A Florentine Adventure – Part One


–  some overall impressions on Pitti Fragranze 11

I’ve been struggling to write this post for five days. How best to frame what was such an overwhelming (in all senses of the word) experience, how best to recapitulate what I saw, sniffed, and sensed in Florence?

I still don’t know the answer to that all-important question.

Yet for the past five days, ever since my return home to autumnal, chilly Denmark after four days in sunny, warm Tuscany, my dreams have been Florentine. My soul returns to Florence nightly, because no matter how I try to grasp or define it, this is what I know and both Ms. Hare and the Memoir Man have confirmed:

Something happened in Florence.

I sniffed so many marvels and met so many people, people I’d known only online before. I finally said hello and bear-hugged some of the people I adore so much, and eyed others with a great deal of interest. (Olivier Durbano, you’re a dish!) I made connections, networked, practiced that Southern European art of the three-kisses-on-the-cheek greeting.

(Note to Nordic, here-we-handshake self: You Really Need To Practice That One.)

I laughed, hugged, cried, practiced my questionable Italian, ate gelato, drank a lot of prosecco, eyed my ever-growing pile of acquired samples with ever-growing dismay (at this rate, I’ll make it through that pile in 2017), and as for the perfumes…

There were more marvels than I knew existed. Not a few were astonishing, ground-breaking, thought-provoking and evocative. The sharp thrill of discovery awaited at every turn and everywhere I looked.

There were also many more duds than I expected. When you’re literally sniffing your way around the world in a day, very few new marvels are tried on skin. (I stuck to a few tried-and-true favorites in discreet doses for obvious reasons). This meant that when I returned home, a huge pile of sample strips with and without fancy logos (I couldn’t tell you their names if my life depended upon it) had all somehow disintegrated into … let’s call it Eau de High End Niche.

It seems a certain set of accords and aromachemicals are making the rounds in niche perfumery in a (sorely misguided) attempt to be the edgy, luxe, Next Big Thing.

Salty, green, fruity (with a focus on fig and apple), white-musky… by the time I came home with them all, they had by alchemical sleight of hand morphed into what I can only describe with not a little sorrow and far more snark as …Eau de Womanity, Womanity being an edgy, green-fruity-salty nightmare ‘perfume’ I absolutely and unequivocally loathe, detest and despise with a white-hot passion from the marrow of my bones on outward. For all the hundreds of perfumes I sniffed at Pitti Fragranze, this seemed to be a general theme of malaise. Too many smelled far too generic for their price points and presentation.

Happily, there were not a few exceptions. I’ll be getting back to those in Part Two.

The Pitti also presented me with a paradox as a perfume writer. I was sometimes eyed askance – and not a little skeptically – when I introduced my D-list perfume writer self to brands and said a) there are exceedingly few exclusively niche perfume boutiques in Denmark (I know of all of three that carry niche perfumes) and b) I can’t at the moment afford to buy anything I review. “But how then,” exclaimed one expertly maquillaged signora of a certain age in immaculate 5-inch heels, “do you ever manage to review anything?”

Well, as the Beatles once sang, I get by with a little (or a lot of) help from my friends…

I came to discover to my unholy glee that one way to strike terror in an emerging/wannabe brand was simply to introduce myself as a perfume blogger, and then stand back and watch them blanch. Of course, that tactic worked best on the first day…

I came to find that mentioning certain names of other perfume writers and dear friends opened metaphorical doors in otherwise glacial places, and I’m not usually given to name-dropping, but whatever it took…

I saw well-established, well-reputed and beloved brands (the plural is intentional) I had never tried before look down the extravagant length of their elegant Gallic noses with undisguised hauteur if not outright contempt at a diminutive blonde in Italian designer Birkenstock-alikes and Chanel Taboo nail polish.

I’m also ecstatic to say that I received a superstar reception by other brands and distributors that banished all memory of snobs in stilettos Who Shall Never Be Reviewed.

A large part of Pitti Fragranze – indeed, for me it was the very best part – was finally being able to meet so many of the people I’ve come to love and adore, and also to meet new people and make new friends.

You won’t find any ‘celebrity perfume name with D-list blogger’ pictures in these two posts about the Pitti, although I did indeed take lots of pictures. Partly because I hate having my picture taken, and partly because I simply didn’t think about it at the time. I was far too busy hugging, talking, laughing, discussing and sniffing.

I’m still sorting out my impressions – from the Pitti, from Florence, from a trip that possibly has changed my life in ways I’ve yet to realize – but stay tuned for the specifics in my next post – and this one will have LOTS of pictures, names and always…perfumes!

Watch this space!





11 thoughts on “A Florentine Adventure – Part One

  1. What an interesting adventure. I’m so glad you were able to go, and getting to experience it all through your blog posts is a wonderful thing. 🙂 looking forward to part deux!

  2. Wonderful post; I too am looking forward to Part 2. Here is the “D-list”: Dedicated, Dependable, Diplomatic, Deft, Deserving, Delightful–Danish! Otherwise, I would say definitely “A”!

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed your frank and semi-sideways take on the Pitti proceedings. It sounds like a fascinating experience on all sorts of levels. And I can imagine that you must have encountered the full gamut of characters representing the brands…Oh, and I love the phrase ‘Eau de High End Niche’ – the blotter morphing issue is a bit of an occupational hazard in this game. 😉

    Also, I love how you don’t have photos! In similar vein, I have been known not to ask questions at the Q & A session with a perfumer, even when said perfumer specifically asks if I have one!

    1. I do believe that’s one of the things that make you so remarkable, Vanessa! 😉 Thank you for your comment – Part Two – with photos! – is coming up soon…

  4. Haha- I enjoyed your post Sheila and cannot wait for Part 2. Florence is so lovely and then to add perfume to it..*swoons*. The tales of your ‘reception’ are intriguing and I can’t wait to hear/read more..:P

    1. There will be loads more to come, Lavanya! With photos, names and much, much more! As soon as I get through these hellishly busy days ahead that don’t give me nearly enough time to write…;)

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