Not quite sure how this happened, but I haven’t been to New York in twenty years.
I was there for Sniffapalooza, Mr. Olfacta in tow. A series of Keystone Cops-like events kept me from experiencing some of the product presentations. Go to WAFT if you’d like to read about them (I’ll get to the samples, I promise, hey, we just got back last night night before last!) My reportage is more a succession of images, of impressions, the first one being this: as soon as my feet hit the pavement of Fifth Avenue I thought: have I been asleep all this time? Because that river of humanity never stops moving, and it moves quick quick quick, past some of the grandest buildings in the world, never looking up, been there done that, but I just couldn’t help it, sometimes, feeling awestruck by these accomplishments of a bygone era. Then, even more visual dazzle; drinks at a rooftop bar overlooking the Queensboro Bridge with two new favorite friends. Like something from a dream.
My friend and guide, Carol -- how can I thank her enough? -- saw this newbie through the Bergdorf’s breakfast presentations; a series of beautiful and beautifully dressed men and woman with varying degrees of showmanship skill. I guess my favorite one was a lovely older lady from Van Cleef and Arpels presenting their “Midnight in Paris” who told an erotic story ending with a beginning -- a leather-scented bear hug -- but there were others, too, who made it feel more like a show and less like let’s trap ‘em in a room. I’d be amiss if I didn’t say that element was there. Or if I didn’t wonder: who are we, exactly, to these people? To the niche sellers especially, it would seem that we are the ones they want; the early adopters, the reviewers and writers, the hardcore perfume fans who’ll do your brand awareness campaign for you out of love, and so: at least be nice already! Most were. Others, especially some reps from the big companies, clearly were crossing us off a things-to-do list.
Out on the Beauty Floor, a throng, not my favorite thing. I plunged in nevertheless. Samples were scarce. I know, I know, it’s all about fear of dupes, understandable, but a shame. Like most perfume lovers, I like to try things at leisure, on skin, not sprayed on a card surrounded by 300 people while suffering a monumental case of olfactory fatigue, but I guess that’s the rebop, in these cautious days. The result? A pile of scent strips all mixed together in the bottom of a bag. I don’t have a clear memory of, for example, the new...what was it? Sometimes, stinginess felt like the this year’s theme. But I figured out a use for all those strips -- the best-smelling collage I’ve ever made.
Back out on the street, I could see the Apple store over there looking like the I.M. Pei pyramid in front of the Louvre. Big, no, huge, wow factor. Fountains, concrete canyons, sultry weather. A walk back to the hotel, Keystone Cops event # 1 -- a misplaced card key -- kept me there for a bit, and then the extracurricular activity commenced. For us, it was back out on the street, walk and walk and walk, another new friend, great talk at a funky tavern, and then a walk through Times Square, with a huge throng of teenagers and tourists bathed in neon light. Theme scent: Donna Karen’s Iris, fresh and fine for anything, anywhere, the fragrance that finally changed my mind about iris.
Part 2 -- more thoughts on Sniffa and New York -- on Tuesday!
Scent Strip New York collage by Pat Hall Borow, all rights reserved.