Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book Review- An Introduction to Perfumery

An Introduction to Perfumery, 2nd ed., by Tony Curtis and David G. Williams, Port Washington, NY: Micelle Press, 2001 (reprinted 2007 and 2009 with corrections).  ISBN: 9780960875283 (USA) 9781870228244 (UK)

This is a textbook- not light reading, and while it's called an introduction, it's pretty intense for someone who might want a few ideas of things to blend to make a perfume. A lot of it is about working at a perfume house, and if you're anything like me, that's not happening. It goes over things like the chemistry and business of perfumery, including the things you might not want to think about, such as the household cleaners that need scenting. A lot of the experiments talk about using a lab, and if you're just sitting at home reading this, chances are you won't be able to do a lot of them.

I wanted to start with that so that no one invests the money in this book who won't find it suitable for their needs. For me personally, this was a great book, though not always the most fun to read. It covers many aspects, including the aroma chemicals and essential oils that might want to learn about, plus experiments on creating floral bases, such as lilac, rose, and gardenia. If you're interested primarily in natural perfumery, this book is probably not the best for you, since it doesn't go in depth into how to use the naturals.

I liked how it covered the chemistry aspects of perfumery, though those sections were sometimes daunting. The applications of perfumery sections were useful in learning exactly why chemistry is so important- not all scents are suited to all applications. It was a bit silly the way they talked about fragrance and some products you don't associate with fine perfumery, but products like laundry detergent and dish soap have their scents developed by perfumers.

As someone who thinks about top, middle, and base notes, it was also interesting to think of how some products don't need an evolving scent- for example, candles need to give off the same scent throughout their burning.

While the business sections of the book might be interesting for someone, they're more focused on big businesses rather than small, independent perfumers. It covers things like marketing, management, operations, and product development.

While I would not recommend this book to most people, I do think anyone who has a serious interest in all aspects of perfumery and fragrance might be able to useful. While I was certainly bored at times while reading the book, overall I'm glad I read it.

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