Thursday, October 09, 2008


OK, I'd REALLY be remiss if I didn't mention this. A few weeks ago Sniffapalooza had an event that was hands-down my favorite one so far. Even more so than the Estée Lauder one. It was a lunchtime thing where we went to Symrise and they gave us a presentation on what they're working on re: the Russian market. Because apparently the next big markets for fragrances are BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India and China. I don't have any of the materials here with me, so I'm going to have to do this from memory, but you'll have to deal with it, because as I said in the last post, I have the svårmod. In fact, you can just call me Evald the Svårmod, and draw a big sorglig brontosaurus to represent me.

Anyway, the theme of the presentation was Russia, so we walk in and there's some cool Russian stuff, and they gave us a li'l "refresher course" on Russian history, which no one in America knows about, so it was more like a brief overview. (No one in America really knows anything about any other country, and most of us get our own history wrong. And yes, I speak for every citizen in every state of this land. Just yesterday I learned that Thomas Jefferson was on the penny cuz he, like, wrote the Constitution and not for that beer that he makes. ...Or was it wigs??) Then we went into the room for the real presentation. And it was probably then that we got the overview, but who can remember anything about history....

Then we got a PowerPoint presentation and a movie. Or a movie and then a PowerPoint presentation. Whatever. Then they showed us li'l mockups from marketing about the scents they've developed to appeal to the Russian market, and what the idea behind them was. The mockups looked, well, like mockups. They were probably done at the last minute, because I was sitting there thinking, "I could do better Photoshop than this. I've DONE better Photoshop than this!" But then I remembered how everywhere I've worked, nothing ever got done until the last minute. Surely their presentations to actual perfume houses will be better. I wish I could remember the actual titles of the juices and what not, but I can't. I know they did some by season, and then there were some that were done with a different theme in mind. Then they passed around scent strips with the juices on them and asked us what we thought. w00t!

I was actually vocal. Usually I just kinda draw back, because I assume everyone else knows what they're talking about and I'm just an idiot. After all, in spite of the fact that I can probably identify more odors than your average person, my olfactory sense per se isn't really all that sensitive. And I'm not confident that I can describe why exactly I like a scent---I mean, I'm better than people I know who aren't into scents, who just say, "I like it. I don't know why. I don't know what it smells like. I just like it." So I don't speak up all that much. But this time I actually did.

What of the actual scents? Well, this happened months ago, and since I don't have the li'l booklet they gave us in front of me, I dont' remember what most of them are. I do remember that one smelled like something out of Bath & Body Works, which made sense considering that Symrise makes stuff for them. And another one for women smelled dark and woody, which I like, because you never see that these days. (I want to declare a War on the Perfumes of the 90s--those "fresh," "clean" scents that smell of nothing. I mean, was there ever a bigger swindle than Zirh's cologne for men? Top notes: Alcohol. Middle and Bottom Notes: Void. I don't necessarily want to bring back that powerhouse 80s type of perfume, although I DO like them; but I want that fresh, clean, aquatic bullshit to take a vacation. Gimme funk. Gimme strong, earthy, woody, animal scents. Spicy florals that you can drown in. Honey and tonka and smoke and myrrh. And let's retire that whole line that goes by the name of "Clean." Hey, it's a Depression, so let's have some more scents like Youth Dew. There. There's my screed for now. You'll hear more of it soonly, I'm sure.) There was a scent that smelled just like Baby Doll to me. And a men's one that I quite liked--kind of autumnal, maybe a little "Christmasy" (oh how I hate it when people use that word! now here I am using it!). I wish we'd gotten li'l bottles, but they were just rough drafts.

Then after the presentations and the initial smelling, we got to ask more questions. The presentation was done by a couple of marketing people, but there were a couple perfumers there too. Perfumers! And perhaps the marketing people need to spend more time with the perfumers, or at least they learn how to pronounce the word homme. Speaking of words, though, I learned a new one: floralcy. OK, not so much a new word, but a new form. I probably would have said flowerfulinessitude. :P

Then they served some food, which was good for me because I had major cottonmouth and needed to eat and drink something. Here are two cool things: Someone mentioned No 5, by Chanel. I mentioned that I don't particularly like it all that much. I mean, I sort of like it, because I've gotten used to it, but when I first smelled it I did NOT see what the fuss was all about (of course I knew it was the aldehydes, but while those were piquant and novel at the time, that they are no longer). Anyway, they said that when they do blind tests in focus groups and they include No 5, no one likes it. They have the same reaction I do: "It smells old lady. Soapy. Powdery." Interesting. But what was more interesting was when somehow civet got mentioned. And the woman asked me if I wanted to smell some. YES!!!!!!!!!!!! So she went and got it and opened the bottle and put it on a strip. Now, I thought the whole room was going to smell like feces at that point, but no. I smelled it and it just smelled like a rotten tooth. Not so offensive as you'd expect, given its reputation. It was probably a dilution. And I would have to assume it was a synthetic reproduction, because no one makes civet oil anymore, do they? But here's where it gets interesting: I'd smelled something called civet before at some wiccan store where they sell essential oils and synths (it's on 9th street---their "deer's tongue" {um, it's actually "deertongue," but whatever} smells very coumariny. Their tonka smells.... sort of like frankincense. Odd, because you'd think the tonka would smell more coumariny), and I'd assumed that it wasn't very close to what anyone would call a civet accord. It smelled unpleasant, but not like I'd expected, and nowhwhere near as strong as I expected, and someone with me said it smelled "like old people." At the time I thought she or he meant like diapers, but I think now that civet has a bit of a naphtalene smell to it, and I certainly associate that--it's basically the smell of moth balls--with old people. Anyway, I thought the Symrise civet smelled much like the wiccan one, so I went back to the wiccan store, and sure enough, they smelled identical. So if you want some civet, go there. But if you want the civet without the glycol or myristate or whatever it's diluted in, you have to find a raw materials supplier. OR just go to Enfleurage, now that I think about it! Because while they don't have civet, I'm TOLD that they had some real ambergris, and that it might just smell like locker room. I don't know what that says about the quality of the ambergris, but it's certainly cool to discover something that actually smells unpleasant.

And anyway, that was the bagoosh with that. Glorp.


I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of the stuff I saw recently at Enfleurage. They now have a tuberose enfleurage (as opposed to the regular one, which I guess is steam distillation?) oil, which smells..... [wait for it].... like tuberose! Like the actual flower! WOW!!! I've not seen anything like this before. I don't find the tuberose oil they've carried up to now particularly pleasant--I can kinda smell the link to tuberose, but I don't smell the actual flower. It smells green and earthy and maybe a little inky. But the enfleurage oil (which is done with vegetable oil instead of animal fat; I'm told it would smell better if it were done in animal fat) smells like the actual flower. I was stunned when I smelled it. So of course I went to the neroli enfleurage, which didn't thrill me like the tuberose did. I smelled a neroli bigarade oil once in Atlanta (and never since) that actually smelled like orange blossoms (remember I grew up in Florida, so I know--or I knew, at least--what an orange grove in bloom smells like), and I was hoping I'd have this experience with this stuff, but I didn't. It just smelled like the regular petitgrain/neroli type thing you see everywhere. Maybe a little softer, but it didn't stick in my mind enough to remember. All that said, it's been so long since I've smelled real orange blossoms (and I might not smell them again--there's some virus attacking Florida's citrus crops, or so I'm told; anyway, most of the orange groves that were there when I was growing up have given way to {over}development, so they're disappearing nonetheless) that I don't particularly recall exactly what they smell like. I feel like if I smelled an oil that really smells like orangeflower (neroli, orangeflower, orange blossom... I use the terms interchangeably) that I would notice it, though. Like, if my mom had worn No 5 and for years I kept smelling imitations, and then smelled the real thing, I think I'd notice. ... Or maybe not. But I digress. I have the svårmod now, so you the reader may have to endure digressions.

I think there was also a gardenia enfleurage. And if there was and I'm not misremembering, it too smelled like the actual flower. We had gardenia and hibiscuses in the yard when I was growing up, so I know the smell of gardenia. I also know that hibiscus flower has no smell. (I think the root has one, though.) So when you go to a perfume place that has an "absolute" of hibiscus, and I'm looking at you, Williamsburg, it's probably an absolute of horseshit.

And that's the glorp for now.