Luca Turin's perfume reviews @perfumes_ilove



The Camparino bar was open today, and I ordered a Lavorato Secco: 1 part Cent’erbe liqueur, made by Zucca exclusively for the bar, 1 part Campari, 1 part Rabarbaro Zucca, a spritz of seltzer and a slice of orange. A large, impatient, ravenously hungry guy next to me was eating crisps by the fistful under the disapproving eye of the barman. The kind lady at the till (pay first, drink later) explained that faithful customers […]

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Shameless plug

Last November, with a lot of help and a foreword from Tania Sanchez, I published a collection of monthly columns I had written (in English) for the magazine NZZ Folio in Zurich over a 10-year period. They were initially about perfumes and smells, and later branched out to other things. Self-publishing was overall a very satisfying experience. The Kindle version can of course be read on any machine with the app, […]

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The Atmos Clock

If I may digress from perfume for a moment, while passing a watch repair shop today I was struck by the fact that very few objects out there are simultaneously as sad and as fascinating as the Atmos Clock. Sad, because its neoclassical fifties look reminds one of grand municipal buildings in glamor-free places like Brussels. Sad because the very slow motion of the torsion pendulum (2 swings every minute) suggests […]

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At times I regret my resolve to only say good things or nothing about niche houses, because some of the sample collections I got were really egregious. Contrary to expectations, the main problem with niche perfumery is not lack of skill, but all-out cynicism. There seem to be plenty of slick new outfits out there, typically well-funded and based in fashion-conscious places, that decided that an arty look, pretentious patter, affable, skinny […]

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In Milan today

Allegedly a national holiday, but the shopping must go on. Photo taken at the entrance of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, with my back to the old Bar Zucca, now renamed Camparino, where they serve the only cocktail that improves on a Negroni, the Lavorato Secco. I seem to remember it involved Rabarbaro Zucca, Cordial Campari and a mysterious herb liqueur only found there. Niche liqueur! I felt I needed one […]

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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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Tabac Grande (Sultan Pasha Attars)****

When I lived in North Carolina I used to go at weekends to a spectacular grocery called Fowler’s, now sadly closed, smack in the centre of tobacco-town Durham. The place had the peculiar, eerie quiet of US downtowns outside working hours. Dotted all around were windowless buildings full of tobacco to the eaves. The rich, complicated smell of cured tobacco was everywhere, as always poised midway between delicious and poisonous. […]

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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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