News: 525 posts

Latest news from the fragrance world and other interesting reading

The Hidden Gems of Brussels

The Financial Times Weekend issue, October 31st, is devoted to Brussels, and it includes my article (p. 19-21) on my favorite places for sensory discoveries. I share advice on where to enjoy the best of Belgian chocolates, rare Chinese teas and beauty products. I also walk you through the fashion district of the city and highlight a few of its must-visit perfume spots. The issue also includes several other pieces on different aspects of Brussels, an interview with one of the best chocolatiers Pierre Marcolini and an excellent piece by Jim Brunsden with a city walk itinerary.

ft weekend

Click here to read the online version.

Of course, my list is not exhaustive, and since Brussels is a dynamic, ever-growing place, exploring its different neighborhoods and making your own discoveries is a special experience. If you’re familiar with the city and have other recommendations, please share them. Also, if there is a Brussels related topic you would like me to cover, do make a note in the comments.

The FT Weekend Magazine is available on newstands right now.

Luca Turin’s NZZ Folio Columns

From 2003 to 2014, perfume critic and scientist Luca Turin wrote columns for the Swiss magazine NZZ Folio on all things scent related. The topics ranged from the beauty of Jean Patou Sublime and Guerlain Mitsouko to the reflections on science and culture, and the columns had a wide following. This month the articles have been released in an e-book form, titled simply The Folio Columns. The foreword is written by Tania Sanchez, Turin’s co-author on Perfumes: the A-Z Guide.


Turin is also the author of The Secret of Scent, a book that the perfume lovers with a penchant for chemistry will find fascinating. Like all of Turin’s writings, it’s witty, erudite and full of surprises.

The Folio Columns: 2003-2014 by Luca Turin, Tania Sanchez (Foreword)
Print Length: 310 pages
Language: English

Available via Amazon.

Doors Open Day at The Osmotheque

On Saturday, September 19th, the Osmothèque perfume conservatory will open its doors to visitors. Part of the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine program, the event gives a chance to discover the Osmothèque and its activities. As part of your tour (the entrance is free of charge), you can explore 4 rooms organized by olfactory themes, rose, vanilla, bergamot and patchouli. Then you can smell various natural and synthetic materials used in perfumery. Finally, you can visit the famous cave d’Osmothèque, a climate controlled cellar where the conservatory stores its 3300 fragrances.

coty chypre ad

The most interesting part of the visit for many would be the perfumes, and quite a few jewels are available. For instance, in the patchouli room, you can smell Coty Chypre (1917), Réminiscence Patchouli (1970), and Rochas Mystère (1978), in addition to modern patchouli examples like Thierry Mugler Angel (1992) and Dior Patchouli Impérial (2011).

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The (Blind) Smell Test at WWD

As promised, today I’ll give you a brief update on The Smell Test series from Women’s Wear Daily. The goal is to blind test recent launches and offer anonymous opinions. All ten judges, myself included, receive fragrances in plain lab bottles, marked only by number, smell at their leisure and offer a rating from 1 to 10. WWD is one of the leading and most influential fashion and beauty publications, and it’s commendable that the magazine offers such a feature.


You can see the results and read our short comments in the links below. I will only make a few observations: First, all statements claiming that perfume is somehow too subjective to be described or reviewed critically don’t stand the test. The exercise blew this tired argument out of the water again and again.  Yes, everyone has his or her own sensitivities and preferences, but by and large, the consistency of responses has been impressive.

Second, there has been much positive response to the feature. (If any houses have been upset by their product receiving a low score, they’ve kept quiet.) Since WWD is primarily geared toward the beauty industry and its movers, all of this is a good sign. The industry also feels that things can’t continue in the same “let’s drown them in launches” (or “let’s do another Angel/Light Blue/another best seller”) mode, and as s result the attitudes towards criticism are changing.

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Perfume Muse Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn has been a muse for film directors, couture designers, and makeup artists. She also inspired perfumers, and while Givenchy L’Interdit was created especially for her in 1957, many a fragrance creator mentions the actress and fashion icon with reverence. I can understand it, because there is something about Audrey that I find touching and poignant. It’s not just her elegance or sense of style; it’s also her grace, warmth and a certain fragility. Audrey charms as much as she intrigues me.


This year, the National Portrait Gallery in London is celebrating Audrey’s legacy with an exhibition showcasing Audrey’s life and career through photos. It spans her childhood in Holland and early years as a dancer in London. It then tracks her rise to fame in Hollywood and concludes with her work as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Audrey worked with some of the best photographers, including Cecil Barton, Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon, and many of her images can be counted as part of pop culture–think the famous Holly Golightly half turn with a cigarette holder. What’s fascinating about the exhibit is the inclusion of rare images and personal photographs donated by Audrey’s sons, Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer.

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Latest Comments

  • nozknoz in Books From Around The World: The same thing happened to me, in terms of starting but not finishing Red. IIRC, I felt there was a hidden code or mystery that I needed to figure out,… November 26, 2015 at 8:12pm

  • Cornelia Blimber in Books From Around The World: Let me add a Dutch author. Arnon Grunberg’s “Figuranten” and ”Fantoompijn” are extremely funny. Pure slapstick. I bet he has been translated in English. November 26, 2015 at 3:27pm

  • Cornelia Blimber in Books From Around The World: Speaking of Russian authors: long time ago I read the memoires of Paustovsky. I remember how beautifully he described nature. November 26, 2015 at 3:24pm

  • orsetta in Books From Around The World: I’d like to add a Polish author, Olga Tokarczuk. I find her books truly fascinating. She’s been translated into English and Italian November 26, 2015 at 2:39pm

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