Saturday, May 1, 2010

I'm starting a perfume column, to be hosted by Open Letters Monthly. I'm pretty excited about this. The first one is up today. Both the concept and the clever name (On the Scent) were John's ideas. I'll be both reviewing and essaying perfumes. First up I reviewed five scents from a small independent line called Sonoma Scent Studio. Two of them (Winter Woods and Tabac Aurea) were pretty much the bomb, so if you're in the market for a new fragrance, be you man, woman, or child (well, maybe not child), go read the reviews. While you're there, read Nate's poem and the interview with Cat Bourassa-Hebert, who supplied the cover image. (She also designed the cover for That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness.) Cat's answer to "How close have you been to an owl?" is shockingly awesome.

Also, I really liked this article in the New Yorker called "Scents and Sensibility." (I've often wondered why English-language journalism is so pun-dependent. Is this true everywhere?) It's a couple of years old but I just found it. The first page is worth reading if you skip the rest; the author explains how with exposure you can begin to recognize the facets of wine or perfume that seem so inaccessible at first, to the degree that you wonder if the experts are faking it with their yuzu and hay notes, etc. The point being that those notes are present, but one has to learn how to smell/taste them.

13 comments:

  1. I loved this, Elisa. I find I stick with a certain perfume year after year with very little change. I've been wearing the perfume I have now for 30 years or so though I wear oils sometimes, patchouli and Black March which probably has a patchouli base. I have no idea about wines or perfumes but I believe both are important.

    ps. I guess you have to be 100 years old to know if you are going to stick with a certain scent for 30 years. Hahahaa.

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  2. Thanks, Rebecca! I think some month coming up I will talk about the "signature scent" concept. It's elegant, easy, and cost-effective to wear a single perfume all the time. But I will not be satisfied with one scent!

    I often see Black March named as a favorite spring scent. (Among perf snobs I mean.) I've never smelled it, but I do like patchouli-based scents.

    Do you tell people the perfume you've been wearing for 30 years or do you prefer to keep it a secret?

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  3. I don't tell anyone. But I e-mailed it to you.

    Rebecca, Perfume Whore

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  4. I started responding, but it got way too long. So I posted it on my blog.

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  5. Yay for your new column. Also, I think about perfume way too much now, and this is entirely your fault.

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  6. Reb, I left a "way too long" comment on your blog.

    Gills: Sorry.

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  7. Not way too long. Very useful! Thank you.

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  8. I loved this! I'd love to read a memoir of perfume. I remember in fifth grade suddenly everyone was wearing love's baby soft, and then it was este lauders beautiful, and then in high school it was white musk and tea rose. I think I wore more perfumes when I was single, and going out more. But now I want to refresh my collection! I'll definitely be following your column!

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  9. Michelle, I also love hearing people's personal scent history, what they wore through their life and what their friends were wearing. I actually have Tea Rose now. You can find it at discount stores. It smells intensely rose-like. Kind of a comfort scent, and not bad for layering.

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  10. Have you thought about writing a book-length thing about perfume? If you haven't, will you write one? Because I want to read it!

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  11. Hadn't really thought about it, but maybe if I stick with the columns they can end up being chapter outlines :)

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  12. Enjoyed your reviews of the SSS fragrances, thanks!

    I find it very interesting that you loved Winter Woods and liked Tabac Aurea, while I went scalp-over-toenails for TA and thought WW smelled like an incomplete chunk of TA. Now I'm wondering if I'm anosmic to part of WW, and if you're smelling something in it that I don't get.

    TA reminds me strongly of an old boyfriend of mine - wearing it for the first time just Ate My Head. I could think of nothing else.

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  13. Thanks, Mals! I actually love both of them - I think I may only prefer WW because I tried it first. But I also find it more complex. TA mostly smells like TOBACCO to me (in a delicious way), whereas w/ WW I get more of a swirl of different notes. Maybe *I'm* anosmic to something in TA!

    They are both stellar, in any case, and I've only tried TA dabbed (or poured) from a vial, not sprayed. Still need to buy a FB.

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