I’m always surprised that so many people come to day 1 of Sniffapalooza and don’t do day 2. There are likewise some people who only do day 2. Day 2 is completely different. Day 2 is downtown, indie, discovery and insidery. If you really love perfume, I don’t know why you’d want to miss it.
It irritates me when people try to talk about the mystery of perfume in the boutiques uptown. I love those perfumers, but let’s face it, the mystery of their perfume is what sort of advertising copy they’ll be putting out and what trend they’re starting to try to replace the fashion for oud. Occasionally a person in the perfume industry will bemoan the lack of mystery, and I just blink. Mysterious it’s not.
Oh, there’s the occasional encounter with someone who really evokes the sensuous nature of perfume.
Van Cleef & Arpels’ Planetarium watch.
I will never forget my first Sniffapalooza and the woman who introduced Van Cleef & Arpels’ Midnight in Paris at breakfast that day with a whole story about one’s first date, on a night, of course, in Paris, and the scent of leaning into that man’s arms – and warm leather jacket – late at night after coffee, patisserie, and walking along the Champs-Elysées. (Or the Seine, I don’t remember.) The perfume was introduced along with a planetarium watch that cost a third of a million dollars (and would, presumably, tell you when it was midnight on any number of planets that are visible to the naked eye at night.) It’s Beyoncé-level bling and it’s appealing in its way; it doesn’t really reflect my lifestyle. The story and the scent had an undeniable romantic aura, but the bling makes you remember: you’re uptown.
Whereas on day 2, I have encountered perfumes like Kelly & Jones’ line based on the scent of wine – charming (and affordable) and surprisingly lovely. Try the Cabernet, it’s very broadly pleasing. It’s where I first saw the Hayari perfumes, and House of Cherry Bomb (I really want to try Pink Haze). It’s where I first heard about Phoenicia Perfumes and the amazing Skin Graft that is such a personal story of real suffering and survival, and about Nomad Two Worlds’ work with Aborigines in Australia to make the remarkable Fire Tree perfume with sustainable essence of the real fire tree, a tree we don’t have on our continent. I discovered the stunning porcelain bottles of Suleko and their beautiful Russian-inspired perfume recipes (I still covet a bottle of Baba Yaga). I’ve eaten frankincense ice cream and had some of the best conversations in the downtown peregrinations that are day 2 of Sniffapalooza. It’s a totally different experience from day 1 and I wouldn’t miss it.
I usually try to relax and just do whatever shopping I feel like before the lunch, which is really the showcase. Mark Behnke of Colognoisseur is the hardest-working perfume fan in the world and he doesn’t just MC the lunch; he frames what you’re about to hear with his encyclopedic knowledge of perfumes here and abroad, past and present, and he puts it all in context. So I strolled around and got my shopping done (I knew I wanted to hit Le Labo, it was a planned purchase) and then got to luncheon in plenty of time.
Finding a downtown restaurant should be easier than uptown but it’s no joke hosting the whole crew (it’s still quite a crowd) with space for speakers. La Mela gives us good food and clearly is patient with us but I wish we could find a place with more space, as table-hopping and chatting is much of the fun. For the people who ARE doing both days, it’s a good time to compare exhausted notes on what you’ve bought so far (and whether or not you have buyer’s remorse from Saturday – usually it is still dopamine-high ) and have perfume discussions more driven by love than marketing.
This year along with some usual suspects there were memorable presentations from a brother-sister perfume launch, Kiori (I’m rooting for them, as part of a very close brother-sister set myself), a chemist who produces the raw materials, a turnkey perfume producer who’s making smaller launches of perfume brands possible for smaller businesses, and a return appearance of Irina Adam from Phoenix Botanicals.
I don’t know how all these perfumers get found; I know I meet some of them at Sniffapaloozas before seeing them present at later ones, and Irina is one of those people. She gave me a sample to sniff while shopping at a Sniffapalooza two years ago, I believe, and while I felt like I was indulging her to take it (yes, you can reach a point at a Sniffapalooza where getting one more free sample no longer sounds so attractive), I remember that it was interesting and surprising, and I told her so. This was all the more unexpected to me because she told me it was natural oils she mixed herself, and in my experience those tend to have a certain family resemblance, and her perfumes bore no resemblance to… anything, really, though perhaps just by being more original they reminded me a bit more of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ work (which is of a totally different style with totally different materials, but nonetheless, original). Then last year she was one of the presenters, speaking quite simply about her experiences with nature and how they had influenced her creative work with perfume.
Here was Irina again, talking about her latest creation, Tempest Blossom, which is her creation in every sense of the word: not only it is a tuberose and oud perfume (yes, creative combination), she is extracting these essences in many cases in order to make the perfume she wants. No, don’t expect anything radical from Bed of Roses, Triple Vanilla, or Lavender Noir; they are what they sound like (though very high quality and very pretty). But on your way through Lavender Noir to Meadow & Fir and beyond (I defy you to find another interesting green like this unless you can travel as far afield into indie territory as Slumberhouse’s Norne) you get to Ka Pueo, what I think of as her “owl perfume”, inspired by the flights of an owl at night in Hawaii. Ka Pueo is unlike anything else out there and very beautiful. And now with Tempest Blossom she has done something else a cut above not just natural perfume, but most perfume.
Where else can you meet her and hear her really tell her story but at a Sniffapalooza event? There she is, dealing with a microphone in a dining room in the back of a downtown Italian place, telling you about the storms she saw in Hawaii and how they smelled and how she went about putting that experience into a perfume.
Overall in the perfume world there are still too many men, usually not creators, talking about perfume to the (mostly female) people who consume perfume. Here is a young woman who is working for herself, an actual nose talking about her experience with scent and scent ingredients. There are no steps removed between her and us. Yes, we still have to struggle with the people who insist on talking loudly through other people’s presentations (sigh), we want to talk to each other as much as listen to more salespeople, and we want to eat something before we are forced by hunger to slay our table companions and start gnawing on their soft parts. But this is the real thing for perfume lovers. This is as close to the act of perfume creation as you can get. For me, as a perfume lover, there is nothing else like it.
Artists are famously inarticulate about their composition processes. I don’t expect dissertations on the quality of olfactory art or artist’s expectations for the lifespan of the piece they’ve just created. Any insight I can get into the creation and, yes, the business aspect of this field is interesting to me. And I feel that’s what I get on day 2. Artists’ immediate thoughts and inspirations, hopes and dreams are right there in front of you. I always want to treat them kind of gently. The perfumes that are so inspired are always worth experiencing too. But I want to treat them more kindly knowing where they come from, and what personal and intimate projects they are, almost all of them, for the people who made them possible.
I also learn a lot more about New York, down where the numbered streets stop. I’ve gotten to know the area over the years almost exclusively through the Sniffapalooza itinerary. And usually I end with some new experience. This year I had an errand to run over on the west side, and my beloved and I walked back to Penn Station along the High Line, the park created from abandoned elevated train tracks. That’s New York at its best: innovative and populist.
So thank you, Sniffapalooza, for all of it, and I intend to be back next year!
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Image are promotional images.
Usually lunch on day 1 includes small speeches from a series of people who have something to do with the perfume industry. Past ones that come to mind have some sort of a multimedia component – the time a Hayari dress was modeled in the room to introduce Hayari perfumes (which I quite like), for instance, or the presentation about sniffing scents of foods that may well soon be extinct. (Which is particularly interesting because as we know, the smell of the food is a great deal of our experience of the food. The question was, if we smell one thing while eating another, will we have a similar experience to eating the real food? Interesting.)
Usually the day 1 lunch is in a place right near Bergdorf Goodman that has great service and is organized for large parties. Because I’m not attending for the food, the generic menu one must perforce get in very large parties meets my requirements (since I get up at 5:30 to attend the Sniffa Bergdorf breakfast – something that I otherwise never, ever do – I am always starving by noon on day 1, and I understand that many of my fellow diners are perhaps not the adventurous eater that I am. And the food is always good).
Most of them are not professional speakers but they have something to say about some aspect of a perfume brand, product or process, so it keeps you alert while you’re comparing with your table mates what you sniffed this morning, what you bought, and what you might buy in the future – those perennial topics for perfumistas everywhere.
Usually I find the table conversation as interesting or more interesting than the speakers because we have a more up-close discussion of perfume – again, we have a shared experience in whatever we were just all sniffing together, perhaps including what we saw at the breakfast, for those of us crazy enough to attend that, and it is usually the only time any of us can sit down and spend some time comfortably with other perfume freaks to discuss our shared passion.
For Sniffa’s 10th anniversary this year the Karens convinced Chandler Burr, perfume curator, author and reviewer, to do a little question-and-answer interview, which was probably a great format and one that they should use more often. Karen Dubin, the MC and “frontman” of Sniffapalooza, knows more about perfume than any 100 human beings you are ever likely to be able to put into a room together, and as a not-professional-speaker has a kind, interested way of putting a question that works very well. Chandler Burr, as an opinionated perfume art evangelist, is probably the most interesting interviewee one could have for such an event.
It was fun getting to know Chandler a little better as a person through Karen’s questions; I’ve seen him many times in person but never felt I learned as much about his viewpoints on art and life as in this little talk (and a person’s viewpoint on life is extremely pertinent to their viewpoint on art, as far as I’m concerned).
She also managed to elicit from him some of his more controversial views on art as a necessarily artificial creation. As someone who has previously tackled this topic in an academic setting, I could certainly see his point. In a world that exists after “found” art and other postmodernist art like Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades (which I am sure are at least part of what Mr. Burr is thinking of), it could be argued that the defining feature of art is the intentionality of the artist’s creation, and that synthetic ingredients are that which separates perfume from the merely found in nature.
On the other hand I think that argument contains its own refutation. Mr. Burr’s point was that art should not be, cannot be, something which one can merely stumble across. It has to have an element of artificiality/artifice (both words with “art” as their root) within it. But Duchamp’s ready-mades prove the opposite point. Something that one stumbles upon in life can be art if the artist arranges it so. No ingredient of Duchamp’s ready-mades, which included things like a urinal labeled “Fountain” and a glass vial of Paris air, comprised anything that the artist actually made except inasmuch as he arranged them and labeled them as art. Duchamp might have said the intentionality of the artist framing the object AS art was the act of art creation – and I’m not sure a natural perfume artist (whose work Mr. Burr was categorically denying fell into the category of art) couldn’t do the same thing.
Of course, part of the challenge is that they don’t do the same thing. Not all, but many of the natural perfume artists whose advertising materials I’ve seen are extolling their perfumes more as a lifestyle than as art. They express themselves as less concerned with the creation of art (whatever that may be) than with remaining “natural” which is defined as something in opposition to “artificial” – a description that incenses some of the chemists I’ve spoken to involved in ingredient manufacture, because the question of what is or is not “natural” or “artificial” in organic chemistry is not really a question of “natural = that which can be manufactured from items grown in a garden”. This whole discussion is at best completely tangential to the discussion of aesthetics per se, and it is easy to see how Mr. Burr can come to feel so passionately about it given how much his work has come to revolve around aesthetics and how one treats perfume as an art form.
(One can entertain oneself quite a bit wondering what sort of art installation Duchamp would plan to refute this “artificial”/”natural” dichotomy. Or which art installation he DID make that refuted it!)
The more original version of Mr. Burr’s point, one that can really only be appreciated by us perfume lovers (and perhaps no one else is qualified to remark upon), is that great perfumery began with the creation of synthetic ingredients. Of course natural perfumers would disagree with this a priori, but as such they remove themselves from the argument, and it is still an interesting point to argue. Of course it assumes that perfumery can be great, can even be art, and then we get into a circle that is not as interesting (perfume as art begins with the creation of the synthetic ingredients because the synthetic ingredients are what make perfume great art). But positing that point for a moment, I wonder how many of us would agree. Is vanillin, which makes Shalimar possible, necessary for a great perfume? Were there any great perfumes before the great synthetics? If so, why is no perfume manufacturer still making them for us to appreciate? How would we know what they were – since perfume’s broad market success as a discrete corporate product seems to have begun with the introduction of synthetics? Or is that really true? Several of the perfume houses go back to the 18th century; might it not instead be the case that perfume success in the market coincides with the rise of mass media marketing as much as (or more than) the rise of synthetics? Is it the reproducibility of a synthetic ingredient that makes it possible to make a perfume that continues to give its wearer the same experience year after year? What then do we make of perfumes like Chanel No. 5 which does include natural ingredients (undoubtedly, previously more of them – and that affects what we can know about synthetics too — we so seldom know what is actually in a perfume formula) and which certainly has changed over time? I’m not just referring to IFRA restrictions, I’m talking about the fact that the natural ingredients simply cannot always be the same.
These are questions which only we perfume lovers, with our libraries full of vintage as well as newer perfumes, natural niche creations as well as mass-market blockbusters, are in a position to decide. I think. I have to think more about this. But only we have the knowledge of the broad universe of perfume possibilities from which to discuss the point, I believe.
Listening to him speak it also occurred to me that as much as he has often stated that he just fell into perfume (originally by meeting Luca Turin on a train and writing The Emperor of Scent), I wonder if he is as passionate about other topics he has written about as a journalist. Whether or not he grew up with a passion for perfume, he certainly has one now, and it is that passion that makes him an interesting writer on the topic. He did say that his greatest fear was to have nothing interesting to work on, or some words to that effect. For better or worse, perfume seems to continue to interest him, and because of that he is certainly the person who is producing the most interesting writing on this topic that is of such interest to any of us who might be reading this blog. I am looking forward to getting my hands on his new book on the Dior perfumes, which he touted as more of a real history than advertising copy, and which should be very interesting.
Lunch also included a truly beautiful room fragrance and candle, Baiser Rose, which this blogger wants for Christmas and which certainly brings ME back to the baser feature of perfume loving: covetousness. There was another controversial statement by another presenter, about running a company featuring skin care products that work over and above paraben-free products, which I’m afraid demonstrated a point of view sadly out of touch with the market (certainly at my table we were all of the view that we’ll take a few sunspots or wrinkles over potentially carcinogenic ingredients, however logical or illogical that point might be given studies that have been done over time on those ingredients). So overall it was a pretty controversial lunch for a Sniffa, but one that still contained new fun facts to know and tell and new things to sniff and enjoy.
I certainly missed having Henri Bendel after lunch, as crowded as it always was. I think the loss of their fine fragrance floor is a shame, but Sniffa doesn’t have the relationship one might hope for with, say, Barney’s which is right up the road and has a stunning perfume floor. (I can’t blame Barney’s; I wouldn’t want a crowd of a hundred crazed perfume shoppers on my floor either, no matter how excited about the product they might get! It can get crazy and I am forever grateful to the stores that DO host us. Bergdorf’s is forever to be applauded for its willingness to enable boisterous and vehement (though still very exclusive) shopping!)
I thence repaired to a quieter location to drink tea with fellow perfumistas and ruminate over the aesthetic theories of artifice and nature – actually, we tried out the Roblé scented nail polish, gossiped about perfume celebrities and I ate all the cheese. I had to recharge for day 2 – further reporting about which to follow.
Image is “They exist” by Boris SV, via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license, some rights removed.
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As usual after a Sniffa, I have almost too much I want to write about. I am SOAKED in perfume, y’all. And of course there’s always a lead-up; I got super excited and bought (among other things) the COOLEST Linari sample set…
But just to get started on the perfumes themselves (though there were lots of other things to report on):
The collection of perfumes shown at the Bergdorf breakfast were oddly light and spring-like. I would have expected more fall-type scents. This is not like fashion, where they always show a season ahead. Usually the fall perfumes are pretty fall-y (they’re often timed to be Christmas and Hannukah presents, after all), while the spring perfumes come out… well, in spring. Lots of the scents shown at this event were kind of springy. But they were more interesting than you might think (if you are a lover of cozier, woolier perfumes, and so many of us are).
One standout was B by Balenciaga, which generated a lot of excitement with its notes list of lily of the valley, edamame, and cedarwood. At first sniff I liked this a lot and am looking forward to doing a longer review, as it was one of the samples we received.
Annick Goutal’s Vent de Folie was also appealing, another soft floral bolstered with woods that was closer to something fresh, salty and springlike than anything oriental. This I was also very pleased to get a sample of and may end up wearing more than I would have expected.
I’m also looking forward to trying all the Vreeland perfumes. None of them really stood out to me at the counter, though I loved the deep jewel-toned look of the bottles.
Piguet’s Gardenia was pitched to the right crowd. I would bet most of these perfumistas never met a leather floral they didn’t like. It was a popular draw at the counter, and that too we got samples of and I’m looking forward to trying it in more detail.
The Soufflé Shalimar flanker was more disappointing to me as someone who actually liked Parfum Initial (which is being discontinued and which I thought was a wonderful modernization of Shalimar). Many fans will say that the Soufflé has nothing to do with Shalimar itself at all. Actually in the far drydown it has a buttery praline note that might, in its echoes, remind one faintly of the vanilla of Shalimar proper. But to get there you have to go through a lot of nondescript fruity musk that doesn’t smell like Shalimar at all and does smell like too many other perfumes. I hope it accomplishes for Guerlain whatever they’re trying to accomplish in the market with it.
Last fall rose was really having a moment. I made a list of all the rose perfumes that debuted, and then of course failed to write up a really detailed report. (Yes, I suck. Look, do I come over to your blog and criticize YOUR shortcomings?) It was interesting to see that this fall there were a few more rose offerings. There were also at least two notable iris offerings, which I thought was very interesting as iris is a note that doesn’t always have a populist appeal. I wonder if Prada’s Infusion d’Iris (a blockbuster seller as far as I can tell) is having an effect on other brands who want to have a perfume in this space.
Houbigant’s Iris des Champs was the prettier, more approachable sister of the two. This is one I need to give more time to. I went straight for trying Creed’s Iris Tubereuse on skin, because I loved it on paper. The iris was earthy and rooty and the tuberose sort of wrapped around it like a puzzle piece, and my seatmate pointed out that there was a touch of lavender holding the whole thing together, and I found that to be true. Unfortunately what had been a beautiful cloisonné piece on paper, on my skin turned into just a dusty disaster, and this made me sad. I fear it’s me, not the perfume. I will want to come back to this, but I still haven’t found a Creed I want to give my heart to.
Tuberose may have beat out iris as surprise ingredient of the spring, as Jo Malone also showed their Tuberose Angelica addition to their Cologne Intense line. My first response to this was that Jo Malone is a light cologne-type company, and cologne-type companies shouldn’t do tuberose. This tuberose was fragmentary and hollow, and the skeleton that they captured was sharp, pokey, and unpleasant. I like Jo Malone’s Cologne Intense line (I worked my butt off to get my hands on some Dark Amber & Ginger Lily before it came back into regular distribution) but this one didn’t appeal. Perhaps I just didn’t wrap my head around it at first encounter. I don’t know if it’s something tuberose lovers are supposed to love, or something that is supposed to appeal to people who don’t usually like tuberose.
Interestingly, they didn’t show Wood Sage & Sea Salt, yet that is having surprising success among perfumistas whom I wouldn’t have suspected of buying a Jo Malone let alone one that is supposed to evoke salt and water. I’ve heard at least three people I wouldn’t have expected to like it say that they outright bought it. I need to smell this again. It failed to seduce me when I spritzed it on myself on the way through Nordstrom but maybe I need to expose myself to temptation again.
Clive Christian’s L wasn’t shown but I knew it was out and I knew Bergdorf’s would have it; this was also on my “put straight on skin” list. I thought this was pretty but fortunately didn’t fall in love. I’m not sure they really need to add on to what I think is their fantastic first scents (especially X and 1872), but I liked C better than L. This one I might try on skin again in a quieter environment but I expect a Clive Christian to rise above the fray and beat back everything else on my hands, at their prices; the fact that L didn’t means I don’t need to go out and sell a kidney for it right now.
The perfume boards are also all agog over Bottega Veneta’s Knot, but now that I’ve smelled it it would appear to me that BV is coasting on the (well deserved) reputation they earned when they released the first Bottega Veneta scent, which was original and beautiful. Eau Legère is fine but not groundbreaking, and Knot is not memorable at all. Buy yourself one of the bottles of the original and just bask in it.
The Roja Dove exclusive for Bergdorf Goodman was, of course, lovely (I don’t think Roja Dove is capable of turning out an ugly perfume). It didn’t reach out and grab me and say it had to be mine, but then in the category of Bergdorf’s exclusives I already have Amouage’s Beloved, also designed specifically with the Bergdorf customer in mind. I love the idea that a Goodman (har) is hard to find, and of course it’s very wearable and very expensive as well as being very beautiful. If I get to smell it again I’ll post a fuller review; I don’t think it was among our samples. It’s well worth visiting the RD counter in Bergdorf’s just to visit Tom Crutchfield, now representing the brand there, and experience their scents.
The good-looking and gracious gentlemen of Atelier Cologne are only too happy to facilitate your perfume addiction at the Atelier counter at Bergdorf’s.
The most unfortunate debut (from my wallet’s point of view) was of Atelier Cologne’s Bergdorf exclusive, called Rendezvous. I love these people and I love their work and Rendezvous was a gorgeous osmanthus thing that like most Atelier scents I could picture myself wearing day in and day out. My purchase of that was my unplanned splurge but I doubt I’ll regret it, and as I don’t get into the city that often I am just as glad I bought it on the day, when the gorgeous gentlemen were there to engrave the leather sleeve on the mini purse-bottle for me. I have a feeling this will join Rose Anonyme (something else that perfumistas I meet often report owning) and Sous le Toit de Paris (a masterpiece) as one of my go-to perfumes, something to wear when nothing else will do. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Ramon Monegal’s Hand in Hand (rose & oud – disastrously the little vial is unlabeled and it already wants to separate itself from its card. Be warned, vendors);
three Parfums de Marly (apparently this brand is quite good but not well known in the U.S.);
all three of the Kilian addiction series (which I’ve already smelled, and Intoxication continues to grow on me, har,)
Roja’s Gardenia extrait, swoon. (Maybe white florals altogether are having a moment? But no. It’s not jasmine, it’s iris, tuberose, and gardenia (there’s this and Piguet’s).)
That wonderful B by Balenciaga;
all 5 Vreeland scents;
Tom Ford’s Velvet Orchid (and a coral mini lipstick!) (The new Tom Ford patchouli was also quite broadly approved of, as being neither too clean nor too hippie, but very good quality patchouli);
Carthusia Capri Forget me Not;
Annick Goutal Vent de Folie;
Kiori oil (more on this on Sunday report);
the Antica Farmacista Holiday room spray, evergreen with roasted chestnut, gorgeous;
Bottega Veneta Knot;
Aerin’s Lilac Path (though they showed the Iris Meadow and I was more interested in that – grass lovers seek this one out);
Volnay Objet Céleste (no idea what this even is);
and a sprinkling of things we’ve seen before.
That’s enough for a start, isn’t it?
Photos are mine; shared under Creative Commons license, if you really want to use them, please give unseencenser.com credit. Thanks.
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Thanks to an alert Twitterer, I found out this site was down today while I was at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2014. No good! Anyway, it’s back up now and I will post some news soon. Thanks for sticking with!
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Hey, you didn’t come for the polite language. I am under so much pressure to sit down and shut up these days, I have to bust out somewhere. Sorry, it’s here.
Sniffapalooza is coming up! And with it the inevitable “What are your favorite frags?” question. I just got to go to a lovely dinner . . . → Read More: Shit I been wearing
Sådanne is knee-meltingly good.
If you’ve ever smelled any Slumberhouse scents you’re going to find traces of several in this new one. There’s the hay of Sova (oh god why didn’t I buy a bottle when I could), the cranberry sour of Zahd (without the actual smoky cranberry essence Josh Lobb used in that limited-edition . . . → Read More: C’est une pipe
Sorry, I wasn’t trying to alarm anybody about saying I had to adjust my perfume purchases. I’m taking some classes I have to pay for, that’s all, and I still have some other financial things to get in order from moving. (I’m not ready to admit publicly that I am getting yet another graduate degree. . . . → Read More: Stuff
I’ve been craving fairly bad perfumes. Not things formulated to smell bad, but just, cheap, possibly cheerful perfumes.
Perhaps it’s the late summer heat, perhaps it’s being tired and dispirited so much of the time (this is always a tough time of year and this year is perhaps the worst); perhaps it’s knowing that my . . . → Read More: Liking bad stuff
How many of us wear perfume to draw attention to ourselves? I think few, actually. We wear perfume for ourselves, for pleasure, and we worry about it being too much for the folks around us, if we are being “that person” whom everyone else can smell coming a mile away.
What if we wanted to . . . → Read More: Smell the revolution
Am I the only one who doesn’t use perfume to fight the heat? Of course, I can talk – this is the mildest summer I’ve had in a decade of living on this godforsaken island, with very little real heat to complain about.
But even in the swelteringest summer, I complain about still air as . . . → Read More: The pleasures of sweat