Monday, August 22, 2011

Keynote Speaker for Fall 2011 IFRA Luncheon

A big thank to Glass Petal Smoke's followers on Twitter! I appreciate your collective patience and am now permitted to let the proverbial cat out of the bag regarding the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) speaking engagement I hinted at a few weeks earlier.

On Friday, October 21st I'll be giving a keynote speech at the IFRA Fall Luncheon. Everyone, including yours truly, has an opinion about fragrance regulation, but that is not the only thing at stake when it comes to the future of perfumery.

The industry has entered a new phase of communication with consumers that requires authentic narrative management. Companies can't afford to be vertical neutral in a transparent medium like the Internet where access to information and its organic interpretation shapes brands and influences product development. Social media is terrific catalyst for meaningful conversation, but the industry is still struggling with strategies of engagement. Fragrance companies don't have to re-invent the wheel to figure out how to get the conversation going, but they do have to make a commitment to getting the job done.

Education is the best place to begin and perfumers must be included. I shared this point of view when I wrote "Exposing the Perfumer" for Perfumer & Flavorist in 2007. Four years later much of what was predicted in the article has come to pass. All one has to do is look at blogs like Carrie Meredith's Eyeliner on a Cat which recently announced a series based on interviews with indie perfumers.

The catalyst for this type of insider profiling was ignited by Nathan Branch who upped the ante by encouraging dialogue between indie perfumers in his "Letter to a Fellow Perfumer" posts. The Aftelier fine fragrance Haute Claire was created by Mandy Aftel while Liz Zorn created her own perfume in parallel. The result of these conversations produced a missive-styled living perfume brief in four installments that can still be seen by all.

Aftel is no stranger to inspiration; she has been a muse for the craft of natural perfumery and raised an army of fragrance fanatics after publishing Essence and Alchemy in 2001. Her timing coincided with the growth of the Internet. Evidence of her reverence as creatrix in the blogosphere is reflected in recent digital interactions with Victoria Frolova of Bois de Jasmin.

How will the Internet and social media shape the future of perfumery? In honor of Oscar, the gorgeous hunk of feline who graces this post, all I can say is "meow" for now. That cat is in the bag until October 21st.

Oscar was photographed by Robert W. Howington. The photograph is licensed under Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.

Liz Zorn's Tumblr is one of Glass Petal Smoke's favorite reads. It is an archetypical revelation of the spirit of "the artist" and a medium the industry should consider embracing. Zorn expresses herself beautifully and her recent statement on the oft misinformed naturals vs. synthetic debate shows a level of soulful maturity. This quote, from a recent post, embodies her essence: "As a perfumer, I must say that I rarely wear perfume for the pleasure of it, as I am always smelling like the workroom. But when I do wear perfume, I apply it to my skin as if it were solid gold. I settle my mind and become present, in the moment, so that I can fully enjoy what is happening. I never want to get to a point in my life where the superfluous external overshadows the sacred moment."

Mandy Aftel, Carrie Meredith and Victoria Frolova are members of The Fragrance Foundation's Indie Fragrance Committee.  The committee, which was formed in July 2011, is dedicated to developing recognition, understanding and appreciation of "Indie" fragrance brands and their creators.

Details regarding the time and place for the IFRA event can be found here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Smell as a Weapon

There are two odors that transcend culture when it comes to bad smells; the odor of decay and that of human excrement. These offensive odors have tremendous appeal for the Pentagon's Non-lethal Weapons Program, which has participated in a Harry Potteresque "dark arts" form of perfumery since World War II. Two well-known stinktacular creations (which failed miserably due to dispersion issues) were "Who Me?" and "U.S. Government Standard Bathroom Malodor".  The names sound like something straight out of a CB I Hate Perfume catalog as they are blunt and leave little to the olfactory imagination.

It's been several decades since "Who Me?" and "U.S. Government Standard Bathroom Malodor" were created. In 2002 The Monell Chemical Senses Center was experimenting with universally repulsive smells and narrowed the stink categories down to odors of human waste, body odors, burnt hair, and rotting garbage (the kinds of smells capable of inciting episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder in combat veterans and good old fashioned revulsion in civilians). Though one may argue that Snooki's new perfume could save the military millions of dollars in stink bomb research, the perfect stink bomb for crowd control/riot deployment has yet to be created (or hacked by LulzSec who some may argue deserve a fine fragrance of their own).
Research that led to the development of "Who Me?" and "U.S. Standard Bathroom Malodor" has inspired a line of personal defense products for consumers. These products don't resemble the prank stink bombs of childhood; they're hardcore malodorants. They can be your weapon of choice, should you chose to defend yourself in a highly unpredictable manner that may result in an unpleasant scenario for you as well as your target. The ingredients are mysterious, but the claims possess all the glamour of spy catalog ad copy. Self Defense Products offers the following stinkers for your offensive odor displeasure: Nasal Nausea, Unnatural Gas, Liquid Roadkill and the ubiquitous Stink Bomb.

Further reading, which includes all the gruesome details regarding smell as a weapon, may be found in "Stench Warfare," an article published in the 2001 edition of New Scientist . It is available, in its entirety, in the 2001 archives of Science Blog.

The Wikipedia "Stink Bomb" page has all the molecular details regarding stink bombs.

Photo of Nasal Nausea from the Self Defense Products website. Camouflage editing by Glass Petal Smoke.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Perfumer Christophe Laudamiel on How to Smell Perfume on a Smelling Strip

Master perfumer Christophe Laudamiel never misses a chance to evangelize the fundamentals when it comes to the art of perfumery.  Think you know how to properly smell a fragrance on a smelling strip? Test your knowledge and experience against this video which was shot in DreamAir's offices in New York City.

The type of smelling strip (blotter) used by Christophe Laudamiel in this video is the "Scored Arrow" model. It isn't typically found at perfume counters. A rich smelling experience is permitted by the wide surface area at the tip. The end that is not used for perfume application provides adequate room for labeling and listing scent impressions. Orlandi is the largest manufacturer of smelling strips and is the go-to source for many fragrance houses. If you wish to order these blotters you may do so here. The item number is 27998A. Glassine envelopes, designed to protect the blotter and prevent cross-contamination, are also available.

Kudos to Leslie Ann of @PerfumeIQ , a follower of Glass Petal Smoke on Twitter. She inquired about the benefits of  Scored Arrow smelling strips in her tweets after Msr. Laudamiel's video  premiered on Glass Petal Smoke. Now everyone can smell like a perfumer.