What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Monday, July 11, 2016

PERFUME AND WRITING: GUEST POST BY AZAR

Last week I wondered what to do to replace the Monday review feature, and had the idea of "interviewing" people who write about perfume from many different points of view and in many different types of venues. Azar is almost a neighbor, and a good friend, so I asked her to kick it off because I knew she could write something quickly. Here is her post!

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Why review perfumes?  I've been wondering about that lately. I certainly don't do it for money or even for free fragrance. As an amateur guest contributor with no blog site of my own, I receive no press samples or other industry perks.  Occasionally, a few comps or gifts of scent come my way via friends, perfumers and fellow bloggers.  I tend to review these fragrances before others, but consider my reviews strictly a hobby.

Like any hobby, writing perfume reviews can be more costly than anticipated. I "pay as I play" with time and money, part of my entertainment budget. Believe it or not, it can take several hours to sniff correctly, search a back-story and edit information and impressions into 500 words or less.  Hard cash is also laid out for decanting supplies, packaging and the outrageous postage required to send prizes to international destinations. Am I purchasing attention or approval by paying for the "privilege" to sound off about products that already receive more than their fair share of paid advertising?  Perhaps, but there are better reasons why I review perfumes.   

First of all, I am fascinated by everything related to the experience of fragrance, both in nature and from a bottle.  I have an extensive collection of perfumes dating from 1930 through 2016, years as an enthusiastic consumer and a pretty good memory for scent.  I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but, from time to time, I do have something to say.

The second reason is probably the most telling.  I write perfume reviews simply because I love to play with words.  Decades before personal computers, search engines and apps, during my high school days, I was a member of the National Forensic League (now entitled the National Speech and Debate Association).  This NFL was just as competitive as the other one!  My favorite league competition was the "extemporaneous speaking" event.  Participants drew three current topics and were instructed to choose one.  We were allowed 30 minutes to research piles of periodicals and then 7 minutes to give a coherent, logical, informative presentation, without any written notes, subject afterwards to questions and criticism.  Ex-temp taught me that, with correct, concise preparation I could talk (BS?) convincingly, about almost anything. I also learned that a presentation could fly or flop based on the placement of a single word. My ex-temp skills also enabled me to write with confidence, on demand, about any subject, interesting or otherwise. 

These days, playing with words is an excuse to indulge in my fragrance addiction (or is it the other way round?).  But there is a more compelling reason that I continue to write about scent - the perfume community I've discovered online.

Writing posts for Perfume Project NW and Australian Perfume Junkies has introduced me to an entire new circle of friends, intelligent, literate perfume pen pals from around the world with similar interests but very different viewpoints and preferences. I love reading their posts and sharing opinions and comments.  Writing reviews has changed my world, opening it up in so many ways.  Every day I learn something new, not only about perfumes, but also about gardening, cooking, entertaining, traveling and living!


Azar xx

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I have to agree with Azar that talking to people about perfume has resulted in many wonderful friendships and interactions, and I'm grateful for all of them!

[Vintage perfume ad and debate poster from Wikimedia; Woman writing by August Mueller 1885; conversation image by Petrona Viera, early 20th century]

9 comments:

  1. And THANK GOODNESS you do Azar. Your fortnightly posts on APJ are a highlight for me and I love catching you here also. Your enthusiasm always shines through.
    Thanks for all your hard work, it's appreciated.
    Portia xx

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    1. Hi Portia,
      You are so welcome. Writing for APJ is my pleasure and reading APJ is better than reading any newspaper because I can count on finding interesting news, something poetic, funny or thought provoking every day. Thank YOU and the APJ crew too!
      Azar xx

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  2. Great post, Azar! In a funny coincidence, I was an NFL Extemper, too. Speech Team was my favorite activity in high school, after surfing. I loved extemp, was terrified of impromptu, and won most trophies in Dramatic Interp. I had not put the two together until today- NFL and blogging, but you are right, there is a lot of common ground. Back in those days, I only wore Cristalle and Anais, Anais! I'm glad I've broadened it out as an adult, scent-wise.

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    1. Thank you, Marla,
      At first I thought we might have crossed paths in the Florida NFL but your mention of Anais Anais makes me think that you are probably about ten years younger than I am! In HS I was grooving on Calandre and my mother's Spanish Geranium by Lanvin. I didn't discover my favorite Fidji (a 60s scent) until I was an "adult" :) in the 70s.
      Azar xx

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  3. It was thanks to a blog of a young perfumista I discovered Olympic Orchids, I will never be sufficiently grateful to all those people that fragrances inspired so much make them want to write about and make them discover by others.

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    1. Hello Frédéric,
      Yes, I've discovered so many fragrances from reading posts and comments on blog sites. In fact, I have to thank you for helping me discover Estee Lauder Youth Dew Amber Nude. It was your comment here on Perfume Project NW that inspired me to try Amber Nude. Sadly, it has been discontinued, but I have enough on hand to keep me happy for awhile.
      Azar xx

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  4. Well said, my dear. Very well said. Yes, this habit does cost money sometimes but there are worse things you could be spending money on. I find I need to sniff a lot to be inspired enough to write about one. You are so right about the length of time it takes too! I thought it was just me who seems to take an eternity to write 500 words. I'm so glad to know other people aren't just sitting down and banging out their reviews at the speed of light.

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    1. Hi Poodle,

      It seems the clean-up process often takes longer than anything else. In the not so famous words of the Persian poet Baba Tahir:

      " When o'er the garden wall the branches
      hang
      The garden's keeper suffers ever bitter
      grief
      They must be cut back, even to the roots
      Though pearls and rubies be their fruit."

      Cutting out the overgrown verbiage seems the most difficult part of a review, as I imagine even the clunkiest of words to be a precious pearl of wisdom - until I ax it, that is. :)

      Azar xx

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  5. Very well written...its like reviewing perfume from emotions...

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