• Review - The Little Book of Perfumes: The Hundred Classics

      Love them or hate them, the King and Queen of perfume-related snark are back with another instalment in their guides to perfume. This time Turin and Sanchez have sifted out the bad and the ugly and have focused on creating a compilation of their top 100 perfumes of all time.

      Well, saying this is a compilation of their top 100 perfumes is slightly misleading, as Tania Sanchez tells us in the forward, these aren’t the greatest classics of all time, they are in fact “those that struck us as far above their peers in quality, inventiveness, or straightforward beauty”. The Little Book of Perfumes turns out to be 96 of the top rated fragrances from Perfumes The A-Z Guide and for that reason you can expect the usual witty, honest and well-informed perfume evaluation that we have come to know and love (or hate).

      Like Perfumes The A-Z Guide, it is worth remembering with The Little Book of Perfumes, that perfume is entirely subjective and that those Turin and Sanchez consider to be classics may not rate so highly in your opinion. One man’s treasure is another man’s trash as they say.



      The 96 top rated fragrances are also joined by four long-gone, historically important fragrances (namely Coty’s Emeraude, Chypre and L’Origan and Jacques Fath’s Iris Gris), that are hidden within the bowels of The Osmothèque in Versailles. The addition of these four, long-gone classics offers a fascinating insight into a perfumed past and as always Luca Turin makes the perfume come alive on the page, but you just can’t help feeling a little bit teased - these are perfumes that you and I are unlikely to ever smell, and reading about them you almost feel a sense of loss, the loss of something that you never really had.

      In addition to the material on The Osmothèque, Turin and Sanchez have sought to revisit and retest some of the perfumes previously reviewed. This inevitably brings up the subject of reformulations, partly due to restrictions from IFRA (International Fragrance Association) and the tightening purse strings of perfume houses. Some perfumes don’t live up to their past glory and these changes are lamented. The authors' dismay with reformulations is felt very strongly throughout the book, particularly in their revisited review of Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue. But, being the fair souls that they are, Turin and Sanchez are also happy to celebrate instances where a perfume’s formula has been improved.

      The Little Book of Perfume is a good read, but it is definitely light on new material and fans of the Perfumes the A-Z Guide may find that there isn’t enough original text to warrant its little place on the bookshelf. This guide seems more suited to those that are new to perfume and perhaps need a starting point or something to kick-start their perfume obsession, and for that reason I think it would make an excellent gift for any budding perfume lover.
      About the author Thomas Dunckley
      Author AvatarThomas Dunckley is a self-proclaimed perfume nerd and is the writer of perfume blog thecandyperfumeboy.com

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      1. Book Reviews

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      Comments 32 Comments
      1. eov8b's Avatar
        eov8b -
        To say that it's light on new material is an ENORMOUS understatement - there are - maybe - 12 updates. The book is the same as their previous effort - there are no new reviews, just updates. A copy-paste effort, very disappointing
      1. Harvest Moon's Avatar
        Harvest Moon -
        The thing that I do like is that it's portable.
      1. redrose's Avatar
        redrose -
        Yes, like eov8b, I was disappointed with the dearth of new material in this book. I appreciated TS's essay on reformulations, and the reassessment of some of these in the book, especially LHB. But I wouldn't have bought it if I'd realized how slight it was.
        Still, they are great writers, and the copy is as lively as ever (in fact, exactly the same as in The Guide for the most part!) - I just wish they'd write a completely new Guide for 2012, one which takes into account all the many reformulations which have, sad to say, ruined so many once great perfumes. And considered some of the large number of frags which have been created since the original Guide was written.
      1. Kaern's Avatar
        Kaern -
        Subjectivity goes out of the window with Luca as far as Calice Becker goes. They are tight -- hence the favourable review for Beyond Paradise for Men and anything she has a hand in.
        Kaern
      1. luca turin's Avatar
        luca turin -
        Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
        Subjectivity goes out of the window
        Replaced by objectivity, I take it ?
      1. Pamplemousse's Avatar
        Pamplemousse -
        Quote Originally Posted by luca turin View Post
        Replaced by objectivity, I take it ?
        Busted and slamdunked.

        Classic.
      1. Hieronymous's Avatar
        Hieronymous -
        Quote Originally Posted by Pamplemousse View Post
        Busted and slamdunked.

        Classic.
        il ne faut pas trop exagérer...

        (it was a type-o. ever said "hot" when you meant "cold"? guess not)

        great review, by the way.
      1. Dernier_Cri's Avatar
        Dernier_Cri -
        Yes, obviously Kaern wrote "subjectivity" when he or she meant "objectivity" by mistake.
        It doesn't really make her point any less valid. And I'm not weighing in here as to whether her point IS valid. I don't know. But.......you really don't have to be foaming at the mouth about anyone or anything being "Busted and slamdunked".
        But I am glad you get so much joy out of little things.
      1. Pamplemousse's Avatar
        Pamplemousse -
        Quote Originally Posted by Dernier_Cri View Post
        Yes, obviously Kaern wrote "subjectivity" when he or she meant "objectivity" by mistake.
        It doesn't really make her point any less valid. And I'm not weighing in here as to whether her point IS valid. I don't know. But.......you really don't have to be foaming at the mouth about anyone or anything being "Busted and slamdunked".
        But I am glad you get so much joy out of little things.
        To be honest, I have no idea whether Kaern's comment was valid or not.

        It just made me smile, that's all.

        Nice of you to stick up for another BN'er, but let's not have a sense of humour failure about it..
      1. Pamplemousse's Avatar
        Pamplemousse -
        Double-post. Typos, eh?
      1. Kaern's Avatar
        Kaern -
        Correct, Luca (and others) -- I'll take that hit -- my emotions ruined my English, which is ironic. Let's start again--you are not objective when it comes to fragrances by Calice Becker and several other perfumers, which in my view, lays waste to the book's intentions and all other subsequent reviews. How can we be sure you are reviewing the fragrance objectively and not just cosying up to the perfumer? I'm still glad the original book was written though and refer to it often, even though I am still completely baffled by your review of the patently bad Beyond Paradise for Men. How do you justify that? Er - objectively.
        Kaern
      1. luca turin's Avatar
        luca turin -
        Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
        How can we be sure you are reviewing the fragrance objectively
        That's easily answered: every single review in the guide is subjective. As for cosying up, I've made it clear which perfumers are personal friends, so feel free to divide and subtract as you wish.
      1. Kaern's Avatar
        Kaern -
        Thanks for your honesty --a trait then sadly missing in your book. What's the point of reviewing a fragrance created by one of your friends if you are not going to be sincere about it? How does that help anyone? We all make mistakes sometimes (as I've learnt).
      1. be-bop's Avatar
        be-bop -
        Luca does remind me of Jeremy Clarkson on Top-Gear....Whether I agree with either is not the point...I find them both very entertaining, and find myself escapeing the routine for a while and enjoying a pleasant detour to a fun and enjoyable place...
        And in the end I have learn quite a bit from LT & TS by hearing opinions; doesn't matter if favorable or not; that make me aware of fragrances that I may wish to try that I wouldn't have been aware of otherwise...And they are fun...and I believe sincere....
      1. luca turin's Avatar
        luca turin -
        Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
        What's the point of reviewing a fragrance created by one of your friends if you are not going to be sincere about it? (as I've learnt).
        You misunderstand: I was [as was Tania] sincere both about the fragrance and the friendship.
      1. Kaern's Avatar
        Kaern -
        So you really and truly believe that BP for Men is worth 5 stars? That just isn't possible -- however you carve it up.
      1. Pamplemousse's Avatar
        Pamplemousse -
        Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
        BTW, Pimplehead (whatever your name is) -- you have 9 reviews to your credit -- all of them either wrong or shit. Do you go up to people in wheelchairs and do a little dance?
        Touchy!
      1. andylama's Avatar
        andylama -
        (deleted double post)
      1. andylama's Avatar
        andylama -
        Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
        So you really and truly believe that BP for Men is worth 5 stars? That just isn't possible -- however you carve it up.
        Oh, come now. You've been on Basenotes long enough to realize that ANY opinion about ANY fragrance is possible, regardless of how 'wrong' or bewildering it seems to you or me. Opinions are just that, even if they come from a professional who can identify any aromachemical blindfolded.

        Every time I come here, I read glowing praise for expensive perfumes that I have sampled myself, and find to smell like chicken soup, stale wine...or worse.

        Cut Mr. Turin some slack. His only crime was publishing a book before any know-it-all here did (not that they ever would have; let's face it). Turin is a superior writer of perfume criticism; actually more objective and well-informed than most reviewers in the Basenotes forums (though the BN reviewers are still worthwhile reading...though usually less clever)

        As for Beyond Paradise For Men, it may have artistic merit as a composition, but it is simply not my style...like so many others. At least it doesn't smell like the dishwasher in an Indian restaurant. Chacun à son goût.
      1. Kaern's Avatar
        Kaern -
        That's my whole point though -- it has no artistic merit -- it is aesthetically defunct and is technically inept. But it gets 5 stars -- how can that be? I'm sure Mr Turin has heard worse than this, especially over his review of Secretions Magnifique, which shows his appreciation of post-modernism at least.



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