News: 521 posts

Latest news from the fragrance world and other interesting reading

Perfume Muse Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn has been a muse for film directors, couture designers, and makeup artists. She also inspired perfumers, and while Givenchy L’Interdit was created especially for her in 1957, many a fragrance creator mentions the actress and fashion icon with reverence. I can understand it, because there is something about Audrey that I find touching and poignant. It’s not just her elegance or sense of style; it’s also her grace, warmth and a certain fragility. Audrey charms as much as she intrigues me.


This year, the National Portrait Gallery in London is celebrating Audrey’s legacy with an exhibition showcasing Audrey’s life and career through photos. It spans her childhood in Holland and early years as a dancer in London. It then tracks her rise to fame in Hollywood and concludes with her work as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Audrey worked with some of the best photographers, including Cecil Barton, Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon, and many of her images can be counted as part of pop culture–think the famous Holly Golightly half turn with a cigarette holder. What’s fascinating about the exhibit is the inclusion of rare images and personal photographs donated by Audrey’s sons, Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer.

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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.

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Latest Comments

  • Michaela in Scent Diary : Old Books: I adore this saying! Excellent! :) July 31, 2015 at 5:42am

  • Michaela in Scent Diary : Old Books: Hope you get perfectly well soon! July 31, 2015 at 5:36am

  • Michaela in Scent Diary : Old Books: I love that you can imagine the scents so vividly! Sometimes I can remember some well-known perfumes, too, and feels like a reward. July 31, 2015 at 5:36am

  • Aurora in Scent Diary : Old Books: Old books smell so comforting and your photo is so lovely. Yesterday morning: the scent of Molton Brown Ylang Ylang filling the bathroom. On my way to work, the familiar… July 31, 2015 at 3:43am

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