The Answers!

Stroll over to Alyssa Harad's blog to read the reveal of the 10 perfumes I picked that were hidden in the book. To be fair, I must admit that didn't even know the correct answers to some of them. To be perfectly transparent with you folks I will even share my "answers": I was right about 7/10 of them - But my amusing mistakes were to identify no.1 as Diorella,  no. 8 was Eau d'Hadrian; and I was quite convinced that no. 10 is Narcisse Noir! Oh, and that honeyed, golden perfume that first captured Alyssa's heart and "made her knees buckle" - I thought that would have been Obsession (it sounded just too well behaved to be Miel de Bois)... I was very far from the truth, and yet am happy to know that I don't know all the perfumes in the world, and am excited to try this one now that I've experienced it through Alyssa's lenses so to speak.
Oh and that is also why I had to ask Alyssa to help me and reveal the true answers!

Before I reveal the winners for this week's giveaway - let me know what the prizes are:
One book to each winner of Coming To My Senses
Decant of Songes EDP from my own collection of course
In the spirit of sharing and generousity that is part of the perfumista culture (which meeting Alyssa reminded me all about - I've been a little out of the swapping loop in the past couple of years). Can there be anything more exciting than finding new smells arriving in the mail? Anything more heartwarming than finding surprise gifts and RAOKs from fellow perfumistas from around the world?

I hope that when you receive your package you will be pleasantly surprised: I'll be sending you samples of vintage Chamade parfum, and some other niche perfumes that are not all that easy to find, and I hope you will enjoy.

And by now you're probably dying to know if you won!
The winners are:

Please email me with your snailmail addy so I can ship your prizes next week!

Coming To My Senses - Double Giveaway

"The thick wine scent of honey, viscous at the back of the throat, lit from within by the flowers it came from and the golden sunlight of late summer" (p.13).

Alyssa Harad's book Coming to My Senses is a wonderful journey of self-discovery through the world of scent, and perfume in particular. Alyssa has a poetic, genuine way with words and that is how she describes perfume - striking a chord yet without ever exhausting the readers like most of us bloggers tend to do. And to my delight - the book is dotted with evocative perfume descriptions that rarely disclose the names of the perfumes she's referring to. This serves two purposes -  not being too commercial (i.e.: promoting any particular brands), and also keeping some mystery going, which makes the book ever more accessible. Non-perfumistas will be able to relate to the descriptions from real life and their own experiences rather than get drowned in technical and commercial details. While perfumistas reading this will be having a blast trying to guess which perfumes are being discussed. 

So let's do just that: I will post 10 descriptions from Alyssa's book, and you can try to guess as many as you can - a task that is quite possible if you're a perfume buff. Naturally, some of them will be easier to guess if you've already read the book (in which case I've added a hint). Lastrly, you can search Alyssa Harad's blog for additional hints (not to mention it's an excellent read!) as she's revealing some of them for the benefit of us who can't stand the suspense any longer.

The person who guessed the most correctly, will win one of 2 books that Alyssa Harad has kindly gave SmellyBlog!

1) "The high, singing scent of lemons fading to the spring green of honeysuckle growing along a creek, and a bit of the muddy banks, too". (p.12)

2) "The scent of night-blooming jasmine, heady and heavy with fruit and a touch of ashtray - the lovers were smoking before they disappeared into the brush". (p.12)

3) "The smell of the air just after a summer thunderstorm - an astonishing scent of trampled grass, broken branches, bruised flowers, and electricity". (p.119)

4) "It was, precisely, the scent of lilacs in passing, a rain-freshened breeze carrying the scent from somewhere down the block, a scent of mercurial spring, made all the more lovey by the cold gray day". (p. 125).

5) "And finally, a grapefruit softened with vanilla and patchouli that left clean and bright behind for something dirtier and more interesting". (p. 142)

6) "...a fantasy in black leather, asphalt, rubber, and smoky vanilla".  (p. 142)

7) "The scent rose up all around me in a soft cloud. The sweetness expanded, lush and narcotic. I stood quietly in the middle of it, breathing. Then it roughened with a dusky bitterness that brought me back to myself just enough to open my eyes and begin walking". (p. 164); "Maybe I would leave the flowers in my hair. And I would still have my perfume - that beautiful dream of white flowers, that touch of honey". (p. 204). Hint: It's from Annick Goutal.

8) "This one takes you on a walk by the sea through a cypress forest, and then suddenly you stumble on a grove of lemon trees and just one fig tree, covered in rip figs. It's the perfect thing in hot, humid weather. Just one spritz and you can feel that salty breeze coming in off the ocean".(p.195)

9) "This one smells exactly like a creamsicle when you first put it on, but if you wait two minutes it turns into a rich, sophisticated amber. It's like you  put on a bright orange corduroy jumper and then it suddenly morphs into a little black velvet dress with pearls". (p. 195)

10) "I revisited a smoky incense-and-lilies that I have always wanted to like more than I really do". (p. 222). Hint: it's from l'Artisan Parfumeur.  

So - let's make some guesses! The winner will also receive extra samples/decants of perfumes relevant to the book (which I am not at liberty to disclose until the answers are revealed this Friday).

Coming to My Senses Book Launch - July 7th

Coming To My Senses - Book Launch
After two and a half days of nearly slacking off, it was weekend - in other words: time for work... Non stop. Saturday began with an industry-only event sponsored by a supplier. Following that, the SF Sniff was kicking off with Alyssa Harad's book launch at Alexander Books (50 2nd Street, between Mission & Market). And after that there was my perfumery class at Alex Sandor's studio, and before it even ended there was another evening social gathering of perfumers and bloggers. In other words: an overly packed day.

But I want to tell you about Alyssa's book reading, which was a very exciting and heartwarming event. There were about 30 perfumistas gathering at the basement of the book store (many if not all of whom were planning to attend the Artisan Fragrance Salon the following day; and some of them were even coming to my class that very evening!), and Alyssa was telling a bit of her personal love affair with perfumes, and mostly her story of getting married and celebrating her bridal showers with her female part of the family all around perfume. It was a very interesting way to connect between generations (and I am still having hard time uploading the short video I took). The book also tells the story of her discovery of her mother's signature perfume, Femme, before formulation.

Between reading passages from her book, Alyssa passed around vintage perfumes for us to sniff: Femme, Cuir de Russie, Cabochard (all in parfum extrait), Jolie Madame (EDT). They were so gorgeous I had to put some Cuir de Russie on, which is even better than the rather old bottle I have of the same jus.

It was evident from the moment of meeting Alyssa, that she's a kind, warm and intelligent person, and this comes through in her memoir, Coming To My Senses (which, needless to say, I had to get a copy of, and have been enjoying ever since last Sunday evening). I'm only about halfway through, so this is by no means a "book review". All I can say for now is that if you take your perfumes seriously, you will relate very much to Alyssa's story. There are some parts that it feels as if she's telling "our story" - perfume lovers who only thanks to the internet are able to connect and gather information about our little nerdy obsession. And, of those who are not (yet) addicted to perfume - this is a story of a woman going through transformation, discovering a new world and how new doors open to her to access other aspects of the people around her, through smell. More than anything, Coming To My Senses is a story of personal re-discovery and transformation, even if subtle.

For me there is no shortage of emotionally moving parts in the story - viewing the transformation perfume has on her friends and family, including the "old aunts". Modern life's demands, and the overall denial of sensuality and femininity in our culture are things that are close to my heart, and finding them in the book was an affirmation that what we do - perfume advocates - both perfumers and perfume lovers - is important on a deeper level than we may think. I'd like to think that perfume inspires positive change in people, even if "just" by improving their mood for a moment every day.
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