I Wrote it with Your Voices in My Head

alyssa-coverAlyssa Harad

Note: Alyssa Harad is the author of Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride, published in hardback last year. The new paperback edition comes out later this month. You can read our Q&A with Alyssa here, or read an excerpt from the book, The Tuberose of My Resistance. Also check out this video interview from Idaho Public Television, or just read through all her old posts on Now Smell This — she used to be a regular contributor here.

Well friends, it’s been quite a year. When Robin first suggested I someday write a guest post about the move “from blog to book,” I was living in the frenetic state of suspended animation common to new authors a month before publication. There were endless things to do, but none of them felt real. Every morning when I woke up, my palms tingled, a symptom I still haven’t deciphered. Life was so uncertain that I slipped into perfume monogamy, reaching for the cheerful elegance of L’Artisan’s Fleur d’Oranger over and over again.

My primary emotions were excitement, terror and gratitude. I was excited because the thing I had just spent nearly three years working on was about to make its way into the world. I was terrified for exactly the same reason.

Coming to My Senses is a true story, a portrait of people and communities I love. I wrote it hoping I could recreate for others the intensity of the pleasure I’d found, not just in perfume and its beauties, but the people and stories — a whole new way of life, really — that came along with it…

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The Tuberose of My Resistance

Coming to My Senses by Alyssa HaradAlyssa Harad

Note: the following is an excerpt from Alyssa Harad’s (yes, our Alyssa!) just-published Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride. Tomorrow, join us again for a Q&A with Alyssa about her new book.

Andy Warhol, who knew a thing or two about perfume and cool (a serious devotee, he was buried clutching a bottle of Estee Lauder’s Beautiful), wrote that perfume is another great way to take up space. Nobody knows this better than adolescents, even if they generally all want to take up exactly the same kind of space.

Perhaps you remember clouds of Alyssa Ashley and Drakkar Noir, or Anais Anais and CK One. In my junior high, Ralph Lauren reigned supreme. The boys–the right boys–wore Polo, splashing it on with abandon from the handsome hunter-green bottles they kept in their lockers. Their female counterparts patrolled the halls in clouds of the original Lauren, passing that deep-red square bottle from girl to girl until all were fully anointed.

Polo was a swoon-worthy scent of deep, smoky-sweet woods and gentlemanly confidence, good even when broadcast at very high volume…

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Yes, you are a (perfume) nerd

Guerlain Les Parisiennes + NES controller

About the author: Arielle Weinberg is a Johns Hopkins University Natural Sciences major and aspiring perfumer. She writes about perfume, Star Trek, and her cat for her perfume blog, Scents of Self.

Hi there, Now Smell This! We’re going to start things off with a little quiz!

1. Do you read blogs about perfume? (We know that you read at least one!)

2. Have you ever had to correct a perfume salesperson?

3. Can you name at least three perfumers?

4. Have you ever attended a meet-up or convention for perfume lovers?

5. Do friends give you concerned looks when they see the size of your perfume collection?

6. Are you prone to using perfumista lingo? Examples of perfumista lingo include “sillage monster”, “IFRA restrictions”, or “evil scent twin”.

7. Do you have a favorite classic Guerlain? (Pssst… Nahéma doesn’t count! It was released in 1979.)

8. Did you know that perfumes are frequently reformulated due to issues with ingredients or costs?

9. Do you have a system for keeping track of your perfume samples, such as a written catalogue or a computer spreadsheet?

10. Do you have strong opinions on the IFRA regulations of perfumery ingredients such as oakmoss and sandalwood?

If you answered “yes” to even a single one of these questions, congratulations! You are a nerd…

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5 things to think about before you start a perfume blog

About the author: By profession Vanessa Musson is a freelance market researcher, specializing in industrial products. Her work involves a lot of overseas travel, to places as varied as chemical plants and wind farms, oil fields and cotton fields, stately homes and sewers. In her free time Vanessa writes the blog Bonkers about Perfume, which combines lighthearted perfume reviews with zany travelogues and the occasional post on beauty products for that unfortunate crossover condition of “problem mature skin”.

I am a relative newcomer to perfume: for most of my life I was largely indifferent to scent, occasionally succumbing to the heavy sell tactics of sales assistants at airport duty frees, and politely wearing whatever anyone might think to give me as a gift. Not very often, mind, for when I was struck down out of the blue by “sudden onset perfume mania” in 2008, I had just one rancid bottle of Estée Lauder Intuition to my name, barely touched in the seven years I had owned it.

But all that changed, and within weeks I went from zero to raging “fumehead”, and I’ve never looked back. 18 months on, I decided to start a blog. For the previous eight years I had written a humorous column for a business magazine, based on my misadventures on overseas work trips. Its sudden closure prompted me to seek out another creative writing outlet, and my newfound interest in fragrance provided the perfect vehicle. Bonkers about Perfume was born. And now another two years or more have passed, and here you have it: 5 things you might wish to consider if you are thinking of starting a perfume blog of your own…

Do you have anything new to add to the conversation?

A while back, there was a post on Grain de Musc about the recent proliferation of perfume blogs. Denyse used the colourful phrase: “metastasising like crazy”, which troubled me at the time, though I don’t think the analogy between newbie bloggers and rampant tumours was meant to be taken too literally…

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A brush with fame: perfume at the Oscars

Oscar statue

About the author: Diana is the author of the Feminine Things blog. She works in the insurance industry to support her art projects and perfume habit, and at any given time is probably the best smelling person with a law degree in the Pacific Northwest.

I love movies.

Don’t get me wrong. I love television. I love books. I love live theater and concerts and musicals and live dance productions, from Bill T. Jones to the London Ballet Company. I even have affection for the symphony, the opera, and live ice skating.

But there is little I enjoy more than seeing a really good movie. This Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will come together for the 83rd time to celebrate the movie industry’s best and brightest. And one of my friends, by virtue of a parental connection, gets to go see The Academy Awards live and in person every year. Since I have been watching them from afar all my life, this makes me positively chartreuse with envy.

For my dear friend, though, the thrill wore off a few years ago. So she and her siblings, bored from their oh-so-many star sightings, decided to raise the stakes. They invented a game they call “Brush with Fame.” The goal is to see who, by the end of the night, can come the closest to an honest-to-goodness world-renowned celebrity — possibly even brushing against or bumping into them — without that star noticing. I believe there are bonus points if the famous person in question is also one of the night’s winners. The sibling pack are the arbiters of which star shines the brightest, and the winner gets family bragging rights for the year. Last year my friend, the baby of the group, beat out her siblings by getting close enough to ‘bump’ into Rob Pattinson, the world’s most famous sparkly vampire.

Upon discovering this game, I did what any obsessive film geek would do: I began imagining who I would try to ‘bump’ into. But as a diehard perfumista, I was equally enamored by a concurrent mystery: if I did get that close, close enough to touch them, what would they smell like?

If I were in my friend’s shoes, here’s who I’d be aiming for this Sunday and what I’d hope to smell as I was passing by…

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