Friday Guest Post: Sniffing With New Friends

(Today´s guest poster – Shelley!  Talking about our good times at the Chi-Cocoa Scentsation in September.)

Three Perfumistas walk into a bar…

Well, 30+, not 3.  The bar was part of a film production house.  And despite the fact that almost nobody knew anybody else at the start of what at that point was a very long day, no punches or punch lines ensued.

In the best demonstration of how conventional wisdom just isn´t always so wise, I fully enjoyed the time I spent with a big space full of people who, until that morning, I had never laid eyes on in my life.  Tall, short, outfitted in sheath dresses & full jewelry or jeans and a sweater, able to discuss the implications of “headspace technology” or still clarifying what a drydown means.

Of course, it doesn´t hurt to have piles of chocolate out on the table, good eats on the counter, and a little vino by the glass.  And we were all wiped, having spent the day putting our sniffers through quite the workout, with monsoon windsprints marking the space in between huffings.

But wait:  there was a piece de resistance to our pampering — not one but two set ups of samples from niche perfumers, one of which came with the perfumer herself.  In one anteroom:  a range of Neil Morris scents, including… Burnt Amber, Spectral Violet, le Parfum d’Ida, Izmir, Cathedral, Afire, Burnt Amber, Dark Earth, Gotham, Spectral Violet, Clear, Flowers for Men: Gardenia…and yes, the anxiously awaited Prowl.  In another anteroom: a set of Historical Fragrances, Soivohle´ blends, and LZ fragrance accords… along with La Liz (Liz Zorn, on left in photo) herself, answering every question that came her way.  

Aside:  I had been waiting nearly a year to try Spectral Violet.  Who knew that Burnt Amber would divert me?  (Well, maybe I should have; I do tend to like ambers.)  But it was Prowl that took the cake for me.  That´s now at the top of my “order these samps” queue…

Let´s see, was it a bit decadent to have a sort of personal perfume party? Yes.  Was it nearly overwhelming to have such an embarrassment of scent riches?  Yes.  Was it the best idea since niche perfumery/scents for layering/sliced bread/if we can send a man to the moon, why can´t we have a private perfume party?  Heck, yeah.

I mean, c´mon:  you could go to the perfumer´s display, sniff, have a nosh, go back and apply a sample (or two or three) to explore skin chemistry, and check out the drydown with a couple dozen new best scent friends, go back AGAIN and if it was Liz, ask questions about what was going on with the blend/drydown/philosophy of the scent, AND still leave the joint with vials of samples to further test drive at home.  Seriously.  Online swapping and begging samps from your favorite perfume rep is great and all, but wouldn´t you rather just have it waiting for you…with eats and a pleasant party down the hall?

While I had no idea at 8:00 that morning what was in store for me, I know that at 8:00 pm, with my shoes off, my feet up, surrounded by a bunch of folks I would happily invite to share a cuppa in my kitchen, booty from the day in my bag, fresh samps on my arms and in my hands…I was happy.  And that would have been true without the chocolate.

I don´t know who Riley is, really, but I´m pretty sure I was leading his life, at least for one night. 


(PS – from March – today’s photo of Liz Zorn showing her stuff courtesy of Musette, and don´t forget to check the other photos if you haven´t, they´re in the photoblog at left!)

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  • Shelley says:

    Thank goodness you hear that voice, too… 😉

    It was a blast, Elle, and I’m sorry you couldn’t make it, too. No worries, though; part of the goal today is to share with those who couldn’t make it…

  • Elle says:

    I’ve said it before, but I am *so* damn sorry I couldn’t go. Sounds like it was such a blast! And I’d have loved to have met Liz Zorn. Now I’m off to Neil’s site to see about ordering more samples. Prowl is calling my name. Loudly.

  • March says:

    Shelley — as you know I had so much fun! And it really was nice to end the evening that way, as opposed to us all just giving hugs and going home. What a great bunch of gals (although having done this sort of thing before, I knew how much fun to expect!) 😡

    • Shelley says:

      March, I was curious to see if everybody would simply become zombies–or worse, “crankies”–after such a full day, but no such. And I was wondering if *I* would have the stamina to handle one more round of sniffing, but that was just too wonderful, having those lines right there in what felt like the comfort of your own living room.

      Maybe I should have asked the question, if you had the opportunity to have one perfumer/line travel to YOUR living room, who/what would it be?

      • March says:

        Someone from Guerlain? With all the old bottles of stuff from the back catalog? 😡

        • Musette says:

          If you would invite your poor ole >-) pal to hang out in your living room on that day, I would be much obliged.


        • Shelley says:

          See, right now I’m thinking a night with Killian Hennessey might not be all that bad…but that’s because of the “triple threat”: cognac, perfume, and Killian. b-)

          Since March will be having Guerlain in her salon, I’ll bring on over the Caron vintage line. Absent that….I’d be in near paroxyms of pleasure if Pierre Guillame brought over his whole line, chatted me up, doused me down, and left behind whatever had struck my fancy.

  • moongrrl says:

    I’m wearing NM Burnt Amber today, funnily enough. You know, Chi-cocoa was went great because of great planning by people like you, Shelley. Don’t be modest! :d

    I was the lucky winner of the bottle of Neil Morris Dark Season and I am in *love*. I hadn’t tried any of Neil’s scents and truthfully, I wasn’t all that interested in them, but Dark Season is a true head turner. It has this hot/cold vibe running through the scent; one minute, I smell more of the pine trees and earth, the next it’s got more of a warm cinnamon/vanilla vibe. It never gets too sweet. And the the icing on my happy cake? It lasts all day on me. Now there’s a true feat.

    Liz’s stuff was very nice, too. She had small bottles of a chypre and a jasmine scent which were mainly naturals and really dirty in a good way. I think that she only makes them by special request, though.

    • Shelley says:

      Hiya, Moongrrrl! So it was you who won the Neil Morris raffle. I’m intrigued by the hot/cold vibe you describe…and personally like earthy stuff. I recently tried Ayala Vetiver Racinettes, and that’s a vetiver that takes you down to the earth and roots, too.

  • Debbie says:

    I wish I could have gone. My foot isn’t hurting now. It took two injections, and I have to be religious about stretching every day. :o( About one month too late.

    Prowl is incredible. I love the green tea note in this. I did a review on MUA’s P’ville. It is all about a tea plantation and a tiger for me.

    • Shelley says:

      Debbie, glad your foot is feeling better! You would have been in sympathetic company…we had a couple of our gang hobbling about…

      So you are liking Prowl, too? I think that perhaps I’ve gotten a bit “darker” as I’ve descended into this perfume world…

  • Louise says:

    Shelley-so good to wake up to you >:d< What a lovely post of a divine event-sounds like y'all had such a good time...sad for me I didn't get to go 🙁 , but so thrilled it all came together. I know you and Musette and the elves worked very hard on this =:) Now...I wonder which city would be the next fair-game target for a PosseParty. I vote for my hometowm, Portland, OR, since they have the perfume house, loads of indie boutiques, fab food, freat music, and of course my yummy nephews [-o<

    • Louise says:

      Er…The Perfume House (and I have to teach a lesson on punctuation this morning…)/:)

      • Shelley says:

        Louise — so nice to have you here to wake up to. :d

        I like the idea of Portland…have loved visiting there, and that was BEFORE perfume or any knowledge of the mecca that could be The Perfume House. (I love the story of the Russian opera stars visiting there and serenading the owner in thanks for their special hours “sniff-0-rama.”)

        I will need to bone up on that “freat music,” though…the kids haven’t hepped me to that… ;))

        • Louise says:

          It’s er, a local combo of “great” and “freak” :”> Sorta pre-grunge, dont’cha know?

    • 2scents says:

      I’m so there for a posse portland party!The Perfume House is amazing.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Trying to work my way through the photos…you guys had a ball !

    I would have killed to meet Liz, SIGH.
    Tigs, email me- I’ll send you some.
    I’m mad for that orange/vetiver myself- smoky, gorgeous.

    What a great article, Shelley !
    Is that you ?

    • Shelley says:

      It is me..:d/ Thanks!
      Liz was every inch the artist, and ready to talk not only about her own art, but others’ as well. (She and Hugh had an interesting discussion about both the artistic and the business side of theater, for example.)

      • Musette says:


        I think Chaya is asking if the woman in the photograph is you (right, Chaya?). The woman sniffing the Zorns is Tammy LaBellarte who, with her husband Michael, was gracious enough to lend me their space for the cocktail/sniffage party.

        Shelley – you’re WAY taller than that!!!


  • Lee says:

    Now I’m keen as mustard to try Prowl…

  • Erin T / Tigs says:

    Thanks for all your work on a great day, Shelley. I was lucky enough to win the generous raffle prize from Liz, and can highly recommend her Blood Orange Vetiver. I was so excited to see the prize was this scent, as it really intrigued me when I was sampling earlier: it almost reminds me of Christmas, without that potpourri/pomander vibe you get off a lot of natural perfumes. I also really enjoyed one of her “accords” that she wasn’t selling yet – the Cedar, was it maybe? Unfortunately, I think I missed Neil’s Parfum d’Ida, which I had really wanted to try. Must have been distracted by the brownies and George Michael videos…

    • Shelley says:

      Those raffles were incredible, weren’t they? Liz’ was wonderful (I didn’t know Blood Orange Vetiver was in there–nice), and that generous Creed basket (including an artist palette) from Neiman Marcus, and the scrumptious full bottle raffle at L’Artisan… I missed Parfum d’Ida, too; must have been a good ‘un!

    • Musette says:


      Been a bit under the weather and overwhelmed (great combo/:) – have also been meaning to email you meself. Drop me a line here – I will hook you up with La Liz’s stuff, unless Chaya gets to you first. Would love to know how your uncle is and if M had all her hair in place when you got back!