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Would you like some Sniffapalooza?

Maria Candida Gentile speaks at Sniffapalooza lunch.

Maria Candida Gentile speaks at Sniffapalooza lunch.

I know there are a couple of readers of this blog who don’t always get to go to Sniffapalooza (at least one because she lives on the other side of the planet!) so I want to give a bit of a wrap-up. I fear it will be more of a discontinuous set of impressions, because I am going on my fifth week of being ill and just am not up to snuff. But you will have to put up with it, because lying in bed typing is about the level of excitement I am up to. This is long! I even used a shortening tag so it wouldn’t make this page go on forever, it’s so long.

The Bergdorf breakfast really marched along and still it was tough to fit all the presentations into two hours. At the same time, I’m not remembering very many specific scents. By the time I get to Sniffapalooza, I’ve already smelled many things, and what I need to do is make a list of the things I have yet to smell. But I have plenty of scent recollections from the weekend overall…

The delightful Tom Crutchfield is now repping Roja Dove scents at Bergdorf Goodman, and this is all to the good; he’s wonderful and so are the scents, so that’s a great mix for perfume lovers! I smelled a few of the Creation-E scents; I didn’t realize there were so many new Creation scents in the Roja Dove line. I’m still digesting my massive love for the Amber Aoud I bought in the spring (and have never regretted for one second) and his beautiful Neroli extrait, which for some reason just hits me as better than any other neroli scent (usually I can take or leave neroli) and which I find so wearable and so elegant. I have to put up a full post on Roja Dove and his perfumes – I’ve been planning to since the spring Sniffapalooza – but suffice to say I’m in love. His scents are so elegant, so well-crafted. I just didn’t have any brain room for all these new Creation scents.

The wonderfully enthusiastic Joe Garces was there with a new scent for his line Robert Piguet: Rose Perfection. I am going to wear the sample of this a bit more and report back. As you know the Censer is picky about roses, and often claims not to care for them but owns several. At first blush I’m not sure if I need to own both Eau de Chloe (my favorite green fresh rose) and Rose Perfection; but Rose Perfection has a bit more fullness to it, and I enjoyed it. Deserves more wearing.

Rose had its day on Saturday, as Van Cleef & Arpels also brought out Rose Velours, which, while not to my taste, was also a delicious rose scent. There was still more oud (a Tom Ford oud, which I found it impossible to care about but it was a nicely done oud), but roses were a palate-cleansing theme of the Bergdorf day and I for one welcome our new flowery overlords.

Francis Kurkdjian, of Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Francis Kurkdjian, of Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Francis Kurkjdian himself was there, of Maison Francis Kurkdjian; the house was debuting 754, their exclusive new scent for Bergdorf’s 111th anniversary. Some people reported that he seemed rather aloof. From his writings, he has always struck me as rather shy. This doesn’t look like the stance of a shy person, though, does it? 754 came in a lovely mirrored case and I know many people love their MFK scents. I’m still looking for one I adore, and 754 wasn’t it.

In fact the sales rep sprayed a huge wet spray of 754 all down my forearm (note to shoppers: if perfume sales associates won’t let you spray it yourself, skip it!), and unfortunately I hated it. Even more unfortunately (you all know how this story goes, right?) I could not get it off. I tried wiping it with an alcohol wipe, then I used my hanky sprayed with a bit of Amouage Fate on it to wipe it off (a trick that often works for me).

Instead what I ended up with was 754 and Fate locked in a cage match on my forearm for the next several hours. Holy crap. That 754 hung on with a bear-claw grip. I did not enjoy that.

I did, however, enjoy Amouage Fate for Women. The estimable Mark Behnke of Ca Fleure Bon downright giggled at my eye-rolling swoon over this one: he absolutely predicted that I would love it, and I did. He knows what a big Amouage fan I am, but also that Interlude didn’t work for me. He predicted that I would find this scent a more wearable progression in that vein, and I did.

Fate for me manages to be warm and cozy while still being complex and never cloying. I would not call most Amouages everyday-wear, blend-into-my-lifestyle scents; but Fate can manage it, while still being beautiful – as essential, chic, and pleasurable as a cashmere scarf in a beautiful neutral color. If this is my fate, I’m one lucky woman! And Fate is still just as rich as any Amouage; that gorgeous silver frankincense that forms the floor of so many Amouages is here, inlaid with jeweled and polished tiles of other things, and as usual with an Amouage, so blended that you couldn’t pull out most individual notes, and yet somehow showcasing them as well. I felt like it had the perfect touch of myrrh. I could wear this an awful lot and as soon as they have a 50 ml bottle (or I save up my pennies) I will.

Still, poor Fate had a very hard time vanquishing 754!

I felt like I barely had time to shop in Bergdorf’s, for some reason. I met up with one of my Barcelona-trip pals and we had a lot to say to each other; I also picked up some of the candles from Nest (the Moroccan Amber is to die for, and I quite enjoyed their holiday candle editions as well – one orangey spice one, one piney tree one.) Before I knew it, it was time for lunch.

Skylight at Il Gattopardo, Saturday lunch.

Skylight at Il Gattopardo, Saturday lunch.

Lunch was too long but the lunchtime presenters were interesting and kept it short and sweet, and the restaurant, though too tightly packed, was a great space with great waitstaff and I did enjoy the food. The chicken baked under a brick served with spinach was very Censer-friendly and delicious while being simple. They kept the orders coming amongst all the tightly packed tables and rarely missed a beat.

I found Aromaflage, an all-natural perfume made to be a bug repellent, interesting; we are always looking to keep the bugs away in the summer at my house, and I dislike the smell or the toxicity of most repellents, so this was interesting. It smells very nice; the secret ingredient is apparently vanillin, which insects do not like.

A Hayari gown being modeled for our delectation during lunch. Henri Bendel carries the three Hayari perfumes.

A Hayari gown being modeled for our delectation during lunch. Henri Bendel carries the three Hayari perfumes.

Mr. Hayari himself of Hayari couture graced the event, along with another beautiful woman (this one one of the sales associates from Henri Bendel) arrayed in a Hayari gown. I did tell him that I get more compliments on Broderie than anything else I wear, and he seemed pleased to hear it.

Maria Candida Gentile, Italian perfumer, also spoke, and I really need to get to know more of her scents. She is very passionate about perfume and seemed genuinely delighted to be there with all of us perfume nuts!

The Ghost Food presentation was interesting: an artist who created the sensation of eating certain foods that are in danger of extinction by feeding the scent of them through tubes to the nose while the participant was eating a simulated version of them. I liked the idea of drawing attention to common foods that we may well have to learn to do without (while you might not be sad to hear about the precarious state of our harvests of codfish or peanuts, I think many of us would be sad to lose chocolate).

I felt like I had just a few minutes in Henri Bendel before I had to report to the bus, because it was true! Lunch didn’t finish till 3 and I had to report for the bus at 3:45 (and had no intention of missing it). On a whirlwind trip through Bendel’s I decided to pick up the Joya oils I constantly think about getting, No. 1 and No. 6; my samples have been used up and they are inexpensive treats. An on-the-ball sales associate there asked me if I had tried the Union scents, and I looked down and realized they had the sampler box of all four. She told me that if I got it they would throw in a bottle in the same size of Gunpowder Rose, the fifth and newest Union scent. With the discount that day, it would be $66 for all of them.

“Done,” I told her, “if you can get me to the counter and checked out in the next five minutes.”

She, talented woman, did it, too, and in a space that small crowded with that many perfume smellers, that was no small feat. Though I hadn’t intended to shoot for one, I made off with the Bendel’s gift bag in addition to my very-much-wanted purchases, and felt very pleased about this.

No time to wander through the Illuminum boutique that replaced the L’Artisan room on the balcony – I had to report to the bus! (I also didn’t have time for my favorite part of the day, drinking a pot of green tea in the Plaza’s wine bar.) Dozens of us faithful piled onto a small, elegant black bus, and swayed and bounced our way to Brooklyn and the new boutique Twisted Lily.

Busing it to Brooklyn!

Busing it to Brooklyn!

The trip was over an hour and rather grueling in itself, after a day that started so early for so many of us. I quite sympathized with my bus mate who just stared out the window as we filed off the bus, then announced out loud, “I’m over it.” But she, along with the rest of us, were soon happily squishing ourselves through the small store smelling more rare brands and comparing our wrists and arms to one another’s while munching the hors d’oeuvres provided by the really welcoming and knowledgable Twisted Lily staff.

I had spritzed one hand with Tommi Sooni Tarantella at Bendel’s (question settled: I don’t need it because I don’t actually care for it – this was my third time trying it) but soon had Wilde, from Jardins d’Ecrivain, on the other, and not only did I enjoy smelling that for the next hour at the shop, I enjoyed showing it off to other people. This line has some very interesting scents in it, and I was tickled to get to smell more of them, as well as the surprising, beautiful and well-made scents from underground sensation line Imaginary Authors. Don’t get your scent lines based on writers confused!

I also got to smell the scents from Rouge Bunny Rouge, and was tickled to see this seldom-available brand, along with Brooklyn-based D.S. & Durga, Smell Bent of the wonderfully silly names, Providence Perfume Co. (finally got to smell Moss Gown – it is indeed gorgeous, and if you are a vintage Miss Dior lover who hasn’t tried this, well then you must), and my beloved Slumberhouse (I may have turned on several shoppers to the glory that is Ore), as well as lines much sought-after like Mona di Orio and brands I’d never even heard of, like In Fiore and Maison Dorin. The curation of this collection is right up my alley. If you thought that perhaps New York didn’t need another high-end scent boutique, graced as we are with Min NY, Osswald, and Aedes de Venustas, well, it’s hard not to look at Twisted Lily’s selection and think that maybe you’d be wrong. I personally will probably visit this one more, as it is easily accessible to me (relatively close to the Brooklyn end of LIRR trains, not requiring that I schlep all the way into Manhattan) and as with so many of these stores that are so good to host us Sniffapalooza maniacs, I’d be happy giving these lovely people my business.

I might need some Wilde.

Whew!!! Still with me? OK, Sunday was less overwhelming…

I skipped Molton Brown next morning and made it to Osswald to see the effervescent Ari from Scents of Self, who is now employed there! Yes! She was looking gorgeous as ever in a pretty pink frock and also introduced me to several new scents, as well as to her lovely mother, who was joining the wanderjahr at this point. I have samples of Vol d’Hirondelle of LM Parfums (which my knowledgeable friend Deb, of long-going Sniffapalooza fame, introduced to me) and Intrigant Patchouli, as I am not done exploring the world of patchouli and have really just discovered Parfumerie Generale as a line. (I got to smell more of these at Scent Bar in Los Angeles a few weeks ago and intended to seek them out. Oh, I didn’t get to tell you about Scent Bar? Well, I said I’ve been sick! I have so much perfume news to catch up on!)

Then I made a new friend and was so caught up in talking with her (and some gorgeous photographs from a street vendor – truly the most detailed photo of Galeries Lafayette in Paris I have ever seen) that I walked right past the reception at Fragrance Republ!c, which I really regretted. This new company/service is releasing scents with no brief from noted noses, and if you subscribe you can have a 15 ml bottle a month for the cost of the subscription ($29/mo).

I really haven’t been able to pull the trigger on this subscription and wanted to smell their scents (which I hear are very good) at this event. But I missed it. They were only open for two hours for us Sniffa folks – and by the way, so was their discount for Sniffa participants! 🙁 Sad Censer is sad. Well, I will have to keep thinking. On the one hand I want to support more independent/less commercially driven perfumery, and I hear the scents are good. On the other, I have so much perfume already that I will never get through wearing… I can’t decide!

Well, c’est la vie. We went to lunch at a new place, Emporio, and the service there was also excellent, as was the food. Mark Behnke as always did a fabulous job pulling together the presenters for EAU (Emerging Artists Uncorked) and it was a great venue to talk and sniff in. These presentations included the debut scent, Midnight Promises, from new company Béllegance, scent designed by Sniffapalooza’s own Karen Dubin and executed by Sarah Horowitz Thran. I really liked the immediate cinnamon presence in this, and people who like Sarah Horowitz scents will like this one, which is a rather darker, spicer scent from this perfumer but bears a strong family resemblance to her other scents. I loved the butterfly shaped lid and the purple bottle!

Midnight Promises

Midnight Promises

TrendInCite’s Amy Marks McGee gave us some peeks into the future with a report on trends, and my other favorite presenter here was Irina Adam from Phoenix Botanicals.

Irina is an interesting young woman. She slipped me some samples of her perfume when we met at MiN during Sniffa last spring, telling me that she worked with botanical ingredients. I don’t generally care for naturals and many of them smell the same to me, so I didn’t get super excited, but when I got home and tried one on I thought: hmm. This woman has something going on. I will hear more from her. Well, here I did! She has a number of resellers and also an Etsy store; fans of botanicals who are looking for something well done and good value should check her out. The Lavender Noir is lovely, and if you ever wondered if a botanical perfume could be warm and cuddly and interesting all at the same time, check out her newest, Ka Pueo, inspired by her personal encounters with a white owl while sleeping outside in Hawaii. Really creative, really interesting, really wearable – you can’t go wrong.

(Yes, I know I’m overusing “interesting”. As previously discussed, “boring” is the worst crime I think a perfume can commit. And I’m sick. I am short on synonyms.)

After lunch I went to MiN and collapsed in a chair. The lovely staff there tried to help me, they really did, but they didn’t have 50 ml sizes of Ambre Russe (this stuff must be made of rare babies, I swear; why is it never in stock anywhere???) or Amouage Fate for Woman (not sold in this size), so I lost. At that point something I’d eaten at lunch was making me really cranky, or I’d just hit the wall of socializing, or perhaps the antibiotics were taking their toll? Whatever, I’d had enough, and gratefully slunk off to catch the subway and train and come home and collapse.

I have pawed through my samples and collected them in one place, but I haven’t yet entered them into my spreadsheet. I have worn Amouage Fate twice more since then (I got a sample at MiN, but turned out to also have one in my Bergdorf goody bag!). I’ve also worn one Union perfume – the Quince, Mint and Moss is so refreshingly lovely. There’s so much more to say, and I feel like all the new scents and news is already getting swept away in the tidal wave of perfume releases (holy cats, Indult perfumes is coming back!) and I want to record everything before I forget anything! But that’s all I can think of to report right now, so I’ll stop.

I will say that for a many-times Sniffapalooza visitor, it is so exciting to see always new perfumers, new great scents, new great stores, and above all new great people. I have thought before that the Karens can’t possibly keep it up, that Sniffapalooza has hit its peak and is on the way down. Time and again I’m proved wrong. The fall event is always the biggest, and this one was a smorgasbord of delights. The most fun is always getting to see people I’ve met and meet new ones; we all have one massive passion in common. But the event continues to be a stunning showcase of what’s new and interesting in the world of scent, and I for one am grateful to the Karens for their ongoing creativity and hard work, and grateful to live so close to New York so I can take advantage of it!

Other wrap-ups:

Ca Fleure Bon

The Scented Hound

And Sniffapalooza is running a Lunch Loot Giveaway!


Photos are promotional photos, or my own photos, published under Creative Commons license; may be reused but not for commercial purposes and only with proper attribution to the blog

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7 comments to Would you like some Sniffapalooza?

  • Judith, how in the heck did we not see each other? I know that you were trading some tweets or messages with Daisy from coolcookstyle, but I don’t believe that you met up either. We probably did speak to each other but just didn’t know it. I guess that all goes to the craziness of the experience. Let me say the “wonderful craziness” of the experience. I hope you’re feeling better. Steve

    • Judith

      Hi Steve! I remember seeing Poodle in passing, I think (I remember seeing the woman in your photos), but we don’t know each other and didn’t chat – I’m sure you and I walked right past each other too. Strange how big a crowd of about 150 can be, isn’t it? Daisy I was looking for and couldn’t find her! (Though I mostly blame being packed into the middle for lunch by the time I realized she was there, then rushing through Bendel’s and off to Twisted Lily on the bus.) I’m sure we’ll see each other at the next one! It is indeed a wonderful craziness.
      And yes, I am feeling better! Steroids are magical. And back to sniffing perfume! Thank you!

  • Annie

    Hi Judith!

    So sorry about Fragrance Republic, maybe I can take a visit down and we’ll check it out together? I am the one that you were so sweet to and waited while I downed my coffee and sweets, after all.

    The trip was something, eh? I escaped the spritz-happy reps from MFK, but it was tricky. I found Joe Garces to be a delight, as well. Refreshing and really down to earth.

    That Twisted Lily had me at the skewered shrimp. Not to mention the Slumberhouse line. I was haunted by Jeke. Mark and I shared a cab over there and with his vast knowledge, he quickly threw some ideas and suggestions to try. Slumberhouse fragrances were not to be missed. I can’t recall his original suggestion, but I felt pulled toward the Jeke. You may be foraging into the Bliss that is Patchouli, but it takes something special to lure me out of that magical land. Dark, playful, yet married to layers of intricate collaborations, Jeke explores patchouli in a unique light. Well, that’s just one note among many others fooling around in there. But, the quiet, tranquil experience of Twisted Lily was welcome. I had arrived earlier and had a fabulous time exploring many lines that were new to me. There were five of us, I believe. Mark, myself and the rest of the gentile folks that worked there. Just what the doctor ordered at the end of a sniffy day.

    I skipped Molton Brown, too. Delays, delays. The rest of the day was enjoyable. The treat of meeting you and seeing Mark again made it so comfortable being with like-minded people. The laughs were worth the trip.

    Osswald was new to me. I was on the hunt for the perfect oud and finding that you just can’t find the find. Cooperating, my nose was not. There were two MFM that I toyed with, while I was given several suggestions by others. Also, Bois de Bois was
    dancing in my head. Hmmm… That is how we met. Sniffing and checking out scents. Throwing out your arm, you’d share your passion for a scent. “You’ve got to smell this!” Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am terrified of using up my precious real estate to spray a fragrance on. What was I thinking? Did you even know that Fate was all over my brain at that point? Chunka change. I’ll save for that baby.
    And, yes, Ari is as sweet as you say.

    I really loved lunch with the group. Uncorked was my first look at the up-and-comers.
    The trending. Lerved it. Can’t wait to watch and wait ~ some things more humorous and others more intriguing.

    MiN was yet another place with many of the same lines, yet another shop with lines that seemed unique to them. As if that makes scents, 😉 I finally pulled out the brains and asked for some samples. This’ll give my precious real estate time at home to test. Of course, Mark was there to tell me not to miss this line and that. He’s a hoot.

    It was there that we said our goodbyes. For the first time I hope. I can’t tell you how sneaky fun you are, but, whoops! I just did.

    Thanks for the laughs!

    And I must give a shout out to Mark, the Karens and the old friends and new. Ida is a piece of work.

    • Judith

      ANNIE!!! So good to hear from you!

      What a great mini-wrap-up this is in itself! I agree with you, there’s almost too much swirling around to really hunt for something you are interested in and want but can’t put your finger on yet, like the perfect oud. The samples are key. I still find when I get home somehow I have a million samples of stuff I don’t want and not enough samples of stuff I do. This time I was smarter about asking for samples of things I was really considering buying and not just relying on the loot bags. (Though the loot bags are awesome as well.)

      Not to worry about Fragrance Republ!c – they are having a launch party for their second scent tonight, in fact, and I am going. The benefit of being so near the city is that I can sometimes take advantage of such things, if I want to. I also intend to go back to the Twisted Lily for longer, slower perusing of their items. Such a lovely store. I love MiN with its lovely couch (though I wish there were something other than all those Keiko Mecheri perfumes I can’t keep straight to look at when one sits down), and I’m sure I’ll get to Osswald more now that Ari is there and also knowing that they stock Parfumerie Generale, which is a line I’m late to getting to know. But Twisted Lily is easier to get to than either of those and I need to visit it more often! But tonight I will head all the way into town to finally sniff some FR scents. I’m worried now that I’ve built them up too much. I mean, at that price point, can they really wow me?

      You’re inspiring me to dig out my wee decant of Jeke. I consider Ore to be just about the perfect amber; maybe I need some Jeke to see if it’s as awesome a patchouli. Now you’re making it harder to figure out what to wear today, though. I don’t want something that will last all day and fight with the FR scents. (Maybe some Fate? You’re right, that one is so worth saving up the pennies for!)

      Cheers and welcome!

  • From the other side of the world, it sounds both amazing and overwhelming. Thank you for the report! One question…how can you eat anything (breakfast, lunch) amidst this barrage of fragrance?

    • Judith

      I never eat anything at breakfast – I eat before I go – all they serve is high-glycemic pastry and juice (sometimes I have a few sips of coffee, to keep me awake, since I get up 2.5 hours early to make the train!!). There isn’t much to fight with the scent. Lunch is a lot less sniffing, more talking about fragrance, and actual eating. Good question, though!