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    Default Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Here's Part 2 of the Luca Turin article.

    Author: Susie Rushton
    Magazine: Fantastic Man
    Contact: www.fantasticmanmagazine.com (If you like this article, why don't you support FM magazine and buy a copy on newstands now, or even better subscribe - I am in no way affiliated with the magazine, just an admiring fan and FM reader)

    Enjoy!



    TURIN is not a perfume snob. He doesn't prefer the rare and recherché. "Some people like hard-to-find. I don't. Seems it's like beer to me. I love the fact it's an industrial product." Although he dismisses male fragrance as "99 per cent crap - sad little hairy-chested GTI-type crap." he finds kind words for BLUE STRATOS, BRUT and LYNX. Even OLD SPICE. “Everybody loves to laugh about them but they're actually really, really good. They're totally unpretentious, solidly constructed perfumery compositions and the reason why they sold like hot cakes is that they work. BRUT is a classic fougere: soapy and clean. Would you rather wear this or bloody M7? I'd go for BRUT. It's good shit."

    For six months in 2005, TURIN wrote a blog. Then it began to annoy him. "I quit on it because, although I loved writing it was eating my life. It was like bringing home a SAINT BERNARD puppy. Eventually it grows into a six-foot-high dog that drives you crazy. I found I was spending four hours a day checking what people said. And I have a Web addiction anyway."
    What are you doing on it?
    "Following a random train of thought. I don't think that is unproductive. I think my time spent on the web is some of the best time of my life."

    A dark Monday afternoon a few days later, we meet again, this time at TURIN'S office, which is in fact a one-bedroom flat, exactly across the street from his home. "I have the shortest commute in Christendom," he says, and he'll admit he rarely goes out. Once you've paddled through the creeping tide of unopened mail on the floor, there's the matter of finding a chair. Ah, here's one, underneath a bath towel and a small electronic keyboard. The man himself is installed in one corner of what used to be a living room and now contains a long desk, covered in papers and bottles, and two sets of shelves. One holds lots of scientific textbooks. The other is crammed with half-used fragrance bottles. What the eyes perceive in TURIN'S den is nothing in comparison to what slides up the nostrils and, somehow, via the olfactory receptor cells (more on which later), flings itself headlong into the cortex. It smells great in here, LUCA. "Oh, really?" he says, stretching out his six-foot-two inch frame on a swivel chair parked in front of a giant desktop MAC. "I hadn't noticed."
    TURIN is dressed in the same degage manner as before: pale blue pique polo, navy quilted PATAGONIA gilet, dark jeans, and sports sandals worn with socks. A controversial choice of footwear, if entirely suited to the stereotypical image of a research fellow at the Physics department of University College London (which is one of his titles), "There's nothing in principle uglier, I agree," he sighs. "I plead diminished responsibility. I have no particular commitment to style. Besides, these are not sandals, exactly. If they were the brown leather kind, worn with green socks, it would be more depressing”

    Possessed with a talent for interpreting perfume, you want to ask why TURIN himself has never turned his hand to fragrance creation. Never been tempted, is the response, but there's a quiver of ambivalence in his voice. "Well, in an abstract way I would love to do that. But I think people do well with what they are thinking about when they're not thinking about anything else. And I'm not thinking about perfume. I'm thinking about physics. Science."
    In fact TURIN only spends one or two days a month professionally employed as a perfume critic. The remainder of the time he is LUCA TURIN', PhD. a biophysicist who designs odor molecules - the kind destined for use in smelly products from household cleaners to perfumes - for FLEXITRAL, of Chantilly, Virginia, USA. He clicks open a program on his MAC and the nuts-and-bolts formulation of a molecule appears on the screen. He clicks again and the knobby blue form, a synthetic musk, gently vibrates. "We're a virtual company. We don't need an office with begonias and a flag outside."

    In the scientific research community he is best known for a contentious theory of smell he proposed in 1996, the result of a decade's research. While the exact way in which we smell - precisely how the olfactory receptors in the nose detect smelly molecules - is not perfectly understood, the prevailing theory is that our receptors distinguish each molecule according to its shape. The shape theory of smell, however, is unproved. Eleven years ago TURIN argued that the nose interprets smell molecules not by their shape but by their vibrations. The BBC recorded a documentary about his theory, and in 2002 it was detailed in a 500-page book called THE EMPEROR OF SCENT, by the writer CHANDLER BURR. Last year TURIN himself re-iterated it in a popular-science book, THF SECRET OF SCENT. However TURIN never managed to prove his hypothesis to the scientific establishment, although he says he is now designing odorant molecules for FLEXITRAL using exactly that theory. His audacity has sometimes had him labeled a 'rogue" scientist. But TURIN doesn't like to concede that he's been rebellious during his scientific career.
    "I have followed my own path, simply because I believe that it's every scientist's duty to do so. I would never describe myself as a maverick. In the end, any self-respecting scientist wants recognition. One does not want to be on the outside."

    Although he's technically Italian, TURIN has spent most of his life in France. He says he smells in French. He grew up in Paris, an only child. He could read at the age of four. A short period at school in Geneva is not remembered fondly. He was "not particularly" interested in smells as a kid but was fascinated by science, and on his return to Paris at the age of 11...spent all available moments in the Palais de la Decouverte.
    By 1982 TURIN had completed his PhD in Physiology at University College London and was employed by the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, where he was to remain for a decade. 1982 was also the year he discovered fragrance. The first was SHISEIDO's NOMBRE NOIR. Now discontinued, he keeps a precious flacon of the scent in his collection. "This is the first fragrance that I smelled and thought: this is as beautiful as anything I have ever seen or heard. I mean, I had liked smells, I liked perfumes. But it was NOMBRE NOIR that broke through the ceiling and made me realize that there are some things you can say in fragrance that no other art can convey." He sprays a bit on our bare forearms.

    And what does it say to you?

    "Well, it's almost a person that I can see. You can fall in love with someone who's not there. It's such a personality," - and now TURIN'S voice turns a little tender, and he looks amazed, as if he's smelled the rosy scent for the first time - "although there's no person there. It's as though there's a hole in the air, shaped like this invisible person - that you are perfectly ready to dedicate the rest of your days to. There's a presence there, a kind of hologram, that goes far beyond something just smelling good."

  2. #2
    moondeva's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Wow! Fascinating reading...

    Thank you for posting this extract, I am now eagerly awaiting the next / final instalment.

    I also really want to sample the Nombre Noir mentioned....
    Favourite (Winter) Crazy Combos

    Tabu + Orange Blossom * Hermes Rouge + Bellodgia* Voleur du Roses+ Rose Ispahan * Rasa Extreme + Paris * Wood Coffee + Cafe Noir *

  3. #3

    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    That was great. The last paragraph was excuisitely beautiful.

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    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxwell View Post
    That was great. The last paragraph was excuisitely beautiful.
    I know - the last paragraph is my favorite line from the entire article.

    I actually got caught up in my own emotions when I read it...perhaps I've felt the same way about certain scents of mine: Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens gave me a very strong emotional response the first time I smelled it.
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 18th May 2007 at 08:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Thanks mikeperez23.

    Turin's a fascinating a guy, a genius. It's always interesting to read more about his personal life.

    Nombre Noir was created by Lutens and an unknown in-house perfumer for Shiseido long before Lutens and Sheldrake worked together. I'd like to smell it.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    I ordered a 2ml sample of Nombre Noir off ebay late last year. It was created by Jean-Yves Leroy, and to me it smelled like a cross between No.88 and Daim Blond with heavy rose and an alcohol smell. I didnt like it a lot, but its possible that the sample might have been stale.
    -

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    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Thank you Mike for sharing this look into Lucas life. It's a great piece to have on basenotes and go back to from time to time. Wonderful article.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    I know - the last paragraph is my favorite line from the entire article.

    I actually got caught up in my own emotions when I read it...perhaps I've felt the same way about certain scents of mine: Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens gave me a very strong emotional response the first time I smelled it.
    I feel the same. SL's Gris Clair is one of those fragrances for me. I'd never actually thought about it the way Turin put it, but what he said really makes sense.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    I know - the last paragraph is my favorite line from the entire article.
    I actually got caught up in my own emotions when I read it...perhaps I've felt the same way about certain scents of mine: Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens gave me a very strong emotional response the first time I smelled it.
    In my case that was Arabie, the first Lutens I was exposed to. Obviously great filming and cutting in addition the interviewing skills of the author!
    Very compassionately observed and reported. I have seen Luca talk about the same thing and his eyes were rounder than usual. This is the first time he reveals what he sees exactly. It is a key to why LT (or anybody) can be so passionate about one fragrance, and ignore others of a similar quality. It also guides me to one reason why he may have been underwhelmed by Villoresi's perfumes. Concerning Turin's vita: I believe there is more places than the ones that were mentioned. On the risk to have to correct that later: didn't Burr also point to his father's Lebanese roots?- Nonsense, sorry: LT was born in Lebanon 1953, that's about all. Ibero-American matters played a major role. (see Burr, The Emperor of Scent, pages ca. 20..30).
    Last edited by narcus; 20th May 2007 at 12:18 PM. Reason: added final sentence
    '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.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Just came back from Rome where I did find Nombre Noir Shiseido EDP 60 ml as cheap as 40 euro. But you need to look for it in dusty shelves, not in center of the shop.
    Area - between Piazza di Spagna and Pantheon.
    Maybe via Frattina.

    Salesman was just about happy to get rid of it with 30% discount.
    And yes! it`s a good rosy-boozy dark scent, something alike Mitsouko or Cabochard - but with rose-osmanthus heart.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    1982 was also the year he discovered fragrance. The first was SHISEIDO's NOMBRE NOIR. Now discontinued, he keeps a precious flacon of the scent in his collection. "This is the first fragrance that I smelled and thought: this is as beautiful as anything I have ever seen or heard. I mean, I had liked smells, I liked perfumes. But it was NOMBRE NOIR that broke through the ceiling and made me realize that there are some things you can say in fragrance that no other art can convey." He sprays a bit on our bare forearms....
    Michael, in recognition of your work posting this, I took a protocol of what Luca said in the other interview. It ties in nicely with your text, I think.
    "The History of Nombre Noir"
    (original text from interview NZZ 2006/07):

    "So this is really the holy grail for a perfume collector (shows the tall black bottle in his hand). This is the first fragrance that Serge Lutens did for Shiseido in France. So in 1982 Shiseido decided to step out of Japan, and do a new perfume especially for Europe, and it was called Nombre Noir. It was composed by a Givaudan perfumer who sadly killed himself three years ago. This is a total masterpiece. I don’t know if it sold very well, I don’t think so but it is artistically one of the great fragrances of all time, and I bought a bottle three weeks after it came out, and then gave it to a girl friend of mine thinking. You know, you can always get another one. And of course you should never do that. You should buy 10 bottles if you like it, put them in a freezer or something, because things can get discontinued.

    Lutens had a terrible time with this fragrance because the bottles were expensive, they leaked… there was all sorts of problems! In the end they destroyed every single one. Shiseido took them back and trashed them. So there is nothing out there (holding up his bottle again): So this one I exchanged with a journalist friend of mine. Against an ounce of Coty’s Chypre. We exchanged that like across a bridge. She was standing there like this (his arms stretched out) …

    It’s the most precious thing I have, and it smells utterly divine! I can’t imagine anything better than this on earth! It’s a woody rose…its just austere and luxurious, an innocent perfume, just like a childhood….."


    (end of section of this interview.)


    Last edited by narcus; 19th May 2007 at 08:41 PM.
    '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.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus View Post
    It’s the most precious thing I have, and it smells utterly divine! I can’t imagine anything better than this on earth! It’s a woody rose…its just austere and luxurious, an innocent perfume, just like a childhood….."

    (end of section of this interview.)
    I thought Mitsouko was his numero uno perfume.

    I agree about fragrances being discontinued; if you have found a favorite, better stock up. Is stocking up = 4-5 bottles or even more ??
    -

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    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp View Post
    I thought Mitsouko was his numero uno perfume.
    Well, Mitsouko ain't discontinued - so perhaps that makes NN a little more 'precious' to Mr. Turin.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp View Post
    I thought Mitsouko was his numero uno perfume.
    I don't know what made you think that, but if this was so at one point in time: who hasn't changed their favorite fragrances ever? On June 5 / 05 Turin published an essay about Mitsouko, and particularly mentioned that he would take Mitsouko soap to the desert island. A little later, when asked what his favorite perfume was, he left the question unanswered.
    In August (same year) he mentions that he is not crazy about rose but that Nombre Noir is one of his favorite perfumes.
    Last edited by narcus; 20th May 2007 at 12:16 PM.
    '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.

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    Default Re: Luca Turin article text (part 2 of 3) in Fantastic Man mag

    I just saw a small .25 oz perfume version of Nombre Noir (the scent Luca mentions at the end of this article) for sale online.

    Price = $300.

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