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  1. #1
    holyjes's Avatar
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    Default Best books about perfume

    I read "The Perfect Scent" and just loved it. What should I read now that will teach me about perfume and tell me fun stories about perfumes? I do not want to just read a guide of perfumes with one perfume per page with notes and facts, I want history and stories, written well! What shall I get?

  2. #2
    beachroses's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    A new one coming out April 10 that can be pre-ordered on Amazon:

    Perfumes: The Guide - by Luca Turin (perfume critic) and Tania Sanchez (aka brooklyntbone) who is one of us.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    My two favorite perfume-related books are Reeking Havoc: The Unauthorized Story of Giorgio (Steve Ginsburg), and Perfume Legends (Michael Edwards). Both offer insights into the history behind a fragrance, not just a description of its notes.

    If you want more beauty industry reads, try Madame: An Intimate Biography of Helena Rubenstein, and Estee Lauder: Beyond the Magic.

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Michael Edwards's "Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances" is delightful and hard to find. Check out used book websites for the best price.
    Mandy Aftel's books are also fun.

  5. #5
    holyjes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    I was in a discount bookstore today and they had a Mandy Aftel book "Essence & Alchemy" for only $6 so I bought it. I found something interesting in the first few pages--her opinion of synthetics. I went to her website and she writes
    "...just as a full palette of natural essences became available, commercial perfumers began to set them aside in favor of synthetic ingredients, which are cheaper, sturdier, and more uniform in quality. Unfortunately, they have none of the richness or complexity of the natural ingredients, and they result in "linear" fragrances that strike the senses bluntly, all at once."

    About as opposite a point of view from what Burr argues about synthetics in his book...thoughts?

  6. #6
    silverbullet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    You might find this one interesting.

    http://www.amazon.com/Perfume-Scienc.../dp/0792273788
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Yes, I'd forgotten about Cathy Newman's book. It's good, if somewhat dated now (i.e. some of the information about Chanel and Patou in regard to Grasse oils is no longer accurate.)

    Don't get me started on Mandy Aftel and natural essences...one has only to sniff her concoctions to understand why synthetics are desirable.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    It's funny, isn't it? What's wrong with synthetic chemicals in perfumes? I do find it hilarious that there's all this hoohah about 'headspace technology to capture the living scent of this precious flower', when what they're saying is 'we found out what the chemicals are and made a new version in a lab'. But I suppose the marketing wants to cover up the fact that this is a product designed in a lab and made in a factory with an image of the talented perfumer sitting at his organ smelling different pure essential oils and handcrafting a scent that is then lovingly handmade by artisans in France according to the traditional and ancient methods. Probably involving copper stills and alembics and suchlike. I wish they'd loosen up. We don't think twice about wearing synthetic fabrics.

    Can't you tell my favourite book on perfume Is The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr about Luca Turin's theory of smell?
    I think you might love it Holyjes - it has exactly those little stories about perfumes and how they are made that you were asking about. Plus Burr writes very well and it has a real plot to it - it's not hard science.
    Last edited by Wordbird; 30th March 2008 at 12:28 PM.
    "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future." Coco Chanel

    I'm streamlining my collection http://community.basenotes.net/showt...29#post1219729
    Currently wearing: Diorling by Christian Dior

  9. #9
    holyjes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Great Woodbird, thank you! I think I will purchase Burr's book next. I did love The Perfect Scent. Have you read Luca Turin's book The Secret of Scent? What did you think of it?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Funnily enough, even though I'm a huge Turinophile, I haven't got around to his book yet. It looked like 'hard science' to me and having read The Emperor of Scent, I thought I'd absorbed enough of the theory to understand it.
    I used to read his column in the NZZ regularly but it seems not to be popping up as a link any more.
    Also his old blog was a fun read - full of tales. I'll hunt out some links...

    Of course, I'm desperately keen to read his Perfume Guide!



    those links: hopefully this will take you to a search results page with a pile of links to Turin's monthly Duftnote column for the NZZ Folio
    http://www.nzzfolio.ch/www/b019178d-...False&al=False

    Ah, this is a better link - it takes you to Turin's old blog and has links out of it to both the duftnote column and his old blog that you can download and read at your leisure:
    http://lucaturin.typepad.com/
    Last edited by Wordbird; 31st March 2008 at 10:05 AM. Reason: found links
    "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future." Coco Chanel

    I'm streamlining my collection http://community.basenotes.net/showt...29#post1219729
    Currently wearing: Diorling by Christian Dior

  11. #11

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Quote Originally Posted by Therese View Post
    Michael Edwards's "Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances" is delightful and hard to find. Check out used book websites for the best price.
    I love this book too! The research made by the author is quite impressive.

  12. #12
    holyjes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Oh woodbird thank you, this blog is wonderful!

  13. #13
    New Member salmagundi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Thought I would bump this rather than be tedious and start a new thread. Does anyone have any more recommendations to add?

    I'm looking for a good book on scent, specifically, the history of scents dating back to ancient Egyptians &c. Anything that is a good foundation to understanding old vs. new compositions/ingredients in perfumes.

    In doing a basic Amazon search one title that keeps popping up is "The Secret of Scent" has anyone read this? Is this a bit off base as to what I'm looking for?

  14. #14

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    These are all very good books on perfume history:
    Fragrance, the Story of Perfume from Cleopatra to Chanel by Edwin T. Morris
    The Mystery and Lure of Perfume by C. J. S. Thompson
    Perfume Through the Ages by Roy Genders
    Perfumes and Spices by A. Hyatt Verrill
    The Science and Art of Perfumery by Edward Sagarin

    also: for ancient Egyptian fragrance history, this book is beautiful!
    Sacred Luxuries: Fragrance, Aromatherapy, and Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt by Lise Manniche

  15. #15
    Dependent knit at nite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Yes, I believe that is off base for what you are seeking. Welcome to Basenotes!
    Currently wearing: Vetiver by Guerlain

  16. #16

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Roja Dove's The Essence of Perfume is a great read. Many classics are introduced by decades with a preceding outline of historic milestones.
    Martin-Hattemberg's Caron book is the bible for a Caron fan such as I am. Fantastic illustrations and images! I lucked out to find a new book at a reasonable price. It pays out to google in more detail.

  17. #17
    Basenotes Institution 30 Roses's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Quote Originally Posted by salmagundi View Post
    ...
    In doing a basic Amazon search one title that keeps popping up is "The Secret of Scent" has anyone read this? Is this a bit off base as to what I'm looking for?
    I read a library copy of it. Not as interesting to me as The Emperor of Scent.

  18. #18
    New Member salmagundi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Brilliant!! Thanks very much, heading over to amazon now

    Update: I just bought Fragrance, the Story of Perfume from Cleopatra to Chanel by Edwin T. Morris

    Thought I'd start from the top of the list.
    Last edited by salmagundi; 14th December 2011 at 02:43 PM.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Jean-Claude Ellena has two books out, both worth reading.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Quote Originally Posted by Andria View Post
    Jean-Claude Ellena has two books out, both worth reading.
    More, in fact.
    I have 3 : Journal d'un Parfumeur, La Note Verte, and Le Parfum (in the Que Sais-Je ? series. Here, I much prefer Roudnitska's original version).
    There are others, including co-authored works, which I've not read.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Hi, would love to ask for book recommendation with respect to the science of scent/perfume for casual reading and newbie like me! Thanks in advance!

  22. #22

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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Do you mean about perfume history, or about chemistry and creating perfumes?
    For the first one (history of perfumery and great perfumes), I found Roja Dove's The essence of perfume simple but good as an intro. After that, you can move to stuff like Turin's AZ guide or Michael Edward's Perfume legends.

    If you read french, there's going to be plenty more.

    cacio

  23. #23
    New Member Blince's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    This book is a great reference for perfumes, aromatherapy and essential oil blending. It also covers medicinal uses of essential oils.
    Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Arts
    -Kathy Keville & Mindy Green

    Mandy Aftel is a perfumer in San Francisco who has a couple of books that go into this in detail using all natural products. She goes into composition top, middle and bottom notes of smells. Her 2 books....

    Essence and Alchemy: A natural History of Perfume
    Scents & Sensibilities: Creating solid perfumes for well-being

  24. #24

    Default Re: Best books about perfume

    Quote Originally Posted by gneoh View Post
    Hi, would love to ask for book recommendation with respect to the science of scent/perfume for casual reading and newbie like me! Thanks in advance!
    I like Karen Gilbert's book Perfume: the Art and Craft of Fragrance for beginners. It's very brief, which is one of its charms. Of course it's not comprehensive.

    I used portions of the book with my high school chemistry students and it worked very well. I can't speak to the historical aspects, but the basic how-it's-made information is well presented.

    Some of the lingo is a little confusing if you're moving in a chemistry direction. For example, Gilbert talks about dilutions whereas chemists describe concentrations. Neither one is wrong; they're just using different jargon from different fields.

    Others here seem quite expert in the historical aspects. Can anyone comment on Gilbert's historical info?




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