Elisa delivers hard-hitting truths, poems, and perfume reviews on her wonderful blog, The French Exit. Today she’ll be telling us about the joys of being a snob and how she’s managed to avoid the siren song of vintage perfume.
Why do you write about perfume?
I write about everything I feel strongly about, which is why my blog is terribly unfocused. I’m just one of those people who thinks in sentences – that is to say, if I’m thinking about it, I’m basically already writing about it. But like many perfume people, I didn’t start feeling strongly about the subject until I read Perfumes: The Guide. I had always liked perfumes, but I hadn’t thought about them much, because I didn’t know how to think about them. Now I think about them far too much.
Your published works reveal that you are a tremendous poet. Where do poetry and perfume intersect for you?
Thank you! That’s an interesting question – I think I go to perfume for different reasons than I go to poetry, for a sensory, sensual experience, whereas poetry is more intellectual. But (see above) I do end up intellectualizing perfume to some degree. Still, I don’t have to think so hard to enjoy wearing perfume as I do to get something out of poetry (or to write a poem). I have to be in the right mood and mindset for poetry, but I’m always in the mood for perfume.
What are your favorite perfume houses?
For independent houses, I really love Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio and Andy Tauer for the way they use such high concentrations of natural materials, resulting in complex potions that last forever. My favorite niche line is probably By Kilian – I can’t afford them, but almost all of them smell really good to me, very natural and luxurious. (Three cheers for Calice Becker.) My favorite mainstream house is Estee Lauder.
What is your favorite place to shop for perfume?
Any store with testers can entertain me for hours, but I’d have to say my favorite source is The Perfumed Court, because I like to buy smaller amounts of perfume so I can have more variety.
Your Top 13 Perfumes list reveals that your perfume tastes “run contemporary”. How have you managed to avoid the siren song of vintage perfumes?
First I avoided vintage perfumes because I didn’t want to deal with the extra expense and difficulty of obtaining them. But I did finally test a bunch of vintage perfumes a few months ago. Lucky for me, I guess, their siren song didn’t have much effect on me. I appreciate them, some more than others, but I didn’t feel completely at home in any of them. It was a little bit like trying on vintage clothes that are very beautiful but the fabric is stiff or itchy. The “vintage” perfumes I lust after most are generally more recent perfumes (from the past 20 years or so) that have been reformulated or discontinued.
What are some of your other interests outside of perfume?
Food (both cooking and eating it), wine, fashion, art and ideas in general. I like being a snob. But I also really, really like watching singing competitions on TV.
What perfumes are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree/Menorah branches this year?
I’ve been wishing for a bottle of Tuscany per Donna. And how about a sampler pack of rose decants? I’ll take Liaisons Dangereuse, Une Rose Chypree, Rose Barbare, Rose Praline and To Dream, please.