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  1. #1

    Default NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    An interview with The New York Times' new perfume critic, Chandler Burr
    by Grant Osborne, 22 August 2006.



    The New York Times announced today the appointment of Chandler Burr as its first columnist to review and rate fragrances. Mr. Burr, a longtime magazine writer and the author of "The Emperor of Scent", will have his first column - called Scent Strip - published in the fall issue of T: Women's Fashion on August 27. Read an interview with Chandler Burr abour his new column here....[more]
    Currently wearing: Gardénia by Chanel

  2. #2

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    I liked the article a lot... especially liked the "does it translate into Sephora" part.

    Guess I'll be picking up the Sunday New York Times way more often...
    "It always seems impossible until it's done." -Nelson Mandela

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  3. #3
    Serpent
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    So he conned the Times into just letting him sit around and sniff perfume all day? Beats actually having to do research and legwork, eh? It wouldn't be so bad if he knew what he was talking about. This is the man who rates Happy and Vera Wang for women as two of the best fragrances for men to wear. And I'll bet my last nickel no perfume he reviews will get anywhere near as flowery as the prose in his overcooked reviews. I hope the paper at least pays for him to get some holes drilled in that wooden nose of his...

  4. #4
    DustB's Avatar
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Good journalism on your part, Grant.
    --Chris
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  5. #5

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpent
    I hope the paper at least pays for him to get some holes drilled in that wooden nose of his...
    lol!

  6. #6
    Serpent
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    I quote:

    "Wearing Tommy Girl to play tennis would be perfect."

    He's talking about men.



    I could have more fun with this thread than with Donatella Versace, but I think those nine words just say it all perfectly...

  7. #7

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    I not really follow his tastes in fragrances (but that's a question of taste duh!) but we have undeniably to admit Mr Burr can write. His article on the conception of Hermes' "Jardin du Nil" in the New Yorker was the best I ever read (ever).

    Link to New Yorker article: http://www.newyorker.com/fact/conten.../050314fa_fact

  8. #8

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    I subscribe the the New York Times so I can't wait to read his reviews. I hope he's good and objective!
    "A great perfume is a work of art, it can lift our days, haunt our nights and create the milestones of our memories. Fragrance is liquid emotion. And that never goes out of fashion. " MICHAEL EDWARDS

  9. #9
    Serpent
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by cedriceccentric
    I not really follow his tastes in fragrances (but that's a question of taste duh!) but we have undeniably to admit Mr Burr can write. His article on the conception of Hermes' "Jardin du Nil" in the New Yorker was the best I ever read (ever).
    I couldn't leave it alone...

    The articles have been interesting, true. I recently linked to the one about Japanese culture and their relationship with fragrance in the ethnicity and scents thread. When he has to do real research and keep his opinions and bad metaphors ("M7 Fresh is a nice waiter with a great haircut and a sexy smile") to himself, he can be borderline compelling.

    However, his reviews are quite closely patterened on Luca Turin's writing style, dependent on the cutting up notes on technical levels he doesn't understand or can't process. In his Dior Homme review, he talks about the impossibilty of replicating the smell of iris flowers. This may be true, but it just shows what a fragrance novice he is as it's iris root all those scents he mentions are using. And just as Turin is enchanted by perfumers with whom he has personal relationships, one gets the impression Ellena could put distilled water in an atomizer, and Burr would gush simply by that fact that the reviews of Ellena's scents are highly personality-driven, just like Turin's reviews of Calice Becker's work. (Burr is reviewing the perfumer, not the perfume.) His review of Lovely is, at its core, just a schmoozy account of meeting a television star. I doubt he's ever smelled Chant d'Arômes, Zizanie, Grain de Plaisir, Diorama...
    Last edited by Serpent; 22nd August 2006 at 10:10 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    I totally agree with Serpent on this one. Burr is a name dropper. I have often read his review and thought..."Huh?". I am not sure he really knows anything about fragrances but with all the smoke and mirrors, you can't really tell.

    From a review of M7 Fresh by Mr. Burr:

    "Not to confuse, but I should say that I would not wear M7 Fresh, and for a very simple reason: I'm not a smoke guy, at least not yet. But this is not about my personal preferences. It is a simple acknowledgment that the two have created a smoke that has none of the radioactive fallout of its father while sporting all the aesthetic punch. This is the most enticing smoke, a well-designed smoke, hipster without its hipsterness being at all rebarbative, dark enough for a bar yet light enough for snowboarding, pro-active and relaxed at the same time. Where the Costes hotel's smoke is a model with an attitude, M7 Fresh is a nice waiter with a great haircut and a sexy smile. He's so cool, you just want to take the guy home."

    OK...So, tell us about the fragrance and quit talking about guys! Not that I don't appreciate talking about guys but this is supposed to be a review of a fragrance not about waiters or hotels. Nice analogies and imagery but mostly fluff. And, what's a smoke guy...really?

  11. #11
    zztopp's Avatar
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by paintrman
    I totally agree with Serpent on this one. Burr is a name dropper. I have often read his review and thought..."Huh?". I am not sure he really knows anything about fragrances but with all the smoke and mirrors, you can't really tell.

    From a review of M7 Fresh by Mr. Burr:

    "Not to confuse, but I should say that I would not wear M7 Fresh, and for a very simple reason: I'm not a smoke guy, at least not yet. But this is not about my personal preferences. It is a simple acknowledgment that the two have created a smoke that has none of the radioactive fallout of its father while sporting all the aesthetic punch. This is the most enticing smoke, a well-designed smoke, hipster without its hipsterness being at all rebarbative, dark enough for a bar yet light enough for snowboarding, pro-active and relaxed at the same time. Where the Costes hotel's smoke is a model with an attitude, M7 Fresh is a nice waiter with a great haircut and a sexy smile. He's so cool, you just want to take the guy home."

    OK...So, tell us about the fragrance and quit talking about guys! Not that I don't appreciate talking about guys but this is supposed to be a review of a fragrance not about waiters or hotels. Nice analogies and imagery but mostly fluff. And, what's a smoke guy...really?
    Not that it really matters, but is he gay ?
    -

  12. #12

    Talking Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Yep...we play for the same team. Not that it should matter, right?

  13. #13

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    In his Dior Homme review, he talks about the impossibilty of replicating the smell of iris flowers. This may be true, but it just shows what a fragrance novice he is as it's iris root all those scents he mentions are using.
    I'm not sure about this. Iris root (orris) smells nothing like Iris flowers, it's a violet scent, as in Hammam Bouqet, which contains genuine orris. Also, you can rest assured orris is not contained in a mass produced designer frag such as dior homme - far too expensive. What you smell there as Iris is a synthetic molecule imitating the scent of Irises, no? Please confirm or correct...
    Last edited by the_good_life; 23rd August 2006 at 07:49 AM.
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  14. #14

    narcus's Avatar
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp
    Not that it really matters, but is he gay ?
    You're right, it does not matter. But I believe he himself answered the question a while ago.

    I liked the interview and the various links, all nicely on one page. Burr's anouncement of another book 'about the creation of perfume' is interesting news too. Hoping it will be as solid as the 'Emperor of Scent' I am looking forward to reading it. I do not share his preferences in smells, but as a writer he seems to be honest.
    Last edited by narcus; 23rd August 2006 at 08:55 AM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  15. #15

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp
    Not that it really matters, but is he gay ?
    He makes that quite clear by his numerous allusions. I wonder what the point is, though? Linking fragrance to sexuality? Sounding more credible as a perfume critic by playing on the "queers know fashion, design etc." cliché (which would be disappointingly self-stereotyping)? Since he's a decent writer he's putting those signals in there with an intention.

    I enjoyed reading the stuff on his page. You don't expect his column in the Times to be telling a real fraghead anything new, do you? It's lifestyle journalism. I mean, knowing what I do about German wine I don't take "wine guru" Robert Parker seriously, when he talks about it, 'cos he don't know zilch.
    Yeah, he overdoes the name dropping thing, but as my good friend Olivier Creed always says, relax, enjoy, smile knowingly.
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  16. #16

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by DustB
    Good journalism on your part, Grant.
    --Chris
    Thanks Chris.

    Critics in any field always divide opinion - that's partly their job. THough regardless of your views on Burr as a writer, I think most would agree that a high profile newspaper taking perfume seriously - and willing to let a writer write negatively if required - is a good thing.
    Currently wearing: Gardénia by Chanel

  17. #17

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp
    Not that it really matters, but is he gay ?
    I think he was writing for the ladies. A large percentage of male scents are purchased by women for their men. Besides us basenoters, not many males out there are into these passion water.

  18. #18

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    that article was great but I've never read any fragrance journalism but I was impressed by the article. not so many flights of annoying fantasy as I was expecting. and no "gay material" really.

    in a way it is too bad about the as wm burroughs would say insistant "I"m queah and I luuuuuuuuuuuuuv it" flaunting as though it becomes his work, embracing a stereotype and putting out those who don't share his interests. but... maybe it works because it isn't actually irrelevant to the subject that a scent might have associations of sex appeal in whatever form. Writing about fragrance certainly gives a lot of lattitude in general from what I've seen, which is mainly here! but . . . I think it would be better if he could manage to . . . not disrupt the flow of useful info with any kind of minstrel show.

    in that line of work you have to be a flatterer, obviously.

    well I shoudl past part of it into that discussion of chemical names vs notes vs poetry...

    $50 a pound max for most frags, eh? whoop de do!

    oh I said this before in some vanished post on this but in his pic he is kinda cute in a tom fordish way...
    Last edited by supermarky; 23rd August 2006 at 10:35 AM.

  19. #19
    Serpent
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    For the record, I don't care if he's straight, gay, or if he gets all hot and bothered for hermaphrodite sheep in Agent Provocateur garter belts. I care about the reviews, which read like they were written while seriously high.

    "I was at a reception in Paris, and a young man... came over to talk to me. Before he opened his mouth I nailed it. He was impressed. In truth, it's not tough."

    Huh? Impressed with what? With you or your scent? Are you telling us this fragrance gets you some? Or is it just "impressive"? What does this have to do with anything?

    This is the world's one professional perfume critic. Rumplestiltskin spun straw into gold. Anyone care to guess what Mr. Burr has in his spinning wheel?

  20. #20

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Good writers get away with murder. I think that Burr has a talent for writing 'tasty' articles, and I know that many people - myself included - will be looking forward to them. I enjoyed his previous NY Times articles, because he seemed to do a good deal of research on them. I like the behind-the-scenes stuff too. But whenever he throws in his personal tastes, I feel like I'm living on a different planet. I simply can't relate to them, nor do I understand his analogies. Nevertheless, I still enjoy reading his articles. I find them compelling and entertaining.

    Some people on this board would give Chandler Burr a real good run for his money as a professional perfume critic, but that's just the way it is. Let's see how his reviews will be received by the general public. People usually make fun of art critics (not to mention food & wine critics) for the amount of bogus they were able to squeeze into a 500 word column. In that sense, I'm afraid that perfume is a perfect candidate. I hope that Burr will manage to keep things down to earth.

  21. #21
    Joel_Cairo's Avatar
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpent
    "I was at a reception in Paris, and a young man... came over to talk to me. Before he opened his mouth I nailed it. He was impressed. In truth, it's not tough."
    I'm not familair with this review of his, or exactly what transpired in that ellipsis there, but it sounds to me like he identified the young, closed-mouthed parisian reception-goer's fragrance, no? Whether or not he did proceed to nail him, or his mouth once it opened, is left titillatingly ambiguous.

  22. #22
    zztopp's Avatar
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    I think Scentemental should write for the NY Times instead of this Chandler guy.
    -

  23. #23

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    I know almost nothing about him, but he must have some talent, because the article about Jean-Claude Ellena ( http://www.newyorker.com/fact/conten.../050314fa_fact ) is fantastic; one of the best articles about perfume I've read so far. I'm a huge fan of Jean-Claude Ellena's frags so it was a must-read for me.

    It's a piece of writing that grips you with interest and gives such an insight into the world of the people who make these perfumes.
    My Current Top 5: Terre d'Hermès | Terre de Bois by Miller Harris | Isfarkand by Ormonde Jayne | Brit for Men by Burberry | Grapefruit by Jo Malone

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  24. #24
    Serpent
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel_Cairo
    I'm not familair with this review of his, or exactly what transpired in that ellipsis there, but it sounds to me like he identified the young, closed-mouthed parisian reception-goer's fragrance, no? Whether or not he did proceed to nail him, or his mouth once it opened, is left titillatingly ambiguous.
    The review is for Un Jardin en Méditerranée, another of his Jean-Claude Ellena tongue baths. Here's a larger chunk of the review, with the segment I removed and the sentences that come before and after:

    "Fresh," purified and returned to its roots, is an adjective that could almost be regarded as a synonym for free, and Un Jardin en Méditerranée is an exquisitely free scent. I was at a reception in Paris, and a young man (happily Hermès designates this a mixed scent; knock yourselves out, guys) came over to talk to me. Before he opened his mouth I nailed it. He was impressed. In truth, it's not tough. Un Jardin En Méditerranée is a singular balancing act, carefully calibrated by Hermès perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, between a limpidly authentic freshness—not "green," not the molecule calone of l'Eau d'Issey and it's million knockoffs, not, thank Christ, P&G laundry powder, but of pure, pure air and a light hint of fruit trees at a slight remove.
    The ellipsis was just for where I removed the blurb about the scent's unisex designation. As you can see, the text I excerpted really has nothing to do with anything. You can read the full review here and see the two or three additional sentences about freshness don't illuminate the non sequitur any further. One might think he is referring to the scent, but Burr returns the discussion to himself. He was the last subject discussed. I was at a reception. He came to talk to me. He was impressed. With whom or what? Well, who was the last subject Burr discussed in the last two sentences? (More mysteriously, what's not tough?) Any high school English teacher would be all over him with the red pen. And it's an easy leap to assume the young man was impressed with Burr and not the fragrance as Burr's reviews are so personality-driven, and, as paintrman notes, he's such a name-dropper. Like I wrote previously, Huh?

  25. #25

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Just heard him interviwed on bbc radio 5 live. anyone else catch this?
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

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  26. #26

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder
    Just heard him interviwed on bbc radio 5 live. anyone else catch this?
    Oh shame on me for missing that! Maybe it's on the archives though. Might have a look on the BBC web site later.
    My Current Top 5: Terre d'Hermès | Terre de Bois by Miller Harris | Isfarkand by Ormonde Jayne | Brit for Men by Burberry | Grapefruit by Jo Malone

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  27. #27
    Serpent
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life
    I'm not sure about this. Iris root (orris) smells nothing like Iris flowers, it's a violet scent, as in Hammam Bouqet, which contains genuine orris. Also, you can rest assured orris is not contained in a mass produced designer frag such as dior homme - far too expensive. What you smell there as Iris is a synthetic molecule imitating the scent of Irises, no? Please confirm or correct...
    Sorry, I just noticed this. "Violet-scented" is a very easy way to describe iris root; it's more complex than this. No. 19 uses iris root (orris), which has a sort of fatty smell of clean, freshly washed earth. The astringent quality is most reminiscent of violets. Orris/iris as it is used in No. 19 is a fixative - the same in L'Heure Bleue, Vol de Nuit, and a lot of other classic pre-Shalimar women's Guerlains - which is why it is not smelled until late in the fragrance's development. It is not a top note. Dior Homme's "iris" definitely is a top note, putting that smell that recalls the later hours of L'Heure Bleue, etc., on the top as a gimmick. No. 19 uses iris root, and the "iris" in Dior Homme is a trick trying to mimic essentially trying to replicate the smell of women's perfume.

  28. #28

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpent
    In his Dior Homme review, he talks about the impossibilty of replicating the smell of iris flowers.
    Lol. I got 2 words for him - headspace technology. It's not the replication of the scent that's the problem, but the extraction of the oils from the flower as a method of replication.

  29. #29
    Serpent
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    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by milamber
    Lol. I got 2 words for him - headspace technology. It's not the replication of the scent that's the problem, but the extraction of the oils from the flower as a method of replication.
    Well, facts get mangled and mixed up, and allusions are jumbled. The reviews very much have the feeling of someone who's spending a lot of time taking notes from people who know what they're talking about, then he gets home and, because he was writing so quickly and got so mixed up, he can't quite put everything the people-who-know-what-they're-talking-about told him back in the right order again. It comes out garbled, like a bunch of fragrance malapropisms. When he tries to rely on his own instincts, well, you get the "M7 Fresh is a boinkable bus boy" stuff...

  30. #30

    Default Re: NYT Perfume Critic: Chandler Burr - interviewed

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpent
    Well, facts get mangled and mixed up, and allusions are jumbled. The reviews very much have the feeling of someone who's spending a lot of time taking notes from people who know what they're talking about, then he gets home and, because he was writing so quickly and got so mixed up, he can't quite put everything the people-who-know-what-they're-talking-about told him back in the right order again.
    LOL! I'm sorry, i've not read any of his reviews but by the evidence of what has been quoted in this thread, it does seem so! Pity, i liked his book "The Emperor of Scent" very much.

    And i do barely detect the ghost of Turin in his reviews...

    Oh, i just read some of his reviews at his website. Check out the one on Black XS!!! :
    Last edited by milamber; 26th August 2006 at 05:45 PM.

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