The Best of the Best 2011 – Phrases, Friends and Facilitators

Without you, I’m nothing!

Here’s a confession for you. In the real world, I’m a newly divorced single mother of a seven-year-old who works a decidedly unglamorous job for a minimum wage that just barely pays the bills. I do not own a credit card except for very dire emergencies, and I live in the Niche Empty Quarter of northwestern Europe. Several stores in Aarhus and Copenhagen do carry a few niche lines, but I get there so seldom, they might as well be located on the moon. It really is…that bad.

So I’m in deadly earnest when I say that without the staggering, stupendous, mind-blowing generosity of my fellow bloggers, friends and facilitators in several locations on both sides of the Atlantic, this past year of exploration and this past writing would never, ever have been possible. I’m so poor, I can’t even send them anything back to reciprocate. The samples I have already reviewed I pass on to a dear friend in the US who is battling cancer right now and who should surely have access to the kind of beauty that inspires hope and a will to survive, because she needs that more than anyone else I know.

OK, guys…you can put down the Kleenex now! 😉

Instead, I try to pay my facilitators back with what I do have to spare…my words. Words in my reviews, words in emails that have kept me going through a very challenging year, Twitter conversations, retweets and whatever else I can do to express my abject gratitude…for the friendships I’ve forged, the connections I’ve made, the inspirations I’ve found and my hopes for possibilities and a future I couldn’t have imagined just a year ago. Whatever else I’ve achieved in this past year, my own words have carried me out into a world that really does want to read them, and for that, I’m grateful, too.

I was asked to be a guest blogger for Penhaligon’s ‘Adventures in Scent’ blog, and inadvertently channeled Agatha Christie by way of Amelia Edwards, Oscar Wilde, Robert Hitchens and Jane Austen. My review of Puredistance Antonia will be featured along with a few other bloggers’ in Puredistance’s new PR material in 2012, and that floors me, too. Last but not least, two august houses in particular have been more than kind to an unknown perfume blogger by spreading the word, retweeting me and even in one case posting a link to a review on their official Facebook page, which in my world view was a bit like receiving an encouraging postcard from, well, God!

But the biggest compliments I’ve received have been from my readers, who have kept reading in spite of it all. If not for you, if not for those emails and hotly anticipated padded envelopes, if not for the many postcards, cards and notes on my Wall of Fame behind my desk…none of this could ever have happened.

Back in the day, I began writing about perfume on the premise that if I could write about that most ephemeral of art forms, I could write about anything. Below are my personal favorites, the ones where the genie really did talk back and even I was surprised…

¤   Amouage, “Silver and Black” of Memoir Man, “Becoming Violetta” of Lyric Woman. When the story and evolution of an entirely fictional love affair makes even the writer reach for the Kleenex…

¤   Aftelier, “The Union of Heaven and Earth” of Cepes and Tuberose, “The Best of All Possible Worlds” of Candide

¤   Puredistance, “An Eternal April” of Antonia

¤   Opus Oils, “A Swell Party”“Did We Evuh” of the Les Bohemes collection, “Eau de Perdition” of Dirty Sexy Wilde

¤   Aroma M, “Sailing Through Byzantium” of Geisha Amber Rouge

¤   Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, “Reclaiming Eternity” of Paradise Lost, “Vertesimilitude” of Vert pour Madame

¤   Maria McElroy & Alexis Karl, “A Philter Perilous” of Immortal Mine

Friends, Facilitators and the Fellowship of Fumeheads

No best of list would be complete without a big, fat thank you hug to those who made everything possible…the words, the discoveries, the shared laughter, the emails, the acute indecision in front of my perfume cabinet, wondering who I’ll be today…

Lucy of Indieperfumes

When I was just starting out into the perfumosphere, Lucy of Indieperfumes was among the first to sense I might have something to say about perfume that might be worth reading. This was very high praise from such an exceptional writer. Without Lucy, I would never have been introduced to the world of indie perfumers, would never have met Mandy Aftel, Maria McElroy, Alexis Karl, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz…and my life as well as my writing would have been infinitely poorer for it. Without Lucy, I wouldn’t have participated in the Clarimonde Project. As for the rest…we’ve forged a soul friendship that means yours truly is planning a trip to New York in 2012, and if I ever need a literary agent with exceptional promotional skills, I’m hiring Lucy in a heartbeat!

JoanElaine of Redolent Of Spices

JoanElaine and I just…clicked. There’s no other way to say it. Both diehard chypre lovers, both a bit iconoclastic, both of us united in our love of a few great Immortals. When she located a vintage mini of one of mine, Guy Laroche’s Fidji, I about died. As it is, I wouldn’t want to live without her!

Carrie of Eyeliner On a Cat

I had been reading Carrie for a long time when she loudly rebuked me last spring for a reference to someone we both hold very, very dear. Since then, we found we share more than a few things in common, besides a love for cats, black metal and Christopher Lee. Carrie turned me on to gourmands. And Opus Oils. Her generosity of heart and spirit is legendary – for a reason. So is her writing!

Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume

Vanessa and I could not be more polar opposite in terms of our personal tastes. She prefers understatement, whereas I’m a walking testament to sock-it-to-‘em sillage. Nevertheless, somewhere between her irreverent blog, many emails and a lot of laughter later – and generous decants of Roja Dove’s Scandal and Lucifer no. 3 among others – I’ve found a friend I truly cherish.

Suzanne of Perfume Journal

In the perfumista world is a term called a Scent Twin. Suzanne – an exceptionally gifted perfume writer herself – is mine. A Scent Twin is that rare creature who tends to love what you love, who will know something about your tastes and inclinations, and can often point you in a few directions you might otherwise not know. Suzanne and I met through my first perfume story of Amouage Ubar, whereupon she sent me a decant for my birthday. Since then, she has introduced me to many other wonders, and since then, she’s become not just a scent twin but also a soul sister. We’ve cheered each other up and made each other laugh and shared much else besides perfumed words since. I sincerely hope we always will.

Dee of Beauty on the Outside

It was Mugler’s Womanity – and my own snarky remarks about it on last year’s list – that brought Dee out of hiding to say hello, and what a ride it’s been since then! Devious Dee, I call her, since she tends to know things before I do, or should I say, know things I do before I do them! – has done so much to keep me going in this momentous year, and both she and I know…it ain’t over yet!

Olfactoria of Olfactoria’s Travels

Anyone who can manage to blog daily with two small children in situ and also be such a giving, generous soul as well as a spectacular perfume writer earns my undying respect and profound admiration. Should I ever get to Vienna, which isn’t my least favorite city on Earth, B will surely get me into all sorts of plastic-scorching trouble…and a Viennese cake, or two!

Ines of AllIAmARedhead

Last march, Ines was the very first to bribe me with that ultimate perfumoholic bribe…a Serge Lutens Palais Royal exclusive…a decant of Boxeuses. It has been much adored ever since! As has, gotta say it, the very redheaded Ines herself!

Aromi of IlMondoDiOdore

Aromi’s group blog,Il Mondo di Odore, was one of the first blogs I followed a long time ago, and I’ve read it faithfully since. He was also kind enough to send me a care package that included my favorite mainstream find of this year – Mugler’s Alien Liqueur de Parfum, and a sample of another line so exceedingly rare and off the radar, I’ve only seen it reviewed exactly once. It’s on my shortlist of up and coming attractions…which leads me to…

Favorite Avoidance Actions…err…blogs!

In a year that led to so many connections and so many cherished friendships, more discoveries in the blogosphere expanded my horizons and inspired me, too. On the right, you’ll find my blog list of favorite reading material – what I consider to be the very best in perfume writing. These are the ones I read myself. My one regret is not having the time to comment as often as I’d like, but I mean it when I say I read all of them. Many are mentioned above as Fragrant Facilitators, but I’ve made some new finds and located kindred souls, too…

Memory of Scent

Lyrical, rhythmic prose and thoughtful reviews don’t often go together quite so well in one splendid package as with Christos of Memory of Scent. If you don’t know him, start reading. He’s that good!

TheCandyPerfumeBoy

If not for Twitter and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, I would have missed out on an absolutely indecent amount of fun – and another fan of Big, Bold, Beautiful Florals in Thomas, a.k.a The Candy Perfume Boy. I’ve decided to adopt him as my wayward kid brother. If we were ever in the same room, we’d be so much trouble…And speaking of trouble…

Persolaise

Once upon a time, there was a frequent reviewer and Basenotes commenter who decided to create his own blog. Since then, he’s become so awesome, he’s been justly nominated for a Jasmine Award for best perfume blog and received all sorts of exposure for his unquestionable expertise. Make no mistake, Persolaise is…trouble! Irreverent, funny, very intelligent and an inveterate tease. There was that running gag one night that involved a pink shirt, an August Personage, rumors of a fabled extrait, rope, a chair, Britney Spears Circus Fantasy, Covent Garden and “Bring me back my oakmoss!” While we’re on the subject, Persolaise, I’ll happily sign that oakmoss petition, too!

Jen of ThisBlogReallyStinksPerfume

In the unlikely event I should ever need a Conanna the Grammarian, Jen is hired in a heartbeat. Her blog – of course highly articulate, funny and grammatically perfect – is as unique as her perfume perspectives and indeed her beautiful self, and with a name like that, you know it’s special!

Ari of The Scents of Self

Ari is a relative newcomer but she’s no newbie when it comes to writing about perfume – or even her highly entertaining and well-planned series of interviews with perfume bloggers! She loves cats – indeed, has a cat named Zelda after a hyperfamous Fitzgerald – literature and Guerlain, probably not in that order.

Nat of AnotherPerfumeBlog

Nat should rightly be listed as a Great Facilitator for being the one to arrange a split of an Ormonde Jayne Tolu travel set that also involved yours truly, but I also love to read her! Whether instigating a poll to decide on her wedding perfume or recounting her adventures in London, she’s always an excellent excuse not to do what I should be doing, which is writing another blog myself!

Undina of Undina’s Looking Glass

I’m not entirely sure what it is Undina does for a living, but I’m relatively certain it involves things like statistics, mathematics and other things that make my eyes glaze. She’s so organized, her monthly lists of perfumes she wore are sorted into graphs and spreadsheets after percentage! That, my friends, is dedication! Here’s my system…reviewed and should be sent to Lily (small pile in red brocade makeup pouch). Received and needs review (large pile in turquoise cakebox). Check inbox. Did I say thank you? Yes. Good. Later. Love! Turquoise pull-out organizer. Will get to later…assorted tangled mess in blue cakebox. Guilt trip – in black voile bag…What I wore this month…what was it again? So you can see why I am speechless with admiration!

Gaia of The Non Blonde

Not content with being named for a Goddess of Earth and origination in Greek mythology, Gaia the Non Blonde is also one of my personal goddesses. My admiration for this ultimate authority on makeup brushes as well as vintage perfumes knows no limits, and even less so when I posed a difficult makeup question to all those beauty bloggers I follow on Twitter, and Gaia gave me what amounts to the winning lottery ticket – a tip about Dutch makeup artist Ellis Faas. Three samples, two emails and a rather expensive concealer later, I no longer have to look my age, never mind act it! From nine+ feet away, I don’t even need Botox! Grateful is not the word…

Joey of Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies

Once in a blue moon, temptation will slink in sideways when you least expect it and before you know it, you have a Devil on your shoulder, egging you on. “C’mon! You know you want to!” Indeed I do, and when I doubt it, I have that devious Devilette named Joey on my shoulder egging me on to ever-more perilous adventures in perfumes that sometimes involve Tiger in his natural habitat…When I do get to New York and finally meet her, Manhattan will never be the same…

The Postcards from God Department

In a year where I’ve written so much, stretched my horizons to silly putty and beyond, met so many mind-blowing people and flirted hardcore with a rock star legend and his bass player, two more stars of a different order appeared on the firmament of social media…and no thank you will ever be enough!

The social media/PR department of Parfums Serge Lutens have been unfailingly kind, encouraging and promptly retweeted any Lutens creation I posted as my Scent of the Day, as well as posted some of my reviews on their Facebook page. This is my fifteen milliseconds of fleeting fame, my postcard from God – and this, too, has made this year one I won’t forget in a hurry, since Serge Lutens perfumes put me on this fabled road to perdition to begin with.

And then, there was a very important August Personage of a Very August Perfume House, who lost his luggage on a promotional trip, whereupon I wrote him I’d keep my eyes crossed it was located safe and sound. I did. It was. Since then, whenever I felt myself flagging, the occasional – and sometimes very prompt – tweet from Christopher Chong of Amouage has either galvanized me right out of my rut or made me laugh until I cried. Until such time as I can get to London and say thank you in person – and rest assured I will, even if I don’t have a thing to wear! – his encouragement and support of one iconoclastic perfume blogger/nutcase/writer wannabe has meant – and spoken! – volumes. Epics! Opera, even!

Because…isn’t that what has been the theme of this year? To connect, to find likeminded souls with likeminded passions and the joy of sharing it, to pass it on and pay it forward and make it real and make it happen?

Without all of you, nothing would have happened. Without all of you, what would be the point? The year of 2011 was the year I laid the groundwork for everything I just know will happen in 2012, the year I began to believe…and for that faith alone, no thank you will ever be enough!

Just remember, guys and gals – our common adventures are just beginning, because now, we can see the road before us, and who knows what wonders lie ahead and what marvels we may find?

Image: The Coronation crown of Christian 4th of Denmark, made by goldsmith Dirich Fyring in Odense, 1595-96, from the Royal Danish Collections. 

40 thoughts on “The Best of the Best 2011 – Phrases, Friends and Facilitators

  1. Perfect grammar? The hell you say! Wow. I just throw the words out there. It’s good that they stick in the proper order.

    Next year, I plan on moving up to the friends list, just fyi. May as well plot my spot on the list now.

    Also: would sign any pro-oakmoss petition, so send it along.

    xoxo

    1. Plot away, Jen! You’re welcome, always! And I dearly wish there were such an oakmoss petition…if those things actually had any effect, I’d sign it, too! As it is…go for the indies – who use it and love it as we do! 🙂 XOXO

  2. Baby, I sure know a good thing when I see one!
    I am so looking forward to more from you & to see you in 3D in all your resplendent glory manifesting in NYC in 2012, come what may.
    Because I dreamt it and now know how to foretell the future (just make it happen).
    So glad!
    XXOO Lucy

    1. Connections are such a wonderful thing, Lucy! You’ve brought me and sent me so much joy this year, it was the very least I could do to thank you! And you know it, honey – the fun is only just beginning! Can’t wait for all the fun I just know we’ll have for real in 2012! As for the future…it looks so bright we’ll have to wear shades! 😀
      XOXO

    1. Carrie – so much would not have happened if not for you and that definite verbal spank! 😉 I remember spending the better part of an afternoon thinking up a comeback, LOL! It was a meeting as unconventional as ourselves…yet as fortituous as our future! 🙂 XOX

  3. 2011 went by waaay too quickly! I can hardly believe that it’s been nearly that long since I found Scentless Sensibilities, and Quantum Demonology! SS retired to give birth to TAG (love that acronym, btw), and 2012 is THE YEAR for QD. I believe it!

    As a blogger, as a woman, as a writer, and as a friend, you have added to my life over the course of a year, and I’m grateful for it. Let’s do it again!!!

    xxoxoxoxoxo

    1. Dee…it certainly did! And to think – where would we be without Womanity??? 😉 TAG…did you know, I came across it when I was searching for a synonym for ‘vial’? Nothing vile in the slightest about the supreme pleasure it has been to meet YOU, and yes…2012 will be the year for a lot of things – and even QD! XOXOXOXO

  4. Sheila, this tribute to your friends and facilitators is so moving. Really and truly, I would say that even if my name wasn’t on your list, but you can’t imagine how thrilled I was to finally find a scent twin (since I had long figured that perhaps only RuPaul had fragrance tastes similar to mine, and I quite love Ru but was hoping I’d find someone more “real” with whom I could relate to on diva florals, ostentatious orientals, bad-ass leathers and the like). 🙂 That my scent twin turned out to be you–a woman of extraordinary talent as a writer, a woman of extraordinary passion as a friend, mother to a beautiful boy, and all-around woman of the world (yes, Denmark is your home now, but I know the places you’ve been)–is an honor I can’t even describe. Wishing you love and more great things to come in 2012! ❤ ❤

    1. Well, Suzanne, as I’m sure you know, when you find your Scent Twin – in diva florals, ostentatious orientals and badass leathers, among a few others – cherish her! So I do and I always will! I share your love of Ru, btw…I mean, what’s not to love? And oh, honey, the things you’ve introduced me to and those wonders ahead…<3<3<3

  5. Sounds like it’s been a bit of a rough go for you this year, but hopefully it brings you comfort that your words have given much inspiration and joy.

    All the best in 2012 to you my dear!

    XOXO
    Trish

    1. Trish…your own words have repaid that inspiration many times over! It has, as you say, been a bit of a rough year, but it really was worse a year ago . and as for where you and I will find ourselves in another 365 days – who knows, but I have a hunch there will be joy, there for you, too! XOXOX

  6. Dearest Sheila,
    I’m honored to be included on that list!
    You are such a talented, gifted woman, it is a pleasure to read your every word, and believe me, I do.
    More important than all the fantastic perfumes and the colorful stories we weave around them, is the community we find ourselves part of upon entering Perfumeland.
    With such friends, many things are possible.
    To a wonderful year 2012! May all your dreams (and some of your devil’s dreams too!) come true! 😉
    xoxo

    1. With the friends I’ve been so fortunate to find, so many dreams have already come true, in no small part thanks to you! I suspect my Devil has a plan for the year ahead, but he won’t tell me what it is…;) XOXOX

  7. What can I say? Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m sure I don’t deserve such wonderful words, but I’m very grateful for them.

    And thank YOU for bringing so much to the blogosphere!

    1. Persolaise, I say you deserved all the words you got – and I could have said not a few more, too! You’ve brightened many days and made me laugh many times, and I’m so lucky to know you!

  8. Sheila, draw up the papers and I’ll happily be your adopted wayward brother! 😀

    Thanks for your kind words in this post, without you Twitter, nor the perfumed blogosphere would be the same. I’m very glad to have met you 😀

    x

  9. Oh strange – WordPress ate my comment in the night! I thought only Blogger did that. Anyway, I was very touched to be included in your post and have greatly enjoyed our email exchanges this year, and having the chance to introduce you to two knock-out scents that as you rightly point out are not my normal thing at all (Scandal and Lucifer #3) : – )

    And you never know, one day I may just call in on you on my travels, as I do…!

    1. OMG, Vanessa..you mean…I have to tidy up???? :-O
      Well, you’ve made my list because you deserve to be there, and I dearly hope that some day, we might get a chance to meet! 🙂

  10. What a wonderful post–I enjoyed reading it. It seems the friends you listed are lucky to have you! I’m glad I recently found your blog and am looking forward to visiting often in 2012. Warmest wishes~

  11. This post embodies what makes the holidays so wonderful, I think. I’m so pleased for you, and honored that you thought of me and included my blog in this list. Here’s to all the best for you in 2012. Cheers!

  12. A beautiful tribute to so many lovely people. Some I know, and some not yet. Some years life hands us a platter of hardships and it takes blood, sweat, and tears (possibly a curse word or two) to make it through. You have that earthy stubbornness inside to come out on the other end, stronger and more determined.

    xoxo,
    Amanda

    1. Amanda…we’ve both been put through the wringer this year, I know! But now that we know how bad it’s been, we also know how good it will be – so long as we have friends and shared laughter to get us through the deluges! XOXOXO

  13. Lovely list, Sheila!! The perfume community is amazing and I am very grateful for it too. This was the year that I discovered many of the new (relative to NST etc) blogs including Carrie’s, Birgit’s, Dee’s, Suzanne’s and yours..I’ve noticed that I have a similar reaction as Suzanne to many scents- maybe you both are my ‘scent triplets’!!..:P

    1. Lavanya…that is entirely possible, and if it is, then Scent Triplets works, too! The perfume community is amazing and I’m so very privileged to be a part of it – and to know so many wonderful people, yourself included!

  14. And in the Postcards from God department…;) As for my support – it goes only to the truly deserving! Your own has meant so much to me – and yes, absolutely – I will kick MAX ass in 2012, and that, my friend, is a threat! 😉

  15. Dear Tarleisio, thank you for the mention. 🙂
    I knew you were a strong woman, but this post made it absolutely clear.

    I wish you a happy New year filled with many new discoveries (both fragrant and friendly) !

    *raises a glass of champagne to toast the perfume friendships*

  16. I was able to get internet back the last evening of 2011 and caught up on some of your writings….sending you one GIANT HUG…I’ve so missed you. I sit amongst totes that need to be unpacked without the energy to push one into the room it needs to be in. But I will get it done, I have a small wood box that Spike made for me that holds my greatest treasures. On days like today I open it up and pick the scent of the day and it is Manna to me…I may not get a lot unpacked today, but damn it… I will smell like a Queen today!!!…..I love you and 2012 will see your star rise in the Heavens….:0)

  17. Thank you, dear Sheila. I’m so touched and honored by your post… Thank you. I hope this year, 2012, will be good to you in all areas of your life.

    One good thing from coming in late: I’ve got to read not only your wonderful post but also all the lovely comments. It’s so great to see so much positive energy on one page. Thank you for starting this vortex.

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