It was…not a dark and stormy night, but the witching hour between midnight and 1 AM on a quiet, warm and otherwise unremarkable Saturday night. I sat twirling my hair in front of my laptop, working my way through half a bottle of Pinot Gris while I wondered what to do. Writing was obviously out of the question, since after the second glass of wine I had reached that state of being where the world is tinted ever-so-slightly rose. But there was something in the air that midnight hour, a certain restless vibe, some idea on the verge of being born, and all I had to do was to sit still long enough for it to find me.
I know, I thought that night. I can create another blog. At the time, I was wrestling with the last chapters of Quantum Demonology, and I needed a break away from rock’n’roll, the end of Heaven and Hell, heartbreak and the Devil, I needed something…other, a different kind of writing challenge. I had MoltenMetalMama for my anarcho-feminist and musical musings.
Why not create a perfume blog? I loved perfume, had loved it since childhood, loved and adored it since that day my mother took her 14-year-old maladjusted Geek Girl to Guerlain, Caron and Dior in Paris…and ruined me for life, which was probably her intention.
So that’s what I did that night – created SLS, went to bed and thought no more of it.
This is right about where I wish I could say…famous last words. One year later, there are about 80,000 more of them, all about perfume, the better part of a paperback novel right there!
Last year was also the year I gave myself a present for completing QD – my first ever Serge Lutens bell jar of Fleurs d’Oranger. I saved up for it by foregoing hair dye for nine long months. It makes me deliriously happy to this day.
I began as the poor of purse but rich in intention often do, by reviewing the contents of my own perfume cabinet. All six of them. It happened on two occasions that I slithered into my local perfume shop and sampled something I then would go home and review, since buying anything was out of the question.
When I had reached the point of wondering whether I should just give up the whole idea, something incredible happened.
I won a draw on Doc Elly’s blog and received a lot of samples some time later. Now, I had more to write about, so I did – and in the process, I began to write about perfume in earnest. I realized there was passion as well as artistry in those tiny bottles, and did my best to reflect that in my reviews. Some weren’t ‘me’ precisely, some were purloined by my then husband (Doc Elly, your Olympic Rainforest, Bay Rum and Arizona all have one ardent fan in DK!), but all of them surprised me in the best possible way. If any one perfumer made me a perfume blogger, it would be Doc Elly. For that and several other reasons, Doc Elly and her perfumes have a very special place in my Perfume Pantheon.
Maybe there was hope for perfumery after all, if Doc Elly’s perfumes were any indication?
Next, I invested a fair chunk of change in samples from First in Fragrance, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history…
Lessons I learned along the way:
★ Perfumistas are the most generous beings on the face of the planet. Copenhagen may have one department store and a (very) small handful of boutiques that sell a few niche perfumes, but where I live in the boonies, LVMH rules supreme, and so do fruitchoulis. As well as the credit card I can’t afford yet. If not for the perfumista community’s generosity of spirit, not to mention walloping doses of encouragement from other bloggers and even a creative director, I don’t know how I could have lasted so long. I’ve had a chance to try things I would otherwise never know or could afford to seek out. And most important of all, I’ve made friends along the way. Really, how awesome is that?
★ Joining Twitter is quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever done for blog-promotion purposes. And oh, the fun I’ve had…
★ The astonishing world of indie perfumers has completely blown my mind, and none more so than Mandy Aftel. I haven’t been bribed to be her press agent, honest. She’s just that good! As is Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. These two and their breathtaking perfumes also hold a very special place in my Perfume Pantheon.
★ Never say never. Never rule out a perfume family and never say you hate something when you haven’t tried it – in fact, don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it! There is one exception to this rule. It’s made by Etat Libre d’Orange, and it’s named Secretions Magnifiques. Just take my word for that.
★ When the words for a perfume have eluded me, it usually means the genie in the bottle and I aren’t speaking the same language. Instead, I step away from the computer, reapply and start in longhand in my notebook. This works for other writing, too.
★ If $100 is the new free in the world of niche perfumes, then Serge Lutens and his eponymous creations are the very least of my worries.
The Big Epiphanies
★ Aftelier. Some of the most amazing perfumes I’ve ever come across, and there have been a few by now. And Mandy Aftel’s Cepes and Tuberose. On any given day, regardless of whatever else I’m wearing, you will find a tiny dab of C&T somewhere on my person, if I don’t just dab it all over and call it a good day. It has simply become that…important. My perfume mojo goes where I do.
★ Amouage. You know it’s good when perfume makes you cry. Three Amouage creations have made me bawl with their beauty. The evening I wrote ‘Silver and Black’, I went through an entire pack of pocket Kleenex. Amouage inspires narratives rather than reviews, and the stories they inspire stay with me every time I wear them. When my carefully doled-out samples and teeny decants wear out, I may consider a career change. Bank robbery, for instance. Or writing pulp fiction potboilers that sell in the millions.
★ Andy Tauer. I’d like to parade him down Fifth Avenue in a sedan chair with the crowd throwing rose petals, but he’ll probably turn them all into Une Rose Vermeillé by the time we get to East 59th Street. Stampedes may ensue.
★ Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. For no other reason than ‘Vert Pour Madame’, but then I was gifted with ‘1000 Lilies’, and before I knew it, I had a tidy little collection of DSH samples. Why doesn’t Europe know about her? They will soon enough if I have anything to do with it!
★ Atelier Cologne. Not a bad one in the bunch. Not one I can’t wear. Not one I can’t love. Not one I don’t want to own. Preferably in liter bottles if possible. But I’ll settle for a Petit Cologne or two…
★ Ormonde Jayne. Some kinda gorgeous in every bottle, even the (very) few I can’t wear.
★ No substitutes for the classics…I discovered the wonders of Caron’s Tabac Blond, Piguet’s Fracas and rediscovered Bandit. Now, if I could only track down a few precious drops of vintage Vent Vert…
★ Puredistance Antonia. Such a flawless green throwback, it breaks my heart…
★ Serge Lutens still rules…just when I get comfortable with my 11 (!) bottle wishlist, the fatal duo of Lutens and Sheldrake do me in again with Vitriol d’Oeillet. Don’t get me started on De Profundiis…
★ Etat Libre d’Orange may have unleashed Secretions Magnifiques upon the world, but they also gave us Like This, Rossy de Palma, Jasmin et Cigarette, Vraie Blonde, Tom of Finland…
★ Penhaligon’s Amaranthine. Surely the sexiest kind of strange I’ve ever met.
★ All the lines I have yet to try…Histoires des Parfums, Parfums d’Empire, Parfumerie Generale, Roja Dove, Patricia de Nicolaï, Keiko Mecheri, Ayala Moriel, Lord’s Jester, Dupetit, Esscentual Alchemy, Roxana Villa, JoAnne Bassett, much more of EnVoyage, Anya’s Garden, Knize, Profumum, Santa Maria Novella, Jovoy…
★ All the classics I need to revisit since I have yet to write about them…L’Heure Bleue, Après L’Ondée, Shalimar, Jicky, Vol de Nuit, Sous le Vent…and that’s just the Guerlains.
★ What I’m excited about…Chanel no. 19 Poudré. Due any day now, even in the boonies. And Serge Lutens’ De Profundiis. Still wondering how I might get to sample it…
Since I began writing about perfume in earnest, my life has changed completely, not just in the perfumes I wear or even love, but in all other aspects, too. I’ve made true-blue friends, I’ve sniffed and worn some spectacular perfumes, and I’ve gained a level of esthetic and sensory appreciation that spills over into other areas, too. I’ve made connections with people I never thought I’d know, never mind actually talk to! I’ve done things I thought I would never do, written reviews I thought I could never write, been bolder than I ever have. All good things in my life this past year have come through perfume – and the fun isn’t anywhere over…yet!
It could never have happened without… Doc Elly, Mandy Aftel, Carrie, JoanElaine, Olfactoria, Dee, Suzanne, Lucy, Ines, Undina, Persolaise, Frida, Carol, CandyPerfumeboy and even Helg of PerfumeShrine, my longtime idol. Anthony of NKDMan gave me a great opportunity and I’m very grateful, and there are not enough words to say how much I adore Christopher Chong for his encouragement and sincere appreciation of my ‘alternative’ approach to perfume reviewing.
It could never have happened without YOU! I had not one reader when I started. Now, I have forty one. Thank YOU…for reading, for commenting, for…appreciating that despite not reviewing like any other bloggers, I still might have something unique to say about a singular passion we all share – perfume!
So what do you say, dear reader? Should we try to see where this takes us in another year?
I’m game! Are you?
Image: A cake in the shape of a perfume bottle. It was the only one that fit!