Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sniffapalooza, vol. 1

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.


Rappleyea said...

I LOVE your collage! What a great memento of Sniffa. Great write-up and descriptions. I so resonate with your writing - some of your comments make me think that we may be twin daughters of different mothers! lol!
I can't wait to read more. ~Donna

Olfacta said...

Thanks, D!

BTW, weren't you my "Oro" winner? Still need the postals -- I haven't forgotten. Send them to me at the email address on the blog (top of column, left) and I'll get it to you.

Suzanne said...

Loved your description, Pat, with its beautiful tumble of emotions about the whole experience. Looking forward to hearing more.

Vanessa said...

That collage is the business! I see a couple of tapered scent strips that could be the Chrysler Building, so I am happy, that being my favourite skyscraper in the world.

I enjoyed hearing your thoughts about the dynamic of the event - I always feel a bit of a disconnect when visiting perfume events in London, for example - slightly out of my element, say. So it was interesting to hear that you were stepping back from and observing proceedings even as you were in the midst of them.

Oh dear me yes, the scent strip bottom feeders in the handbag. I do now write the names on them, but there is still huge scope for cross-contamination in those murky recesses.

ggs said...

As a veteran of several Sniffa's, I relate to your hesitancy about the crowding! It helps a lot to have a friend to partner up with to navigate the weekend, doesn't it?

I'm not sure what you mean about the sample scarcity in the stores being related to "fear of dupes"? I think the lack of samples is connected to poor marketing decisions. (So what if your company isn't smart enough to provide manufactured samples-- a savvy sales rep could buy vials and make up their own for a Sniffa event, and attach it to a business card. SA's make samples routinely at Nordstrom's!)

Olfacta said...

Hi S -- Thanks! New post Tuesday.

Olfacta said...

Hi FS -- I guess "participant observer" must be my role in life, because it's where I usually am!

Olfacta said...

Hi ggs -- I'm going to write some more about scarcity-of-samples on Tuesday's post. Clearly the industry is in some hot water but I don't think Sniffa is the place to be stingy, either. I was making reference to a couple of the companies with brand-new scents just coming out or not actually out yet.

ScentScelf said...

After having to pare away my blog trolling for a while, I am catching up. And I have to say that collage is the bee's knees! Best.Use.Ever. Those strips were lucky to be caught in your talent.

You know, I kind of avoid scent events for reasons having to do with the very thing you describe. My recent jaunt to the Smithsonian perfume seminar was an exception to the rule...but like safe fires, it was small and contained. ;)

The Times Square is quite the change from twenty years ago, no? That neon and LED glow, the bleachers to watch it all from, the general safeness of it someone said when I was there last spring, "who knew this, or a trip to Grand Central Station at 10pm just to get a croissant, would be in my/the city's future?"

Of course, my eye-ears went straight to the rooftop bar with view and the funky tavern. Such would be the rewards of dealing with the throngs of humanity, perfume specific or in general. :)