The second part of our fragrance day, an accessory and perfume swap, was an intriguing glimpse into how perfumistas and the Internet have changed the cultivated edges of a beauty industry. First, let me announce our giveaway winner, chosen at random - Hester! Thank you everyone!So what is it like to throw a fragrance and accessory swap? The swap came together naturally, with Made Marion Craft hosting us at their store and a local fragrance appreciator sharing her knowledge of how to sample perfumes. On the swap afternoon, we had a table of necklaces, other jewelry, scarves, gloves,and hats; some shoes; a merry widow; four full-to-1/4-full bottles of fragrance; and about 150 perfume and fragrance oil samples. 150 samples? Whaaaat? Allow me to explain. These sample vials, ranging from 0.5 to 2 ml of fragrance, are what enable today's online perfume fans. You can acquire samples and "decants" from most online fragrance vendors and there are two or three places that will send you samples from thousands of fragrance lines - all for a price, of course. But that price is modest compared to buying a full bottle of all those scents ($2 to $6, depending). (Surrender to Chance is the favorite amongst NZ buyers; Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab was one of the originators of this practice.) These samples are now a kind of currency amongst fragrance fans, and they are swapped or sold on for modest sums. The more rare, artisanal, and complex the sample, the more the perfumistas are intrigued. Once in a while, a sample leads to a full bottle purchase - which is often decanted in part to share with one's fragrance friends. Fragrance producers large and small, realizing this, have gotten a lot tighter about handing out fragrance samples - I noted this comparing my NYC shopping trips in 2011 and 2013. At the same time this has given a boost to artisanal and unusual fragrance producers - their works are now mailed around the world. Many smaller producers, and I'm using BPAL as an example here again, have bloomed thanks to these samples and related e-commerce. So we were all rapt for a demonstration of how to decant perfumes into samples ourselves, using a combination of decanting supplies and scientific equipment. Our demonstrator, Alison, took us through three methods: using disposable droppers, using small funnels, and using a scientific pipetting kit. Use recycled styrofoam to hold your sample vials in place, and tinfoil to make an improvised funnel! When swap time came, the 150 samples were like a bunch of flowers to some very avid honeybees. The jewelry and even the partial bottles were neglected for the sample box and bowl. During the swap, there wasn't much perfume in the air - it wasn't the best time to open the sample vials. Jewelry started attracting attention again at the end of the swap, and the shy question was: "It's OK if I take this apart and remake it?" Of course it was! Send it forth to find its destiny! With this answered in the affirmative, the remaining jewelry was swiftly reduced by half. Was a fragrance swap a good idea? Yes. The biggest challenge in throwing a real-time fragrance swap in a smaller metropolitan area was getting enough perfume aficionados informed, then in the same place, at the same time. A couple of people said they'd be up for an accessory swap but were allergic to fragrances. What's up next for fragrance exploration in Wellington? In the springtime, another swap probably, and we are looking at a visit to Fragifert - I look forwards to trying their NZ botanical perfumes.
- Bvlgari Blue – One of us said, "This is what I wear when I need to wake up on a dismal winter's morning." It starts out as GINGER and more ginger, and dries down beautifully.
- 24 Faubourg by Hermes – I was very taken with the cashmere-sweater-nuzzleable quality of this, along with the markedly pretty bottle. As the blogger Perfume Queen says about this fragrance, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you the smell of money and happiness.”
- Miss Dior Originale by Dior – Several of us were smitten with this revived classic. Mark told us the charming story of how the fragrance was created for Dior's sister.
- Thierry Mugler Angel – One of several love-or-hate ones, this elicited long stories about when-I-wore-Angel and the comment “This smells like…like the sound of a 90s modem.”
- French travel perfume bottles – Kirk's stocks leakproof travel perfume bottles in two shapes. Transfer some of your favorite into these to take it with you securely. High-end yet affordable, most of us picked up one or more of these.
- The entire Serge Lutens line – Deliciously deconstructivist interview with the man himself here. Charlotte noted that they carry more Serge Lutens than they have on display - she brought out Daim Blonde when we asked about it.
- Diptyque’s solid perfumes - "Great for layering".
- Comme des Garcons Wonderwood - "I can't stop smelling myself!"
- A voucher for a complimentary makeup application at the cosmetic house of your choice at Kirkcaldie and Staines.
- Nine carded/boxed perfume samples – Si by Giorgio Armani, Miss Dior by Dior, MaDame by Jean Paul Gaultier, Coco by Coco Chanel, Pleats Please by Issey Miyake, Eau de Sisley 1 by Sisley, Calyx by Clinique, and (drumroll please) two Serge Luteyns samples – L’Eau Serge Lutens and Chergui.
People on the street were extremely gracious about posing, even about being moved into the shade for better shots - thank you, everyone! There was a Costume Parade in the Scottish Hall on Sunday, for some prizegiving and for serious costume review. Unfortunately, while the costumed gentlemen and ladies were happy as posing flaneurs on the street, they got hasty on stage, so I didn't get the greatest photos.
Tomorrow I'll do a general travel post about the festivities and the Oamaru area. And you'll get to see my costume.
Two evening classics - an LBD and black-and-red- are refreshed by Rachel Rouge and Miss La Belle. Vintage accessories add light and texture. They both have structured and complex hair, and Rachel's paler makeup is a fresh contrast against the dress.
Sometimes evening is the time to try a trend - Honey Suckle's blonde-and-pink hair sets off her blush ensemble. Her dress has a lot going on, so her hair and accessories stay simple. And there's pale makeup again.
Another black dress ensemble that has me admiring the sensuous, balanced revealed flesh. It sounds like I'm about to pounce on D'Licia Minx, doesn't it? But these proportions are the definition of tastefully sexy - she has the 40% ratio just right.
Two of the stars of the weekend, Frenchie Kiss and Jett Adore. Jett is bringing the quirky circus to town - you can tell he's someone special who also has a sense of humor. And why does Frenchie look so very good? Apart from that million-watt smile, immaculate grooming and quality fabrics add to her aura of perfection.
A whole lot of party happened upstairs! This group shot happened in the middle of the festivities. By the end of the evening, everyone who came in stilettos was sitting on the floor. What stands out in this picture? Vivid hair, lighter frocks, shiny accessories and fabrics, and gray suiting.
A gentler moment with two of my friends - two dresses and a cape that they made. Amazing fit and detail.