Monday 14 January 2019

OLD BOOKS by The Perfumer's Story

In the world of fragrance, new perfume releases seem to come so quickly that it’s impossible to catch every one at the time if its debut. Perfumes get overlooked or overshadowed by brighter, bigger, or louder launches, and some real gems can often get lost amongst the noise. One such fragrance is Old Books by Azzi Glasser for The Perfumer’s Story. It arrived on the scene in 2015 and is still something of a secret amongst patchouli lovers. In a market saturated with voluminous scent, Azzi has always retained her delicacy of touch and Old Books truly is an emotional breath of fresh air.

I’ve written about Azzi Glasser and The Perfumer’s Story before, but here’s a little recap. After a successful career with CPL Aromas, Azzi was instrumental in the creation of Agent Provocateur’s self-titled fragrance that went on to win the 2001 FiFi Award for best new female fragrance in limited distribution. Throughout her career she had overseen the creation of many bespoke fragrances for private clients and so had a catalogue of scents which hadn’t been governed by “trend” but, instead, by personal memories and characteristics. She decided to release these, along with their original formula numbers, and The Perfumer’s Story was born.

One of the aspects of Azzi’s fragrances that always impresses me is that they are designed to remain close to the wearer’s skin. She firmly believes that a scent must be personal and that only those who are near to you should be able to smell it. This level of intimacy is obviously dressed up with florals or woods as required, but to have that guarantee of subtlety in a market that is predominantly focused on “sillage” really is a welcome change. From bespoke to mainstream, Azzi Glasser always delivers, but what does Old Books have in store?

In the fast-paced world of eBooks it can often be forgotten just how special it is to hold in your hands a real book, especially one that has already been well-loved by someone else. The smell that you get from antique books, old libraries, even a secondhand bookshop, is something that cannot be experienced with an electronic book. The scent of aged leather binding, brittle paper pages, and even the dusty wooden shelves, this all helps to transport you to another time and place. Translating this into a fragrance is not easy, because it is so personal, but Azzi Glasser has succeeded.

Old Books opens with a beautiful dose of patchouli and it’s from this solid foundation that the fragrance develops. A very definite note of elemi shows itself first, providing some aromatic brightness to the earthy start, but very quickly a blend of frankincense and myrrh appears. These two ingredients together offer up a deliciously resinous and liquorice like quality that is given a dry edge from a perfect dose of vetiver. An amber accord offers a touch of sweetness but the addition of the noble cedarwood links beautifully to the original aged-paper inspiration. Old Books is wonderfully evocative and perfectly balanced.

Old Books is available from The Perfumer’s Story website at or from Harrods priced at £95 for 30ml.

[Image of Azzi Glasser © Harvey Nichols]

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