Sunday, January 31, 2010

SOTD: Scentless Offline Weekend Day Two

Photo of a cat yawning.
In the post for yesterday, I predicted tuna. Today, I predict Hollandaise. On eggs. It's Sunday, after all.

And another nap.

Photo: By Hisashi. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

SOTD: Scentless Offline Weekend Day One

I will, sadly, be both unscented and computer-free all weekend. But I will also be (woohoo!) idle and gluttonous and possibly take some naps. So I'm not really demanding sympathy. Just forgiveness for failing to respond to comments in a timely manner.

But, of course, I still have to post. So I'm doing to do that scheduled-post thing, writing these posts on Thursday or Friday or something. But without a scent of the day, what will I talk about?

I suppose I could talk about this determination to post every single day. What's with that?

Part of it is the scent diary thing. I like having a record of what scent I wear every single day.

A very, very small part of it is earning the monthly NaBloPoMo badge. (Which I don't qualify for this month; I missed one post, plus scheduling isn't allowed. Hmph.)

Much of it, I think, is anti-perfectionism. If I have to post every single day, that limits the extent to which I can wait for the perfect subject or the perfect turn of phrase or the perfect anything. And that's good, because the purpose of the blog isn't to communicate perfectly, it's to communicate. To talk to perfume freaks. To write. All that stuff.

So there we are. As you read this, I'm probably either napping or eating seared tuna. Mmmmm.

Photo: By Tennen-Gas. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, January 29, 2010

SOTD: Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan (And signs of spring.)

Photo of a groundhog munching on a flower.
I've mentioned the mildly puzzling fact that I swoon over Osmanthe Yunnan in the summer, and just respond with a shrug and a "Meh. Pretty. Kinda sweet." in the winter.

I'm seeing signs of spring just now. The magnolia tree has buds, and the daffodils are showing their heads. So I tried Osmanthe Yunnan today, as a sort of test.

Meh. Pretty. Kinda sweet.

Six more weeks of winter? I'd believe a perfume over a groundhog, after all.

I am puzzled as to why I have this reaction, though. Especially about the sweet part - why should Osmanthe Yunnan seem sugary in winter and not in summer? I really need to learn more about perfume - about that whole chemicals-rising-from-the-skin thing. I want to be a more informed perfume geek. There are probably books on the subject. Hopefully at least a few that don't require a chemistry degree.

Forgot the Review Roundup! It's here.

Photo: By Reinhard Kraasch. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Aomassai

Burnt sugar. Yum.




What else to say? Yum. Eau de sticky pastry.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By avlxyz. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SOTD: Hermes Terre d'Hermes (And sugar and spice and modern women's scents)

Painting of smiling woman.I don't like girly scents. Sweet pink ruffly bottles of flowers and syrup and fruit that bat their eyes and giggle? Scents designed to please and flirt? Not for me.

But I've learned in the past few months that I do like women's scents. Scents that would tend to be inappropriate on a teenager. Even, or perhaps especially, drop-dead femme fatale scents. A scent that could be worn by Jane Russell, Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman? That's fine with me. Even, in fact, if those women are wearing ruffles. This tells me that I'm not opposed to femininity, not at all.

So what do those women have? They have presence. And presence means power. This brings me to the realization that what I object to are scents that reassure one's audience by signaling a complete lack of power.

Photograph of Myrna Loy
Many modern women's scents make me think of those men that try to tell women to "smile!" when the woman isn't being decorative enough for their taste. I don't want to smell like a woman who would give an apologetic start and provide that smile. I want to smell like the woman who would make that man shrink into his shoes with one raised eyebrow.

Now, some women can wear lacy ruffled fruity flowers and still strike that eyebrow blow. I suspect that they're the same ones who draw power, instead of helplessness, from a fine pair of high heels. I'm not one of those women. Femininity doesn't come naturally to me. I've discussed that.

All of which brings me, sort of, to Terre d'Hermes. Or at least to men's fragrances. Men's fragrances, whatever else one might say about them, almost never suffer from a lack of power. Men's fragrances don't smile on command, or simper, or flirt. They may charm. They may say, "Well, hello, there." But there's always an underlying base of "This is what I smell like. You wanna make something of it?"

I like that. Now, I don't always need a full dose of it, which is why the vast majority of my bottles are unisex fragrances, and most of the rest are femme fatale fragrances. But once in a while I want a fragrance that has no intention whatsoever of smiling unless it's in the mood. Which brings me, again, to Terre d'Hermes. I may finally talk about it now.

So what does it smell like? To me, it smells like sharp dark gravel and peppered orange peels, with a wakeup effect like a cup of coffee. (Well, like I imagine a cup of coffee. I don't actually drink the stuff.) The bitter, volatile elements of the orange fade in a little while, as oranges always do, and for a few hours their function is replaced with a dose of bitter vetiver. The bitterness is a little much, but just as I'm ready to declare that it's too much, it fades away. The final remains are very close to the skin and quite out of character for the rest of the development - soft, woody, and sweet, like the remains of something that had vanilla.

I like it. But now that I've had a day of it, I may not need that much power again for a little while.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Bois de Jasmin and Perfume-Smellin' Things and PereDePierre and The Non-Blonde and nioi and Basenotes and Fragrantica and MakeupAlley.

Photo of Myrna Loy: Wikimedia Commons.
Painting of smiling woman: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

UPDATED: Perfume: Ack! Serge Lutens discontinuations!

In the unlikely event that you read my blog and don't read Perfume Shrine (yeah, right), this is to point you to an article about four Serge Lutens discontinuations.

Douce Amere! I only have a decant! The budget forbids it! What do I do?

Update: Phew! It's not as bad as it sounded. See the Perfume Shrine update, but the summary is that they're just being taken off the export line - they'll be harder to get, but they aren't vanishing from the face of the earth. However, the list of fragrances has changed - replace Clair de Musc with Santal Blanc, on the list of those that will no longer be exported.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

SOTD: Balmain Ivoire (Quick sniff)

Photo of a flowering sprig of oregano.
After ignoring the bottle almost since its arrival, today I finally doused myself thoroughly with Balmain Ivoire.

Last time, the green aspects were bitter - pleasantly so. This time, out in the cold and with a more generous application, they were more herbal - again, pleasantly so. It was as if oregano, sage, and rosemary had some common descendent, with perhaps mint far, far back in the genealogy.

I liked it very much. And this is a quick post, so I'll leave it at that.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Franz Xaver. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, January 25, 2010

SOTD: Fendi Theorema

Art of an orange tree.
When I look at a bottle and tell myself, "I can't wear that; I won't have anything to blog about," something's gone a little awry.

That was my response today when Fendi Theorema presented itself for consideration. But I reconsidered, and sprayed it on anyway. It was perfect today, on a chilly damp day with a touch of sun.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

SOTD: Tokyo Milk Song In D Minor (Liddle Kiddle! You're back!)

I like the idea of Tokyo Milk. Modest sized bottles with modest sized prices, interesting scent concepts (I really want to smell Poe's Tobacco), and while I like to pretend that I'm above packaging, this packaging is adorable - I especially love the little pictures on the "back wall" of the bottles. (See?)

So when I saw a few Tokyo Milk scents in a place where I don't expect to be able to buy perfume, I lost control and bought Song in D Minor. This was before my Curation Resolution, so I'm not declaring any guilt. But it was not a planned purchase, and therefore it has limited utility in my collection. I wore it today for the first time.

So what's it like? It's another white flower bomb. (Maybe I should make that a post tag?) A somewhat synthetic-feeling white flower bomb, but the synthetic aspect is fine in this one, as if it's part of the plan. To me, it's part of a toy-store vibe, because one of the major notes reminds me of my old Sweet Pea Liddle Kiddle Kologne doll - it's not a dead ringer, but it's enough to make me happily nostalgic.

If I were to list the notes, they'd be gardenia, sweet pea, orange flower, new toy plastic, and new toy fabric. Officially, they're white orchid, orange flower, gardenia, and amber.  Either way, I like this a lot more than I expected to. It starts out very high-pitched and sneezy, with the creamy gardenia trying, but failing, to bring it down from "shrill", and the sweet pea floating above it all.

That battle continues as the scent develops, with the creaminess slowly gaining ground, making a softer, denser base for the sweet pea. Eventually, it settles into a creamy, grainy final base that reminds me of both Un Lys and yesterday's Number One - I'm starting to think of this as "flower bomb base".

I like it, but at a "good for the price" level. It doesn't fill the open white flower slot in my collection - that's still pending a decision between Un Lys and Number One.

Review Roundup: Can't find any! (Aha! Tea, Sympathy, and Perfume.)

Link Roundup: Articles on Tokyo Milk and its products, though not necessarily this specific scent, at Blogdorf Goodman and Now Smell This and Audit Diva and another in A Rose beyond the Thames and Domestic Sluttery and Fragrance Bouquet.

And a link on The Vintage Perfume Vault about Liddle Kiddles.

(Edited to add to the Roundups.)

Photo: By jjvaca. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

SOTD: Parfums de Nicolai Number One

Wait a minute. Why did I think I didn't like this one? It is a flower bomb, yes, but it's a lovely flower bomb.

If I sniff with nose to skin, the opening is sharp and medicinal. But a few inches away, it's a friendly, buttery tuberose, propelled outward by a powerful high-pitched cloud of what smells like jasmine.

The jasmine fades to the background in a few minutes, leaving a much more interesting mixture of notes, one that I can't quite puzzle out. According to the Parfums de Nicolai website, this perfume has top notes of tagetes oil and galbanum oil, heart notes of jasmine, tuberose, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, and cassia, and base notes of sandalwood, oakmoss, and amber.

I don't know which of these components is producing the second phase, but I like that phase very much. The florals are even more buttery, but less dense - there's a strong woody and grainy element, and it's all much lower-pitched than the beginning. The mood is tailored, dignified, but friendly. It reminds me very much of Un Lys, but while Un Lys wears an evening gown, Number One wears an impeccably tailored suit. No, not an office power suit - a vintage piece of tailored perfection.

As it fades, it even grainier and woodier. Others can smell vanilla at this stage - I don't get that, but it is gently sweet, producing a similar mood. Overall, it's lovely. It's competing with my previously urgent desire to own Un Lys - it's appropriate for more occasions, it's drastically less expensive, and, well, I may actually like it better.

Review Roundup: Bois de Jasmin and Legerdenez and Perfume Posse and Fragrantica and Sakecat and Basenotes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Bois Blond

Closeup photo of peanut brittle.
I just declared a new fragrance strategy for when I'm cranky: Wear scents that I'm trying to break myself of wanting.

Such as, for example, Bois Blond. I've discussed Bois Blond's split personality, the gorgeous sunny hayfield versus the heap of stale nuts. I don't want to want Bois Blond. It's expensive, it's limited edition, it's expensive - mostly, it's expensive. Too expensive for a scent that I don't reliably like.

But I do want it. So that's what I'm wearing today. There was a break in the rain today, and I'm also drowning myself in chocolate milk, but much crankiness remains. So I'm going to send Bois Blond into the breach and see if it survives. So far, it's not surviving very well - it's not just a stale nut day, but a sticky stale nut day.

(Off topic: While looking for a picture to represent sticky nuts, I saw a picture of bacon peanut brittle. Oh, my. I'm not sure if I'm horrified or delighted.)

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: From Mackinac Fudge Shop. And, no, I'm sure it's not stale, I'm sure it's delicious. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

SOTD: None and Rant: I am so done with winter (perfume version)

Photograph of a wet cat.
If you're feeling a touch of deja vu, that's because I already ranted about the weather over there. And now I'm ranting about it again over here.

What weather? Rain. You heard about all that rain on the left-hand side of the country? Yeah, it's falling on my head. OK, technically, it's falling on my roof, while I sit in here nice and dry and type. I'm still sick of it.

Yes, I did say rain. Not snow, not sleet, not ice. Rain. Not-particularly-cold water. I am a weather wimp. I got my weather training in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. I'm pretty sure that I was in town for this blizzard. So you'd think I wouldn't be that wimpish. I am. Too many years in all this nice mild mildness.

You know what perfume I want to wear, in all this rain and all the drippy noises coming from everywhere that you can hear even a touch of noise from the outside? You really want to know?


I have no craving for anything. It's worse than yesterday.

The warm, fuzzy glamour of Daim Blond? Bleah. The rich, torchlit elfin forest feast of Feminite du Bois? Feh. The snappy newly-sharpened-pencil nostalgia of Feminite du Bois on another day? Meh. The deep, dark, smoky volcanic plain of Serge Noire? Pfft. The sparkling, tapdancing sheer joy of Sushi Imperiale? Oh, just go away.

Cadjmere? Too sweet and too filling. L'Eau Rare Matale? That's a wet smell, are you mad?! Aomassai? Didn't you hear what I said about Cadjmere? Un Lys? Oh, sure, taunt me with flowers, be that way, see if I care. No. 19? Oh, yeah, you want to ask the green-clawed creature to get out of her nice comfy bottle and join us all in the drizzle? I'm not risking it, thank you.

I remain unscented. And cranky.

Photo: By JlLantzy. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Iris Oriental/Iris Taizo

Today is a gray, halfheartedly stormy, dull day. A boring day, finishing up a task that's already had all the flavor chewed out of it, followed by a dark evening that's not quite long enough, because the boring work took too long.

A feel-good scent wasn't going to work today. I'm just not in the mood to be beguiled. I went digging through the bottles and samples, and nothing was quite right. Bergamot or citrus or pretty flowers would be too maddeningly cheerful. Serge Noire, today, would be funereal. Comfort scents would either annoy me or send me straight to bed.

I picked up Iris Taizo on instinct, sprayed it on, and it's perfect. The stern, textured, challenging opening is just right for my mood. And I know that as my mood improves - the work is over, after all, even if it took too long - the scent will grow sweeter and quieter until, just about the time that I am ready to go to bed, it will have become a comfort scent.

Just right.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Daim Blond


I tried another overapplication experiment with this, to see if it changed at all. It didn't. And that's fine - I love Daim Blond just the way it is.

But I see that I've never talked about it in detail. That's probably because it's hard to describe. It's not hard to smell or to love - at least for me, it's a love at first sniff, sink in, comfort scent. But it's a scent that doesn't make sense. Leather and fruit. Pale suede and apricot. It's not an apricot danish thrown at a lady's suede hat, or an apricot hand pie in a suede crust (eew), or anything like that. The two are merged. It's... it's... OK, you see the problem? I can't come up with a single fantastical object that ought to smell like this.

Now, the notes don't say apricots. The notes are hawthorn and cardamom on top, iris and apricot stone and pallida in the middle, and musk, heliotrope, and leather at the base. I'm guessing that the fruit that I'm getting is really the heliotrope - don't they call it "cherry pie"?

The top notes are my favorite. There's an odd scent that's both fresh, or maybe I just mean volatile, and rich - maybe it's the hawthorn. And plenty of fruit, and plenty of suede. But even though it announces "suede" loud and clear, there's nothing animalic here. No, I can't explain that. I don't get the cardamom at all, but I'm guessing that it, plus the bitterness of the apricot stone, explains why the whole mix doesn't collapse into an oversweet mess.

As time goes on, there's a good deal less fruit, and the leather is quieter. The musk shows itself, and there's a very fine, silky powder that I'd guess is the pallida. Even when I officially hated powder and musk, and disliked iris, I loved Daim Blond.  Now all three are growing on me, and someday I may prefer this phase to the fruity top notes.

At the end, the last traces are a faintly sweet powder. That's nice, too; I may overapply even more next time to get a stronger, clearer view of the base.


Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, January 18, 2010

SOTD: Hugo Boss Boss Woman

The non-niche, non-classic sample testing continues today with Hugo Boss Boss Woman Eau de Parfum.

I used up another plastic atomizer, so that I could test this sprayed. And the sample was generous, so I was able to put on a full wearing's worth. Why all this detail? Because this perfume is skating on the edge between worth owning, and not worth owning, so I want to offer any details that might have influenced my impressions. I should also note that the card refers to this as "the new fragrance by Hugo Boss", while Basenotes says that this has been out since 2000. Hmm.

The most extensive notes documentation that I can locate lists top notes of kiwi, mango, pineapple, kumquat, and orange, heart notes of freesia, orris, violet root, cananga flower, and passiflore, and base notes of vanilla, musk, sandalwood and cedar. While I can accept that those notes are there, that list definitely doesn't predict the experience. In fact, it's enough of a puzzle that I did some extra searching to reassure myself that there's no Flanker Identity Crisis going on. I was reasonably reassured, so, on to the experience:

The first few seconds had a nail polish remover feel, but that faded so fast that the momentary chemical flash was enjoyable.

Immediately following that, I got a very masculine vibe, and a basket of "reminds me ofs". The background is a bit like the satisfying background of some Jo Malone fragrances, like Sweet Lime & Cedar - something solid and "chewy", probably the woods plus something sweet, as a base for the fresher, more volatile notes.

Above that, there was something that reminded me of Douce Amere. That means absinthe to me, and a reviewer on Amazon refers to a vermouth scent. So I guess that averages out to wormwood - which is definitely not in the notes list.

That was gone within minutes, and then it was rather citrusy, but a somewhat bitter and unfamiliar citrus, like the rind of a sour fruit that I haven't smelled before. Then that shifted into something more herbal. Lavender? Sage? Both? Neither? Are we in fougere territory here? More searching of my memory, and I realized that it reminded me of the cypress and citrus combination in Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien.

Then most of that went away, and within half an hour of application I was down to the pleasant, chewy, slightly sweet, slightly powdery, fractionally-too-synthetic main show, with some of the vanished notes back in minor roles.  It reminded me even more of Sweet Lime & Cedar - not just the Jo Malone base now, but the citrus and wood also had a similar feel, though they were far less aggressive than in the Jo Malone. And there was still just a little of Eau d'Hadrien and just a little of Serge Lutens Douce Amere.

At this point, I got my first hint of floral, presumably the freesia. This, plus the sweet and powdery elements (orris?) finally made it smell like a woman's fragrance. Not ruffles and frills, and nicely low-pitched, but the aggressively masculine aspect was gone.

Edited to clarify, in case you're asking, "What do you mean, half an hour? That's not enough time for development!" I did give it more time than that, and I don't mean that it was finished developing after half an hour. Several hours in, the above description still fit, but it was very gently developing, almost imperceptibly growing less sweet and chewy and more dry and powdery. About nine hours in, it's mostly soft, dry powder, reminding me very much of Douce Amere.

It's starting to grow on me. I've always been a person who doesn't like "things" in my ice cream, or my bread pudding, or my cream soups. I sometimes have a similar reaction to Jo Malone perfumes - I like that comfy satisfying base, and I find myself wishing that I could have it without so many "things" in it. Boss Woman may be the perfume to fulfill that craving. Or the lurking "generic synthetic" note may bloom and knock it right out of the running.

For those who don't share my specific weird craving, this might serve for those occasions when the strange and unusual could be a problem. It's an inoffensive, mannerly, buttoned-down fragrance, but it's neither stupid or cringing.

Review Roundup: Why is it that the non-niche perfumes seem to have fewer reviews? Fragrantica and Basenotes, and if I find more, I'll return to add them.

(Edited to add information on the later stages.)

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

SOTD: Comme des Garcons: Leaves: Tea, and Weird

Photo of a metal and glass teapot.
This one is weird. I've discussed it before, and discussed the plastic/cleaning fluid note. On this wearing, I've concluded that that's the dominant note. To me, this fragrance would fit more comfortably in the "synthetic" family, along with Garage and Dry Clean.

I'm not sure what's behind that note. The notes - black tea, bergamot, rose petals, cedarwood, and mate - seem normal enough. But I can't tease any of them out. The notes are perfectly blended into... Weird.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Jorge Barrios. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Serge Noire

Photo of a small dog in a fluffy sweater.
This is one of my very favorites. Sadly, it was the wrong choice for today - a cloudy, dull, day, neither hot or cold, one of those days when you keep putting the sweater on and taking it off again, when you alternate between feeling chilly and unprotected, or sweaty and crowded.

It appears that Serge Noire is better for days with more decided weather. I've loved it in the cold, and in the summer heat, and in air conditioned chill after stepping in from summer heat, and in heated spaces after stepping in from the cold. But it apparently doesn't like halfhearted weather - that sort of weather brings out too much of the  sticky resin and too little of the glorious stone dust.

It's still a grand perfume, just not for today.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By AJHall1st. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, January 15, 2010

SOTD: Jessica Simpson Taste (Braving the Pink Side)

Photo of pink-topped confection.
This time, when I ordered from BeautyEncounter, I remembered that I'm entitled to rack up three of those "surprise me with a perfume sample!" things, and I did. They sent me samples of Ellen Tracy Linda Allard Limited Edition, Hugo Boss Boss Woman, and Jessica Simpson Taste Delicious Dessert Deliciously Kissable Fragrance Somethingorother. The card has me confused; I'm just calling it Taste, because that's the word with the biggest print.

I tend to ignore new designer or celebrity perfume samples. I always mean to try them, because who knows?, but they have to get in line behind the carefully chosen niche or classic stuff, and much later I come upon them and I don't know how old the sample is, or even if the perfume still exists. So they never make it to the head of the line. I thought that I should break that habit.

In addition, I decided that I must work on my perfume-snob traits and either break myself of the snobbery, or develop a really enjoyable self-righteous glow of justification about it. So I'm going to try these samples. And I'm going to start with the scariest one.

All of which explains why I just removed the (pink) vial of Jessica Simpson Taste from its (pink) card and decanted its few (pink) drops of perfume into a (plastic - I have limits, and putting pink perfume into glass strains them) atomizer.

And nervously read the card, which did not still my fears:
Fresh flirty & exotic... totally inspired by the Island Girl in me. Warm Tahitian vanilla, luscious white chocolate, coconut cream, apricot & honey. Wear it, then share it. Enjoy!

Kisses, Jessica
The first thing I noticed was plastic vanilla and coconut. That wasn't a surprise.

The second thing that I noticed was that it took an unusually long time to dry, and had an odd big-drops-of-liquid texture as it did. Is there no alcohol in this? Does that signal that it's a children's perfume? Or is the name more literal than it seems and you're supposed to eat the stuff? No, the card addresses that: "THIS IS NOT A FOOD". OK, then.

The third thing that I noticed was that it's surprisingly light, to the extent that the nightmarishly horrible fragrance of the dishwashing soap that I used earlier was drowning it out. The comparison was actually useful - if I was tempted to compare Taste with household-products scents, the smell of the soap on my hands assured me that, no, Taste does not even begin to plumb those depths of awfulness.

But back to what it smells like. After waiting for it to dry, and washing the dish soap awfulness off my hands to the best of my ability, it still smells like plastic vanilla and coconut. Do you know what I mean by plastic vanilla? It's hard to explain, but almost every vanilla-dominant fragrance below stratospheric price points smells plasticky to me, like you soaked a clean piece of rubbery plastic in a dish of vanillin and then cut it open and sniffed it. Some more so, some less, and fragrances that just have vanilla as one of many notes don't have the problem, but this is an ongoing problem with me and vanilla. It's why I keep being tempted to pay the money for Indult Tihota.

OK, back to Taste. I do keep veering, don't I? Plastic vanilla, coconut, no appreciable white musk (thank goodness), a little bit of powder, and a little bit of New Barbie Doll. In fact, it's what I can imagine Barbie wearing when she goes out to the arboretum with Ken on Valentine's day. I'm afraid that it doesn't pass the "would you rather wear this or nothing?" test, but that's my nose, and my nose is extremely intolerant of plastic vanilla.

So it's not good, and if I got it as a gift I'd give it away, but it's not dreadful. It has that childhood, Barbie doll, pink candy and fake feather boa vibe that could make it a guilty pleasure.

Review Roundup: None, because I can't determine with any confidence exactly what the thing's called, so I don't want to point to reviews that may be for something somewhere else on the flanker family tree.

Photo: By Oatz. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perfume Compilation: Anti-IFRA Rebellion? Cool.

An interesting development - perfumers and labs are finally having something to say about the looming IFRA regulations. I have no idea whether they can have an influence, but it's nice that they're trying.

From Grain de Musc: IFRA: Perfumers speak up in Le Monde, France's newspaper of reference

Perfume Shrine: Perfumers have the European Commission Irritating the Hell out of Them

1000 Fragrances: Perfumers Against Bruxelles

Now Smell This: C'est un creve-coeur

Photo: By Pensiero. Wikimedia Commons.

SOTD: Shiseido Feminite du Bois

Photo of the front of a UPS truck.
Did I mention that I broke down and bought a bottle of the Shiseido version of Feminite du Bois? I did.

The nice UPS man was down the block yesterday when I was walking out for lunch, and online tracking had assured me that the bottle should be on the truck. So I stopped him to beg for my package, for fear that it would be signature required, I wouldn't be home when he got to our block, and I'd have to wait for it. (Nooooo!) Luckily, he knows who I am and where I live, and he kindly handed it over. One advantage of getting far, far too many packages. (Though sadly, most of them aren't perfume.)

So fifty milliliters of Feminite du Bois is mine, mine, all mine. Bwahaha!

Ahem. I'm somewhat unintentionally testing it as a pajama scent, because today was a busy workday and I got around to the shower and perfume ritual around, well, now. (Yes, I do work at home, don't worry.) I'm wearing my favorite too-worn-to-wear-outside white linen shirt, my butterfly pajamas, and a whole lot of Feminite du Bois. Somehow, I don't think that this fits the marketers' visions, but I'm happy.

My bottle smells as lovely as the sample that I fell in love with - always something that I worry about. Today it smells like a cedar pencil again. A lovely pencil. I'm very pleased.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SOTD: Chanel Cuir de Russie (Les Exclusifs, EDT)

After only two wearings, Chanel Cuir de Russie is well on its way to being one of Those Scents - the scents at the core of my wardrobe, the ones that make me smell like me. I want some. The only question is whether I'm eventually getting a decant or a bottle, and how soon I can budget it.

I'm surprised that I feel comfortable in this scent. The elegance, the presence, the self-assured mood - none of that seems as if it should fit my nervous and rumpled self. But if I stop thinking about it, it just slips on, a perfect fit.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Cszmurlo. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Jardin de Kerylos

Oh, yes. I've found my fig.

I was dubious at the beginning. The first notes of Jardin de Kerylos were very pink and powdery and pretty and sort of girly-aldehydeish. In other words, almost everything that I dislike in a fragrance.

But this is Parfumerie Generale, so I hung on. And I didn't have to hang on for more than a minute or two for the powder and ruffles to start to burn off, and the pink scent to turn green, and then greener. Green, and tart, and dry, and the coconut that's so often dominant in fig scents was just barely there, peeking through the foliage.

A green fig, a highly unripe fig, a fig that I couldn't eat without pureeing it with sugar, but to smell, it's a glorious fig.

The notes, according to LuckySent, are fig, sycamore, and musk. I don't know what sycamore smells like - is it responsible for some of the greenness? Just in case, I'll be adding sycamore to my list of notes of interest.

It's odd to have so little to say about a fragrance that I like so much. I suppose that the first wearing is sometimes a largely wordless experience. But this is it. I've found my fig.

Edited to add: Just for more complete information, I should add: Longevity? Lousy. It faded away in less than three hours. And I don't care. I still want it.

Review Roundup: The Non-Blonde and Perfume Posse and Aromascope (brief mention) and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Basenotes and MakeupAlley and Olfactoria's Travels.

Photo: By Jon Sullivan. Wikimedia Commons.  Also from PDPhoto.

Monday, January 11, 2010

SOTD: Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia. Again.

Pats of butter on a plate, and the blade of a butter knife.
Another wearing of Velvet Gardenia, another data point. The goal is a minimum of floral and a maximum of butter and - highest priority - beeswax. Today, I got a fair bit of high-pitched floral at the beginning, and now a little butter but no beeswax.

This discontinued scent is, as you may recall, one of the perfumes that's throwing me into endless buy-or-not-buy thrashing-around. Today I feel all very nice and decided about it: Get an 8 milliliter decant and move on with life.

Tomorrow? Heh. We'll see.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Carey Tilden. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Compilation: Perfume in the San Francisco Bay Area

In a past post, I offered some information about where to find perfume in Ashland, Oregon. It occurred to me today that a similar post for the San Francisco Bay Area would be good, too.

This list primarily includes what I know of or have read pretty clearly - there may be perfectly obvious things left out. Please let me know if you know of something that should be added.

At Stanford Mall in Palo Alto:
  • Wilkes Bashford, selling L'Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaligon.
  • L'Occitane.
  • Kiehl's.
  • Bloomingdale's.
  • Neiman Marcus.
  • Nordstrom's.
  • Sephora
In San Francisco, stores I've been in:
  • Diptyque boutique on Maiden Lane. (Very close to Union Square.)
  • Hermes boutique on Maiden Lane.
  • Chanel boutique on Maiden Lane.
  • Barney's at 77 O'Farrell Street, near Union Square.
  • Nieman Marcus at 150 Stockton Street, near Union Square.
  • Gumps at 135 Post Street.
  • Saks Fifth Avenue, 384 Post Street.
  • Nordstrom at 865 Market Street.
  • Fresh boutique, 301 Sutter Street. (And take a few steps and get some chocolate at Teuscher's, too.)
San Franciso Rumored:
I've never been to these places, they're just mentioned in the Basenotes link above, some in rather old messages. Quite frankly, I'm putting them in here so that next time I'm in San Francisco, I can easily look at my own post and go have a look.
  • Yves Saint Laurent boutique, Maiden Lane.
  • Jaqueline Perfumery, 103 Geary Street.
  • Kiehls, 2360 Fillmore Street and 865 Market Street.
  • Wilkes Bashford, 375 Sutter Street.
  • Yosh Olfactory Sense. I'm a little confused about the address, so I'm not going to risk giving it and being wrong.
  • ElizabethW, 900 North Point Street, in Ghirardelli Square.
  • In Fiore, 868 Post Street.
Other Cities:
  • Mahin & Co, 350 S. California Avenue, Palo Alto, is rumored to carry some L'Artisan Parfumerie, Bond No. 9, Caron, Different Company, and Jatamansi fragrances.
  • Aftelier Perfumes, 1442A Walnut Street, #369, Berkeley. (Rumored. I don't know if this is a store that can be visited or just a company location that cannot.)
  • Harmony Pharmacy & Health Center, San Francisco Airport. (Inside security. Been there. The selection of each fragrance was very limited, but I was still impressed.)
  • Herringbone Apothecary, 1527 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. According to their website, they carry Mandy Aftel and CB I Hate Perfume fragrances. (Rumored.)
  • Black Swan Boutique, 42 Elm Street, Los Gatos.
  • Bliss Beauty, 682 Rancho Shopping Center, Los Altos. (Rumored.)
  • A Basenotes post tells me that the Perfume Gallery in Valley Fair Mall, has a surprisingly good selection of classics. (Rumored.)
Link Roundup: Also check the San Francisco city guide and the South Bay City Guide from Basenotes and the Yelp search on San Francisco perfume.

Edited to further clarify what's rumored and where I've actually been.

Photo of Union Square by Thomas Hawk. Wikimedia Commons.

SOTD: Serge Lutens Un Lys, and uncertainty

Well, this is slightly worrying. Do you remember how I said that Tubereuse Couture is better on the back of my neck - thus, effectively, at a distance - than sniffed right on my skin? Un Lys appears to be the opposite.

I sprayed it on the back of my neck, and nowhere else, before going out for the day. And after a lovely few minutes, it settled into a fairly generic "perfumey" lily. The lovely penuche-like graininess that I usually smell was entirely absent.

Worrying. Less worrying than it would be if I'd already bought a bottle, but in my mind I'd already put it in the bottle queue. It was just waiting for budgeting. What to do?

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image from "Doubts" by Henrietta Rae. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

SOTD: Nothing (And I broke my streak!) (But the movies were great.)

Today was a Movie Fest day. That means that we spent all day at the movies (yay!) and consumed way too much sugar (yay!) and I felt that I shouldn't wear perfume (hmph!). I would normally wear perfume on a Movie Fest day if it had an hour or two to mellow before we got to the movies, but I wasn't that organized today.

This also means that I got home at six after midnight, thus blowing a three-month streak for posting every day. No January NaBloPoMo badge for me! I'm backdating anyway, just so I know what day this post is about.

But the movies were great. I'll be posting about them later, probably over at Rambling Chicken.

Update: Himself covered the MovieFest pretty thoroughly on Blogging Ashland, and I chimed in in an opinionated manner in the comments, so I may not be doing my own post.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, January 8, 2010

SOTD: Ava Luxe Figuer (Very quick sniff)

I was going to try another over application experiment today, but the scheduling (that is, ensuring that no one would be around to be drowned) didn't work out.

So instead, a very quick sniff of Ava Luxe Figuer. Sadly, I have the same response to this that I have to other figs. Pretty, sweet, fruity, coconut, lovely scent, no interest in owning it.

So the search for my fig continues. Parfums de Nicolai Fig Tea was wonderful at the first sniff, but started to cloy very quickly. Diptyque Philosykos has nothing to complain about, but it just doesn't excite me. I do have a sample of Parfumerie Generale Jardin de Kerylos; I'll give that a try soon.

Review Roundup: Can't find any!

Fig Roundup: So instead, I round up articles on fig from Perfume-Smellin' Things and Perfume-Smellin' Things again and Perfume Posse and Perfume Posse again and Now Smell This and Now Smell This again and Now Smell This a third time and Memory & Desire.

Photo: By Kolya Pynti. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Perfume: What sold you on the note?

Photo a fire in a barrel, with flames shooting up.
It happens all the time. You dislike a note, or even hate it with a fiery passion, and you assume that you'll always feel that way. Then a perfume comes along that changes your mind.

Maybe the hated note is safely wrapped up in other favorite notes. Maybe you experience it in a completely different context, or on a person that you respect. Maybe the perfumer just has the ability to highlight the magnificent horribleness of the note so distinctly that you find yourself first eyeing it in a can't-look-away-from-the-accident sort of way, then studying it in fascination, then falling in love.

What perfumes have sold you on a note? I've made my list:

Hard Sells: These are the notes that I was distinctly opposed to before this fragrance talked me into changing my mind.
  • Benzoin: Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere. Puzzling, because I've never seen benzoin listed as a note in this fragrance. But before Cadjmere I disliked benzoin, and after learning to love Cadjmere's powder, I learned to love benzoin's powder.
  • Civet: Guerlain Jicky. Then I stopped liking Jicky, but kept liking civet. 
  • Iris: Parfumerie Generale Iris Taizo.
  • Jasmine: Le Labo Jasmin 17.
  • Myrrh: Parfumerie Generale Cuir Venenum.
  • Powder: Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere.
  • Tuberose: Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture.
  • Vetiver: Hermessence Vetiver Tonka.
Easy Sells: I was inclined to like these notes, and this was the fragrance that confirmed that fondness.
  • Artemisia/Absinthe: Serge Lutens Douce Amere.
  • Birch Tar: Le Labo Patchouli 24.
  • Galbanum: Chanel No. 19 extrait.
  • Gasoline: Comme des Garcons Garage.
  • Incense: Serge Lutens Serge Noire.
  • Leather: Serge Lutens Daim Blond.
  • Lily: Serge Lutens Un Lys.
  • Patchouli: Bond No. 9 New Haarlem.
  • Rubber: Comme des Garcons Garage.
  • Tobacco: Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille.
Sale Pending: The notes that I'm still dubious about.
  • Aldehydes: Balmain Ivoire is the closest to convincing me that these have a place in a fragrance. I'm going to see if Chanel No. 22 can sell me.
  • Amber: I like a whole lot of fragrances that have amber in the notes list, but the more prominently it's mentioned, the less likely I am to like the fragrance.
  • Ambergris: Ugh. It's no longer a guaranteed dealbreaker, but it's a hard sell.
  • Aquatic: No luck yet. But I am going to try Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel. We'll see.
  • Bitter Orange: Love the idea. Haven't yet enjoyed any version of it enough to buy it or even wish for it, unless Theorema can be considered to have this note. (I think I smell it, but it's not listed.)
  • Clean Musk: Lorenzo Villoresi Musk is coming close to selling me, but this note is still on probation. Dirty musk, on the other hand, was such an easy sell that I can't remember what sold me.
  • Frankincense: I do like L'Eau D'Italie Paestum Rose and Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles, but otherwise, frankincense seems to be a near-guarantee that I'll dislike a fragrance.
  • Fruit: (Other than citrus.) Parfums de Nicolai Fig Tea and Annick Goutal Petite Cherie and Philoskyos are the only ones that tempt me, and they don't tempt me that much.
  • Gardenia: I love Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia, but what I love in that one doesn't seem to be in any other gardenia fragrance.
  • Honey: Ick. Love it in real life; hate it in perfume. Honey notes, as opposed to beeswax notes, are always horribly urinous on my skin.
  • Oud: Noooooo!
Photo: By Fumiaki Yoshimatsu. Wikimedia Commons.

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere (And interesting consequences of over application)

Cadjmere is usually a two-spray scent for me. Today, since I'll be alone at home for most of the day, I applied five sprays. Or possibly seven. I lose track.

I expected this to make the scent stronger, of course. But to my surprise, it also seemed to change the proportions. Normally, Cadjmere is sweet powdery coconut milk, with some wood to ground it and just enough sandalwood spice to keep the sweet from going overboard. I don't usually perceive the sandalwood as such, I'm just aware of it adding complexity to the scent.

With the overapplication, the sandalwood is magnified; it seems to be as strong as the coconut milk. The scent is less sweet, less pretty, and even more interesting.

I feel as if I should be able to figure out the reason behind this. As I understand it, the scent of a perfume comes from a mix of aromachemicals that are evaporating, in different proportions, from my skin. I have a faint memory that the reason that a scent can smell different from different distances, is that the heavier chemicals don't travel as far as the lighter ones, so the proportions keep changing with distance. I don't know if that's true, but it makes sense.

But I can't come up with a geeky explanation for changed proportions with heavier application. It has to be something that involves the heavier chemicals - the sandalwood is a basenote and therefore heavier, right? - being available in a higher proportion than they usually are. I think. But no theories are coming to mind.

I'll keep thinking. Meanwhile, I like it a lot. It's unfortunate that I'd have to drown everyone around me to experience it. But I have a new at-home scent now, and I'll be experimenting with over application of other scents.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Dino Sassi - Marcel Fayon. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

SOTD: L'Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!

It wasn't weird enough.

I love the idea of Dzing!. The circus scent. Leather and horses and rubber and stale peanuts and cotton candy. I love the bottle, with the lady-riding-the-tiger logo.

And I love the idea of its weirdness. I like weird. I like scents with gasoline and mothballs and dry cleaning fluid and pencil erasers. I don't like the ones with stale nuts, but I'm sure they'll grow on me. After comparing Bandit's animalic note with that of Dzing!, I decided to wear it today and bask in the weirdness.

But I don't actually experience it as weird. And I find this disappointing.

It's nice. It's very nice. It starts out with an odd rubber/leather/animal note, and progresses to a soft ambery sweetness. Very enjoyable. I'm more than willing to try it again. But when I do, I hope I get the weird.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Bois de Jasmin and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Perfume Posse and Legerdenez and PereDePierre and Perfume-Smellin' Things and The Non-Blonde and Now Smell This again and Now Smell This a third time and PereDePierre (brief) and Now Smell This (brief) and Feminine Things (brief) and WouldSmellAsSweet (brief) and The Left Coast Nose and Perfume Nerd and SmellyBlog and Feminine Things and Nathan Branch and +Q Perfume Blog and Perfume Shrine (extra brief) and The Scented Salamander and Chandler Burr and Katie Puckrick Smells (video) and MakeupAlley and Fragrantica and Luca Turin's review quoted in the NYTimes and Basenotes and Badger & Blade and The Wit of the Staircase and Sanguinista and Perfume Patter and Mossyloomings.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Photo of an old gas pump in front of a steep-roofed building.
Today will be a busy and perhaps grumpy day. Tubereuse Criminelle seemed perfect.

Why is that? Is it because I used the phrase "gasoline-powered" about this fragrance recently, and I could use some extra power? Is it because on a grumpy day a purely beautiful fragrance seems wrong, seems as if it might be startled and hurt, all doe-eyed and wobbly-lipped, if I do get grumpy?

I don't know. And I'll running too fast to figure it out. But that's the fragrance for today, and I'm enjoying it very much.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Oxyman. Wikimedia Commons.

Meta: YACFB (Yet Another ChickenFreak Blog)

So, see, this blog started out to be about all of my obsessions. Chicken, and gardening, and murder mysteries, and, oh, yes, perfume.

I seem to have gotten rather excited about the perfume. And that is far from a problem; I'm having a great time writing the perfume posts. But the other posts are getting drowned by perfume, and the more perfume-focused the blog becomes, the more likely it is that the occasional fried chicken or gardening ramble may bore the purely-perfume reader.

The solution? Another blog!  Woohoo!

So the non-perfume posts will commence over at Rambling Chicken, and the perfume posts will stay right here. I'll be doing a fair bit of linking back and forth, and I hope that you visit me in both places.

Photo: By Lilly M. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, January 4, 2010

SOTD: Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia (Quick sniff, and indecision)

Photo of a single gardenia blossom.
This is not a gardenia fragrance.

Yes, I realize that for everyone else, this is of course a gardenia fragrance. For me, it's a beeswax fragrance.

And the quest for my beeswax fragrance has been a long one. At first, I thought it was a quest for honey, and I bravely braved the urinous notes that honey fragrances produce on my skin, waiting through the drydown before concluding for each candidate that, no, that's not honey, that's - well, you know.

Photo of a cartoon bee with a pot of honey.I finally figured out that the goal was beeswax. And I found some adequate beeswax notes - one from L'Occitane, and some of the Possets honey fragrances. But most had that "cartoon" feel - you know what I mean? Fresh Lemon Sugar is cartoon lemon, for example. Actually, it's lemon verbena, and lemon verbena, the plant, is cartoon lemon. And CB I Hate Perfume Gathering Apples is cartoon apples. Sometimes I love this - I love the apples - but it's not what I wanted for my beeswax.

Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia has the right beeswax note. It may not be the best beeswax perfume that I'll ever encounter - it's certainly not the best one that's possible. I'd like my beeswax with more wood and less floral. I'd like the top notes lower-pitched. I'd like my beeswax perfume to reliably give me beeswax on every wearing instead of every other wearing. I'd like any number of things to be different.

But it's the best one I've found so far. And it's discontinued.  And it's horribly expensive. And right now, it's making me smell like melted butter flowers and beeswax.  Do I buy it?

Gardenia photo: By KENPEI. Wikimedia Commons.
Bee cartoon: By MielDeAbejas. Wikimedia Commons.
Honeycomb photo: By Merdal. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Perfume: 2009 Reminiscing

The Enchanter asked me about my top ten scents for 2009. Sounds like fun! So this will be a list of the top ten fragrances that I tried for the first time in 2009 - even if they'd been around for decades before I found out about them.

And, while I'm at it, some disappointments, and then the whole monster list of everything that I smelled for the first time in 2009.

Top Ten fragrances first experienced in 2009:
  • Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture. This one broke through my dislike for tuberose and my distaste for florals. (To clarify my definitions, I don't consider Chanel No. 19, for example, to be a floral - it's galbanum that happens to consort with flowers.) I don't know where it got its magic from, but it was strong enough to make me buy a bottle.
  • Serge Lutens Un Lys. This needed Tubereuse Couture to pave the way for it. It's a sweet, gentle, nearly conventional floral, a category that I officially don't like, but I'm in love.
  • Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle. And this freakish mothball- and gasoline-powered tuberose followed right along. At least it didn't have to fight the "conventional" label.
  • Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan. I can't do this one justice right now - I'm indifferent to it in cold weather. But I know that in the summer its soft osmanthus with an edge of tea will knock me over.
  • Parfumerie Generale Harmatan Noir. A wonderful tea. Harsh desert and scrabbled comforts and... Oh, I can't describe this one. Get a decant. I keep telling myself that I can't buy another tea, but it haunts me.
  • Le Labo Patchouli 24. The closest thing to the real scent of tea leaves that I've ever found in a fragrance. Yes, I know it's really birch tar, but to me it's tea.
  • Chanel Cuir de Russie. Utterly satisfying leather. 
  • Fendi Theorema. The culmination of my orange quest; I finally have my winter orange.
  • Shiseido Feminite du Bois. I didn't know that I was on a cedar quest, but it turns out that I was, and this is the destination.
  • Balmain Vent Vert vintage parfum. A wonderfully dangerous green, like blinking carnivore eyes at the edge of a twilit forest. Tragically reformulated into a merely nice scent without the least hint of danger. I must get a supply of the vintage.

SOTD: Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist (The iris exploration continues.)

I've been reading about Iris Silver Mist since the beginning of my perfume obsession. I never tried it before now, because I only recently developed a tolerance for iris. But it's all but impossible to follow perfume and remain unaware of this fragrance - people love it, talk about it, compare other iris fragrances to it, scheme how to get their hands on it. My (unsupported by research) impression is that it's the grandmother of modern iris fragrances, unbeaten by any of its progeny.

None of this made me confident that I would like it. I tend to be a philistine when it comes to appreciating the grand and respected. I have yet to develop any fondness for Mitsouko, or Shalimar, or most of the older nobility of the perfume world. So why assume that I'd have any more appreciation for this more modern royal?

The notes list - iris pallida root, galbanum, cedar, sandalwood, clove, vetiver, musk, benzoin, incense, and white amber - didn't make me much more optimistic. While I love galbanum, sandalwood, and cedar, I didn't think that they'd be enough to make me love the more challenging iris, amber, musk, and clove.  And I wasn't a big fan of Rochas Tocade, another Maurice Roucel fragrance that's near-universally admired.

But I finally tried it anyway. And was well and thoroughly impressed.

At the start, it doesn't fit my usual impression of iris. Iris tends to be a dignified, civilized, excellent-posture sort of scent. And this starts out as a sort of rough scramble. I can smell the dirt that people mention, and the roots. Dirty, hairy, just-harvested, piled on the ground roots. Not carrots to my nose - not anything remotely edible. Something cold and alien and probably poisonous. It's powdery from the very beginning, but at this stage not a silky ladylike powder, it's more like spiced dirt, or something kicked up during the harvest that perhaps one should not be breathing.

None of this should be taken to say that I dislike the beginning. I like it very much, at least for as long as it lasts. It is, however, challenging enough that I might lose patience with it if it hung on for too much longer.

But it doesn't. It shifts, the dirty rootiness giving way to a smooth, powdery, dignified iris with, yes, excellent posture. And with the pencil eraser smell that I get from iris, adding a bit of an enjoyable joke for me - elegant, ethereal, glowing pencil erasers. It's much sweeter, though I can't quite place where the sweetness comes from - the wood? The amber?

Most people read this fragrance as cold, and the name certainly suggests that the chilliness was intended. To me, only the first stage is cold - those tumbled dirty roots were wrestled out of frozen ground. But as it grows sweeter, it also grows warmer, and now, a few hours in, it's no cooler than a shaded spot in late spring.

It's beautiful, I can say objectively. I would wear it often. It's certainly full bottle worthy. But I don't find myself desperately working through the problem of how to get my hands on it. (It's another Lutens non-export.) I can wait. Which means, I think, that I'm not in love.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Bois de Jasmin and Perfume-Smellin' Things and PereDePierre and Feminine Things and Fragrantica and MakeupAlley and Basenotes and PerfumeQueen and MossyLoomings and Pink Manhattan and ScentSate and fragrancefanatic.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Cuir d'Iris

Botanical illustration of a bearded iris.
This is lovely. I'm sightly deflated by the knowledge that I can't justify buying this and Iris Oriental and Cuir de Russie. I love all three, and love them differently, but there are just too many common elements. Aren't there?

The beginning is dominated by leather, a particularly standoffish version of the note. I imagine thick, stiff, heavily treated leather - a saddle, perhaps, not a comfortable chair or a fluid pair of gloves. There's an "off" note in it, one that I like at the same time that I find it challenging. Others have referred to the leather as "harsh", and while I wouldn't argue with them, that's not quite how I read it. To my nose, it's just a little odd, as if the leather in my nose's imagination was treated with a slightly non-standard set of tanning potions, or came from an unusual animal.

Checking the notes to see if I can solve the mystery, I see cardamom, iris old black, leather, woods, vetiver, Rhizophora tannin, amber, and incense. Maybe the Rhizophora tannin is the odd note that I can't nail down? (And what is iris old black? The root of a specific variety of iris or, as someone suggests, aged iris root? Or, as someone else listed the notes, did they really mean "old black leather"? Puzzles.)

As the scent develops, the leather steps back and the iris and amber come forward. It becomes quieter, a little powdery, and just a little bit sweeter, though I'd call it pretty dry at all stages. It's dignified, but not over-formal. I like this stage best - the wafts as I move are very satisfying.

The end reminds me of an observation made by Judith Martin (Miss Manners) about ice cream sodas: "The great paradox here - and fine art is full of ironic contradictions - is that the soda begins to disappear just as it reaches its perfect state." Just as Cuir d'Iris became a perfect wafty mix of powdery iris, sweet amber, and the faintest echo of rich leather, it was gone.  There's no trace, even sniffing right on the skin of my arm. Longevity isn't usually an issue for me - and it did last a good several hours - but I want more time with that perfect state.

Even so, if I were looking for an all day every day scent, this is one of the scents with the right characteristics. It's not too dry, not too sweet, and it shows gentle changes over time. Most importantly, it's one of the scents that give me the feeling that I smell nice - that my skin has somehow started to exude a lovely combination of iris and leather and incense. The scents that feel like they're part of me are a better candidate for that single scent than the scents that I'm very conscious of "wearing" as a decorative top coat over my skin.

Of course, that's all just moot musing, because there is no chance that I'll settle for one scent. But I like to maintain a mental list all the same.

Review Roundup: PereDePierre and The Non-Blonde and Basenotes and Nathan Branch and Perfume Patter.

Illustration: Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Perfume: New Year's Resolution One - Be a Better Curator

My first (and possibly only - we'll see) perfume resolution of the year is to be a better curator of my perfume collection.

That is, admittedly, a rather high-flown word for the management of a huddle of bottles and vials stored in bread boxes. But I am trying to be a fraction more high-flown in my perfume acquisition and retention decisions, so a high-flown word feels right.

My goal is for the perfume collection to be more of a collection, and less of an impulse-driven accumulation. I'd like to know why I own each bottle, instead of puzzling over what I was thinking when I brandished the credit card.

An example of a good answer for a theoretical bottle is, "It's a classic leather. It's a good contrast to my other five leathers. It's by a perfumer whose work I collect. It's well-regarded, and often mentioned as a reference in evaluating other perfumes. And by the way, I love it."

A bad answer is, "It's kind of pretty, and I like leather, and it was cheap!"

So how to sculpt the collection to be more of a collection? Some of my half-formed thoughts follow. I find that they're presented backwards, starting with specifics and ending with goals. But since that's how I thought them through, I'll leave them that way.