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Nose-to-Nose – (Some) of Our Favourite 5-Stars - August 13, 2013

Photo - Perfumes: the A-Z guide, North American paperback cover

Gwen: Did you read in Esther's post last week where she says that Luca Turin is going to be reviewing perfumes again?
Kay: I sure did. It’s great news! And I read the interview with him in Arabia,
Gwen: I might not always agree with Turin, but some of his reviews have led me to discover some of my favourite frags. That's not to say that there aren't other great perfume reviewers out there, and I do read a lot of them, but I love his writing, and his point of view.
Kay: Me, too.  I l think he’s a terrific writer - his breadth of knowledge is vast, and he’s so good at linking the history, culture and science of the perfume art. Plus, I love that he’s opinionated, and controversial.

Gwen: You can write that again…like the comment he made in the interview about memory and perfume, and I quote:

“Perfume is decidedly not about two things: it isn’t about memory and it isn’t about sex. Perfume is about beauty and intellect,” Luca begins. “A perfume is a message in a bottle—not a smell—and the message is written by the perfumer and read by the person who smells it.”

How do you respond to that, since you keep telling me that memory is such a big part of your perfume enjoyment?

Kay: I think he’s being somewhat coy when he says that, because the act of smelling always involves memory. That’s just a fact – it’s the way we’re wired.

Gwen: So do you agree or disagree with him?

Kay: Both. I think he means that a perfumer doesn’t begin with the intention to jog our memory, or to create a sex aid. That’s marketing, the fluff, the hype. A perfume is an artistic expression that tells a story, it’s the perfumer’s vision or “message in the bottle” as Luca describes it, but it can trigger different reactions in different ways in people. For example, when I smell a new perfume for the first time, I see colours and images. Perfumes are beautiful pictures to me, created from a bunch of sources - could be a snapshot from my past, a scene from a movie, a great painting, famous faces or places, or favourite flowers and plants – all in my memory and fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. So I decidedly connect with memory – visual memories which help me experience the beauty of what I’m smelling, especially if it’s a really unusual note, or strange scent.  And I never know which ones are going to pop up, so sniffing is always an adventure. What happens when you smell a new frag?
Gwen: I definitely fall into the beauty and intellect camp. What brought me back to perfume were the more abstract ones. I’ve never been on a tiger hunt, or in a tub made of hinoki, but I want to experience a perfumer’s olfactory interpretation of what they experienced – exotic places, high tea, a perfect summer’s day in an English garden, a midnight mass. I enjoy it in the same way I enjoy a choreographer’s interpretation of an experience or a painter’s expression of their experience. For me, it’s less about connecting with my own scent memories, although that can happen, and more about seeing where the perfumer is taking me. It’s about letting an artist show me a new experience or a new way of seeing something familiar.

Kay: I think we're on the same wave length with this, but Mr.Turin got us thinking and talking about how we actually experience perfumes. What a guy……
Gwen: He also helped us truly understand the differences between “good” frags and “great” frags, with his 5-star rating system. We’ve sniffed, worn and own so many of them, Kay, and isn’t fun now to read his lists in the back of The Guide, and compare the 5-stars with the 2-star or 1-star frags? I mean, I realize how amazing the “great” scents really are – the depth of their artistry, their uniqueness and complexity.
Kay: Lists are always fun to read. And of course, Turin is a genius when we agree with him - and a bum who doesn’t know a good frag if he swam in it, when we don’t agree – LOL.
Gwen: I think that for the most part we can agree that the great scents are universal, loved and worn by women, loved and worn by men – genderless.
Kay: And that they should be experienced by anyone who is interested in niche perfumes, especially the unusual suspects, not just the classics like Jicky, Angel or Rive Gauche….
Gwen: Absolutely, I mean great as those frags are – and they are great - there are other 5 star faves…   
Kay: Hmm, sounds like a decant pack to me – here it comes, BFF…some of our favourite 5-stars! Four fabulously unique 5-star fragrances, as described by Luca Turin in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, and meant for all women and all men who love and appreciate great perfumes…..

“(Some) of Our Favourite 5-Stars” Pack

Dzing!L’Artisan Parfumeur - vanilla cardboard
"Olivia Giacobetti is here at her imaginative, humorous best, and Dzing! Is a masterpiece." P.219

YataganCaron - woody oriental
"Respect, or possibly neglect, has spared Yatagan the largely disastrous scent reformulation of Caron fragrances. Rush to buy it before they screw it up." p.562

DiorellaChristian Dior - woody citrus
"Diorella came out in 1972…was intended as a feminine and was the very essence of bohemian chic…that still feels both elegant and decadent…I have always seen it as a perfected Eau Sauvage and one of the best masculines that money can buy." p.206-207.

TimbuktuL’Artisan Parfumeur - woody smoky
"No perfume has ever privileged radiance over impact quite to this extent…Bertrand Duchaufour should take full credit for a masterly composition." p.521

“(Some) of Our Favourite 5-Stars” Pack -   4 decants (1 ml.) for $15.00 + shipping.