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An Evening with Luca Turin (Late Event)

  • Fumerie Parfumerie 3584 Southeast Division Street Portland, OR, 97202 United States (map)

“Perfume is, among other things, the most portable form of intelligence.”

Luca Turin

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome award-winning author and perfume critic Luca Turin to Fumerie this November. Born in Beirut in 1953, Turin was educated in France, Italy and the United Kingdom and holds a PhD in Biophysics from the University of London. His academic accomplishments notwithstanding, Turin is perhaps best known for co-authoring a series of perfume guides with his wife Tania Sanchez. Growing up in Europe, Turin was surrounded by fragrance all his life but his passion for perfume was ignited in the early eighties by a chance encounter with a now iconic fragrance in a Niçois perfume boutique. It was in this boutique off the Galeries Lafayette that Turin’s eye was drawn to a shiny black arch. In The Secret of Scent: Adventures of Perfume and the Science of Smell, Turin recalls the encounter:

This was the brand-new walk-in stand for a Japanese company I’d never heard of called Shiseido, and it showcased their first ‘western’ fragrance: Nombre Noir. I still remember the black-clad sales attendant spraying it from a black glass octagonal sampler onto my hand.

The fragrance itself was, and still is, a radical surprise. A perfume, like the timbre of a voice, can say something quite independent of the words actually spoken. What Nombre Noir said was ‘flower’. But the way it said it was an epiphany. The flower at the core of Nombre Noir was half-way between a rose and a violet, but without a trace of the sweetness of either, set instead against an austere, almost saintly background of cigar-box cedar notes. At the same time, it wasn’t dry, and seemed to be glistening with a liquid freshness that made its deep colors glow like a stained-glass window.

The voice of Nombre Noir was that of a child older than its years, at once fresh, husky, modulated and faintly capricious. There was a knowing naïvety about it which made me think of Colette’s writing style in her Claudine books. It brought to mind a purple ink to write love letters with, and that wonderful French word farouche, which can mean either shy or fierce or a bit of both. I immediately bought a very expensive half-ounce in a little square black bottle. It bore the initials SL for a mysterious name: ‘Serge Lutens’. A few months later my girlfriend took it with her when we parted, and soon after the fragrance was discontinued. Little did I know at the time that I would have to wait twenty years before smelling it again.

I had always liked perfumes, but this was love.

In the time since, Turin has established himself as one of the world’s foremost fragrance critics. His writing has ushered in a new era of fragrance criticism and helped to popularize the notion that perfumery is a serious form of artistic expression. His published work includes the original Parfums: le guide (in French); The Secret of Scent: Adventures of Perfume and the Science of Smell; Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, The Little Book of Perfumes: The Hundred Classics, and Perfumes: The Guide 2018 with Tania Sanchez; and Folio Columns 2003-2014, a collection of his monthly features and columns for Swiss magazine NZZ Folio. His perfume writing has earned him both the Prix Jasmin (France) and the Jasmine Prize (UK). Turin currently conducts research on olfaction, anesthesia and brain disorders. He and Sanchez recently announced that they have begun work on Perfumes: The Guide 2019.

Due to overwhelming interest, we have restructured this event and added one additional date. Participants who signed up for the Friday event have been divided into two groups—one group will attend the early event while the other group will attend the late event. Both Friday events remain at capacity.

An Evening with Luca Turin (Late Event) will take place on Friday, November 30, 2018. The event will begin promptly at 7:00 PM and conclude at 8:15 PM. Copies of Perfumes: The Guide 2018 will be available for purchase at the event. Specific details are forthcoming.

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