Or ‘Perfumes The A – Z Guide’
I feel like I managed to pull a fast one with this, but somehow I managed to get on the mailing list of someone exceptionally nice who was kind enough to send me a copy. There’s something about unexpectedly finding myself the recipient of a book I really want which makes me feel like I’ve pulled a fast one – even in the most legitimate of circumstances and Perfumes definitely gives me a getting away with it vibe.
Smell is probably the most under rated sense we possess, but how dull life would be without it. Food would be bland, wine would be tasteless, crisp autumn evenings and fresh spring mornings would lose half their savour and baths would be merely functional. I am slightly obsessive about scent (possibly because of a decade in the wine trade where you really have to think about smell; if you ever notice someone absentmindedly swirl and sniff a cup of tea or glass of water you can be fairly sure of what they do for a living) for two reasons. First because I can think of no more powerful memory trigger, and second because smells I like make me happy (and without any of the repercussions of say chocolate or gin or very expensive handbags).
One of the great unexpected pleasures of wine tasting is discovering wines with a giggle factor; something that smells so utterly delicious, magical and complex that it makes you smile then laugh out loud before you even drink it. Perfume has much, much, more of the same quality; a well chosen scent also has the power to enhance confidence and provide comfort, so like I say – only slightly obsessed.
Neither Turin nor Sanchez feels the need to pull their punches and both are evangelical about their subject, Reviews range from a few words to several paragraphs from brutally honest to ecstatic; they are also funny. Estee Lauder’s Spellbound is treated thus “medicated treacle. Powerfully cloying and nauseating. Trails for miles. Frightens horses. Gets worse.” Clearly they are also personal and subjective (by which I mean they don’t care for my personal favourite ‘Tabac Blond’) yet all the history and romance of perfumery are also contained here.
For me this is a book of pure escapism, already I am making new lists of things to seek out, hopeful of finding one of those elusive scents which will make me smile on the dullest day, but for when I can’t find anything, can’t go out, or can’t afford it then I can always turn to the description of YSL’s Kouros. I won’t quote, but beg that anybody reading this take the trouble to look it up next time they’re in a book shop, if the sheer lovely over the top nonsense doesn’t make you want to find a man in Kouros to smell then I am sorry for it.