News: 520 posts

Latest news from the fragrance world and other interesting reading

Anosmia : Living Without Scents

Whenever I read about hackneyed surveys asking, “which sense would you give up,” and see respondents blithely give up their sense of smell as “the least useful”, I get a cold shiver down my spine. Anosmia is the condition of having no sense of smell, usually as a result of trauma, and it has few cures. It leaches color, texture and pleasure out of life, even more than the loss of hearing or sight does.


Anosmia, like many other subjects related to brain and olfaction, is still poorly understood, but what’s without doubt is the suffering it causes. “The biggest shock of my life was tasting chocolate after my accident and discovering that it was the most vile thing ever. Sticky, bitter, pasty,” commented a friend who lost his sense of smell after a motorcycle crash. He also complained that making love was not the same when you couldn’t smell someone’s skin. Everything that brought joy previously now seemed blander, duller, poorer.

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Serge Lutens 5 New Perfume Releases

Only the other day I was reflecting on L’Incendiaire and its self-consciously high price, and today I read in Madame Figaro that Serge Lutens is about to release five new perfumes in the same La Collection Section d’Or. Cannibale, Cracheuse de Flammes, Renard Constrictor, L’Haleine des Dieux and Sidi Bel-Abbès will join the range in October 2015.

lutens section dor

Cannibale — “The cannibal is famished. How can we mention him without a reference to love? It leaves a vibrant acidity on the nose and on the skin, reminiscent of the floral vinegars of 18th century France.” (This and the rest of the descriptions are via Serge Lutens’s Facebook page. Just don’t ask me what any of it means.)

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A Nose for Fashion : My Article in the New York Times

I have a short article on Carolina Herrera’s new Confidential fragrance collection in the New York Times. It will appear in print in the Magazine’s issue dedicated to beauty (on stands June 14th). The selection of features in the Beauty 2015 edition will cover makeup, skincare and all things lovely, so please take a look.


As for Herrera’s Confidential, it’s based on an interesting concept melding fragrance and fashion and includes 5 scents. Oud Couture, above, was inspired by the traditional Middle Eastern layering technique that uses oud as a base for other more effervescent notes. The perfumes will launch later this month.

Image via T Magazine

The Smell Test

Until recently it would have been unthinkable for a negative perfume comment to appear in traditional press. Which is why Women’s Wear Daily’s perfume ranking feature is as important as it is daring. WWD is one of the major beauty and fashion publication, and I hope that this decision signifies bigger changes to come. 10 judges, along with panel chairman Michael Edwards, smell perfumes blindly, rank them and offer their commentary. The jury includes perfumers, industry analysts, scientists, journalists, and above all, passionate fragrance lovers: Jean-Claude Delville (Drom), Karen Dubin (Sniffapalooza), Christophe Laudamiel (DreamAir), Luca Turin, Kevin Verspoor (PerfumeKev LLC), Paul Austin (Austin Advisory group), Chantal Roos (Roos & Roos co), Nathalie Pichard (toPNotes), and myself.


How the perfumes are assessed: “Panelists are given unmarked vials of fragrance to smell in a blind, impartial test. The fragrance will be scored on a scale of 10 (the ultimate) to 1 (forgettable), with an average score computed. The judges will make short critiques of each fragrance, which will be kept anonymous to ensure independent thinking. Scents being judged are new to the market and among the most promising. WWD will buy them at retail, like any consumer.”

The first edition of The Smell Test reviews Misia from Les Exclusifs de Chanel. You can read the comments at the WWD site. It remains to be seen how the initiative will develop, but I look forward to the subsequent editions, and of course, to your thoughts and commentary.

Les Muscs et Les Parfums : The Osmotheque Event

On Wednesday, May 27th, the perfume conservatory Osmothèque will present a new lecture on the role of musks in perfumery. Titled “Les Muscs et Les Parfums”, the event will explore different facets of musks and the reason they are an essential ingredient in the perfumer’s palette. The lecture will be led by Max Gavarry, the author of famous fragrances such as Molyneux Vivre (1971), Guy Laroche J’ai Osé (1977), Rochas Mystère (1978), and Caron Infini (1972).

infini ad

When: May 27th, Wednesday at 18h30 (1.5-2 hours duration)
Where: 8 Avenue de la Porte de Champerret, 75017 Paris
Online Order Fees: 22€ per person; the reduced fee for students and members of Société des Amis de l’Osmothèque is 16€. Entry for students of ISIPCA is free. To reserve your tickets, please click here.

If anyone goes to the event, could you please let us know your thoughts about it in the comments here? Of course, if you want to write up a short report, we would love it.

Extra: you can also read about different types of musks used in your favorite fragrances in my article, Musk : Salt and Butter of Perfumery. It was written 10 years ago (and updated); it’s still among the most visited posts on Bois de Jasmin.

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