first one to write about my perfumes as worthy of talking about.
        When he wrote his second review on NZ Folio, it was a step further towards recognition, and I was awaiting for an avalanche of requests for my scents and for personalized fragrances.
        I was expecting a lot of fuss about this article because I perceived it as a small bomb, it was the official recognition that natural perfumes could compete with commercial fragrances even with the standards of aesthetics of this very commercial perfumery.
        Nothing of this happened, but blogs started to write about my work and fragrances, and I was in some way admitted in the perfumistas community.

        When “The guide” was published, I made ready a bunch of the “Grezzo perfume” although I did not expect any significant change in the sales. In fact I did not sell any more than usual the reviewed perfumes, except a few samples, but what I instead really hoped for happened very shortly after, a perfume house called me to produce a juice for them.
        I understood that I was now starting to be considered also in the industry ambient.

        By the end, counting the facts, I have to say that the reviews of Luca Turin had a lot of positive effect on my self esteem as a perfumer and have a huge short term potential of commercial growth for me, if only I could transform myself into a business shark.
        I also must say that no one like Luca Turin, and now Tania Sanchez, gave such a positive and concrete help to Anyas work in the NP league for the recognition of natural perfumery, still by counting the facts.
        AbdesSalaam Atar
        Profumo.it

    • Disteza says:

      I completely agree with you; if this had been my book, I’d have gotten together some willing test subjects with differing skin chemistries and done some empirical sniffing on the the frags. I don’t think 2 people can give a truly accurate description of a fragrance, especially if they’re not even trying on themselves! Also, I agree that you need some definitive lists, and maybe even some perfume wearing tips. That seems like it would be way more useful to the average user that this book appears to target.

    • March says:

      I hope you read Bois de Jasmin’s post on skin chemistry I linked to, which I found very interesting.

      The paper strip thing — I think (?) it was in The Perfect Scent, Chandler Burr’s recent book, that he talks about houses pushing the noses to design the top notes *specifically for paper* — based on the knowledge that a lot of people smell the top at the mall, on paper, and buy the perfume. They are less interested in how the fragrance performs on skin. How sad is that? If you want to get your dander up, read that book on how a fragrance is designed. Less and less money going to the juice, along with less time.

  • Maria says:

    Sorry for the West Coast lateness, but I was too tired to tackle this last night.

    First, some things I admire in The Guide:
    I’m learning a lot about perfume history and chemistry, not only from the introductory material but also from the reviews themselves.

    The prose is entertaining in ways beyond snarkiness (of which perhaps there is too much). I enjoy Turin’s epiphanic stories–for example, his account of standing in a church full of lilies and realizing they smelled like salami (Lys Mediterranee). Sanchez has some very lovely turns of phrase, for example in the review of Coze: “like pausing in the doorway between a happy home and a beautiful outdoor morning.”

    It’s commendable that they pay attention to independent perfumers. Naturally, I’m very happy with the five stars for Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert and the four for Lonestar Memories. Even the ones they liked less got three stars and serious consideration. Vero Kern’s three fragrances all got four stars. I’m glad they’re appreciated.

    The problems as I see them:
    March, you’re right: they’re claiming that individual chemistry only affects the top notes. They have never tested fragrances in a group? Turin is a scientist. Yet he seems to be ignoring empirical evidence in order to cling to his theory. That’s not good science.

    Caron. Caron fragrances are too important and dear to many people to be dismissed with one star or two because LT-TS don’t like the reformulation. If they’re going to review the new Carons, they owe it to the legacy to write a separate disclaimer in the front matter saying that Caron perfumes were great at one time and the current ratings are no reflection on the originals. However, they seem to have something against Caron over and above botched reformulations. They give Nuit de Noel four stars; however, they dismiss it as boring (“That smells like a Caron; but it’s boring; must be Nuit de Noel”). To me Nuit de Noel is one of the loveliest perfumes of all time. Just because they’re not excited, it doesn’t mean it’s not exciting to someone else.

    This brings me to another problem. The authors seem not to recognize that the reactions some fragrances stir in them may be due to their own psychological makeup. For example, TS’s description of Chanel No. 19 as the cruelest of wire mothers appealing to “any woman who has ever wished to know what it is to be heartless” makes me think that TS should make an appointment with an analyst–most urgent topic of discussion: Mom. To me No. 19 is a happy fragrance. Like others, I wonder if the Mona di Orio reviews may have been influenced by personal dislike.

    The biggest flaw of all in The Guide is the rating system. Are the five stars for Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue equal to the five stars garnered by Beyond Paradise and Tommy Girl? Is Tommy Girl better than Chanel No. 19 and 22, which got only four? The five-star system doesn’t work. I have a suggestion based on the Nightwatch fantasy series by Sergei Lukyanenko. In the contemporary world of Lukyanenko’s novels, Others live among us. These are seemingly human beings with extraordinary powers. These powers are constantly being measured: third-level Other, fourth-level. However, some Others have powers of such scope and complexity that they are Others Beyond Classification. This is what Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue are: perfumes beyond classification. Any rating system should take that into account.

    Furthermore, there should be a category for Interesting Experiments. If Turin is so taken by Etat Libre d’Orange’s use of a Quest material in Secretions Magnifiques, he should give it an IE rating. What became of Guy Robert’s admonition that a perfume should smell good?

    I’m glad the book exists, but I think it requires some rethinking for the next edition.

    • March says:

      Maria, an extremely thoughtful comment.

      I agree that the reviews of the Carons are flawed. I don’t suppose I have the cred to argue about the quality of the reformulations based on the original, but I was surprised at many of the low ratings, and I think your example of NdeNoel is an excellent one. It gives you an impression that they don’t care for the line. Also I agree about the variations on ratings — how can Secretions, Mitsouko and BP be “the same?” Of course, it’s relatively easy for us to criticise in hindsight, but some more thought could have gone into the execution. LT and TS are obviously bright people; they could have come up with a different rating system (or no rating at all; just reviews.) They are both capable of poetry in their writing; each of them had some lovely observations.

      I too was happy about Tauer, Vero, and MDCI, to name a few. They deserve the accolades.

      The skin chemistry thing is … nuts. And the Chanel No. 19 thing (at the risk of my own snark) didn’t make me want to suggest psychiatric help so much as to look at my own past sins of overwrought text. It strikes me as the sort of thing you’d read five years after you wrote it and cringe.

      My guess is that some of the criticisms, if LT/TS feel like they’re legitimate, would be addressed in the next version.

  • Disteza says:

    I’m also one of the abstainers, but for a slightly different reason: why would I pay for what I can get for free? 😉
    I also agree that I’m turned off by what I see of the ratings skew, and the snark. Got enough of that already, don’t need them to add to the pile. Besides, my to-try list is so depressingly long and diverse now I don’t think I’m going to need any extra input for the next 5 years. And by that point, the guide will be obsolete, and I’ll have saved my $20+ to spend on samples. Maybe the MdO line, out of spite?

    • March says:

      Definitely the Monas! Seriously. Have you smelled the Monas? You might hate all of them, but I tell you, they are *interesting.* I think Lux is the tamest. NN is filthy. I think Oiro and Carnation are the most popular. You could do a lot worse, in spite of their opinion. [-(

  • Bryan says:

    March,
    That was the most eloquent, thoughtful explanation of the impact criticism may or may not have on all of us. Thank you for putting it into perspective, quite humorously. I couldn’t agree more. If they agree with me, brilliance all around! I love it. I have been re-reading the book the way an addict comes back to the bottle. (I know a bit about that I should say!) Thank you for the post.:”>

    • March says:

      Hey, I forgot to look for some of your favorites! I hope they were kind to all your best tuberoses. Actually, their review of Carnal Flower sticks in my mind as an example of one I enjoyed very much.

  • sallycantdance says:

    Long-time reader, first-time poster.

    I was turned off to the book by the NPR radio interview, where TS giggled at her own cleverness when the interviewer read select snarky reviews. I was further turned off by the Love in White interlude. It was clear that the interviewer wasn’t going to read the hostile review; the Creed rep came on and bumbled through an awkward defense; when the Creed rep was off the air LT provided the review anyway. Just because. Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share the snark and spoil the ego. It seemed to me that a sensitive person would have intuited the rep’s clumsiness and left it at that. By sharing the review after the man hung up, LT came off as having to have the last, righteous word. All hail the victor. How rewarding it is to make other people squirm.

    Suppose you were a person who knew nothing about scent. You turn on the radio and you learn that some company called Creed makes a crappy fragrance called Love in White. And here’s this guy–who is he?–slamming the turd into the wall. There are echoes of Turin’s past hostility towards Strange Invisible Perfumes (Mona di Orio seems to have inherited that antipathy, the lucky gal). Neither the interview nor the book makes me feel warm towards either Turin or Sanchez, or to feel that they are people I might like to get to know, unlike many of the perfume bloggers (among them the Posse gals, Bois de Jasmin, and Perfume Shrine).

    I’ve long felt that I would like to read a perfume guide written by Victoria Frolova, and after reading the Turin/Sanchez book this desire is magnified. While I understand that shits and giggles have their place in the critical world, an academic, more literary response would be a welcome countermeasure.

    • kathleen says:

      I wondered, during that NPR interview, why LT didn’t speak with the Creed rep himself. But it wasn’t scripted and he might not have been able to have the last say. I also noticed that they didn’t bring Patty on. She might have made an unscripted comment and nobody seemed prepared for that. Nor were they, on GMA the next day, when we were treated to the same inane questions and clever responses. I have always been interested in perfumes but have only begun looking further into this world as of late. I’m glad that I began reading from blogs, such as this one, before that book came out. If I picked up “The Guide” first, I would have assumed that all perfumistas were smug & snarky and would have missed out on so much.

      • March says:

        I would have enjoyed more dialog between LT and the rep from Creed. I keep thinking about this. The interview felt flat and a little smug. What they needed was someone with equal force of personality to argue with, maybe. But given how much is opinion, and the small field, who wants to argue with LT if he says something is crap? I wouldn’t want to argue with him, particularly after reading the book and hearing the interview. /:)

    • Maria says:

      Sally, I’m glad you’ve come out of the shadows. Your review of the NPR is very insightful. I think you nailed LT and TS. They’re quite taken with their own cleverness.

      Humility is an underappreciated virtue.

    • March says:

      Interesting. I had a glitch in my feed right then that guy was *from* Creed? I didn’t hear. An hour was a long time to talk about the book, although not long enough apparently to squeeze Patty on there. [-( . It was interesting, listening to it. I didn’t think the sniff-along went very well. Just sort of … flat? At the time I wondered: if I were a radio producer, how would I try to spice this up?

  • Anthony says:

    This is getting so difficult. I live in a country where the Guide is not going to be issued and I’ll have to wait until June to get my copy, when I visit my family. We’ll have to have another discussion THEN 🙂 Just kidding… by the way, HAHAHAHAHAHHAAHHAHAA to the Mauboussin comment. I could picture you sitting there completely powerless to the will of your credit card’s connection to the perfume’s notes… HAHAHA!!! It DOES sound fantastic though… I can’t wait to read about it here some day.

    • March says:

      Pretty much. You compare something to Jungle and Theorema and I don’t care if it’s called Eau du Armpit by Procter and Gamble, I want to try it.

  • Jennifer says:

    Yup, very much smell a-likes, and tons of people have made the comparison too. Maybe Luca just doesn’t like D&G, considering the two stars he gave Red Cap. Like it or hate it, you have to admire it for its insane use of aldehydes in the mid-90’s.

  • Judith says:

    Yeah, like the “He Said, She Said” reviews that Robin used to have. They were great! Some pair should do a book like this for sure, and. . .wait, I can think of the perfect duo!
    :d

    • Curly j says:

      Ok, this was a reply to your idea that it would be great if sometimes TS said that LT was out of his fricking mind, etc.

    • March says:

      I keep meaning to do another set of these with Patty! And they’re always more fun (well, usually) if one of us thinks it’s drecky and the other likes it. And somehow we manage to retain our love for each other… 😡

  • MarkDavid says:

    Above, March noted she was curious to know how many are taking a near-boycotting approach to The Guide. I’m going to have to raise my hand on that one. After browsing through the book and looking up all of my favorites – it became clear to me that Luca and Tania and I are NOT compatible, scent-wise. So to continue on would only be highly irritating to me. I fear that by reading the book, I may drink a lot more than I should. I’m all for people having their opinions. But in this case, I don’t care to pay for what seems like a whirlwind tour of the perfume world.

    I must agree with Chaya, having met Mona in person – this woman is SOOO passionate about what she does. She is a genuine soul, very proud of her work, but not forceful about it. She can talk for days about the emotions and feelings behind her scents. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t care for any of her scents, but that is because they don’t work on my skin. I really want to love one of her creations and I was hoping Amyitis might be it, but alas – I’ll have to wait for the next release. I can recognize the great artistry in them and I hold them in great esteem because of it.

    In my browsing, I noticed trends like very low praise for any Creed or Caron scent. Well, I’m sorry – this looks like a vendetta against a house in my opinion. I don’t love every Creed scent – but If I DID, I’d quite frankly worry about myself – there are over 40. My favorite Creeds are some of the oldest ones – like Santal Imperial. In The Guide, there is no mention of the fact that this scent is over 150 years old. I think thats an important tidbit that was left out.

    I feel for these perfumers who are called in to reformulate classics. The chances of scoring a near-identical reformulation with most of the original ingredients now being illegal for use is very slim. But they try their best. Would we rather have reformulated Tabac Blond or no Tabac Blond at all? I’ve never smelled the original Tabac Blond (and I don’t want to) but what is currently sold in the Caron boutique is quite beautiful in my opinion as are the other urn scents – and they are deserving of a lot more praise than what was given.

    And then comes skin chemistry. Its a funny thing, isn’t it? Very little mention about it in the book. What defines a perfume masterpiece? How can we even evaluate that? I’ll even go so far as to say – I don’t think its for any of us to say, really. I’ve encountered people who do such vicious things with No. 5 on their skin, even Mademoiselle herself would have them publicly executed. On these same people, you could put a cheap drug store fragrance on their skin and it could be the most glorious scent in the world. So I feel forced to beg the question – “Where are we going with this?”

    • Anthony says:

      The only good thing that may come from the squashing of Mona’s scents in the Guide is that it may generate a huge amount of interest in the line. I for one am going to be sure to sample them as soon as I can. I’d always wanted to based on POSITIVE reviews elsewhere but now I am even MORE curious to try them. Perhaps then, others will be exposed to the fragrances who normally would not have and will be free to formulate their own opinions and perhaps have their eyes opened to a line which is perfect for them, although dissed by the Guide.

      • March says:

        I hope this is true. If I were reading this book and hadn’t tried them, I’d be darned curious, particularly if I tended to disagree with LT on a lot of other selections, which I think is true for quite a few people.

    • March says:

      I think others have commented on the reformulated Tabac Blond on here today and are having no complaints, having compared it to the original. They do seem to have an issue with Caron, and Creed, especially Caron. I do agree with reformulations (often cheaper) the perfumers are probably doing the best they can, and yes — if my choice is reformulated Mitsouko or no Mitsouko, I’ll take the former.

  • Debbie says:

    I appreciated the book because it made me burst into laughter at least five times. I can’t think of anything else that has done that…even good standup comics are lucky to get a couple uncontrolled bursts of laughter.

    I think it has a personal agenda on some of the houses. I was glad that my two favorite indies didn’t submit anything to them. Laughter aside, sometimes the reviews were just mean-spritied. My favorite perfume artists don’t need that, I’m sure.

    It added about 40 fragrances to my “want to sample” list. That can’t be all bad.

    • March says:

      I totally agree about the Must-Try list. There’s huge value there for me. I value their opinion even if I don’t agree with it, and if they highlight something that sounds worth looking for (or looking for again) I appreciate it.

  • Carol says:

    I have been enjoying the book, but maybe it’s been easier for me than many. I’m not as experienced or have as many scent loves as so many of you – I own less than 10 bottles and many of those are classics (Guerlain, Chanels) which got ratings of 4 or 5. So easy for me to be happy reading great reviews on Jicky, Cuir de Russie, etc., and then I’ve mostly browsed to get ideas of new ones to try or even to dig samples back out to try again. But I am guilty of browsing for the highest rated ones first and shouldn’t do that – but then again I also pay a lot of attention to their 2 word descriptions so I can skip the reviews on big-time florals or “fruities” that I wouldn’t care about if they were rated a 6. The vast enjoyment related to my passion for perfume and majority of my knowledge have come from this great blog and several others.

  • Carol says:

    I have been enjoying the book, but maybe it’s been easier for me than many. I’m not as experienced or have as many scent loves as so many of you – I own less than 10 bottles and many of those are classics (Guerlain, Chanels) which got ratings of 4 or 5. So easy for me to be happy reading great reviews on Jicky, Cuir de Russie, etc., and then I’ve mostly browsed to get ideas of new ones to try or even to dig samples back out to try again. But I am guilty of browsing for the highest rated ones first and shouldn’t do that – but then again I also pay a lot of attention to their 2 word descriptions so I can skip the reviews on big-time florals or “fruities” that I wouldn’t care about if they were rated a 6. The vast enjoyment related to my passion for perfume and majority of my knowledge has come from this great blog and several others.

    • March says:

      Thanks, Carol, glad you are enjoying the blog. Yes, definitely do some reading past the stars, it seems to me the three-star category contains a pretty wide range of scents. I do think it’s hard to keep consistency in a rating system.

  • sarah patton says:

    I have really enjoyed the book and am fascinated by the reviews. It’s hard to read the negative comments on a favorite perfume but as a dutiful student I’m trying to understand where they’re coming from and it’s been an interesting read giving me lots of homework. Specific negative reviews that don’t lapse into hyperbole are helpful in getting me to understand what I’m sniffing. The problem is, of course, that the words fail much of the time and with a short, meanspirited review you don’t learn anything and with a long glowing one of a perfume you despise you cannot be persuaded. If I had been their editor I would have encouraged two separate voices and more dialog between them. The reviews of Beyond Paradise are very interesting because LT liked it as well as admired it and TS only admired it. Why not make this distinction with other perfumes and confront the issue of taste head on?

    • March says:

      That’s an excellent point about the long reviews — I found them less interesting than one would have thought. I can understand the technical merits of Fragrance X at last, but still am not persuaded. I think they succeeded in the reviews right in the middle — not so short as to be unhelpful, but containing tantalizing comparisons or information.

  • chanel22 says:

    I’m starting to really dig into The Guide. If this one leaves you hungry for more, Susan Irvine has a wonderful guide to parfum as well, in paperback with crisp reviews and lovely color photos. I prefer the later, truth be told. As for Luca’s latest, I am enjoying it and really appreciate the updates on reformulations. Even Must de Cartier hasn’t escaped it, in case you didn’t guess. The Guide gets better the more I read it and I am starting to get the overall gist of their angle. You can’t go by stars alone, you have to read the reviews. Two different reviews may both be given three stars and yet, one is said to be boring and the other is recommended. Go figure. I think this either has to do with originality of the creation or a compromise between Luca and Tania. I’d bet on the latter and wish they published separate books.

    • March says:

      There is definitely some weasel room in the two/three star category, and I agree, you have to read the review. Some three stars are disappointing, some are great. And I’m glad you enjoyed the book.

  • Jennifer says:

    Here is the irony of all ironies with Flora Bella it smells like a more herbed cologne variation on D&G Light Blue. It is quite lovely no doubt, and here is where I think chemistry comes in D&G Light Blue becomes quite creamy on me much in the same way Flora Bella does on me. An argument for skin chemistry

    • March says:

      That’s very funny, I can definitely see your connection there. I also think Cheap & Chic I Love Love smells like Light Blue.

      • sylvia says:

        it DOES!!! *gag* i have an ongoing vendetta against light blue and any of its incarnates. huge fan of the i love love bottle though…

  • Judith says:

    When I get it together (and who knows when that will be) you can certainly try Gomma; I like it layered with Montale Rose Petals, myself. About TS, I am not really sure; I am mostly familiar with her blog-comments and her own blog: I always found her very witty there, but beyond that I’m uncertain. . . . You may very well be right, though. I think it would be difficult for anyone NOT to be influenced in this sort of situation, IYKWIM. And you are of course right about notes and all. Part of my carping simply reflects the fact that I had a different book in mind than they did.:d

    • Curly Judith (one of the 3 stooges above) says:

      This was supposed to be a reply to March’s reply to me. Boy, you really have to hit that “reply” button HARD to make it work!

    • March says:

      If I were queen (and why shouldn’t I be?) or alternately their editor, I’d have added an index or two for reference; I’d have made sure to procure samples and lines that are missing, and I’d maybe have suggested cutting the snark. So while I am enjoying the book they wrote, I can visualize it differently.

  • nava says:

    I literally laughed out loud when I read LT’s review of L’Artisan’s Vanilia. It is one of my all-time favorite scents, but unfortunately, I am unable to wear it due to some mysterious reaction. I re-test it periodically to see if maybe it will no longer induce the red itchies, but no such luck. My latest attempt was last week at Henri Bendel, and the crook of my elbow heated up like a ceramic cooktop. I’d like to hear LT explain that one.

    I personally think his writing style is much more amusing than his opinions. 🙂

    • March says:

      That is so weird! I wonder what you’re sensitive to. Hey, maybe it’s OAKMOSS, I hear that makes people’s arms drop off all the time. Wait, where’s my eyeroll emoticon. 8-| I am really lucky, I have what I’d describe as “sensitive” skin but have had excellent luck with fragrance — other than the occasional scrubber, but that’s a different topic :d

      And I will now definitely have to retry the L’Artisan, particularly in light of my newfound vanilla love.

      • nava says:

        Hi March,

        I generally avoid perfumes containing oakmoss (not one of my favorite notes), so I have no idea why Vanilia causes this reaction. I was able to wear it exclusively for a few months and then the reaction occured and has persisted – we’re talking 15 years now. Sometimes, I get reactions to “natural” perfumes such as Rich Hippie or Aftelier. Nothing a little Cortizone 10 can’t handle!

        If I Could ask one thing of LT, it would be to break Vanilia down molecularly to figure out what the possible irritant might be. But in the meantime, I satisfy my vanilla jones with Organza Indecence, Indult Tihota and Guerlain Spriteuese Double Vanille. :d

        • March says:

          And you have just named several of my winter favorites! If you’d told me last year I’d be loving the vanilla, I’d have laughed in your face.

          • nava says:

            Once it gets you, it hooks you forever.

            A couple of summer options you might consider are Yosh Ginger Ciao and Hidden Cove by Majenty. Not straight vanillas, but both have that vanillic vibe and are very wearable in warmer weather.

          • sylvia says:

            am one hundred percent smitten with ginger ciao and can zero percent afford it.

          • March says:

            Ginger Ciao is my favorite Yosh.

          • sylvia says:

            i think that’s a common sentiment. its the tester w/ the most missing at the store i first smelled it at

          • nava says:

            My other Yosh favorite is the now discontinued La Contessa. Why she discontinued it is beyond me. 🙁

  • Gail S says:

    Oh, man! I thought I had more time 🙁 Just got the book yesterday afternoon and have only had the time to look up the most important (to me) reviews. I’ve already heaved a big sigh of relief that two of what I feel will be my most enduring loves got five stars – L’Eau d’Hiver and Onda……sigh…..

    • March says:

      Okay, I’m getting bored answering these in order, skipping around now :d

      The Vero reviews made me really, really happy. Rooting for the small perfumer, ya know? Andy’s stuff made me happy the same way. And I was thrilled/pleased to see how much they like the MDCIs, because that guy was so incredibly nice and decent when we were mocking the “prestige” of the brand and he sent us all samples. I mean, he could have been a d!ckhead in response to our not being very nice, but instead he got busy and sold us. Great strategy.

  • Jamie says:

    I did enjoy the book, but did take it with a grain of salt. It was interesting comparing my opinion (non-expert) to theirs expert) – but I too felt that there was something a little personal going on regarding the Mona di Orio fragrance critiques. So much so, that I didn’t find them credible. I’m now anxious to sample them.

    As to chemistry – I firmly believe that fragrances can and do smell different on different people. For example, I had purchased a FB of Delrae Debut (unsniffed – dumb, I know….), and it was absolutely terrible on me. I found it a new home with a woman I work with. She came to work one day and I loved whatever fragrance she had on. Well, it was Debut, and it was totally different on her than on me.

    The bottom line for me is that I have to like it and enjoy it. It doesn’t matter what their opinions are – but saying that, I still enjoyed the book.

    • March says:

      I’m glad you said you’re anxious to sample the Monas. I was hoping that might be one reaction to the intense criticism in the book — that people might be tempted to try her (relatively obscure) line. I think she deserves all the accolades she gets.

      I know, the unsniffed purchase! Bad idea; and I am guilty too. Sometimes I wind up with spare bottles after friends from this blog go running off and buy something I rave about and it is *nasty* on them. That’s how I wound up with Andy Tauer’s Orris — Louise does something criminal to it.

  • Dane says:

    I thought it would be fun to read the comments about this book, until I saw how people (over)reacted on the various forums. ITS A BOOK. People are acting like someone proposed and wrote a new Bible!

    Having said all that, I take it for nothing more than any review I read on a particular fragrance…I don’t think PerfumePosse.com would get a backlash if someone commented on how they didn’t care for something.

    I agree with some, not with others…on the few mentioned above, I think Sarrasins deserved its 5-stars, and I think Marc Jacobs for Men deserved its 1.

    The only disappointment I had in the book were the few missing fragrances I would have liked to read about – Feminite du Bois, Bal a Versailles, Duel & Mandragore, etc. etc.

    Overall I found it very entertaining and will refer to it often when trying something new.

    • March says:

      Dane, I hear the guys on Basenotes are absolutely rabid about the Creeds and some other stuff… are you a guy? I can’t remember, I think so. Only asking because the only people I know who like MJ Men are women. 🙂 I find it nice and creamy/woody, but I know some people think it’s awful, weirdly fresh/synthetic. Wonder if …. skin chemistry is involved?

      I already said this on here in another comment, but I wish TS had had some help in rounding up samples and making a list. FdeB and Bal are glaring oversights, in my opinion. I may be wrong but I thought Mandragore was in there? TS, three stars, nice but could have been better? I love Mandragore, I realize it doesn’t have The Drama of the name, but I don’t care.

      • Dane says:

        Correct, I’m a guy. The boys on Basenotes are always upset if anything bad is said about Creed, but agree 100% on all the Creed assessments in the book as well.

        Ah, so its the women who are buying MJ for Men! I was wondering what kept it on the market…figs & cheap musk is all I get out of it.

        There was an insightful thread on POL regarding the ommissions and Dr. Turin welcomed the suggestions for the potential 2nd edition. Too bad the drama flared up all over the board and everyone took the book as a personal insult and forced Dr. Turin to leave completely. 🙁

        • March says:

          Hey, Dane, you say “figs and cheap musks” like it’s a *bad* thing. And it IS all the women. Somehow I can’t imagine a man smelling that and wanting to wear it. It’s too femme to be a legit masculine, but not femme enough to be ironic. If that makes any sense, which I think it does not.

          And back to the first part of your first comment — I guess it’s just me (or us?) but I don’t understand the strong feelings connected to this. LT/TS dissed their fair share of fragrances I really LIKE. But as you said, it’s just a *book.* Full of *opinions.* I wonder if LT/TS were surprised by the backlash?

          • Dane says:

            Ha…I suppose figs & cheap musk have their fans! I totally understand what you mean about feminine men’s scents being ironic, like Dior Homme. MJ missed that mark.

            I sincerely hope that LT & TS didn’t take all the comments negatively, but I have a feeling they (he) did (from reading the responses). When people started commenting on their marriage & personal lives, it would be hard not to be insulted.

            Anyway, I’m loving the book overall…even when I disagree. His 1992 guide was/is my ultimate reference book, and I’ve waited anxiously for this release. I think they did an excellent job and look forward to the 2nd edition (The Guide v. 1.2?).

            The part I love most about perfume reviews is hearing insider-scoop on ingredients, synthetics, and history. I could care less if it got 5-stars or 1. I think its a shame that people don’t embrace it just for that reason alone!

          • March says:

            Lord, the marriage stuff. Head-slap. I totally forgot. I was stunned by that personal stuff. Who knows what the circumstances were, and what business is that of anyone’s, anyway? What’s that got to do with the book, and the reviewing? Having a smackdown with LT about Caron is one thing, but that is something else. I’d have left too.

            Dior Homme! Perfect example. And (not sure if you will be back) I giggled yesterday, putting Egoiste on. The thing’s practially wearing high heels. I would love to smell that on a man.

          • Dane says:

            Egoiste is another perfect example…Insense as well. I love them all, but I mostly wear “women’s” scents anyway (don’t get me started on that!) I’m glad the guide continued the previous guide’s advice on men digging into the ladies scents and vice versa. Probably the best advice a man could get.

            I couldn’t believe the personal comments people would make…SO inappropriate. I can believe that many of the Caron’s have undergone some reformulations, but I still like them!

            Thanks for all the comments March…it must have taken your entire day to keep up with all these comments.

          • March says:

            Yes, I loved LT’s advice (paraphrasing) that if you’re a man into oriental scents, why not walk across the aisle to the ladies’ shelves for the best selection? And I thought his realization that Patou 1000 would be a perfect men’s scent was brilliant.

            I find “women’s” scents on men incredibly sexy. I’m talking blatant florals like rose, tuberose, jasmine. Speaking of skin chemistry, I feel like men tend to make even the most feminine scents a little rough. I’m not sure masculines on women have the same effect on hetero men, however. Although according to them I should be wearing bacon. 🙂

  • tricia says:

    I read the Guide cover to cover and was left with the certainty that a serious perfumista was not its target market. Makes sense. Although I like to think that those of us who have actually read The Secret of Scent and have a deep love for the art of perfume are an increasingly significant constituancy, we are still relatively small in numbers compared to everyone else.

    I learned nothing from the Guide. I found that it offered nothing new on any of the topics covered in the narrative sections. As for the perfume reviews, the pained attempts to make the reviews “clever” diminished these writers and was unhelpful to someone who was looking for a more nuanced and serious treatment of these scents. I agree with the statements above that too many words were devoted to tearing down the work of certain perfumers and to scents that the writers did not like. I suppose waxing “ironic” is easier than waxing poetic. These writers are better than that. I have to hold the editors and publishers responsible for some of the choices made – including the apparent commitment to glibness.

    Nonetheless, if going on GMA and radio to promote the Guide leads to a new audience for perfume, good. I imagine a whole cadre of men and women intimidated by the many perfume offerings who would welcome an “authoritative” Guide which allows them entrance into the world of perfume without the initial missteps that are so easy to make if you rely only on the advice of the SA at the cosmetic or department store. I am actually pleased that someone thought there would be a mainstream market for a book about perfume. I just wish this book hadn’t sacrificed content for the “sound bite” approach to reviews.

    I gave away my copy of the Guide. I found nothing in it to warrant a place in my library.

    • March says:

      In the mall the other day, I decided: I want to hire myself out as a guide to help people buy fragrance (a service I offer for free to helpless people in Sephora whenever I am there). 🙂 I would not be representing a particular agenda in terms of marketing or commission. I am knowledgeable about the offerings. I can help the customer find something s/he might like. From that perspective, I welcome any contribution to the cause of making information about a variety of perfumes available to people — people who probably don’t know a lot of those fragrances even exist. You are right, it’s much easier to do irony than poetry, and I think irony is more LT’s style anyway, judging by the book.

      • kathleen says:

        You have been doing that March. Right here. You, Patty and Lee. In the short time that I have been reading your posts I’ve tried niche fragrances that I’d never heard of and probably wouldn’t have and I’ve tried some classics that I also would not have tried if I hadn’t discovered the Perfume Posse. You’ve all opened up a whole new fragrance world to me and probably others who read these posts daily. 😡

        • March says:

          Hey, thanks. I appreciate that, totally without snark or irony. I work hard at this, and I take it seriously, in my own way. @};- I am nuts about fragrance, and I think if nothing else that shines through.

          and p.s. it’s true — I have sold so much product at Sephora and Nordstrom, they ought to pay me a commission. 🙂

        • Kim says:

          whole-heartedly agree!! And many, many thanks for the guidance 😡

  • rachael says:

    I had two main… qualms, and enjoyed the book thoroughly despite them:
    1: they agree like, 95% of the time? seriously?
    2: their treatment of all Le Labos seems a bit… biased. he discusses a bit of a tiff with a Le Labo representative, and I’ve got to wonder if that had anything to do with it.

    • March says:

      Yeah, I heard reviewers ask them about that! Agreeing 95% of the time! In some ways I think it would have been a better book if they’d *disagreed* radically on more scents, which would be perfectly plausible, wouldn’t it? I mean, you could admire the construction of a scent and still find it horrible. When they both reviewed a fragrance because of a disagreement, it was still a minor disagreement — along the lines of TS going, well, I understand its genius but it has no soul. I think TS saying, LT is out of his fricking mind on this one would have been a nice change of pace. 🙂

      • sweetlife says:

        The agreement/disagreement issue is a very interesting one — it keeps popping up for me, in venues besides perfume as well. The argument I get is that making disagreement transparent is confusing, especially for beginners, and that it lessens the authority of the opinionators. (Chandler Burr actually spoke about this at the Sniffa luncheon, if you remember March — that he had wanted to publish a reconsideration column, but the NYT said no.)

        The argument I give back (but I can’t say anyone’s listening) is that disagreement is: a) fun, b)necessary, c) a part of all criticism.

        It’s just bizaare to me, in so many ways, this idea that power comes from a single message, but apparently a lot of people think so. All of which is to say that LT and TS may not have had a lot of choice. (But what about Roger and Ebert — I say!)

        • March says:

          I find that “two different perspectives is too confusing” and “you can’t change your mind, it’s too confusing” to be … confusing. People change their minds all the time. I change my mind on here all the time about fragrance. But you’re right, maybe the publisher felt like they needed to be basically in agreement? I don’t agree though. :d

  • Silvia says:

    Having bored everyone around me with my impressions on the Guide (sorry again Nicola), it’s high time for some online venting.

    Of course initially I went straight for taste validation, and got a mix bag of praise and disappointments, the latter frankly hurting more than I had expected. But then I tried to base my judgement onto more objective grounds and this is my list of pros and cons.
    Pros:
    1) There are lots more fragrances I am keen to test or re-test and lots of them are easily accessible. Duty Frees are all of a sudden a lot more interesting than before. LT and TS are definitely not niche snobs.
    2) Some of the reviews, positive or negative, are very informative, enriching and fun.
    3) It is a huge accomplishment and hats off for that, although maintaining complete rating consistency is almost an impossible task.
    Cons:
    1) It is clear that more time has been spent on some reviews than others. While it may not be necessary to expand on the ocean of fruity florals, trashing a more reputable scent may require a bit more explanation than a one liner.
    2) Think there are some inaccuracies (e.g. the MDCI Promesse de l’Aube review)
    3) There are obviously some personal agendas making some of the reviews less objective than desirable. I am referring to the Carons (yes we got the reformulations were bad), the MdO issue (yes she does seem to have a high opinion of herself) and to a certain extent Le Labo too (yes, they do have an odd naming and availability policy), but did they need to relegate all or most of the scents to make a point?

    The great think is that after obsessively carrying the book with me everywhere for about a week, now I have moved to some sort of relative indifference which is probably the way I should have approached it all along.
    😉

    • chayaruchama says:

      Silvia-
      I’m agreed with all your comments, except one…

      I had two in-depth conversations- very deep ones- with Ms. Di Orio-
      And I never had the impression of her being sweet on herself.
      I was amazed by her lack of artifice, shyness, and passion…

      Did you get to talk with her?
      Just curious.

      • Silvia says:

        Sorry, should have qualified more: it’s only what transpired from reading her website, which I believe has now been changed. Bad PR perhaps, but it got people talking even before the Guide came out. If I met her in person, I’d speak to her of my love for Carnation.

    • donanicola says:

      Apology unnecessary, hon but thank you anyway. The Guide has clearly stirred deep feelings and I will be approaching it with some caution now. Can’t say anymore because I’ve yet to receive my copy!

    • March says:

      Silvia — on the pros, we agree on the retests. I didn’t even think of that going into the book. I also wish the duty-frees were more widely available (I don’t fly a lot) although if I look around online I can probably find them. And I agree that maintaining consistency with the stars is very difficult, but could argue that, having decided on a star rating system, it’s their job to make it work as well as possible. On your cons — I definitely share your feeling about the disparity in time spent on particular reviews. Don’t you get the feeling some of them were the result of, I don’t know, smelling their 45th fragrance at 11 pm on a rainy Thursday and thinking, oh, who cares? The ones that they had nothing to say about? I wish they’d said nothing and moved on to something that inspired them (a problem I understand as a blogger.) And I definitely feel some inconsistencies in their response to the stupidity/verbiage of perfumery. Le Labo and Mona clearly irked them, but then he gave the Elternhaus five stars. I couldn’t have done it; I’d have had to ding them one star for their pitch.

  • Wendy says:

    I found myself ignoring the stars. The written text and the “star rating” at times had no relationship to each other. Particularly in the 2/3/4 range. (Wish I had a more concrete example – but I’m at work and it would look a bit suspicious if I had The Guide at my desk):d

    Also found that there were a whole mess of scents I now wanted to try or revisit – just to see what they are talking about.

    The conversation (even as bitchy as it has gotten in some circles) is the biggest contribution this book makes. More so than their opinions of individual fragrances.

    With this book (and some of Chandler Burr’s writings), you are bringing in a wider range of opinions besides those of us who consume blogs. For some people, formal book publication still wields more authority than blogging – whether the authority is deserved or not.

    The writing I see here, Now Smell This, Perfume Smellin Things, Perfume Shrine (among others) carry just as much (if not more) authority with me as “The Guide.” Mostly due to range, experience and passion – you all actually WEAR and LIVE with most of this stuff, not just sniff it analytically on little paper strips.

    The bloggers can tell me whether Mitsouko would still smell good in a bowling alley (my answer – yes!) or if Aromatics Elixir would kill a man at 20 paces (which is why I’m afraid to crack open the new bottle I purchased:-ss ). Ultimately, we still have to live with the fragrance and develop our own opinions. At least with these resources (including the Guide), we are encouraged to broaden our horizons.

    • March says:

      Wait … what part of having The Guide at your desk looks suspicious? 😉

      The Big Cheese keeps walking by me rolling his eyes, I am supposed to be working too. But, erm, no. I’ll get there. I don’t want to look at the Visa bill anyway.

      ITA that, if nothing else, the *conversation* this book has prompted is a delight. I love, love, love the way people are thinking about fragrance. I love and embrace the idea that people can discuss scent as an art. I love the differing opinions. Even people who hate the book reap the benefits of discussion. I want perfume to have a wider audience as a topic. I want less mystery, and if LT/TS rag some of my favorites in the process, I can live with that.

      The 2/3/4 range — you’re right. Given that it’s subjective, I felt like with some of them, they could probably have adjusted the star one direction or another on a different day. Three stars seems to be a particularly wide category.

      • Wendy says:

        Umm…what does ITA mean :-

        I also vote for less mystery in fragrance. Some would argue that it would remove the “mystique” that sells so many fragrances. The thought that “if I wear this I will be someone else / someone better / more elegant / an irresistable sex goddess / whatever”.

        Personally – I just wanna smell nice and educate my nose. The education piece can be particularly difficult when the formal “notes” say one thing and your nose / brain is screaming something else.

        • March says:

          Sorry — I Totally Agree. And I remember Robin at Now Smell This using IIRC and me thinking for a looooong time before figuring out that one. People complain about the abbreviating on blogs, and I suppose I should do less of it.

  • Judith says:

    Well, my first reaction is to agree completely with you (b/c you are always right, ya know); I had all of these responses to the book–and still do. But as it is settling in, I’m afraid my feelings are more negative. I got it immediately and devoured it on the train to NY–but then I find I’m not really interested in looking at it any more. It’s just not as useful as I had hoped. The best part is finding fragrances that one wants to try (and ya wantcha Gomma, ya gotcha Gomma [I think 3 stars is about right for this: nice but unremarkable leather in the TB mode–good for layering]). But even here, I would appreciate more information–(guesses at) notes, more description, etc. and fewer one-liners. These are just not really helpful–and they’re not so funny after a first reading, either. And while I admit that I am, unfortunately, as capable of being b*tchy as anyone, I don’t see that publishing this sort of stuff does much good–especially when we are talking about small perfumers. I agree that they should be held to the same standard as others, but many of the “clever” nasty reviews are going well beyond that. Why not just post one review saying they don’t care for MdO’s style of perfuming; (they are not completists in other houses)? I am not a big MdO fan myself, but I really uncomfortable with these reviews. Also–while they certainly give the impression in some reviews that they really hate LeLabo, that turns out to be misleading: they give Patch 5 stars and Iris 4 (the contempt seems to stem from the initial response to samples). Finally, while an occasional snark could liven up an informative book, the “ironic wit” here is so all-pervasive that is becomes, IMO, pretty wearing.

    So, on the whole, I’m disappointed. I will still glance at the Guide to inform me about scents that I don’t know. But I would have used it much more if it had more information and less snark.

    On skin chemistry: LT is simply wrong. If his revised impression were right, I could wear T42, which starts out wonderful on me. But as several of its fans have commented, something awful happens to me in the drydown. And we all have many more examples.

    • Judith says:

      Lotsa typos here. Will just correct one that renders the sentence incomprehensible: I was talking about LL’s initial (negative, “witty”) response to LT and TS’s request for samples; apparently the authors don’t care for snark in others.

      • March says:

        I read your long, interesting comment and didn’t find a single typo, so there. I was concentrating on what you were saying. 🙂

        Of *course* you’d have Gomma, since you have every leather in the known world. But I can’t just type on here, and Judith, I need me a sample of that. :”> Having said that, if you find it three-star, I can probably live without it….

        I could argue that LT/TS figure anyone who cares about the notes can get online and google them. OTOH I can argue that many people would agree that a guide to perfumes without the notes is less helpful. Overall, yeah. I think being less b!tchy with the one-liners (just dropping some?) and fleshing out some of the other reviews would have been a good way to go.

        Reading your comment I keep mulling this thought, which I keep failing to type in here because I’m having trouble trying to word it inoffensively. You’ve read more stuff on MUA, maybe you know. I keep speculating about Tania’s voice. I feel like she signed on for the LT voice? That level of stridency. And I don’t recall that from blog comments, I remember more warmth and … agh, grasping for the words, reserve isn’t quite right, is it? The point being, if you’re going to coauthor a book with established author LT, what does your side sound like? If she’d gone softer and more philosophical, maybe she’d sound too milquetoast. But by (IMHO) doing more of a LT-style voice, they up the overall b!tch quotient considerably. I think the book would have had a very different feel if TS had stuck to more of what I think of as *her* voice, softer but just as smart. But I don’t know her. Maybe she’ll pop on here and tell me I’m full of it. I remember she got into at least one big argument on LT’s blog with another commenter, and she can hold her own in an argument.

        • Existentialist says:

          Although when I first opened The Guide I had not read any of TS’s other writing, I did get a sense that she had allowed his style to eclipse hers ( a not-uncommon phenomenon in relationships), and felt slightly sad for her. I then read some of her old blog postings, and my initial sense was strengthened. It is always disheartening to me to see a talented woman take on the voice of her husband. Tania, be your own woman! Perfumanity wants to hear your voice, too.

          I was disturbed, as so many others here are as well, that they were too severe with some houses. I have no desire that their tastes be my own, and enjoy the fact that LT is apparently my ETF, but some of these small houses could really suffer from their treatment in this book, if it came down to a matter of investors using it as a basis for decisions, whereas a large, established house is just going to laugh it off. I have no experience with Di Orio, just as an example, and maybe they are not so hot, but if it’s a matter of taste, then it seems irresponsible to take potshots when one could be affecting the livelihood of those about whom one is writing.

          Having said all that, I am glad I bought it, and will return to it, if only to record my violent disagreement in the margins. That’s why margins are so wide, after all.

          • March says:

            Oh, love your use for the margins, and the idea of LT as your EFT!!! That should leave you with a wide variety of choices.

            If you come back and revisit this — can you describe in a little more detail your impression of Tania’s previous writing style, and how it might have changed in the new reformulation? 😉 It seems very … Turin-esque, would love a description of an earlier style. As a blogger who is always trying on different style hats, I find the topic very interesting.

          • Existentialist says:

            Well, I could certainly be wrong about TS’s style. Another commenter wrote below that TS is, if anything, snarkier than LT, and I will defer to those who know better than I. I had read some of her old posts on “Brain Trapped in Girl’s Body”, and she comes across to me as a thoughtful sort, except when writing about mayonnaise, at which point she is just hysterical. So what the heck do I know? As far as your style, we all love you the way you are, so don’t change.

          • risa says:

            Tania’s writing style was definitely reserved, poetic and thoughtful, but in person she’s without question a Brooklyn girl with all that implies. In the reviews, I can hear her speaking more than I see her writing. It’s as though they recorded themselves talking about each fragrance, then transcribed the most choice comments.

          • Existentialist says:

            Thank you for confirming I am not nuts.

          • March says:

            Thanks to both of you.

  • alba says:

    First of all, I must say that I’ve enjoyed reading the book and learning lots of things I didn’t know. However, I find there’s a kind of snobbery there in precisely trying so hard not to seem snobbish: oh yes, we don’t do only niche, we do mainstream and even shopping mall perfumes. This is great by me, but then there’s not enough space for everything and I miss scents and houses that are important (for me): Lubin, the Incense series, Montale, Delrae, SMN,… On the other hand, there’s a comment on 8 different “Clean” scents (all of them with one star), which is kind of meaningless, especially if not all the houses are so extensively covered. The same with “The Art of Perfumery” or all the Angel variations.I prefer them when they point out what’s been achieved with a fragrance, and why it’s successful, than when they just dismiss it in few words (though I must admit they can be cruelly funny). Perhaps that’s the point: instead of Perfumes: the guide” it should be called “Perfumes: the test”

    • kathleen says:

      Or “Perfume: A Guide”

    • March says:

      That’s funny, you named a list of some scents I miss most in The Guide. And it sounds like that for all of us, the short-one star reviews don’t serve much purpose. I much prefer an educated explanation of *why* something is good, bad, or could have been better.

  • Rappleyea says:

    I haven’t read the Guide yet, and I go back and forth on whether or not I even want to. I’m sure I’ve learned more from the great crew here (and on some other blogs) than I could from snarky one liners. With that said, I do have an observation: I wonder at the reverence paid to LT’s expertise and technical knowledge because he’s a chemist. Does that make the guy down at Home Depot who’s an expert on color and which colors make up the myriad paint selections an artist or art critic??

    • March says:

      I see your point; for LT specifically, though, I’ll have to disagree. Having read Emperor of Scent and his defunct blog, among other things, I would find it extremely difficult to argue against LT’s bona fides as a critic. He’s obviously extremely well educated in all sorts of areas, has a wide range of interests, and a genuine passion about fragrance. Can he be shamelessly biased and insensitive and what have you? Sure. Knowledge doesn’t guarantee objectivity, I’ll go that far with you. But, for all its warts, I love The Guide because at its best LT and TS lift the veil and show me something completely new about a scent.

  • MattS says:

    It’s funny, I was most excited about reading snarky, bitchy perfume reviews and having a laugh over a glass of wine; this has become my least favorite aspect of the book. If LT and TS are gonna give a scent one star, I’d prefer a lengthy, thoughtful justification of the rating, rather than just a pissy quote. Otherwise, don’t even review the fragrance and use that space for a scent that merits closer examination. I don’t expect them to praise everything, but if a teacher gives someone a failing grade, they’re expected to mark the paper and make it clear why the score was given, right? Forget about one star Paris Hilton fragrances and review the damn CdG Incenses; that’s what we all want!

    That being said, I do respect and appreciate their democratic approach to fragrance; they represent designer, niche, mainstream, as well as regular ol’ drugstore cheapies and find value and beauty in all areas. They certainly have me interested in revisiting some cheapos from the past-Grey Flannel(I’ve always loved it, wore it yesterday, layered with a little CB Violet Empire), Halston Z-14, which I haven’t smelled in years, but used to love, and Stetson, a favorite of mine when I was nine years old.) I wonder if LT and TS are getting a kickback from Walgreen’s or some other drugstore…Of course, they haven’t really done anything to curb my jonesing for all things Guerlain, but that being said, they do seem to play favorites a bit. Guerlain, Lauder, move to the head of the class. Caron, Di Orio, detention’s right down the hall. I guess we all have our favorite houses and noses, but if you’re writing a book, shouldn’t you make it less obvious to everyone who your pets are?

    Finally, yeah, it’s all subjective and I enjoy and respect reading everyone’s opinion, especially if it’s well written. It ultimately just makes me want to sniff (and spend) more. Just don’t be a bitch about it. Tabac Blond one star? It’s long been at the top of my To Smell List; now I’m just gonna bust my ass to make sure I do.

    • Louise says:

      I sprayed my modern Tabac Blond edt (I have the vintage and modern of both parfum and edt) today, just in honor of the single star! Onery, eh? :-w

    • March says:

      I think your point about the short, snarky reviews is an excellent one — they don’t really *tell* you anything, other than it sucks, and (I think I said this in my original review) I’d have preferred much less of that to make room for more reviews of other, absent frags.

      It’s not like the negative stuff is inherently bad. I find it very instructive when, for example, they analyze a two- or three- star fragrance and discuss why it’s a near miss, often due to the cheap ingredients. And sometimes LT marvels that something smells really good in *spite* of cheap ingredients. I can’t smell cheap ingredients, so this interests me.

      And yes, let’s talk about the positive for a bit. I too loved the really wide range of scents included, including the drugstore stuff. I am not sure I even know what Stetson smells like, and I think they really liked the men’s and the ladies? So I’m going to smell those; why not? And their love for Grey Flannel just makes me smile as it does you too. (and layered with VE sounds like HEAVEN, btw!) And I loved TS’s review of Sex Appeal for Men, have you smelled that?! It sounds great.

      The Carons. I think that’s one name that p!sses most people off, esp. Alpona and Tabac Blond. And I guess if they’d done the same to Guerlain we could re-test my indifference to the negative reviews. /:)

    • chayaruchama says:

      A clarification, guys :

      I didn’t mean that niche houses should be held to a different standard-
      I just feel that reputations can be ruined, potentially, and that indie folks take a MUCH bigger beating.
      I’d HATE to see someone put out of business , because of a bash- not a “review”…

      I love the democratic approach, it’s my favorite.

      • March says:

        Chaya, I think Judith’s comment along the lines of them saying, they don’t care for the perfumer’s style would have been a legitimate alternative. And acknowledging that LT could argue me into the ground on the chemistry involved in Mona, but I still am baffled. They are not precisely my thing, but if I’d had to name ten lines (or ten fragrances) I thought were utter crap, hers wouldn’t be on it. I am hoping, as another commenter said on here, some people go out and try Mona’s stuff just to see what the fuss is about. :)>-

        • sylvia says:

          what WOULD be on that list? clearly, i am a fan of the bashings. im also curious about the reviews that were left out because they were “too mean” its funny until it’s one of my faves. haha.

  • Louise says:

    Well, I am just stubborn. I have thus far refused to buy and look at the Guide, preferring to watch the hoopla and hear the more sensible reviews from the sidelines. I am also holding to my view that Provocation (nee snark,and/or play-with-the-readers) is perhaps too large a theme in the book, given some of the truly wacky evaluations.

    But I will eventually succumb, and am most interested to play with the Revelations. The Vindications surely won’t give me as much pleasure as sharing an “ahhh” with you and other perfume friends over a mutually aligned taste in a fragrance.

    • Louise says:

      Oh, and Marchele-I would love to have lunch with the authors, with us sprayed with Vanille Tonka and Tauer’s Orris-one on each arm, well into drydown. No chemistry change-bah 😕

    • March says:

      The revelations have turned out, unexpectedly, to be the best part of the book to me. I’m always ready to retry something based on an interesting observation about some aspect of a fragrance, and they do cover things I’ve never heard of and/or never bothered smelling.

      Yeah, Orris on you would be a perfect example of skin chemistry. And you’re right, sniffing with friends is the best.

  • Masha says:

    I have a long list of “must try that one”s now, too. Mauboussin intrigued me, as did Lalique’s Flora Bella, chilled milk, cold floral, and a sucked spoon?? Must try!! Anyone else tried it??
    Overall, though I’m mystified for their love of Lauder, I’m very happy with the book.

    • March says:

      I vaguely remember Flora Bella from sniffing them all at the Lalique boutique in Chicago, and Flora Bella was sharp, but that’s all I recall (would make sense with sucked spoon.) Don’t remember the milky part. I liked them all, though, including Le Parfum (which I think they gave one star to.)

      Much of the EL stuff (the newer stuff anyway) doesn’t do much for me, too fresh a lot of it, but they’re not the first perfume nuts to love them. I think there’s a lot of appreciating the composition objectively from the point of someone who understands the chemistry and can admire the construction. I know Bois de Jasmin does.

      • Masha says:

        I was pleasantly surprised FB was by B. Duchaufour- I really like his work. Of all the new ones from the guide I’m curious about, this one may have to be my blind buy….

        • March says:

          My recollection is it’s available relatively inexpensively online? It seems to me the Laliques cost less than I’d expected (assuming no fancy bottle.)

  • Diana says:

    Some of the reviews have made me wince or raise my eyebrows (the litigious Bond is “endearingly plucky”?) but it’s been entertaining and educational reading — and my must-try list gets longer every time I dip in. One disappointment is the houses that aren’t included: Parfumerie Generale (except Coze), Parfums DelRae, Santa Maria Novella, Profumum, most of Comme des Garcons. (I’d especially looked forward to the authors’ thoughts on the Incense series).

    • March says:

      no way, it says “endearingly plucky?” Freaking kill me now, I’d like to give their adorable legal team a piece of my funny mind, but they’d probably sue me into the poorhouse.

      Thanks for the list of some of The Missing, which confuzzles me. And you could argue that some of the stuff is *really* obscure, and maybe they couldn’t get any, but not the CdGs, and certainly they review some other really obscure stuff. I feel like instead of Tania having to go out and drum up samples, I wish there’d been a team or at least an enthusiastic perfume friend to keep a list going.

      • Maria says:

        I nearly gagged when I read that “endearingly plucky” in the Chinatown review. Nothing endearing about those bullies.

        Don’t Turin and Sanchez have perfumista friends who could give them samples?

        • March says:

          Well, yeah. I’m sure she did have someone. Which brings us back to the part where we could talk about how some bits of The Guide seem a little rushed, or sloppy. Where’s the index? And maybe some of the stuff is impossible to get, but not some of the examples we’ve cited on here (Bal, some of the CdG, etc.) I think they could have benefitted from having some perfumistas vet the list.

    • Judith says:

      I think some of the missing lines just wouldn’t give them samples for reviews(e.g., Montale: they mentioned this somewhere; of course, they could get them elsewhere–but they chose not to). Others, they say they will get to later.

      • March says:

        I said this I think elsewhere to you, but I’d have hired someone to put more effort into making sure there were fewer missing scents and lines.

        • Kim says:

          Being cynical – then you wouldn’t have a reason to issue an updated version in three years time :-\”

          • March says:

            But I would think a redo would depend on how this one sells, and so they’d be motivated to make it as good as possible the first time?

  • For the last 10 years I’ve bravely soldiered through irony, post-modern irony (in which we didn’t know what irony was and substituted snark for it instead), and deconstructed irony, which is simply a new word for mean. Stick a fork in it, it’s done. I love Chandler Burr’s books, but I’m skipping this one. I don’t want to feel bad about perfumes I love and own, because these sophisticates push me back into the perfume equivalent of 7th grade.

    I prefer the funnier, more pointed, specific, descriptive world of perfume blogs where I know who is my perfume twin and who is my perfume evil twin. And I can enjoy the really good writing in different styles.

    As to perfumes smelling the same on everyone, or just having the top notes wobble, then settle down to the same smell, that’s just silly. I followed a woman down the street to ask her what fabulous fragrance she was wearing. White Linen. Rushed out bought it, sprayed it on, ARGHHH. Flowers left in a vase in the sun for a week. I’ve smelled Angel on a zillion people and it’s everything from chocolate rose to gak on a yak. Perfume is like a lovely linen dress. One size does not fit all the same way. Some women are elegantly rumpled, others look like an unmade bed.
    OK, zoll zein Sha.

    • tmp00 says:

      Put so well!

      I’m reading it and am seeing that certain houses are taken to the woodshed (Le Labo) and some scents that are hideous on a lot of people I know are given 5 stars. I mean I know one person upon whom Angel was absolutely divine; you wanted to live only on her sillage. The rest of us? ChocoVomit (thanks to March for the phrase). He writes that Un Bois Sepia is a “dim witted” two stars, and MossBudJewEtcetera is a “masterpiece”? Whatever. I got more out of the concrete box from MBJ and on me Sepia sings. It’s all about the chemistry baby…

      • March says:

        No no no!!! No such thing as skin chemistry! Smell THE SAME ON EVERYONE. And the 90% of us who disagree are dimwits. [-( 😉

        I think Marc Buxton’s the bomb, and I don’t know what LT’s smelling in there, but how could he overlook the pkging on that one and then be so very very annoyed by Le Labo? And with you on the Sepia…

        The Angel Conundrum. Here’s my personal problem with Angel — like Poison, it is such an ufb strong scent that to me, it *does* smell almost the same on everyone. And to me that smell is chocovomit, but that’s not my point. 🙂 My point is, it’s the sort of fragrance that dominates the wearer and everyone else in the elevator. I’ve never smelled any nuance in it. But maybe it’s my own personal hatred…. I don’t smell any nuance in Light Blue and Prada Iris, both very distinctive scents that I smell on everyone around here (good office scents) and I like those just fine. Dismissing my own argument. [-(

    • Judith says:

      Wonderful, thoughtful post, QC. Thanks!

    • March says:

      So you are boycotting as well? I am interested in the number of people who are doing so (a legit response). And I am also right this second distracted by the fabulous scent that keeps appearing and disappearing in the vicinity of my computer … /:) .. where were we? Sigh. Scented laptop: occupational hazard.

      White Linen!!! hahahaha, I have done the SAME thing, and also (this is weird) I have asked two women what they were wearing and they said Narciso, which when I try it (paper, skin) I cannot smell AT ALL. I get *nothing.* And also I’ve stopped two ladies in elevators and found out they were wearing, I kid you not, Liz Taylor’s purple nightmare, forgot the name. Smelled AMAZING on them, really great. Smells like paint thinner and catbox on me, with a little lavender.

      • kathleen says:

        I will, also, be skipping this perfume comic book. For some reason it just puts my “nose” out of joint.

      • Less of a boycott than just.not.interested. I read perfume blogs every single day, because they are interesting and well-written, often balanced with pros and cons, with a nod to bottles and boxes. Frequently LOL wonderful, including bitingly funny. I’m just weary to the bone of snark passing as criticism. I’m getting shivers of 7th-grade slam books (remember those? You may be waaaay too young) and I barely survived that the first time. Legit criticism is depth and insight,fury and fun, and I’m not detecting that from this distance. [Carefully places down 10-foot poll at end of book, exits stage left.]

    • Kim says:

      You have an excellent point about the blog world. For me, it is like when I go to the symphony or opera – I always want to read the review of all the critics, even the ones I know I will disagree with! Sometimes I learn more from reading the one that I think is out to lunch – it forces me to defend my position, really answer why I disagree. To me, that is good criticism of art, that the critic will make me think, even if I disagree.

      I guess that is what I like so much about this guide – finally, perfume treated as art and given it’s due with appropriately professional and considered criticism out there in a traditional form. Even if I think they are sooo wrong about a few of my favourites (Must by Cartier, Soir de Lune by Sisley are examples)

      • March says:

        I think this is beautifully put. Although there is much to argue with in the reviews, I am pleased that we *can* argue — that the topic is considered worthy of argument. And I know what you mean about criticism — if I disagree, I have to use my brain and try to think of why.

        I was very surprised by the Sisley. Would have expected at least three stars, more likely four.

  • HopeB says:

    I was thrilled to see some of my favorites mentioned favorably or given 5 stars: Lolita Lempicka, L by Lolita Lempicka, Nina by Nina Ricci, the classic Chanels and Guerlains, etc..

    But I thought the reviews of Dior Addict, Sarah Jessica Parker Covet, and Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, were a little too negative, given my love (or appreciation) for them.

    That said, I think Luca & Tania were perfectly right to hold niche brands to the same high standards as corporations–given all the “flim-flam” marketing produced by *both* groups, and that niche perfumery is often vastly more expensive/overpriced than mass market, its important not to give niche a free pass based on notions of exclusivity or elitism.

    • March says:

      Okay, so you offer a reasonable argument for holding all perfumers to the same standards. If they are producing “art,” and I would argue that they are, shouldn’t they be judged equally on their merits, the final product, rather than, well, that’s pretty good for a one-man outfit? I mean, this way Andy Tauer can feel that much better, not like someone patted his head.

      I was shocked they liked L. I mean, I really like it, but I figured they’d go, meh. Was a bit surprised about the hatred for Light Blue, which I like. But then we’re back to my pedestrian taste. 😉

      • Jennifer says:

        I’m shocked at the Light Blue review and I wouldn’t call your tastes pedestrian, consider this, I think last year Perfume Smellin Things ran a perfumer’s perspective on great summer fragrances, and Light Blue was listed as a favorite from a fairly well known nose.

        • March says:

          Hey, I remember that! Who was that? Somebody I really respected. Again, I don’t know anything about the chemistry of Light Blue. You can complain about its ubiquity, but I still think it’s a great scent, and I can think of lots of other things I’d like to smell less on everyone. :)>-

    • Maria says:

      Lolita Lempicka got 5 stars, but L only 3. I noticed that in particular because I like L.

      • March says:

        I don’t personally like LL, but I get what they were saying about its construction. L I like a lot, but not sure I can advocate its genius. :d It’s a really nice vanilla with a dab of immortelle and a bottle that makes me smile.

  • Jennifer says:

    I have to admit I was completely shocked when Must de Cartier got 1 star where as a celine dion fragrance got 2 stars. Smelled Lady Stetson today and still prefer Chanel 22. And I really don’t understand the love of L’Artisan Vanilia, which is very weak slightly harsh vanilla that doesn’t have much character. I rather love though that my first major perfume Lolita Lempicka got 5 stars. And will never understand the love for Beyond Paradise.

    • Sean says:

      Agreed, I don’t see the reason why Beyond Paradise (men’s version too) is regarded so highly. The perfume evolves smoothly through different hues and shades, but their so bright that it feels a bit like watching TV with the colour contrast turned way too high. Perhaps even approaching something florescent.

      For myself, I’m surprised that Chanel’s Pour Monsieur Concentre received 1 star and the original 5 stars. Although I also like the latter, I find the former is quite nice in that peppery sort of way. Maybe that’s what he means by “more vulgar”? That being said the husband and wife team are right on about so many of the other fragrances (Light Blue, Nahema, Thierry Mugler’s Cologne, Pi, Coco Mlle., etc ) that can’t help but wonder if something in my brain is amiss.

      Lolita Lempicka definitely gets 5 stars for being Angel’s smart and beautiful cousin. An ex of mine used to wear this and despite those bad memories, this perfume still fantastic.

      • March says:

        The BP thing made me feel a lot better, actually, because my understanding reading his long review is he is, essentially, admiring the perfume based on its architecture. They have constructed something that should be gone in a brief period of time but manages to stretch out into the horizon (paraphrasing here.) My point being, it’s like listening to my brother-in-law the builder admiring the clever employment of the joists in a new house. Yeah, that’s great, but I can’t see the joists, so who cares? 😉

        • Sean says:

          The drydown for BP IMO is probably the best part, since I find the other parts, though well engineered, to be a tad bit loud in that Enya music cracked up too high way. Good analogy with the joists 😉

    • March says:

      Dang, I keep forgetting to resmell Must, I’ve been over there twice. Yeah, I was surprised too — I recall it not being my favorite (I am apparently not a Cartier girl) but I didn’t think it was terrible, either. And it sounds like you didn’t get any more out of L’A than I did… I did think his discussion of what made LL so great was really interesting. Those are what I think are some of the best parts of the book, when he explains why he thinks something works really well.

      • Jennifer says:

        Well I don’t think Luca ever liked the original to begin with, so I don’t think he would care about the tweaking to begin with, in fact his response might have been “Bring it on!” (okay I highly doubt his reaction words have been that, but I’m getting a bit of a laugh imagining him saying that).

        • March says:

          Oh, I don’t know. I could see him saying, Bring it On! In any case, I need to re-smell it to see what the issue is. The Guide may have the consequence of many one-star perfumes getting samples! :d/

      • Kim says:

        I also don’t get LT’s dislike of Must by Cartier. It makes me wonder how much of the “does it smell different on different people” is due to skin and how much due to our individual scent abilities (nose, training, etc.) Either way, I really like Must and bought a decant. It has the sharp bite of a chypre in there that I love.

  • chayaruchama says:

    I have GREAT difficulty with the Mona Di Orio creations critique, as well as negative commentary on her appearance.
    Why so vindictive ?

    I felt so drawn to Ms. DiO, that I wanted to either adopt her or marry her.
    Seriously- a soul, and a perspective.
    No one fragrance is for everyone- but at least, she does not bore you- and her scents evolve.

    It is one thing to bash a corporation- another to hammer the small niche perfumers.
    I have strong opinions myself, but I refuse to be cruel in order to be funny-
    I think I manage to amuse you all without causing permanent injury, no ?

    Mauboussin- very nice.
    If you want some, it’s really inexpensive at imaginationperfumery, or I can send you some.

    I sound annoyed, I suppose.
    Chacun a son gout, as it says under my name at POL- and I truly believe in that.
    And I sing it, too.
    German or English- your choice, baby.
    Prinz Orlovsky here… but GENUG .

    I admire hard work, effort, and all due diligence.
    I enjoy reading well-written criticism.
    But I’m weary of snark.

    • March says:

      Well, I connect with much of what you’re saying. On the Monas: again, I can’t argue the technical details with LT. I think he’s just WRONG. And ITA about ragging the small niche lines, although I suppose one could argue treating them differently is unfair.

      On the other hand, I don’t think anyone is reading this like the Bible and deciding they’ll never sniff a one-star.

      Having read (translated) bits of Le Guide, I knew LT could be pretty brutal, so I was prepared for that, and sometimes I find it very funny. It’s not funny when it feels petty, though.

      • Bklyn Fragrance Lover says:

        Love the book. I did find them to be too harsh on some of the By Kilian range which I happen to love.

    • kathleen says:

      Bravo Chaya. Exactly my thoughts only spoken more eloquently than I think I could have managed.

    • Anya says:

      Chaya, darling, as usual the voice of sweetness and conciliation, always a mensch – hugs – I came back to the first post here when I realized that the lovely Mona, whom I have never met, but am compelled to feel a twinge of true sisterhood for here, as a perfumer who has been personally attacked could use a boost by a nice link. (Well, wasn’t that a sleepy-eyed run on sentence to end all!) I’ll get coffee in a minute….but first I wish to allow the PP readers know about a wonderful project Mona has been working on since August: a custom perfume for a bride in the States, all documented on Perfume Critic. I love darling Marlen and may get to meet him in the next week or so when he visits Boca/family, but darn if I can figure out the exact link for the story/series of posts on Mona/bride. I know it scrolls in the top of the page, and then there are links from there. I believe there are four parts in the story so far. It’s called A Perfect Marriage.
      It’s wonderful to watch the process unfold. There – tiny mitzvah done for the day, off for coffee!