Some would say I don't fully qualify as a perfume blogger since The Non-Blonde is technically a beauty blog. But considering I write an average of four perfume reviews a week by myself, I'm sure you can humor me. My focus in this list is perfume smelling, not the process of blogging about it. I don't know if any of you are interested in lessons learned through writing about perfume, but if so let me know.
While I've been sticking my nose into bottles and spraying my wrists many years (decades, actually) before I started blogging about it, the intensity and my perspective have changed significantly since I've begun talking about this in public. Things are a lot less casual since my days of strolling the counters looking for something shiny and new. My nose is always on a mission now and never rests. But the payoff is that I've learned a thing or three in the process:
1) No Note is left behind. I used to have a very clear idea of things I like and dislike. Something like "peach bad, amber good". I no longer get scared of note lists, though. I still like what I like, but some of the most evil notes may appear in sublime compositions. Le Parfum de Thérèse has melon, QED.
2) There are far less perfumes I truly dislike. It may sound counter-intuitive, considering the amount of dreck I get to inhale on an average week. However, as long as the perfume is not horribly and cheaply made, I can usually find a redeeming quality or at least a reason for its existence. It's perfume, after all, which instantly makes it better than a root canal.
3) Snobbishness is not what it used to be (and neither is luxury). Thirty years ago things were easy. One would go to their local department store to buy an expensive(ish) perfume, knowing they got a luxury product. In the same vein, ordering a perfume from the catalog carried by the lady in pink was... um... less so. Now, go find a bottle of an Avon perfume from the 1970s. Then let someone at Macy's spray you with Calvin Klein Forbidden Euphoria. Which one is the classy and elegant perfume?
4) Accidents will happen. It's easy to get into that place where I think I smelled so much and know e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g about the tastes and skin of my nearest and dearest. Then I send someone, let's say my mom, a bottle of Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion. After all, she's a white flower queen who loves tuberose and jasmine. She hated it. Oops.
5) Yes, it's 2012, and yes, one would expect someone who works at selling perfume not to be hung up on the masculine/feminine thing. But there will still be an occasional SA who will snatch the bottle of Boucheron Pour Homme from my hand just as I'm about to spray my wrist and scold me: "it's for MEN, you know". The only thing to do is grab the bottle back, smile sweetly and say: "It never stopped me before". Then spritz with abandon.
And here's a bonus list written by the husband: five things he learned as the long-suffering spouse of a perfume blogger:
- Skin Chemistry is for real. It is amazing how totally different some perfumes smell on us. Like ALL of the Le Labo line.
- I should make an effort to feel a scent emotionally before analyzing it rationally. As a left brain guy, my initial instincts are always to classify, break into notes, evaluate the
composition etc. I've learned to try and ignore all that in the first few sniffs and let it affect me emotionally first.
- To recognize and appreciate quality and originality even in scents that do not work for me personally. This is hard as I usually just conclude "this is not me" and move on, but I've learned, like in any other art forms, to value and enjoy even scents I cannot wear.
- To recognize and appreciate the artist behind the creation. From independent perfumers to world famous noses, they each have a style and a signature.
- And last thought, isn't the EU in financial dire straights? May I suggest abolishing IFRA to pay for some Greek debt?
Photograph by Eric Maillet via Trendland.