Thursday, April 30, 2009


Allright now, seriously. Is anyone taking "the FiFis" seriously? I'm so not taking it seriously that I'm not even going to check the spelling. Is anyone out there aching to watch/read the results of the FiFis? Is anyone liveblogging them, having parties for them, gearing up beer-pipe hats for them? I'm guessing.................... not.

Unless you're a perfumer or a company. Or maybe a tiny town in France that supports one perfumery, and has a scent that's nominated. (Although I've always felt, flipping through the nominees or results, that every release gets nominated.) But if you're a regular person, can you really get excited about them? Even if you love perfume?

Because really, you have to admit that the name is stupid. The FiFis??? Isn't that what clueless, awful rich women in sitcoms named their toy dogs-when-they-weren't-cool? (They're still not cool to me.) At least Oscar is a real name. And Emmy could be the name of a plus-size model. And Grammy is some scifi, spaceage name from the future. Or past! And with none of those names do you have a substantive connotation. FiFi sounds like a froufroulala, frivolous name. And yet we use it for the perfume awards. When most people consider fragrance completely frivolous and unnecessary; and worse: "girly." Could there be a bigger sin than "girly" in American culture? (Hmmm, maybe "poor." "Not always ebullient" could be another, but it's such a long, enervating phrase. ) (I love that word, enervating. I once filled in for someone at some job who had a really long, really clumsy quote tacked up. I don't remember it, because it was so long and ploddy that it wouldn't have stuck in my mind, but I remember the gist: it was trying to sound profound, so instead of short beats of words, it used long, clunky ones. Enervated was one of those. Why say enervated when you can just say tired? ESPECIALLY if you're trying to create an aphorism!) I wish we could call the awards anything different. Anything that maybe conveyed that there's more science behind perfumery, without the art losing some of its sensuousness. Because the whole goal of fragrance is sensual pleasure; technology plays a huge role, but it's all in the service of creating pleasure. Words to build a society by, people!

Of course, it's not just the name. Two other things come to mind: First is the fact that if you read through the nominations (which I'm too lazy to link to), you get the impression that EVERYTHING has been nominated. There are a lot of divisions, but if you think about it, there should really only be two primary ones: Expensive perfume and Cheap perfume. That's like Best Picture and Best Actress. There are subdivisions, but those are pretty much it. With the FiFis, it's hard to know exactly what they mean, so you assume that they just invented categories so everyone could win. Second is that too many nominations seem to have an obvious winner. For example, Chanel's No. 5 Eau Premiere is nominated. Well, that's gonna take that category. People fall head over heels to praise No. 5, so that's in the bag. I'm not such a big fan of No. 5, to be honest, but I don't need to be to say of Eau Premiere: Enough already. How long ago did that scent come out? You already have 5 in eaux de toilette and parfum and in parfum as well; and while it slips my mind right now, I'm thinking there's another offshoot of 5 out there. So why make Eau Premiere? It's like making wet wetter. Or more like making money more moneylike.

So that's what I think of the FiFis. Tell all your friends!


Monday, April 20, 2009


I do have to rant about this. Perfume people at Bloomingdales: I hate you. I absolutely detest you.

I went in to Blooms with a friend so he could get a new cologne. The Perfume book from Luca Turin had called his scent, one by Clean, a "trash floral." So he wanted a new one. I suggested Chanel's Pour Monsieur, since it's practically the reference sweet citrusy and a little floral type scent. (For a while I hated it, because I'd worn it to some job interview or something at Universal Studios, and it was a bad experience, and my mind had tied the scent together with it. So for years I just couldn't get near it. I like it again now, though.) So we went to Blooms and smelled it at the Chanel counter, where no one bothered us. He loved it. Then we went to other counters.

Such a horrible experience. Everywhere you turn people trying to get you to come to their counters and smell things that you've smelled before. But the worst are when the people try to tell you what to smell. And by that I mean the ones who turn you away from the women's scents, as if you don't know what you're looking at, and push the men's scents, only because you're a man. First off, I know I'm smelling "women's" scents. I don't need to be told. And I don't need to be told that I SHOULD be smelling the men's. I'll smell and buy and wear whatever the hell I want! And in the end it won't make any difference. People most likely won't even pick up on the fact that the scent is for women. Secondly, is it too much to ask that the people selling the scents know how to pronounce them? No, it's not "oh duh Haddrien," It's Eau D'Hadrien. Not difficult. You don't have to speak French to know how to say one phrase.

So yes, the perfume counter at Bloomingdales is a horrible place. But I'll probably still take it over the bitches at the Saks counter. Then again, I haven't been there in so many years, since I stopped going when I asked to smell No. 4 at the Jil Sander counter and the woman helping me couldn't find it, and suggested I try another one. "Here, this one is good too...." WHA??!?!




So the other day I was at Sears (!) and I was peeping at the miniatures. I like miniatures, since there's no commitment--you can enjoy the scent, but it won't last long enough for you to get tired of it and you won't lay out a lot of dough. I decided to get a li'l mini of Paloma Picasso, since I'd had one before and really liked it. And when I used to smell it frequently in Atlanta (it was one of the first chypres I ever liked) I used to go crazy over it. It was mossy and dark, and I would always end up thinking of enchanted forests and that kind of thing when smelling it. It's almost like a more floral version of Aramis to me.

So I got the mini and opened it to smell it. I put it on my hand and was kinda shocked at how it smelled. It wasn't anything like the Paloma I remember. This one was all rosy and kinda fresh, and I could barely smell any moss at all. It was actually quite horrible. Has Paloma been changed in the past few years? When I smelled it ca. 1998 in Atlanta it was at a discount place, so the bottle may have been old. And when I had a mini here that was old too--I think I got it at Canal street. Even the juice was kinda dark. Is it possible that in between those bottles and now the perfume has had everything interesting reformulated out of it? If so, that's pretty sad.