The Perfume Lover: A Personal Story of Scent review (and a giveaway).

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As the author of the above book was pointing out in her blog graindemusc ” This is shaping up as the year of the perfume book.”.

As one that thrives on perfume blogs and joyfully welcomes any paper and kindle literature regarding/related to/mentioning perfume I was happy to see the announcement of this one, the pretty cover appealingly greeting me in my routine graindemusc visits. It was the post of the “supreme enabler” Victoria of boisdejasmin that made me decide I need this book sooner than later as I was patiently waiting for its US release. Some other reviews also caught my attention, particularly some of the criticism, too much of the author in the author’s book, hmm, my antennae perked up, I went ahead and ordered from overseas, by the time the book arrived I had forgotten I ordered it.

None of the reviews, nor for that matter, the author’s blog style,while very enjoyable, restricted by the nature of the environment, actually prepared me for the delight and pleasure of reading Denyse Beaulieu’s postmodern love declaration to perfume. The passion for perfume is not new in literature. It exploded in Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez ‘s perfume guide , it’s organic in Mandy Aftel’s Essence and Alchemy, sugested in Chandler Burr’s Emperor of Scent, bubbling to surface in Denise Hamilton’s Damage Control. What’s new is the precise focus on perfume as an art, an aesthetical experience, The 8th Art ( as I’m pleased to report my compatriot Octavian Coifan named it). 

The narrative settles in several layers, the main one being the creation of Seville a L’Aube along with Bertrand Duchafour ( if you’re reading this, chances are you probably sniffed or put down on your sample/decant list quite a few of his creations), a perfume inspired by the author’s “most beautiful night” of her life.  Other layers consist of some histories : perfume, the author’s development, her amorous life. Some reviewers of this book have concluded that some of these layers were either unneccessary, underdeveloped or even bothersome. I think it’s this particular point that I wanted to disagree with that made me decide to take time to write about this book, for Beaulieu reaches a perfect balance interweaving many threads of the same complex theme: perfume as art, a thing of beauty in a personal and social context , a “perpetually moving space of beauty borne by living flesh”.  She’s doing it with masterful gusto peppered by a precise feminine intuition.

I wouldn’t say that this is just a book for fume-heads/ perfumistas.  However, it helps if you’re in the above species and have an issue with IFRA regulations and have an encounter with a phrase of this sort: ” After all, it is a well-documented fact that entire populations were wiped out by pruritus after having dabbed on a drop of Joy”. It does help if you are, as some facts in the story will not be so esoteric but mind you,  Beaulieu is one damn good writer who doesn’t assume. She’s writing not so much for us, the perfume lovers, as for those that don’t know much about perfume,the perfume community, the perfume blogosphere,  the virgin ones that maybe will also step in Burr’s Department of Olfactory Art to see perfume as more than that stinky area in the department store. Do recommend and gift it if you want to corrupt.  

To boot, this is not just an enormously enjoyable book but will  likely be a landmark book in perfume literature.

And now the draw!  Apparently, the editors are not particularly hurried to publish perfume books because they don’t sell too great. I can imagine that one of the reasons is that the writer is talking about olfactory experiences that most people may have not encountered. Take Luca Turin’s reviews: they’re enjoyable but even more so if you have about half of the perfumes in your sample stash and hurriedly toiling on MUA and other such places to get the other half. One of  the lucky readers and commentators on my first ( and not outside the realm of possibility the last given my time availability) post will be chosen to receive a pack of (so far) 130 samples which will allow you to follow the book along with the smells mentioned or described. This is open for US readers. Please mention that in your comment.  The draw will close on June 15th and I will use random.org as soon as I figure out how :P

The list of samples so far ( I’m afraid I’m missing some key ones but trying to work on it ) –  the samples are partial or full and the list is trying but not meant to be comprehensive:

  1. Orange blossom absolute dilution
  2. Jasmine absolute dilution
  3. Tuberose absolute dilution
  4. Gardenia enfleurage
  5. Eau d’Italie Sienne l’Hiver
  6.   L’Artisan Dzongkha
  7.   L’Artisan Fleur de Liane
  8. Comme des Garcons series 3, Incense: Avignon
  9. Comme des Garcons series 3, Incense: Kyoto
  10.  L’Artisan Al Oudh
  11.  Methyl Salicylate
  12. Hedione
  13. Vintage Chanel no5
  14. Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche vtg
  15. Worth – Je reviens
  16. Guerlain- Shalimar
  17. Nina Ricci – L’Air du Temps vtg
  18. Bourjois – Evening in Paris vtg
  19. Lanvin – Arpege
  20. C Dior – Diorissmo
  21. Coty – L’Origan vtg
  22. Max Factor – Green Apple
  23. Dior- Poison
  24. Giorgio Beverly Hills
  25. Dior – Hypnotic Poison
  26. Bulgari – Black
  27. L’artisan Parfumeur –Vanille Absolument
  28. Chanel – No 19
  29. Dior – Dune
  30. Vanilla abs
  31. Davana
  32. Immortelle
  33. Tonka Bean tincture
  34. Narcissus
  35. Jean Desprez – Bal a Versailles vtg perfume
  36. Dana – Tabu vtg
  37. CK – Obsession vtg
  38. Clinique – Aromatics Elixir
  39. Faberge – Tigresse
  40. Galaxolide
  41. F Malle – Musc ravageur
  42. LA’rtisan Parfumeur – Mure et Musc extrait
  43. Estee Lauder –Youth Dew
  44. Costus
  45. Van Cleef and Arpels – First
  46. Chloe –vtg
  47. Yves Saint Laurent – Opium vtg perfume
  48. Estee Lauder – Cinnabar
  49. Anais Anais
  50. Fracas vtg
  51. Jolie Madame vtg
  52. Vent Vert vtg perfume
  53. Bandit
  54. Fougere (natural)
  55. Guerlain – Jicky ,
  56. Mitsouko
  57. Yardley Old English Lavender
  58. Caron – Pour Un Homme
  59. Caron – Tabac Blond
  60. Chanel – Cuir De Russie vtg EDC
  61. CK – One
  62. L’eau D’Issey
  63. Dior – Homme
  64. Acquolina – Pink Sugar 
  65. Isoamyl salicylate
  66. Lutens – Boxeuses
  67. Molinard Habanita vtg EDC
  68. Molinard Hanabita – older version
  69. Labdanum(incense) dilution
  70. Caron – Narcisse Noir vtg perfume
  71. Caron – Fleurs De Rocaille vtg perfume
  72. Caron – Poivre
  73. Serge Lutens – Iris Silver Mist
  74. Serge Lutens – Muscs Koublai Khan
  75. Serge Lutens – Encens et Lavande
  76. Serge Lutens – Tubereuse Criminelle
  77. Indole
  78. Givenchy – Ysatis
  79. Guerlain – Jardins de Bagatelle
  80. Frederic Malle – Carnal Flower
  81. F Malle – Le Parfum de Therese
  82. F Malle – Une Fleur de Cassie
  83. Guerlain – Apres L’Ondee
  84. Mugler- Angel
  85. Serge Lutens – Feminite du Bois – vtg
  86. L’Artisan Parfumeur – Dzing
  87. L’Artisan – Mechant Loup
  88. L’Artisan – Timbuktu
  89. Comme des Garcons – Odeur 71
  90. Demeter – Black Russian
  91. Cartier – L’Heure Fougeuse
  92. Guerlain – Guet –Apens/ Attrape Coeur
  93. Iso – E super
  94. Les Nez – L’Antimatiere
  95. Ambergris tincture
  96. Andy Tauer – Le Maroc pour Elle
  97. Cumin
  98. Hermes- Eau D’Hermes
  99. Jean Patou – Joy – vtg parfum
  100. Schiaparelli – Shocking
  101. Alexander McQueen – Kingdom
  102. ELDO – Secretions Magnifiques
  103. EDLO – Charogne
  104. Dior – Eau Sauvage
  105. Rochas- Femme
  106. Parfums Del Rae – Eau Emotionelle
  107. F Malle – Noir Epices
  108. Tobacco absolute
  109. Parfums De Nicolai –Maharanih
  110. Lancome-Tresor
  111. Le Labo – Patchouli 24
  112. Jean Patou –Sublime
  113. Coty – L”emeraude
  114. Guerlain – Shalimar vtg parf
  115. Guerlain – Mitsouko
  116. Yves Saint Laurent – M7
  117. Amouage –Jubilation 25
  118. Amouage – JubilationXXV
  119. Comme des Garcons – Sequoia
  120. Miller Harris L”air de Rien
  121. ELDO : Rossy De Palma
  122. ELDO: Like This
  123. Penhaligon’s Bluebell
  124. Hermes – Caleche
  125. Hermes 24 faubourg
  126. Comme Des Garcons – Daphne
  127. Styrax
  128. Ambretollide
  129. Lavender Absolute
  130. L’Artisan Parfumeur – Nuit De Tubereuse