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Sniffapalooza fall 2011

This was my third Sniffa but the first to which I managed to drag a friend I already knew. (It’s very easy to talk to people at Sniffa, even for people who find it tough to talk to strangers as I do, because everyone has at least one passion that they share!) My friend K wanted me to post a long-drawn out and loving informative post on Sniffapalooza – but frankly I’m exhausted. On the other hand, if I skate too quickly over the whole thing, it won’t do it justice, because it was a rich and rewarding experience.

So I’m going to post a highlight summary first and then I’ll be reviewing in detail, as I can, the few perfumes I thought worth discussing in more depth. It has to be “as I can” because in two weeks this reporter is going on the Sniffapalooza trip to Barcelona – and I couldn’t be more excited, as Karen D. saw me in the atrium at Bergdorf Goodman on Day 1 and was just bursting with excitement herself over the lineup of events!

First. This weekend.

I knew I wanted to go to the fabulous breakfast on Saturday morning at Bergdorf’s cafe. This is where many of the vendors who work with Bergdorf discuss their recent or upcoming releases, and everything is passed around to be sniffed (often with accompanying samples).

Due to some sort of Subway Issue I ended up waiting 25 minutes for an uptown train and was therefore 30 minutes late to the breakfast. I was lucky enough, though, to find a perch on a bench seat (some folks had to stand all the way through – other already-seated folks were not as accommodating) and my companions and I had a jolly old time dissecting the various things we were sampling while the salespeople saled. Turns out one of my companions was actually trained in perfumery and she gave me quite an education on notes, while the other was bursting with enthusiasm for her first Sniffa. Perhaps not too surprisingly, we largely agreed on the quality of the perfumes we were smelling, though each of us had our own preferences.

I love sniffing perfumes on other people at Sniffa – they’re always so much deeper and more nuanced than on my lizard-paper skin. So throughout the event, seatmates also served the valuable purpose of skin blotters for me to sniff the warmed, evaporating perfume on!

This reporter might be becoming a little jaded, dear readers. (No, I don’t mean the bottle of Black Jade I scored an MiN today. More on that later!) I have to say my first reaction to an awful lot of perfumes was “I’ve smelled it.” Many a seasoned perfumista has this reaction to most releases and I guess I’ve reached that point, because I recall saying several times “This is the same powdery fruity floral that I’ve smelled a dozen other places.” My more talented seatmate was able to at least detect the differences between raspberry and cherry; I just grew bored quickly and was ready for the next blotter.

Fortunately, at Sniffapalooza there are always more blotters to smell! And more blotters, and more…

Highlights:

Tom at the Annick Goutal counter – and he is just the nicest person – had the new Annick Goutal, Mon Parfum Cheri par Camille, and I have to say a patchouli is not what one expects from Annick Goutal. This was drier and less floral than almost any AG I’ve smelled – in fact AGs are often almost soliflores, and this is a darker composition that has little to do with a garden, unless it’s a dark, damp garden in January. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. With so many other light florals out there, AG needs to evolve to survive, and this is an interesting move in a new direction. I’ll be interested to hear how it does. (Did I mention that Tom at the AG counter is THE NICEST PERSON?)

With D at my side I was finally brave enough to enter the JAR cave and experience all the JAR fragrances. I had mostly smelled Diamond Water before. I loved Golconda and its carnation opulence on others, but it really didn’t stick on lizardy me. And don’t tell anyone, but I think Serge Lutens Vitriol d’Oeillet might be a fair copy for it (and smelled better on me – odd for a Serge). Super-secret-don’t-tell-anyone, but I also think Gorilla Perfume’s The Smell of Weather Turning has something in common with the Lightning perfume at JAR – I certainly wouldn’t have noticed the damp mint in the ozonic scent if I hadn’t smelled it in The Smell of Weather Turning before.

TheFragranceClub.com announced at lunch Saturday had every perfumista in the room nearly silent, pens poised, waiting to find out where and when we could sign up. It purports to feature ways for the adoring public (that’s us) to vote on perfumes and bring them to production – sort of a quirky.com for perfumes – and there were several respected perfumers signed up to participate. The club would also offer said perfumes to us, the crazed fans, as well as a chance to vote on our favorites and perhaps attend an award dinner for said favorites. This project was clearly still in development but sounds very exciting. I love sample clubs and this one, devoted to perfume, could be my favorite!

Bendel’s was more rewarding than in previous visits and I managed to finally score the gift bag. It was good, but it’s annoying that you have to purchase $100 to get it. Not that buying a bottle of Neil Morris there would be a bad plan; it’s just that I pretty much have everything already. Thanks to my friend K, who pointed out a set of Ineke samples (all six of her first six fragrances), plus a cheery little bottle of Vanille Violette by Les Scenteurs Gourmand (these are not serious perfumes but this baby made me smile), and a lovely little slightly aquatic aromatherapy oil from Apothia called If, created in support of research on breast cancer, I finally scored that damn gift bag. (As I said, more details later, as some of the perfumers here representing their work were really interesting.)

By Krigler time I was ready to collapse, so I can’t report on the new Bond No. 9 uptown store, but I can say that we had a great dinner at the Istanbul Cafe Turkish Restaurant at 325 West 57th Street.

Sunday also is going to need a lot more ink devoted to it. Instead of the Bond No. 9 brunch downtown (which I always felt was not particularly interesting, nor did it provide any seating – a consideration if you spend more than a half hour there), we were treated to a fantastic launch of their new fine fragrance line by Molton Brown. I got up out of bed and went to this solely on the basis of my passionate love for Molton Brown’s Black Pepper Body Wash, and even so I was pleasantly surprised. I was afraid the perfumes would be simplistic, as things attached to toiletry lines can be. Instead they were anything but. The advertising for this campaign is going to be gorgeous, the scents extremely interesting, and the company was delightfully interesting in cozying up to us perfume addicts. They provided a really nice breakfast, in a room full of tables with actual space between them for walking!, (This is a rarity at Sniffa,) and regaled us with information about the actual perfumes for some time while also letting us sit and wear them, compare them, and enjoy them. An absolutely fantastic morning experience – and I do NOT enjoy going ANYWHERE before noon, in the normal way of things.

MiN and the Sunday lunch presentations also included some fairly interesting new lines, about which further anon; these included Carner Barcelona (at MiN), Arquiste, and Technique Indiscrète. (Actually I’m not sure what I can say later about the Carner Barcelona scents; for some reason we did not receive any samples of these, despite there being a whole presentation about them, so I can’t wear them again and give you more of an impression, except to say that one of their scents, I’m not sure which one except that by process of elimination perhaps it was D600, reminded me of a dry spicy silk – “old ballgowns” – and that Tardes was more than the rehashed Mediterranean cologne you might expect it to be from the description.)

This reporter was pooped so I did not go on up Bleecker street (despite having very pleasant memories of some of these shops from the spring – I still have an unused bar of Enfleurage soap, and only because I’ve used up one and am working on the second), nor did I take in the Sephora Sensorium. I can’t imagine what this would be like from a company like Sephora, though perhaps I’m not giving enough credit to their partnership with Firmenich in executing this concept. I do expect I will go to this before it closes on November 27; I sent a spy who promises to let me know how it is.

It’s extremely exciting to now have smelled a lot of things I see referred to by others on the perfume blogs or in perfume news. One thing about Sniffapalooza – it’s access. Access to perfumes, perfumers, and (for me, most importantly) perfume lovers, the best of all possible audiences for nattering about perfume. K agreed with me – it is easy to talk to a bunch of people who all share the same obsession you do!

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