Perfume is an art and not a science, argue Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez in Perfumes: The Guide – but it is really a language. To be more precise, perfume is a text. One particular perfume described in these pages is the equivalent-for-some of Finnegan’s Wake: ‘needlessly complex and hard to read, like an experimental novel beloved of critics that you take on holiday resolving to finish at last but swap at the airport for a Robert Ludlum thing with a cracking yarn’.
In the extended introduction that precedes their 1,500 perfume reviews, Turin and Sanchez note that what little writing there is on perfume has fallen into two ‘unreadable’ genres, ‘breathless purple descriptions by ad writers’ or ‘poker-faced pseudoscience from aromatherapists’. The aim of Perfumes: The Guide is to make