Remembrance of Gaia Fishler The Non-Blonde

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I always smile when people can’t believe there are readers for a blog about perfume. I know I was one of them for a long time. Then in 2006 there was a group of online pioneers who started writing about perfume. I’ve always called them “The Original Five”. These blogs were the entry point for so many of us who love perfume. A week ago we lost one of those women who had the drive to start writing about perfume, and make-up, in a public way; Gaia Fishler of The Non-Blonde.

I ran into Gaia at different New York City functions for a few years. We would exchange words once I began writing for Fragrantica and CaFleureBon. In those early short exchanges she answered my questions graciously. She confirmed my belief that 400-500 smartly chosen words was better than two or three times that.

It wasn’t until a party in 2013 that we became friends. It started with perfume. We started talking about unicorns; those perfumes that are discontinued but are incredible. She was the only reviewer who had written about a brand called Gobin Daude. They were only in production a short time. She was the only person I could have a deep conversation about those with. What was amazing was her depth of knowledge as she compared them back to other perfumes. I kind of felt like a student in a private master class. Which was one of the great things about Gaia; in a room full of people she could make it seem like you were the only conversation that mattered.

We would meet again a few months later and she would hand me a vial. This was the other perfume we talked about that night; Tauer Orris. That I don’t own and only had a precious few drops. She changed that giving me a sample that has lasted me until today. When she gave it to me, I experienced something she freely bestowed on most who crossed her path; a smile. This is not just teeth and upturned lips. Gaia’s smile was a benediction. She was glad to see you; even happier to give you something that gave you pleasure.

Gaia was also the final push out of the safety zone I had created for myself to start Colognoisseur. I had been thinking about it and she asked me why I hadn’t done it. I had a lot of reasons, but it was mainly I thought it would be too hard being on my own. She looked at me intently and said, “Do it.” I’ve always likened taking a big step to standing at the edge of the high dive and convincing yourself to jump. Gaia was standing at the side of the pool telling me to step off the platform. She was there to support me as she put my blog at the top of her blogroll with “New” next to it. For the first year and a half I got most of my new readers from that. You might be one of them.

I can hear Gaia telling me, in my head, “over 500 words wrap it up.” I smell the drop of Orris on my wrist, I can see her smile. Goodbye Gaia.

Mark Behnke

Thank You to The Original Five

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I started my own blog less than a year ago and these few months have been an incredible experience for me. Over the course of this year I realize how much I owed to those who started doing this perfume blogging long before I ever thought about doing it. I am always quick to embrace the new but it often leaves me less time to wax eloquent on that which lasts. Back in 2006 when I discovered the perfume groups on the internet I found there were five distinctly different websites which were run by five distinctly different perfume lovers with their own personalities. They were early adopters of this new thing called blogging. For me they were the planted seed of an idea that a personal view of perfume, or any subject, could be expressed on the internet. It would take me a lot longer to finally take my own step of doing it. These Original Five blogs were the forerunners of everything that has come since. As many of them turn 10 years old this year I wanted to take a minute to express my thanks to what each has taught me through their efforts.

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Now Smell This has always been referred to as “the perfume blog of record” by myself and others. If Robin publishes it, it must be true. Robin has set a standard which I try to live up to. Get it right first and foremost. Then never forget its just perfume. There is never a day which passes where I don’t stop by Now Smell This and I know I am not alone in this.

Bois de Jasmin has been the blog of Victoria Frolova for ten years now. It has always been a pleasure to read along with her as she has developed over that time. As she says in her “About Me” section on the site, “One cannot be an expert in this fascinating subject until one spends a lifetime practicing it, so I have a long way to go.” That attitude is one which has always informed my view of being a perfume blogger. I think it is too easy to get caught up in the attention and I need to remind myself that, like Victoria, I have a long way to go.

Perfume Posse is as the name portends is the rowdiest of the early blogs. It is a group effort but the den mother has been Patty White throughout its tenure. Perfume has always been categorized as a feminine pursuit but the gang from the Posse, March, Musette, Tom, and Portia, have always made it seem like a raucous party for all. There is no blog which leaves me with a smile more often and it reminds me that those who love perfume are defined by their passion and not by who they are.

Grain de Musc is the blog of Denyse Beaulieu and has been the blog I look most forward to reading a new post on. Denyse has spent years examining the world of perfume. She has gone from writing about it to teaching to writing a book about being a creative director on a perfume. In short she is the example that all possibilities are open to someone who is genuine in their passion. She reminds me to stay true to myself and to be open for whatever comes next.

The Non-Blonde is Gaia Fishler’s blog not only on perfume but also make-up. Gaia has been everything I aspire to be. She is accurate. She is passionate She is a great support to other bloggers as they start out. She says more in 400 words than most say in 4000. She is a constant presence in my daily reading.  When I grow up as a blogger I want to be The Non-Blonde.

These five women did this blogging thing when it was a crazy idea and they still continue to lead the way every day. They deserve our thanks and appreciation as the foundation upon which all of us who write perfume blogs stand. I want to thank Robin, Victoria, the gang at the Posse, Denyse, and Gaia for blazing the way, you continue to inspire this writer.

Mark Behnke