A 24 h access program to the online Fabulous Fragrances of the World has now been available for some time and I myself have used it. I think that it is worth it in the end, but bear in mind that the database is good but not overly extensive (about 5000 fragrances). For contrast see how the online Perfume Intelligence advertises a database of over 53 000 entries (shorter ones.) which also features rare and all-but-forgotten perfumes.
What you will find associated with each fragrance is a description, sometimes in the form of a short narrative, notes, style, astrological sign(s), promotional themes (American accent, Irish accent, French accent, pastoral feeling etc.) names of celebrities wearing it, the name(s) of its creator(s), sometimes the date of introduction. At times the information given is more historical, at other times it is more anecdotal. The database cultivates a popular style rather than an erudite one as can be shown by the references to astrology. Jan Moran and Michael Edwards will also signal to you whether a fragrance is discontinued or not. Jan Moran uses a pleasant style of writing.
The database is rich but not exhaustive. I noted that the entire perfume line for each house is not necessarily covered systematically even for modern issues and that niche perfumes, in general, are less prominently featured. It thus appears that serendipity plays a role in the selection of perfumes covered by the database...
I expected a priori that FFW would be very up-to-date in their coverage of new fragrances since this is one of the selling points that they advertise. For example, that they would be able to give up-to-the-week information on recent releases. But that does not seem to be the case. FFW seems to add regularly new perfumes but as directed by the chance reception of samples rather than as part of protocols set up in advance with the different houses. This gives the impression that the database is the work of independent experts rather than of people directly connected to the perfume industry which may positively stress the independence of their views even if it slows down their output. For example Osmoz which is set up by a giant of the perfume industry like IFF will give you updated information on recently issued fragrances at a faster pace as will do trade magazines. The 24 h access program does not give you access to all the tools of the database, that is, Promotional Wizard (at least I was not able to make it work), so I was not able to see if you could do a search by notes. I wished this feature were available. It would also widens their audience to consumers but so far the database is reserved primarily for professionals, including researchers.
As there does not really exist any academic canon on perfumery I was glad I was able to access data on perfumers in particular. I noted however that the information given was not always comprehensive or updated. For example, there was a recently widely publicized trial on perfume copyrights involving one of the authors of Dune by Dior, Nejla B., and this perfumer is not mentioned in the entry on Dune (only two others are mentioned). I think that a note there would have been appropriate to show that the authors of the database are keeping abreast of recent developments in the perfume industry.
The instructions I received upon signing up could have been more clearly formulated. I had to email them to request clarification. I waited in vain for the promised password. They sent it after I recontacted them. Then it was not the correct information, nor the correct page. In sum, the service was a bit halting.
If FFW is now accessible to all I would say that it definitely merits a stroll through its database. You need to buy a license for each fragrance whose information you want to reproduce. They are very strict about copyrights infringements although some of the information they give can also be found for free on the internet especially concerning notes, either on Osmoz, Basenotes, or at discount perfumers. Now Smell This offers a list in progress of perfumers that you can access for free and that is especially useful for the two most recent generations of perfumers. Costs for the licenses are not given in advance by FFW. We are told that they will be estimated on a case-by-case basis.
I personally signed up for this 24 h program because I wanted to see if it would be worthwhile to take an annual subscription. I have decided that I will probably be content with a few 24h access stints. The database is not extensive enough nor updated quickly enough nor offers any special insider's information on upcoming fragrances like trade magazines do to justify this investment. I think that if I were a retailer I might find this to be a practical tool for my business nonetheless.
Finally despite my reservations, I think that the authors of the database should be applauded for their innovative spirit, their work, and their spirit of dedication to the perfume industry.
A 24 h access program to Fabulous Fragrances of the World costs $ 19.95.Image source: Fabulous Fragrances of the World