A Perfumista in Paris:
Diary of a Scented Journey Abroad

(Guest Writer and the Executive Manager of Sniffapalooza)


BN could not join the 20 intrepid fragrance cognoscenti on their voyage à¡ Paris, but fortunately Karen Adams, of www.Sniffapalooza.com (the world wide organization for serious fragrance fans) shared excerpts from her diary exclusively with BN!

Saturday, July 7
At the airport gate, our perfumistas assemble from across the country. JFK to CDG, tired, but excited; we arrive in Paris the next morning at 7:30 am.


The Hotel de L’Ocean

Sunday, July 8
We check into Hotel de L’Ocean, regroup, and head out for our City Tour. To me, the city has the pervasive soft smell of orange flowers, a scent that is used in many baby and hair products. I detect it when I enter several stores and buildings. It’s a lovely odor- subtle, pure, and the equivalent of our “baby powder” smell. Later, back at the hotel, some collapse with exhaustion; others persevere and walk up rue Lafayette to the open-till-midnight Sephora. Serge Lutens bottles, so rare in The States, are casually displayed on the counters. Guess we’re not in Kansas anymore!

Monday, July 9
We meet at breakfast after a good night’s rest. Francois Duquesne, president of L’Artisan Parfumeur arrives to welcome us. He leads us to the Metro station, and we depart for a walking tour of Montmartre.


Onward, via Metro, to Place Vendome and to Parfums Montale. We explore the unique line of rare essences. Montale has a fondness for scents from the Orient and Arabia, and packages their fragrances in aluminum bottles to best preserve them. Paris exclusives Sunset Flowers, a rich floral with a hint of sparkling apple top note, and Bois de Aoud, a warm, woody fragrance are discovered in this chic boutique.


Lisa Simon’s Products

We stop for lunch, then head over to Le Renaissance Hotel, where skincare and fragrance newcomer Lisa Simon hosts us poolside, and treats us to Laduree pastries & champagne (rumor is Laduree will be introducing their own line of fragranced products soon). Simon’s scents are inspired by India, and designed by top nose and perfumer Olivia Giacobetti. Monsoon Season, a refreshing well being mist, is a favorite of our group.


Parfums MDCI

We’re then ushered to an opulent suite for an exclusive presentation by the charming Claude Marchal of Parfums MDCI. This new niche company draws its inspiration from art, particularly the Renaissance period, using the highest quality materials for both fragrance and packaging. Claude and his lovely wife greet us with champagne and a history of their company – the perfumes, the Limoge stoppered flacons. Perfumer Stephanie Bakouche is on hand to discuss her creations. We sample, receive gifts, and purchase fragrance. Rose de Siwa, a woody floral, and Invasion Barbare, a spicy oriental fern, and the Sample Set of all five fragrances, were group favorites.


Patricia de Nicolai

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

On the road, for our bus trip to Versailles to ISIPCA (Institute Superieur International de Parfum) and Osmotheque (“House of Perfumes Isabelle Dufour, Director of Groupe ISIPCA, greets us and after a brief introductory seminar, we tour the laboratories where new perfumers are trained in the art of creating fragrance. Master perfumer, Patricia de Nicolai, granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain and owner of her own fragrance line, Parfums de Nicolai, guides us to a lecture hall. We are treated to sniffs of “disappeared” perfumes including Coty Rose Jacquemot & Houbigant Fougere Royale, and recreations of historical fragrances, including some from ancient Egypt and Napoleon’s personal perfume!

We are back on the bus to Paris for a reception at the Chanel offices. Francoise Montenay, the President of CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) France, greets us. The room is filled with CEW members from many fragrance and beauty companies, all as fascinated with us as we are with fragrance. They are excited that Sniffapalooza is made up of so many passionate consumers and industry notables; we enjoy this forum immensely. We hope that our thoughts, ideas and desires can positively affect the fragrance industry.

Special thanks to Sabine Chabbert, Editor-in-Chief of Beyond Beauty Magazine, and Caroline LeCoquierre, Director of Development at Ljcom, for their help in arranging this incredible day, and well as the next…..

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We’re on the Metro at 8:30am for our first stop of the day – Givaudan, one of the leading companies in the flavours and fragrance industry. Frederic Walter, Creative Director for Global Fragrances, gives us an in-depth presentation of the company’s philosophy & creations. We have sneak peaks at Prada Iris Infusion and Moschino Funny! Along the way, we meet soft-spoken perfumer, Antoine Maisondieu (the grandson of Albert Camus). He speaks of his fragrant creations, including Burberry Brit for Men, Burberry London for Men, Armani Prive Eau de Jade, and several of the Etat Libre’s.

Later, we meet at Etat Libre D’Orange (The Free State of Orange) in Le Marais. Etienne de Swardt, the company’s founder, presents this unconventional line, “where insubordination and olfactory eroticism reign supreme”. Perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer shares her secrets in creating many of these unusual scents. I (Karen A.) discover my “Holy Grail” of patchouli, Nombril Immense. Nathalie explains how she created it from the highest quality patchouli, sweetened with ambrette. Some other favorites are Nathalie’s Putain des Palaces, which has notes of rose absolute, violet, leather, lily of the valley and animalic notes. Jasmin et Cigarette, with notes of jasmine absolute, tobacco, hay, apricot, tonka bean and musk. & Encens et Bubblegum – raspberry, peach, lily of the valley, orange blossom, vanilla, musk and incense – are Antoine Maisondieu’s creations!


The Conference Room at L’Artisan Parfumeur

Thursday, July 12, 2007

L’Artisan’s flagship store near the Louvre is our morning destination. Sitting around a conference table in this elegant minimalist setting, we “deconstruct” the new organic fragrance, Eau de Jatamansi. Scent strips of the notes – including grapefruit, cardamom, clary sage, ylang ylang, Indian papyrus, and incense – are passed around for us to sniff and discuss. When we are finished, we each have a set of blotters that combine to recreate this aromatic herbal scent when fanned. Our olfactory skills are sharpened by this exercise, which is the ultimate learning experience for any fragrance aficionado.


The Tasting Table at Serge Lutens

Quick trips to Penhaligon’s, Rosine, Collette, Clio Blue, Camille et Lucy, and the Louvre courtyard to marvel at the glass Pyramide follow. We reconvene at Les Salons du Palais Royale Shiseido, for a private presentation of the Serge Lutens fragrances. Seated at a “tasting” table on the second floor, looking out at the trees of the Tuilleries Gardens, we sample the non-export fragrances. Our favorites include Chergui, a woody aromatic fragrance with notes of honey, musk, incense, tobacco leaf, hay, sugar, amber, iris, rose and sandalwood; Mandarine Mandarin, a spicy Oriental fragrance with top notes of Chinese orange and nutmeg; Borneo 1834, a woody chypre with notes of Indonesian patchouli.

The Different Company is our next stop for more sampling and purchasing. Bois d’Iris, a woody iris harvested from the hills of Tuscany, and Sel de Vetiver, inspired by the scent of sea salt drying on the skin, are two favorite choices.

From Left to Right: The Author, Julien Levy and Karen Dubin, Founder of Snifapalooza

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sabina Cammelli greets us at the Firmenich offices in Neuilly-sur-Seine. We learn their philosophy in discovering and creating flavors, and fragrances, and ingredients. Established in 1895, Firmenich is a leading private company in the research and discovery of unique and exclusive fragrance molecules, used in perfumes such as Vera Wang and Kate Spade. Julien Levy, Marketing Director of osMoz, the first virtual and thematic site dedicated to perfume, joins us. Julien enthusiastically presented us with a demonstration of “osMoz -The Perfume Island” in Second Life. It adds a new dimension to the enjoyment of fragrance, and sort of a “virtual Sniffapalooza” with perfume parties, prizes, and on-line socializing.


The Best Pastries in the World are Laduree Macaroons

We return to our hotel to find Laduree macaroons and gift bags of fragrance brought to us by Anne-Cecile of Crazylibellule & the Poppies! Isabelle Masson-Mandonnaud, the original founder of Sephora, created this line of adorable solid perfumes. Musc-Patchouli, Lilas Spiritual and Vanilla Lemon Pie are among our favorites. They are fun to use, portable, and last nicely on the skin.


au revoir

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It’s Bastille Day, Paris is readying for the celebration, but we must (reluctantly) return to the US. We pack our now overstuffed bags, and steal our last glimpses, tastes, & smells. Au revoir to the City of Scent~

For more info on joining Sniffapalooza: www.sniffapalooza.com


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