Here is Tania Sanchez on Guerlain’s L’Instant Magic Elixir…
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez have released the second quarterly update to Perfumes: The Guide. The Winter 2008 update includes reviews of 129 fragrances plus a top 10 list for 2008, and is available for download for $9.99.
Tania Sanchez on Juicy Couture's Viva La Juicy: "I suspect that Firmenich keeps a swimming-pool-sized vat filled with a diabolically saccharine standard mixture of fruit flavor, vanilla, and musk, fixed with a tap, for perfumers to decant for clients who use pink in the packaging."
One reason why truly great smells are so often undervalued is that they are today made and distributed under the not particularly watchful gaze of a few large corporations. The cynical bean-counters in Paris and Zurich do not hesitate to tamper with old formulas, insisting on the substitution of cheap chemical compounds that approximately resemble rarer, better ingredients in an effort to reduce the dizzying cost and increase profits. They do not tell their customers when or how they do this, indeed they presume we won’t notice the difference, so fine perfume is now hopelessly entangled with the international cosmetic dollar, and ill-served by marketing and public relations. It is also manacled to crude presumptions about what is acceptably feminine or credibly masculine.
But if the title lacks poetic fun, the book most certainly does not. Although the language occasionally dips into the kind of hyperbolic floweriness one perhaps must expect from enthusiastic connoisseurs, on the whole it is written with pleasing plainness and, most of all, a sense of humour. Guerlain's Mouchoir de Monsieur is lauded with an adulatory four-star review and readers are advised that "if you can wear it without thinking of Rupert Everett playing Beau Brummell, do so by all means", while something called Montana Mood Sexy is dismissed with one star and a curt "not tonight".
— From Talking scents: Hadley Freeman meets Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, a couple united by their passion for perfume, who have written a sniffer's guide to help us distinguish the 'whippet-like' from the 'slutty'. At the Guardian.
The worst problem affecting the perfume industry, Turin says, is “a complete lack of art direction. Nobody realises that every great perfume was art-directed by somebody who had a clear vision of what he wanted, above and beyond the perfumer. There is fantastic cohesion between the smell, the bottle, the colour, the packaging — the whole thing is amazing, miraculous, not random. That doesn’t happen very often: now you’ve got some guy in marketing and a tie-in with some model. Art direction is why Serge Lutens [the famous creator of Shiseido Nombre Noire (sic)] is such a genius; he is obsessed to the point of disease”.
Fashion writer Colin McDowell will be talking to Luca Turin at a "Style Lecture" on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 6 pm in London. The event is open to the public (tickets are £20); see the details here.