How to develop your sense of smell, where to read about the history of fragrances and look for perfume ratings? We put together a guide through the top 5 books on perfume.
Dior: The Perfumes by Chandler Burr
The author of this book is a perfume critic and curator of the perfume department of the Museum of Art and Design in New York. He beautifully describes the process of creating the Dior fragrances and interviews Francois Demachy. He describes the hot Madagascar wind that carries the smell of thousands of tropical flowers against the background of a dark green rainforest as “the heady juice of the eighties”. This book on perfume album is illustrated with photos and sketches for the Dior archives.
Cult Perfumes: The World’s Most Exclusive Perfumeries by Tessa Williams
The perfume journalist who wrote for Vogue, The Guardian, Elle and The Times gives an insight into the world of niche perfume brands. She tells the story of the best compositions of Annick Goutal, Floris Nicolai, Santa Maria Novella, Roja and others. The book is about creators and marketing, interesting inspirational stories, excerpts from interviews and illustrations.
Past Scents: Historical Perspectives on Smell by Jonathan Reinarz
This book covers the entire history of perfumery from ancient times to the present day. Jonathan Reinarz is a medical historian who writes about the development of various scents and the meaning of scents in religion. For example, how many centuries ago people distinguished Christians from pagans by their smell, white people from people of colour, women from men, virgins from harlots. The topics are complex and deep, but the author simplifies them in detail for the wider audience.
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The Perfume of Gems by Simone Marchetti
Bulgari released their first book on perfumery. The inspiration was the Le Gemme collection, dedicated to olfactory sensations and precious stones. The book is a collaboration between an anthropologist and philosopher Annick Le Gere, a photographer Michael Poodle, an illustrator Luigi Serafini and a composer Brian Eno. Each of them has his own way to conduct a cultural study about the relationship between scents, precious stones and the man, which turned into a beautiful and essential read.
Perfume: A Century of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom
Perfume expert Lizzy Ostrom divided all the chapters of her book into decades: the roaring 20s, the elegant 50s, the swinging 60s, the sparkling 70s, and so on. In each, the author considers the compositions significant for that decade. For example, Diorissimo in the 50s, Opium in the 70s, Angel in the 90s. Each chapter is preceded by a brief historical, cultural, and sociological excursion without which the meaning of the aromas cannot be fully understood. Truly one of the best books on perfume.
Would you read any of these books on perfume?
Text: Irina Gorskaia