Saturday, August 30, 2008

Perfumes the Guide gets supplemented!

It was with much interest that I just received news from Luca Turin that his ~co-authored with Tania Sanchez~ book Perfumes, the Guide, which Perfume Shrine had reviewed here, is getting supplemented. Apparently the questions of dr.Turin on what the fans would like to see had been aiming at providing reviews of more scents: which is good!

Not only there is a new site, with the beautiful Coques d'Or blue bottle by Guerlain magnified to its full resplendor, but there is also the prospect of a Newsletter, free for download from the site, issued quaterly: in September, December, March and June.
On the heels of that, we learn that the new edition of Perfumes, the Guide including the supplemented reviews from the newsletters is due in autumn 2009 for the US.
Therefore I do appreciate the fact that the supplemented reviews are free for download: I'd propose that it remains so for all four newsletters if possible.

Additionally, many readers felt that lots of energy had been spent on reviewing things that got off with a snarky (in many cases deserved) one-liner when there were significant fragrances that had escaped criticism or praise ~a weak point in the previous edition. So each newsletter is aiming to provide 100 new fragrance reviews, so that's 400 more in total till next autumn.
Some brows will get raised ("Aqua di Gio for men and Giorgio get 4 stars while Dolce Vita gets 2???" I can hear the echoes) and some heads will nod with appreciation (Del Rae Debut and Lutens latest exclusive El Attarine deservedly in my opinion getting 4 stars). And guess which controversial fragrance gets "explained" rationally.

Printers, you're on fire!! And might I also add: beatific enthusiasm and board dramas might also ensue soon enough.

And secretly, I have my own little reason for inward smiling.

Pic via Perfumes the Guide site. Commentary entirely my own (not via press release).


  1. Great news about The Guide...I think the supplemental reviews are a great idea, both in terms of utility for the reader and keeping sales going.

    And what tantalizing tidbit lurks between the lines, oh One Who Has Secret Smile???

  2. My, my, the scoop ratio has been on fire in here! ;)

    Tis terrific news, once more. There's much to bet that this new edition will be much better, with some understandable but glaring omissions corrected, and the addition of the price ranges. The Insolence EdP review makes it sound hilariously fantastic, I can't wait to try it! I'm glad to see they liked the by now much maligned Mousson, which I did find interesting, and am baffled by their appreciation of Dior Homme Sport, which to my nose is a perfectly accurate, almost headspace rendition of Mr Clean Lemon.

    Of course, I am now raising not only my eyebrows, but also my hands to the ceiling, at the perfectly insane Serge Noire review (seriously, what's up with that?!)

    And congrats on the deserved mention! ;)

  3. Ah, so. Indeed...congratulations on being mentioned. Introductions/referrals to your blog are good for all budding and experienced perfume explorers.

  4. Anonymous15:18

    I was glad to see them reviewing Perfumes Delrae. A bit of a surprise how they trashed Serge Noir, wow!--though I have to confess, my first thought on smelling it was "burnt rubber".


  5. Just got done reading it, I know what you are secretly smiling about, I believe it is a correction at the very end. And yes I was happy to see there review of Mousson, the funny thing is I think more often I agree with Chandler and Tania on fragrances than with Luca. But I couldn't disagree more with Chandler on the review of Mousson.

  6. What a nice idea from Luca and Tania. Thanks for sharing.

    My own eyebrows are doing the same ;-) Especially at the one stared Serge Noir - very curious if his clove is bigger than the modern L'Air du Temps ;-)

  7. Anonymous18:37

    If you read the introduction again, it appears that while this particular download is free, they will be available only by subscription starting in December. It will be interesting to see how much they think people will pay to continue to read what they have to say.

  8. Anonymous20:13

    Well done Elena! Have just delightedly sped read it knowing I can dwell on favourite bits later (I always thought that Jaspar Conran was good!). And I just sniffed Guerlain Homme in Harvey Nicks and bagged a sample because I liked it more than I thought I would (hot guy in advert too). All topped off with a well deserved mention of you. Very good of L&T to make this so available. Donanicola

  9. Typically savant-like, as usual, dear Elena.

    I actually haven't read the Guide, but I did enjoy reading the supplement.

  10. Thanks for letting us know about this. Like the Guide, the Newsletter is fascinating reading, full of wit, insight, and opinions sharply at odds with those commonly found elsewhere.

    I was struck by not only by the negative review of Serge Noire, which I've been finding quite interesting to wear, but also by the contrarian review of L'Ete en Douce. While most online reviewers have found that fragrance light and fresh, the Newsletter scoffs at that assessment, finding instead "an eye-crossingly powerful musk and one of those intensely chemical-tasting tisanes of linden and orange blossom that you find in French supermarkets." Well, they don't mince words.

    All I can think is that their acute noses must sometimes be a curse to Turin and Sanchez. It's possible that being able to smell too much ruins fragrances like L'Ete for them that are quite lovely to the multitudes of us with lesser abilities. On the other hand, their highly developed senses can also give them an appreciation of scents like Un Jardin apres le Mousson that seem slightly confused/confusing to the likes of me. Personally, I'd split the difference between Burr's panning and Turin's rave on that one.

  11. Glad you liked the news ScentsCelf and thank you for your kind words :-)

  12. Six,

    sweetie, I can't be blamed for being a little quick with my discoveries and notifications, can I? ;-)
    I feel validated in many ways. :-)

    It is always interesting, often fun and sometimes confusing to read the opinions of those two authors: it's a great springboard of discursive topics at any rate, which is not bad thing in itself!

    I laughed with the Insolence EDP review as well, very witty: can't wait to try it for myself. I liked the EDT quite a bit, hairspray topnote and all and am curious to see how genuinely vulgarised the new rendition is and how it might differ or be similar to the previous and others in the market. This should be fun!

    I haven't sniffed Dior Homme Sport yet either (probably because the "sport" moniker puts me off), so I am withholding judgement till I do, but your trusted opinion makes me a little scared.

    And as you know, I loved Serge Noire as well: I admit it's a difficult scent to love or even like, but it's an acquired taste. Maybe Luca might change his view like he did for Eden or some others (Chamade etc), eventually, who knows? It's not unheard of, is my point. ;-)

  13. Calypso,

    I feel the DelRae line is certainly worthy of mention (and praise) and it is an omission happily rectified.

    Serge Noire, like I said above to Six, is rather difficult to like, so I am not surprised that the initial pyrocaustic note has turned so many people off. Then again I like Essence of John Galliano, which is also "burnt".....wait, strike that out, "charred" is more like it, LOL. It has fond associations for me of midnight Easter mass with pyrotechnics exploding at orthodox churches in my homeland. It's a very special association which I am sure not all people get.

  14. Jen,

    thank you for your comment, it's certainly interesting how Tania and Chandler represent more of a layman's attitude towards aesthetic result, while Luca appreciates the infrastructure more. Or at least this is what comes across as a quick impression if we are to oversimplify things [because NB: I am not saying that Luca doesn't appreciate sheer beauty or the emotion behind a fragrance, nor that Tania -or Chandler for that mnatter- cannot go into the skeletal deconstruction of things.]

    It was rather funny that Chandler and Luca had such differing opinions on Mousson: as communicated to them, I have taken a middle stance personally to which I remain firm. :-)

  15. Max,

    it's nice to be able to update, I agree. Otherwise the very essence (no pun intended) of this kind of publication soon becomes outdated.

    Ahhh...Serge Noire will be a most controversial review, I predict. Clove is not such a bad thing after all. I have an affinity for it, to be honest!

  16. Mharvey,

    yes, I know. Thanks for mentioning it.
    This is why I said "I do appreciate the fact that the supplemented reviews are free for download: I'd propose that it remains so for all four newsletters if possible".

    I do understand that they want to make money out of their book and their written word, though: it's not something illogical to ask for.
    Whether people will respond or not and to what degree will be evident in the following couple of years, I guess. Subsequent number of re-editions will be the barometer of its success, as with any book.

  17. Dear Nicola,

    thank you so much! I liked the idea of the free first newsletter (which is so tantalizing!)so I am hoping that they persist with it for those of us who already have the book and just keep the subsequent fattier editions as a paid commodity for new buyers.
    But ultimately, it's their decision and not ours and we should accept it.

    Should give Guerlain Homme a test run with your opinion in mind :-)

  18. Dain,

    thank you sweetie, glad you enjoyed the reviews.
    It's a fun read overall, maybe you can find it in your local library soon enough.
    (and hope the move is going well for you! let me know your news!)

  19. Kathryn,

    you're very welcome and thanks for your interesting comment.

    I think I have been vocal about this before on other venues, but worth repeating: being contrarian has its own advantages and sometimes it adds to the prospect of being exciting and tantalizing to read.

    Please read my above comments about Serge Noire: it's not an easy scent and some of us like it, while others are turned off. That's the beauty of fragrance in general!

    As to L'ete en douce, I do enjoy it myself quite a bit in its previous incarnation (ie.Extrait de Songe), but I have to agree with them that that "fresh and light" accord is indeed a very powerful -on a molecular level- musk component and probably a garland of aromachemicals; perhaps the same used to aromatize tisanes!
    But, you see, this rationalisation behind the fragrance's structure does not impair me from liking the soft cotton-y smell of it. Therefore I don't think it's LT's and TS's superior olfactory skills that are to blame, but their aesthetic stance on the choices made for the fragrance (inclusion of powderful musks, "clean" aura, "easy" crowd-pleaser etc)or any other fragrance for that matter.

    I also agree that Mousson is technically and artistically very competent (see my review of it)and yet -like you, I suspect- I wouldn't choose to wear it as a personal fragrance: not me, somehow. It's purely an aesthetic choice on my part.

    It's a bit like appreciating Marcel Duchamp's "Urinal" concept as influential and innovative at its time vs wanting to have it in your living-room every day: two different things :-)

    Hope I am making sense.

  20. Dear Helg,

    Thank you so much for you thoughtful and enlightening response, demonstrating the value of considering differing points of view. Yes, you make perfect sense. My own responses to fragrance are so immediate and emotional that I hadn't thought much about stepping back and evaluating a reviewer's critical stance. That is a valuable thought for me.

    I am beginning to understand: the most interesting thng about a perfume is not simply its chemical structure. (Although I remain in awe of those, like you, who can decode such things.) What is even more interesting is how it feels, what it can be said to mean, and how that fits into ones own personal geography of taste,

    I was delighted to read your review of L'Ete/Songes, not only because it was so much in accord with my own opinions. Your exploration in that review of the philosophy of boredom is so much fun to think about. And how nice to see a reference to Billy Collins. I heard him speak a few months ago, and still smile whenever I think of him.

  21. Kathryn,

    you're very welcome and I am very glad that you took it in the sense that it was meant to be(ie.demonstrate the importance of POV).

    You do flatter me a lot, because surely I cannot compete with Luca on deconstructing a fragrance's chemical formula; my studies are only a teeny, tiny bit in comparison.
    I do believe what you say though: that there is a feeling and a message transported through fragrance and that it has a specific place in one's "geography of taste" (what a brilliant phrase!) which accounts for its subjective beauty.

    I hope I didn't bore you to tears with my musings on philosophising boredom through indulging L'ete en douce! (NB it used to be Extrait de Songe and not Songes, latter being the quite different and rival scent by Annick Goutal which brought about the name change eventually ~noting it, just in case it gets confused by some random reader)
    It's great for those moments though and I am sure Billy Collins would agree :-) (lucky you!)

  22. This is marvelous news, and a wonderful boon to the world of e-publishing. As someone who lives in both the world of computers and the world of publishing, the addition of the world of perfumes to that crossover is particularly delicious. Thank you for the scoop!

  23. Dear Risa,

    good too see you again!! Hope you're very well :-)
    And you're very welcome: I uploaded as soon as Luca mailed me because these news have great interest for many of our readers.

    Indeed it's always good when e-publishing gets the attention it deserves, because some serious action is getting place there from what I see.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Emmanuella,

    like I said, Luca has been known to have changed his mind many times (there is no qualitative nuance to this remark on my part), so I am placing bets on many of those, LOL.
    Remember his reviews in the old French guide? What a world of difference: other times, other language, perhaps a more emotional stance on many things and more importantly a completely different audience.

    On a funny note: there is a bit of praise on Miel de Bois in the review of El Attarine already! ;-)
    (I don't hate Miel de Bois but sadly I can't wear it, although I have no problem whatsoever with Muscs Kublai Khan or Arabie)

    I think readers with a critical eye can very well discern what shapes their specific preferences (the issue of structure vs. finished result, the innovation factor, the love of specific perfumers' work etc.).

    Their undertaken task is monumental, so we have to give it out to them, and although I do prefer the vintage No.5 from the 70s, I believe that issuing some more modern versions is not a bad move on Chanel's part ~I see it as an introductory step in a good direction, much like Insolence for Guerlain.

    My wonderement remains though: what have/will they do with all those bottles???

  26. Ooops, this way it seems like I responded to the void.
    Oh well, never mind. :-)

  27. I 'm afraid they rehash the same old platitudes, extremely concise reviews and a strong preference for molecules and technique over literary and artistic aesthetics. Luca Turin will probably change his mind about Miel de Bois in ten years from now like he did with La Nuit. That said I still think they both did a good job with the book and at least this time around I appreciate that Luca Turin gives credit to Chanel for modernizing No 5 with utmost seriousness and care (No 5 Eau Premiere).

  28. His 1994 french guide reviews were so pompous to read, I 'm glad he doesn 't do that anymore.

    I love and wear Miel de Bois, all I get from it is the waxy smell from the exquisite charm of a real parisian interior that I miss so much (In the 80's I lived in rue Oudinot in the 7th district).

    Who knows what they do with so many bottles? I know I wouldn 't keep them all.

  29. Ah, thanks for reposting it, Emanuella.

  30. Well, one can argue that Frenchiness and pomposity do have something to talk about between themselves ;-) (hence I talked about a different audience above)
    but in a way they had no pre-cognition of what was about to follow, whereas the Guide knew perfectly well who it was targeting, how it was supposed to do that and what it would say to generate discussion.
    I guess that was my point.

    Waxy smell and parisian should try Dior Dior if you haven't!

    PS. Ah, près les offices du parti Socialiste?
    Tu étais/es aisée j'assume.

  31. And I forgot: yes, I wouldn't keep them all either. Which poses interesting questions on how to get rid of them.

  32. I'm a bit late to the party here but have just finished frenzied reading of the newsletter and reviews! I am going to read it at a less break neck speed later.

    Thank- you so much for the info- I am trying to get tickets to see Luca Turin at Selfridges soon but the link isn't working!!

  33. Rose,

    youre very welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!

    Let me gently point this glitch out to Luca :-)

  34. Ooh thanks but it's not his site it's the Sunday Times one- will search his site now!

  35. perfumeshrine, I was just a poor rich little girl. I left everything and everyone when I turned 18 and then moved on.

    You know the pomposity of the 1994 guide is exactly what those hags at POL worship! LOL

  36. Anonymous10:56

    "perfumeshrine, I was just a poor rich little girl. I left everything and everyone when I turned 18 and then moved on."

    That would explain the dancing in the streets.

  37. Emmanuella,

    I deduce you had your reasons. Respect.

    I doubt the majority of POL has even read the 1994 Guide (besides a couple of reviews translated).
    {Hags as in Have A Great Summer?}

  38. Anon,

    seems like you know more than we do?
    But thanks for stopping by.

  39. perfumeshrine, how do you explain Luca Turin already had a following at POL? I assumed they had the english version, I saw it somewhere online, not sure if it s official though.

    well hags as xenophobic anti-french middle america old ladies at POL but most of all those wussy anonymous transphobic closeted homosexual trolls with no balls from Basenotes. "That would explain the dancing in the streets" --> have a life!

  40. Emanuella,

    I'd rather not have a vendetta from elsewhere being taken here, although I do agree that the comment directed at you was uncalled for.

    As to the POL following, come on! Haven't you heard of "Emperor of Scent? (Chandler inadvertedly created the fandom, thus).
    Sure you have!
    You know plenty of things. ;-)

  41. The "Emperor of Scent", oh yes, how can I forget about that? So that explains everything. I think Luca Turin has injected more humor than previously which makes it more tolerable but it 's not as hilarious as it could have been. I also like that his style very direct, when he doesn 't like something you know it and that works for me.

    The idiotic anon post is exactly what a large part of the perfume community looks like. As much as I love perfume, unfortunately the perfume community has proven to me to be one of the worst communities I ever encountered in my life.

  42. Em,
    all the more reason to stick to where you're welcome then.
    Your opinion is interesting to hear, I have to say.


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