Books about perfume

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Marquis
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Books about perfume

Post by Marquis »

The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr as mentioned above is really good read and quite a fascinating glimpse into the world of 'commercial' perfume.
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warriortwo
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Books about perfume

Post by warriortwo »

That makes me wonder, does anyone know if there are super-high-end fragrances that are truly 100% natural? Of course there are plenty of independent perfume makers like Fabienne who can produce 100% natural perfumes, but from what I read in Fast Food Nation, it appears that mass market fragrances produced for drug-stores and mid-level department stores (like Macy's) are the ones who exclusively use fragrances procured from a fragrance lab, where "natural" and "artificial" might as well be the same thing. What about the reeeeeally reeeeally good stuff?
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Books about perfume

Post by fabienne »

To be frank with you, that is a movable feast and really a good subject for a blog. But...

What you find as a really really high end fragrance has undoubtedly come out of one of 7 labs. The "Seven Sisters" put together virtually all of the high end fragrances and sell them to the designers or "perfumers". All of the celebrity perfumes come from those companies. Chandler Burr's book gives you a great picture of how these perfumes are made, he shows you a celebrity fragrance and one from a house of couture.

The lab fragrances many times rely on "nature identical" ingredients. For instance, one of the vanilla components is coumarin. You can "squeeze" it out of the plant (which is time consuming and yields inconsistent results) or you can make it in the lab and it will be cheaper and more predictable and it will smell the same and it will be a lot less trouble to make and It will have exactly the same chemical structure as the "real" coumarin. You would not be able to smell the difference between the two under any circumstances. Oh, and to add wonder to the mix, the lab coumarin would be more pure!

Large perfume houses are set up to sell. They are not set up to conform to one principle (unless that is to make money). So if something is a lot of trouble and expensive and won't fetch as much money as what they usually do, but it is more natural...they won't make it.

Combine that with the fact that people, when presented with two items, will always choose the one which is less expensive and comparable. I am sure that you can think of a time which you bought a higher priced item because it was "better" or better for the environment or natural but that is the exception rather than the rule, and the high end perfumers have to make the money to pay their vast armies of employees and their trips to the Nile to sniff lotus buds at dawn in June whilst being fed dainties on private barges.

Finally, there is the question of the end product. We all have to admit that there are parts of a fragrance that we are just not prepared to forgo. Whether it is musk, lily of the valley, "that pink scent", the smell of fog at dawn or whatever, we just don't like perfume as much unless it contains those elements. So if you take out the nifty modern artificial elements, what you are left with is flat, fuzzy, and unattractive. Once I went to a perfumer in a wonderful American city who advertises that they make perfume from recipes written up in the 1840's, about the time when perfume was still 100% natural. Maybe it was bliss in 1849 but it was like something from a very old lady's wardrobe to me, and I am a perfumer who can appreciate what most people are trying to achieve. The reason was that they were using old fashioned ingredients and I knew it.

And in the same vein, if you smell most of the high end 100% natural fragrance parts by themselves, they are not all that pleasant. It is an odd twist of nature that distillation by steam has this tendency to make things smell like they have been dried, and a lot of things are steam distilled. They often smell dried out rather than fresh. Then there are things which smell divine in nature but cannot be made into essential oils (lily of the valley, peony, osmanthus for instance). If they can become essential oil, they may smell dreadful, too. I have smelled essential oil of carnation which was really phfffft and butter which was awful (I shudder to think about it) and osmanthus (smelled like hay but not attractive). That is just the nature of the item.

So, if you are looking for the ultra high end 100% natural perfumer, I don't think you are going to find what you expect. Perhaps Mandy Aftel comes about as close as you are going to get. If you do find someone who can do a good job with natural ingredients, they will be very very very expensive, I am sure of that.

Great question!:beret:
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Books about perfume

Post by Nyx »

I second Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. The book first, then the film. I feel the book captures more of what the main character is feeling and also makes the ending more metaphorical.

I can find two Chandler Burr perfume books at my library. I should read those. I need to get a copy of the Golden Egg too, if I can find it.
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Books about perfume

Post by warriortwo »

Ooooh! Such a fascinating bit of info on the perfume industry (and the industrial revolution's influence on it)! I must pick up one of those Chandler Burr books.
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Books about perfume

Post by Marquis »

Not a book as such, but Luca Turin had a blog for a while round about 2005. Sadly it was only active for 6 months, but you can find a pdf of all the posts (and comments) made.
Tis quite an interesting read.

You can find the file here: http://211.232.57.48/Documents/document ... extweb.pdf
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Books about perfume

Post by Nyx »

Reading The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr. I like it so far, I am about 140 pages in. I didn't know perfume companies make perfume to sample on paper instead of skin. Plus, I sort of knew celebs just added their name to perfumes, sometimes without even sampling them...but it was fun to know that Sarah Jessica Parker likes vertiver and a lot of the more dirty, more masculine perfumes notes I like and that she's makes her signature scent out of one expensive perfume and two cheaper perfumes, one a perfume oil bought on the street. Now that says New York to me!

Of course, they took her likes and threw them out the window, in favor of fresh light floral and time tested musk for Lovely. Ugh. I don't think Covet or Dawn capture what SJP likes as far as notes. I am waiting for "her" scent to come out...something that knocks you over with resins and manliness. Grr. I mean, I barely buy drugstore perfumes (that are poo-pooed in the book) and I will never go to a Hermes store (they probably wouldn't even let me in), so I'll stick to Testosterone for now...or for forever! :) Oh wait, I now live in a place with an actual Hermes store...I am still not going! :)
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Re: Books about perfume

Post by kerripaddock »

lulu wrote:Just wondering if anyone can recommend any novels that have perfume as a theme.....I know there was that one called Perfume (have seen the movie but not read the book). Also any non-fiction books that go in-depth about learning about perfume. Thanks!:bigsmile::bigsmile:
Hi, you can try this one Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume
Renowned perfumer Mandy Aftel explores the primal nature and fundamental importance of aroma in everyday life, teaching people about the nature of smell and the idea of "olfactory consciousness" in Essence and Alchemy :maily:

I found this book while finding best sandalwood cologne for my son on an e-commerce site.
Hope this will serve your purpose
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