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Architecture & design

Seduction in a bottle

— December 2014

Article read level: Art lover

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L'Air du Temps bottle by Marc Lalique © Roja Dove and Black Dog Publishing

Perfume bottles are designed to suggest opulence and luxury – a new book charts their history and that of the expensive liquids they contain

The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove

This book would make an excellent Christmas present. All women love perfume and this title sets out thegripping story of scent laid bare: a fascinating journey from Ancient Egypt to the present day. It details the great classics, the makers who brought them to life, and the designers who gave them shape by creating their signature bottles. In size it is for the coffee table, but that is fitting for the story of one of the world’s favourite luxuries.

It is written by the world’s only Professeur de Parfums, Roja Dove. Taking in the back stories, the love stories, the heartbreaks, glamour and scandal of the industry as well the science behind iconic scents, Dove’s passion, encyclopaedic knowledge and often risqué wit infuse the pages of this authoritative guide to the world of perfume.

As captivating as it is informative, The Essence of Perfumeexplores the social and scientific history of scent, with beautiful photographs of unique and iconic perfume bottles, and vintage and modern-day advertisements that feature ‘big name’ houses and characters. Beginning with a comprehensive discussion of the sense of smell, the book goes on to outline the birth of the modern perfume industry, celebrating the great classics, the makers who formulated them and the bottle makers who gave them visible form. It covers the techniques involved, including the methods of extraction used to obtain the oils that form the building blocks of perfumery.

In an age where the methods and motivations of the original perfumers are all but forgotten, Roja Dove tells the story of scent and perfumery as we know it, with passion.

The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove is published by Black Dog Publishing,  2014. £29.95, $39.95 (hbk). ISBN 978–1–908966–46–9


Rachel Manwaring
Writer and poet

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