More often than not, I tend to have 5 or 6 books on the go at once. Right now, I currently have an unfinished 'to read' stack comprising two novels, one anthology, and one (rather compelling) esoteric journal. I browse through any one of them before bed or on lazy sunday afternoons on the sofa, whilst the typical Danish weather turns miserable outside.
Seldom do I find a book which is moved briskly to the top of the pile - one that takes precedence over all others - but in the case of Chandler Burr's "The Perfect Scent", I happened to make an exception.
Chandler Burr is the in-house perfume critic for the New York Times, and is revered by many living stateside as the 'guy in the know' where fine fragrance is concerned. Though I seldom share his opinions, I do enjoy his captivating style of writing. Professionally, Burr always makes a point of staying informed, and in this book he reports on the perfume industry by spending a year inside a New York perfume giant, and a Parisian powerhouse.
Burr lifts the lid on the industry and follows the creation of two new scents: Un Jardin sur le Nil by French luxury house Hermés, and Lovely, the celebrity scent release by actress Sarah Jessica Parker for Coty. He does so with a keen eye (and nose) and a fine-tuned sensitivity to the industriousness of both houses. It makes for fascinating reading. Burr doesn't hesitate to name names and divulge sums as he delves into the cutthroat world of competing firms, secret perfume formulations, global successes and embarrassing failures. I devoured it whole in just a couple of afternoons.
I would strongly recommend this reading for anyone even remotely interested in the fine fragrance world. It does well to open ones eyes to a $26 billion dollar a year industry that must constantly find a balance between modern attitudes and centuries-old tradition.