There’s a new perfume website in town and it’s called The Perfume Society. Joining the legions of perfume blogs, fragrance databases and smelly forums, this new site is a joint-venture between journalist and co-founder of Green & Blacks chocolate, Jo Fairley, and consultant to the perfume industry, Lorna McKay, and appears to be an immersive guide to fragrance, ranging from perfume news to insightful guides to ingredients, fragrance families and perfume houses.
The Perfume Society describe themselves as follows:
“We’re much, much more than just a website: we’re a also a subscription organisation for perfume-lovers, offering events (including ‘meet the nose’ events), courses, sampling opportunities, and a beautiful regular downloadable magazine, The Scented Letter.
Through our longstanding contacts in the world of perfume – perfumers, bottle designers, brand creators, the fashion designers who have their names on some of the world’s bestselling scents – we have our finger on the pulse-point of everything that’s happening – and we are delighted to share it with you here.”
Last Thursday (15 May 2014), the Fragrance Foundation UK hosted their annual Fragrance Awards (formerly known as the FiFis). I had the pleasure of not only attending the event but also of presenting an award for one of the categories I had judged alongside my fellow Jasmine Award winners. Believe me when I say it was the most exhilarating and terrifying moment of my fragrance career, so far!
The evening was, as one would expect, a glitzy and glamorous affair hosted at The Brewery in the City of London. Guests were greeted with a champagne reception followed by a gala dinner (three courses of amazingness) with musical entertainment supplied by ex-Mis-Teeq chanteuse and Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon. All-in-all, it was a lively evening with wonderful food, interesting company and lots of music – and this was all before we even got to the awards.
This week’s Perfume Pic of the Week is a double-whammy of the colour pink. As you may tell from the slight overuse of varying shades of the colour on this website, pink is one of my favourite colours and to me, evokes feelings of joy. After all, some of the best things in life are pink, such as; roses, macarons and Womanity, just to name a few. So this week I’m celebrating a duo of fuchsia fancies that bring brightness in a rather lovely composite image.
Peonies are the first subject of this mini ode to the colour pink, and what a beautiful topic they are. Nigel and I adore fresh flowers and the number of filled vases in our house definitely outweighs the space found in a one bedroom apartment. This weekend we picked up some beautiful, pink peonies (wonderfully ‘snapped’ by Nigel in the picture above) that are grabbing our attention with their huge, showy buds and softly sweet/spicy odour.
I like the note of peony in perfume too, especially in Penhaligon’s rather marvellous Peoneve. What Peoneve does quite remarkably, is capture the sharp, peppery, spicy and rosy facets of the flower to create a perfume that presents the image of peonies in the ground with the petals and stems all present and correct, and surrounded by soft soil. Both the flowers and the perfume speak of a self-assured beauty that is both casual and striking.
A few weeks ago, following my recent Jasmine Award win (I promise to stop banging on about it eventually, honestly), I was afforded the luxury of being able to judge in not one, but two categories for this year’s Fragrance Awards, which are set to be hosted by The Fragrance Foundation on May 15th 2014. All-in-all this was an incredibly fun process that I found interesting and challenging in equal measure, but it also afforded me the luxury of thinking about how a perfume can be approached in so many different ways.
The first category that my fellow Jasmine Award winners and I were asked to judge was ‘Perfume Extraordinaire’. The perfumes in this selection are submitted blind by the big fragrance houses and the judges are required to test these without knowing the name, brand, perfumer or any details in fact, making for a completely impartial landscape where all that matters is the smell. Personally, I found approaching these perfumes without the knowledge of any bells, whistles or marketing guff, rather refreshing and it made the whole task of selecting the more creative and well-executed perfumes in the pack really quite easy. It’s so easy to get distracted by all of the ‘noise’ surrounding a perfume, but when relying simply on one’s nose the task becomes almost effortless.
Following the Perfume Extraordinaire blind-sniff, the judges were invited to test and score the fragrances selected for the category of ‘Best New Independent Fragrance’, which sees perfumes launched by the smaller, more bespoke houses. Unlike the other category, this one wasn’t a blind sniff and the judges had the opportunity to appreciate the perfumes, some of which were familiar and others that were first-time sniffs, in their entirety with a lively discussion from all sides. Whether blind-sniffing or just simple straightforward-sniffing, this blogger has to admit that the whole process was eyeopening, great fun and an absolute honour to be involved with.
Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s just my unending greed when it comes to all that is sweet and delicious, but I am most definitely in the mood for chocolate. To be fair, there aren’t many days where I wouldn’t fancy even a small square of the velvety, dark stuff and where some people have vices in alcohol or less savoury substances, my personal crack would be a Twix bar or two.
Those of you who have read this blog for a while will know that I’m absolutely desperate to love a perfume from niche house Parfumerie Générale. Why? Well, on paper the brand’s penchant for thick gourmand tones paired with exotic woods is exceedingly attractive, yet in practice I have found it difficult to really fall for any of perfumer Pierre Guillaume’s creations, instead finding them to be often thick and unwieldy.
I’ve always done everything to excess. My mother often tells me that as a kid, I had no off switch when it come to noise and food. Not much has changed since my formative years except for the fact that perfume has now become the outlet for my excessive personality (although I still have time for noise and food), meaning that over the period of time for which I’ve been interested in the subject, I’ve amassed quite a collection of scents.
Having lots of perfume is a good thing, after all, variety is the spice of life, as they say. But it can also be suffocating at times and the sheer thought of there being so much fragrance not being used in my house can be quite unsettliung. It’s a strange balance to strike – one wants variety, but at the same time it can pay to have a more selective approach to what perfumes one wears.
If anyone asks me whether I have a top five perfumes (or a top ten/twenty-five etc), my stock answer is always a definite; “oh, there’s no way I could only pick five”. But the truth is that this has changed over the last year or so and I do feel that I can now quite easily pick out some of my all-time favourites from the many bottles that sit neatly in boxes under my bed or are scattered untidily around the house.
So, to challenge myself, I have put together a list of my top five fragrances – five perfumes that I simply could not live without and if I had to hand over my collection (begrudgingly, of curse), these would be the ones that would stay. They are the non-negotiables and range from the ‘old faithfuls’ to more recent loves. But whether they are new additions or trusty friends, these are the five perfumes that I simply could not do without, right now… (they are subject to change, of course).
– Or “That Moment When You Realise Why a Classic is a Classic”
I’ve been spending a lot of time in department stores and shopping centres recently. The impending wedding has sent my soon-to-be-husband and me into a scheduled frenzy of buying things, returning things (don’t even get me started), looking at things and generally allocating a significant portion of our time to pre-nuptial consumerism. That may sound like a moan but it really isn’t and whilst I feel that the wedding build up is quite stressful, I’m pretty sure that it is in fact the best part.
It was on one of these recent shopping trips that I passed a Chanel counter. Now this is nothing unusual in itself, after all it’s pretty difficult to go to a department store and not pass a Chanel point of sale (they are anything if not prolific), but something caught my eye on this particular occasion that made me stop and pay attention. Something that one doesn’t always see amongst the many bottles of Coco Noir, Chance and Coco Mademoiselle – a tiny, gleaming bottle of N°5 Extrait.
Operation Big Fat Gay Wedding is now in full force (although now that same-sex marriage is officially legal in the UK we are simply referring to it as ‘the wedding’. Marriage is marriage after all). This Saturday marked 6 weeks until the big day and both Nigel and I are three parts excited, two parts nervous and five parts stressed (hence very few posts last week). Thankfully last Friday, my most wedding organisation induced day of stress so far, was made infinitely better by a surprise delivery from Thierry Mugler.
Now it’s no secret that Mugler is one of my all-time favourite fragrance brands and I am a long-time devotee of Angel, Alien and Womanity. So the news of a entirely new interpretation of Thierry Mugler’s iconic Angel (my beloved olfactory drag queen) was very welcome indeed. As were the lovely meringues that accompanied it, which I am ashamed to admit I have gorged on all weekend, despite the fact that I am supposed to be on a pre-wedding diet…
A while back I reviewed the entire Olfactive Studio collection for my column at Escentual. All-in-all I found the concept of photography-inspired perfume to be well executed (the bottles look fab and the whole idea is refreshingly un-gimmicky) resulting in five intriguing and nicely crafted fragrances that most definitely get two thumbs up from me, especially the incredibly unique Autoportrait.
This September Olfactive Studio will be adding a sixth perfume to the collection – ‘Ombre Indigo‘. The brand have recently debuted the scent at Esxence, Italy’s art fragrance fair and the juice is coloured in such an awe-inspiring shade of blue that I simply had to share it as this week’s perfume pic of the week. Just look at that colour, isn’t it just every kind of awesome?
Etat Libre d’Orange is easily one of my favourite perfume brands. I adore their punkish, renegade and often rude approach to perfume and unlike so many niche houses their gimmick comes with a ton of substance, meaning that the vast majority of their scents are unique and expertly crafted. Their offerings range from the fascinating yet vile Sécrétions Magnifiques to the heartbreaking beauty of The Afternoon of a Faun, and all that is in between pretty much rocks too.
With their rebellious past in mind, it is interesting to see that their upcoming launch for May 2014 ‘La Cologne‘ (or ‘Cologne‘ as it also seems to be named) is billed as “a nice scent”. Very few details about the scent are known, but one can’t help but wonder whether those punky rebels over at the Orange Free State are turning over a new leaf, one where they wish to accomodate the tastes of all perfume lovers, even those that prefer something a little bit cleaner.