Perfume Lounge, a renowned niche perfume boutique in Amsterdam is celebrating its 10 years anniversary with a bespoke Extrait du Parfum created by Francesca Bianchi.
I met Nick Steward, the founder of Gallivant in Milan during Esxence 2019 in April, all smiles as he pulled out a sample of “the new perfume” and sprayed some on my hand.
Where are we going now? I asked, testing the new fragrance with friends. He wouldn’t say at first but we insisted. Los Angeles, he replied! I told him that I remember parts of LA by so many different scents, images, and memories as these started immediately to flash before my eyes – I’ve lived there for a while, and I immediately said that this fragrance reminds me of Sunset Boulevard – the famous road stretching all the way from Downtown LA to the Pacific Coast Highway, from Hollywood to Malibu.
So, you’re a perfume lover. That does impress me much, so am I! As one, you must’ve heard a lot of Frequently Asked Questions regarding your perfume love, hobby, passion, its financial consequences, your taste…and some strong opinions, mostly unrequested.
I know that I did in the course of time, and as much as I truly support the idea that there are no silly questions, only silly answers – there are some questions/statements that (still) make me cringe.
It’s not the question itself, actually. Mostly it’s the intention behind it. I honestly have thoughts about writing down and memorizing respectful answers for a few that are often heard and repeated. I decided to share these with you, and yes, your feedback is more than welcome!
There are also quite a few good ol’ perfume related myths and misconceptions, repeated every now and then.
I couldn’t help myself – cringe, again, and each and every time I read something like that. Recently I ran into an interview featuring a certain new luxury fragrance brand (thank Heavens they are not calling themselves niche anymore!) and its owner that left me with strained eyeball muscles after intense roll-eye movements.
This Perfume Nerd FAQ issue is the reason why I conducted a little survey called “Things Not to Ask a Perfumista” in a Facebook group that has more than 11,5 thousand members from all over the world – Facebook Fragrance Friends, asking “What type of questions/statements regarding perfume do you find most irritating?”
Here are the Top 15, ranked by members’ votes and my ready-to-go answers should I ever hear them again. Again, it all depends on the intention of the person asking this:
1. Why do you need so many perfumes?
– I don’t need any at all according to the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, on lower levels. For me, perfumes fall into “Self-actualisation” or even “Transcendence” levels. Therefore, I need perfumes, and different ones too. “Many” is relative. Everything is relative.
2. Isn’t that for men/women?
– Perfume has no gender, never had any. If you still feel that way, I’ll simply say that my current SOTD matches well masculine/feminine/animal/whatever energy in me.
3. How much did you spend on all this?
– How do you feel while asking me a quite unpolite question?
4. It’s for younger/older people.
– Perfume has no age. If you still feel that it does, I’ll say that it matches perfectly my Inner Child/Old Lady feeling-of-the-day.
5. I’m allergic to all perfume.
– Sorry to hear that you are allergic to perfume, but wouldn’t you say that “all” is exaggerating things a bit. I’m sure that you could find perfumes that you could wear if you devote your time and energy into finding something that’s right for you. Perhaps I can help.
6. Naturals smell better. Naturals are healthier.
– Earth is flat, there is no such thing as climate change, and vaccination is the work of Devil.
7. Which perfume will get me most compliments?
– Authenticity, to start with. Perfume is a bonus.
8. Good perfume=strong perfume.
– May the Force be with you.
9. What should I wear to hook up girls/boys?
– Authenticity, to start with. A great aphrodisiac, perfume is just a bonus.
10. I hate perfume.
– Honey, you’ve got bigger issues than perfume.
11. Name some good perfumes.
– Let’s talk about “good” first. How do you define a “good” perfume?
12. Why would you want to expose people to toxic chemicals?
– Don’t worry. Perfumes won’t kill you. Other stuff you consume on an everyday basis might. Perfumes sold on EU market ARE regulated!
13. Can you guess which perfume I’m wearing? (sticking a wrist under my nose)
– Do I look like a walking example of head-space technology equipment? (Note: sniffing each other is perfectly OK and great if it happens between two perfume nerds, that doesn’t bother me at all!)
14. B-but how will you ever use up all of those bottles? Don’t they go baaaad after 2 years? What a waste of money.
– a) I probably won’t. Will you ever use up your jewelry or fancy dinner plates? b) No, they won’t if stored properly. c) Now that last bit sounds judgmental and rude at the same time, and how do you waste your money?
15. That perfume can only be worn in _____ (fill in the season).
– Sure. You do that, and I’ll wear whatever I please whenever I please.
Media have their share in spreading over and over again quite a few often heard perfume myths and general nonsense: just recently I read the above-mentioned interview, thinking just how many people will notice all the misconceptions served as facts: this really started to bother me.
I’m really impressed when someone starts up a perfume brand. I really am, because I know what it takes, how risky it all is, and how hard it is to succeed. I respect honest perfumery. I can even stand each and every possible marketing trick if a fragrance is attention-worthy, something unusual or very creative (I have a degree in Marketing and love it, just to be clear).
Call me an idealist, but I really think that if you are a perfume brand owner – you should get to know well the field you are playing in, terminology, and wider (general) knowledge about the trade you’re aiming to be a part of on an international scale, play honestly, and respect all stakeholders involved.
The interview I’m talking about featured these statements:
– The brand owner of the brand in question explicitly stated that she creates perfumes.
It would be great if this were the truth, but I sincerely doubt it. This is not an artisan, indie or niche brand owned by a perfumer. Moreover, this brand never mentioned perfumers that sign their line of perfumes. OK, even this can be tolerated but serious brand owners do not claim that they’ve created perfumes. Being an owner and/or creative director of a brand and choosing from perfume samples made upon a brief is not the same process as creating perfumes. I consider pushing forward such nonsense as very misleading.
– Fragrance creation and experimenting with perfume notes last for months because there are 40.000 different fragrance molecules in the world.
40.000 of what??? Perfume ingredients are not “molecules”. Raw materials are not “molecules”. Maybe this is supposed to mean man-made components? Or just – ingredients? And where did this number come from?
– If a perfume is long-lasting, that is a sign of high-quality components usage. 38% of perfume oil used in some of the perfumes means superb quality.
Not necessarily, this is nonsense. Strong perfume=good perfume? Take a look at the above-mentioned FAQs. Higher oil percentage = quality? No, and “lasting” depends on base components, big fat molecules used and their quality. The percentage of perfume oil has nothing to do with quality.
– I tend to use mostly natural ingredients, those that do not react with the skin, and this is why I choose only certified and high-quality components.
It makes me happy that you are using certified and high-quality ingredients. Bravo. IFRA documentation is a must if you intend to sell on EU market anyway, so good for you. But saying that “naturals don’t react on skin” is a nonsense (or maybe this was supposed to mean that if you use naturals, you have lesser allergic reactions?) If you are referring here to essential oils, these can be even more potentially dangerous than nature-identical components, and it certainly sounds like suggesting that “non-natural”, man-made components are causing skin irritation, which is not true.
My informed guess would be that a certain Lab creating perfume formulas for this brand (including complete production, bottles, packaging and everything needed for a finished product) is using mostly nature-identicals, and that the brand owner is “selling” the story as if pure essential oils were used, playing it “natural”. Well, that piece of sales pitching is such an old trick. I checked out some of the perfume notes listed and came upon Fresia, Musks, Pineapple, Peach, Violette, Vanilla, etc.- just how “natural” can these be? Based on samples I tested myself, that Vanilla never saw fields of Madagascar.
– Layering of perfumes is a recent trend in Europe and it implies the use of so-called dual-perfumes.
Oh, please? Recent? OK. Let’s say that for some people it is. That’s just fine, we discover new things every day. But to limit layering options and to preach that it’s only possible with perfumes coming from the same brand or only brand-suggested or “dual perfume” combinations? This is not true: play with your perfumes, try out some new combos. Why not? Maybe you’ll find an ideal combination, one that no singular perfume could offer to you.
– Perfume is to be applied to pulse points and without rubbing, which is the greatest mistake people make. Top notes are felt for 15 minutes, heart notes for 30 minutes and base notes last in average 5-6 hours, sometimes up to 24 hours.
Now we have a perfume development time-line precisely defined. Wow. The whole industry should stick to this definition, especially the 24 hours part. I hope that this rubbing thing doesn’t imply that “molecules are being broken” because the wrist-rubbing thing could really be potentially used as a source of sustainable energy if it leads to breaking molecules, atoms, and so on. Pure green energy, coming from perfumed-wrists rubbing! When you rub your wrists, you do not turn into an atomic-power plant: you merely warm up your skin and this might cause top notes to evaporate more quickly. You don’t want to limit yourself to pulse-points either.
Iva Scented Shelf, a fellow perfume blogger from Croatia pointed out that some of these claims are prohibited, according to “Guidelines to Commission Regulation” EU No 655/2013 laying down common criteria for the justification of claims used in relation to cosmetic products”, described in Annex II under “Fairness” (screenshot photo), but these are only suggestions – not legally bounding. It might help to lessen quantities of blahblahs a bit if we all share and quote these guidelines that Iva pulled out:
“Claims for cosmetic products (perfumes included) shall be objective and shall not denigrate the competitors, nor shall
they denigrate ingredients legally used. Claims for cosmetic products shall not create confusion with the product of a competitor (ref. Article 6 of Directive 2005/29/EC and Article 4 of Directive 2006/114/EC)”
“A claim ‘contrary to product X, this product does not contain ingredient Y which is known to be irritating’ shall not be made.”
‘Well tolerated as it does not contain mineral oils’ is an unfair statement towards other products which are equally well tolerated. ”
Thanks for reading my thoughts&musings, feel free to comment, add, ask!
I’ll never stop asking questions about perfume, just not these ones! 😀
Have a great day and enjoy your SOTD!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Stockvault, Pexels, Picwizard
Pensive, meditative, soulful, abstract and inspiring perfumes of Pitti, plus two bonuses from Sweden: I started my Pitti Fragranze reports with Roses, moved to Scents, Tastes and Heritage of Mediterranean, and now it’s time for my last Florence 2019 report.
This took a bit longer than usual because I’ve been busy writing a couple of reviews in the meantime, traveling a bit, procrastinating a little, handling my regular work tasks, and generally slowing down as Autumn rolls in.
Excuse me, truth is that I simply enjoyed wearing these fragrances and having some ME time with them!
This is just a quick overview – some of these new fragrances I’ve already reviewed, more shall follow:
Francesca Bianchi Perfumes
Two new releases were presented: The Black Knight recently reviewed for ÇaFleureBon here, and Lost in Heaven.
Lost in Heaven is still making me search for the right words: this is a story about innocence lost, adult love and its fragility, and both sides of a coin: lightness and darker hues meet gently in yet another breathtaking creation by Francesca.
She did it again – it’s personal, and yes, there is one accord not officially listed – I’ll tell you all about it when I finish my review.
Pissara Umavijani proudly presented her newest fragrance, semi-officially launched during Pitti and TWFA Cannes: Le Pavillon d’Or.
Mint seems to be trending lately, but Pissara handles it differently, and my first impression was that this fragrance differs from all the previous ones in the line – just like Splendiris, and yet it shares recognizable Dusita‘s DNA.
Le Pavillon d’Or is not about materialistic bling-bling cover-me-in-gold: not that kind of shine. This is all about inner wealth derived from pure happiness and joy of living.
Beautifully blended, starting fresh and green, featuring sweet Heliotrope accord over smooth orris, and including a lush floral-fruity bouquet where Boronia plays a significant role. Fig-leaves accord can be felt too all the way to the quiet, warm drydown shades of frankincense and myrrh combined, pearly-soft, warm, and woody-sweet at the end.
Le Pavillon d’Or feels like gentle and elegant floriental flower petals painted on my skin, and at the drydown I did get a feeling as if I was covered with subtle golden powder, making my skin feel smooth and glowing like honey. It certainly seems like it’s going to bring some joy in cold, damp and dark Winter days approaching!
Talento inspired me to write a fable, a fairytale in one single night: the story about Mint and Rose.
You can find the complete review for ÇaFleureBon here, and I’ll spam you a bit more with photos of the bottle, one of the most beautifully executed ones I’ve ever seen, the whole art concept is wonderful inside out:
“Talent is the divine spark of light in us, Mendittorosa Talento is a fragrant ode to it.”
Olivier Durbano Parfums
New: SpeM PetraM, Numbered Limited Edition 2019 Eau de Parfum
inspiration: Maria Magdalena. Soulfulness. Stone of hope.
Olivier came from Grasse to Pitti to exhibit his work, to open his heart and share his creations with perfume lovers, introducing SpeM PetraM.
Spiritual, meditative, and philosophical approach Olivier represents in his fragrances revolves this time around Spikenard/Nard/Muskroot, an ancient perfume ingredient, and all the M’s are a reference to Mary Magdalene. Olivier chose a piece of jewelry to decorate the stand and illustrate the fragrance (see the photo above).
SpeM PetraM is cool and mineral- salty at the beginning, softened by bright incense and smoky woods with an interesting evolution, turning even bitter.
A pinch of sweetness slowly moving in can be felt later, a few rose petals rising out of balsam fir – sprinkled with traces of cinnamon as the fragrance becomes warmer, softer, but still with occasional whiffs of mineral sparkles and dimmed incense protruding every now and then.
From the award winning debut fragrance She Came to Stay (inspired by Simone de Beauvoir’s 1943 existential novel of the same name) I’ve had a soft spot for Timothy. The Decay of an Angel followed, inspired by Yukio Mishima’s 1971 novel of the same name. Books and perfumes, oh what a joy!
The new fragrance, presented at Pitti is Heart of Darkness – here you can see it’s the source of inspiration, an 1899 novella of the same name. This is a journey by steamer up the Congo River!
Dark, damp jungle woods, sapphire green river water, smoke and leather, wet earth and rain: a broody voyage into unknown.
Sonar is the newest 2019 release, 6th fragrance in total! This brand doesn’t release dozens of new fragrances per year. One at a time, carefully threading its path – Romy is a smart and dedicated young woman, she’s come to stay.
You can find my 27_87 perfume reviews here, my favorite still being Hashtag (from Now Line, like Genetic Bliss) but Sonar (from Wild Line, together with Elixir de Bombe) is now seriously challenging that position.
Abstract, yet the connection is evident: Sonar is the electric music festival in Barcelona.
The atmosphere is laden with stage smoke, dance trance, people moving around the crowd with glasses of beer in their hands, vibrant joy. It smells like burnt rubber and electric wires on the floor, different kinds of party-till-you-drop scents, and yet it is so refreshing.
I had a chance to smell this fragrance on Romy while it was still in the pre-production phase about a year ago, and I knew that something good is brewing! I’m absolutely thrilled with Sonar!
Completely different tuberose – bright, solar, uplifting, refreshing and very interesting! The more I wear it, the more I like it: “a little party never hurt nobody – come and dive into the strobe light and fume of the night!”
27_87 is also introducing small changes in packaging and collections labeling: 87 ml bottles and creative approach remain.
Bonus: From Sweden, With Love
is a new perfume brand founded by Janne Rainer Vuorenmaa from Sweden. Janne speaks with almost palpable passion about three perfumes to start the line with Beach Bizzare, Cabaret Nocturne (previously Pensao Amor), and Thousand Lakes, signed by Patrice Revillard, Cecile Zarokian, and Marie Schnirer.
Janne, you are ready to go!
I sat there in Florence, all ears, listening to him talk about Thousand Lakes with sparkle and haze of times lost and long gone in his eyes, reminiscing about his childhood memory encapsulated in this dark, broody, and a very intriguing perfume revoking Finnish forests, a dark lake, and sauna rituals.
Past and present mix like blurry dreams and sharp reality, memories are translated into pensive olfactory stories, reminding us that we are mere – visitors.
V/siteur is arriving soon!
“Demanding full freedom to create olfactory art, without any restrictions on the use of ingredients apart from the ethical rules I set for myself while maintaining total honesty and integrity, I created NOT perfumes.“
Very concentrated, radically honest artisan Extracts that come from Sweden with a warning. Yet, some crazy people like me offer their skin to them! The pleasure is mine.
Johanna Venables tolerates no-nonsense: her perfume descriptions on the website start with “Marketing Nonsense” texts, and fragrances are made in limited edition batches, depending on her access to raw materials. Fair and honest niche, at its best.
Just like SOMA: now sold out, might be in production sometime again. I wish it would because this enchanted gardenia left me drooling, and if you know me better you’d know that this doesn’t happen often.
Looking forward to exploring further this brand!
Zucker kommt zu letzt: The Wild Bunch!
I’m immensely grateful for this opportunity to meet, talk to, discuss perfumes, sniff each other, laugh and cry over perfumes with beautiful people of Pitti!
Not everyone I’ve met is on this photo but you can get the feeling from just looking at those smiles!
Now I can take my time and focus on further testing, wearing, sniffing and writing: I’m happy: Pitti 2019 was a good niche perfumes exhibition.
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, V/siteur, Not, 27_87