dimanche 27 juin 2010

Enchanted, disenchanted...



The industry people I’ve been talking to in France – perfumers, consultants, sales assistants – seem to be somewhat crestfallen of late. Too many launches, too much dreck; brands ripping each other off and counting on the consumers’ ignorance to pass their stuff as “NEW!” and “ORIGINAL!” ; perfumers pushed to the forefront as the latest marketing ploy rather than as a real move towards authorship.

The dream is gone, they say when they’re in a dark mood. We’re just going through the motions, feeding the machine. When’s the last time you were truly blown away? they ask. Do you ever feel really moved by a new fragrance nowadays?

Actually, I have been moved and excited quite a few times over the past year: that’s the stuff I write about, mostly – the story the perfume tells in smells a springboard for a story in words.

But I’m finding it more and more difficult to stray from “my” authors: the people I can trust to come up with compositions that give me sensuous pleasure and appeal to my intellect; that bear the distinct imprint of their style and bear witness to their constant evolution. When I stick my nose into a genuinely good piece of work, trying to come up with something insightful to say is just as much of a thrill as the sheer sensuous pleasure of wearing it, of letting myself be seduced and surprised by it. And then, I believe it’s still possible.

Otherwise… It’s bad enough not to be able to wear the stuff I love as much as I would were I not blogging. I’m finding that more and more, I can’t be bothered with the rest. Life’s too short to wear mediocre stuff just to write about it. And there’s just too much of it.

I’m also starting to find that the online perfume landscape has changed: the sheer volume of discourse seems to have increased exponentially of late -- not a week goes by without my finding out about a new blog. I’m not begrudging fellow perfume lovers their pleasure in writing about their passion, far from it – writing about perfume is both a way of fine-tuning one’s appreciation and of generating community, and new voices are always interesting. But clearly, the perfumed blogosphere is metastasizing like crazy, with the attendant risk of draining away the members of the community who could write insightful comments on other blogs or in forums – why repeat what you’ve already written about at length on your own turf? I’m not complaining: I find the level of the comments I get very high, and I’m gratified to have set up a space for the type of discussion that takes place here.

To sum up, though I’ll certainly be back with new reviews very shortly, I’m feeling the glut.


Meanwhile, I put these questions to you:


When was the last time you were enchanted by a perfume, and which one(s)?

Are you starting to suffer from launch fatigue?

And are you restricting the number of houses/perfumers you follow as a result?

Do you feel moved to seek out new voices online? Or is it all just too much to keep up with?



Illustration: Anna Karina in Jean-Luc Godard's The Little Soldier (1963)


63 commentaires:

  1. Just my two cents, but I think the big plus of the explosion of new fragrance bloggers is that it really does lift the burden from the shoulders of writers like yourself.

    It was once necessary to dabble in absolutely everything that was released so that you could keep both yourself and your readers informed, but now that the chatter (and the releases!) have increased by magnitudes, I can see that you're looking around yourself and thinking, "Hmmm, maybe it's not necessary for me to do *all* the heavy lifting."

    I come to your site for the singular way you tie the fields of art history, pop culture and fragrance together, not for the latest review of the newest niche product, so I'm more than happy to see you willingly don the "specialist" mantle and leave the general practitioning up to others.

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  2. Nathan, I hadn't quite put it to myself that way and it's a comforting thought (though I'd need 48-hour days to keep up with everyone that's keeping up with everything!).
    I do think I need to restrict myself to reviewing the fragrances that truly interest me or the phenomena/trends/events that seem interesting to decode. If only for sanity's sake!

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  3. This is partly a philosophical question. Many of the scores of new and vintage perfumes that I've sampled over the last year would have been utterly enchanting ten or twenty years ago when new releases were few and before ebay. Can one truly enjoy anything under these circumstances? Would I enjoy some of the more novel scents as much if the nose wasn't a bit jaded? Do we really need boredom and suffering to be happy?

    I do find myself narrowing down and consciously limiting inputs. I only regularly follow Grain de Musc and three other perfume blogs, although I do occasionally dip into others or search for reviews on specific scents. I don't have television. While I don't limit myself to certain brands or perfumers, I do prioritize certain ones, and I depend a lot on The Guide and blog reviews and comments to decide what to sample.

    I also find myself wishing I had more time to wear the things I have, but at the same time, the reformulations, discontinuations and dwindling stock of vintage scents drive me to seize the day. I guess like every other aspect of life in the early 21st century, this beloved hobby feels a bit frazzling! ~~nozknoz

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  4. Nozknoz: I also try to limit the surfaces that come into contact with mediocrity (which is why my television is exclusively used to view films).
    I guess there is a blasé, been-there, done-that aspect to following a field for a long time... I just hope I don't become too jaded. Then it'll be time to move on to something else, I guess.

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  5. Todays age of quantity over quality, unregulated capitalism, runaway globalization and over-consumption, doomed the continuity and tradition of haute perfumery.

    Last perfume that totally blew me away? Tubereuse Criminelle.

    Being highly selective, launch fatigue doesn't affect me, I ignore 95% of fragrances launches and even if I read good reviews of mainstream fragrances such as Prada's amber launch last year, just because it was Prada, I didn't give it a chance. Here's where Being thick headed sometimes pays off! LOL

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  6. Interesting post, D. I've been paring my collection (meagre though it is) because more and more I find myself overwhelmed by all the samples and decants I have, that I don't have time to really explore and enjoy (or not, depending upon what's in that vial). For those of you who blog on perfume frequently, it must be even more daunting.

    Like anything else, the exploration of perfume can quickly go from being a pleasure to being a chore, for both blogger and reader. There's no reason for anyone to blog to the point of exhaustion. Choose what you want to explore and let the rest go.

    Most of the recent releases, niche and mainstream, have bored me. The two I love - and I think I love them because they are NOT challenging (I'm not up to it right now :-) are Cartier Brillante and Celine's Charmes y Leaves. Both are lovely, both give me great pleasure.

    xoxoA

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  7. Uella, I'm kind of tugged between having a look at the mainstream (I mean, there *are* gems from time to time) and just not bothering about it at all. The one thing I feel I should be doing is looking at the mainstream to see what less scrupulous *niche* brands are knocking off...

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  8. Musette, well, you couldn't have picked two better perfumers to be charmed by -- I feel that both Mathilde and Céline are amongst "my" authors, the people I trust for their integrity and artistry. Coincidentally, they studied together at ISIPCA.

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  9. Questions and answers...

    I agree with Nathan; there are bloggers I could count on one hand who I have bookmarked because I am interested in hearing their voice + their perspective, and I have watched more than one of them suffer from feeling they had to sniff&report about as much as possible. There are enough brand new and not so new voices who do a fine job of reporting from the nose that I'm perfectly happy fishing around for general takes on a release, if I feel the need...and otherwise am happy to go the handful trusting that I will be informed and/or entertained by whatever they choose to write about.

    Launch fatigue, such as it was, was a milestone I passed long ago. Even after being an enthusiast for more than three years, I still feel I am a student. There is no way I could have come this far without a large amount of curiosity...and no way I could have survived if I felt I had to try everything new. I need to balance exploring vintage (because I am curious, I like them, and I want to understand what informs so many current compositions) and contemporary PLUS allowing for time to just live with trials PLUS being sure to allow time for enjoying the company of proven favorites. Plus time away from scent, truth be told.

    As for so many blogs draining thoughtful comments...

    LOL...I had about 8 paragraphs to insert here. (Thoughtful, concise paragraphs, but of course.) Had to delete, because as I now know, there is a 4,096 character limit to comments. I'm laughing, because this gets to the heart of my response: what to do? Cut short my thoughts? E-mail you? Write it up in my own humble forum? What if I decide to just not do anything, because I get overwhelmed by trying to decide what is right?

    Blogs are great. Blogs are limited. However you decide to handle your own response to the issues you raise, I selfishly hope that your conclusions allow you to continue offering Grain de Musc. This is a place where I have always found myself enchanted.

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  10. ScentScelf: as for blogs draining thoughtful comments, it's something I'm wondering about, not something I'd assert with confidence. Anyway, if someone reacts to something I've written in the blog and puts in a link I'll know about it when I check my stats. But for instance, I haven't been able to respond to all the posts made about Vamp à NY -- there simply isn't enough time.

    It *is* hard to keep up even with the new stuff that's made by the people whose work I love, in a pondered, thoughtful way -- I'm just afraid sometimes that I'm restricting my perspective by focusing on them as much as I have.

    But don't worry, this wasn't a prelude to slacking off on the blog! Just a reaction to things I'm hearing...

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  11. First off, I agree completely with Nathan in his comment above.

    To your questions:
    1) As a novice perfumista, I'm easily enchanted-- so much is new to me (including the classics which sadly are too quickly being reformulated or leaving the market altogether). I can still be thrilled by scents that must seem like old news to others.

    2) Of course. I suffer from sensory and information overload in all aspects of life, so try to pick and choose the subjects of my attention.

    3) Yes. I'm focussing on the few that have particularly pleased me (while trying to find scents that haven't already been discontinued or reformulated).

    4) I've narrowed my blog-reading to a proven few. On the subject of fragances, that means yours and two others.

    By all means, choose only the scents and themes that refresh your spirits as subjects for your writing. I'll be reading!
    -- Gretchen

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  12. Gretchen, thanks! I haven't even gone into the reformulation lament this time round, it's depressing enough as it is... In a way, that's why I want to tackle new things: they're still at risk, but at least they smell the way they were intended to smell.
    And thank you for your kind words!

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  13. 1) I'm finding myself transported lately by 1980s fragrances I missed the first time around. Fendi and Courreges in Blue seem to me to outshine so much candy-vanilla-style "sexiness" from the last decade. (Who were the noses on those two?)

    2 & 3)There are entire lines I've now been ignoring for years. I can't imagine what would get me to try a Marc Jacobs or an SJP. I've been boycotting Bond No. 9 since they were horribly rude to people on eBay several years ago, and that's certainly reinforced by their recent behavior. And I've come to accept, sadly but relievedly, that Chanel, Creed, Guerlain, and I are only going to be the most distant of acquaintances. (Giving self permission to stop smelling a particular house's output when I try 20 things from them before finding one I even want in a decant.)

    4) I do like to blog-hop quite a bit and often start my surfing by looking at links listed on perfume blogs I already like. The quantity is limited by the fact that a lot of people start perfume blogs but so few people update them with any regularity. I don't understand why people start new ones when there are so many good existing blogs that invite guest bloggers - and they would be relieving the folks who write a lot and might like a little break sometimes.

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  14. Good post. Western perfumery, particularly mass market stuff, really doesn't interest me anymore. I've cut my collection about 50%, and only about 4 are recent releases (past 5 years). The others are d/c'd beauties or older formulations of classics like Mitsouko. That being said, Amaranthine and Mandragore Pourpre have really delighted me, and they are both recent, both unusual, both very intelligent and well-crafted. But the tsunami of new releases, clones, and reformulations has actually driven me to study and blog about non-Western traditions, ancient perfumery, incense, and, especially, botany! I'm finally learning much more about the plants themselves, and other fragrant ingredients, and I've found a few terrific teachers in my home country that are helping me learn more than I thought possible about the roots of perfumery (pun intended). So something negative is becoming a new positive for me. And I've gone back to aromatherapy, which I've used with certain of my patients for 15 years now. There is finally a good body of research coming together on what works and what doesn't. I think it's good you've chosen an area in which to specialize (Paris and French perfumery). And I love that you are working hard to promote genuine authorship of perfumes, but copyright and good intellectual property laws are necessary for that to become a lasting reality, I think. You're right, at this point, auteur-ship is being used as a cynical marketing ploy in many cases.
    -Marla

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  15. Pitbull friend, joint blogging is an excellent way to keep the blog alive, posting regularly, and to keep fatigue at bay. So far I haven't made that move for many reasons, one of which is that whoever wrote, I'd have to translate either in English or in French, which wouldn't ease the workload much. I don't think it's the way I should go personally, but you're right, collective blogs should be more numerous.

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  16. Marla, non-Western traditions are something I'd like to explore, but several lifetimes wouldn't suffice! I'm barely scratching the surface of the French school... I do wish I knew more about botany. As it is I barely make it to any gardens. Ack, so many things to learn... isn't it wonderful?

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  17. I am partial to natural perfumes (and that's what I blog about) and am continually enchanted by the likes of Mandy Aftel, Roxana Villa, Ayala Moriel and some newer lines to me like Wing and a Prayer and Victoria Jess. I just tried Songbird by Laurie Stern of Velvet and Sweet Pea and was utterly enchanted!


    I don't have launch fatigue because I don't follow mainstream perfumery that closely. As far as naturals, the new launches feel very manageable and almost always hold interest for me. If I followed the mainstream launches I most certainly would be fatigued!

    I have a few blogs I check daily and about 10 I check weekly. I like to seek out new blogs for interesting voices, but only follow them routinely if they really inspire/inform me.

    Thanks D for such a thought provoking post as well as posing the questions for your readers.

    Best,
    Trish

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  18. Trish, natural perfumery is something I don't address much, partly because my plate's full already, partly because it's much less developed in France (as far as I know), and then again because I suppose I'm very classically trained and it doesn't fit the same criteria, especially the non-alcoholic based compositions which don't develop in the same way.
    But I'll be catching up in the Mystery of Musk operation launched by Anya McCoy.

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  19. For the past six months or so I've been consciously limiting the number of perfumes I try - otherwise it's only too easy to become jaded in less than a month. Of course, every blogger chooses what to blog about (including yourself). There is no way anyone can keep up with ALL the mainstream and niche releases, because if someone tries, it quickly stops being a pleasure and becomes a job - and a rather boring one.

    Which brings me to the excitement part... I honestly don't remember the last time I was excited by a mainstream release. Truth be told, I don't even follow the mainstream that closely - one disappointment sticks to another, and the final pile of disappointments becomes heavier than I can bear.:) Parisienne, Idylle, Balenciaga, the Prada tuberose... I don't even remember each and every perfume I was disappointed with. Last year I truly liked a couple of perfumes that came from the niche sector - I find Amouage Epic and Nasomatto Black Afgano to be really beautiful, if not terribly original. So I guess I tend to rely more on the niche sector. I cannot keep sniffing colourful liquids that smell like cheap fabric softeners and try to understand the "creative idea" behind them - mostly because there is none at all.

    I believe we all suffer from information overload and have to pick and choose carefully - and perfume is no exception in this case. Sadly, the only perfumes I was truly, deeply excited about in a past year or so were my vintages purchased on ebay - Chamade, Mitsouko, Diorissimo. Turns out ebay is the only place to look for fragrant excitement.

    Wow. I'm sorry, that was a long comment. But then your thoughtful posts always provoke long comments.:)

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  20. My last enchantment was Nuit de Tubereuse so I don't have to look back very far. But there have been other recent launches that excited me, like La Treizieme Heure or VC&A Bois d'Iris to name a couple. Percentage wise it's probably a drop in the ocean of new stuff, but it's enough to keep my interest alive and kicking.

    Less need to try everything as soon as it is launched and more selection: definitely, but have put them down more to my own evolution as a perfumista than to the state of the industry. However your fingers are very much on the pulse and mine aren't. Truth is that niche has become mainstream, with all that goes with it.

    Discovering the blogs signified for me the end of perfume isolation and I will be always grateful to the writers for their time and commitment. Like scents, some speak to you and others don't, but in my view there is space for everyone even if an ongoing selection process is inevitable as a reader. Incidentally, I am equally engaged by a review of a promising new scent or by a revisitation of a classic or by a thought provoking piece.

    Go where your interest takes you and we will follow, at least in my case, even outside the boundaries of perfume.

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  21. It is funny, I was thinking along similar lines lately.
    I gave my heart to several fragrances in the last 12 months (Une fleur de cassie, carnal flower, une rose chyprée, l'air du desert, and a few classic guerlains revealed themselves to me), but as you can see: no very recent launches there, except the URC.
    I did find several 2009/2010 perfumes very pleasant, I even went full bottle with some, but wasn't blown away with any, except maybe for the powdery smoky loveliness of la XIIIème heure, which started my exploration into previously verboten powder territories.
    In any case, I am usually quite focused on my sniffing, so I don't feel *that* lost in the multitude of new launches. I just fear the good stuff might drown in the thousands of liters of mediocre juice bottled every year.

    On the multitude of voices in the blogosphere: I wasn't focused on my reads, but I am now. I had this feeling lately that my reading-sniffing experience wasn't worth my time anymore, my BS detector had some busy time recently, so I'll go on with a tight selection of writers I cherish and leave the rest as background noise.
    It is difficult to find bloggers who can teach you something, whose style you enjoy and whose taste you trust... but it is not impossible! ;)

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  22. I'm very new at the perfume game, so I'm still enjoying the process of discovering what I like and what I don't. Fairly frequently something surprises me or excites me. I don't know about "blow me away". Not a lot of things do that. I guess I'm fairly heavy and it would require quite a strong wind to blow me anywhere.

    As to all the blogs, yes, one must select. I've pretty much settled on a small list of bloggers I find interesting.

    Are there too many new releases? Oh yes. But too many old releases too. Many lines have too many perfumes in them, period. Without bloggers and the Guide, I couldn't find my way around at all.

    That, I think, is why Turin and Sanchez had so much success. I've always liked perfume, but the idea of trying to figure out what's good in the immense quantity that's on offer was both daunting and dispiriting. Any guidance helps!

    In many ways, that's what I want from blogs too: both "don't bother trying this one" and "here's an old one you should know about" are useful and important. So if you want to wear and write about the ones you love, I'll love that too.

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  23. Well, hmmm....Nothing much enchants me. I know that sounds strange from a blogger but it's true. Lately I've been liking the music of the Drive-By Truckers, meditation, reading perfume books and deep-muscle stretch and yoga. Recently my imagination has been "caught" by an odd variety of scents not exactly "vintage" but pre-reformulation: L'Arte de Gucci, Organza Indecence, for example. And I'm enjoying learning about the naturals and botanicals available from the artisan perfumers.

    I think of you as an insider. That's a heavy burden, as insiders are expected to be on top of absolutely everything. And that's not easy! It's burnout waiting to happen. I have the luxury of being out here in the perfume boonies and not having to give a s**t. No need to be in the know. Therefore no launch fatigue.

    I restrict myself more now than I used to. Once in a while I'll stop by an Ulta and sniff the mainstream stuff. I'm shocked at how cheap and synthetic it smells. But this is the world we're living in now, as awful as it is.

    I like reading new perfume blogs. I'll bookmark one if it looks interesting and, if I really like it, will add it to my blogroll or mention it. That's what other bloggers did for me when I was starting out. I don't do it often enough.

    I came to this corner just as the reformulation fracas was beginning to heat up. It's easy to be depressed at the way the mainstream houses are treating their legacies and customers. However, in my career in music marketing, I have seen it, and worse, all before, particularly as regards smaller, high-quality labels vs. the Goliaths. (Remember Milli Vanilli? It wasn't even them? That's the kind of thing I mean.)

    I think the "modern" Chanel and Coty and all the rest have enough money to take out ads to promote their dreck, they certainly don't need me! But vintage, that's another story, and I'm come closer to being enchanted by a well-preserved vintage scent than anything modern, niche, whatever -- ever. There are ghosts in these bottles.

    I started blogging because I like to write, like to discover, all that. As you say, perfume is the springboard.

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  24. On dirait toi, sur la photo...
    ;-)

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  25. Fashionistaag, the more I go, the more I think I'll be bypassing the mainstream altogether. I do have a lot of vintage beauties I've never written about but that opens another can of worms: the "vintage", the conditions of conservation, etc. The author of a perfume guide written in the 90s told me the other day that most of her book had become irrelevant because of all the discontinuations and reformulations...
    So even vintage is kind of tricky!

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  26. Silvia, I'm very happy to have been the one to introduce you to your latest love!
    I *am* thinking of restricting my scope if only for sanity's sake (plus the book is biting into my writing time, obviously).

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  27. Zazie, I'm fascinated that you get powdery from La Treizième Heure... I can't even begin to fathom which material would give off that effect.
    As for BS and background noise, I get the feeling interesting, lesser-established voices might get drowned in the din, just as interesting, original fragrances will go by unnoticed because the brand has been launching too many, or just in the general onslaught... It's not only natural selection: it's also buzz... I mean the real thing: what people like Andy Tauer and Vero Kern have managed to achieve, because their products have soul, but also because they reached out to bloggers.

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  28. Fernando, you're entirely right: there's a daunting quantity of stuff out there I can't even begin to imagine catching up on. When I look at the number of fragrances by Histoires de Parfums or Pierre Guillaume, for instance, and all those little samples I have from them, I don't even know where to start!

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  29. Olfacta, yes, in the past months I've been more and more of an insider, which creates two types of pressure: reviewing scents ahead of the launch, and knowing those reviews will be read by their authors and the people they work with. It's not a matter of not dissing their work (I pick who I'm in touch with amongst the people I admire), but of not putting my foot in my mouth! I've worked hard to get these people's respect!

    I am remiss in keeping up with newer, interesting blogs. I know a lot of them link to me from my Sitemeter stats but it's getting to be too heavy a load to see what they write, how they develop... A girl's got to sleep some time!

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  30. Katika: dans un monde idéal, je ressemble à Anna Karina à 20 ans. Dans un monde idéal... Ravie de te voir de passage ici!

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  31. I'm still "discovering" the old stuff... just bought a bottle of Bel Ami on the weekend. I'm not too concerned about new releases because I don't have enough background to put them in context. I just read 5 or 6 blogs regularly. I agree totally with Nathan... it's the way you pull it all together that makes your blog different than the others. Nobody else does it the way you do.

    I started a blog recently... my first post being "Why Start a Blog?" 5 posts later, I still ask myself the same question when I sit down to write. For now, it's a matter of documenting my own personal notes on perfume and if people want to read and comment, then that's fine, too... but there are far more experienced and authoritative voices out there.

    By the way, I also thought the photo of Anna Karina was a photo of you... perhaps taken 10 years ago. I skipped directly to the image credit to find out... but I sure it was a portrait.

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  32. Normand, thanks for what you say about my blog and about the picture! I'm reading the biography of JL Godard right now, hence the inspiration.
    I totally understand writing a blog to acquire more discipline and clarity in one's approach of perfumes. That's why I started mine, before it snowballed into a million other things...

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  33. I think being in Paris gives you a unique perspective that the rest of us don't have. It's like watching the opera from the upper balcony versus your enviable seat in the loge. The value-added to your comments are in a different category than a perfume review that lists ingredients and documents personal impressions.

    For perfume history and chemistry, I'll read Octavian (1000 Fragrances). For the dailies (launches and press releases), Now Smell This. For the quick and dirty (especially masculine fragrances), Dane and his friends at peredepierre. And... a few others if I have time... too many to mention here.

    I think the need for contextual analysis is getting greater because of the flood of new releases and the reformulations. The Guide was a good initial stake in the ground... but it was a snapshot of a moving target. We need voices like yours to cut through the BS.

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  34. Normand: the loge, the wings, the dressing rooms (as a manner of speaking, of course!).
    I loved reading the Guide but I wonder at the number of perfumes reviewed. I would have preferred a more selective approach. And I wouldn't call it initial: there was a whole thriving online perfume culture way before it came out, in which both Luca and Tania participated, of course, since they were among the pioneers.

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  35. Yes, absolutely! Particularly the backstage stuff! Who else is able to get those interviews with the perfumers?

    I stand corrected as to the "stake in the ground". I am stunned when I look at the dates of some of the more established blogs. Sorry for the novice "faux pas".

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  36. Normand, for interviews I'm not the only one. But living in Paris, I'm one of the few who can actually get face time (except with Serge, but that'll come...). I'm particularly proud of the no-punches-pulled talk I had with Bertrand Duchaufour.

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  37. I just want to say that I am enchanted with your blog, and that you should write about whatever moves you most.

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  38. Thank you Nina. Now to find something to post about... it's not that there's a dearth of subjects (my samples are eyeing me accusingly as I type). It's the time and energy that are in short supply for the moment!

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  39. Interesting. I don't think the glut of mediocre perfumes is new at all. Copy-cats, mediocre flankers and pure and simple dreck has been being released quadruple-fold since the 90's, no? We’ve been in a sea of scented-crap for quite a long time!

    Your fatigue sounds a great deal like the Turin/Sanchez reasoning for no longer reviewing fragrances. As with any industry, when you get too close to it, I think it loses it's appeal. You’ve seen the wizard from behind the door and he no longer seems magical. This may be happening to you. As for the fact that you think of many new releases as a 'burden' of mediocrity that you ought to address for your readers...I ask you, "why?" This is your blog. You ought to sniff and review whatever you want and nothing more. Don't inadvertently make fragrance, one of your passions, into a chore. You should only sniff and write about what lifts your spirits and interests you. I can honestly say, as a blogger myself, that I don't understand why you feel the need to keep up with all the sub-par releases that are being churned out. We all have NST for that, don't we?! (I mean no disrespect to NST with that comment, quite the opposite, I'm so glad NST is here to be our CNN of the perfume world, but we don’t need more than one NST).

    When was the last time you were enchanted by a perfume, and which one(s)?
    Let's see:
    *Roja Dove Scandal (earlier this year, in 2010, I only found this beauty a few months ago)
    *Teo Cabanel Alahine (I discovered this in 2008 and have been swooning ever since)
    *Dior Diorama (discovered earlier this year)
    *vintage Givenchy III (discovered earlier this year)
    and a handful of others I can't think of at present.

    Q: Are you starting to suffer from launch fatigue?
    Not in the least. I don't go near a fragrance if it doesn't interest me. And I'm a blogger. NowSmellThis and PerfumePosse seem to exist to leave "no stone unturned." I have no desire or need to sniff anything that doesn't interest me.

    Q: And are you restricting the number of houses/perfumers you follow as a result?
    Definitely not. And I don't agree that commercial (non-niche) is across the board mediocre. I think there are a few excellent releases each year in the mainstream perfume world and same for the niche world. Each year there are only a handful of amazing releases.

    Q: Do you feel moved to seek out new voices online? Or is it all just too much to keep up with?
    I am always interested in new voices. But given that the perfume blogosphere has only existed since about 2005 (isn’t that when NST began?) I’m not exactly sure which blogs are considered new voices. My blog is over 2 years old now. Are we new? In general, and this goes for many areas of my life, I find the establishment gets boring and staid in their opinions and new voices are incredibly necessary. But do I seek out new voices? Only if I trip across them.

    As far as your question of ‘keeping up’ with all the blogs and various places to read perfume reviews: I have no sense of needing to keep up because I only read what I’m interested in at the moment. I don’t read a large number of blogs on a daily basis like the newspaper. I typically only read blogs while searching for reviews on a specific fragrance. So I’ll google “Roja Dove Scandal” and then read the first few blogs that pop up with reviews on that perfume. Oftentimes I’m reading blog reviews from anywhere between 2005 and the present.

    And, I don't think you're explicitly looking for opinions or suggestions, but here's mine anyway: A happy Mama = happy kids. A happy blogger = pleased readers. Do what you like best and nothing more.

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  40. I love what you wrote Abigail. Very spot on!

    ~Trish

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  41. You said something that I disagree with regarding Turin/Sanchez The Guide; which is that you wish they had been more picky, more selective and hadn't tried to review everything.

    I think entirely the opposite. If one (or two in this case) endeavors to write a book that covers very nearly all perfumes then they should cover them ALL. I think they missed the indie/naturals and ought to point some attention there. And, there are tons of perfumes they've missed entirely, both niche and non. I think the blogosphere is very much skewed towards niche being the ultimate in perfumery with which I couldn't disagree more. If Turin/Sanchez hadn't reviewed quite a number of mainstream scents I would never have discovered them (because bloggers don't typically write about, I don't know, Cartier So Pretty, because it doesn't have the cache as many niche brands, wait...the NonBlonde did...but you see my point)

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  42. I realize I'm part of the continually growing blogosphere ( which I agree, is growing so big there's no way I can keep up with every fragrance blog ), but all in all I find its increasing extent quite handy when I'm looking into rare and not easily sampled fragrances, as the collective fragrance blogosphere contains an invaluable wealth of info and opinions one just can't find elsewhere.

    "When was the last time you were enchanted by a perfume, and which one(s)?"

    Counting from just this New Years, a number of enchanting fragrances have entirely shaken up my previous all-time top ten. Among these are Serge Lutens Fille En Aiguilles and Sarrasins, Comme des Garcons Luxe: Champaca, JAR Jardenia, Neil Morris Gandhara, Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille, and Parfums DelRae Amoureuse. That's just the fragrances that rocked my world, and not including many otherwise fascinating and beautiful creations. Not all of these are new, but many are recent, and all were new to me. Suffice to say it's been a great year for me and fragrance!

    "Are you starting to suffer from launch fatigue?"

    Yes and no. I find nearly all mainstream releases a snooze, and fairly or unfairly, ignore them. That being said, the prolific volume of even the past half decade includes so many deeply loved fragrances that might not be around if the fragrance market wasn't the sprawling, diverse place it is just now.

    "And are you restricting the number of houses/perfumers you follow as a result?"

    Yes - see above about mainstream designers. I've embraced my niche and vintage snobbery.

    Also, I've found I really love florals well above all other genres, so I'm letting myself specialize and focus on sampling all fragrances of a certain note ( recently, gardenia - the JAR is the clear winner, for me ).

    "Do you feel moved to seek out new voices online? Or is it all just too much to keep up with?"

    I drift through my favorite blogs as I feel like it. I'm neither proactive about finding nor particularly avoiding new blogs.

    All in all, now is a good time for me and fragrance. I don't seem to be stricken by the ennui I've seen many express.

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  43. I was last enchanted by L'Artisan's Al Oudh. I bought a bottle about a week ago. I have to stop myself from wearing it every day (and to work!).

    I'm still pretty new to all this and there are decades of fragrances I haven't tried yet. So not quite new-launch fatigue yet.

    I'm not restricting the houses I follow quite yet.

    I'm not moved to seek out new voices, but it is always nice when I find someone new who has interesting things to say.

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  44. Abigail, I know that the glut of launches has been going on for a long time -- even Roudnitska used to complain about it in the 70s! But I'm always afraid I'll neglect a new voice, a fresh angle, a mainstream gem (I agree there are some), or that I'll get fooled by some niche thing I like not realizing it's a copycat (that's happened before...)... But wading through the Sephora wall'o'frags discourages me in advance when it comes to finding the mainstream gems in question.

    As for seeing the Wizard and being disillusioned, actually it's quite the opposite: the perfumers I meet make it all seem even more magical and exciting!

    I do get pressure every once in a while from readers to be more critical and snarkier, as though mostly writing about the things I love, hence positive pieces, affected my credibility, and I can't say that hasn't been nagging at me a bit: writing about stuff I don't like *would* seem like a chore.

    As for "new" blogs: mine's relatively new too, no older than yours. But the pace seems to be accelerating and, again, I guess it's my "what if I miss out on something" anxiety playing up. You can take the girl out of journalism, but you can't take journalism out of the girl!

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  45. Abigail: I wish they'd been more selective because you can't do a good job with that quantity of reviews. I wish they'd focused more on what they thought was interesting for whatever reason, but I realize that wasn't the principle of the book. It's not a matter of niche vs. mainstream. But I can see why that quantity of output would induce burnout: you can't wade through an ocean of dreck without it becoming dispiriting.

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  46. Sugandaraja, you're right that the more blogs there are, the more fragrances can be covered, which is a boon when you're looking up something.
    And I think I've embraced my snobbery too!

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  47. Furriner, that's what I find daunting: all those things that have been out there for a few years and I haven't even begun to explore! A lifetime wouldn't suffice, and it just keeps coming!

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  48. Scenthive: I'm grateful for Abigail thoughtful response!

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  49. I really appreciated Abigail saying "Do what you like best and nothing more."

    If you only want to write about what you love and are inspired by, then that is what you should do. There's already enough snark and criticism in the world today.

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  50. Scent Hive: it's not that I can't be snarky in real life, it's just that, well, it's not what I want to spend my time doing in writing: I get pleasure from loving more than from criticizing...

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  51. Perhaps I shouldn't mention this, but I'm one of the many, many people clogging up the blogosphere with my scent-related musings. I agree that there are a lot of us out there, trying to get our voices heard, and I just hope that public discernment wins and the best bloggers are persuaded to stick around. As for your thought-provoking questions:

    The last time I was enchanted by a new perfume was just the other day when I tried Amouage's Opus 3, from their new Library Collection.

    I wouldn't say I'm suffering from launch fatigue, because I basically tend to avoid most new launches.

    I do sometimes try to familiarise myself with the work of perfumers who are unknown to me, but I think I approach this whole issue with a pragmatic attitude: I tell myself there's only so much one person can try in a single week or month, and if that means I have to ignore several new releases, so be it. My priority it to work on my own scents, and if a new, must-smell beauty gets released somewhere in the cluttered world outside, I trust it'll work its way to my nose sooner or later.

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  52. Persolaise, I never said new bloggers were clogging up anything! I'm just concerned the multiplication of blogs could turn out to foster a lot of soliloquies instead of conversation, but maybe that's a moot point.
    I should really get down to those new Amouages, hearing a lot of good comments about them. That's one of the reasons I asked that question: finding out about new stuff I can freak out about not having discovered yet.
    As for the rest, your attitude is a wise one...

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  53. Thanks for the reply... and I know you didn't make any disparaging comments about new bloggers :-) I'm just aware that there's a general feeling out there that the number of perfume blogs is getting ridiculous. Maybe we're not suffering from launch fatigue but blog fatigue! And I think you're right to worry about the soliloquy vs dialogue issue.

    I don't remember the exact words, but I heard something along these lines on the radio not too long ago, in relation to blogging: "Never has there been a time when so many people have written so much to say so little to such a small number of readers."

    And as for Amouage... I haven't had a chance to sit down for a proper sniff of the Library Coll, but Opus 3 genuinely did make me go, "Wow"... after which I saw how much it costs...

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  54. The last time I was truly enchanted was FM Geranium Pour Monsier and Penhaligon's Orange Blossom- both being reasonably recent.

    Yes I am most definitely suffering from fatigue

    Yes I would say my brain has auto- restricted my interest to certain lines that I trust to always be interesting. There is room to find new ones too- I very much want to try more Heeley scents.

    I am always seeking new voices but I am afraid I am much less patient with random waffling posts that are 1000 words long and not on tpic. I blog myself even though I might not be the most talented but if I post about a perfume it's about that perfume and related things. There is way too much self- indulgence out there and it's detrimental to the good, reliable bloggers like yours truly.

    I've also noticed slightly less friendliness in the blogosphere since so many people joined clearly to get somewhere which is a real sadness.

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  55. Persolaise, we'll see how it goes, but it's a seachange, that's for sure...

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  56. Rose, yes I've noticed a little less friendliness too... It was bound to happen I guess. People have different agendas. Still, on the whole, if there's more free discourse about perfume it might shed some light on the art when people stumble on posts after Google searches...

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  57. Persolaise, the pricetag on the Amouage line is hefty. But at least w/ the Attar's, you get what you pay for. Plus some. The stuff is like plutonium.

    Marcus

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  58. Judging from all the comments, I think your sense of imminent disenchantment has touched a nerve with plenty perfume-nuts.

    Just back from a 1-week non-internet holiday I must say it's been nice to take a quick break from 'the buzz' and all but one of my perfumes. But it's also nice to return, and catch up with my favourite blogs and bottles.

    Perfume-fatigue rarely hits me but I do limit the amount testing I do, and am often happy to let something very expensive or hard-to-find like Cartier's Heures pass me by, even though they sound magnificent.

    Recent releases that have blown me away? None this summer, but Pure Oud leaves me gobsmacked every time.

    As to favourite houses and noses, Chanel is a brand I have immense respect for, even though their mainstream classics are being diluted/maimed/flanked. Their Exclusifs are the best of the exclusivity trend, and I always take time to try them out when window-shopping. I also try to test any new perfumes by Annick Goutal, Les Nez, Vero Kern. And the latter two were both discovered on this blog --
    so: please do keep communicating that enthusiasm when it hits you!

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  59. Have been hesitant to join in. I don't think I have anything new to add. No perfume fatigue here. Where I live it's hard to sample new things. I have a few favourite houses ( Goutal, De Nicolaï and Divine mostly) whose new fumes I will take note of and try to sample.
    Concerning the blogs, I only read 4 regularly. Yours, NST, the Posse and 1000fragrances. They keep me well informed. And I am grateful for that.
    You have had me drooling over the new Artisan and the new Olivia Giacobetti ones. I hope they'll still be there when I get round to trying them.

    Keep up the good work!

    Berber

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  60. Parfymerad, I'm so happy you discovered Vero Kern and LesNez thanks to me. I'm impatiently awaiting their next launches -- the least you can say is that neither swamps us with new stuff every season. Chi va piano va sano...

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  61. Berber, as the new Giacobettis aren't out yet apart from Paris, I think they'll be around for a little while...

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  62. Denyse, please forgive my late entry to the conversation!

    1. There have been so many beautiful, interesting, excellent fragrances I’ve tried in the last several months, but enchanted…? The Vamp a NY experience was enchanting, though ultimately, the perfume was not for me.

    2. Maybe five or six launches have increased my blood pressure in the past year—almost from the start I’ve been limiting myself to exploring the classics (like others here), and a few houses that I find exciting. I have, however, been following several noses; I haven’t yet decided if this is a good tactic.

    3. Blogging…
    I love to read your blog, Denyse, and read each piece as if it were written on a stone tablet and handed to me from a flaming bush. There are only a few voices online that I ritually follow, though I do explore occasionally.
    Incidentally, I am one of those new voices. Why? It's intimidating, seeing my words next to those of yourself and your intelligent, well-versed commenters. “Imposter” isn’t too strong a word to describe how I feel each time I add my voice here.
    My blog (which has almost no followers) gives me a place to practice and grow, without mucking up what is, for myself (and no doubt others), a sublime experience reading Grain de musc.

    I've come to truly care about fragrance, and feel compelled to add my voice—comfortably on my blog, or as an imposter here.

    That this community so kindly welcomes me continually blows my mind. I hope to add, in some small way, to the larger dialogue that means so much to us perfume lovers.

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