The Galeries Lafayette in Paris
You can guess from the way that I formulated this question that I am skeptical. It’s an open secret that the perfume business has very high margins. Only the handbag industry has higher ones which is why both are sold on the bottom floors of department stores where the foot traffic is heaviest. You have a large number of people getting into the scent business assuming that they will make their fortunes on the buoyancy of scent molecules.
This got me thinking though. Do we really do a good job selecting quality perfume for our hard earned dollars? If we’re buying luxury, what exactly is that? What constitutes luxury these days, and what constitutes a good price for it? Continue reading
Three dimensional Vanillin
The word I have in mind is vanillin. Vanillin is one of the earliest synthetics from 1874 actually when first produced by the firm of Haarmann & Reimer, and you would recognize the smell even if you were not fascinated by fragrance because vanillin, like the SPECTRE organization in James Bond stories is everywhere, though mostly these days in food, along with its close associate ethylvanillin. If you’ve eaten candy bars you’ve eaten vanillin. Continue reading
You can’t wear Guerlain without wearing vanilla. It’s not even worth making the experiment because Guerlain equals vanilla, and there is no version of vanilla that Guerlain hasn’t whipped up, baked up, brewed up or macerated in just about endless variations during its nearly two hundred year history.*
First a disclaimer, I’m not a vanilliac. But I like the note . When I was younger I was sure I didn’t, and avoided Guerlains, but time Continue reading
James Macneil Whistler
Some of my very favorite and most enduring loves in the perfume world began with serious dislike. You might almost call some of those encounters Beatrice and Benedict run ins*, and even though smelling a perfume is a great deal less complex than a human friendship-or feud- there were times when I really felt as if I was the last person to know my own likes and dislikes.
The converse may also be true. You may love a perfume from the very first time you encounter it, but my experience is that such easy affairs seldom involve the heart, and wind up being boring in the end. I want, not drama exactly, but twists and turns that indicate a little complexity in a formula. I don’t want to guess every move a fragrance is going to make long before it makes one. Continue reading
Not so long ago I was writing about influential perfumes and one of the two names which landed on the top of the pile was Narciso For Her. The whole floral woody musk genre probably dates back to that perfume. Anyway, the musk and flowers and a little bit of wood recipe has proven so popular that nowadays several releases a year fall into the fuzzily soft fabric (or fabric softener) of the fwm. Everyone likes this plush toy formula, well everyone who does not require a little backbone in a perfume. Put it this way, floral woody musks are proof that in the perfume world the invertebrates can survive and thrive- even proliferate.
Of course the Narciso people could not let a success like Narciso For her go without progeny. There have been several scents by now, all in the beautifully designed minimalist bottles that the brand is justly famous for, modern, streamlined and an ornament to any vanity though the contents are Fluff. Continue reading
White Rose Collage of English Roses from the blog French Essence
As time goes on and you find that you are indeed an incurable perfumista (or perfumister) you find the notes you love. Some people can’t live without iris, and others love patchouli, and others again have a thing for Iso Super E, but in my case, the indispensable note is a rose.
Last post I was complaining about fall and how hard I find it is to squeeze myself and my outsized craving for florals into a season that is usually about gourmands, woods, ambers and leathers, well, there is always the strategy of the rose. I can retire behind a huge bouquet of them whenever I am perplexed, and generally do. Continue reading
Every year fall rolls around and every year I lose step with everyone else in the perfume world. It seems as though the majority of people like to check their cool weather wardrobes and plan ahead happily for the ambers, orientals, gourmands, and woody scents they will shortly be dabbing and spritzing. There is a rush to find the Bois des Isles, the Ambre Sultans and for the bolder sexier sorts, their animalics and leathers. You get a sense of busy bustle as folks find their old friends again, and then there’s always a flood of new releases hoping to gain a little traction in the scent market before the holidays. In short, there is a lot to choose from, probably more than at any other time of the year. Continue reading
John Singer Sargent
Promenade during the uncrowded fin de Siecle
Believe it or not this happened once before. You may think that nothing like the multiplication of perfume niche companies has ever been seen in the history of scent sales but back in the early twentieth century something very like this happened.
Frankly I’ve long since lost count of the number of new niche fragrance houses that have debuted in the last three years or so. Some of them will survive of course, and many will not, but back in the teens and twenties the world of perfume was similarly flooded. Continue reading