It’s so easy to complain about perfume these days. Beautiful materials are banned or restricted; the market pumps out hundreds of cheaply made, mediocre fragrances yearly; many of our favorite old perfumes have been reformulated beyond recognition; perfume advertising is often laughably banal; and more.
But we’re still here, loving perfume. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to list some of the reasons I’m grateful for fragrance:
First and most important, exploring scent is profoundly rewarding. Before I fell headlong into perfume, I loved the smell of coffee, old leather purses, and lilac bouquets, for example, but I had little appreciation — or awareness, even — of balance and structure in fragrance. I couldn’t luxuriate in how a scent transitions as it ages on skin. I didn’t see how a hint of ugliness throws a perfume’s beauty into relief. Now I know that appreciating perfume has less to do with having a keen sense of smell and being able to pick out individual notes than it does with understanding a perfume’s whole tableau.
Now for something less grand but still gratitude-worthy: travel sizes, sample sets, rollerballs and 30 ml bottles. Hermès, Frédéric Malle, Sephora, Parfums MDCI, and the rest — thank you. May your brethren soon follow suit.
Just to name a few new fragrances that feel as eternal as the vintage fragrances whose disappearance I lament, I’m thankful for Amouage Jubilation 25, Parfum d'Empire Azemour les Orangers, and Cartier Baiser Volé parfum.
I’m also grateful for the smaller perfume companies springing up. Sure, it’s overwhelming to click on Now Smell This and see announcements for yet another couple of perfume companies — I mean, who can keep up? — but it proves that perfume is live and well. When everything shakes out, maybe we’ll find the next Vero Profumo or Aftelier.
Here’s a big one: I’m thankful for the internet. Not only can I read perfume reviews, I can order decants and track down discontinued fragrances. Without the internet, I probably never would have discovered Ormonde Jayne Woman, let alone been able to buy it. Without the scent split site I joined, I’d miss out trying the rare, expensive perfumes I couldn’t possibly purchase by the bottle.
Last — and I’m sure you saw this one coming — I’m deeply grateful for the perfume community I’ve found through this blog and others. I’ve met the most fascinating people, from medieval historians to horse breeders to cable installers. I’ve drunk wine in a Parisian apartment while gazing at a bottle of Fath Iris Gris and sniffed Coty Chypre over a plate of pancakes at a diner. It’s all been pretty danged amazing.
Perfume-wise, for what are you grateful?