The Sniff Box offers reviews of perfumes that I’ve tried, most of which I’d recommend to anyone looking for something new to smell, illustrated with my own drawings. It’s mainly aimed at men, since I think that not only are we are particularly badly served by the perfume industry, but that many men find it difficult to choose and shop for a good fragrance of their own.
This is very much a personal project and the views are mine alone, so while I’m keen to concentrate on perfumes I love, I won’t hesitate to explain what makes me hate a fragrance too.
In the words of Edmond Roudnitska, creator of Eau Sauvage and many other great perfumes, ‘The choice of a perfume can only rest on the competence acquired by education of olfactive taste, by intelligent curiosity and by a desire to understand the WHY and the HOW of perfume. Instead, the public [is] given inexactitudes and banalities. The proper role of publicity is to assist in the formation of connoisseurs, who are the only worthwhile propagandists for perfume, and it is up to the perfumers to enlighten, orient and direct the publicity agents.’
Smell may (allegedly) be the most atavistic of all our senses, but that doesn’t put perfume beyond the reach of plain English, any more than it puts art or music. Perfumes can be delicious, erotic, addictive, melancholy, outrageous, revolting, even silly, but there’s no need for them to be confusing.
By talking about perfume in plain language, The Sniff Box offers a modest challenge to the crazed copywriters who for too long have bogged down the subject of perfume in bogus mystique and purple prose, not to mention the department-store harpies who have made choosing a fragrance about as much fun as a do-it-yourself vasectomy.
Educating yourself in the language of scent is just as enjoyable and rewarding as learning about wine or good food, as long as you know whose advice you can trust and (just as important) whose you can safely ignore. And there’s nothing like learning together, so I hope you’ll enjoy coming along for the ride. Comments and feedback are always very welcome.
The wonderfully clear design of the site is by Leanda Ryan.