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  1. #1
    Prince Barry's Avatar
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    Default The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I have been flicking through T & S's Perfume Guide for about the 99th time and started to notice that some of the reviews don't seem to match the perfumes. On one or two of them that I noticed, I actually wondered whether they were sniffing the same scents that I was.

    For example, I have a bottle of Rosine's Twill Rose and the review in the guide bears no resemblance to what I perceive the fragrance to be.

    Has anybody else noticed any strange reviews that don't seem to match up with the scents?
    Fine fragrance is alive; it breathes, unfolds and unravels with each passing hour....

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I've thought the same thing about certain scents, but I guess it's all part of perspective.

    I found the Twill Rose review to be right on actually...a nice green-rose topnote followed by an overdose of Animalis. Strangely though, I found the first sample of Twill Rose I smelled to not smell the same as the recent sample I obtained from Les Senteurs. Could be my memory, it something may have changed in the formula.

  3. #3

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    L'Instant de Guerlain PH is named 'green citrus' in the Excel-file. I've always wondered if this was a mistake. L'Instant PH is definitely not green (woody gourmand) and the citrus lasts 5 seconds in the topnotes before the anise overshadows it.
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  4. #4
    Dane's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    You get anise? See, I get citrus, then synthetic-sandalwood...and not much else. All in the nose of the beholder!

  5. #5

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by sofresh View Post
    You get anise? See, I get citrus, then synthetic-sandalwood...and not much else. All in the nose of the beholder!
    Really? Hm.

    So you think 'Green citrus' is a good description? I'd say it's something for Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermes or something in that vein, which is miles away from L'Instant PH....
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Stereotomy View Post
    Really? Hm.

    So you think 'Green citrus' is a good description? I'd say it's something for Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermes or something in that vein, which is miles away from L'Instant PH....
    I would have said Citrus Sandalwood personally.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    i agree with LT review too.. infact i find (LIph)t to be "watery green citrus"

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Thanks Jenson, that's making me more confused.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    There are several examples. One is that the two Azzaro frags that are the same, Onyx and Silver/Black, are reviewed as if they are different. Two is there is no way Polo Double Black is any kind of "fougere." Third is Individuel by Mont Blanc, which is clearly not a "citrus green" (I think that's the classification but it could be "green citrus" or something like that). Etc.

    Then there are ones that just don't seem like a very good description, if not totally wrong, such as Habit Rouge being "sweet dust" or whatever.
    Last edited by Bigsly; 25th November 2009 at 07:07 PM.

  10. #10
    Dane's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I thought sweet dust was the perfect description for HR!

  11. #11
    NillaGoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I do wonder about the description of Rose 31 as "carrot juice" and "not rose", along with the two-star rating. It's all a bit hard to explain.

    I find this on Basenotes as well, not with this specific juice, but in general. Sometimes it seems like I'm smelling exactly what other people are smelling, and sometimes there's no overlap between my perceptions and the reviews at all.

  12. #12

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Actually, calling HR sweet dust makes it sound like a recent super-sweet cheapo frag like Thallium, which it obviously is not (much more complex and interesting, at least for a while, if too much of a "nose twister" for my tastes).
    Last edited by Bigsly; 25th November 2009 at 07:19 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by NillaGoon View Post
    I do wonder about the description of Rose 31 as "carrot juice" and "not rose", along with the two-star rating. It's all a bit hard to explain.

    I find this on Basenotes as well, not with this specific juice, but in general. Sometimes it seems like I'm smelling exactly what other people are smelling, and sometimes there's no overlap between my perceptions and the reviews at all.
    I think that's just a fact of life...I was just discussing with another member the description for a certain scent that she found to be one thing, and I found to be another. Neither of us are wrong necessarily.

    ps - I realize I sound like a Turin advocate.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    It could be that to review all the fragrances that Turin and Sanchez manage to review, one could only spend a few hours at most with the fragrances before they write their reviews.
    Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them. - Immanuel Kant

  15. #15

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by sofresh View Post
    I thought sweet dust was the perfect description for HR!
    I thought so too!
    "I don't know what the different scents is. I just know what I like." -- Sephora SA

  16. #16

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Ditto on the "sweet dust" for HR

    What about his description of Opium PH as an "aromatic fougere"? I thought it was firmly in oriental territory.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Prince Barry View Post
    ...Has anybody else noticed any strange reviews that don't seem to match up with the scents?
    Yes.

    However the same can be said about threads here on BN and/or reviews in the Directory.
    "One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple"

    -- Jack Kerouac

  18. #18

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    He calls HR Sport "citrus spicy," which I think is at least as appropriate for HR (better than "sweet dust" for the full run of the frag rather than the first few minutes). A few more examples: U Ungaro Him is "lavender musk," but I don't get any lavender and don't find it especially musky (the pyramid doesn't list lavender and I really dislike lavender except in very small amounts). Versace l'Homme is "citrus 'ginger,'" but the base notes make this one special, and I don't remember getting much ginger at any point. Belle en Rykiel is "fruity amber," but I don't remember any strong fruit note. I don't perceive Gucci PH2 as any kind of "fougere." Does anyone perceive Herrera for Men as "immortelle citrus?" HM as a "lavender green" doesn't make much sense, because there is no strong "green" note at any time. Jaipur Homme is very heavy and I can't imagine anyone thinking of it as a "powder" frag ("sweet powder"). How is L'Instant Homme a "green citrus?" Is M7 Fresh particularly spicy (don't remember spice, but that was a while ago)? I don't remember Very Irresistible for men as having a strong wood note.

    Of course, nobody is perfect, and I think the book is very helpful, if you know how to use it. However, while I think LT's vibrational hypothesis is more consistent with the evidence, his "mistakes" in this book make you question his claims about how certain molecules smell. Considering how critical he has been of others in the frag industry, I think it would be best for him to admit his mistakes and correct them in the next edition or provide an online link to a web page that contains such corrections. One thing he could do is to tell us that he spent very little time on some of the frags he reviewed in this book, if that is the case. Thinking as an "academic," I view this as no "big deal" (if the corrections are made in a timely matter). I understand the magnitude of his contributions in this field, regardless of the current status of his vibrational hypothesis in academia in general, and by admitting your mistakes, you will heighten your stature, not lower it, among those who are approaching the issues involved here with an open mind. Those with closed minds are beyond reach anyway and it's a waste of time to worry about them.
    Last edited by Bigsly; 25th November 2009 at 08:20 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

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    Last edited by Off-Scenter; 27th November 2009 at 03:56 AM.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Yes.

    However the same can be said about threads here on BN and/or reviews in the Directory.
    Trudat.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    See, as soon as those CERN scientists start their Hadron collider, threads from 2007 manifest themselves in 2009...next comes Bulgari Black Hole...
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  22. #22

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Yes, "science" can be quite disappointing when compared to stories we were told as children, which inferred that it was a "progressive" and "objective" pursuit of "truth."

  23. #23

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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    While he is a fabulous writer and the book is worth having just for that, he is not a highly trained nose and so does make some errors in his assessments of scents. For example his review of Selection Verte is just wrong on many levels - partly for its oversight - he clearly spent no time with this and misses most of the scent -(no mention of mint or florals) but not least the statement "mostly high grade lemon oil". Lemon oil oxidises very quickly and is very rarely used, certainly wouldn't be the basis of a scent.
    He does have very cultured, experienced and well thought out taste though and that counts for a lot; it gives a strong and coherent viewpoint. It is a very valuable book and is thought provoking but it does need to be taken with a pinch of salt.
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  24. #24
    Prince Barry's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Yes.

    However the same can be said about threads here on BN and/or reviews in the Directory.
    Yes, but the reviewers on BN don't claim to be professional reviewers.
    Fine fragrance is alive; it breathes, unfolds and unravels with each passing hour....

    Roja Dove

  25. #25

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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    See, as soon as those CERN scientists start their Hadron collider, threads from 2007 manifest themselves in 2009...next comes Bulgari Black Hole...

    Do you think the new fragrance Higgs Boss "on" will show that Pi is worth less than its currently ascribed value?
    "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
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by the.angels.fell View Post
    Ditto on the "sweet dust" for HR

    What about his description of Opium PH as an "aromatic fougere"? I thought it was firmly in oriental territory.
    I believe he also called Opium ph as woody (what wood?) and smells like Cool Water???? His sample was definitely off or something.

    I get no greens whatsover in L'Instant ph. Green as in grass? Vetiver? Leaf? What is it?
    "I exist for myself, and for those to whom my unquenchable thirst for freedom gives everything, but also for everyone, since insofar as I am able to love - I love everyone. Of noble hearts, I am the noblest - and the most generous of those that yearn to give love in return. - I am a human being, I love death and I love life."

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  27. #27
    smeller
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    To me, his reviews sound perfectably acceptable to describe how these scents smell ON PAPER.

  28. #28

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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Prince Barry View Post
    Yes, but the reviewers on BN don't claim to be professional reviewers.
    Neither do Turin and Sanchez.

    Luca Turin is just ahead of everybody else by having written two successful critical perfume guides within the past two decades. Also, he has been the first to publicly acknowledge merits of individual perfume designers. He was also the first to recommend well known feminine perfumes to men, and vice versa. But what appears to be no particular merit these days was rather different during most of the twentieth century, even in France. I wonder where we might be today had Turin not continuously been writing about masculines for women or feminines for men since the early nineties (Much later Burr tried to copy him in that too). The industry has picked up and we can obeserve that the number of perfumes not labeled for 'women' or 'men' has been exploding during the past 10 years.

    Recent organizational changes at two of the most famous perfume houses seem to have been inspired by Luca Turin, an indicator that his judgment and advice may be more appreciated by some big shots in the business than seems to be the case with an armada of young amateurs and fragrance bloggers still suffering from a limited capacity to recognize the natural authority of truth and experience. If nothing else LT has a lifetime of the latter!

    The world is big enough for more than one guide only. And there are more ways to write them than the ones we know todate. I only hope the next one will be at least half as good as Parfums le Guide (Paris 1992) or Perfumes The Guide (London, New York 2008, & 2nd edition 2009). Not to forget, the latest PTG has actually two cosmopolitan minded authors and covers the whole western market of perfumes. Authors from bloggers' communities or elsewhere may fare better to start with a limited selection of perfumes and exactly that kind of readership in mind which they are (best) familiar with ( English or French, Spanish, German, etc.).
    Last edited by narcus; 18th March 2010 at 08:43 AM. Reason: grammar
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by smeller View Post
    To me, his reviews sound perfectably acceptable to describe how these scents smell ON PAPER.
    So his reviews are based on how frags smells on the paper? Is it true?

  30. #30

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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by vitorscpaiva View Post
    So his reviews are based on how frags smells on the paper? Is it true?
    Of course not! But malicious insinuations continue being dropped.
    Last edited by narcus; 26th November 2009 at 11:15 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.

  31. #31
    smeller
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus View Post
    Of course not, but malicious insinuations continue being dropped.
    You are misinformed, or being ironic.

    There is no room to malicious insinuations here, since Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez openly admit they test the scents on paper strips.

    I'm editing here, because I just checked a bit more and seems like they test it on skin, AFTER the paper test:

    "We believe strongly in testing on paper first. Good scents can improve on skin, horrible scents never, and they don't wash off: not with soap, hot water, bleach, though I haven't tried fire or amputation. We put scents that passed the paper test on skin, smelled them over hours, argued across the table about what to call them, Winston Churchill or Amy Winehouse, neighborly or vicious, diva or wallflower, neurotic or sane, confused or coherent, delicious or disgusting, spills in the laundry aisle. Our position on skin chemistry is controversial, since we judge the perfumer's art, not whether you ate a hell of a lot of garlic last night, though no one should buy fragrances without personal testing. Yet, despite Luca smelling like a classic buttery European and me like an odorless East Asian, we noticed no tremendous differences in scent development, and we used the paper test as a control. Still, I hear some people sweat vinegar and have trouble."
    (from http://us.penguingroup.com/static/ht...-tania-sanchez)

    Frankly, to me, I see no point on smelling on paper, and Luca Turin's own status as a "scientist" is highly controversial. If they test some of them on their skin is a different issue, but based on the text above it's clear to me that they don't put on their skins none of the scents that didn't "passed the paper test".
    Last edited by smeller; 26th November 2009 at 01:25 AM.

  32. #32
    vitorscpaiva's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by smeller View Post
    You are misinformed, or being ironic.

    There is no room to malicious insinuations here, since Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez openly admit they test the scents on paper strips.

    I'm editing here, because I just checked a bit more and seems like they test it on skin, AFTER the paper test:

    "We believe strongly in testing on paper first. Good scents can improve on skin, horrible scents never..."

    Frankly, to me, I see no point on smelling on paper, and Luca Turin's own status as a "scientist" is highly controversial. If they test some of them on their skin is a different issue, but based on the text above it's clear to me that they don't put on their skins none of the scents that didn't "passed the paper test".
    IMO, the point of testing on paper is just to make a vague idea of what expect from the frag, but it is absolutely not adequate to make a definitely review of a fragrance. But it's just my opinion.

    This sentence from them maybe can be not very accurate. How about if they think that a fragrance is not worthy to try on the skin, and it shows itself on the skin much better than it was expected? I think it probably already happened to many people here. You can think that a fragrance is nothing special on paper, but it happens to evolve wonderfully on skin.

    Maybe this is it what happens with these controversial reviews of them?

  33. #33

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I found paper sampling to be too misleading. If someone is going to a store like Ulta, I might ask for a test strip to be obtained, but I wouldn't buy a bottle based upon that. Also, I just don't understand why LT and TS couldn't spend a couple of paragraphs describing what they thought was the best method for understanding a frag. My sense was that their assessments were based upon no single method, but varied considerably. Some reviews sound like only the top notes were smelled, for example. This is something that should be addressed IMO in further such works of theirs.
    Last edited by Bigsly; 26th November 2009 at 02:44 AM.

  34. #34

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by smeller View Post
    Luca Turin's own status as a "scientist" is highly controversial.
    In what way is Luca Turin's status as scientist controversial? Does he not hold a Ph.D? Has he not been engaged in research? Has he not lectured at university? Has he not been published in peer-reviewed journals? Has he not patented nine aromachemicals based upon his theory?

    It seems to me that by any objective definition of the word, Dr. Turin is a scientist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigsly View Post
    U Ungaro Him is "lavender musk," but I don't get any lavender and don't find it especially musky . . . .

    . . . [H]is "mistakes" in this book make you question his claims about how certain molecules smell.
    How does the fact that he perceives lavender in a fragrance that you do not somehow disprove the vibrational theory of smell?

  35. #35

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Batman was a scientist.
    Haikus are easy
    But do not always make sense
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  36. #36

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    LT has claimed that the human sense of smell is basically objective, except for a few molecules "on the fringes" that not everyone can smell. With this notion in mind, he has claimed that certain molecules smell the same, and that this demonstrates that his hypothesis is correct. As someone else pointed out, this would require getting volunteers to see if they also perceive things this way. In the meantime, what we have are claims from someone who smells lavender where there probably is none at all. This is also the case for the frags he calls "fougeres," despite the fact that there is little if any lavender and you need lavender to have a fougere. I thought this would be obvious, so I didn't articulate it fully in the other posts.

  37. #37

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I think the fragrance results from a gas chromatograph are indisputibly objective. I also believe that the interpretation of a fragrance using words is explicitly subjective. Perhaps an educated person can better or more accurately describe something, but that doesn't change that fact that perceptions of all senses are SUBJECTIVE.

    When a majority agree upon something--that sometimes constitutes what is known as reality. I think people on BN are pretty open for variances of opinion and observation of any and all of the fragrances discussed and don't necessarily need a consensus to make a decision of something they enjoy.
    Last edited by JickyMan; 26th November 2009 at 05:31 AM.
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  38. #38

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    It's not about the smell of a frag but the smell of one kind of molecule. LT thinks that if two molecules have a sharp lemony scent, for example, they are "vibrating" at about the same frequency, but some question whether that perception is objective. My opinion is that there are a lot of confused people out there (think of how many believe all kinds of false things about Obama, for instance), but I do now trust my sense of smell at this basic level. I don't really care if some other scientist thinks otherwise. I want to smell those molecules and see if they do smell the same or not. But my point is that if he is making several mistakes about lavender, which is a note that's hard not to detect, and he claims to have a great "nose," then he is doing harm to his own hypothesis. Perhaps if only a few of us BNers know this, however, it doesn't really matter much one way or the other.

  39. #39
    NillaGoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I'm surprised by some of the animosity directed towards Turin and Sanchez in this thread. As I mentioned above, I have quibbles with a few of their reviews, but that's only to be expected. I have plenty of differences with my favorite movie reviewer (not that it matters, but it's Walter Chaw of Film Freak Central - look him up, he's great!), and he's the best fit for me from a field of literally hundreds of reviewers.

    For fragrances, we have essentially three "professional" reviewers (Turin, Sanchez, and Burr), a few highly motivated bloggers, and the rest of us chattering rabble.

    Critique is subjective. Nobody is ever going to agree with you 100% of the time. It's not because they don't evaluate the juice in exactly the right way, or because they're not "qualified" to be reviewing perfumes, or because they've been corrupted by the system, or because they don't know what lavender smells like. They're just not you. Get over it!

    I'm a bit defensive about Perfumes because I actually think it's a model of how criticism should be written. It's always a useful and enjoyable read, even when the review has nothing to do with the fragrance at hand. It clearly distinguishes good from bad (in the eyes of the reviewers), and it's more interested in talking about how to evaluate fragrances generally than it is in rating specific examples. "Sweet dust" is a lot more helpful and thought-provoking than "top notes of bergamot, lemon, rosewood, basil, and pimento" cribbed from the manufacturer's web site.

    If you don't like it, write your own damned systematic review of 1,800 fragrances. I'll probably buy it!

    Edit: I notice that this thread starts off with "I have been flicking through T & S's Perfume Guide for about the 99th time...", which just about says it all. :-)
    Last edited by NillaGoon; 26th November 2009 at 05:36 AM.

  40. #40

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I do see different approaches used for evaluating fragrances on BN. Many use and appreciate the more abstract and poetic mode of "sweet dust" "grandma accord", which I'm more inclined to do. Others tend to work better with the actual ingredients used and prefer to describe the notes thusly. I think the more literal ingredient and note observation is more accurate, but I guess it's best to do what works for you.

    I think Turin, Sanchez and Burr are quite awesome and entertaining and thought provoking and stimulate my want for more knowledge of fragrances. Basenote reviews have the same effect. But, not everyone knows everything and doesn't experience it through my nervous system, so I take many of these perceptions with a grain of salt, with no disrespect to anyone. Hopefully my critical mind figures it out with a little help from my friends.
    Last edited by JickyMan; 26th November 2009 at 05:47 AM. Reason: typos
    Your nostrils, which will dilate immesurably in unspeakable contentment, in motionless ecstasy, will ask nothing better for space, for they will be full of fragrance, as if perfumes and incense; for they will be glutted with complete happiness, like angels who dwell in the peace and magnificence of pleasent heaven.
    (From Maldoror by Comte de Lautreamont)

  41. #41
    smeller
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by NillaGoon View Post
    [...] For fragrances, we have essentially three "professional" reviewers (Turin, Sanchez, and Burr), a few highly motivated bloggers, and the rest of us chattering rabble.[...]If you don't like it, write your own damned systematic review of 1,800 fragrances. I'll probably buy it!
    My friend, you don't need to buy it, just check the Fragrance Directory here in Basenotes. It's for free, and there are dozens of much, much better reviewers than those "professionals (on subjective smelling???)" you mentioned. If anyone does "chattering rabble", they're not our best reviewers.

    About the scientist part, someone may have all the credentials, but if he comes with a "hard to bite" unconfirmed theory (like the "molecular vibrations"), it's controversial.

    No animosity. Fun to read? I agree, but if you think Basenotes are "chattering rable", do a better research. It's funnier and better.
    Last edited by smeller; 26th November 2009 at 12:26 PM.

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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus View Post
    Neither do Turin and Sanchez.
    I'm sorry Narcus, but if you write a book with >300 pages of perfume reviews (the section is entitled "Perfume Reviews") and collect an advance and/or get royalties from sales of the book then you are a professional reviewer.
    Last edited by surreality; 26th November 2009 at 03:44 PM.
    Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them. - Immanuel Kant

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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by JickyMan View Post
    I think the fragrance results from a gas chromatograph are indisputibly objective.

    I beg to differ. Having been a chromatographer for several years, complex chromatograms, like those that a perfume would provide, require one to interpret the results; while they are more objective than sensory analysis, they are hardly 'indisputably" objective.
    Last edited by surreality; 26th November 2009 at 03:49 PM.
    Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them. - Immanuel Kant

  44. #44
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I agree with NillaGoon. It's just a damn guide, hardly reference material. His training as a scientist doesn't make his nose anymore effective than ours, I wouldn't lose any sleep if LT's opinion is the polar opposite of mine. The Guide sells because it's interestingly written, irreverent in parts and people are generally interested to know what a scent scientist thinks of commercial fragrances. If you're perceived to be knowledgeable or influential, your opinions will be a matter of interest to others. Heck, US President Obama can write a book reviewing perfumes and it will still sell like hotcakes!
    Last edited by Diamondflame; 26th November 2009 at 05:55 PM.

  45. #45
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Luca has made himself the "Mr. Blackwell" of frags and it is very entertaining.

    But it is one voice in a field that is subjective.

    I love Rose 31, but to him it's a dismal failure of a "rehabbing" perfumer.
    His write up of Caron's Third Man is quite amusing. I just had to buy that.

    We should wear whatever we really like in spite of a negative review from he and TS.

    The beauty of Basenotes is the variety of talented noses and just plain folks who like to smell good we can access for a number of viewpoints.

  46. #46
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by surreality View Post
    I'm sorry Narcus, but if you write a book with >300 pages of perfume reviews (the section is entitled "Perfume Reviews") and collect an advance and/or get royalties from sales of the book then you are a professional reviewer.
    what narcus means, I believe, is that they consciously refused to establish a professional standard of reviewing, as, e.g., wine tasters do, including an explicit catalogue of evaluation criteria (you can deduce some implicit parameters from the reviews, like a preference for the classic French style of perfumery, a personal dislike of certain perfumers/houses that clearly shines through the remarks). Certainly the greatest weakness is that scents unconvincing on paper were not tested further, through time and on skin. It might have been useful to work with a monclin.
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  47. #47

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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by surreality View Post
    I'm sorry Narcus, but if you write a book with >300 pages of perfume reviews (the section is entitled "Perfume Reviews") and collect an advance and/or get royalties from sales of the book then you are a professional reviewer.
    I have no problem if that's your definition of a 'professional reviewer'. It wouldn't be mine. But the argument was - did he and Tania claim to be professionals in that area.

    Of course he did go ahead and wrote a book about his early passion: smelling perfumes. He mainly chose popular and classical French perfumes you could pick up in Paris without difficulty between the (nineteen-) sixties and eighties. The first edition sold well, but after the second edition (1994) the whole project was abandoned by Turin. Now, how professional is that? He had proven to be successful in a job that he had just invented for himself, but he wasn't interested in turning it into a steady source of income for himself. He rather became a frontier on slightly different territory again. A 'global edition', or an entirely new guide, as we all know, materialized only half a generation later! And also this new project may be abandoned as spontaneously as it had been started (reference: latest publications from perfumestheguide.com)

    As a scientist LT seems to have worked on and off in a diffuse area of chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics. Discovering clever fragrant molecules seems to be his major source of income these days. He will continue writing his monthly column for Neue Zuercher Zeitung (NZZ). "LT is also now writing a biweekly column on science and art for Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung." (from the circular mail to former subscribers of The Guide's updates). On the Industry Forum, Mikeperez has already linked you to the first reviews published in the Style Magazine of the London Times.

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    what narcus means, I believe, is that they consciously refused to establish a professional standard of reviewing, as, e.g., wine tasters do, including an explicit catalogue of evaluation criteria (you can deduce some implicit parameters from the reviews, like a preference for the classic French style of perfumery, a personal dislike of certain perfumers/houses that clearly shines through the remarks). Certainly the greatest weakness is that scents unconvincing on paper were not tested further, through time and on skin. It might have been useful to work with a monclin.
    Thanks, for trying to interpret me,Tom! However these were not my thoughts. I seriously wonder how some of you guys can be so certain when a review is based on strip testing only and when a lot more time was actually spent? Yes, he did Monclin testing. I bet most of this audience never knew about Monclins before Turin himself wrote about them. And have some of us not seen the vast collection of perfumes Turin has had in his home in London (TV performance, long before the preparations for PTG began)? Have you seen him in action spraying Shiseidos Nombre Noire into the air as if it was commonly available and not one of the most precious rarities in the world? He enjoyed inhaling it from the air above his head.

    If he believed in the professional mode of smell testing (and comparing) only, how come he advises men to apply fragrance on the inside of their jacket sleeves? Turin is not the only person whose passion for good smells has turned them from perfume wearer to a perfume lover who does not need to steal a rose bud in order to enjoy the smell of rose. I may have a series of days devoted to perfume and then remember that I have not applied perfume for days...

    The man who has just been charged of being incapable of detecting lavender in a perfume has stated: "I hardly ever wear perfume, but if do it's a Lavender made by monks on Caldey Island..." (quoted from a recent publication by FAZ). - So, fortunately, lavender isn't totally wasted on him. It would have been a shame to be so privileged to live close to the lavender hills of the Meditarranée in your youthful days if your nose was incapable of appreciating that fragrance!
    Last edited by narcus; 27th November 2009 at 08:37 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.

  48. #48
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by smeller View Post
    ...check the Fragrance Directory here in Basenotes. It's free, and there are dozens of much, much better reviewers than those "professionals" you mentioned. If anyone does "chattering rabble", they're not our best reviewers...if you think Basenotes are "chattering rable", do a better research.
    Oh my, it wasn't at all my intention to suggest that BN reviews should be written off as "chatter". Au contraire, I treasure them and read them carefully.

    When I say that BNers and MUAers are "chattering rabble," I mean only that we aren't subject to the same level of scrutiny as professional reviewers. No one would think to start a thread here on "<name your favorite BN reviewer>'s confusing reviews". Isn't the very idea kind of absurd? You learn how people approach their reviews and interpret the reviews accordingly. If you don't agree with a review, you just shrug and move on to the next one. It's all good.

    I don't see why one should approach professional reviewers' work any differently. They may be more educated and experienced than most, but they don't have privileged access to Absolute Truth. They have preferences and blind spots. They're just as entitled to write off a fragrance as "vile and disgusting" after one whiff as anyone else. I value Turin and Sanchez's book in large part because of its subjectivity.

    That said, I just put on some Rose 31 for Thanksgiving only to smell...carrot juice. Delectable carrot juice to be sure, but all of a sudden I'm seeing Turin's point.

  49. #49

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I liked this taken from a review of the book.
    “Bigoted, snarling, monomaniacal, subjective, triumphalist, and quite magnificent”
    Prospect (UK)

    It'll certainly be entertaining.
    Your nostrils, which will dilate immesurably in unspeakable contentment, in motionless ecstasy, will ask nothing better for space, for they will be full of fragrance, as if perfumes and incense; for they will be glutted with complete happiness, like angels who dwell in the peace and magnificence of pleasent heaven.
    (From Maldoror by Comte de Lautreamont)

  50. #50

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I think what LT has demonstrated in this book is that it's very hard to be an "expert" or "perfume professional," no matter what your experiences are. The problem, IMO, is that even if you have the "skill set," as LT most likely does, you still need to devote a lot of time to the frag to make sure you are giving it a "fair shake," and I don't think he did that for all the frags in the book. Indeed, this would take more time than most people probably have for this purpose, even if it's their only hobby, because of the number of frags he reviewed in the book. So you take it for what it's worth, and I do think there are plenty of valuable insights in this book, making it well worth the prices it is now selling for. However, I think a better title would have been something like "A Whimsical Guide" rather than "The Guide." Once the title is changed, it's a nearly flawless book. There would still be some issues, such as the Onyx and Silver/Black mixup, saying that a frag with little or no lavender (and in some cases little or no tonka/coumarin as well) is a fougere, giving stars in a way that's inconsistent with the description, etc., but those problems would be minor and obvious (at least to me).
    Last edited by Bigsly; 26th November 2009 at 10:55 PM.

  51. #51
    smeller
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by NillaGoon View Post
    [...] When I say that BNers and MUAers are "chattering rabble," I mean only that we aren't subject to the same level of scrutiny as professional reviewers. No one would think to start a thread here on "<name your favorite BN reviewer>'s confusing reviews". Isn't the very idea kind of absurd? You learn how people approach their reviews and interpret the reviews accordingly. If you don't agree with a review, you just shrug and move on to the next one. It's all good.

    I don't see why one should approach professional reviewers' work any differently. They may be more educated and experienced than most, but they don't have privileged access to Absolute Truth. [...]
    We disagree when you qualify those Turin, Sanchez or Burr as "professional reviewers" and atribute a higher level of scrutiny to them. When I read reviewers like JaimeB, foetidus, scentemental, and some others, it's pretty clear to me that their knowledge is no smaller (and probably bigger) than any "big name".

    Perfume is still kind of a "land of nowhere" to writers, the level required to write about it in a book or newspaper is close to nothing, and the potential readers will mostly believe in anything they say. There's no specialized critics, and virtually no specialized public. Not in the mainstream press. I'm not demonizing Luca Turin, who I eventually like to read, but that's the truth.

  52. #52
    smeller
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    what narcus means, I believe, is that they consciously refused to establish a professional standard of reviewing, as, e.g., wine tasters do, including an explicit catalogue of evaluation criteria (you can deduce some implicit parameters from the reviews, like a preference for the classic French style of perfumery, a personal dislike of certain perfumers/houses that clearly shines through the remarks). Certainly the greatest weakness is that scents unconvincing on paper were not tested further, through time and on skin. It might have been useful to work with a monclin.
    And that's the best post of all, I coudn't say it better.

  53. #53
    Dependent pluran's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    There are so much misinformation and misinterpretation here. It renders the thread a complete joke.

    Luca Turin isn't a trained nose? He is perhaps one of the only people in the world other than some top perfumers who have smelled most of the thousands of perfume ingredients. Most of which people here have no clue about when writing reviews. Aside from that, he's been smelling and describing the best perfumes consistently since he was a child. And he was smelling the things when they were still good, so yeah, it gives him a little different perception on what he smells now.

    One post inaccurately states that Turin described the smell of Mechant Loup as "wet dog". His only real description of the thing was "watery herbaceous", and I can't disagree. Yeah, I smell honey, hazelnut, and all that shit, but the thing is basically just saran wrapped and lame regardless of the often entirely useless play by play note analysis. Turin used the words "wet dog" to simply contradict the meaning of Mechant Loup, which is something like "big bad wolf". There isn't much to it. He doesn't feel the need to break the things down into each and every note (no one can even come close anyway because you don't even know what is that you're really smelling), he prefers to give the fragrance an overall feeling, and that he does without any equals. When notes or ingredients are vital, he often uses them. Fortunately he doesn't have to do it often, and that's one of the things that keeps my attention.

    I could go on about this forever, but there is no reason. It is entertaining, though.

    Luca Turin doesn't have a trained nose! That is f*cking hilarious.

  54. #54

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    That's the best posting I've read in a long time, Pluran.
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  55. #55

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    As Pluran said, it's difficult to believe that LT does not have the "skill set," as I called it. However, that makes his mistakes in the book all the more perplexing, as I pointed out above (calling some frags "fougeres" that clearly are not, for example). I really find the basic fougere accord to be very unpleasant, so I may be more sensitive to it, but this is about smelling something that is not there rather than not smelling something that is there, which is more understandable (for example, if it is a weaker frag than those you have sampled recently).
    Last edited by Bigsly; 26th November 2009 at 11:27 PM.

  56. #56
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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by pluran View Post
    There are so much misinformation and misinterpretation here. It renders the thread a complete joke.

    Luca Turin isn't a trained nose? He is perhaps one of the only people in the world other than some top perfumers who have smelled most of the thousands of perfume ingredients. Most of which people here have no clue about when writing reviews. Aside from that, he's been smelling and describing the best perfumes consistently since he was a child. And he was smelling the things when they were still good, so yeah, it gives him a little different perception on what he smells now.

    One post inaccurately states that Turin described the smell of Mechant Loup as "wet dog". His only real description of the thing was "watery herbaceous", and I can't disagree. Yeah, I smell honey, hazelnut, and all that shit, but the thing is basically just saran wrapped and lame regardless of the often entirely useless play by play note analysis. Turin used the words "wet dog" to simply contradict the meaning of Mechant Loup, which is something like "big bad wolf". There isn't much to it. He doesn't feel the need to break the things down into each and every note (no one can even come close anyway because you don't even know what is that you're really smelling), he prefers to give the fragrance an overall feeling, and that he does without any equals. When notes or ingredients are vital, he often uses them. Fortunately he doesn't have to do it often, and that's one of the things that keeps my attention.

    I could go on about this forever, but there is no reason. It is entertaining, though.

    Luca Turin doesn't have a trained nose! That is f*cking hilarious.
    Just because someone is well-trained doesn't mean they can't be wrong when passing a judgment based on a cursory sniff. It happens in many domains .. I have seen it in my domain of computer science/Artificial intelligence, and yes I agree with the posts above which state that there are more than a couple of reviews which don't match up.

    With that said, I may be mistaken but this topic has probably been discussed many times over the past year or so and everytime it comes down to synthetic notes being flicked at Luca Turins nostrils ...these "Perfume Guide" threads are fast turning into Creed sinkathons..
    -

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    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    I plan on buying the new guide! The reviews are a lot of fun to read and filled with a great amount of wit. I highly respect his opinion but you shouldn't hold his above your own. Everyone has their own tastes! He praises Beyond Paradise highly yet to me it's unbearably sweet and fruity.

    It's the same story with food. One person could think a dish tastes revolting and another could lick the plate clean. I think the smell of cooking venison is one of the most disgusting scents of all and yet my dad can't stop salivating. Just because his opinions may not be in line with mine, I can't deny his immense amounts of experience and intelligence.

  58. #58

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigsly View Post
    As Pluran said, it's difficult to believe that LT does not have the "skill set," as I called it. However, that makes his mistakes in the book all the more perplexing, as I pointed out above (calling some frags "fougeres" that clearly are not, for example). I really find the basic fougere accord to be very unpleasant, so I may be more sensitive to it, but this is about smelling something that is not there rather than not smelling something that is there, which is more understandable (for example, if it is a weaker frag than those you have sampled recently).
    This 'fougere' problem is more of a definition problem than an argument against Turin.

    Turin has reviewed hundreds of scents and he's arguably knowledgable, technically more knowledgable than many of the Basenotes reviewers who have equally reviewed hundreds of scents. And they don't make mistakes or have opinions that are arguably different than yours or mine? The only thing different is that Turin made the effort to compile everything in a book and to publish it in The Guide.

    That you don't agree with a couple of reviews is not strange. As stated above, I cannot possibly ever call L'Instant PH Green Citrus, but as a couple of other Basenoters pointed out, they can.
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  59. #59

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    It's not about agreeing with a couple of reviews. My point is that his apparent mistakes are inconsistent with his scientific hypothesis. I'd like LT to explain how he could make such mistakes and yet still claim that there is a kind of "objective" sense of smell. If he claimed that he was fatigued, and that he wishes he had more time to spend with the frags, that's fine. But as it stands, it makes it look like his hypothesis, which I find persuasive, is likely incorrect just based upon these strange reviews. As I said of the book as a whole, if the title was something like "A Whimsical Perfume Guide," I wouldn't have a problem with reviews such as the one for Polo Double Black, which is confusing and doesn't even mention the actual smell.

  60. #60

    Default Re: The Perfume Guide - Confusing reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigsly View Post
    My point is that his apparent mistakes are inconsistent with his scientific hypothesis.


    Are you talking about the vibrational theory or the objective sense of smell? It's all about interpretation and perception. While smells might be objective, there's always a personal interpretation and perception of notes.

    What you call mistakes might just be a different opinion by him.

    I wouldn't have a problem with reviews such as the one for Polo Double Black, which is confusing and doesn't even mention the actual smell.
    As Pluran said, nobody is forcing him to explain all scents in notes. Enough marketing departments are doing that for us. Some allegories or descriptive pictures make The Guide nice to read. Same thing is also sometimes said about Chandler Burr, and personally I think it's just cheap to shoot off these knowledgable people on their writing style on a FEW of their reviews, losing focus on the big picture they present with their works.
    Last edited by Stereotomy; 27th November 2009 at 12:26 AM.
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