Now Smell This celebrates its fifth birthday today. It figures that today of all days, the blog went down in the wee morning hours, and so this post is much later than I thought it would be. Now that we're back, a slice of virtual cake for everyone, and I hope you'll forgive us while we indulge in a little navel-gazing.
In early 2005, I was an avid — ok, obsessive — perfume fan. At that time, if you wanted to keep track of all the sorts of things that a perfumista wants to keep track of — what new perfumes were coming out? who might be having a great sale? — you had your work cut out for you. You could read all the magazines, you could slog through all the posts on the various forums, and you could check out Women's Wear Daily on Friday. There was one French website that kept a simple list of upcoming perfumes, and that was helpful, but by and large there was no one place, online or off, that collected and organized all the news.
In the meantime, I was also discovering blogs, and in February 2005 I started looking around for a perfume blog. I couldn't find one that was active, and that was that: I figured that as long as I was wasting so many hours collecting information, I might as well do something with it. I spent a few days setting up a blog (I wish I'd kept a screen shot so I could show you how ugly — and how pink! — it was), and on Tuesday, February 8 I made my first post: New fragrances from Dior, Comme des Garcons, The Different Company. I followed that with some shopping news, and a particularly feeble review of Une Fleur de Chanel.
Today, Now Smell This is very much the sort of site I was looking for and couldn't find. We probably don't collect and organize quite all the news, but I like to flatter myself that we come reasonably close. We've published over 6,200 articles, received close to 140,000 comments, and we have over 1 million page views a month. Most important of all, we have the kindest, most helpful readers anywhere, and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who take the time to comment, and especially those of you who go out of your way to welcome newcomers and help them find what they're looking for.
The perfume universe has expanded dramatically since I started blogging, and the simple fact is that I could no longer keep up if I did not have such wonderful contributors. I asked each of them to write a few words, and to select five of their own articles that they especially like. It is emblematic of the way things work around here that I didn't find the time to come up with a list of my own.
It's hard to believe I've been writing for Now Smell This for almost four years. It has been richly rewarding: I've met terrific people, and I've learned so much about perfume — although I'm still resolutely an amateur. I'm not sure the five posts I've chosen are my favorites, but each of them means something to me.
Searching for the Holy Grail was my first article for Now Smell This. It posted in May 2006, and I flinch when I read it now. I long to clean up the writing. Also, the article flaunts one of my primary rules about blogging — it violates the "who cares?" rule. Really, who cares what perfume my mother wore?
Changing Tastes also stomps all over the "who cares" rule, but I think it does so in service to a greater message: be yourself. It's a message I've been late to learn ("who cares?") but one perfume helps teach.
Perfume and the Lavish Hand reflects a philosophy of life I cherish, best described by Auntie Mame when she said, "Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!"
The Leather Sisters is a story featuring some of my favorite leather-based fragrances. I've written a fair number of articles for magazines and loved it, but it never crossed my mind to write fiction. This article spurred me to try my hand at a mystery novel featuring a perfume-loving vintage clothing store owner. It was fun! Now I'm looking for an agent. Thanks, Leather Sisters!
Becoming a Perfumista rippled further in the internet perfume world than I thought it would. Most of these posts I crank out the day before they're due, sometimes dreaming them up on that morning's walk with my dog. It's so rewarding when I hit on common experience.
I was a regular on MakeupAlley’s Fragrance Board in early 2005, so I should have known what Robin was up to, but I first learned about Now Smell This from Manolo’s Shoe Blog (part of my daily breakfast web-reading in those days). “Perfume blogging!’’ he had effusively posted. I immediately clicked over to Now Smell This and, well, I’m still here! In choosing five of my own past articles, I’ve followed my favorite topics: rose scents; good-smelling options for everyday toiletries; small, independent companies with high-quality products; and mainstream fragrances that, although they might easily be dismissed as “generic,” actually say something interesting about recent trends in perfumery.
I remember my “first time” at Now Smell This, way back in 2005. A Google search for “orange blossom perfumes” led me to Robin’s article: Orange blossom fragrances: a few Italians. Ever since, I’ve been a daily visitor to the blog, even checking in when I’m on vacation. I can’t believe I’ve been writing for NST for four years come May (and, knock wood, will write my 200th article sometime this spring). It’s impossible for me to separate Now Smell This the blog, from Now Smell This the woman, since I’ve been chatting with Robin for ages, and I know how much hard (and endless) work goes into keeping Now Smell This up to date and running smoothly. Apart from creating a sensational perfume blog, Robin is a kind, generous and patient person. Robin, I hope you have the energy/endurance for five more years of blogging!
It feels a bit strange to highlight five favorite articles I’ve written, but here goes:
Hello to all my dear friends at NST! This joyful milestone is, I'm afraid, also a sad departure for me. A new degree and a demanding job prevented me from writing about perfume books in recent times, and unfortunately that situation won't be changing anytime soon. So with a heavy heart I take this opportunity to bow out, and thank everyone at NST for the wonderful experience we shared over the past years. My passion for perfumes hasn't diminished one bit, so I promise to drop by in the comments section as often as I can!
My best wishes and greetings to the NST team, and to all you readers out there!
Here's a brief trip down memory lane, with five book reviews that illustrate the beauty of perfume as an art, a craft, a social marker, a symbol, and an object of science and philosophy...
If There Ever Was... a book of extinct and impossible smells by Robert Blackson: A potpourri of smells still wafts from the pages of this book... living art!
Le Parfum by Jean-Claude Ellena: Thumbs up to the perfume blogosphere from JCE himself...
The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell by Luca Turin: Perfume is fun, and so is science. Luca Turin in great form.
The Smell Culture Reader edited by Jim Drobnick: A great collection of thoughtful articles on the social dimension of smell.
Update: adding Erin's contribution...
When I started contributing lists to Now Smell This in October 2007, I had some occasions in mind to write about: perfumes to wear to work, on a first date, for New Year's Eve, etc. If I have ended up writing more about categories of perfume and the people who wear them, it is because I have become so interested in the bright, engaged and welcoming personalities that make up this diverse community of fragrance fanatics. I have never regretted my change in focus. I've enjoyed reading and re-reading the comment sections to all my posts, but those below are five of my favorite "conversations":