Le Snob : Perfume by Dariush Alavi – Book Review

05th December, 2012

“Smell matters. It really is as simple as that.”

Book deals for perfume bloggers very much seem to be the in thing at the moment and as far as I’m concerned this is not something one should complain about. After all some of the best perfume writers are bloggers and their insight into the secret world of scent should be highly valued, and it appears that it is. So far this year we’ve already had books from esteemed fumeheads such as; Denyse Beaulieu (of Grain de Musc), Alyssa Harad and most recently Dariush Alavi.

Dariush Alavi, or Persolaise as he is more widely known, is a man that knows a lot about perfume. Visitors to his Jasmine Award winning blog will be very familiar with his knowledgeable, evocative and irreverent perfume commentary and for those who aren’t; where the devil have you been?!

For Alavi’s literary debut he has teamed up with publisher Hardie Grant to pen the latest in a series of discerning ‘Le Snob’ guides to the finer things in life such as Shoes, Cigars and Champagne. His subject is of course perfume and Le Snob: Perfume is not only a guide to Alavi’s ‘best picks’ of the mainstream and niche perfume worlds, but also acts a succinct reference to both those who are and are not fragrance addicts.

“Why be a snob about perfume?

Perfumery is an art form. The artists who practice it (the perfumers) use the tools at their disposal to give texture and structure to idea in their head. The artworks they create take what already exists in the world and re-present it to us in ways which amuse, enrage, perplex, repel and enchant.”

Alavi’s perfume picks, which are split into mainstream and niche sections, and then ordered by gender, range from the expected classics (Nº5, Shalimar and Mistouko) to the more unique examples of perfumery (Black Afgano, Amaranthine and Iris Ganache), all of which are explored with Alavi’s infectious enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge in quick succession.

On the one hand this means that each feature is suitably punchy and succinct, but on the other Alavi’s style can’t help but leave one desiring more. It is in this instance that the Le Snob structure, which is the same for all guides under the Le Snob umbrella, acts as a slight hindrance. But one must not forget that Le Snob: Perfume is much more than just a collection of perfume reviews, instead it is a quick and handy reference to the world of perfume for newbies and connoisseurs alike, that covers the fundamental whys, wheres and hows of buying and wearing perfume.

“A well-chosen scent can have a private conversation with its wearer for hours; it can punctuate the day with moments that range from moving to surprising to heart-breaking.”

Le Snob: Perfume contains the length and breadth of Alavi’s perfume knowledge but he has also recruited some of the perfume industry’s big guns such as; Francis Kurkdjian, Roja Dove, Andy Tauer and Linda Pilkington to provide interesting titbits and advice. Whether it is the subject of marketing, synthetics or how to apply perfume, these contributions compliment Le Snob: Perfume’s central core of reviews to make it an easy pick-up-and-go guide.

You should never judge a book by its cover (as the saying goes) but one would be doing Le Snob: Perfume a disservice by not mentioning just how wonderfully it is presented. Tonwen Jones’ sublime watercolour illustrations that brighten the pages of the book perfectly match Alavi’s colourful style of writing and when combined they make for a very handsome package indeed.

In a world where Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes: The Guide is seen as the reference guide for perfume, Le Snob: Perfume enters the ring as a serious contender that, whilst not be as all-encompassing as Turin & Sanchez’s tome, perhaps offers a more positive and encouraging view (there is no snark to be found here) of the industry. With Le Snob: Perfume you will find not only a guide to some of the best smells on the market but also an insight in to one man’s passion for perfume.

Buy Le Snob: Perfume at Amazon


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About the author: Thomas Dunckley

Thomas Dunckley is a self-proclaimed perfume nerd and is the writer of perfume blog thecandyperfumeboy.com

Website: http://thecandyperfumeboy.com/

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    • Cyn | 6th December 2012 13:35

      Rec'd my book a couple of weeks ago and LOVE it! Highly recommend

    • Prince Barry | 6th December 2012 15:20

      Another thumbs up for the book from me also.

    • queen cupcake | 12th December 2012 14:51

      Nice review! I am going to ask Santa Claus for this book.

    • redrose | 13th December 2012 10:54

      Compiling my list for Santa - do you think this book is a good all-round reference for a BN perfumista (albeit relatively new), or more of an introduction for new-to-scent readers? I loved the Guide, by the way.

    • Roper-Hall | 19th December 2012 03:12

      I will try to find this too, sounds quite interesting.

    • Indagnacious | 20th December 2012 05:20

      Thanks for the great information! Without Luca doing any more reviews, it's always good to find new competent sources. After reading Persolaise's blog, I find much talent there, although he's certainly not taking too many chances with his reviews. I prefer those with strong opinions on both sides, as it not only makes for compelling reading, but provides a heightened sense of desire to try new things. Good work none the less. Thanks to all mentioned in this article and to the author!

    • redrose | 20th December 2012 09:42

      Well, Santa came early this year! The book is worth reading, with good, albeit condensed, information and helpful hints from other perfume experts, e.g. Roja Dove. My only gripe is that I felt it needed to be twice as long. The reviews were great, but I wanted more of them, plus some less favourable ones too, as per The Guide. But this is the downside of "format" books like this: the publishers set the length very rigidly, and there's no room for manoeuvre. Persolaise, why don't you write your own book on the subject? I'd be first in line to buy!