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Nose-to-nose: Sniffing out news with Esther

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New in niche

US retailer Barney’s has one of my favourite niche fragrance counters, and my experience with their sales assistants (in Chicago and New York) has been happily positive—I’ve found them to be knowledgeable and happy to throw in some great samples with my purchases. So, I was intrigued to see that the department store seems to be developing a reputation for pairing up with new fashion designers to launch their signature scents. Last year, it was L’Wren Scott’s fragrance. This year, it’s Greg Lauren (apparently the nephew of Ralph). According to Now Smell This, the frag was created by Ralf Schwieger and features Tonka bean, vanilla and marine notes. (Yes, that combo struck me as a bit weird too—but Ralf Schwieger has pulled off some lovely ‘fumes, so I’d at least like to sniff it.)

Vintage appeal

Whether you’re just getting into vintage perfumes or are already well down that path, it’s always fun to check out someone else’s “must-try” list. This list of 26 vintage fragrances every perfumista should try was featured on Now Smell This last year. Another great article there: How to buy vintage perfume. Take a peek!

Deals, deals, deals

Perfumistas often talk about something being FBW—full-bottle worthy. And heaven knows, there are lots of scents I’d love to have full bottles of. But the truth is that even if I spritzed every day for the rest of my life, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t work my way through all of my existing full bottles. That, combined with my desire to sniff widely without breaking the bank, means that I am always delighted to find smaller sizes or sample packs from lines I want to explore further. So, imagine my delight at finding two such offers in the last few days!

The first is from Andy Tauer (much beloved, here on His new Explorer Set offers shoppers the chance to choose three 15-ml sprayers of his scents. It isn’t exactly a bargain—the price works out to about the same as the per-ml cost of a full bottle—but the advantage is that you get to choose smaller sizes and get three scents rather than one for that price. And there’s free shipping.

The second combo set is from The 7 Virtues, the Canadian line of fragrances built around ingredients grown in economically—and often politically—challenged parts of the world (Haiti, Afghanistan, the Middle East). The scents are lovely, the cause is worthwhile—and now you can sample all four of the line’s frags in a Custom Blend Box, featuring 30 ml of Middle East Peace and 15 ml bottles of Noble Rose of Afghanistan, Afghanistan Orange Blossom and Vetiver of Haiti—all for $85. 

Interested in sampling decants of some of Tauer’s scents? Gwen and Kay have Zeta, Lonestar Memories, Eau d’Épices, Une Rose Chyprée, Orange Star, Incense Rosé and L’Air du Désert Marocain on offer. (Told you he was a fave!)

Nosing around

I know I’ve featured Andy Tauer here before, but he is a gem! Check out his blog—it’s great fun to get a look inside his creative (and business) process.

Makes me want to try it

I love lists—and I especially love the lists that Denyse Beaulieu pulls together of the scents she loves and the scents she’s looking forward to. I trust her nose, and so her lists always create a lemming (or two or three or four) for me. Her latest? Her top 10 perfumes for fall 2013. I’m especially intrigued by Milana Caffe from Via del Profumo (it’s gotten lots of buzz), but could easily be tempted by any of the others on her list.

One on her list that you can sample from Gwen and Kay: Untitled from Maison Martin Margiela

Just because

It’s an Internet sensation: the haunting, almost brand-free three-minute ad for Chipotle’s. That’s Fiona Apple singing the song. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is. Bet you’ll watch it more than once.