Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We're You're Biggest Fan: More Blogs We Award with Our Undivided Attention
Here at I Smell Therefore I Am, we often talk about our favorite blogs. Abigail and I spend hours online, not just working on this site but on most of the perfume blogs which have sailed into our orbit. Some of these are written by people we've gotten to know a little bit over the past year or so. Some respond to our posts. Some have written us personal emails. Others we've just strayed into. One thing we've noticed is how intelligent and cultured fragrance bloggers tend to be. They bring a diverse array of outside interests into their ongoing discussion of perfume. To them, talking about perfume means talking about art and literature, music, fashion, politics, social history. Reading these blogs, you learn about perfume, for sure, but also about things you might never have been exposed to. Blogging about perfume is a way to share style and tastes and a passion for things in general.
Recently, the Fragrantica Blog Awards were announced. None of the recipients were any news to us. We read them regularly, and enjoy them. But we wanted to share with you some of our own favorites, along with some exposition on why we keep going back to them. We list them in no particular order.
This site is indispensable for anyone with more than a passing interest in perfume. People who blog know how time consuming it is. To be consistent is a challenge. To be timely, current, and endlessly stimulating, let alone informative, is near impossible. Somehow, Nowsmellthis does all of these, providing nothing short of a symposium on all things perfume. The resources offered are pretty staggering. Need to know the perfumer behind your favorite perfume? Curious what else she's done? Want to know something about that niche company whose name you can't quite remember? Nowsmellthis tells you who did it, when, what else, how, where, and everything but why. No other site is as reliable when it comes to upcoming releases, industry news, and the overall pulse of perfumery. The core review team (Robin, Angela, Kevin) issues one trustworthy, no nonsense review after another on everything from the latest to the sadly forgotten.
Mark, Dane, and Thomas infuse perfume criticism with a healthy dose of wit, reviewing in concise, lucid prose perfumes which sometimes deserve only half the bother. Luca Turin says Vol de Nuit is a standard, a way to recalibrate your perfume antennae. These guys are my Vol de Nuit. They can be counted on for candor, humor, and a good laugh. When they like something, they appraise it without fawning. When they dislike it, they issue the verdict with admirable, if withering, precision. This is the only site on my radar which is posted by more than one person, all of them men. That might mean very little to you. To me, it's infinitely encouraging.
I love Olfacta. Her voice is inimitable: assertive, savvy, all over the place in terms of interests, resulting in a remarkably focused read. It's a voice that reminds me of sitting down with a good friend who knows a lot more than I do. At some point you shut up and listen, figuring you'll learn more from her than vice versa. You'll only be depriving yourself of an education if you insist on running your mouth. Olfacta will talk brain chemistry, music, and art in the same breath as perfume. But don't expect insufferably high brow content. The meter dips just as often into lowbrow, with posts on Mad Men, The Banger Sisters, and recipes for mulled wine. Most blogs let you know how many visitors they've had. On the left side of her blog, Olfacta lets you know how frequently she visits everyone else, down to the day and the hour. Here's an excerpt of a review on the Comme des Garcon Incense Series:
"Zagorsk, which seems a bit contrived to me at home, makes sense in Alaska. It reminds me of the epic movie 'Dr. Zhivago,' of that scene with Omar Sharif as Zhivago and Julie Christie as Lara, swathed in fur, crossing the steppes. Zagorsk is cold and austere, full of pine, birch and cedar. It’s meant to evoke Russia. There is something melancholy about Alaska, too, though, months of nights that never end, a summer so short, and with so much work to be done. Zagorsk has the gravitas to handle such a place. Imagine how silly, how out-of-phase, some girly-girl floral would be here. Zagorsk was perfect."
Along with Nowsmellthis and Scentzilla, PST was one of the first perfume blogs I ever visited. Colombina's writing is personal, detailed, and voluminous. Go ahead, type something into the search engine, the most obscure thing that comes to mind. It's almost a cinch that Columbina's been there and done that and had something compelling to report about it. Her review of Ormonde Woman is as wonderfully cerebral as its subject: "I feel uncomfortable using words like 'masculine' or 'feminine' when describing this perfume. It is beyond definitions like that. Like Lilith, this perfume is not human and requires a whole other vocabulary. My synesthesia is not enough to write a better review of Ormonde Woman. I need the gift of xenolalia." But Columbina's particular gift merges mind to libido, sensationalism to sensibility: "What I discovered when I reopened [Bal a Versailles] was a riot of sensuality, symphonies of roses and jasmine, amber, wood and spice….visions of large jungle cats mating , velvet on nakedness and a deep wet kiss in all of the right dark places , the scent of heaving cleavage!" These, reader, are from the same month. In addition to the above, Columbina is prolific.
Bois de Jasmin
Just to give you an idea of the diversity available on perfume blogs, here's a quote from BDJ's review of Ormonde Woman: "The combination of spicy vibrancy and sultry sweetness is amazing. It is an olfactory equivalent of a Bengali wedding sari—red silk, embellished with intricate gold embroidery and sumptuous golden thread. Warmth of amber provides a richly textured brocaded background to the interplay of spicy and sweet notes." Bois de Jasmin is one of the few sites I visit without any specific agenda in mind. Often I link there and read an entire page of reviews. They're informative and interesting, always thoughtful, rarely if ever dismissive.
I knew when I started this post I could never do these bloggers justice or express more then a fraction of my appreciation for what they do and how well they do it. I also knew I wouldn't be able to write about all of my favorites at once. The post would simply be too long. I'll get to some of the rest after the holidays but did want to mention some of the others, lest you think the ones I've mentioned are top priorities rather than the first I pulled off our site's blog roll. As much as I admire the informative, comprehensive tone of sites like Bois de Jasmin, Nowsmellthis, and Perfume-smellin Things, and the opinionated concision of sites like Olfactarama and Peredepierre, I'm always just as compulsively drawn to highly personal sites like Mossy Loomings, Everything is Interesting, Fragrance Bouquet, Notes from the Ledge, and Indie Perfumes, all of which detail distinctly personal experiences of perfume and life in general. I never know what these sites will talk about, but I can always count on emotionally detailed posts which are alive and open to the outside world. We'll get to them and others eventually but will be reading them religiously in the meantime. I should also point out that the single most visited site by me is basenotes, which is more like a part of my brain at this point than a website I frequent.