Thursday, January 15, 2009

Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez interviewed by +Q Perfume Blog

Versão em Português em breve/Portuguese version very soon...

Vietnamese florist in Hanoi

It was in a cold winter day that I entered a small bookshop to look for books about aromatherapy and natural perfumery. I had bought previously Mandy Aftel’s book among others, and I was eager to put my hands on every book available in the market. Disappointed and frustrated with the lack of options there, I was almost moving to the next shelf (design), when my husband saw my sad face, and went secretly after the manager to ask if there was any other hidden book that we might skipped. He disappeared for a while and came back saying there was this book about a theory that was linked to the sense of smell, that was not exactly what I was looking for, but it could also interest me. That book changed my life. “The Emperor of Scent”, written by some Chandler Burr (never heard his name before), was about a scientist called Luca Turin. I remember sitting in the shop’s café reading the introduction. Within the next 3 days I was ordering Luca’s book, “The Secret of Scent”.
The two questions proposed in the book and cleverly answered, Why "natural" does not always mean good and Why “chemical” does not always mean bad, put a question mark on my head. Why was I worshiping natural perfumes and turning my back to synthetics? Today I find beauty in Botanic perfumes, but I am convinced that perfumery is much more than recreating nature. Perfumery can create new realities & illusions and only synthetic scents can make it possible. So I am a fan of the Lab but I still find Naturals interesting.
From The Secret of Scent I jumped to "Parfums: Le guide", and then to Luca’s blog (extinct to my bad luck). Reading how he described perfumes and turned subjective concepts into words that I could, at a certain point actually smell (I recall having the same experience when I read Patrick Suskind’s book – Perfume – The story of a murderer) was just another confirmation that Luca was a genius, and that I should make my very own contribution to help Brazilians develop a perfume culture.
Tania Sanchez found out in 2005 that Luca Turin was reading her blog “Brain Trapped in Girl’s body” when he posted a comment. The scientist met this charming perfume lover, who was also collecting perfumes and writing reviews. They shared they obsession for fragrances, shared their passion, fell in love and got married. Sharing both personal and professional lives, they smelled over 1,500 fragrances and brought up together the book “Perfumes – The Guide”, launched in 2008.

Tania Sanchez & Luca Turin
Many have interviewed them, but I had an exclusive quick moment with them (after all I am the first & only Brazilian in the media that had the opportunity to ask them a few questions) and I am happy to be able to share with you.
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez were in Hanoi and kindly conceded and interview to +Q perfume blog via e-mails:
+Q Perfume: You are both very famous not only for knowledge, but for your creative skills to describe a fragrance. So I have a question never asked:
How would you describe your own smell?
Luca Turin: I have at the moment some gut problems from lunch because we are traveling in Hanoi. So my smell at the moment is a mixture of emanations of la turista and a very dignified lavender from Caldey Island.
Tania Sanchez: I currently smell like the cleaning products of Hanoi, which unexpectedly all smell like L'Air du Temps. Also, I probably smell like motorcycle exhaust and nuoc mam (vietnamese fish sauce).
+Q Perfume: The first edition of Parfums: Le guide was published only in French and was launched 15 years ago by Luca Turin. The updated version in 2008 was written with co-author Tania Sanchez. In the process of reviewing the fragrances for the book I would love to know if there was any particular moment that you both find it funny, memorable and hard to forget? Have you two ever fought over a particular perfume?
Tania Sanchez: We made a bet as to which was the worst fragrance in the whole book. Luca nominated Creed's Love in White. I nominated Michael by Michael Kors. We also threw in La Prairie Midnight Rain as a wild card. We sprayed all three and smelled them side by side. I won.
Our bang-up arguments were over Pleasures, Beyond Paradise, 31 Rue Cambon, and Tommy Girl, all of which I like somewhat less than Luca does. However, he successfully convinced me that they were all interesting from the standpoint of the art of perfumery, though I probably will never genuinely love any of them.
+Q Perfume: We all are aware that the industry will have to adapt to this economical crisis the world is facing. In your opinion are we going to see less launches (more quality than quantity), even less quality, more creativity, etc...?
Tania Sanchez: Everyone in the industry has said for years there are too many launches, but no one wants to be first to slow down. It's unclear whether perfume will suffer or whether it will benefit from what's known as the Lipstick Index: the idea that when money is tight, lipstick sales (and one assumes perfume sales) go up because people indulge in small luxuries, not big ones. As for the possibility that quality could go down, it is inconceivable. There is no further down.
Perfumes The Guide
Perfumes The Guide contains besides irreverent perfume reviews, a bit of perfume history, top ten lists, interesting readings on perfumery, FAQ and a glossary of materials and terms.
I must add that this blogger does not know all the fragrances reviewed in the book, but from the ones I did had the pleasure to smell - sometimes I did not necessarily agree with them; sometimes I was amazed by how they managed to resume so brilliantly and so economically (sometimes in one small sentence) the very essence of the fragrance.
They also classified the fragrances is a very witty and funny way, such as pencil shavings, fresh mishmash or fruity shampoo. Fragrances are also classifies with stars, in a scale from one to five. Between cutting heads & giving medals, you will also find 4/3 star fragrances.
You can also check their site to sample and buy the book or to download updates. Authors are also writing over 100 new reviews each quarter, in a PDF newsletter available at There is one free download from September 2008 and a download for US$9.99 for December 2008. (Russian also available, and soon German. No Portuguese yet!) They are now working on the March 2009 issue. An updated paperback is scheduled for US release this fall! The book is not available at the present moment in Portuguese but it can be ordered in English.
Luca Turin can also be found at Flexitral – clique here to enter to the site. Search in Science for Luca's own links.
Tania Sanchez’s blog can be read by clicking on TS is back, already linked in my blogroll.
For nice pictures of Vietnam click here.
For Vietnamese recipes click here.
For another interview with both authors - GMA
Photo credits:; perfume pilgrim blog; internet various sources


  1. What a good surprise! Thank you for this interview.

  2. Yes, Octavian I was surprised myself because they were on vacation and Luca didn´t feel well.
    But they were so nice to me:-)
    I is also an honor to have you posting here dear. You are not less famous in my eyes!!!!!!!

  3. Estou em frente ao monitor batendo palmas! Brava, Simone!!Bravissima, bela!!
    Obrigada pela maravilhosa entrevista. Nota dez!!

  4. Eu já estava achando que vc tinha sumido...
    obrigada querida! imaginei que vc iria gostar!

  5. bubi sheli ahavti at hkatava
    u bmuhad shhiti helk
    ohev otah meod
    ali vazlihi

  6. Thanks for this great interview! - really cool questions (and answers as well by these two). I never knew Tania Sanchez was his wife, so I was always wondering why they are mentioned together so often - now I know ;)

  7. Shalom Ofiri, gam ani meod meod ohevet otcha!

  8. Dear Matt, tks for the compliment.
    I think they are both married to perfume and they have a love affair on the side:-) kidding, they are married and Luca Turin chose Andy Tauer´s perfum to wear at the ceremony and tania used Ormonde Jayne.
    kisses, Simone

  9. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!