Luca Turin's perfume reviews @perfumes_ilove

off topic

The Lost Perfume

I’ve been carrying around, through 12 house moves in thirty years, an empty bottle of Shaïna packed in bubble wrap. I just unpacked it for the 13th time yesterday. It was not always empty. I bought it full from the legendary Mme Ricou, in Menton, circa 1986. But it leaked badly, lost all its contents despite Parafilm and deposited the dry residue on the porcelain bottle and the bubble wrap. The formula […]

Continue Reading →


A colleague of mine in the Marine Station in Villefranche sur Mer, who knew a colossal amount about both plants and plankton, once gave me a precious piece of advice: if you want to fake botanical knowledge, just point to a tree and call it a false something (we had a false camphor tree in the magnificent Station garden). That way you look learned while leaving some leeway in your diagnosis. I […]

Continue Reading →


I’m still a novice at this WordPress thing, so I haven’t quite figured out how to post an about page (and please don’t tell me how to, it will happen spontaneously one day). But if you’re a niche perfumery and you’d like to send me samples, please contact me on and I’ll give you my address and phone number (forgot to put that on the deuced business cards I had printed) […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →

Perfumer mugshots

Is it possible not to look ridiculous while holding a smelling strip to one’s nose? I reckon only the great Michel Roudnitska succeeds: a faraway explorer look, lots of strips, and a cool holder that looks made of Inca gold. I want one. Update: Aveda perfumer Guy Vincent tells me “the strip holder [..] is not ancient Incan but it’s a cool thing nonetheless,  it’s the shape of a Ravenala madagascariensis palm. I have one here […]

Continue Reading →

A package came

Yesterday a big box came from France, and I expected a ton of fragrance samples. Opened it eagerly, and instead found these socks I had ordered as antidepressants while reminiscing about Pitralon. They look even brighter in real life, and are completely opaque. Now, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, I am finding it harder and harder to live up to my red and purple socks.

Continue Reading →

Pitralon Classic

My spirits always sink when someone picks me up at an airport or a railway station and the car turns out not to be a 1934 Voisin Aérodyne. Worse still, when the driver clears room for me at the front by throwing things into the back. To tell the truth, I’m not fond of other people’s cars even when they’re swank and spotless. I remember visiting the parents of a girlfriend many […]

Continue Reading →

A tale of two soaps

We just moved into a new house and found two stashes of soaps in a cardboard box that contained the random collection of things typical of carefully planned moves: unbreakable objects individually wrapped, no doubt to give coat hangers and bathroom mats an experience of cosseted travel rare in their austere lives. Now the bathrooms contain one each of Irish Spring and Mitsouko. The former was bought in bulk for me by TS’s mother when I expressed […]

Continue Reading →

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 […]

Continue Reading →