Scent & Subversion

Scent & Subversion : Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume

3.95 (218 ratings by Goodreads)
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Let `Scent and Subversion` take you for a whiff on the wild side of 20th century perfume.
Perfume has been -- and continues to be -- subversive. By playing with gender conventions, highlighting the ripe smells of the human body, or celebrating queer and louche identities, 20th-century perfume broke free from the assumptions of the prior century, and became a largely unrecognized part of the social and style revolutions of the modern era.
In `Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume, `Barbara Herman continues her irreverent, poetic, and often humorous analysis of vintage perfumes and perfume ads that she began on her popular blog The book features descriptions of over 300 perfumes, starting with Fougere Royale (1882) and ending with Demeter's Laundromat (2000).
Lavishly illustrated with more than 100 vintage perfume ads, it will also regale you with essays on scent appreciation, a glossary of important perfume terms and ingredients, and tips on how to begin your own foray into vintage and contemporary perfume. Herman also looks to the future through interviews with scent visionaries such as odor expert and `professional provocateur` Sissel Tolaas, punk perfumer Antoine Lie, and Martynka Wawrzyniak, the artist behind `Smell Me,` the world's first olfactory self-portrait.
The perfect book for perfume aficionados (aka `perfumistas`) as well as connoisseurs of modern fashion and design, feminist and LGBTQ historians, and fans of vintage advertising.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 281 pages
  • 149 x 198 x 25mm | 522g
  • CT, United States
  • English
  • First Edition
  • colour illustrations, colour illustrations
  • 0762784385
  • 9780762784387
  • 199,486

Review quote

`I believe that the effective use of perfume is a vital stepping stone in the art of creating glamour, and I've always sought out rare and distinctive perfumes. In `Scent & Subversion, ` Barbara Herman weaves an enchanting tapestry of words about the world's most spectacular perfumes, a must read for any sensualist or maestra of glamour.` --Dita Von Teese, the queen of modern burlesque and creator of the fragrances Dita von Teese, Rouge, Fleurteese, and Erotique
`It's impossible to overstate the importance of scent in your glamour arsenal. In `Scent & Subversion: A Century of Provocative Perfume, ` Barbara Herman tells you how to slip into multiple identities, define your narrative, and star in your own life.` --Mx Justin Vivian Bond, international cabaret superstar; author of `Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels`; and co-creator of The Afternoon of a Faun perfume for etat Libre d'Orange`Barbara Herman is an oracle of social history, and her sacred vapor is vintage perfume. For Herman, perfume is a time machine that reveals each decade's particular obsessions with gender roles and sex. `Scent & Subversion` explores how in the space of a century, women went from smelling like animals while behaving like ladies--to smelling like detergent while pretending they weren't animals. A rip-snorting olfactory perspective on 20th century culture, `Scent & Subversion` is entertaining reading for fumeheads and casual sniffers alike, and destined to become a classic of perfume research.` --Katie Puckrik, journalist, broadcaster, and perfume writer of `Like writers who have understood history through painting, architecture, and music, Barbara Herman has laid out the 20th century through one of the most fascinating, personal, and innovative of lenses, the evolution of its olfactory art.` --Chandler Burr, author of `The Perfect Scent` and creator and curator of the Department of Olfactory Art, Museum of Arts and Design, New York City
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About Barbara Herman

Barbara Herman has been the go-to expert on vintage perfume since she began her popular blog, Yesterday's Perfume. A former editor for, she earned a master's in Rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley, and her writing on perfume and scent culture has appeared in, `Vintage Life `magazine, `Time Out New York, ` and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her at
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Rating details

218 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 29% (63)
4 45% (98)
3 20% (43)
2 6% (12)
1 1% (2)
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