Saturday, January 3, 2009

Perfume Videoblogging

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.


Katie Puckrik said...

Avery! How kind of you to shine a light on me like this - Nathan Branch just tipped me off to this via his sparky 'fume site.

I very much enjoyed your book, and in fact was reading it just after I launched Katie Puckrik Smells. Got an a-ha flash of "I'm onto something, here" when I read your line, "There is no Roger Ebert of scent." In fact, I highlighted it. I'm a nerd.

But reading that put a little tiger in my tank to power on with my video 'fume musings. An inspiring coinkydink.

And wow - extra credit goes to you for sniffing out my KP Smells theme song - "Perfume" by Sparks, from the very album in the photo. Smart guy.


Avery Gilbert said...


You're welcome! I'm happy to point people to your video blog--it's one of the most promising new ventures in the online fragrance sphere.

As for Sparks, well, there's some history there . . . my college roomate from Orange County used to play the Kimono My House album. Strange and most excellent stuff. And they're still at it!

Katie Puckrik said...


Sparks are indeed still at it - and more innovative than ever. A tribute to creative stamina. And I'm proud to count them friends of mine, so that adds to the fun of using their song for my theme. But I must clarify that the line in "Perfume": "Katie wears Giorgio", is NOT about me. Ha!


Nathan Branch said...

Just to update on the Katie action, she's now writing a fragrance review column for Beauty and the Dirt -- it shows the same wit and humor as her video-reviews.‏-part-1/

I can't believe I just posted an information update about Katie on *your* website. This must qualify me as an official Katie groupie!

Avery Gilbert said...


Yeah, well I guess that means I'm hosting the Katie Klub.

When I was out West for the L.A. Times Book Prizes three weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting her. Not to needlessly inflame you and the other groupies, but she's even more charming in person than she is in print or video.