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Nose-to-Nose: Sniffing out news with Esther - March 7, 2012

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New in niche

Here’s how to hit the niche and vintage addicts both at the same time: create a niche scent inspired by vintage perfumes. That’s what Sonoma Scent Studio perfumer Laurie Erickson has done with her new release Nostalgie. Gaia on the blog The Non-Blonde describes it this way: “Nostalgie goes with flowing skirts and red lipstick…It’s not a recreation of any classic perfume from the past, but it can sit on the same shelf as many of them. If I had to label it I’d call it a rich floral with a creamy animalic base. The floral notes come and go, too sneaky to be pinpointed and detected. There’s an idea of rose and idea of jasmine, but you’re supposed to be focusing on the atmosphere they create.” Read her full review here. And Elena Vosnaki at The Perfume Shrine put it this way: “Nostalgie smells more expensive than it is (it recalls Patou’s classic Joy in the mid-section, with more woody accents), is full of vibrancy and came to me like a messenger of good news when the day has been nothing but gloom and no hope can be visible in the horizon.” With endorsements like that, you can understand how a gal might be tempted to click “buy” at -- a 5 ml travel spray is $17.

Vintage appeal

Thinking about a modern perfume that emulates a vintage style made me think about a vintage scent hailed as modern at its launch: Chanel No. 5. Chanel No. 5 wasn’t the first perfume to use synthetic compounds though many mistakenly think that it was—and sadly, many of the sales assistants who sell it still insist that it’s made entirely of natural components…groan… Until No. 5’s launch, the predominant approach to women’s fragrances was still to emulate a particular flower. What was so novel about No. 5 was its insistence of being its own scent—neither jasmine nor rose but a complex amalgam of florals, animal musks and the new chemical aldehydes. While the version available today is not the same as the original, those in the know laud Chanel for its dedication to maintaining as much of the original scent as possible given today’s ingredient restrictions. Vintage ‘fume hunters are always on the look-out for that unopened bottle tucked in the back drawer of a cupboard at some out-of-the-way antique sale—while viewing the eBay “vintage” bottles with great suspicion, since No. 5 is reputed to be one of the most-faked vintage perfumes. Interested in learning more about the perfume and the woman it’s named for? Check out Tilar Mazzeo book The Secret of Chanel No. 5, Justine Picardie’s Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life and Hal Vaughan’s Sleeping With the Enemy. And be sure to sniff the perfume the next time you’re in a department store fragrance aisle too—or pick up a decant of No. 5 and other Chanel offerings here from Gwen and Kay.

Deals, deals, deals

If you’re in Toronto, check out the moving sale at Noor .It’s one of our favourite perfume shops, with Nahla and Fred as two of the most knowledgeable and friendly perfume lovers in the city. They’re moving from the current location at Cumberland and Avenue Road to an as-yet unannounced new location, but in the meantime, have discounted their stock by 15 to 50% off. With lines like Heeley, Comme des Garçons, Diptyque, Frapin, Santa Maria Novella, L’Artisan, Blood Concepts, and others, Noor is a treasure trove for any niche perfume hunter. The sale is on now through March 27.

Nosing around

Interested in finding out more about Laurie Erickson, perfumer at Sonoma Scent Studio and creator of Nostalgie? Read about her on the Sonoma Scent Studio site.

Makes me want to try it

It’s not often that an email lands in my in-box and has me clicking “buy” almost immediately (okay, it does happen—but I try not to let it happen too often!). This week’s email intriguer: a note from Andy Tauer’s site about a new scent called Dark Passage, created to help generate funds for a fragrance-inspired movie by Brian Pera. The perfume, whose notes include cacao, patchouli, birch tar and iris, is available in a 7 ml travel size to those who pledge $60 to the movie’s fundraising campaign. Pera and Tauer collaborated on another movie/scent project last year, which resulted in Tauer’s well-reviewed Miriam. Find out more at the project’s Kickstarter Campaign page. Interested in checking out other Tauer perfumes? Gwen and Kay have a number on offer.

Just because

I’ve been having fun dipping into The Non-Blonde’s blog, and especially enjoyed this post, about the things she’s learned in six years of blogging about perfume. One of my favourite of her lessons: “no note is left behind”—meaning that as she’s explored more frags, she’s become more open to notes she thought she didn’t like. I think that’s one of the most interesting things about educating your nose: scents you initially dismissed come back to intrigue you as you learn to decode and unravel them. The bad part of this is that you end up with even more scents on your “to try” and “to buy” lists!