I find Natalie’s reviews for Another Perfume Blog to be extremely thought-provoking, especially on the subject of how perfumes are sold to us. Natalie thought that I was funny long before I did, for which I will be forever grateful. Today she tells us about the perfume that captures “her childhood in a bottle”, and offers an excellent suggestion as to how we can improve the “uneasy relationship” between perfume bloggers and perfume companies.
Why do you write about perfume?
Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to better understand perfumes and my responses to them. I’m not very good at thinking about things in an abstract way; I have to order facts and ideas in my mind in some way to analyze, understand, and remember them — and the way I do that best is by writing. I decided to blog because it was the forum available to me and suited to the kind of personal writing that I wanted to do. Since a lot of my professional work involves writing, I also wanted a space to write for myself.
You wrote an excellent article on the distrust that some perfume companies seem to have for perfume bloggers. What steps do you think that both sides need to take to begin building that trust?
I don’t know if there is mistrust between the two, but it certainly seems like an uneasy relationship. Before I give any more detail, I should say that my perspective on this is evolving, and I’ve purposefully avoided the conflicts that I’ve seen in the perfume blogosphere, and will probably continue to do so. (The two exceptions: I defend the English language and sweet Austrian bloggers from uncalled-for assaults.) But to answer your question with my perspective as of this minute, I think a good starting point would be for both sides to remember that neither owes the other anything except the respect and courtesy we hopefully show to everyone we meet. I think erasing a mindset of “this for that” would lead to more honesty from both sides, which would in turn produce more meaningful and more interesting dialogue. At the same time, being respectful and courteous would go a long way toward preventing misunderstanding and bad feelings. And it is simply the right thing to do.
What are your favorite perfume houses?
I love Guerlain for the opulence of its real masterpieces. For me, Guerlain is the height of romance and the house that embodies how I want to feel about my life every day. I am also enamored of Tauer Perfumes. Andy’s creations are consistently among the most evocative perfumes I know. Lonestar Memories is my childhood in a bottle. Ormonde Jayne is another favorite. I love smelling my way through the line and feeling like I’m smelling variations on a theme, like illuminating portions of a painting. I also really like Parfumerie Generale, because I haven’t smelled much in the line that hasn’t smelled really, really good.
What is your favorite place to shop for perfume?
My favorite place to shop, full stop, is Nordstrom. If they carried all my favorite perfumes, I’d never go anywhere else. But since they don’t, I do. Whenever I can, I try to buy directly from the perfumer, because I assume that this results in the largest profit for them (if this isn’t true, I hope someone will correct me). I also really like Barney’s in San Francisco. Their perfume counter staff is knowledgeable and the selection is very good. In terms of local stores, Barney’s is my pick for niche perfume shopping.
You mentioned that your husband thought that your (very different) wedding perfume options all smelled the same. What does he think about your interest in perfume? Does he have any interest himself?
He has zero interest. Truly. Zero. But, he is really supportive of my interest and has been wonderful when it comes to my blog. He is currently helping me with a logistically challenging post that will probably not see the light of day for months (and will not strike anyone as anything spectacular when it finally appears!), and he couldn’t be more cheerful or johnny-on-the-spot about it.
What are some of your other interests outside of perfume?
I have a very strong interest in trying anything once. But I also love to read, travel, practice yoga, dance, and obsessively reorganize things.
What perfumes are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree/Menorah branches this year?
I actually didn’t ask for any perfumes for Christmas. I was really fortunate to have gotten several amazing perfumes this year, so I am feeling like I have enough. But since I imagine everyone else (like me!) likes to see names, I will share a few of those I am wearing often lately: Miriam (Tauer), Reglisse Noir (1000 Flowers), Coffee & Cedar (Plume Perfumes), Bellodgia (Caron), and Mahjoun (DSH).