Bookworm Portia: Fragrance & Novels

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Post by Portia

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Hello Bookworms,

Lately I have been back reading books. For a while life was just too hectic and my head felt too full of whirling stuff to be able to fully give myself to a book. Thankfully life has calmed down to a mere roller coaster ride and I’m finding some space to get my read on. Books have always had a special place in my life. Mum & Dad used to read us to sleep every night and we were always told that when the world got too tough losing yourself in a book was an excellent cure. So, many of my books have been read and reread since my childhood and every time it’s like seeing old friends. Here though are a few of the fragrant books I’ve been reading this last few weeks.

Bookworm Portia: Fragrance & Novels

The Scent Trail Celia Lyttelton BookDepositoryBookDepository

The Scent Trail: Celia Lyttelton

The Scent Trail: How One Woman’s Quest for the Perfect Perfume Took Her Around the World. I enjoyed this book immensely and Celia Lyttelton must have spent a small fortune going on this grand journey around the world, meeting amazing people who grow, harvest and distil the fragrant ingredients that she had made into a bespoke scent. If you ever wanted to know more about where the natural ingredients are sourced then this book will give you enormous insight. Every now and then I had to go back and reread a page because I was lost in jealousy at her great good fortune.

Jitterbug Perfume Tom Robbins BookDepositoryBookDepository

Jitterbug Perfume: Tom Robbins

I have had this damn book for years and would read the first chapter or two and put it down in bafflement. This year I was determined to read all the way to the very last page, and I did. Tom Robbins leads us a merry dance and the story of finding immortality through scent is spellbinding, once you push through the first few chapters. I find that after reading it I look back on it with more admiration that I had while doing the reading. Jitterbug perfume needs to be reread and savoured next time.

The Perfume Garden Kate Lord Brown BookDepositoryBookDepository

The Perfume Garden: Kate Lord Brown

To be honest my initial thought was that I would hate this novel. Turns out I couldn’t put the damn thing down. A story told across generations with simultaneous narratives from all the protagonists, happening over a 70 year period. Basically a couple of love stories and a family torn apart by war. Mainly set in Valencia, Spain and there is a lot of fragrant talk because two of the main characters are perfumers. Really enjoyable, if slightly predictable read.

The Perfume collector Kathleen Tessaro BookDepositoryBookDepository

The Perfume Collector: Kathleen Tessaro

An estate, a perfume store, an inheritance, lost love, drama, found love. It’s all here in a very entertaining book. There is something about the writers style that irked me a few times but the story rolls along inventively enough and I ended up invested emotionally in the characters, though they are mostly only mildly likeable.

Two honourable mentions:
The Perfumed Sleeve by Laura Joh Rowland: A fabulously salacious murder mystery set in old Japan with a few fragrant references. Who knew old Japan was such a sexual hotbed of lies and deceit?
The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal: Indian widow and family nearly lose their family shop but the dictatorial oldest brother comes with his business partner to help. Few fragrant references but a cracking good read. My second reading, it was even better this time.

What are you reading?
Portia xxx

Susan Irvine: Of Spies and Scatter Cushions

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Post by Anne-Marie

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There is so much online information about perfume these days that books, especially slightly older ones like these two by Susan Irvine, may seem redundant. But there is still much pleasure to be had from holding a well-produced book in your hands, and from being in the presence of a knowledgeable writer who can convey a love of her subject.

Susan Irvine: Book Reviews

9781854104458-us

Susan Irvine: Perfume: The Creation and Allure of Classic Fragrances

Susan Irvine is a journalist and writer who specialised in perfume and fashion for many years. Her book Perfume: The Creation and Allure of Classic Fragrances is a broad sweep across the history of perfume and its production, presentation and marketing. I confess I have only marginal interest in the chemistry of scent, and the production of raw materials. Irvine covers these subjects admirably, but her chapters on how perfume is promoted fascinated me the most.

‘Selling perfume’, she writes, ‘is about selling something indefinable, invisible and covetable: glamour.’ So the philosophy, the brief, the bottle design, the name, the advertising and the launch party are all about creating desire for a slice of this glamour.

Irvine herself is apparently a veteran of many a launch party. ‘Concorde is the journalists’ equivalent of a school bus for transatlantic events’, she writes, laconically. ‘If it’s Monday, it must be the Paris Opéra, filled with 8,000 Casablanca lilies for the re-launch of Yves Saint Laurent’s Y.’ On Thursday its Giorgio Armani’s Giò in Manhattan … and so on. For the haps and mishaps of the launch of Dior’s Dune in Biarritz, you will have to read the book!

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Susan Irvine: The Perfume Guide

By contrast, The Perfume Guide is a guide to individual (mostly feminine) perfumes, arranged in families: floral, fruity, herbaceous, chypre, and oriental. It’s always fun to ‘look up’ one’s favourites (and ‘scrubbers’) in books like this to see what the author makes of them. Funny also to note discontinued gems, like All About Eve by Joop!, and obscurities like Smell This by James Berard (what? who?).

By 2000, when this book came out, niche perfume was starting to make a difference, so works by L’Artisan, Diptyque, Annick Goutal and Serge Lutens are mentioned. But of course the great classics are there too: Chanel No 5, Guerlain Shalimar, Lanvin Arpège, Patou Joy. ‘It’s impossible to imagine Chanel No 19 on a badly dressed woman’, Irvine proclaims, making me bite my lip and shuffle my feet in scuffed shoes.

If you have ever wondered where that great comment about Rive Gauche came from – ‘what KGB agents would have worn to seduce James Bond’ – it is Irvine’s. Dana Tabu is ‘for women who wear their knickers on their heads’. But my favourite is this remark on Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, one of the best-selling perfumes of all time:
‘For women who are not afraid of scatter cushions’.

Both books are out of print, but are still available from online second-hand book sellers.
Susan Irvine, Perfume: the creation and allure of classic fragrances (Haldane Mason Ltd, 1995).
Susan Irvine: The Perfume Guide (Haldane Mason, 2000).

 

Anne-Marie’s Perfume & Mothers

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Post by Anne-Marie

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No, it’s not Mother’s Day just yet, don’t panic!
I was mucking about on the perfume blogs the other day and came across a very striking post by March on Perfume Posse dating right back to 2006. Not a review, but a meditation, you might say, on her mother’s perfume, Lanvin’s My Sin.

Perfume & Mothers

It reminded me of a few other posts of this nature that I have read over the years. A few bloggers – mostly women – have written very movingly about the perfumes worn by their mothers, and the emotions that a whiff of perfume can elicit. These posts make for very interesting reading and I thought it might be good to bring them together here.

Boy and his mother laughing in the kitchen

The mothers have left their daughters with very strong perfume memories. Usually the women were indeed very strong women, and a girl’s first lessons in femininity are often learned at the dressing table through the wonder of watching her mother apply perfume. If you are familiar with the latest Chanel No 5 ad, featuring Gisele Bündchen, you will remember how beautifully this moment is evoked.
In different ways the bloggers’ daughters have tried to ‘read’ their mothers’ lives through their perfumes. They conjure up the mother as young woman, younger perhaps than her daughter is at the time of writing. They try to imagine their mothers as people separate from their children, as career women perhaps, or lovers to their husbands, or trying to juggle all their many roles.

Gisele CHANEL No 5 Ŧhe ₵oincidental Ðandy FlickrFlickr

What were my parents like before we children came along? Can I gain any insight into them just as people, not as parents? Does perfume open a different window on to my mother’s life and personality than the person I normally remember? If so, where do I belong in that picture?

Anyway, here are the posts.
March on Perfume Posse on Lanvin My Sin.

Beth on Perfume Smellin’ Things on Guerlain Shalimar.

Shelia on the Alembicated Genie on a variety of classic perfumes, especially VC&A’s First.

Michelle on Glass Petal Smoke on Dior Miss Dior.

Gaia, the Non-Blonde, on the original Chloe.

Barbara on Yesterday’s Perfume on Revlon Charlie. (Her mother also wore Rochas Femme, Lancome Magie Noir, Scherrer No 1, and Ungaro Diva.)

Dimitri_Torterat Dad_and_son_staring_at_the_French_oriflamme_(French_Bastille_Day_2009) WikiMediaWikiMedia

After you’ve had a browse, come back and share your own memories, if you would like to. And if know of similar posts about fathers, I’d love to know. These seem to be much rarer. And please share your own memories of what your Dad wore.

Anne-Marie

Your Good Books for Traveling?

Hey there crew,

We are in South Korea and I reckon having the time of our lives.

Righto!
So I am running INCREDIBLY late with stuff for this holiday and my mind has turned to mush. Instead of writing a post I thought I could ask you all for your input:

Question_Mark_CloudPhoto Stolen WikiMedia

What Book Recommendations Can You Give Me For Bus, Train, Plane or any Public Transport? Do you choose technical stuff so you can learn on the trip, self help or growth books, a thriller or a novel, maybe an autobiography? Please give me an insight into your travel reading past and future? Is it fragrance, travel, silliness or maybe you like those crossword books?

Sleeping On The Plane Ian McKenzie FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

My answer:
I love to read while I’m traveling. On this trip I have packed 3 books:

The Golem and the Djinni Helene Wecker BookDepositoryBookDepository AUS$17 Delivered Worldwide

The Golem & The Djinni by Helene Wecker: A coming of age story about freedom I think.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R Covey BookDepositoryBookDepository AUS$17 Delivered Worldwide

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey: I like to see where I can improve my output always

Raising Steam Terry Pratchett BookDepositoryBookDepository AUS$24 Delivered Worldwide

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett: Crazy DiscWorld nonsense. Freaking love it.

So, what do you read when you travel?

Portia xx

Sheila Eggenberger Interview

Hello fellow Perfume Junkies,

Many of you will be familiar with Sheila Eggenberger of TheAlembicatedGenie and her as yet unpublished novel Quantum Demonology that has become a seriously cult-style hit in the fragrance community. Some of you will be going, “Um, What?” and it is to you that I offer this rare insight into a blogger, author and general all round great girl of the scentbloggosphere. Sheila has been a mate and champion in the short time that APJ has been running and I am proud to count her among my yet to be met net friends. Her never say die attitude is a beacon we should all learn to follow.

Photo Stolen fanpop

In conjunction with this interview if you drop in at PerfumePosse today I have reviewed the Olympic Orchids Devilscent Project fragrances Lil#1 & Dev #2 so down the bottom there is a jump you can easily hit to trot across and read there too.

Sheila Eggenberger

Give us a brief history, who was young you, important you defining moments or early fragrant memories that may have herded you towards the ever moving now?

I grew up with a perfume-mad mother, so perfume was everywhere as I grew up, and living in South Florida – a very fragrant spot! – helped, too. Defining perfumista moment: (It ruined me for life!) A coming-of-age trip to Paris for a 14th birthday, when Maman took me to the Guerlain flagship store and told me to buy what I loved. I bought Jicky, since she didn’t wear it and I loved it. Today, I can’t believe I would choose something so …audacious! The next day, I bought (the original) Miss Dior. I was a great-smelling teenager.

What spurred you onto creating the Alembicated Genie?

It was my book, Quantum Demonology, believe it or not. By the time I neared the ending, I had had it with testosterone bombs and rock’n’roll. I wanted an outlet for my girlie sensibilities, so I created Scent Less Sensibilities which became The Alembicated Genie. I never in my wildest dreams expected to become a perfume writer. But life has been exciting ever since!

Do you have a favourite independent perfumer?

Too many to count! Andy Tauer, Vero Kern. Mandy Aftel, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Neil Morris, Ellen Covey, Kedra Hart, Maria McElroy of aroma M and Alexis Karl, Amanda Feeley – and a new discovery who has blown my mind – Juan M. Perez of Exotic Island Perfumes. A definite one to watch – and sniff!

What do you see as the most important trend in perfume currently?

Perfume as an art form in its own right. The trend towards indie perfumers pushing the boundaries of defining perfumes is redefining the industry as well as our own perceptions of it. That more and more people are turning to the artistry and dedication of indie perfumers. And I think it’s interesting that more and more, different art forms are coalescing into projects – books and movies to go with perfumes, for instance. And a far sadder trend – world-renowned brands killing the very heritage that made them what they are.

Do you have a signature scent?  If so, what is it and how did you find it? If not, why do you think that is?

In terms of perfume, I’m an utterly faithless slut. I’m fully capable of being virtuous to my favorite brands, but the idea of picking just one perfume gives me hives – and a massive case of indecision. I have complete perfume AHDH. Where would I start, when perfume to me is a case of “Who do I want to be today – tonight – this instant?” But the closest would be Chanel no. 19 eau de parfum, which I’ve worn for over 30 years with no end in sight. It was perfect for a punk and for the Goth that punk became. It’s perfect for this walking midlife crisis and writer wanna-be, even today.

Tell us about Quantum Demonology?

It began with a discography and a discussion in a Copenhagen record store. When I came across a certain inspiring image, it evolved into a short story I wrote one night out of boredom as a joke and posted on my soapbox blog. I never thought I would be asked to continue it, but I was. So I did. Nine months to the day (!), I had a finished first-draft novel. An ode to …music, madness, passion, redemption and perdition, among other things.

How did that translate into the Devilscent Project

I blame Andy Tauer. And Ellen Covey. Perfume was always woven into the storyline. Frankincense and labdanum – two of my favorite notes – are mentioned many times, as are several other perfumes. When I reviewed Andy Tauer’s Incense Extreme as a “Would this be the Devil’s Scent?”, Ellen commented that I nearly dared her to make …the Devil’s Scent and that was how it started. Since then, it’s grown to ten bloggers, eight US indie perfumers, and no less than 19 incarnations of mind-blowing, category-defying perfume, including an incense and a deviously delicious massage bar. 

If there’s anyone reading from the world of Literature Publishing, where can they taste your Quantum Demonology?

They can find some explanations as well as samples of the prologue and the first three chapters in draft form at the Quantum Demonology blog: http://quantumdemonology.wordpress.com, many more inspirations on both the book and the Devilscent Project at the Quantum Demonology fan page on Facebook: http://facebook.com/quantumdemon, and follow the Devilscent Project on Twitter through the hashtag #devilscent.

Photo Stolen Olympic Orchids

Olympic Orchids Devilscent Project fragrances are running a terrific sample program 5 x 3ml Devilscents for $30 delivered to the world.
Read Sheila Eggenberger at TheAlembicatedGenie
Go check PerfumePosse for my reviews of the Olympic Orchid Devilscent Project, go on!

I hope you enjoyed our Sheila Eggenberger interview and also hope to see you tomorrow but till then, love, love, love, from us at APJ.
Portia xx