Sniffapalooza report! Spring Fling 2015

Sniffapalooza last weekend was some much needed fun time for me. I haven’t posted much lately, have I? Well, I have a lot to show for this year, but it has been ridiculously busy. Not-busy fun time is important, and for me that’s perfume time!


The finest of 1998 web graphics – glitter text! That’s how serious I am!

Rather than a blow-by-blow, let me give you the flying overview, and you’ll just forgive me for flipping back and forth between Saturday (the uptown shopping) and Sunday (the downtown), right?

For me the theme was about the history of perfume developing into the future. Two nostalgia projects may tell you what I mean by that.

Roja Dove debuted his A Goodnight Kiss, reproducing, for himself, the scent of his mother dressed up for an evening out and bending over his bed when he was a child to give him a goodnight kiss. His report was that he had not expected it to be a big seller; it is unabashedly of its era, the scent of powder and lipstick and elegant perfume of a bygone day. According to Roja, it immediately became a very popular seller. I think that perhaps the pendulum in perfume taste is swinging a bit, and while plenty of people on Sephora boards might still decry “smelling like an old lady”, real vintage scents are interesting and beautiful again to many noses. (Or there are just that many people out there who still remember and want to enjoy a scent like that, which I would also easily believe.)

Irina of Phoenix Botanicals

Irina of Phoenix Botanicals

On the other end of the spectrum, independent perfumer Irina from Phoenix Botanicals brought us Ella, a perfume she literally made from vintage extracts she found in family effects. Can you imagine the excitement of finding extracts made by decades-ago perfumers? It was interesting to see what Irina, who usually works with materials around her and is inspired by her own interactions with nature, did with the perfume. A once-in-a-lifetime buy, of course I bought some.

Bridging the past and the present in a different way, Italian menswear brand Brioni debuted its eponymous scent, and in an age where perfume has no gender and frequently is meant to be all-occasion, I can honestly say I’ve never before smelled a scent that so immediately made me think of James Bond in an impeccably tailored suit.

The lovely Brioni bottle

The lovely Brioni bottle

I did not smell their 2009 limited release, but this scent is apparently very different, and in its beautiful sculptural glass bottle, different from every angle, I can easily imagine it becoming the gift of choice for men’s men everywhere. This was a stunning scent and I think I would need to wear a tux to wear it but I certainly would like to smell it more often!

The return of historical taste was everywhere. I enjoyed finally visiting a Chanel counter (at Bergdorf Goodman) and sampling Misia, which, as Ari from The Scents of Self predicted, I very much liked. The young lady who showed it to me raved about how it “didn’t smell like everything else” and I had a sense that she genuinely enjoyed Misia’s powdery violet. I gave her a short history of the violet – that soliflores like rose and violet were what ladies wore when the innovative Coco Chanel decided to go another way and added aldehydes and musk to her rose and jasmine concoction and changed perfume forever. And of course before even that, it wasn’t ladies wearing violet water – it was prostitutes, as fashion tends to work its way up the economic ladder. She was fascinated, and so was I, at the way Misia recaptures all that history so beautifully.

Perfume history is interesting to many. Perfumer Christophe Laudamiel brought us some old and well-preserved L’Air du Temps to sample with our lunch Saturday, and it was a revelation – a rich, multifaceted jewel of a white flower bouquet. I’ve never wanted to wear L’Air du Temps that much (I do, in fact, have some vintage parfum of it – picked up cheap at a thrift store, but I don’t think I’ve ever even worn it). But smelling what it was intended to be, in its really original formulation, made me sort of long for what perfume used to be. Apparently there will be a temporary installation of the Osmothèque, the museum of scent, in New York this fall, as part of France-themed celebration, and I hope to attend.

Michael Edwards, perfume cataloguer and industry analyst

Michael Edwards, perfume cataloguer and industry analyst

And on Sunday emcee Mark Behnke of Colognoisseur used some questions to draw out Michael Edwards, the encyclopedic perfume recorder who publishes Perfumes of the World every year as a book and now runs a website database for the same purpose. Mr. Edwards has been recording the development for a very long time and in fact has had a long career tracking and classifying every new perfume developed and consulting with the firms that make them to give them the benefit of his overall view of the field.

I could listen to Michael Edwards talk all day. Not only is he incredibly knowledgable in his field, he is articulate, erudite, and has the most beautiful speaking voice you could imagine. Even in the brief time we had with him, he shared insights on the field of perfume over the years that one could never learn anywhere else. For instance, it was his impression that the big designer brands knew about the rise of niche fragrance houses in the 1990s; they just didn’t think niche would amount to much. The smaller companies didn’t have the capital to break into the rather oligarchical upper stratosphere of perfume marketing, after all. They didn’t count on the Internet. And here we are.

It was exciting to see how new perfume brands are still striking out and carving out their own space in the market at the apex of all this perfume history. Two noteworthy brands debuted at Bergdorf’s breakfast and both gave us absolutely gorgeous sampler flights so I am sure you will be hearing more about them in this blog and others as time progresses (and one works one’s way through the windfall of samples that come along with two days at Sniffapalooza).

Memo Irish Leather

Memo Irish Leather

One was Memo. This European brand has long been a favorite of Mark Behnke’s and he was excited to get to introduce John Malloy, co-owner of the brand who attended the breakfast to introduce his line.

Memo Shams has been a cult favorite of perfumistas for a while, spread around in decants from enterprising travelers who bring a bottle back from Europe, but it has not been available in this country until now. It was lovely to discover Shams was only one of their beautiful scents. I was particularly taken with French Leather, which I would love to wear (representing Paris, the home town of Clara Malloy and of the company); Irish Leather (representing John’s home countryside) as well was the best interpretation I’ve ever smelled from a bottle of green and horse-loving leather and breezes from a close-by ocean – that which differentiates it from Kentucky, I suppose. I am looking forward to trying the rest of these perfumes; I feel certain one of them, if not more than one, will eventually be mine.

It was also lovely to learn that this brand is the creative output of a team of women, Clara Malloy the co-owner and nose Alienor Massenet. There are not enough women at the top in this industry and it’s a pleasure to see such creative and beautiful perfumes coming from a team of women. One has to wonder why we don’t see more…

The other major brand debut was the appearance of Regimes des Fleurs. These offbeat elegant concoctions are the kind of thing you’d find off the beaten path. How exciting and refreshing to find them at Bergdorf’s! It’s wonderful to see that Bergdorf Goodman is committed to bringing you not just the height of luxury products, like Roja Dove’s scents, or the jewels of Europe, like Memo’s scents, but also exquisitely interesting and beautiful art like Regimes des Fleurs.

regimedesfleursCreators Alia Raza and Ezra Woods were also on hand at the Bergdorf breakfast to show us their scents and tell us their story. It’s hard to believe in the Internet era, but these two perfume lovers shared their love of scent alone in their group of friends, and ultimately decided to develop these scents (and the hand-painted bottles they come in) together. The business partners’ new brand has gotten a fair amount of coverage in the magazines, but I hadn’t heard of them, and was really pleased to get to sample the scents right there with them at the counter in the perfume atrium of Bergdorf Goodman.

Water/wood was a popular choice among the people I knew who were trying the brand all together there; another innovative aquatic, this one with spikes of herbs like mint along with the water and the wood – I am going to love wearing this on the first warm day of summer, I think. Dove was also popular among the crowd; several people told me they loved it on me but it wasn’t working for my allergy-weighted nose, so I am going to try it again. nitesurf, the acid orange sea nightscape, is the kind of thing I’m really digging these days, with the grass and the salt water and the cold night-blooming flowers, but I’m also dying to try turquoise, since “honey” and “grass” sounds like things that will also be right in my wheelhouse and I’m dying to try them together.

It’s an exciting future for perfume – not just back to the future with the designer brands, like Chanel’s Misia, but absolutely new inventions in scent that are beautiful and wearable and creative, like Regimes des Fleurs. What a satisfying weekend of scent!

used perfume blotters


Images are mine (you may use under Creative Commons license with attribution to The Unseen Censer) or sales images swiped off the Internet (Memo Irish Leather and Brioni).

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Shop girl

crochatI feel like my own snobbery is coming back to bite me in the ass. Sitting here amongst all my Amouages and exclusives and vintage whatnots, I realize that what I am mostly wearing this spring are department store juices.

Gucci Guilty and I are having a real thing. I fell for this lilac amber last year but I’m not done with it yet. I have a travel bottle, and the silly double-G “I’m really Batman” logo looks even more Batman-y on its smooth black surface. (It has a twist-up top like the much more expensive Chanel purse bottles.) I’m finding it perfect this spring.

You know how spring has those “What just thawed??” type smells? I mean, some things are fresh and green, especially just after a rainshower, but some things decidedly are not, and that includes the mud that gets made from the rainshowers. As the weather warms up, even I feel more sticky and funky than I do during the real winter-winter, and I want something fresher and cleaner even as laundry-musk clean really doesn’t do it for me. Gucci Guilty is making me really happy. I’m stopping myself from wearing it pretty much every day.

At the same time I’m investigating the Chloé line a bit. Traditional Chloé, especially the vintage, really didn’t work on me. But I keep reading good things about the newer additions to the line – and Eau de Chloé is one of my unsung favorites, just a perfect summer rose that is never wrong, and that gives me some faith in the brand too. I guess roses are their “thing”?

I keep reading about Love, Chloé. This is one of those scents that has a huge popular following and I’m trying to figure out why. When I first put it on skin I keep thinking this is one of the most unremarkable things I’ve ever smelled. But then I read no less distinguished a reviewer than bois de jasmin about it and I think, hmm. Actually if I had to name another floral bouquet that quite reminded me of this… I’d have a tough time. And if I considered it alongside another floral bouquet, like Chanel No. 5, while I am not feeling sophisticated enough to claim I discern all the separate floral notes bois de jasmin discerns in there, I have no trouble believing that it has the notes of heliotrope and hyacinth that she points out – things that I crave in spring when I crave clean purple flowers, but which are too clean for a lot of people.

The musky base is different from Chanel No. 5 (or Eau Premiere) too. There comes a time when the sandalwood has got to have a REST. Also the vanilla. This is that time.

There’s always a Mugler or two in my rotation, and as I bring out the aquatics I think it’s time for some Womanity along with the Yosh Sea Ranch (a freebie from another perfumista on NST, I’m glad she didn’t care for it, I love it) and the Bond No. 9 Wall Street. I like my aquatics weird and Womanity fits the bill, bondage pink department store fragrance though it is.

And my ridiculous love affair with all things LPRN goes on. Birthday funding acquired for me a bottle of the new green La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche. For me this is a perfect summer version, slightly lighter for warmer weather when the chewy cherry sweetness of LPRN is a bit much, but definitely bearing a family resemblance (fortunately though most reviewers mention almond in relationship to this scent, there’s no almond note leaping out at me).

Tink2Perversely, what disappoints me most about my birthday bottle is that it doesn’t say Petales on it. I love the French name for this scent; I love the idea of a little black dress made up of flower petals. The American sales material generally refers to it as Eau Fraîche; I like the name Petales; neither appears on the bottle. It’s only one ounce, but I feel like Guerlain is just being too cagey here. Pick a name. It’s clearly NOT La Petite Robe Noire per se,  even though that’s all it says. The juice is green, guys.

(I would also like it if it were named Tinkerbell. Because it is green. And I like that the skirt has petals like Tinkerbell’s. ‘Cause I like Tinkerbell. Even though, as others pointed out, she did try to murder Wendy twice.)

I’m just wanting to wear perfumes for fun right now. I have so much else going on, I don’t have a lot of brain space. I want easy. These perfumes are easy. I’m not slut-shaming them any more. Not right now.

I want fun. See that chick in the crcodile hat? She’s having fun. I like fun. Fun perfumes good now.

tl;dr Shedding my snobbiness but not sure why. This stuff is just what’s smelling good to me right now. Things that are richer, more complex, are just too distracting.

Image is “Jess in a dino hat“, by Britney le Blanc, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license; some rights reserved. Tinkerbell image swiped off the intarweb. I’m glad I’m not just four inches tall but sometimes I vaguely wish I were tiny and blonde and cute and if I were this green petal skirt would look perfect on me.

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Collection Frustration

screamWhen does your collection give you more annoyance than pleasure? Right now I’m in a slightly unhappy moment in the relationship. I own both the EDP and the parfum of Mahora and can’t find either one; and as I search I uncover samples and tiny decants that have dried up. (In two cases larger 10 ml decants that make me kind of wistful.) Those 3 ml spray bottles cannot be trusted.

Also, though I have a pretty good system of records, it’s not perfect. I could have sworn I had a sample of Bendelirious and wanted to drag it out recently when EauMG was writing about it. But my records indicated I did not. Seemed odd to me (as I have thought hard about this perfume in the past) but nothing I could do about it. Now while I’m rooting through other things – boom, there it is, the sample of Bendelirious I was pretty sure existed. Yes, better to find it than not to find it, but what use is it if it isn’t there when I want it?

I’m also cranky with myself because I’ve had a rather insane day of perfume-wishing-shopping. There really isn’t a perfume I would die to get, not at all. But what ought to be the pleasant task of perhaps (ONLY PERHAPS!) spending a birthday gift check on a bottle I’ve wanted for a long time leads me down a path of yet more desire. There’s something to NOT wanting more, but I don’t seem to have the knack. Do I need a backup bottle of DSH Divine Gardens? No, Profumo del Forte’s Roma Imperiale is so much more to my taste these days! But I’ve been collecting irises this last year and still don’t have any Iris Silver Mist; should I try to find some? But it’s never grabbed me when I’ve sampled it. Should I just give in and get the LPRN Eau Fraiche I’ve been coveting? Yeah, because I need ANOTHER full bottle of a La Petite Rober Noire flanker. I just got Couture a few months ago. But good lord, I have all these things I own and haven’t been wearing (*pulls out bottles as I paw through things*). Where did I put my Tunguska Blast? I hope it’s in the nightstand. Lord, I never even opened that Amouage Fate? Was I working my way through all the samples/decants first? DID I work my way through all the samples/decants?

Why the HELL don’t I just break down and get the bottle of Scent of Hope I’ve been wanting all year?? It’s an iris and gorgeous and perfect for the season. (News flash: this is probably what I will get.)

Lest you think I am in an insane shopping frenzy, let me point out that I just finished one of the cheapest quarters of perfume buying I have had since I fell down the rabbithole. Yes. It’s just that collecting right now feels so… fraught…

Plus this week I wore YSL Parisienne and it was so boring, I’m actually kind of mad at myself for keeping it this long. (It was one of the first bottles I got myself when I started down the rabbithole and I think I was mostly keeping it for sentiment.) But then do I just toss it or try to sell it? I didn’t know to keep the box back then – and I think it’s one of the ones where the top notes fade away when you’ve kept it too long. It’s not really pink any more like it was. I need to toss it. In that drawer I see both the parfum and the EDP of Bill Blass Nude, which I should really wear more often – it’s SO pretty and I worry about the longevity of parfum in stopper bottles…

Meanwhile, where the FUCK did I put the Mahora?

That stupid concave disk-shaped bottle the parfum is in never used to be hard to keep track of. Did I try to do something clever with it? And if I did why can’t I at least find the spray?

And I really still have no idea where either the L’Artisan L’Eau du Navigateur or CBIHP Library have gone. They were both in the desk before the move. And this weather would be kind of perfect for both of them. They’re the only two things I’m sure I haven’t located since the move.

Except I’m wearing iris more these days. The inventory says I have a travel bottle of Iris Ukiyoe – where the hell did I put THAT?

Why did I buy more essential oils? Why did I buy the NEST sprays that called out to me at TJ Maxx? I think I thought I would use them to help clean the shower but they’re going to smell the whole place up if I try that and Mr. Censer will ‘splode.

Oh, THERE’S the Iris Ukiyoe – right with the other purse sprays, where it should be. I must have pulled it out of somewhere else and put it there months ago. Anyway, I should be wearing the Wall Street I just got a few months ago – I spent ages trying to decide what size purse spray to get of that, and there it is, I should wear it.

Plus I’m worried that the Carner Barcelona Rima XI I just bought (with credit card points, at least) smells too much like Andrea Maack Smart and I shouldn’t have. But I love them both and they just didn’t seem similar enough to me to avoid buying them both. But I can’t tell if that’s just because I REALLY LOVE THAT SMELL.

And I shouldn’t be buying anything else anyway. I just got the decant of VC&A Rose Velours I was dying for, and it’s gorgeous, and I scored a really good condition parfum of vintage Hermes Caleche off of eBay and really. CALM THE HELL DOWN.


Honestly, where did the Mahora go??

OK, here’s the dead soldiers. Only the first two I’m a bit sad for as I never really got a chance to wear them and they were pretty:

  • Guerlain Eau des Fleurs du Cedrat
  • Piguet Oud
  • Laura Tonatto Olire Deo Spray. I don’t even know what this was. It smells nice.
  • Montale Fleur d’Oranger
  • Bond No. 9 NY Amber
  • Montale Deep Roses
  • Le Labo Vanille 44 (fortunately I have tons more of this in a real bottle, whew)
  • Something in a rollerball, I suspect some vintage Miss Dior I decanted to carry and wear

Bye guys, I hardly knew ye. Seriously. I couldn’t swear to what any of you smelled like. Except the Le Labo. Well, and I do recall the Guerlain and the Piguet.

If any of you know where the Mahora is though…

Image is (scream) by greg westfall, via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

P.S. I have to say, my hands smell amazing from handling all these evaporated decants!

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The Chanel Project: 31 Rue Cambon. Wait for it…

Do you want to know? In the Chanel collection of scents, after No. 5 it’s 31 Rue Cambon. If 31 Rue Cambon were a person, and someday that person passed away, its gravestone would read “Perfume” pure and simple.

On me 31 Rue Cambon opens with that “perfume” perfume note that cause young people to . . . → Read More: The Chanel Project: 31 Rue Cambon. Wait for it…

The Chanel Project: Chance

Upon my first wearing of Chance, I decided that I felt about perfumes the same way I feel about books: awwww, all of them should be loved by someone somewhere.

I’m dead serious about this. I worry about how inanimate objects feel, especially about whether or not they feel lonely and unloved. I used . . . → Read More: The Chanel Project: Chance

Resistance is futile

When you fall in love with a perfume, how long can you wait till you have to have it?

I am making myself wait till I reach the end of the billing month to acquire what will be a relatively tame purchase. I’ve only smelled the perfume twice – once I fell madly, mouthwateringly in . . . → Read More: Resistance is futile

The Chanel Project: Bois des Îles

I consider Bois des Îles to be the third in a trio with Chanel’s Cuir de Russie and (vintage) No. 5.

I don’t know why other people don’t comment on the relationship more; I have a feeling it’s because either

1) They haven’t smelled much of the vintage No. 5, in which this aldehydic . . . → Read More: The Chanel Project: Bois des Îles

Roses for winter

I just am dying for roses this time of year. Not for Valentine’s Day (I don’t need them dying in my kitchen, I much prefer the sunny bright bouquet my beloved brought me), but around me.

Did you read Undina’s post on her rose equation? It made me think of so many roses I wear: . . . → Read More: Roses for winter

Your mileage may vary

What are you wearing for Valentine’s Day?

I thought Aperture would be sexier than it was. I know, I know – camera apertures. Nonetheless, if you’re going to name a perfume “Aperture” I’m going to think outside that box.

My imagination was clearly in a different place from the perfumer’s. I long for a . . . → Read More: Your mileage may vary

Thought on shopping

Here’s what I’ve learned about shopping that has slowed me down a tad:

Things I’m not sure about turn out to be poor investments. If I spend much time wondering if I really like it or not, turns out I won’t wear it that much if I get it, no matter how “interesting” it is . . . → Read More: Thought on shopping