Where the Scent of Yesterday's Vogue Lives
November 6, 2009 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Take your nose on a stroll down memory lane with vintage perfumery. The Vintage Perfume Vault features fragrance reviews and articles on perfume history. Perfume Shrine offers articles on perfumery including essays on the science of fragrance and aroma materials, interviews with perfumers and industry professionals, trend-watching. Inspiration in Perfumery profiles Henri Robert, Andre Fraysse, Ernest Beaux and Edmond Roudnitska. More about olfactory delights from 1000 Fragrances.

Looking for that special fragrance to make the evening just right? How about:

Dregs | Dirt | Earthworm | Funeral Home | Laundromat | Necco | Pinkitude | Redhead in Bed |
Sex on the Beach | Stable | or the ever ubiquitous Play-Doh.
posted by netbros (24 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does the Play-Doh scent also come with the sound of a child beating on the door because the dog just barfed on the rug?
posted by jquinby at 8:20 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This post is useless without Internet Smellovision.
posted by disclaimer at 8:30 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Internet Smellovision? With all the porn and geeks (WoW) that can't be good for the nasal passages.

Every time I smell Drakaar Noir, I think of high school and hair bands.
posted by stormpooper at 8:38 AM on November 6, 2009


I'm a huge perfume geek and follow these sites, almost religiously. I'll add a few as well, though these are more for today's vogue lives (or the vogue lives we perfumistas like to imagine we have): Now Smell This for clever, sometimes snarky, almost always informative commentary. Basenotes for reviews for and by consumers, information on splits and sample buddies, in addition to industry information. Bois de Jasmin for beautiful prose and reviews, by a student perfumer. Glad to see that this has made the front page.
posted by luminous phenomena at 8:46 AM on November 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Am I the only one who really, strongly dislikes perfumes and colognes? They always feel like they're trying to eat away at the inside of upper respiratory system. Though air with hairspray does the same thing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:48 AM on November 6, 2009


A lot of those scents listed in this post are from the Demeter Fragrance Library. Demeter was started in the 90s by Christopher Brosius, who pioneered this idea of single note 'accords', particularly those unusual notes like Dirt or Snow.

He left Demeter (I think somewhat acrimoniously) to found his own perfumery, CB I Hate Perfume. He has a showroom of sorts in Williamsburg, and also sells his perfumes online. They're interesting in that they're a different take on perfume - not designed as a kind of artistic statement of some new smell that just smells good, but more as an evocation of various sense memories - they're often inspired by smells he remembers, or rather a smell he associates with memories.

In addition to the official, constructed perfumes, he also has a really impressive gallery of single accords. The one I smelled that astonished me was 'wet pavement'. Imagine that smell in your mind and you've imagined exactly what it smells like.

There's a relatively interesting interview with him here.
posted by pziemba at 9:31 AM on November 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't think I have a very good sense of smell. They all smell like perfume to me (sorry). I think I'll order something from Demeter, though. Not Play-Doh, though. Ughh. Dirt, I think.

Olfactory imagery in poetry often has a strong impact, as smell does in real life. Theories about the relationship of smell to memory abound: the limited number of smells (compared with visual or auditory stimuli), or the primitive nature of the sense and its neuro-location (near the limbic system, an emotional center).

When I did installation art in the 80's, I would often try to hit all five of the senses (except for gustatory, that is). So, along with the visuals, I would have a soundtrack and a tub of something smelly under the stairs or in the open. Lysol, rotting vegetables, that sort of thing, depending on what was in the piece.

No thread on perfume should omit the fabulous book, later made into a movie, Perfume, by Patrick Suskind.
posted by kozad at 9:39 AM on November 6, 2009


Can't believe I forgot to add: Perfumes: The Guide for an exhaustive list of perfumes and their notes, with commentary. And OzMoz for multi-lingual consumer and industry information and discussion.
posted by luminous phenomena at 9:45 AM on November 6, 2009


As a hardcore perfume-hater, I feel a bit odd contributing to this collection, but anyone interested in perfume really should read The Emperor of Scent, an absolutely fascinating look at the fragrance industry.
posted by HotToddy at 9:58 AM on November 6, 2009


The book HotToddy linked is written by Chandler Burr, who is also the perfume critic for the New York Times. His reviews are pretty interestingly written and are often illuminating with regards to the notion of how scents are designed.

http://themoment.blogs.nytimes.com/author/chandler-burr/
posted by pziemba at 10:11 AM on November 6, 2009


He left Demeter (I think somewhat acrimoniously) to found his own perfumery, CB I Hate Perfume. He has a showroom of sorts in Williamsburg, and also sells his perfumes online. They're interesting in that they're a different take on perfume - not designed as a kind of artistic statement of some new smell that just smells good, but more as an evocation of various sense memories - they're often inspired by smells he remembers, or rather a smell he associates with memories.

I'd never heard of this guy before, and now I'm buying like $80 worth of perfume off his website. I hope they're as good as their descriptions, pziemba, because they sound really, really amazing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:37 AM on November 6, 2009


And then there's always Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Rather pricey, and the fanbase is sometimes rabid, but on the other hand a couple of their scents are amazing on me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on November 6, 2009


Thank you for this.

I've been having a bit of a breakdown because my beloved perfumes are becoming scarce. I like to layer so lotion or creme, plus powder are part of my routine.

Imagine my horror when the centerpiece of my scent profile, Chanel 19 started to disapear. Suddenly I can't find it in stores and have to order it on-line. No lotion, no oil, no soap, and most emphatically, none of the lovely powder with the teeny-tiny bits of gold flecks in it either. Unless I'm willing to roll the dice on eBay and buy a box of powder for $200 (and I'm not.)

Lauren, the first of the Ralph Lauren fragraces is also going the way of the do-do, via mass market discount stores. No lotion, no powder and still the same price.

I was able to score some Eau De Lancome this summer, and it pairs well with Jean Nate powder, so I was covered there.

I think my age is being telegraphed by my perfume, so I'm open to something more modern. As long as it doesn't make me smell like a skank or a funeral parlor.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:49 AM on November 6, 2009


Excuse me, I'll be over here continuing to lobby that wearing too much scent or particular scents in public constitutes assault on those around you. I dearly love turning blue around the lips and breaking out in hives whenever some asshat decided to wear two gallons of OOO SMELL ME IM PRETTY.
posted by strixus at 11:11 AM on November 6, 2009


Perfume Posse is another of the great perfume blogs, and don't forget The Perfumed Court. Being able to order decants of all those gorgeous-sounding hard-to-find fragrances before I spring for a full bottle? Has saved me. so. much. money.

And I do believe in scenting responsibly! I save the heavy stuff for the privacy of my own home. Or the days I really want my boss to stay out of my office.
posted by timeo danaos at 11:19 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh. I worked here when the launched the iSmell.

There was a bath oil that I LOVED and sadly is no longer manufactured. The scent reminded me of childhood baths. I bought up every bottle I could find when I found out it was being phased out. (What's anooying is that the name is escaping me now -- arrrgh!)

If I could find that scent again, I would be a very very happy person.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:34 AM on November 6, 2009


Ah!

Sardo!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:35 AM on November 6, 2009


Great timing! I have just this week begun attempting to learn how to craft perfumes for the wonderful ladies in my life.

Now I have lots of good reading...
posted by kaseijin at 11:52 AM on November 6, 2009


kaseijin, Andy Tauer's blog is also a good read if you're interested in the art of perfumery, and his blogroll is a mine of riches.
posted by timeo danaos at 12:01 PM on November 6, 2009


Great post. I just recently took some interest in perfumery, by way of blowing money on fancy shaving stuff. I had read a bit about 4711 and the original Eau de Cologne, and was idly wondering what historical perfumes were like. Intellectually I'm fascinated by the whole field but my limited personal experience with colognes is that they smell good on me at first, but an hour later all that's left is an appalling "cheap perfume" stench. Of course, I'm probably trying the wrong scents. I recently bought some samples from Lucky Scents for my wife, and was planning on trying a few samples from CB I Hate Perfume.

That interview with Christopher Brosius was fascinating. I wonder if his scents might be better enjoyed on their own instead of worn on people. I had this image of Mark Rothko working as a tattoo artist: "Ok, your head and body is going to be deep red, and your arms and legs yellow and brown."
posted by gamera at 2:15 PM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The book HotToddy linked is written by Chandler Burr, who is also the perfume critic for the New York Times.

I adore Chandler Burr, so glad he came up here. I saw him talk/met him last year, and the only way I could describe him was this: Queer Eye's dapper ostentation, with undertones of Myth Busters' geekiness and a pinch of David Sedaris.

But, I am proud to say, I *almost* stumped him with my Brown Sugar by Comme de Garcon.
posted by functionequalsform at 3:01 PM on November 6, 2009


I think I'll order something from Demeter, though.

They don't linger at all. Just an FYI.

I've been having a bit of a breakdown because my beloved perfumes are becoming scarce. I like to layer so lotion or creme, plus powder are part of my routine.

Imagine my horror when the centerpiece of my scent profile, Chanel 19 started to disapear.


As a lover of Chanel No. 22, I feel your pain! You used to be able to get it at the local drugstore. Lotion, powder, bath oil, the whole bit. It was always the hardest Chanel to find, though, but it was do-able. I got a HTF-in-the-good-old-days soap on eBay.

Now, only Chanel stores have it, and not the one at the Willard in D.C. The blogs say it has changed, too.

I miss it so, so much.

Thanks for listening!
posted by jgirl at 5:35 PM on November 6, 2009


That lingering scent mentioned above has a technical term- "sillage." A quality perfume is considered to have a sillage of about three feet and twenty minutes - just enough to let someone know you were there, not enough to require an air filter, ideally.
posted by medea42 at 9:40 PM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a few of Christopher Brosius's fragrances, and they're amazing. Burning Leaves is an eerily accurate portrayal of . . . well, burning leaves; November mixes pumpkin pie and earthy/leafy accords to create a fantastic seasonal smell; and Winter 1972 really does smell like snow and mittens. I don't have any idea how he did that. These aren't perfumey-type scents -- for example, they're water-based and stay close to the skin, with minimal sillage. They're much more of a personal scent.

I also own Demeter's Dirt and Tomato, which are fantastic as well. Yeah, they don't last long, but you can get ridiculously large 4 oz bottles for $10 or so on eBay or discount websites.

As for not liking perfumes -- I thought I didn't either for a long time, but it turned out that what I actually don't like are those gigantic floral fragrances that certain people like to pour on by the gallon. I wear perfume all the time, but you'd have to lean in and smell my arm to notice it; and there are a huge variety of amazing fragrances out there that are worlds away from those nasty, huge florals. It's just that you don't smell them as often, because the people that wear them are conscientious about not assaulting everyone in their vicinity with scent. For me, fragrance is personal: I wear it because I want to smell these things myself, not necessarily because I want everyone else to smell it.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 12:57 PM on November 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


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