wwd: 3 posts

The (Blind) Smell Test at WWD : Update

Another update on The Smell Test series from Women’s Wear Daily is in order. As I mentioned in my previous posts, the goal is to blind test recent launches and offer anonymous opinions. All ten judges, myself included, receive fragrances in plain lab bottles, marked only by number, smell at their leisure and offer a rating from 1 to 10. WWD is one of the leading and most influential fashion and beauty publications, and it’s a great platform for such a project.

diptyque-florabellio-test

The latest perfumes tested were as follows:

Creed Royal Mayfair

Diptyque Florabellio

Aedes de Venustas Palissandre d’Or

Kate Spade Walk on Air

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Cologne Indélébile

The Smell Test feature is available without subscription.

My personal favorite from this batch was Florabellio, a quirky, strange thing but quite compelling.

The (Blind) Smell Test at WWD

As promised, today I’ll give you a brief update on The Smell Test series from Women’s Wear Daily. The goal is to blind test recent launches and offer anonymous opinions. All ten judges, myself included, receive fragrances in plain lab bottles, marked only by number, smell at their leisure and offer a rating from 1 to 10. WWD is one of the leading and most influential fashion and beauty publications, and it’s commendable that the magazine offers such a feature.

aerind

You can see the results and read our short comments in the links below. I will only make a few observations: First, all statements claiming that perfume is somehow too subjective to be described or reviewed critically don’t stand the test. The exercise blew this tired argument out of the water again and again.  Yes, everyone has his or her own sensitivities and preferences, but by and large, the consistency of responses has been impressive.

Second, there has been much positive response to the feature. (If any houses have been upset by their product receiving a low score, they’ve kept quiet.) Since WWD is primarily geared toward the beauty industry and its movers, all of this is a good sign. The industry also feels that things can’t continue in the same “let’s drown them in launches” (or “let’s do another Angel/Light Blue/another best seller”) mode, and as s result the attitudes towards criticism are changing.

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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.

smell-test1

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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