Portia & the Perfume Posse

Saturdays Francine & Portia

Posse Heaven!


Omgosh!  We had SUCH a good time!  And whilst we were having that Good Time, the brilliant Portia Turbo suggested to one of our Posse readers that she might post about her experience with our crazy selves.  Y’all hear from me all the time, yarbling on about how fabulous it is – but how about hearing from a first-time event attendee!?   The gorgeous and phenomenal Hemlock Sillage is that attendee, having flown in from the great state o’ Texas to hang out, shop and have a Time with us.  Here’s her story:


Meeting fellow perfumistas makes exploring perfume even more fun.  I had the chance to go to Chicago and meet up with the Posse’s own Musette and Portia.  It was a great experience.  I’m writing this for those of you who’ve never stepped out, never met others in the community and possibly those of you who don’t post on the blog.  Jump in, I say!  You will never find a more welcoming group of people.

I’ve been described as intense, but I tend to be quiet in groups.  Meeting big groups of people is not my thing.  Travel and perfume will drag me from my cave.  I met Musette the day before the informal Chicago sniffa, and we shopped ourselves silly.  I met her beloved handbag, Murray, and we ogled, ok fondled, lovely handbags at Nordstrom’s.  Musette, as you can guess, is a hoot!  She is both decisive and encouraging.  With her artist’s eye, she pushed me to try on things that really fit, instead of my usual shapeless frump wear.  We had the chance to sniff the Thierry Mugler Les Exceptions, guided by the very kind Mohammed at Nordstrom’s.  (A bottle of Fougère Furieuse may be in my future.) That night we had dinner with Portia and her family, Jin and Kath.  We talked, laughed and even sang a little. (Portia AND Jin can sing!) It was great fun seeing Chicago through the Aussies’ eyes while they were here on their whirlwind tour from LA to NYC.

Portia, Jin & Bean

too much fun!

The next day was the get together with Portia, and three of Musette’s dear friends joined to celebrate Musette’s birthday.  Saturdays Francine, Julie and Denise were instant gal-pals.  Portia Turbo, who is behind Australian Perfume Junkies, is a force of nature.  She is as positive, charming and exuberant as you can imagine from her posts.  At Barney’s, she chose three scents to explore with the group: Frederick Malle’s Geranium pour Monsieur, Serge Lutens’ Un Bois Vanille, and L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Batucada.  Spraying on both scent strips and on her skin, we could talk about how each scent developed over time.  I was blown away by Batucada.  To be fair, I had not given it much of a chance, but it had a fascinating arc of development—from lime/mint top notes to floral coconut mid notes and drying down to a musky sweet skin scent.  It is gorgeous on Portia, and I need to spend more time with it.

Part of the fun of this kind of meet up, is meeting people like Portia and Musette in person, people whose writing I have enjoyed for years.  Another great thing is to meet others who read the blogs, people like Terri and Tally, who love perfume.  With whom else can I talk about Malle’s purchase by Estée Lauder, and speculate what perfumes will change or disappear from the line-up?  My friends’ and family members’ eyes glaze over.

With these new friends, I braved the hushed atmosphere of Hermès.  I wanted to try the new Cuir d’Ange.  There were no samples given, but it was a chance to try it on skin.  Others will have more detailed reviews, but my quick take is more suede than leather, musky and floral with a honeyed sweetness that made me think of peach.  It reminded me of SL’s Daim Blond, but much more soft focus.  Again, with what other group is it ok to sniff another’s hand/wrist and debate notes of a new fragrance?  Polite society really frowns on smelling others, but in perfumista world, it’s normal and great fun.

Another fantastic part of the day was meeting Lisa, who along with Patty, makes up Surrender to Chance!  Lisa, her sister, Kristin, and daughter, Kelsey, came to the get together—this is half of the team that makes STC magic happen.  Lisa shared photos of her perfume cabinets and decanting set up.  Wow.  Just, WOW.  My brain boggles at the fragrant gems tucked away in those cupboards.   They had come to meet Portia and celebrate Musette’s B-day, just like the rest of us.  Lisa and I sniffed the Lancôme L’Autre Ôud and Ôud Bouquet along with Mille & Une Roses, Sagamore and Peut-Être from the Maison Lancôme line, which are available at the Neiman Marcus Chicago (and online).

At NM, Portia guided us through four more fragrances.  We smelled scent strips and skin applied versions of Jean Patou’s 1000, Creed’s Tabarome, Creed’s Iris Tubereuse, and last Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Cologne pour le Soir.  Julie, who until this day was not a perfumista, made us all laugh when she said she needed a private moment with that last heady scent.  It was great fun to see someone relatively new to the perfume scene instantly captivated.

That’s the joy, really—sharing laughs and love of perfume with others who are very into fragrance.  Everyone had different tastes, and all opinions were accepted.  There was no pressure to make a purchase.  It’s funny, but I wore less perfume in those few days, as I was always trying to save skin for the next big find.  Let me encourage you to jump into the discussion here AND to participate in a perfume meet up (whether Sniffapalooza, Chicocascentsation, or smaller group like this one).  Of course be safe when meeting people from the internet, but I’d say perfume people are the best.  

  • Laurels says:

    Great post, Hemlock Sillage!

    I got to meet Portia at the Scent Bar in LA, which was pretty great also, although Portia now knows that I’m quite shy and socially awkward (not to mention clumsy). As far as I know, no other PP readers made it (looking at you, Lisa D), but Portia was lovely and in great demand, Kilian Hennessy was there (even better looking in person), Tom from PP was there, but too intimidating for me to talk to, and the Scent Bar! If you ever went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland as a kid, and when you got to the vignette with all the treasure chests and piles of gold and jewels, wanted desperately to climb out of the boat and just play with all the treasure, that was very much what walking into the Scent Bar was like, except that I could actually play with all the treasure. Despite the fact that I got lost on the way, my nose shut down completely after an hour, and I am practically a hermit, I would go to another perfume event in a heartbeat.

    • Heya, Laurels! Thanks for reporting on the LA portion of Portia’s Grand Tour! (now we have LA, NYC and Chicago portions covered) I’m so glad you could go. I haven’t been to the Scent Bar since they moved to their new space. I was overwhelmed on my first visit. It was such a tiny place, with so many things to smell, and no way to experience it all in one visit. I envy folks who live where they can easily pop by to sniff. I have some decent niche shopping available to me, but not much compares to the Scent Bar. I’m glad you found glee inspiring enough to make you want to try another perfume event. I hope we can meet at one, and compare stories. Be well 😀

  • HemlockSillage says:

    Thanks, Ann! I enjoy your posts so much, that to get praise from you makes this even sweeter. You guys who write regularly for the ‘Posse are perfume world rock stars 😀

  • Ann says:

    Wow, what a great post — thanks Hemlocksillage, for sharing the Posse adventure from your very fun viewpoint!

  • Kandice says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your trip. It sounds like it was such fun. I wish I could have joined you too!

    • It was my pleasure, truly! What a cool thing, to get to guest post on the ‘Posse? I hope you can join one of the perfume community’s meet ups, soonest. They are great fun. Be well 😀

  • Dina C. says:

    Love the photos and the write up Hemlock! So fun to read about the sniffing from a Possse reader’s point of view. Wish I could have been there, too. So, was there cake? Cocktails? Love that you had time to go shopping and wander through handbag heaven. Sounds like a marvelous trip! Thanks for sharing.

    • Musette says:

      Wanna know how freakin’ fabulousFAB-U-LOUS Posse folk are? Terri brought MALLOMARS! So we had cocktails, some apps…and MALLOMARS!!!! woooot! xoxoxoA

    • Thank you, Dina! It was great. There were Mallomars (Thanks, Terri!) and amazing cookies (Thanks, Francine!) and though I’m not generally much of a drinking gal. . .I think I had adult beverages every night of my Chicago stay. Chicago is truly foodie heaven as well as home to great perfume shopping. Let’s just say I did not immediately step on the scale afterward to assess the damage. (March’s post on the last 10 pounds is brilliant, BTW) Dina, I hope you are able to join in da fun that is a Sniffa sometime. Truly wonderful!

  • poodle says:

    I know you had a blast because I went and made the journey to NY for the Portia experience and it was worth the trip. It’s so much fun sniffing with other perfume people. I am quite sure there are pictures out there somewhere of many of us sticking our noses down Portia’s shirt for a sniff. I didn’t buy anything that day but I may now that I’ve sniffed the samples a bit. I need something to commemorate the trip, right?
    Now I just need to find a way to meet the fabulous Musette.
    I’m so happy you went. I was so nervous for my first Sniffa but if you use common sense with who and where you’re meeting these things can be so much fun.

    • Musette says:

      I have never had a bad time with perfume people! It can be overwhelming and exhausting but at the end of the day, I think we’re all just people with a common interest/passion. We’ll have to do some sniffing, next time I’m in New York!


      ps. tell Poo-del I got some glasses just like the ones in your avatar!!!

    • Oooh, Poodle! I bet you guys had a ball. I’ve never been to Osswald (or the Twisted Lily), though I love NYC. Those photos of you sniffing Portia *need* to surface 😀 I think you deserve a commemorative perfume for the experience, of course!

    • Poodle,
      You are one of my NYC highlights. thank you so much for coming. What a great girl you are and I am thrilled we got to spend some real time sniffing, chatting and hanging out together.
      Thank you for coming.
      Portia xx

  • furriner says:

    I’m really sorry I had to work that day. I really wanted to join you.

    • Musette says:

      We’ll do it again,G, I promise! It was a blast! You were missed! xoxoxoA

    • I know ALL about work interfering with my play time! (I’m still at work, with another 2-3 hours to go, as I type this.) Sorry to have missed meeting *you.* I hope I can meet you at one of these things in the future.

      I certainly will try to go to more, now that I’ve dipped my toe in the water, nah, I jumped all in–here I am posting! It’s really a dream I didn’t realize I had, to post on the ‘Posse 😀

  • Hey there Princess Hemlock,
    What an amazing time we had. It was great to meet you and to share some fun and fragrant times together. I bet you’re wearting the heck out of your stunning frock purchases.
    We loved you so much and often refer to you. The crew sends hugs.
    Portia xx

    • Portia!!!! Hugs all round to you, Jin and Kath! You are amazing. You guys have inspired me–I may have to (GASP) sign up for FaceBook and Twitter so that I can keep up with you, and hear of your futher adventures. Thanks for sharing your precious vacation time with me. You are wonderful. Be well 😀

  • einsof says:

    Bravo Hemlock! Thanks for coming out of your cave. 😉

    so happy to see everyone in appropriate Chicago Winter Wear- i must admit a bit of worry over the Posse straight from LA to Chitown. *laugh*

    Smelling other people… well, it’s one of the perks, isn’t it?

    So happy everyone has a great time!

    • Musette says:

      Luckily Jin is Korea born & bred – so he knows allll about cold. He got P &K set up for their Korea trip so they were good to go. Most everybody else was from the Midwest so we had no cold-issues. And Cold? It was COLD! 30degrees below avg. brrr! xoxoxoA

    • You are so right. So few people will let you SMELL them. Maybe that’s why I loved hanging with perfumistas so much; it made me feel more normal!

      BTW, the Texan cold wimp here introduced some folks there to the little hot hands warmer thingies. Those things are golden when it’s so cold that one’s hands hurt. . .

  • Sun Mi says:

    Sounds so fun. Jealous!! 🙂

    • Musette says:

      Jumping in here – HS has a heavy workload today – it was SO much fun!!! Come with us next time, okay? You’ll have a blast! xoxoA

    • It WAS great fun! If you ever have a chance to go to one of these things (or meet Portia or Musette in da real world), DO! I did not buy a single bottle of perfume, but I came home with such a great experience 😀