Luca Turin's perfume reviews @perfumes_ilove

niche houses

Anatole Lebreton

One of the joys of reviewing niche fragrances is encountering brands that have recently appeared and/or I have never heard of, which means I have exactly zero expectations. Anatole Lebreton sent me small sprays of his four fragrances, with a nice letter and a leaflet more suggestive of a yoga retreat than a niche perfumery firm, a million miles away from the luxury-goods ambiance of most of the industry. I smelled all […]

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Institut Très Bien

I was delighted to see the ITB stand at Esxence, because I feared that they had gone out of business, and their old range of Colognes was great. I was also fond of the name which roughly translates as “Institute Well Done”, Très Bien being (if you’re lucky) written in red ink by a teacher in the margin of a French schoolbook with its weird musical-stave ruling. I imagine the citrus Cologne constraint […]

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Masque Milano

As I said in a previous post, I chanced into the Masque Milano stand at Esxence and was sat down and given a glass of bubbly and a very cogent explanation of their recent work. It was immediately obvious that a lot of thought had gone into the fragrance art direction. Thought is not a sufficient condition to make great perfumes, but it is necessary, and in very short supply […]

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Giovanni Sammarco

At Esxence I met Giovanni Sammarco, a Swiss perfumer. He sent me samples of four of his fragrances. They are of such unusual quality that I feel I would be remiss not mentioning them all. 1- Vitrum, a beautiful, quiet vetiver with a touch of rose, one of the best of its kind that I can remember. I am minded to wear this one every day. 2- Bond-T, a huge and […]

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Music and Perfume

No one, I think, is more convinced than I am that olfaction, like hearing and color vision, is a spectral sense. I have spent the last twenty years proposing and developing the very idea that the nose is a vibrational spectroscope  (for a 12-minute version please see my TED lecture). Does this mean that the three senses map onto one another in an obvious way? Not really. Yesterday I mentioned that […]

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The Different Company ?

The Different Company is dear to my heart. Their first batch of releases in 2000-2001 included such masterpieces as Rose Poivrée and Osmanthus, both by Jean Claude Elléna. Osmanthus, in its small and seemingly unbreakable travel bottle, kept me company on many trips. I used to spray it in the air when taking possession of a hotel room to feel right at home. I was transported back a decade when […]

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An audience with Sultan

While at Esxence I visited the stand of Turkish firm Nishane. There was a small crowd around the stand, talking animatedly and smelling the collection. I handed over my card, bagged some samples, and heard someone nearby call my name. It was a young man I did not know, who seemed very shy and nervous. He spoke fast, did not tell me his name, said he was glad to meet me, […]

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Letter from Milan

I spent a full day at Esxence, the niche perfumery and cosmetics show in Milan. It ran in a weird part of town, both central and entirely new, full of tall buildings interspersed by newly named squares even taxi drivers haven’t heard of. Once near there you couldn’t miss it, though, with huge banners guiding you down a gentle ramp to an underground space. The first impression was that of […]

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Mission Statement

I had a minor epiphany recently. I was at my desk smelling fragrance samples sent by Style Arabia for my column, and samples sent by the Institute of Art and Olfaction to be assessed blind for their awards. The Style Arabia frags were mainstream, the IAO frags artisan and independents. After a while I noticed that I was getting an unaccustomed feeling from smelling the IAO samples: joy. There is […]

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