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Updated: Aug 25, 2022


Published in 1996


Michael Edwards is an historian and founder editor of ’Fragrances of the World,' the largest guide to perfume classification.

This book just had to be my first review because it is a fabulous journey of French Feminine Perfume, with the author leading us in with a small piece entitled "The dawn of modern perfumery".

The next stage of the journey covers perfumes from 1889 with the introduction of the perfume Jicky by Guerlain through to 1994, finishing with Tocade by Rochas. In total the author covers 45 perfumes.

For a scent to be given a section to itself one of 3 criteria had to be met (i) innovative and inspirational (ii) trend setting (iii) appeal through time. So these guidelines were used to decide what would be included in the book.

This amazing book delivers in each section a history full of interesting facts and myths surrounding the creation and naming of the perfumes, the date, a pyramid diagram for you to study, showing Head notes, Heart notes and Soul notes, for example Chanel No.5 has Fresh flowery, Floral and Woody notes.

Last but not least we are given marketing and bottle details. The bottles of some of these perfumes are just divine and are as much a labour of love as the contents (you know I have a perfume bottle collection! but that's another story).

Each chosen perfume has a wealth of wonderful stories relating to the lives of those involved, which makes the book appealing to many, from perfumers to historians, to those of you into vintage perfume and even the newcomer, who would like to get a better understanding of the perfume world.

As each page turns, the perfume world opens up and evolves in chronological order. Extremely well written, the words are enhanced with a variety of illustrations, images in both colour and black and white, with some fantastic black and white photographs. I love the written word, but the images certainly help define the era visually.


In this video Michael talks openly about the book and what lead him to write it.


I loved reading the stories, which include how Chanel No.5 was created by accident, how Jacques Guerlain taught his grandson Jean-Paul to like vanilla. How to make one ounce of Joy by Jean Patou, you would need 10,600 Jasmine flowers and 336 roses. How TABU got its name whilst Javier Serra was holidaying in Nice in 1932 and was struck by a book title by Sigmund Freud. The amazing marketing of MaGriffe in 1946, where small parachutes were used to drop thousands of samples of the scent in tiny bottles over Paris, causing unbelievable traffic jams.

I was particularly interested in how the perfumer Roudnitska felt, as did Dior, that the structure of perfumes had to be more natural and simplified
And how Diorissimo in 1956 was created, and led to fundamental change in the philosophy of perfumery in the post-war era.

This book is just such a delight spread over 299 pages, it encompasses so much information, which is probably why it took Michael Edwards over 4 years and 150 interviews with couturiers, bottle designers and executives of the Perfume Houses.

I can’t simply call this a reference book as that sounds too cold, this is a warm lavish book full of history and heritage.

It is simply a must have and unequivocally one of the best perfume books on my overloaded bookshelf!

Picture yourself one evening with a glass of wine, spray yourself with something divine, open this book and take a fragrant journey through time.

There is a new expanded edition of this book but I got mine second hand and as a bonus it was signed by the author himself!

You can buy the book here just don't choke on the price - it's worth every penny.



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