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Le Snob: Perfume (Le Snob Guides) Hardcover – 1 Oct 2012
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About the Author
Dariush Alavi is an award winning perfume critic, writer and lecturer who also edits Persolaise, a blog offering high quality, independent reviews of both niche and mainstream fragrances (www.persolaise.com). The blog has a strong international readership, as well as the attention and praise of several important industry figures. Dariush is also a regular contributor to Basenotes, the world s most popular perfume site, and a columnist for Esprit, the UK's top trade publication for the beauty and cosmetics industry.
Top customer reviews
Of course, some of the scents which Dariush Alavi describes are expensive, but he takes the opposite of a snobbish attitude to them. The only vague snobbishness is the book's desire to stop people wasting good money on dreadful scents. Which is just plain good sense.
He takes a 111 perfumes (if I've counted correctly) and explains why they are worth trying, and where they fit into the circle of scents (see page 23). You don't get a more accessible brand than 4711, but it has earned a place in the guide because they make a great cologne.
The author has chosen perfumes he thinks are wonderful, so you don't get the scathing assassinations of inferior scents which Luca Turin gives you. And he's had to edit to fit the space available, so I'm sure there are some more he'd love to put in there but hasn't been able to.
But he gives you a good place to start if you're thinking of exploring some new fragrances and don't want to be overpowered by single minded salespeople.
Some of perfumery's mysteries are unveiled here, gently, without upsetting the major perfume houses. The Fundamentals section is an essential read. The reviews are short and helpful. Dariush Alavi writes an influential perfume blog, Persolaise, and there his reviews are more literary, worldly, entertaining and - well - long.
Bying perfume for a present can be a bit hit and miss. Get this instead and you really can't go wrong.
Then there are the actual reviews in the book, I didn't know most of those perfumes, I would go so far as to say I didn't know 99% of them, however, I wasn't a perfume expert. Nevertheless, the descriptions and reviews are well written, some are very witty and very creative and once you latch on to some smell characteristics, it makes it easier to understand the reviews and I recommend passing by perfume shops whenever you are in a mall just to compare notes with the author and build up your own smell buds.
Another thing to mention which I rarely pay attention to; the book itself (physically) is actually quite impressive, it is small enough to tuck away in your bag as it is like a diary/calendar sized book with a band that goes around it to keep it shut; I thought that was a smart touch. The font size and spacing between lines make it a really comfortable read and the illustrations are really eye catching and pleasant to look at. This really makes a great present and if you put a little time into reading it, you get so much more out of your smell life so if you are not too familiar with the ins and outs of perfumes I highly recommend it because this book smells good and so will you.
Is it too much to hope for another, longer book at some point?
Well done, Mr Alavi!
From Carolyn Middleton, Aberdeen, Scotland
Despite having the words "le snob" in the title, it is unpretentious. Written in a witty yet accessible way, Perfume invited me in and created a space where I could start to appreciate what I had regarded as a daunting and complex world.
A good and thoroughly worthwhile buy.