Reading the Turin/Sanchez book is so much fun. They are opinionated and unapologetically subjective. Their personalities are so big and they give them free rein, so I find it a joy to read. Why read anything about perfume if it is not entirely idiosyncratic and eccentrically individualistic? The specific details they cite are what bring out the sense memories as you read the reviews. There are about a thousand reviews, of the good (sublime) the bad (so bad pity is evoked for the perfumer, though I reserve judgment, since I have disagreement with some of their ratings ) and the ugly. One thing that kind of surprised me is that there are a number of five star evaluations given to Estee Lauder perfumes, such as Pleasures. I have very mixed memories and feelings about EL fragrances. Years ago I remember walking into an office in Rockefeller Center in the dead of winter and suddenly noticing a strong floral fragrance which was very uplifting under the circumstances. It turned out to be the receptionist wearing Pleasures. I had received a number of samples with makeup purchases and had set them side but this experience broke through to me and I started using them as an antidote to an especially long dreary winter and over lit florescent interiors at work. It wasn't really "right" on me, just that there was that intense high keyed floral tone that could break through practically any confusing street impressions or the processed feel of the air in skyscraper buildings whose windows have never been opened. There was that impression of nature but also the impression of chemistry, the bigness of the scent that both attracted and caused me to pull back at the same time. I think Luca Turin especially loves the cross between nature and chemistry, heavy on the chemistry, and he is certainly never put off by a "big" scent. The EL perfumes are for me true exemplars of that style of perfume. An EL perfume seems to be able to fill vastly spacious art deco era department store floors in NYC, which can be a very good thing, as an environmental decoration. Though I am not at all up to personally trying to hold my own with such a big perfume presence myself, I can appreciate what they do, and now even more after reading the enthusiastic descriptions of Pleasures and Beyond Paradise in the book. Now I have been inspired to deliberately throw open my mental windows to re take a tour of other well reviewed EL perfumes too, such as Youth Dew and Tuberose Gardenia.
Less surprisingly, the houses of Guerlain and Chanel are the most consistent recipients of the authors' five star ratings. I am thinking it would be not be bad at all to make a list of all the five stars they have given, throw it in my bag and take it with me wherever I go, with the aim of trying them one after the other in a systematic way. Without making it a sensory overload party, I think it would operate as a real gift to myself to try them all one by one as the opportunity arises. A magical mystery tour of the classics and some surprises, like Tommy Girl -- I don't know if I will love them all as much as they do, probably not, but I know I will be thoughtfully guided in an refinement of my taste and sensibilities.
The authors invite samples for their review at http://www.perfumestheguide.com/
$15.85 on Amazon, with free shipping, last I looked.