Desert Island Sniffs
Desert Island Sniffs

One of my favourite past times is listening to Radio 4’s longstanding series ‘Desert Island Discs’. If you’re not familiar with the concept, the premise is simple: a famous face or person of interest is shipwrecked on a desert island with eight records of their choice. The idea being that the person tells the story of their life through the songs that have made a significant impact on who they are today.

It has long been my belief that scent, much like music, allows us to travel back in time and experience moments past – moments that have influenced, changed and shaped us in to the human beings we have become. This series (nattily entitled ‘Desert Island Sniffs’) looks to explore the way perfume has influenced the lives of prominent members of the perfume industry.

For Desert Island Sniffs my castaways will be asked to present five perfumes that have had a significant impact on their life – scents that are so important they would be the ones they’d pack if they were unfortunately marooned on a remote desert island. Along with their five perfume choices my castaways are entitled to one luxury item and a ‘perfume bible’ of their choice.

Let’s meet our first castaway…

1932
Chanel 1932 – “A Constellation of Diamonds”

Chanel and I have fallen out recently. “Why?” I hear you ask. Well it’s simple, the venerable house has failed to live up to expectations of late with recent releases such as last year’s Coco Noir (a perfume so yawn-worthy I couldn’t even be bothered to review it) being well-made but painfully safe, proving that this once innovative house prefers to go for the big bucks rather than the big wow.

Still, we have the wonderful boutique-exclusive ‘Les Exclusifs de Chanel’ line to rely on for our wows, right? Not always, 2011’s Jersey was a serious lavender miss-step that proved that there is such a thing as a granny perfume, and an angry one at that.

You may be thinking – “So what, Chanel always produces quality” – and you’d be right but lest we not forget that this is the house that broke ground with N°5 in 1921 with a perfume deliberately designed to smell manufactured and put-together like a piece of couture – with Chanel one not only expects quality but also innovation.

I am, of course a blip that probably isn’t on Chanel’s radar and it will surprise no-one that my dissatisfaction hasn’t stopped them with their schedule of releases (or releasing dreadful adverts staring Brad Pitt). Their first release for 2012 is part of Les Exclusifs de Chanel and has been named after and created to honour the year the brand’s high jewellery line debuted – 1932.

From the Chanel website:

“A constellation of diamonds – In 1932, Mademoiselle Chanel showered Paris with diamond stars and a high jewellery line was born. Jacques Polge chose to evoke this constellation-collection with a precious, white and oh-so feminine flower; jasmine. Worked petal by petal to make every facet shine, it gradually spirals into place, waits to reveal itself on the skin and finishes by divulging its sophisticated and voluptuous side.”

Candies 2012
The Candies 2012

I can’t believe it but it’s the end of 2012 already, which means that it’s time for us perfume bloggers to put together our lists of the very best and very worst perfumes of the year, honestly, where did the time go?! This year I’m affectionately entitling my awards ‘The Candies’ as a short, punchy alternative to The Candy Perfume Boy Awards. Neat huh?

Across all genres there have been many interesting, exciting and unique perfumes unleashed on to the market along with the usual amount of celebrity dreck, dud flankers and down-right-bizarre niche offerings. All-in-all it’s been a busy year with over 1,300 launches. Impressive but exhausting!

Below you will find my awards for Best Masculine, Best Feminine and Best Unisex Fragrances for both niche and mainstream houses. In addition to this I’ve also included awards for Best Flanker, Best Celebrity Fragrance and Best Ad Campaign. But we’re not just celebrating the very best of perfumery in 2012 here, no sir, we’re also highlighting the very worst with the Sour Candy Award, reserved solely for the naffest perfume of the year.

So I hope you’re wearing your very best frock (or tux for the boys, or frock if you prefer, it’s up to you really) and sipping on some fine Champagne as The Candies 2012 are underway…

Frozen Flowers
Frozen Flowers by FrozenStardust on DeviantArt

You may or may not be aware that I am somewhat partial to the odd floral or two. OK, that’s a severe understatement, I am a floral addict and if you were to examine me under a microscope you’d probably discover that my genetic makeup has been significantly altered by the sheer amount of white flowers that I wear. Maybe I’ll wake up one day and I’ll actually have become a flower? Is that pushing it? Thought so.

When most people think florals they think of summer; of golden sunlight beating down on fields and meadows of fragrant flowers shouting their narcotic odours into the warm summer breeze. But for me florals aren’t exclusive to spring or summer, in fact one of my favourite times of the year to break out my bottles of trapped flowers is the time, for the most part, when they are not blooming in the wild. My favourite time for florals is winter.

Floral fragrances are surprisingly versatile in winter, they can provide warmth and comfort or they can react with the cold stiff air to create a sparkling aura that freezes on the skin. So as the weather appears to be quickly changing and the mercury is heading closer and closer to the 0 mark (well it is here at least) I thought I would share with you some of my favourite florals for my favourite time of year.

Yesterday Chanel released the brand new and much-anticipated Nº5 ad starring Brad Pitt and if you haven’t seen it already, where have you been? It’s everywhere! One cannot load up Facebook, Twitter or YouTube without being bombarded by Brad in his beardy glory.

When the news that Chanel had picked Brad Pitt as the new face of Nº5 broke the whole world (OK maybe just us fumenerds) pretty much thought “Good move Chanel, good move”. I mean, what could be more refreshing than a male face on one of the most iconic feminine fragrances of all time? It had the potential to be a truly terrific advert, especially when considering just how grand and over the top Chanel’s past offerings had been, but alas it was not to be and the result is really rather flat.

I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy here, and kudos to Chanel for attempting something completely different, but really, this is the best they could do? I honestly thought it was a joke the first time I watched it, or at least a teaser trailer, but no, it’s the real thing.

They managed to snag one of the most iconic actors of our time (I’d have preferred Clooney but that’s just a matter of preference) and this is what they came up with?! Has Karl finally lost it? They seem to have forgotten that they are Chanel and they can do anything!

So, in light of the disappointment that is Brad Pitt for Chanel I present to you; Five Reasons Why Chanel’s New Nº5 Advert is Naff…

The Spirit of Chanel
The Spirit of Chanel

Never underestimate the power of Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels. Having tried Chanel’ N°22 many times along my perfumista escapades I had never really found the love for it that I, and others thought I would. I mean it is a big aldehydic floral, and I’m sort-of into that kind of thing (OK, I love that kind of thing), but no N°22 never seemed to grab me, that was until an ever-persevering Birgit slipped a sample (and a number of hints, in an entirely non-pushy way I should add*) my way.

Now I will just put it out there that I have learned to love N°22, to me it epitomises the spirit of Chanel. It’s classy and elegant, but just that little bit rebellious. But whilst I enjoy it, I’m just not sure I’ll ever be running out to buy a bottle, my feelings very much lay in the ‘oh wow this is great but I don’t think I need it’ camp. That said, I am still definitely making my mind up about it and if there is one thing I have learned being a fumeophile it is that one should ‘never say never’!

N°22 was originally released in 1922, created by Chanel in-house perfumer Ernest Beaux (he of N°5 fame) it was intended as a lighter version of N°5. Chanel describes N°22 as “a skin scent […] full of grace […] (that) also bears the imprint of their (Chanel & Beaux’s) audacity.” N°22 now sits within the Les Exclusifs de Chanel line and I would probably rate it as my favourite Les Exclusif offering so far.

Springfield Residents
The colourful residents of Springfield

The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing/boyfriends/girlfriends/movies/insert-celebrity-mistake-here let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.

In previous instalments I have successfully scented a wide range of celebrities and characters ranging from the loveable lunatics that are The Muppets to the hip schizo-rapper Nicki Minaj as well as Icelandic Siren Björk and super-glam glam-poppers Scissor Sisters, even The Royal Family haven’t been able to escape my scented clutches.

I have mentioned before that I am a hardcore fan of The Simpsons, I watch it nearly every day (it’s always on when I get home from work) and I confess to having seen every episode, perhaps more than once! The inhabitants of Springfield are a fascinating bunch and over the course of both parts of Spritzing Springfield I hope to select fragrances that befit their eccentricities and play to their incredibly human characteristics.

Last week’s Saturday Poll was a classic flagship-fragrance showdown, in which Guerlain’s Shalimar and Chanel’s N°5 went head-to-head to see who was the supreme holder of perfume glory. Both have their loyal fans but scent-wise they could not be further away from each other if they tried; one is a warm, delicious oriental and the other is an abstract aldehydic floral. Opinion was divided!

The results of the poll, as always, were very interesting. Shalimar stormed ahead receiving a huge 56% of the vote, which blows N°5 out of the water with its mere 21%. What is interesting is that the Shalimar appears to be more accessible than the N°5, which like other Chanel’s appears to leave some feeling cold.

Anyone, on to this week’s poll…

Last week’s Saturday Poll was a battle of two titan designer houses; Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. This was a poll that could go either way, both are beloved brands with many classics and have loyal fans that avidly follow each release, so I pretty much expected an even spread of votes. I was wrong.

What was really surprising about this poll was the fact that the results showed that one house was staggeringly more popular than the other. A whopping 58% said that the House of Dior was their favourite and only 15% opted for Yves Saint Laurent. Why is this? It is hard to say exactly, but Dior have been in the fragrance business longer and have released more perfumes allowing them to gain more of a following.

Anyway, enough of that and on to this week’s poll…

The Poll

This week’s poll is yet another showdown, but rather than pitch two houses against each other I thought it would be interesting to throw two classic, flagship fragrances into the ring to see which would triumph as champion.

So this week the question is simple: which do you prefer, Guerlain’s Shalimar or Chanel’s N°5? Both are veteran fragrances for their respective houses and nobody can deny that they are each classics, but if you had to pick one, which would you choose? I want to know! Register your vote and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below!