Perfumes The Guide

Perfumes The Guide is a perfume review book written by perfume experts Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez and published by Viking books.  Packed full of useful perfume information, tips and history, Luca and Tania help you navigate some very complicated perfumed waters.

Perfume reformulations, IFRA, what is an aldehyde, why can’t I smell that musk, they cover it all.  It is the perfume reviews that are the treasures.  Staying low on the “purple prose meter” and sometimes just a little more snarky than maybe they should be, they consistently deliver thousands of reviews on perfumes, as well as top ten lists for Best Masculine, Best Feminine, Best Floral, Best Oriental, Best Strange.  Using a five-star rating system, it is easy to navigate and fine the perfumes they define as 5 Star Masterpieces.

The classic perfumes are not spared in their reviews.  They judge each on the current formulation of that perfume, not the vintage, so you know what you will be getting when you head to the department store. If a reformulation is tragic, they say so.

Reviews range from “cK IN2U His (Calvin Klein) * 7UP amber – IM IN UR BOTTLE BORIN UR GF. TS” to  Christian Dior Dune – “…they way it gets there is extraordinary, with a beguiling transparency, even freshness, particularly in the anisic carrot-seed top notes. It is hard to pin down what makes Dune so unsmiling from top to bottom:  it’s as if every perfumery accord had become a Ligeti cluster chord, drained of life, flesh-toned in the creepy way of artificial limbs, not real ones.  Marvelous. LT”  hey, they rate Dior Dune a 5-Star Masterpiece.


Now, with all things, there have been some very lively discussions on the internet about the book – how in the world does Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl and Etat Libre d’Orange Secretions Magnifique get 5 stars?!?! In a long post and an even longer discussion about Perfumes:  The Guide, the difficulty of being a critic was summarized –

“Criticism is damn hard. I struggle and fuss over ideas and sentences and sometimes individual words on these posts, and I am sure Luca  Turin and Tania Sanchez struggled with Perfumes: the Guide. It is, as I´ve just demonstrated, perilously easy to lose things in translation, is it not? From the colossus to his audience, from the bottle to the nose, from the pen to the paper, from the brain to the hand, from the thought to the expression. I share your pain at the world of perfumery pauperized by a band of uncultivated ones (although as another commenter said, I thought Lutens was backed by the other name on the Palais Royal awning, Shiseido, which is somewhere in size between LVMH and Godzilla, and if so I doubt he’s lacking resources.) Ultimately, one of the chief glories of blogging is I can question the genius of Serge Lutens on here and own it, right or wrong. It´s called … an opinion. They´re free, legal, loads of fun, and — like Mitsouko and all my other favorite perfumes — they don’t make my ass look any bigger in my jeans.”