Reviewed by Lenore Worth Hiers
Offering a synthesis of everything known about perfume-making and cosmetics, this extensive reference is written by some 60 world-renowned specialists and encompasses all areas and civilizations.
This large book is an anthology on the history of perfume, devised by Marie-Christine Grasse, chief curator of the Musee International de la Perfumerie in Grasse, France. It covers fragrance from ancient times to perfume today, with much emphasis on the creation of the “juice” itself.
Each chapter is interspersed with lovely and interesting photographs pertinent to that topic and era, beginning with ancient Mexican and European vessels to present day bottles. Included are in-depth discussions of the components of perfume and the procedures used to create perfume, also with great accompanying pictures.
As an aside, I personally have visited this Museum in Grasse and found it to be one of the high points of my travels in search of perfume bottle history. The city of Grasse itself i southern France, with its premier place in perfume history is lovely to visit and also contains museums by Molinard and Fragonard. The focal point in the small town is a large perfume fountain. That pretty much says it all!
An interesting innovation used in the book is a 20 page murder mystery with a perfume theme entitled “The Scent of Black Adamant.” The pages of the story are scattered sequentially throughout the book. The primary detective is a perfume “nose.” One keeps reading and reading to continue the story and hopefully find who killed the beautiful Countess!