Monday, June 28, 2010

Perfume and State Of Our Union

I planned to post a review of Centaure, one of my favorite MPG masculines, but this post by Denyse on Grain de Musc resonated with me so much I had to add my own point of view. After all, I've been blogging for over four years, so the ennui and disenchantment with large parts of the beauty, fashion and perfume industries feels very familiar. I've said in the past that these are strange times for perfumery- the industry and the art itself. To paraphrase Tolkien, the world is changing and we can smell it in our eau and in our oakmoss.

Denyse is asking some important questions:
When was the last time you were enchanted by a perfume, and which one(s)?

Are you starting to suffer from launch fatigue?

And are you restricting the number of houses/perfumers you follow as a result?

Do you feel moved to seek out new voices online? Or is it all just too much to keep up with?

As a blogger, these issues  take up a somewhat different direction. If I'm going to keep doing this, I have to go out there and smell the drek. I don't have to write about all of it, so I usually don't, but I need to know what's out there for the purpose of semi-intelligent reviews. I don't bother with everything and I definitely don't go out of my way to smell it all. I'm lucky to live where I do and have access to just about anything I could ask for- niche, luxury and mainstream. But there's only this much time and skin to spare, so I can be selective. Actually, I have to be selective for the sake of my sanity.

It's not much different when it comes to my other blogging interests. I do not cover every brand of makeup and skin care on the market. I can't try every lipstick, mascara or face wash, and I don't want to do that. I'm often asked why I don't write about certain popular companies. The answer is that I don't want to. I have a certain point of view and I want my blog to be a reflection of me and my tastes, not of every marketing pitch and press release in the universe.

We all know there are too many products and too many new releases. It's true for lipstick and it's true for perfume. Like most of us, news about a new exclusive niche houses no longer thrill me and send me rushing to  order samples and question the guys at Aedes, Begdorf and the rest of the usual suspects for all the details.  I wonder if there's really an artistic vision behind the new perfume entrepreneur whose PR team is emailing me enthusiastically or if it's just another cynical jump on the very tired bandwagon to make a few bucks (because we all know that perfume-making is the way to untold riches. Right). So, yes, it's easier to stick with what I know. I will never skip a new Tauer (a review of Orange Star is coming this week or next), the work of Vero Kern (ditto, regarding the new EDPs that are about to launch) and I'm always excited about a new creation from one of the Christophers (Sheldrake and Brosius). I might not feel the rush to be the first to report on anything (though it's nice when that happens), but I'm excited to be out there, smell and experience.

Compared to early 2006, when I started blogging, there really is an extraordinary number of beauty, fashion and perfume blogs. Personally, I can't keep up with everyone everyday. I don't even try. But I like that the community is expanding. After all, one of our goals is to reach a wider audience, to make more people realize that there is so much more to perfume than the people who spray them in the face at Macy's. A few of the veteran blogs are no longer being updated. Some bloggers drifted away, got involved in other projects or simply lost their mojo. New blogs come and go. Hopefully, the best ones will find their niche and readership and we all will benefit from that.

With many thanks to Denyse who started the discussion and, as usual, made me think.

Art by Kirtsy Mitchell


  1. This year I found a couple of niche perfumes that I really fell in love with. Eau Radiuse and Pulp are two of my new favorites. In my life, I have cycles through Mitsouko, but my husband hated it so I moved on to Miss Dior and then to Chanel 19 and 22. Recently, I have craved a fresher smelling perfume and maybe it's because I associate strong scents with old ladies, and I'm not getting younger.

  2. Yes, Gaia, I agree with you completely. I have been enthusiastically sniffing out new fragrances for the last few years, but as ennui and rising prices for modest releases has crept in, I have been editing my sniffs much more rigorously.

    While always willing to be seduced by good marketing, my disappointment with moderns has increasingly turned me to seek out vintage.

    I look to professional quality blogs like Non-Blonde for the majority my perfume information—that is, those blogs that update daily or almost daily, write well, and have something interesting to say. As with perfumes, a glut of average-quality blogs does not draw my attention for long.

  3. I have my favorite niche perfumes and niche houses. I don't want to sniff everything, because I don't have time and money for all samples. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of Tauer's perfumes. :-(

  4. Just want to say thanks for sticking to your beliefs and not commercializing your blog. I enjoy reading it for precisely that reason. Adele

  5. We are here because like you, we prefer quality over glitz. You don't need to try everything because it's no longer necessary for you to do so. You know your own taste & what works. By the same token, it seems that the big companies are trying to keep up with what I consider to be a flavor-of-the-week society. People care less about quality and more for whatever is cool right now.
    As for perfumes, I took the big 2 hr drive to Cleveland a few wks ago to stock up on Chanel & sniff around the perfume section. The SA keep trying to lead me towards what I consider contemporary scents. Fruity, candy or detergent smells. I was wearing old stash Chanel Cristalle when I walked in there. That alone should have told her something. Anyway, the majority of what I smelled there was dreck. But the Prada Infusion d'Orange turned into something sublime on my skin.
    It seems that they have either forgotten or simply no longer care what true quality is. It can quite frustrating. But the companies have to keep the masses entertained. Even if it's for a few days.
    Quite sad

  6. I left a long comment on the original spot this was posted but I must admit to finding your synopsis of it far more engaging and less as if you are looking for a pat on the back.

    Nevertheless, I would like to give you one (a pat on the back, that is).

    I don't comment near enough and I'm sorry for that but you ought to know I really enjoy your blog, especially your excellent writing and your no BS approach. I love how your perfume reviews vary from niche, mainstream to vintage and everything in between. I love how you are both intelligent and irreverent and especially how you don't take yourself too seriously. I think we might be scent twins so this makes for even better reading for me, since most of what you like I end up liking as well. I think your blog is one of The Best.

    Please, keep doing what you’re doing. I love how you don’t go down that road some other bloggers do, where they focus so much attention on a particular brand or perfumer that it nearly seems as if the writer is personally involved with a nose/house instead of giving a unbiased review (or at least an attempt at objectivity).

    The Non-Blonde is fab and you should be proud :)

  7. I agree that there are few fragrance houses spending time on quality scents. With every celebrity coming out with their own...and who really wants to smell like their fav celeb, I believe the future in scent is in custom scent making. There are some really good niche noses out there but you really have to try a lot of frogs before you find your prince. We just visited Longwood Garden's exhibit - Scents - The Art and Passion of Fragrance and they had a "make your own scent" fragrance bar. My signature scent ended up smelling something like Complice by Coty which has caused me to now go seeking it out even though it hasn't been on the market for over 25 years! I found an unopened bottle in the original tiara top, so I snatched it up. I'm also noticing I'm more attracted to "home scents" these days such as Agraria. I'm beginning to think I'm going to start taking the fragrance in the reed diffusers and put them on my body because the scents are modern and long lasting, which a lot of today's fragrances aren't. Now before you bloggers chastise me, I'm not intending on doing that, just saying that the perfume houses need to get back to their roots!


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