Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sniffapalooza - Time for an Update?

Olfactorama writes an informative piece about the 2010 Sniffa Fall Ball.  Here's the part that caught my attention: 'But I’m wondering if the reps from the established perfume companies saw us as annoying, rabid freebie hounds.'

Well, wouldn't you?  After all, that's how the event is currently structured.  

Attending the 2008 Fall  Ball was quite an experience.  
I got to meet new people, visit multiple locations and smell more perfume than I ever imagined.  

But, I must admit, parts of it were annoying and tedious.

For example, we were often crammed together like sardines, bumping into each other trying to access perfumes.  After two days of wandering the city to sniff everything in sight, it starts to feel a little, well, rabid.  

In the end, I found myself wishing the event was more sophisticated, deeper...smarter somehow. 

To that end, I offer the following suggestions:

1)  Change the name.  Inner Critic is right - 'Sniffapalooza' is dated and pedestrian.

2)  Shake up the itinerary.   Even though the presenters change, the itinerary stays the same, over and over.

3)  Provide less information with more depth.  Perhaps one day devoted to a great perfumer's lecture, instruction, history and portfolio.  Another day devoted to uptown or downtown sniffing.

4)  Lose the perfume reps.

In a nutshell, more meaning.

Less clusterfuck.

If we want to be viewed as people with both knowledge and respect for perfume as art, the event itself must be structured differently.

It's New York City.  Raise the bar.  

Picture from


  1. Hi Josephine,

    I enjoyed Olfacta's article and your own take on these events, not having been to one myself. They do sound as though they are on a fairly large scale, with the inevitable risk of being herded like cattle. The Basenotes sniffing trip in London I attended, which was our nearest equivalent, involved 30 people approx. More low key in terms of presenters, less pzazz, but calmer and maybe cosier? How many are at Sniffa would you guess? It looks like a biggish crowd in the photos I have seen.

  2. Hi Josephine (and Vanessa) -- Thanks for the read! I couldn't agree more. The term "Sniffapalooza" is...well...when someone asks me why I was in NY I say, quickly, "for a conference."

    Having spent my share of time doing PR events and marketing presentations, I think you're right -- the perfume reps would naturally think of Sniffa attendees as a bunch of greedy sample-grabbers because that's how the event is structured -- roving herds of (mostly) women, all shrieking for samples. This year, there were no guest speakers; Chandler Burr mysteriously dropped off the 2010 schedule -- last year Avery Gilbert spoke and I think Katie Pukrik -- not sure what happened there. No one really knows what goes on behind the scenes. The Karens do a tremendous amount of work. I think the perfume companies are scared enough to refuse to crack open a few bottles for sharing. Sad.

    As for number of attendees, I'm not too good at crowd estimating but I'd say maybe 100 at the first day's lunch and in the mob scene at Bergdorfs, maybe 150.

    Lose the Perfume Reps. Exactly. It would seem much less like "The Devil Wears Prada" meets Product Presentation Gang Bang.

  3. Hi Vanessa - it sounds like the event you attended may have been more suited to my taste. Bigger and More is not always better!

  4. Olfacta - thank you for your comment! Yes, I also said I was 'attending a conference,' embarrassed to say the name.

    Actually, I'm wising the event were more in the format of a conference or seminar. Imagine Jean Claude Ellena, Annick Menardo or any of the greats providing something instructional/historical/experential to the group. It would be amazing!

    Certainly, the Karens do a ton of work to pull this off each year. Still, I think it's time for a new approach. As someone who lives in the West, it is an ordeal to come to NYC. I'd like to leave feeling like, 'wow.'

    Lastly, periodic events on the west coast would be appreciated. Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle or wherever. I would even be willing to participate in their planning.

    Under a new name, of course.

    Thanks again for commenting - I really enjoyed your Fall Ball posts.

  5. Hi there! Karen A from Sniffapalooza, checking in. We always appreciate when bloggers write about our events. We love to share our passion and enthusiasm for fragrance, and we try to make sure that everyone who attends Sniffapalooza is having a great time too. Although our goal is to create the ultimate fragrance event, we realize that we cannot please everyone all of the time.

    Our Fall Ball and Spring Fling Sniffapalooza events attract over 150 people from around the world. These events are not for the average person - they require a great deal of physical stamina, in addition to the love of fragrance and a tolerance of the large crowds that are intrinsic to NYC. This type of Sniffapalooza occurs twice a year and kicks off with our Bergdorfs breakfast which involves fragrance reps introducing all the new and upcoming scents to those lucky folks who registered early and snagged a seat. We just celebrated our 13th breakfast at Bergdorfs last month!

    We had a great speaker line-up at this year's Fall Ball Luncheon at Opia Restaurant. We do try to vary our speakers at each event, and many people actually contact us and volunteer to speak. Some wonderful speakers from this past event include Pierce Mattie of Pierce Mattie PR, who did an excellent presentation about Social Media Fragrance Trends for 2011, which I'm sure you'd have found very interesting. The link to his Powerpoint presentation is Perfumers Sarah Horowitz of Sarah Horowitz Parfums, Marie-Lise Bischoff of Puro, & Barb Stegemann of 7 Virtues also participated. Linda Arye, the founder of Quilts for Kids, gave a moving presentation, which she related back to fragrance!, as we were making a donation on behalf of all of the Sniffapalooza Fall Ball attendees.

    In addition to our biannual NYC events, we hold smaller, more intimate events that often involve presentations by major perfumers, including Ralf Schwieger, Bertrand Duchaufour, Jean-Claude DelVille, Maurice Roucel, Roja Dove, Lyn Miller, Patricia de Nicolai, Jerome Epinette, Nathalie Feisthauer, Christophe Laudamiel, Christopher Brosius, Antoine Maisondieu, and the list goes on.

    And then there are our trips abroad each summer where 25 people get a behind-the-scenes fragrance tour of factories, labs, companies, stores, etc. We've travelled to Paris, Florence, London, Grasse, and we're thinking about Barcelona for Summer 2011!

    There's a different Sniffapalooza event to please everyone, and we do try to please as many fragrance enthusiasts as we can. We put an incredible amount of time and effort into planning our events, and we do this in addition to our regular full-time jobs in unrelated fields. We read the blogs, and we do make changes based on the feedback we get from people.

    I hope this clarifies what we're all about, and please feel free to contact us at any time to let us know what you think. You can contact us through our website.

    Happy Sniffing,

    PS - The name stays! Sniffapalooza is a "festival of fragrance" and that's exactly what we are :-)

  6. Hi Karen - thank you for taking the time to respond in such a thoughtful and thorough way. I appreciate your openness and your willingness to consider differing opinions.

    Happy Sniffing to you, too.



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