When you get the perfume bug, it tends to hang around and is rather difficult to shake. You discover the world of blogs, forums and communities. Perfume books are sourced and you devour them all. You think about making your own perfume and start buying ingredients. Maybe you want to do a course or two as well. Holidays may be arranged around exploring specific notes or locating that perfect perfume store. Plus there’s always the lure of buying more perfumes. Looking at some of the photos shared on the online communities you quickly see that this can become a large addiction verging on hoarding.
One urge that has noticeably dissipated for me though is the buying of perfume. For some reason one day I just thought enough is enough. I’m never going to wear what I have already, so now if I really want something I usually flick a perfume I’m no longer in love with on eBay before contemplating buying another treasure. This isn’t always the case, but I started to feel guilty about spending so much money on perfume. I assume that many of us go through these stages. I’m glad to be out of the obsessive phase yet sometimes I must admit I wonder why I do all of this. Something else has been happening to me. Sometimes I don’t even wear any perfume as I feel that my skin needs a break. I’m not sure what this all means, apart from the fact that I now feel that I’m in a middle-aged phase regarding perfume.
I definitely have had some perfume highlights in the last year and I’m sure many of you have had some too. Here are some of mine and hopefully you will let me know what your special moments were.
Personal Perfume Highlights
I attended two perfume trade fairs in Italy – Esxence in Milan and Pitti Fragranze in Florence. These are must see events if you’re a perfume junkie and luckily I live not too far away from Italy. I had wanted to do some perfume training too, but that can start this year. These events were a total eye opener for me and clearly illustrated just how many brands are battling it out on there in the niche perfume world. These scent extravaganzas are so packed with olfactory delights that it’s rather difficult when you’re a one woman band to sample everything. In fact that task is near impossible. I did my best but I felt like a novice explorer trying to sniff out the best and quite frankly there are a lot of perfumes at these events that don’t rock my boat. The bling craze is just not up my alley at all. I also wondered as I walked around just how many of these brands will be around in another five years time. My guess is that a good many will not last.
The costs to exhibit at shows like these are rather prohibitive to artisanal brands. The smaller houses often travel to the event but schedule offsite meetings and appointments without the expense of paying for a stand. At the shows the Italian brands often stand out for their flair. I’ll make a generalisation here, but they tend to be more experimental than the French. They often go for a more artsy angle, while the French seem more traditional. I don’t class perfumers like Pierre Guillaume in this category as I find his work particularly innovative and forward thinking. The showcase perfumes he created for Pitti Fragranze – Leathermore and Lumiere Fauve were fantastic and illustrated his constant thirst for reinvention. The Italian brands I’m thinking of here include Rubini, UNUM, Angela Ciampagni, D’Oriu, Meo Fuscuini, Masque, and many more. It seems as though there is a real creative flair and energy at work here.
The Italian public are also niche perfume lovers. There are stores all over the country, as opposed to France, where perfume is dominated by the multi brand stores such as Sephora. While there are niche multi brand stores in Paris such as Jovoy, the department stores are probably where the French will encounter niche perfumes for the first time. Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are now stocking lines such as Atelier Cologne, Diptyque and Annick Goutal.
The people are of course a huge part of the shows, and I can honestly say that I’ve met some passionate, interesting and very creative people. Sometimes I felt a little embarrassed to be introduced to some of the perfumers who I admire. I was so excited to meet Andy Tauer that I may have been a little over exuberant. However I can say that he is just as great in real life as you would expect if you follow his blog.
I had fun buddying up with Lucas from Chemist In A Bottle and went around a lot of the stands with him. It was great to compare and contrast with a fellow perfume lover because it can actually be quite daunting alone.
It goes without saying that it was fabulous to go to Milan for the first time, although I didn’t actually have a good look around. If I go again I will definitely do some sight-seeing. And seeing Florence, ten years since my last visit was amazing. The first time I went to Florence I had my new baby in a front pack wandering the streets and was completely blown away by the city – even the bed bugs didn’t bring me down.
I also wrote for Cafleurebon a perfume website based in New York for around nine months. I learnt a lot and discovered many new perfume houses thanks to the samples I was sent to smell. A big perfume highlight for me was walking in the Roudnitska gardens in Cabris, in the hills above Grasse. It felt very special to be see the grounds and gardens that Edmond Roudnitska created. I was there to interview Stéphanie Bakouche, the creator of Rose Privée for L’Artisan Parfumeur.
Sometimes smells and odours are particularly memorable and here are my favourite Smelly Interludes of the last year.
I’ll never forget the rather stinky salty, fishy smell of the port at Marseille on a hot summer’s day in August. Ports always have the most vivid scents but when heat is involved the smell can be very skanky indeed.
The smell of blooming night jasmine in France in the summer months is absolutely divine and no perfume can compete with that level of intoxication.
Smelling the rare and incredibly fragrant Rose de Mai, picking the flowers and making rose sugar was another highlight for me. This was courtesy of Au Pays de la Fleurs d’Oranger on a lovely day spent near Grasse.
There’s also something beautiful about being in the alps in winter and smelling the clean, mountain air. It’s cleansing and invigorating and even though I’m the world’s worst skier it’s still great to inhale that cold freshness.
In my perfume quest this year I sampled as many scents as I could. Many of the brands that I tried for the first time were not in fact new, but they were fresh discoveries for me. These were some of my favourites.
Masque : An intriguing Italian perfume brand who are going from strength to strength. They are working with some interesting perfumers and creating lovely work. Must tries are Tango, Montecristo, Russian Tea and the latest addition to their line – Romanza.
Nishane : A Turkish brand with a wide range of perfumes that I want to know better. My current favourite is the gourmand Pasion Choco.
Puredistance : A classy brand with a slew of great perfumes including Antonia, M and White – my most loved in the line.
Arquiste : Nanban is a great perfume, it’s not exactly groundbreaking but it’s an oriental done well. I also loved Anima Dulcis.
Hiram Green : I’ve tried Voyage (review to come when my smell comes back), a stunning all natural perfume but now am very keen to sample the other two fragrances in the line – Bloom and Shangri La.
Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 : I’m in love with Khol de Bahrein and O Hira. Khol de Bahrein will be mine, however it’s highly unlikely that O Hira will ever make it to my perfume shelf unfortunately as it’s a little out of my pricing comfort zone.
Richard Lüscher Britos : This is a great line of all natural perfumes and I really like their ethos. Vero Kern and Andy Tauer have made perfumes for the line and my favourite is 44° N 03°E by the Swiss alchemist Andy Tauer.
Aedes de Venustas : I had read about this house but hadn’t sampled their perfumes and really liked them a lot. I wore Copal Azur a lot this year.
Brands that I’m really looking forward to trying this year :
Aftelier, Slumberhouse, Grandiflora, 4160 Tuesdays, Orlov, 4160 Tuesdays and Dawn Spencer Horowitz are just some of the lines I am dead keen to try this year. I also want to explore more perfumes from the United States as there seems to be a storm of creativity emanating from over the Atlantic ocean.
So what can you expect here in 2016? I’ve been around for a year now, and the blog has grown from hardly any readers a day to having a slightly more respectable tally. Hopefully it will continue to grow and mature this year too. I intend to devote some more time to it and change things around a bit and have some regular features. As always, it’s a work in progress. It’s been off to a slow start as I lost my sense of smell for a week with a bad cold and in the past week have been laid low with some sort of headache cold. I can’t believe how much I’ve slept this week and I still can’t smell.
Tell me about your fragrance highlights or smelly interludes!