How I fell in love with Niche Perfumes

Patricia Nicolai and Jean Claude Ellena are my two favorite perfumers, and I am obsessed by the perfumes they have created.

I got into niche perfumes when I read Chandler Burr's groundbreaking nonfiction book titled "Th Perfect Scent" which follows the creation of two niche frags (one for Coty and one for Hermes). The first, Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker, had been one of my favorite perfumes for several years. At that point, I was solidly grounded in mass market frags, and I considered Lovely to the best one out there. Burr described how she developed it, and explained the deep and dark and rare perfumes that inspired it. My interest was peaked as he described niche fragrances. He then followed JCE as he developed a far more upscale, niche unisex fragrance called "Un Jardin Sur Le Nil".

Burr described how the perfumes were developed, and he wrote about the perfumes that inspired Jean Claude Ellena, including Eau d'Hermes. I was burnt out at my marketing job at a local real estate firm and needed to think about something else. So I googled the perfumes discussed and discovered The Perfumed Court (frequently referred to as TPC by those in the hobby), where I could order samples and decants of full bottle luxury fragrances by Hermes, Coty and hundreds of brands I had never heard of or seen. I googled further, and discovered "Make Up Alley" where perfume addicts wrote up reviews and referenced other perfumes. Soon I compiled a list of fragrances that I had to try, based on the book and the reviews of others. I put together an order from TPC: Un Jardin sur le Nil, Un Jardin de le Mediterranee, CB I Hate Perfume Revelation, Ava Luxe Figuer, Annick Goutal Un Matin d'Orage, and more. A week later, my three packages arrived from TPC, and I set out on a new fragrant journey. Within moments of opening that package, I was hooked. I read every perfume book and review I could get my hands on, and I set asside money from each paycheck to feed my hungry nose.

A sample set purchased on ebay was my next big splurge. Since I was new, the 100+ samples and niche decants were all new to me. In them, I found over 50 indie perfume company's best offerings. Soon, I had a swaplist on MUA and was sending packages across the country, and receiving those packages in return. I quicky found that Hermes (and more specifically: the works of Jean Claude Ellena), were really the best fit for me. I also discovered Patricia Nicolai, the granddaughter of the man who started Guerlain and in house perfume (aka: Nose) for Parfums de Nicolai in France. My breakthrough scent from her line was Eau d'Ete: clean, comforting, effervescent.

I soon began frequenting the top perfume blogs: NST Perfume, Perfume Posse, and Perfume Shrine. That's how this entire hobby got started.

Image from the MDCI Perfumes website. My reviews of their excellent ultra niche fragrances to follow soon.


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