Last week's issue of the New Yorker had a fascinating preview of a new book, Perfumes: The Guide. I highly recommend devouring the story, which examines how we develop our own "scent palates." Just as wine connoisseurs are able to distinguish flavors such as oak, chocolate, and grass in what they drink, people can train their noses to identify individual notes within a scent.
Biophysicist Luca Turin and perfume critic Tania Sanchez are the authors of Perfumes: The Guide, and their noses know. They've reviewed more than 1,200 fragrances, and just from reading a few excerpts in the article, I know I'll buy this book. Have a look at some of their more critical reviews:
- Amarige by Givenchy: “If you are reading this because it is your darling fragrance, please wear it at home exclusively, and tape the windows shut.”
- Heiress by Paris Hilton: “Hilariously vile 50/50 mix of cheap shampoo and canned peaches.”
- Vera Wang Princess: “Stupid name, pink perfume, heart shaped bottle, little crown on top. I half expected it to be really great just to spite me. But no, it’s probably the most repulsively cloying thing on the market today.”
- Love in White: “A chemical white floral so disastrously vile words nearly desert me. If this were a shampoo offered with your first shower after sleeping rough for two months in Nouakchott, you’d opt to keep the lice.”
Fantastic writing, no? The wit and vibrancy of their reviews are reason enough to read the book, but Sanchez and Turin's combined knowledge seals the deal. And as for the New Yorker story? Read it all the way through to find out which scent drives men wild. You might be surprised.