First things first. I’ve been waiting for my Gaiac 10 for a while. So happy I don’t have to fly to Tokyo any more. Actually going to get it at Harrods on September 1st. OMG :) So excited.
This made my day yesterday. Xoxos,X
The City Exclusive scents, soon back in town !
As we have been doing every other year, and for the 3rd time inLe Labo’s history, we close our eyes and cover our ears and let the City Exclusives leave their hometown.
So set up an alert in your calendar, and get ready for the big day by trying our City Exclusive perfumes on your skin before committing. Samples are available on our four e-stores starting today and for a limited time only. Click here to order your samples!
Have a wonderful summer.
Le Labo team
PS: Each sample is individually prepared… As usual, we’ll work hard to make sure your order is handled quickly!———————————
Day 2. Downtown.
Sniffa Day 2 was all about niche boutiques downtown. Different feel, somewhat different crowd.
It kick-started with the visit to the lavish bath product maker from the UK, Molton Brown. The brand has recently launched a line of fine fragrances, and we had the pleasure to experience them all. My hands got pampered with a lavish exfoliating treatment.
Osswald was our next stop.
(Photo: Patricia Choux and Thorsten Biehl, at Osswald, by Xenia)
Sniffers were given a warm welcome by Thorsten Biehl, the owner and the initiator of biehl. parfumkunstwerke, as well as Patricia Choux, one of the six noses creating for the brand. We learned about the perfumery, sampled several of Patricia’s creations and got bunches of perfume samples that Osswald staff kindly prepared for us. It was a great visit. What an amazing place! And check out their mini fragrance collection!
Next - MiN perfumery. And let me tell you something about MiN. If I had to choose the friendliest, most easy-going niche perfume store that ever existed, MiN would be it.
(Photo: courtesy of shopikon.com)
You know the feeling when you are in a candy store and you can try every candy - and just play? For a perfume lover - this would be MiN! Amazingly friendly staff of this apothecary-style perfume shop were a delight - we did not want to leave! So many great new scents! I was finally able to experience a new line of niche fragrances, Kerosene, which is made in Michigan. I need to get me some Unknown Pleasures, which to my nose was a perfect tea-time combination of Earl Grey and a freshly baked gingerbread cookie. The most delightful gourmand perfume!
(Photo: courtesy of houseofkerosene.com)
During lunch we had a few more presentations. A very unique fragrance company from Australia, Nomad Two Worlds, presented their second creation, Sea Spirit. It actually contains pearl extract, giving the fragrance its white color and rich, milky and marine (!) scent. A seemingly incongruous combo, but it is a wonderful, mild and feminine fragrance!
(Photo: by Xenia)
Among other presenters - my dear friend, Lauren Fritsch, with her new, all organic perfume oil and balm line, Adalene (with the notes of rose, lavender, frankincense, eucalyptus… and pure love!). François Duquesne, introduced us to a new fragrance community, Fragrancerepublic.com, which will be supplying members with fragrance creations, directly from celebrity noses, skipping the retail. Ed the Frunkinator (which is how we know him online :) presented his new project, ScentTrails.com, which aims to put on the map perfume stores and events all over the world. Now we’ll know exactly where to go perfume shopping when we travel!
One more downtown perfumery - Le Labo. Oh, do I have a bone to pick with them! Le Labo is great at making all of our world cities feel special by having an exclusive perfume, available only in that city. But since Sniffa visited the shop for a day, we were able to experience the exclusive scents. So… what a girl got to do if she is in love with Gaiac 10 (Tokyo exclusive)? Sounds like a perfume quest!
(Photo: courtesy of olfactoriastravels.com)
Atelier Cologne was one block down and we stopped there as well. I made a peculiar discovery. Their new fragrance, Mistral Patchouli, to me smells like a fresh, springy whiff of… old-fashioned, apothecary-style shaving cream! Gerard Camme, the president, who presented the fragrance to us a day earlier at BG, did not quite appreciate this comparison! :) But to me, it was a rather intriguing combination, although I personally won’t be able to pull it off. I summoned my courage and got a 1oz travel size of it just because it was so unique! To my delight, it got swiftly confiscated by the man of the household upon my return home, who is very picky. He LOVED it!. Turns out someone would love to smell like some old-fashioned shaving cream, because it is a very sexy man’s fragrance. Just sayin’. :)
Last stop of Sniffa for me was Diptyque. This lovely boutique treated us to some champagne, which was greatly appreciated and made the sniffing experience special. Loveliest candles that I will be investing in when winter comes!..
And that, ladies and gents, is the kind of journey you are going to have at Sniffa. Your bag will soar with the perfume samples (which will take a couple of weeks to test and sniff). You’ll find a few amazing perfumes that are going to grace your personal collection. And, the best part - meeting many amazing new people, including the renowned online fragrance activists you’ve been following on the “Internets”. AMAZING!!!
(Photo with Karen Dubin: courtesy of Deborah Hollander)
Finally, here is my personal guide to getting the most of your next Sniffapalooza:
BIG-BIG THANK YOU TO THE AMAZING TEAM KAREN, who have meticulously thought out and arranged every detail, as well as all of the incredible participants and presenters, who made this journey such an incredible experience!
It has been the most delightful experience attending Sniffapalooza's Spring Fling 2013 that has just happened during the weekend of May 4 & 5. An overwhelming amount of fragrances, great people - all obsessed with perfume - and special treats of meeting renowned perfumers, new niche brands and their makers… A sensory overload in the best sense of this word! Here is a (not so short) story of my first event (as well as a few tips for getting the most out of your next Sniffa in the very end).
The intention behind this blog post is for you to get a feel for what it’s really like to attend Sniffa, therefore I’m supplying you with all the details and tales. Hope you enjoy!
(Photo: by Xenia)
So, what’s Sniffapalozza? It is THE fragrance event that is an absolute must for those, who consider themselves perfume fanatics, and a great treat for the rest, who fancy a fragrant tour of “the best and the newest”. The 2-day perfume extravaganza takes place twice a year in NYC, over a week-end in late Spring and early Fall. Started in 2002 by Karen Dubin, and joined shortly thereafter by Karen Adams, Sniffapalooza grew to an internationally-recognized fragrance event that launches major perfumes, hosts perfumers and brings people together from all over the world to celebrate (and indulge in!) perfume. This Sniffapalooza was #18 (!) and Team Karen, as they are collectively known in the circles, have no intentions of stopping any time soon. Viva La Sniffa, baby!
Day 1. Upper East Side.
If you are planning to attend the swanky department store day, signing up early and getting Bergdorf’s Breakfast is a must, since it’s limited only to the first 60 people who register (hint! hint!).
(Photo: courtesy of Karen Adams, via Sniffapalooza.com)
Bergdorf’s Breakfast is as close as you could come to actually having Breakfast at Tiffany’s, alongside with the first-hand experience of meeting the most dedicated bunch (and the Sniffapalooza founders!). While you feast on the breakfast yums, presenters take you on a fragrant tour of their latest launches, with blotters and blotters of fragrances. During Spring Fling 2013, the following labels greeted the sniffers with their newest: Prada, Tom Ford, Hermès, Annick Goutal, Guerlain, Chanel, Jo Malone, by Kilian, Antica Farmacia, Histoires de Parfums, Francis Kurkdjian, Creed, The Olfactive Studio, and Atelier Cologne, to name a few. The biggest surprise however awaited us in the very end. Everyone’s heart stopped as a lavishly dressed man entered the room - it was Roja Dove of Roja Parfums, who has finally crossed the Atlantic from London!.. The crowd exploded in awe - Roja Dove is the world’s sole man who carries the title of Professeur de Parfums, bestowed by Guerlain, where he started his path as a perfumer. It was a rather emotional moment for me as Roja Parfums, alongside with a few other renowned perfume encounters, have started my own perfume journey at Harrods, London… Roja told us his story of working at Guerlain and building his own perfume empire, while sprinkling it all with the the insight into his creative process. The perfumes by Roja are not for a shy bunch - the scents, like their names (and the maker!), are seductive and dangerous: Fetish, Enslaved, Scandal, Danger, Innuendo… with notes of leather, oud, ambergirs, castoreum and civet… Oh, but honey, they smell divine!
(Photo with Roja Dove: courtesy of Mark Thompson)
At the end of our breakfast, the crowd spilled to the perfume department at Bergdorf’s, while being joined by the rest of the Day 1 attendees. I was completely smitten and overwhelmed to sniff much, as it was just too good: Les Exclusifs de Chanel; a huge selection of Annick Goutal at the counter with Tom Crutchfield, who rumors say, has been instrumental in Karen Dubin’s own perfume journey; sampling the Roja Parfums, and The Olfactive Studio, with their amazing photography-inspired fragrances, presented by Kim-Van Dang. Lumière Blanche, condensed of pure light itself, and smelling of gorgeous woods, cardamom and iris (an olfactive symphony by my beloved nose, Sidonie Lancesseur), had to be taken home with no further thinking. Follow the nose, as they say - and I did! My face got a quick pampering at the Sisley counter as Becky has treated me and two other lucky sniffers to a quick facial.
(Photo: by Xenia)
Off we went to lunch, during which we heard several presentations on all things olfactive. One of my favorites was an introduction of a new perfume by Elena Knezhevich of Fragrantica. Enchanted Forest, the fragrance with the notes of freshly picked blackcurrant, smelled exactly as if they just have been picked off the bush, with the fuzz, the leaves, and the roots! This perfume has been inspired and co-created by Elena and the famous perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour. Incredible fragrance, an absolute must for any Slavic perfume junkies out there - it smells like… childhood!
(Photo: courtesy of The Vagabond Prince)
Some of other presentations included Trendincite, a perfume trend company, who revealed the latest fragrance trends; Raymond Matts presented Cinquième Sens, the fragrance program launching a series of perfume classes with The Pratt Institute; Scenterprises, an organization behind creative olfactive events told us about building stronger teams with the help of fragrance; and Women in Flavor and Fragrance Commerce (WFFC) were launching a mentorship program for professionals and enthusiasts, to name a few.
Henri Bendel was our next stop. An overwhelming amount of divine fragrances! The biggest highlights for me were the creations by Union Fragrance, presented by the nose (aka the creator), Anastasia Brozler, who was there meeting and greeting everyone.
(Photo: courtesy of apetogentleman.com)
Being a marketing nut and the biggest advocate for aspirational shopping, I am always incredibly sensitive to the sales pitch situation (in fact, I would love to completely reinvent the fragrance shopping experience). Anastasia was amazing, telling us about her quest for natively grown ingredients in the British Isles and was attentive to everyone, independently of our purchasing intentions, which was so refreshing. Although I did not take a Union fragrance home right then, I got intrigued enough to ask for samples (which were kindly provided) and should be returning… for Holy Thistle! Holy rolling hills of Essex, it smells great!.. It’s an amazing herbal/green fragrance, which my nose had to learn to appreciate over time. Amen! Next!
Off we went to Krigler at the Plaza.
(Photo: courtesy of Krigler, via Examiner)
This was my first introduction to the shop. One of the iconic scents that captured my heart was Krigler #14, Lieber Gustav, the perfume worn by Francis Scott Fitzgerald and, if I remember correctly, Marlene Dietrich. Not surprisingly, it’s a gorgeous woody aromatic man’s fragrance with a hint of lavender and leather. With so many more Kriglers to sample, my nose (and my feet!) plead for mercy and I had to take a break with some yummy Kusmi tea and Caneles by Celine, which were kindly prepared for all the sniffers. It was 5 o’clock, time for tea! Krigler, I will be back!
Last trip of day 1 - Lord & Taylor, with the special presentation by The 7 Virtues perfumes. Four fragrances with the raw materials sourced far from the quiet meadows, mainly Afghanistan, Haiti, and the Middle East. This was truly a remarkable story how the founder, Barb Stegemann, came up with the idea of her business. The 7 Virtues really lives their motto: Make perfume, not war. I got an amazing token from this presentation. Being an Anglophile, I love this clever WW2 motivational poster, which The 7 Virtues took to the next level. Thank you so much, ladies!
(Photo: by Xenia)
After meeting Denyse Beaulieu a month ago, and having read this article in NY Times, I had to sample Elsa Schiaparelli’s Shocking. Yes, I HAD TO experience a perfume that has been described as:
“It’s the sublimation of a sexual smell. It’s got that rose — the acidity of rose, the honey aspects of rose — and that smoky, milky quality of sandalwood, things that are, I’ve been told, intimate womanly smells. It does hint at heated female flesh.”
My go-to place, as for many of us, is eBay. Yes, I did check out the decant perfume sources, such as ThePerfumedCourt and SurrenderToChance, and as I did not find any evidence of getting “the true, blue, old formula stuff”, I decided to take my chances on eBay. I like to play a detective… The hunt is a thrill.
So… I got this awesome thing in mail a few days ago:
It’s a tube vintage sample, that comes in a twist-off tube with even more curious contents inside. It was my first experience seeing this packaging (alas, I did not grow up in the US - but USsr - and had no chance of raiding a grandma’s closet containing these curiosities), so I was fascinated.
These super tiny, glass nips/tubes had to be broken off from both ends, according to the tiny strip of instructions, to let the liquid drip out in order to sample the fragrance:
Fascinating procedure. I was already seduced!
But… alas! No skank!!!! All I could smell was a grandma’s perfume. And not in a good way. Denyse Beaulieu did mention that it was reformulated from its original, 1937 formula, so, whatever 1950s-1960s sample I had (judging by the packaging, as I had no data on the date of the actual sample) - smelled of a different type of skank, at least to me, in which case I would definitely use the world derogatorily, as opposed to complimentary.
So… my mystery remains… If I did indeed get the *real stuff*, then my nose did not pick up on the sexual innuendo that makes this perfume a legend.. Or, this *ain’t it* ?
Here are however a few musings on the theme of *why this smelled like a grandma’s perfume* and, even more interestingly, *how I would expect SKANK to smell like*. First, let’s figure out the *grandma effect*, since I can still smell it on my wrist. It’s the rose, dripping of super-sweet honey. The heavy, old-powder puff kind of rose.. and musk. There were no citrus-y top notes for me, as it is usually described. This smell does not connote *heated female flesh* to me whatsoever. Also, it was so old-fashioned, that I just could not translate that fragrance into my world as anything remotely sexual or attractive, in perfume speak. (ps. I just HATE the old rose perfumes!!!) Now, in the question of how would *heated female flesh* smell like… it would be… well, definitely different. I have to say though, that I’m a very modern fragrance kind of gal. I do worship CDG, especially Mark Buxton’s creations… But I do bow to Serge Lutens’ pafums too, who tends to translate better *to the masses*. So.. let’s channel my kind of skank:
In a nutshell, that’s what skank would be like for me, personally. And also, my skank would be rather androgynous, since it won’t be a girly type. So, come on, people, old rose ain’t it! Therefore, if Elsa Schiaparelli’s version that came in my nips was indeed *the real deal*, it did not impress me for the above mentioned *ingredient list that makes a skank* reasons. IMHO…
So… is there anything in existence that smells like the above? I’d try some!
ps. I wanted to include a link to Mark Buxton’s CDG creations, but I got lost on CDG website. And it was a good web experience. I say so as a professional. LOL
(photos: perfume - by Xenia, lovely girl in lingerie eating pizza - http://www.insieme.com.au)
Denyse Beaulieu is a blogger and a story-teller - and one of those French women who seem to live lightly and do what they love whilst stumbling into fabulous things and most interesting people just by chance. Seem is a key word, or course, as Denyse’s book is an overnight success that took years in the making. However, when you meet Denyse, life seems to have the air of ease, as she is definitely la bonne vivante. And she is fascinating - you want to get to know her better. In fact, you want to be a quiet passenger into her everyday living, peppered in with the most unreal stories, which she would be happy to share. Denyse is a sensual individual - there is definitely much letting go and revelation that you will encounter about this perfume-lover-turned-blogger-turned-writer. The stories kept flowing at her book signing, The Perfume Lover, at Aedes de Venustas boutique this Friday.
The book became the product of what started as the author’s sultry adventure in Seville, Spain, and continued as a collaboration on a perfume, Seville à l’Aube, created by Bertrand Duchaufour for L’Artisan Parfumeur. An intimate gathering at Aedes de Venustas was perfect for meeting the author, experiencing her perfume (which is sold out at Aedes, but hopefully will be back in stock soon), as well as the notes composing the fragrance, displayed for the olfactive pleasure of the audience. Denyse laughed and greeted her fans warmly. I asked her whether she ever wanted to venture into the making of perfume herself (as all of us, perfume lovers, secretly wish were could). Denyse replied that she wished she discovered perfumery earlier in her life, in which case she would have - but now she sticks to what she knows how to do best and can be best at - writing. According to her conversations with perfume industry veterans, they are having a hard time finding young people who would be eager to commit to becoming an apprentice of a perfumer and learning the art. Learning is lengthy - it may take up to a decade when going the old-fashioned, apprentice route, and would not bring instant monetary gratification. The irony is that many people who are not in their 20s would “kill” for the opportunity and pay, let alone be paid for, to be the apprentice of a perfumer. Denise wishes that more people who are truly passionate about perfumery would be able to work in the industry, independently of how old they are or which walk of life they come from. I could not agree more… Meanwhile, there is always the appreciation of perfume and the stories to unfold this amazing world, like “The Perfume Lover”. Thank you, Denyse, and Aedes de Venustas for a lovely evening!
(Photos by Xenia: Denyse Beaulieu at the book signing; the cover of “The Perfume Lover” and the perfume; Aedes de Venustas beautiful window display)
A brand with a Scent. Part 1.
Which brand experiences should have a scent and which ones should not?
I think it goes back to the ability of a scent to trigger memories. And when we are subjected to smelling an experience, we want to remember a good one. First and foremost, a good experience is holistic, with the fragrance serving as an enhancer of an experience that is good to begin with, not a feeble crutch of a mediocre one. A holistic experience makes perfect sense when we think about memories - because we don’t just remember a smell, we remember what we saw, heard, and touched at the same time. Therefore there should be no “holes” in the “holistic”. Let’s take some extreme examples (I like those). Hospitals and funeral homes. Not quite the experiences that one would ever want to remember, let alone smell. But let me challenge you. When thinking of a hospital or a funeral home, we immediately think of stark white walls, the smell of bleach, or dark, mahogany-and-drapes kind of place that smells of a disgusting mixture of white flowers and vomit. But if these experiences are completely re-imagined, from start to finish, could a scent help communicating it?
A newly renovated Columbus’ Children’s Hospital created something magical in their lobby. Kids are transported into a different, happier world that is full of light, not sickness:
A scent that lets kids imagine being in a magical forest would only help bringing this experience to life.
Wyre-Forest-Crematorium in the UK created something remarkable in their category, by transforming a house of grief into a peaceful and serene establishment:
The scent would only help to communicate the feeling of peace, zen, and unity with nature: sage, foliage, earth… Sorry, Demeter, not this time. And definitely no smoky notes (sorry, I could not help myself).
Finally, here is an example of a “don’t”. I would even argue that in the following instance the scent actually worked against the brand by exposing a bad experience, rather than helping to make it better. Recently I went to get a car serviced and a good dealership would usually clean your car as a courtesy. This time they did not, but they sprayed a “new car smell” inside. Well, it smelled like bull. Now I know exactly how it smells. Gave me a good laugh though. Thanks, Audi!
(photos from WSJ and architecture.com)
With the explosion of Glade and Febreze, I feel that a “home must smell good” became somewhat of a thing these days, especially for special occasions and around the holidays. Personally, I’ve never adopted the “fragrance from the electricity socket”, so I ignored the trend. Candles never did it for me either, as “pumpkin spice” would be the first thing that popped in my head.
Happily, I do have a habit to stick my nose in anything that smells (well, practically anything, let’s be reasonable on this one). To my surprise, I am now a customer for Odin’s Sunda candle, made by the men’s boutique in NYC, Odin. What does NOT surprise me is the fact that it’s a men’s boutique selling me a candle. Gentlemen seem to have the best when it comes to sexy abodes, don’t they? This candle is absolutely incredible - with the notes of warm woods and tiny hint of vanilla that is blended in to perfection. And they bottle it too as Odin #1 cologne. The chicken and the egg, I know, but it makes me think that candles should not be taken… lightly :). Apple pie just does not cut it these days. We need sophisticated, amazing candles, not a couple of chemicals thrown together into a combination that vaguely resembles something between a toilet cleaner and ocean breeze. Unfortunately, good candles will sometimes cost as much as a bottle of a good perfume. And they are out there, the good gentlemen-worthy candles that is. I found this brilliant article in Ape to Gentleman (of all places :) on top 10 candles for men, and I would argue that not only men would appreciate these treasures.
I feel that a good home fragrance should be something that even a man would be inclined to bringing home, it just cannot be too girly. A good cozy home would smell of wood, books, adventure… and some good rum, just for me :) It’s time for good candles to be more widespread. So far they are still somewhat of an obscure product you could only find online. There are a few exceptions with perfume boutiques, such as Aedes de Venustas, but they are few and far in between. Want more good candles!
(photo borrowed from apetogentleman.com)
I think it might.
Not just because of her.
Because we smell what we can remember.
And now we remember this guy:
It takes 2 years on that horse.
I have to say that I am an absolute sucker for a well-executed marketing campaign. It’s in my blood. I totally drink my own Kool-aid. I am a believer that as a consumer, you have to buy into the idea of a product, as much as the product itself. Why not? And don’t you dare telling me you don’t want to know how this Tom Ford perfume smells, whether you are a man or a woman.
So perfume marketing…what’s it worth? Not every perfume ad out there would be a shocker that will get immediate press coverage and attention. What’s left?
Stories. Don’t we all love when the stuff we use represents something more? We love stories behind things, so why not have a good one for a perfume? That, however, goes without saying that the product needs to fulfill the promise of its marketing. No marketing will sell stuff that does not smell good – not even the above. Therefore I will never advocate marketing for marketing’s sake. Marketing should be serving its proper purpose – 1) to introduce the product and 2) to add value to the product experience. It should aid the appreciation of the product when you first experience it and build the assurance about your choice thereafter. That’s as far as marketing can go - and should go.
First part is pretty straight-forward. Perfume, like no other product, is dependent on marketing in order to promote itself into the masses - you cannot experience it unless you are compelled enough to seek it out. And that’s a job of marketing. Can you imagine yourself smelling like a woman in a forbidden garden of Eden? Or a young rocker chic in torn jeans and messy mascara? If you do, and you are intrigued enough bu the marketing, you go and try it out. And then magic happens. Or doesn’t…
I know, I know, nobody knows any of that marketing stuff when you are wearing a perfume and thus no one can judge any of that “added value” after you bought it. All is left is the face value. So, does “the story” make a difference after purchase?
I do believe that marketing adds to the personal experience. Perfume is this bit of luxury and feel-good moment that is meant for you and for you only when you put it on in the morning. It’s your own personal ritual. That precious bottle, box it came in, a tv commercial, visuals from magazines, words that accompany them - all that adds to the relationship you have with the product. Branding plays a big part in that too. I will quote Chandler Burr: “Scent is a single best way of monetizing celebrity and brand ever created”. It all gives you the “I want to be” feeling, paired with one of the strongest senses we have, which make a very powerful combination. What’s wrong with a bit of admiration and wishful thinking? I am a firm believer that thoughts become things, so why not aid that feel good moment with the powerful imagery and ideas carried in a well-executed marketing campaign? Yes, please!
But let’s also not forget that perfume is one of the most intimate products out there. In fact, in France it still is considered to be mauvais ton to give a gift of a perfume as it’s considered too personal of a matter. I could not agree more. The problem with a well-executed marketing campaign and a good fragrance is that it does sell – everyone wants it. Good for the maker, not so much for someone who uses it. Indeed, why would you want to smell like the person standing next to you, even if it’s divine? No way! Individuality is key! So… you get that prefume… if you can get it first! None of your friends would wear it if you do. And absolutely no wearing it to big public events – unless it’s day two of the release. For that you wait until everyone got one and got bored with it. Yes, you stick it in your fridge and wait. And it may take a few years. I added Eden by Cacharel more than 10 years after the big boom. Everyone had it and everyone used it. A great perfume and a great marketing campaign. Risqué, in-your-face sexual commercials…Just perfect. Sex is a bottle. Love it! Can’t have much though :)
To sum it all up, I think of perfume as a happy place. A personal trip to the place of bliss. And every bit that can help you find it and stay there helps. IMHO.
(photo borrowed from 5marts.blogspot)
Susie Starliner is rocking a vintage ensemble while MC’ing Pecha Kucha Columbus. Go yellow, yay for spring!