Sunday, February 28, 2010

SOTD: Mall Sniffs, including Atelier Orange Sanguine

We went to the mall again. Well, Himself went to have the car lovingly washed and waxed, and I went to the mall again. As usual, sniffing ensued:

Chanel Cristalle Eau de Parfum: For just a moment, sniffing the bottle, I thought that I might have to take back my insistence that the Eau de Toilette is the Cristalle and that the Eau de Parfum is an over-buttered imposter. When I sniffed the sprayers, the "real stuff" smelled thin and a little urinous, and the imposter smelled deeper and more grounded.

But sprayers, of course, mean nothing; they probably mean even less than paper strip tests. I sprayed the imposter on my hand and within minutes the nice grounding turned into, yes, too much butter. I can't speak to how it compares to the most recent formulation of the Eau de Toilette, but it doesn't begin to compare with my bottles, which are only a year or two old.

(Yep, bottles; Cristalle is the only perfume for which I have a backup bottle. I have two 15ml minis, one 1.7 ounce in use, and one 1.7 ounce in the fridge. This is a violation of my anti-hoarding principles that I have yet to successfully rationalize. However, I suspect that someday I'll be punished by cracking the fridge bottle and finding that it smells of mildew, onions, or cabbage - it's in the fridge.)

Atelier Orange Sanguine: I ran into a display of Atelier fragrances, a brand that I don't recall seeing before. Oolang Infini and Bois Blonds on paper were unexciting, and I still don't have a summer orange, so I chose Orange Sanguine to spray on.

I was hoping for a slightly bitter and sophisticated orange, but still with some juice. I got Orange Crush - childhood nostalgia synthetic orange. I actually liked it, quite a bit, but I just don't think that I can consider paying high-end niche prices for it.

Tom Ford Italian Cypress: I stared blankly at the Tom Ford display for a while, debating whether to try Italian Cypress or Velvet Gardenia, and whether to break down and just buy Velvet Gardenia. While I was at it, I was enough of a troublemaker to assure two women who were judging the fragrances wet that they're likely to utterly transform in the wearing process. (The saleswoman had told them the same, but they were still judging them wet, so...)

I went with Italian Cypress. After a couple of hours with it, I think that I've eliminated it from the list of purchase candidates. It seemed aggressively sharp and sour, and the nice soft woody base that I remember from before never really came. It may be that it mixed badly with the others - its sappy sharpness mixed with the buttery sharpness from Cristalle EDP and the synthetic sharpness of the Orange Sanguine making a clashing mismash. But, frankly, anything that talks me out of craving a nearly-two-hundred-dollar fragrance is a good thing- as long as I haven't yet bought the fragrance.

Conclusion: Surprisingly, the winner from today is Orange Crush - er, Orange Sanguine. It's on my hand, and every time I prop my chin on my hand while watching leftover recorded figure skating, I get one of those "ooh, that's nice" moments. Perhaps I'm being unfair to it, and quite certainly I'll try it again.

Photo: By Claudius Tesch. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quick Sniffs: Juliette Has A Gun Lady Vengeance and Citizen Queen

Woohoo! I've confirmed the rumors of perfume on California Avenue in Palo Alto. Mahin & Co., mentioned in this post, has a small but very nice selection, including some L'Artisan Parfumeur, some Bond No. 9, a couple of Carons, and representatives of several other lines. And the staff seems both nice and knowledgeable.

Once again, I had only moments to choose what to sniff - I had not provided Himself with fair warning of perfume shopping. I've been curious about the Juliette Has A Gun line for years, so I sprayed Lady Vengeance on one arm and Citizen Queen on the other, and fled to gather impressions.

Lady Vengeance was rose.  Rose at the top, rose in the middle, rose at the bottom. The same rose. Apparently this should not be a surprise - I see in at least one review that this is linear and proud of it. I also see that I should be smelling vanilla and patchouli. Sadly, I'm not getting either of those.

More sadly, I'm not a fan of this particular kind of rose. It's high-pitched, and it's so consistent from moment to moment that I read it as synthetic, whether it is or not. It does have a strong "You wanna make something of it?" vibe, but I'm reading that as harshness and lack of subtlety, not personality. And while I realize that it's in the dark rose/rose chypre category, I'm not even getting the daring bitterness of that category. I don't respect it while I'm disliking it, the way that I usually do.

In fact, I find Lady Vengeance so harsh, so unsubtle, and so generally unlikeable that I wonder if I'm anosmic to one or more of the notes. People whose opinions I respect like this stuff, a lot, while to me the main thing that it brings to mind is inexpensive scented stationery. You know, the kind printed with roses that you got as a gift when you were twelve and dumped in a garage sale when you were sixteen? That kind. That's certainly not the don't-mess-with-me gun-toting femininity that so many people read in this fragrance.

My response to Citizen Queen is more complicated, and much more positive. It started out suspiciously floral, but already with more texture and nuance than Lady Vengeance. The flowers burned off very quickly, and I spent a couple of hours deciding whether I disliked it for the ambery notes, or liked it for the powdery iris and the "what is that?" note that kept teasing me. I had to look the fragrance up to realize that, oh, yes, it's leather. Silly me. My only defense is that the amber confused me.

Now that the amber's been quietly suppressed by iris and leather and powder and those unspecified "animalic" notes, I'm liking this. Quite a bit. But I fear that I won't be wanting to buy it, because I like it in "reminds me of" ways.

There's something in the animalic notes that reminds me of the very faint "dirty" elements of Chanel No. 5. And the iris and leather blend reminds me of Chanel Cuir de Russie. And the powdery vanillic floral that remains after the top-note florals burn off reminds me of Rochas Tocade.

I imagine that the combination of all of these elements could be a dream come true, but that's not one of my dreams. I approve of it - the notes, the vintage vibe, the complexity, the sense of quality. I would happily recommend it. This can be considered a positive review. But I, personally, will not be buying it. I'll save that money for the Cuir De Russie Fund and the ChickenFreak's Found Her Perfect Rose Fund.

Review Roundup for Lady Vengeance: Aromascope and Now Smell This and Feminine Things and Katie Puckrick and Fragrantica and Basenotes and WAFT (quick mention of both fragrances) and Polish, Platforms, Perfume.

Review Roundup for Citizen Queen: Feminine Things and Fragrance Bouquet and I Smell Therefore I Am and Fragrantica and Katie Puckrick and Basenotes and Polish, Platforms, Perfume and The Scented Salamander and Muse In Wooden Shoes.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, February 26, 2010

SOTD: Art of Shaving Sandalwood

Today, I'm grumpy, cranky, and stressed, so I'm wearing one of my primary comfort scents, Art of Shaving Sandalwood.

There's something odd about this fragrance's comfort scent credentials, though. When I'm in a reasonable mood, I don't find this scent particularly relaxing. It's only when I'm stressed, head-exploding stressed, that it does that job. Then, it makes me think of polished wood and pleasantly rumpled white linen shirts ideal for napping.

So today it's perfect, though I don't actually get the nap. However, I'll also be consuming a vat of milk, to finish the relaxation job.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

SOTD: Annick Goutal Mandragore

As part of the shift to warm-weather scents, I sprayed on a plentiful dose of Annick Goutal Mandragore today. I remember liking this scent a lot - the bergamot, and the vibe of a thirties office girl in tappity-tap heels.

However, it appears that the weather isn't warm enough. Today, it's just a rather annoying citrus. So I'm going to skip the Review Roundup and the review, and try it again in late spring.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Ramble: Blogging: Letters, and blogging, and the return of writing

Back to blogging about blogging, continuing from some of the thoughts from this post.

I've always liked the idea of collections of letters. If I search on "correspondence" on Amazon, I find book after book of of them. Letters by Truman, Machiavelli, Catherine the Great, immigrants, gardeners. Letters by famous people, letters by ordinary people.

Conclusion: People used to write letters.

People don't seem to write letters any more.

In fact, when I was a kid, in the latter part of the stone age, people rarely wrote anything that they weren't required to write. School essays and work reports, sure, but just writing on an everyday basis, beyond an occasional scrawled note to the kid's teacher or the milkman? It just didn't happen. If people wanted to stay in contact with someone, they called them on the phone.

Then the Internet came. When I was in college, you pretty much needed to be in college, or work for a sufficiently geeky company, to have Internet access. And it was primitive - Telnet, EMACS, Usenet. Right around the time that I graduated, it became fairly easy to get an individual account, though we had to buy access from that guy who was trying to defray the tens of thousands of dollars that he paid for the Unix box sitting in his garage. And argue over who got to dial up on the one phone line, until we broke down and just got two.

Then the web came. And high-speed connections. And WiFi. And Internet phones.

And now everybody writes.

For the first time in perhaps half a century, a very large number of people regularly, often daily, express themselves with the written word. Email. Chat. Forums. Texts. Facebook. MySpace. Blogs. Much of it may not be good writing, but it's writing. The self-written word, gone for decades from the average person's experience, is back.

I find this exciting. I think that when letters went away, we lost an important mode of expression. People writing about their lives, or their kids, or their gardens, or their cup of coffee, or their perfume, or that perfect hat - for a long time, that was largely gone from the world. Sure, a few published writers give you that close, quirky feel - Calvin Trillin, Henry Mitchell, a fair-sized scattering of columnists and authors. But it's different, at least in principle, if the writer has to make it through the "publishable" filter.

This lost form of expression returns with blogs. Not fancy glossy corporate blogs - we never lost that mode of expression. It's existed all along, in magazines and brochures and coffee table books.  The lost expression returns with individual blogs, driven by the quirky minds of those individuals.

So that's why I love blogs, and why I don't care too obsessively about traffic numbers or mass appeal. After all, back when people wrote letters, each letter got the equivalent of one "pageview" - or maybe a few more, if your correspondent passed the letter around the household. It wasn't written for the whole world. It wasn't written to get a check from AdSense. It was written because in your life, something happened that gave you something that you wanted to say.

Of course, it's nice when more people want to hear what you have to say. I expect that Elizabeth Lawrence might have found it exciting that her letters were of interest to enough readers to result in a published book. (Then again, she might have been horrified.) But the main thing that I'm celebrating in this particular ramble is that writing, individuals writing, is back.

Photo: By Ammodramus. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

SOTD: Nothing

Goodness gracious! I completely and totally forgot to wear perfume. I read about perfume. I wrote about perfume. I plotted the next batch of samples to buy. But I didn't wear a thing. What's wrong with me?

I'll have to wear something extra exciting tomorrow. Meanwhile, have a kitty.

Photo: By Olympic1981. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quick Sniffs: Ineke Field Notes From Paris and Balmy Days & Sundays

I ran into an Ineke display last night, much to my delight. Sadly, I had about three minutes to decide what to spray on my arms. I went with Field Notes From Paris based on a vague memory of very positive reviews, and Balmy Days & Sundays because, well, the name was pretty.

Field Notes From Paris confused me for several minutes - it was a tumble of different things, none of them eager to please, and I couldn't decide if I liked it all. But half an hour in I was loving it - a mix of spices with something like cloves dominating, and while I couldn't pick out tobacco or wood, they were grounding the whole complicated creation and keeping it from being purely "spicy". I need more of this.

Balmy Days & Sundays didn't work as well - while I very much liked some moments, I more strongly disliked others. At first, it was dominated by a melony aquatic that I didn't like. Then it turned into a quite nice melon that I did like, in spite of myself. And Himself liked it too, which is a rarity.

That transitioned in a nice seamless magic-trick way into pure floral - high-pitched, but very nice, and I expect that it would be even nicer in the summer. Another magic trick turned that into  a freshly-cut lawn dotted with flowers. If it had stopped here, I would have been sold in spite of the wet melon beginning.

Problem is, the melon came back. Less than three hours after application, the scent was rather like eating a salted honeydew while sitting next to a well-chlorined swimming pool. I'm going to try it again, in the hope that the melon moments are shorter, but I suspect I won't be buying this one.

But all the same, I'm highly impressed with the Ineke scents. I need to try them all, and I suspect that there are bottle-sized purchases in my future. (I'll be purchasing the sample set in the very near future.)

Review Roundup for Field Notes From Paris: Now Smell This and Pink Sith and Perfume Shrine and Fragrantica and Nathan Branch and Legerdenez and Product Girl and Basenotes and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Perfume Nerd and SplendidCity and Bonjour Paris and ozMoz and MakeupAlley and SmellyBlog and IndiePerfumes and Feminine Things and Perfume Patter.

Review Roundup for Balmy Days & Sundays: IndiePerfumes and Feminine Things and Perfume Posse (quick mention) and Fragrantica and Basenotes and Sakecat and Legerdenez.

And a side note on the Roundup: If you ever notice that a Review Roundup is missing a review that seems to belong there, feel more than free to email me. I generally don't include reviews from retailers who are selling that particular perfume, because I don't want to get into deciding what's ad copy and what's a genuine review. And I may or may not include short mentions. But otherwise, there's a good chance that the absence of a review is an oversight - especially if I've ever included a review from the site in question in any Roundup.

Photo: By Thesupermat. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, February 22, 2010

SOTD: Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint

I love this one. It deserves a proper discussion and review and Review Roundup, but the day is getting away from me. So all I will say is that it's lovely, it's happy, it's perfect for really hot weather, and now I've confirmed that it's also quite nice in vaguely warm weather like today.

Photo: By Kham Tran. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rant/Ramble: Talking about Blogging

So, I have three blogs. I enjoy blogging. It's become a hobby. And I'm the kind of person who can't just enjoy a hobby, I have to talk about it.

I can talk about my other hobbies - I talk about perfume by blogging about it and participating in forums, and other blogs. I talk about cooking and gardening by blogging about them and participating in forums, and other blogs.

But I don't really blog about blogging. And while I've tried to participate in forums, the effort has been frustrating.

This is because the focus of blogging forums is seldom what I consider blogging. Instead, it's about setting up templates and comment systems, and the best SEO strategies, and whether AdWords produces more income than SomeOtherAdSystem. Content? Wait, content? Well, yes, they suppose that you have to write posts. Make them unique and valuable and compelling, yep. Content is king, yep yep. Now, about that SEO strategy...

So I have a pent-up urge to talk about blogging. The important part - the writing. And I just wondered, since many of you blog, do any of you have the same urge and the same frustration?

(Edited to clarify my complaint.)

Photo: By Guyon Moree. Wikimedia Commons.

SOTD: Chanel Cristalle Eau de Toilette (Again again again...)

Once again, the craving is for Cristalle.

Am I going to turn into someone who has a warm-weather signature scent? That could be kind of hard on the blog.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

SOTD: Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale

Sushi Imperiale is a lovely scent that some compare to various carbonated beverages - root beer, ginger beer, Dr. Pepper. This means that in theory it should be fine, even ideal, for warm weather.  For me, however, Sushi Imperiale has always been ice, snow, sleds, and spice cookies. In other words, a winter scent, though a bright, glittering winter scent, not a warm-blankie one.

So after confirming that the season is right for Cristalle, today I decided to see if it's wrong for Sushi Imperiale.  I had a faint hope that it would work, and that I could happily wear it in the spring.

Sadly, no. Today, it's just a picture of the scent that I love in winter - clearly recognizable, but not the same. Ice, but without the sun and fire.

Now I know, and I'll tuck it away safely until winter.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

SOTD: Chanel Cristalle Eau de Toilette (Again again)

I'm wearing Cristalle again. Three times in one week. This may be unprecedented.

I think this is it, though. I expect to be wearing something else tomorrow. Probably something not illustrated by a sleepy woman in green.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

SOTD: Chanel Cristalle Eau de Toilette (Again)

One wearing wasn't enough to celebrate the return of this scent's season. So I wore it again today, spraying it lavishly.

The party involving the deep-fried macaroni and cheese just ended. I am well and thoroughly fed, and largely incapable of complex thought. So I'll just say that Cristalle is one of the very loveliest of scents, and go rest my eyes.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SOTD: Bacon Fat

OK, no, there is no perfume named Bacon Fat. As far as I know. (I just checked Demeter, to see, because if one exists, I must have it.)

But the day got away from me without my choosing a perfume, and this evening I'm doing some advance cooking for a party. Including a panful of bacon. (For crumbles.) And you know how the bacon microfog gets on everything, including the cook's shirt. So, yes, I am bacon scented.

Mmmm. Bacon.

(The photo? A chocolate bacon cupcake. No, it's not what I'm cooking, but if I had a recipe...)

Photo: By It's Holly. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SOTD: Chanel Cristalle (Woohoo!)

Ha! I sprayed on Cristalle this morning, expecting that my nose would shrug.

Nope. It's fantastic. Green. Crisp. Sharp. That ambiguous no-season of shrugging at my perfume is over. The warm season is here. I declare celebration.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Alex Sims. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, February 15, 2010

SOTD: Lancome Cuir de Lancome

Based on positive recommendations from some of you fine folks, I snagged this - another reissued classic - when it turned up at a bargain price on Amazon. I finally got my chance to wear it today, and I'm going to need more than one wearing to finish wrapping my mind around it. But when did confusion ever stop me from posting?

My first reaction was that it's feminine. Extremely feminine. This is a lady's scent, a lady who puts herself together with care. Problem is, I can't place where the strong feminine vibe comes from. Leather tends to be daring rather than ladylike, and there is plenty of leather, a rather harsh version for the first few hours. It's as if the leather were a jewel mistakenly placed in an elegantly girly-baroque setting of other notes - a setting that was perhaps designed for a killer indolic floral, but one that turned out to suit the substitution beautifully.

My second reaction is that this is a back-of-the-neck scent, which is why I'm going to have to wear it again to feel that I've really tried it even once. I usually test a fragrance for the first time with nose-to-skin sniffing, and that doesn't work for this one. The leather was too harsh, the spices too, well, spicy. It was aggressive, nearly headache-inducing, when experienced up close.

But the whiffs, as I move, are lovely. Soft but rich and, again, feminine. A very pulled-together feminine - this scent wears high heels, owns a string of real pearls, and never sets foot outside the bedroom without doing her hair. But she's not as distant and elegant as Chanel Cuir de Russie - she's just a nice, friendly, pretty woman. In the movies, she's the one that you want the hero to end up with, because you know that she's better for him than that icy society vamp.

The notes list for Cuir de Lancome includes top notes of bergamot, mandarin, and saffron, middle notes of jasmine, ylang-ylang, hawthorn, and patchouli, and base notes of iris, birch, and styrax. I read that list and nod, and agree that it makes sense - I'd expect richness, and bitterness, and a little resinous darkness, from all that, and that's what I get. But I can't actually pick out even one of those notes - and that'll make it all the more fun to wear again.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Fragrantica and Basenotes and The Non-Blonde and 1000 Fragrances and Perfume Shrine (old and new) and mossyloomings and MakeupAlley and Bois de Jasmin (brief mention) and Perfume-Smellin' Things (the original) and Perfume Posse and PeredePierre and WAFT and OpenLettersMonthly (scroll down).

(Edited to rewrite the whole post, because I didn't like it the first time. I'm flighty that way.)

Photo of Myrna Loy and William Powell: Wikimedia Commons.
Brooch photo: By mockbird. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale L'Eau Rare Matale

I didn't want to wear nothing at all, but Himself is not a big fan of perfume, so dousing myself with a cloud of some dense romantic floral in honor of Valentine's day seemed not quite right.

So just a little touch of tea. And a picture of a pretty tea house. That is all.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Peter Clarke. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Un Lys, and samples, and glamor

Today was one of those days when I looked at the perfume ranks, picked one up, and put it on, with no debating or fussing at all. Intense, flowery, grainy Un Lys was perfect.

When I put it on, I was reminded of Debby H's comment about the aesthetics of samples.

I agree that the usual sampling experience is highly unsatisfactory. Wearing a drop or two of something magnificent is lovely. Prying a plastic cap off a recalcitrant vial and then arguing with the vial until it deposits the right amount on the right spot - or until it doesn't, and you've accidentally perfumed your necklace, watchband, or floor - is not. There's no ceremony. No glamor. Perfume, I think, should have glamor.

So what's this got to do with Un Lys? Well, the lack of glamor particularly bothered me with Un Lys. It's rich and feminine and carefully crafted, and even a drop can fill the space around me. So each drop seemed to deserve respect.

So  I gave my Un Lys sample a more appropriate home, decanting it into a pretty little half-ounce dabber bottle. It does seem to make all the difference. Instead of arguing with an ill-mannered vial, I can gently tip the bottle to wet the stopper (OK, I have to turn it upside down; it's a small sample), and ceremonially dab the perfume on my pulse points.

Photograph of several small apothecary bottles.
I enjoy that. I bought the first of these bottles ("apothecary bottles" from Accessories for Fragrances) for a perfume oil, because oil particularly needs a controlled-dab approach. But I liked the bottle so much that I bought another ten or so, plus a supply of tiny disposable funnels to fill them without disaster. The empty nine (or so) bottles lurk with my perfume collection, waiting for more very special samples or decants.

Of course, only samples or decants that I already love get this special housing - the first sniff remains unglamorous. If I have high expectations for a sample, I may decant the vial into a cheap sprayer. I suppose that I could try to add a bit more ceremony to this - no glamor to speak of, but a sort of mad scientist lab-bench puttering as systematically transform my vial samples into neatly labelled inexpensive glass sprayers arrayed in rows in, well, some container.

None of this fundamentally transforms the sampling experience - and it does make it more expensive - but it's a start.

Photo of Sarah Bernhardt: Wikimedia Commons.
Photo of bottles: Mine.

Friday, February 12, 2010

SOTD: Nothing

It's after midnight (though I'm backdating the post to land on the right day) and I haven't worn perfume today. Goodness gracious.

Photo: By Lachlan Donald. Wikimedia Commons.

Rambling: Perfume and Hoarding and Catch and Release

I read a lot of murder mysteries.

For years, maybe decades, I've read several paperback murder mysteries every month. I used to read a murder mystery, put it on a shelf, read the next one, put it on a shelf, and watch the books pile up - stacked to fill all that overhead space in the shelf, double and triple shelved to fill the front and back space. When we moved, we moved box after box after box of just murder mysteries - and that's ignoring all the other books.

At some point, I realized that I don't actually need to keep every book I read. I can buy it (preferably used), read it, enjoy it, and get rid of it. I recently wrote about this over in the declutter blog. So now I have one shelf for the paperback murder mysteries that I love and re-read, half a shelf for the hardbacks, and a shelf for the mysteries that are waiting to be sold back to the bookstore. This leaves more room for, say, garden books. Or perfume.

So, getting back on topic: Perfume. I just posted about the Tasting Menu philosophy of perfume freakery, the idea being that I continue to shovel in samples like a desperate squirrel preparing for winter, sniff them, enjoy them, and not torture myself over favorites and prioritizing and bottle purchases. Much.

And give them away, even many of the nice ones. Catch and release. I realized today, while wondering if I could really do this, that I already do it with murder mysteries. When I started getting rid of mysteries, I went through worrying that I'd miss them, that they'd haunt me, that I'd remember the characters and want to spend time with them again. And I got over it, and now I merrily toss the just-read book in the "sell" stack, even while I'm still being happy about how good it was.

Also, as I mentioned in the discussion of that post, I think that "catch and release" is a good exercise for a person, like me, who has hoarding in the family. Hoarding is, I believe, about fear of decisions, fear of mistakes, and inability to prioritize. So each time that I de-prioritize something and make a permanent decision to give it away counts as a Healthy Exercise. And if I make a mistake and wish I had it back? Another Healthy Exercise, as I experience the fact that the mistake didn't kill me, or turn me into a Horrible Mistake Monster that makes children point and laugh when I go out in public.

So I'm sold on the Tasting Menu strategy. Though I'm sure that I'm not done talking about it, or perfume hoarding.

Photo: By Quadell. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere

That's a cashmere goat over there. Cute, huh? But pretty cranky-looking.

(Yes, this is going to be one of those brain-not-in-gear SOTD posts. What gave you the clue?)

Today I sprayed on Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere, and loved it for the first couple of hours. Then it started to seem just a bit oversweet for the warming weather.

It looks like the seasonal craving shift is happening, whether I like it or not. Problem is, it's not finished yet. I don't want Cadjmere, and I don't want Cristalle. What do I wear while I'm waiting?

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo by Thomas W. Pluhar. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SOTD: Shiseido Feminite du Bois

On the "get back on the horse" theory, I'm wearing Feminite du Bois today. No headache! But on this relatively warm day, it's not at its best. This may be a winter scent.

It appears that I prefer winter scents - they're vastly over-represented in my collection. It's perhaps unfortunate that I don't live somewhere colder.

And that seems to be all that I have to say, today, about my favorite cedar scent.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Corrie Barklimore. Wikimedia Commons.

Perfume: The Tasting Menu Approach

So I was looking at Luckyscent, putting a bunch of Parfums de Nicolai samples in my cart.

Then I decided, no, I should narrow and make some purchasing decisions, that's the sensible thing to do. So I went to The Perfumed Court and put a decant of Nicolai's Number One, and another one of vintage Bandit EDT, in my cart. Because using up a large decant is supposed to be how I make a purchasing decision.

Then I went back to LuckyScent and put a bunch of Nez a Nez samples in my cart.

Then I stared blankly at all my shopping carts and came here to write a post. About sampling versus buying. And the reason behind this whole thing.

What is the reason behind this whole thing?

It seems logical that I should stop sampling everything under the sun and narrow down to bottle purchases. But that assumes that the goal is to decide on, and make, bottle purchases. But is it?

We recently (on our idleness and gluttony weekend) went to a very nice restaurant for a very nice tasting menu. I tasted, I think, ten new dishes. (Itty bitty couple-of-bites dishes.) Most were glorious. And I don't expect to have the opportunity to taste any of them ever again. And that doesn't reduce my enjoyment, in the experience or the memory, one little bit.

So... you see where I'm going here? Maybe it's not that I should stop sampling and make up my mind. Maybe it's that I should stop making up my mind and broaden my sampling.


Photo: By Daderot. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SOTD: Kiehl's Original Musk Oil (And ghosts of laundry rooms past)

Photograph of a vintage clothes washer.
As my perfume freakery continues, my tolerance for once-problematic notes keeps increasing. I'm fully converted to tuberose. I like a lot of jasmines and most irises. My tolerance for prickly incense notes is growing by leaps and bounds.

Musk? Ergh. I'm reversing; I like it less and less. As a background touch for other notes, I can still deal with it, or even appreciate it. But I have less and less tolerance for musk-dominated fragrances.  Lorenzo Villoresi Musk is growing on me. I liked Le Labo Ambrette 9. But that's about it.

I suspect that it's the laundry detergent association. To me, most musks smell like a box of laundry soap powder. A dusty box, in my mother's dark basement laundry room, the one that floods in a heavy rain.

In memory, I grab the sticky-handled plastic scoop, scoop some out with my face screwed up to avoid breathing any of the disturbed powder, and dump it on the clothes. Some drifts to the mounting of the drum, where it has to be wiped off if I don't want it to stay and get sticky-dirty. And I always do breathe some in, and my sinuses punish me for a few hours afterward.

Not a great vision for a perfume. When the primary information coming from a perfume is, "Ack! You breathed some!", that's just not good.

All of which is to explain why it's not Kiehl's fault that I don't like their musk. It's a perfectly nice, well-behaved, soft, faintly animalic musk. It's not too laundry-room. I might use it for layering, if something else seems to need a musky touch. But I won't be wearing it.

Review Roundup: Basenotes and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Fragrantica and The Scented Salamander and Legerdenez and PereDePierre.

Photo: By Dysprosia. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, February 8, 2010

SOTD: Nothing

I'm giving my still-quietly-sulking head a day away from perfume. After all, I don't want it to forbid future sniffing expeditions.

But I still need a picture, right? Right! So out of my "pictures that I really want to show in the blog but haven't found an excuse for yet" folder, I present this glorious dragon. Imagine that he represents the headache. Or the creature assigned to find and kill the headache. Yeah, I like that better.

Photo: By Ville Miettinen. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I went to a mall. A Neiman Marcus, L'Occitane, Bloomingdales, and Sephora-bearing mall.

All I really have to say is that wearing Shiseido Feminite du Bois and then sniffing, in rapid succession:
  • L'Occitane Eau D'Iparie
  • Tom Ford Tuscan Cypress
  • Dior Miss Dior Cherie
  • Dior Miss Dior Cherie L'Eau 
  • Bvlgari Eau Parfumee au The Vert
  • Bvlgari Eau Parfumee au The Blanc
  • Bvlgari Jasmin Noir
  • Bvlgari Voile de Jasmin
  • and Guerlain Jicky
is not a good idea. Three caffeinated beverages later, and the headache is still popping up now and then to shout "GOTCHA!" Also, by the end, I couldn't really distinguish Jicky from my memory of Penhaligon's Extract Of Limes.

I believe that the lesson is to go unscented to the scent sampling zone. At least, that's what I usually do, and I usually come home headache-free.

I'd just like to conclude with: Ow.

(OK, one last note: While searching for that Coke picture, I found a picture of deep-fried Coke. I posted it on the other blog. Oh, my.)

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    SOTD: Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl

    Luca Turin presented Tommy Girl with five stars. Like much of the perfume world, I don't get it.

    To my surprise, I like the fruity opening. It's pleasant and mellow and oddly childhood-familiar. I can imagine the opening notes as a perfume for little girls, sold in a wonderful toy store in a pink bottle with glass jewels. A faceted bottle. Green glass jewels.

    This vision is getting very specific, isn't it? There was a toy store once that my mother rarely took us to - a place of surpassing grandeur in my childhood world. Among its attractions, it featured big glass cases rigged up as miniature rooms with grandly attired Barbie dolls lounging on Seventies-style Lucite furniture and fur rugs, like a very small and entirely respectable Playboy mansion. Tommy Girl reminds me of that store - perhaps there really was a little girl's perfume with that apple-citrus-currant-honeysuckle combination.

    As long as I'm listing notes, I'll offer the full, alarmingly long list. According to Basenotes, the top notes are camellia flowers, apple blossoms, black currant, mandarin, and tangerine. Middle notes are grapefruit, citrus orchards, crisp green notes, honeysuckle, and butterfly violets. And the base notes are desert jasmine, Cherokee rose, magnolia petals, Dakota lilies, cedar, sandalwood, and wild heather. Whew.

    Sadly, the mellow fruity opening gives way to a high-pitched floral blend that doesn't interest me nearly as much, at least right now - in the winter, it's just shrill, and it stays shrill as time goes on, only reducing its volume with time. Even the honeysuckle, usually a note that I find delightful, fails to save it. So today, I'm unimpressed with Tommy Girl.

    But in the summer, that sour floral blend might have some of the appeal of the lemon sorbet from the corner ice cream shop that delightfully blows my eyebrows off. I'll be trying it again on some hot summer Saturday when we're headed for the park - under those circumstances, I might fall seriously in love. Maybe even enough to agree with Mr. Turin.

    Review Roundup: Perfume Posse and Sweet Diva and Perfume Shrine and Scent Signals and Perfume Posse again and Basenotes and Fragrantica and MakeupAlley and Scentsate.

    Photo: By Andrew Dunn. Wikimedia Commons.

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    SOTD: Coty Sand & Sable (The drugstore experiment begins!)

    Important safety tip: The word "cologne" on the bottle should not, under any circumstances, be taken to mean that you should spray Sand & Sable lavishly. If this is the cologne, I can imagine that one drop of a theoretical parfum version would drive all of the oxygen out of a room.

    But that's not to say that I don't like it. I do - I like it very much. It's big, and friendly, and sweet. The word that comes to mind is "affable". The image that comes to mind is a big, fluffy, friendly, but perhaps not-too-bright cat.

    The official notes are tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, rose, green notes, and peach. It doesn't have any of the aldehydic or shrill aspects that I expected from that list - instead, it's mellow and buttery, very comfortable. There's just enough sour to balance the ample sweetness, like doctoring your iced tea with far too much sugar and then getting the lemon just right - you know that it's all too much, practically syrup, but it tastes so good.

    I can see why this is so well-loved, and why it brings up so many happy nostalgic memories for so many women. To them, it seems to be about teenage sunburned beach afternoons. I don't have that association, so I read it as, well, furry, rather than beachy. Mink stoles or feather boas or, again, that cat.

    It's linear, or essentially linear.  It does shift a bit in the first twenty minutes or so as it dries, but that beginning doesn't feel like planned top notes so much as an inevitable phase that you have to wait to, to get to the "real" fragrance. Then it's all sweet, thick, flowery buttercream.

    Review Roundup: Scentzilla! and Perfume Posse and Perfume-Smellin' Things (very brief mention) and Scentzilla! again and Now Smell This (brief mention) and Perfume Posse (brief mention) and Perfume-Smellin' Things (one line) and Fragrantica and Basenotes and MakeupAlley.

    Photo: By Halved Sandwich. Wikimedia Commons.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    SOTD: Ellen Tracy Linda Allard Limited Edition


    Of the previously-mentioned three samples that came with my BeautyEncounter order, I had the highest expectations for Ellen Tracy Linda Allard. The packaging, even just the sample card, was attractive. The notes list sounded great - carnation, sandalwood, tonka bean, cinnamon, freesia, peach, jasmine, cedar, and rose. I like most of those. I even like peach, even if I am a fruity-fragrance hater.

    The result? Meh.

    The best thing that I can say about it is that it taught me what causes that celery seed note in Dzongkha - I think it's the cedar. There's a note in this one that smells midway between cedar and celery seed.

    The second best thing that I can say is that the drydown has a moderately pleasant powdery note with a hint of sandalwood prickle that I sort of enjoyed.

    The third best thing that I can say is that when I ask the "would I prefer to wear this or go unscented?" question, I would prefer to wear this.

    That's about it.

    It starts out with wet cedar with a touch of celery, nervous high-pitched flowers, and vegetables. It progresses into dry celery/cedar, that fairly pleasant powder, and even more nervous mid-pitched flowers fleeing into the distance. It ends with the powder.

    I suppose that I can also give it credit for not throwing in a lot of things designed to please the masses. It's not sugary or fruity. There's no resemblance to a cookie. The notes that are there could be interesting. But it has the feel of a fragrance where someone found each and every quirk or interesting element, and carefully sanded them off to ensure that no one would scratch themselves. The nice powder/sandalwood aspect reminds me of a Calvin Trillin article in which he referred to some otherwise bland food as having picked up some flavor from the onions "without permission".

    My theory is that it was once interesting and was destroyed by a committee. I feel bad for it. But I'm still not buying it.

    Review Roundup: Fragrantica, and that's all I can find.

    Photo: By Thierry Caro. Wikimedia Commons.

    Ramble: Drugstore Incoming!

    So I was in a bad mood. A mean, grumpy, feelings-hurt mood. A mood where you don't just want to eat the hot fudge sundae, you want to crawl into a vat of the hot fudge for a nice warm nap. Or, well, at least I do.

    I went out to walk it off. (A decision that I'll regret when I'm finishing my eight hour workday around midnight tonight.)  A pharmacy crossed my path. I had recently made a list, for a not-yet-published post, of drugstore fragrances that some perfume freaks regard highly or remember fondly. And I had my credit cards.

    You know what's coming, right?

    What's coming is that in the next few weeks you'll be seeing reviews of:
    • Lady Stetson
    • Coty Wild Musk
    • Charlie
    • Tommy Girl
    • Sand & Sable
    • Jovan Musk
    I barely resisted the temptation to add Jovan Vanilla Fields and Jovan Black Musk ("three for the price of two!"), and if there'd been anybody nearby with the perfume case key, Tabu and Canoe would also be on the list.

    The bad mood will pass. And I think I'm going to enjoy the reviews.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    SOTD: Elizabeth W Sweet Tea, and loyalties

    A glass of tea on a slatted table.
    Elizabeth W Sweet Tea was once my favorite fragrance. Black tea, honey, lemons, a hint of almond - what more could I want? It's Southern sweet tea. All it needs is the fried chicken and the picnic blanket.

    Sweet Tea made me feel happy, feminine, pretty. Cool and well-hydrated in the summer. Nicely honey-nourished (like a comfy bear) in the winter. I actually used up a bottle (admittedly, a mini, but that's still almost un-heard-of) and the trauma of being briefly without it led me to buy two full-size bottles.

    Then I encountered other teas. Harmatan Noir. L'Eau Rare Matale. Yerbamate. Moroccan Mint Tea. Comme des Garcons Tea. They crept in, one by one and beguiled me with their bitter or herbal or astringent or dry-cleaning-fluid charms. And as a result, I haven't worn Sweet Tea in a year or more.

    I feel bad neglecting my old favorite. So that's why I'm reviewing it today - in the hope that you'll try some. Because it's still lovely. Feminine but not too girly. Sweet but not a tasteless sugar sweet. Again, lovely. And, I should add, really inexpensive.

    It's just, well, not weird.  And you know me - I need the weird. So give this one a try - it just might become your best-loved tea.

    Review Roundup: Blogdorf Goodman and Now Smell This and Basenotes and MakeupAlley and Feminine Things.

    Photo: By Kanko. Wikimedia Commons.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    SOTD: Chanel Cuir de Russie

    I put Cuir de Russie on to confirm, one more time, that I love it. And I do, though I'm realizing that I may not love it in the summer.

    The weather is warmer and days are longer than the last time I wore it, and that produces a substantial change. The top  notes are sharper and higher-pitched, and the animalic notes are less delightful. (Bringing me back to the Vole Theory.) And it's strong - one spray is producing a substantial leather and iris cloud around me, making Chanel's monster bottle size even more problematic.

    But I still want it. It's really only a matter of time.

    (Who's that in the photo, you ask? Ernest Beaux, the original perfumer.)

    Review Roundup: Is here.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    SOTD: L'Artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha

    This one is still weird. Thank goodness. I was afraid that my nose was translating everything into conventional.

    On my skin, Dzongkha starts out strong on cardamom and incense. But it's also oddly wet, as if I'm sitting outside, in the rain and among wet leaves, with the incense smoke drifting out to me. I like the effect. But there's nothing blooming in those leaves - I don't get the floral or fruity notes that the notes list (lychee, cardamom, tea with milk, vetiver, cypriol, cedar, leather, peony, iris, and incense) would predict.

    As it dries, it gets weirder. The rain and incense are joined by saffron and celery seed - a lot of celery seed. A couple of hours in, the celery vanishes and the mix starts to transform. It's dryer at this point, with the leather dominating. It's still light, but powdery - the iris, I suspect - rather than wet. Some reviews refer to the iris as cold, but to my nose, it's a warm, satisfying base.

    I like it. It's on the List. And it's very nicely weird.

    Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Aromascope and Perfume Posse and Victoria's Own and Basenotes and Sweet Diva and The Scented Salamander and Fragrantica and Polish, Platforms, Perfume and MakeupAlley and Feminine Things and NotesFromJosephine.

    Photo: By Lourie Pieterse. Wikimedia Commons.