Saturday, January 3, 2009
In the two decades I’ve been in the business, the fragrance industry has evolved in remarkable ways. First, to the astonishment of traditionalists, perfumers stepped out from behind the curtain. It used to be unthinkable that a fragrance house—a Givaudan or a Firmenich—would even admit to creating a perfume, much less give credit to an specific perfumer. Only industry insiders knew who did what. Times change and now civilian enthusiasts talk about perfumers the way opera fans argue about sopranos. When I spoke at a Sniffapalooza luncheon in New York in December, I mentioned a few of the perfumers I’d worked with and was amazed when some of the names drew knowing applause from the crowd.
What used to be the ultimate inside-baseball knowledge has become part of a cultural phenomenon on the Internet. Perfume blogs (see my links list), discussion groups like Basenotes, and hybrid virtual- and real-world organizations like Sniffapalooza are giving people a voice. It’s no longer just the industry talking to—or more often, past—consumers with Ingredient Voice or Imagery Voice. (Puzzled? See Chapter 1 in my book.)
And now comes the next step in the Webification of perfume: videoblogging. In a (very polite!) comment spam to my last post, one Katie Puckrik drew attention to a YouTube video in which she gives a lively review of the actual smell of Burger King’s Flame. Turns out she has an entire channel of perfume mini-reviews, in which she covers everything from White Patchouli by Tom Ford to Bulgari Black.
So who is Katie Puckrik? In one sense it doesn’t matter: as a perfume review populist I believe anyone with a flair for smell and the ability to talk about it can play. No need to kowtow before noseurs like Luca Turin and Chandler Burr. Katie Puckrik describes herself as “a fragrance thrillseeker whose love of perfume borders on the unseemly.” Sounds like a player to me. Plus, she's a natural on camera. With a little Googling, one finds she’s been a dancer (Pet Shop Boys!), standup comic, writer, and TV host (BBC and Oxygen). Is she any good as a perfume reviewer? Go see for yourself and let me know what you think.