The NYT reviews “The Perfume Lover”

I’ve been sick, first with what I thought were early spring allergies, then with flu-like symptoms, for the past two weeks. But I’m beginning to feel a bit better and I can finally smell and taste things again. Isn’t it funny how much sense of smell impacts appetite? For a few days, the idea of eating left me cold. I couldn’t wait to feel better again. Luckily, my nose is coming back–and so is my interest in reading about perfume. I stumbled across this New York Times review of Denyse Beaulieu’s new memoir about perfume via the twitter feed of Victoria Frolova of Bois de Jasmin (@boisdejasmin). Beaulieu’s memoir, The Perfume Lover, is going on my Amazon wishlist. According to the NYT, the book blends perfume science with anecdotes from Beaulieu’s romantic life. She holds a doctorate in French literature, blogs at Grain de Musc, and is known in France for her work as an author and translator of erotic novels. She’s collaborated with L’Artisan Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour on Seville à l’Aube. According to the article:

The idea for the perfume was ignited when she and Mr. Duchaufour were swapping travel stories and she told him of being seduced by a young man during Holy Week in Andalusia.

“That was the most exotic story I could offer him,” Ms. Beaulieu said, adding, “Perfumers are like confessors.” After listening to all the details of her adventure, Mr. Duchaufour made 128 “mods” (industry-speak for versions) before he, with Ms. Beaulieu evaluating each one, arrived at a final interpretation of that lustful night, which took place against a fragrant backdrop of orange blossom, blond tobacco and frankincense from religious processions. 

Doesn’t that make you want to smell Seville à l’Aube? L’Artisan is a French niche brand known for their unconventional scents, like the woody and masculine Mechant Loup (translation: Bad Wolf!), the spices of the circus-inspired Dzing!, and Passage d’Enfer, whose name has a double-meaning. It is named for the company’s address on a street in Paris, which literally translates to “passage to Hell,” but something about the scent also reminds me of funerals. It smells like cold lilies and cedar chests, all at once. I ordered a bottle sight unsmelled years ago and could never wear it. I do, however, love L’Artisan’s Vanilia, which you can read about here. It’s a very smoky, spicy vanilla, not a cotton candy one. Sadly, it looks like the Vanilia I sampled a few years ago has been discontinued and possibly replaced by a Vanilla Absolute.

In a bit of book nerd kismet, the NYT reviewer is Laren Stover, author of two of my favorite books: The Bohemian Manifesto and The Bombshell Manual of Style. I love Stover’s fun, irreverent approach; she describes herself as a kind of “social scientist” exploring the cultures of 20th century bombshells and boho types. And her books are very perfume-friendly.



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