Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Saturday Sniffin'

To feed my growing fragrance addiction, I got together with some like minded (equally obsessed if not fragrant consumed) folks in downtown San Francisco last Saturday. We met at Alexander's Bookstore to receive our first treat, an informal reading from Alyssa Harad's memoir about her abyss into the wonderful world of fragrance, Coming to My Senses.

It was a rocky start at first - the manager of the bookstore was unaware of this reading and gathering and most ironic - she was ALLERGIC to fragrances! So we gathered on the bottom floor and tried to discreetly smell fragrances Alyssa brought. But obsessed fans can only take so much - wrapped up quickly to run outside to smell the fragrances with abandon. I even broke my rule of saving my wrists and forearms as they are prime real estate on a day of fragrance testing by dabbing every vintage scent she had to offer.

Here's Alyssa talking about her Fragrance themed Bridal Shower - I'm now thinking of having a fragrance themed luncheon with my girlfriends for my next birthday party. And yes, she had vintage extraits for us to smell - I am still dreaming of vintage Femme by Rochas and Cuir de Russie by Chanel. They were so exquisite and nothing like their updated versions. 

She ended her impromptu reading with a passage describing her mother's signature scent, the aforementioned, Femme and it almost brought a tear to our eyes! 

This was the second time I participated in the SF Sniff outing. We are a group comprised of online fragrance fans, whether it's from blogs like Now Smell This or online guides, like Basenotes to organized fragrance groups on Facebook. We vary in age, race, and occupation but the one thing we have in common - an obsessive borderline unhealthy love of collecting hoarding fragrances. I make new friends and I learn so much about fragrances from other folks. You can swap your unwanted samples with others but I just tend to collect and collect as many sample I can through out the day. Last time, I bulked up my Frederic Malle samples and this time I got a great amount of samples from L'Artisan Parfumuer, Chanel Les Exclusifs from the Chanel boutique and some iris body oil I just remembered from the Diptyque boutique. 

I made my way into the super chic boutique Gumps to check out their selection of Santa Maria Novella, Histoires de Parfum, Lubin and Penhaligon's. 

I am coming back for Ambre 114 and possibly 1969...I guess I should start saving up now!

I ended the day at Barneys' Beauty/Fragrance Department - a.k.a. my happy place!

I hear angels singing when I look at these bottles!

See how happy these fellow SF Sniffers are when in the Fragrance area?

SF based perfumer, Yosh Han was there to present her lovely collection to us. I am a fan of her Ginger Ciao, a gourmand floral (notes include: black coconut, ginger, neroli, basil, night queen and ylang ylang) that evokes a blazing tropical sun while laying on the sand without the cliche suntan lotion vibe.

Heeley is brand that I am still learning about. I will say that I was really drawn to Hippie Rose. I'm from the Bay Area and I work in San Francisco so yes, I can appreciate this chypre fragrance with rose, patchouli, woody notes. It's a fancy, chic hippie - the kind of hippie I would have been if I were one.

Here I am with Alyssa:

She is an amazing woman. I thought I was going to be too intimidate to talk to her but she is extremely down to earth and easy to talk to and you can see her passion for fragrance exude when we asked what was her earliest scent memory. Mine, by the way, Aqua Net hairspray and Jovan Musk for her - I lived with older girl cousins and had to share a bathroom with them. She is the kind of woman you've met before or know, you could have gone to school with her, worked with her or just had a quick conversation sitting next to her while stuck on a train. You can relate to her and approaching her is so easy. Even though I was unable to attend the very first Fragrance Salon in San Francisco on Sunday July 8th, I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet her one on one. Alyssa didn't just stirred my curiosity about vintage fragrances, she made me believe in myself again and just the simple possibilities life has to offer because I am here and my passion will never die. 

Also, I reconnected with a woman I once worked with at a bank at one of my early temp. job assignments. We laughed, shared stories, smelled fragrances and laughed some more. I'm sad that I didn't bond with her while working at the bank but I am thankful for the Facebook Fragrance Group I'm a part of to have brought us back together! 

More about Alyssa Harad, click here

Her book is also currently available on

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