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Nose-to-Nose – Getting personal – November 11, 2015

Kay:         Gwen, have you noticed how many e-mails we get from our readers wanting to know more about us? They’re all asking personal questions!
Gwen:     Oh, c’mon! I’m a married woman!
Kay:         Ha! They’re asking personal questions like, how did you get interested in perfume? How many individual perfumes do you own? What are your favourite notes?

Gwen:     Those are pretty 'nosey' questions.

Kay:         Hold on…there’s more. Take a look.

Gwen:     Oh, wow…. this reader wants to know if we still get surprised when we sniff new fragrances.  This one asks if our tastes have changed since we started! Oh, and this: Have we made any “Eureka!” discoveries? You’re right, Kay, these are personal questions, but they’re also kind of fun!
Kay:         I’m up for some fun – so let’s answer them here, and let everyone share in the fun.

Our answers:

How did you get interested in perfume?
Kay:        My mother was a gardener and was always sticking flowers and green things under my nose, commanding me to “Smell this!” She also wore incredibly beautiful perfumes all her life. So I guess it’s a “like mother, like daughter” scenario with me.

Gwen:     My background is cooking, and since smelling is a big part of cooking, an interest in fragrance was a natural progression for me

How many perfumes do you own?

Kay:        Way too many, and not nearly enough.

Gwen:        My answer depends on who’s reading this. Let’s just say there’s room to grow my collection.
What are your favourite notes?

Kay:        All of them. Which is why I love Orientals so much – complex, full-bodied, full of notes. Round, firm, fully-packed. Dark, rich, sensual – should I go on?

Gwen:         Oh, I've got a heart of rose and a weakness for florals. And, I love herbs and spices in fragrance. I’m familiar with them in cooking so I like to experience them manipulated in a different way. But, my heart is open to any fragrance done well no metter what the notes are.

Do you still get surprised when you smell a new fragrance?

Kay:        Every time. Sometimes it might not live up to my expectations, and sometimes I’m totally overwhelmed by the pure beauty of a new perfume. But every time I try a new scent, it’s an experience I always look forward to, and wouldn’t miss for anything, no matter the outcome. And sometimes I get surprised when I smell an old familiar fragrance – I’ll smell a facet I’ve never focused on before, which makes it new all over again!

Gwen:         Absolutely! Part of the fun is trying something new – how does one perfumer treat an ingredient differently from another? How does it smell on me?  How does it make me feel? And then sharing new discoveries with friends, family and people who read this blog.
Have your tastes changed since you started

Kay:        For sure! I have come to understand white florals, and really love some of them, which I thought would never happen in this lifetime! I love the slightly rotten indolic aspect of these flowers, which lurks just beneath their honeyed sweetness. My nose is super-sensitive to these notes so the secret is to apply just a very small spritz. Less is truly more for me, when it comes to white florals.

Gwen:     I’m a synesthete so I tend to ‘see’ fragrances, that’s just the way I process information, so I’m not sure my taste has changed so much as evolved. I appreciate refinement and subtlety more in fragrances now than when we started the blog. It’s easy to hide a lack of skill with ‘big’ notes, just as garlic can mask a poorly made tomato sauce. So, right now, I’m going through a real ‘less-is-more-phase’.

Still, the more perfumes I smell, the more I learn about fragrances, and myself, and the more my tastes broaden – that’s a good thing.

Have you made any “Eureka!” perfume discoveries?

Kay:        Yup. Some of the most absolutely gorgeous fragrances are coming from perfumers who are self-taught, and who use mainly natural ingredients in their fragrances and have their own independent brands. No one telling them what to make, or how to create it - the fragrance in the bottle is 100% their vision. And the list is growing, which is what keeps me still fascinated and obsessed with perfume, and the business of beautiful smells.

Gwen:         I’ve discovered that the fragrance world doesn’t necessarily revolve around France. OK, it does, but look at the Italians! I think a lot of their frags are under-rated. Generally, their fragrances are far less abstract and more straightforward but still refined and elegant. Look at the northern Europeans, and the Canadians! I don’t think there’s ever been a more exciting time in fragrance.

Kay:        That was more fun than I thought it would be!

Gwen:     Definitely! Makes me want to smell more new frags though.

Kay:        Me too!

Gwen:     Now, where did I hide that credit card?