Recommended Reading - Perfumery Faves

M.J. Nightingale
Are you ready to take a journey through the aromatic world of perfumes with me? My collection of perfume books is constantly expanding, and I am thrilled to share that it now boasts an impressive 104 volumes! From captivating fiction to rare and elusive finds, to scientific textbooks and historical accounts, my collection has it all!
In the coming weeks, I will be categorizing my collection and highlighting the most exciting books from each category. But for now, let me give you a sneak peek into a few of my absolute favorite reads. These books are so engrossing that I often lose myself in their pages for hours on end, reveling in the intoxicating world of scents and fragrances.

Join me as I explore the fascinating world of perfume through the lens of my beloved books. From ancient formulas to modern creations, from fact to fiction, my collection has something for every fragrance enthusiast. So sit back, relax, and prepare to be transported on a sensory journey like no other!

Prepare to be transported on a fragrant journey through time and history with Mandy Aftel's "Essence and Alchemy:
A Natural History of Perfume." As a natural perfumer, author, and educator, Aftel shares her expertise and passion for natural perfumery with readers in this captivating book.

With fourteen foreign editions and a revised edition now available, "Essence and Alchemy" has become a go-to reference book for perfumery enthusiasts, perfumers, and fragrance professionals alike. The book provides an in-depth look at the history and art of perfumery, with a focus on natural ingredients and their use in creating unique and evocative scents.

From the drama of the spice trade to the quests of the alchemists, Aftel resurrects the social and metaphysical legacy that is entwined with the evolution of perfumery. The book covers the various techniques used to extract and distill essential oils and provides information on the properties and uses of various plant materials.

But "Essence and Alchemy" is more than just a technical manual. Aftel explores the cultural and historical significance of scent, delving into its use in ancient cultures, as well as its role in art and literature throughout history. She also writes about the emotional and psychological effects of different scents, and how they can be used to enhance our daily lives.

For those interested in creating their own unique fragrances, "Essence and Alchemy" also includes several recipes for perfumes, colognes, and scented body care products using natural ingredients. Aftel encourages readers to experiment with different ingredients and techniques to discover their own signature scent.

Overall, "Essence and Alchemy" is a comprehensive and engaging guide to the world of natural perfumery that will leave readers with a deeper appreciation for the history, art, and science of scent. So pick up a copy, and prepare to be whisked away on a fragrant adventure.

If you're a perfume enthusiast, get ready to be swept away by Roy Genders' 1972 masterpiece: Perfume Through the Ages. As a fellow northerner, Genders brings a unique perspective to the history and evolution of perfume that will leave you captivated and wanting more.

This book is more than just a collector's item - it's a treasure trove of olfactory delights. With vivid descriptions of the chemistry and techniques used to create iconic scents, you'll feel like you're in the lab with the perfumers themselves. But Genders doesn't stop there - he delves into the psychological and erotic effects of perfume on both humans and animals, as well as its use in occult and religious practices.

Perfume Through the Ages will tickle your senses and transport you to a world of scent and intrigue. Don't miss out on this captivating read that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the power and artistry of perfume.

Genders' writing style is both informative and engaging, making even the most technical aspects of perfume-making accessible and interesting.
His passion for the subject shines through on every page, and you'll find yourself unable to put the book down as he takes you on a journey through time and across cultures.

But what truly sets Perfume Through the Ages apart is its exploration of the more esoteric aspects of fragrance. From the use of perfume in ancient Egyptian rituals to its role in modern-day witchcraft, Genders uncovers the hidden world of scent and its significance in human history.

Whether you're a seasoned perfumista or simply curious about the origins of your favorite fragrance, this book is a must-read. It's a fascinating look at an often-overlooked aspect of our sensory experience, and it will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the power of scent. So go ahead, take a deep breath, and dive into the world of Perfume Through the Ages.

Hold onto your senses, because "Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin" by Steffen Arctander is the game-changing guide to natural raw materials that you've been waiting for!

First published in 1960, this classic is still the most comprehensive book ever written on the subject.

Get ready to dive deep into the physical and chemical properties of natural materials, and uncover the secrets of their extraction and use in perfumery and flavour chemistry. With over 500 monographs, you'll have a complete guide to the raw materials used to produce fragrances, including processing methods to refine them into usable form.

Whether you're a budding or experienced perfumer, this book is a MUST. Considered a classic in the field, it's still widely used today by perfumers and flavourists all over the world. So what are you waiting for? Add "Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin" to your library today, and discover the art and science of natural fragrance and flavour!

Arctander's expertise shines through in every chapter of the book. His writing style is engaging and easy to follow, making it accessible for readers of all levels. You'll find yourself transported into a world of aroma and taste, as Arctander explores the nuances of natural raw materials and their uses in the creation of perfumes and flavors.

The book also includes detailed information on the history of natural raw materials and their cultural significance. You'll learn about the traditional methods used to extract these materials, as well as the latest techniques used in modern perfumery and flavour chemistry.

One of the standout features of this book is its attention to detail. Arctander provides a wealth of information on each raw material, including its botanical source, chemical composition, and physical characteristics. He also delves into the sensory properties of each material, such as its odor and taste profile, and how it interacts with other ingredients in a perfume or flavor formulation.

Arctander's love for natural materials is evident throughout the book. He has a deep respect for the history and tradition of fragrance and flavor, and he brings that passion to his writing. As you read, you'll find yourself becoming more and more enamored with the world of natural raw materials, and eager to experiment with new scents and flavors in your own formulations.

Whether you're a professional perfumer or flavourist, a hobbyist, or simply a lover of natural fragrances and flavours, "Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin" is an indispensable resource. It's a book that you'll turn to time and time again, discovering something new with each read. 

In short, "Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin" is an essential resource for anyone interested in the art and science of fragrance and flavour. It's a must-read for anyone working in the industry, as well as anyone who simply loves the beauty and complexity of natural scents and tastes. So don't hesitate - pick up your copy today and experience the magic of natural raw materials for yourself!

Prepare your senses for a tantalizing journey through the world of perfumery with "Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle: The First Twenty Years" This book is a celebration of the daring, creativity, and audacity that have defined Frédéric Malle's perfume house over the last two decades.

Through captivating essays, beautiful photographs, and even a graphic-novel style depiction of some of the most successful scents, this book provides an intimate glimpse into the history of Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. It showcases the company's commitment to quality and highlights the unique approach that sets it apart in the world of perfumery.

You'll gain insights into the creative process behind each fragrance and get an exclusive look at the packaging and branding of each scent. But what truly sets this book apart is its exploration of the emotional and artistic impact of perfume. Frédéric Malle believes that perfumes should be seen as works of art that evoke powerful emotions and memories, and this philosophy is reflected in every fragrance created by Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle.

Whether you're a long-time fan of Frédéric Malle's perfumes or simply interested in the art and craft of perfumery, this book is an essential read. You'll come away with a new appreciation for the beauty and complexity of fragrance and a deeper understanding of the visionary approach that has made Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle one of the most influential perfume houses in the world.

As you immerse yourself in the pages of this book, you'll be transported to the world of Frédéric Malle and the perfumers he collaborates with. The interviews with these talented artists provide fascinating insights into their creative processes, inspirations, and the stories behind their fragrances. You'll gain a new appreciation for the incredible skill and artistry that goes into crafting each scent.
In addition to the perfumers, you'll also hear directly from Frédéric Malle himself. His passion and dedication to the art of perfumery are evident on every page, as he shares his vision for Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle and the fragrances it creates. You'll come away from this book with a deeper understanding of the company's philosophy and the guiding principles that have made it such a groundbreaking force in the world of perfumery.

The book also serves as a valuable reference guide, with a complete list of all the fragrances created by Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, along with brief descriptions of each scent. Whether you're a seasoned perfume enthusiast or just beginning to explore the world of fragrance, this guide will help you discover new scents and deepen your understanding of the company's portfolio.

Overall, Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle: The First Twenty Years is a captivating and engaging exploration of the art of perfumery. With its stunning visuals, insightful essays, and unique approach to fragrance, this book is a must-read for anyone who is passionate about scent and the creative process behind it.

Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances
by Michael Edwards.
First Published in 1996.

One of the most expensive books I have on my shelf. I was lucky enough to find a used edition that was also signed by the author, not personally to but someone called , but it's a rare find. 

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

This book 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 three criteria had to be met.
(i) interesting and inspirational,
(ii) trend setting,
(iii) appeal through time.

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.

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 lovers of vintage perfume and even the newcomer, who want 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. I loved reading the stories, which include how Chanel No.5 was created by accident in 1921 (or was it?), 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. 

The book is a literary delight spread over 299 pages and encompasses a wealth of 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 the air with something divine, open this book, and take a journey through time.
Just so you know, I have an Amazon affiliate account. This means that if you buy a book through any of the links I share, I will get a small commission. However, this commission won't change the price you pay for the book. Even if I wasn't an affiliate, you would still pay the same amount. The commission I receive is just a small token, but it helps me to keep writing valuable blogs for free. Plus, it allows me to keep inspiring and guiding fragrance enthusiasts like yourself.

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