Narcus, I think a lot of your questions will be cleared up if you read the actual book, but let me briefly explain the rating system.
Per the book (not Allure):
5 - masterpiece
4 - recommended
3 - adequate
2 - disappointing
1 - awful
Here is the same information in a longwinded way: we urge everyone interested in the art of perfume to smell the 5-stars as landmark achievements in various genres; we highly recommend people smell the 4-stars in the styles they like; we find the 3-stars perfectly fine, though they contribute nothing new or extraordinary to the art (i.e., to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if you like that sort of thing, you'll like that sort of thing); we consider the 2-stars to have missed their aesthetic aims; and we fault the 1-star scents as bad beyond mere failuresometimes because they achieved their nefarious aims all too well. So your characterization of 3 stars as a negative rating is incorrect. These are the "simply good" fragrances you ask about.
A guide of under 300 fragrances with no ratings, as was Luca's guide in French, is enjoyable to read but difficult to scale up usefully. Among other reasons, sometimes people enthralled with LT's poetic description failed to understand he thought a scent was vile.
I am not sure what being European has to do with the need for a rating system; LT is, as everyone knows, as European as it gets, and he proposed ratings from the start. We both appreciate star ratings for restaurants, movies and music, and we wanted to do the same for perfume.
We hope that, for instance, people shopping for a new scent for Mother's Day will use the 5- and 4-star reviews as a starting point. Someone with more time may spread the search to the 3-stars, or someone who realizes her taste is in exact opposition to ours may gravitate to the one-stars and mark up her margins with cheerful vitriol. At any rate, we've saved them time.
Naturally, if you have all the time in the world and have been reading about perfume for years, you may not need the ratings for guidance and may prefer to read for enjoyment or another point of view. We're thrilled if so. Carry on!
Originally Posted by narcus
I have to wait for my book, and cannot really comment yet. But maybe you will accept a few questions on the rating system
, NYCtbone. I picked up the following star definitions from a preview of your book, and please correct me if these should be wrong:
1- so vile they insult the smeller
3- solid, yet uninspiring
As I consider 'uninspiring
' as something negative, it seems that you created three negative categories. Unfortunately, that only leaves two for good perfumes: 'excellent'
My personal experience has been that people perceive a majority of fragrances as better than uninspiring.
I do too,
and yet I couldn't call a lot of these 'excellent' or better. So, where is the place for simply good
fragrances, things we consider worth buying for our own pleasure or as gifts?
As a European I can do well without any rating system. Luca's reviews in the French Guide of 1992 say so much in a short paragraph even today! No stars were needed then. I also enjoy reading his Duftnotes
(Scent Notes) column tremendously, and am grateful for the fragrances selected for discussion there (no stars). Not wanting to speculate any longer, I would appreciate if you could kindly tell us who had the idea of a categorical rating? I am afraid stars will be exploited commercially in a long period to come, and not all people will be happy about that. Stars might even be in the way when people want to discuss perfume as a form of art