"Phantoms in the Fumosphere", Tarleisio wrote (and once again, I swear I am not scraping, but quoting!):
"In Internet social interaction, it is a general rule of thumb that 90% of any given group in any given setting will enjoy the online content they have access to. They will enjoy it, they may even share it with each other. That’s all they do. Nine percent more will comment and interact with…the one percent who actually provide that content..."
As many of you know, Anna in Edinburgh is one of those nine percent, who follows a number of perfume blogs and interacts with their writers by leaving a comment on nigh on every post she reads, or that is my impression. A delightfully whimsical, pun-rich, alliterative and witty comment to boot. In short, Anna is a blogger's dream reader, and I was lucky enough to finally get to meet her in Edinburgh last Saturday.
We loitered happily at the fixtures for some time, and had as much fun joking about the names and presentation of some of the scents on display as we did actually sniffing them. Hazel in particular, who is still only just the wrong side of "normal" in terms of her own budding interest in perfume, brought a refreshingly down to earth perspective to the topic.
"'Forbidden Euphoria'? 'Euphoria' will always be a shrub to me."
"'Eternity Moment'? That's a contradiction in terms!"
"You like Esprit d'Oscar? Sorry - I just get marzipan...yes, it is channelling Battenberg cake."
Then thanks to Anna, we also identified yet another "perfume delivery system" to add to the list that Tara and I compiled on our visit to Harrods. For when she tested the indeterminate fruity pink floral that Signorina by Ferragamo turned out to be, she sprayed the tester in the air, stepped back for a second, before leaning into the fragrant cloud.
Then we had a bit of a snigger about Kokorico, with its strange, un-PC black head bottle in a Le Creuset casserole tin. Anna held the bottle side on for me to photograph, demonstrating that it does indeed look like the trademark JPG torso (of Classique) from this angle.
Next up, I found myself reeled in by the make up counters, and Anna and Hazel kindly withdrew to one side while I had a lipstick makeover at the Bobbi Brown counter (Nude Rose topped with Rose Gold gloss). Well, I say lipstick makeover...having done my lips, the SA muttered something about my cheeks needing a bit of colour, and just as she was about to apply blusher, reached first for some kind of primer and foundation "to even it all out a bit", meaning the skin on my cheeks, I expect. Oh dear, I thought. The SA probably felt uncomfortable letting me walk out with even these minor touch ups, and was probably itching to slather me in full coverage foundation, building it up to at least three coats, before popping me in a kiln dryer for half an hour or so.
While I was gone, Anna and Hazel got talking about their mutual love of knitting and wool. It turns out that all three of us collect wool, and enjoy fondling it both in shops and at home - a practice for which Hazel coined the term "wool worrying". It was agreed that a "wool worrying session" would broadly equate to the yarn version of a "sniffathon".
Lime and Basil (sounds familiar to anyone?)
Red Roses and Peach
Lavender and Gold Amber
Grapefruit and Citrus
Pomegranate and Incense
Orange Blossom and Leaves
I tried all of these on card, and the last two (my favourites) on skin. The Orange Blossom and Leaves was promisingly bright and juicy to start with, but went a bit sharp and indolic later on. The Pomegranate and Incense was reminiscent of JM Pomegranate Noir, and while pleasant, didn't blow me away.
Notes: bergamot, mandarin, pink pepper, tea accord, green fig accord, iris and amber.
We were also informed somewhat tantalisingly that the next fragrance release would be "a gold one" (top? bottle?), but the SA didn't have any other details as to its style/notes.
By this point, we were sorely in need of refreshments, and decided to call it a day as far as the in-store sniffing part was concerned. At Hazel's suggestion, we decamped to the cafe of the National Portrait Gallery, where we stayed put for some two and a half hours, on just one round of drinks and a cheese scone! I must say I was tempted by the "hot cross scones", which would have nicely compensated for the previous day's "hot crossless buns" (only kidding, Hazel! : - ) ), but I can never pass up a savoury scone, especially one featuring intriguing speckly bits of green matter.
Here is a brief summary of what we sniffed from Anna's stash and what we all thought of it.
Green - "green Radox" (Anna)
White - "sugared almond" (Anna)
Auburn - "big whoosh of air from a dryer in a launderette" (Anna) / "bubble gum" (me)
Zeta - "hmmm...abrasive" (Hazel)
ALOHATHERAPY (a Hawaiian company specialising in perfume oils)
China Rain - instant love all round, though I am blowed if I can call any specifics to mind now! (Can't find any information on this one - Anna can perhaps confirm if it is discontinued.)
Plumeria - as above (a really pretty floral and the stand out highlight of the day!) This was all I could find by way of a description of the oil on the Alohatherapy website:
"The first plumeria plant was brought to Hawaii in 1860 by the famous botanist Hillebrand. Hawaii’s best loved flower overflows with an irresistibly sweet and enticing fragrance."
Love etc - "cedar overlaid with fugitive raspberry" (Hazel) / "carrot cake" (Anna)
In case it is not obvious, this was a big hit.
TSI-LA ORGANICS RANGE
Fiori d'arancio - lush orange blossom scent
Additionally, Anna kindly let me pick out a handful of scents to take away and try at more leisure from a vegan range called Dolma, based in Nottingham. I was particularly taken with the florals in their broad selection, notably Andromeda, Anahita, Keltina and Calista, and may well report on these separately, as I haven't had a chance to retest them yet. You may well ask what ingredients are omitted in a vegan scent, given that animal-derived musks have largely been supplanted by synthetics. Anna cited beeswax as one example, while the leaflet accompanying the discovery set takes adds that animal substances such as ambergris, castoreum, civet and musk are strenuously avoided, pointing out that some expensive perfumes still use these in low concentrations.
After a parting hug, I set off across the road and realised that in our final exchange Anna and I had said what a good time we had had, and maybe the word "Goodbye" had even been uttered - I can't be sure now. Crucially, however, I forgot to ask Anna point blank if she would grace my ear with her signature sign off of "Cheerio".
Later that evening, I received a lovely email from her, entitled "Happy Easter, and travel safely back to Bonks central", and which ends on that immortal word:
"cheerio (which I forgot to say!)
And look - the "in Edinburgh" is missing for the first time! But not to worry, for now I have met this most charming and supportive of blog-reading perfumistas, I shan't forget her exact location - or the fun afternoon the three of us spent together - any time soon...
Photo of Armani scent from Fragrantica, other photos my own