Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille (Quick Sniff)

I want a vanilla. Almost all vanillas smell of plastic vanilla to me. Except for Indult Tihota, which I can't bring myself to pay for. I just can't. It would be wrong. Assure me that it would be wrong?

Anyway: So I had hopes for Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille. It failed miserably on a light spray a week or so ago, so this time I squeezed the sample sprayer with that really slow spray that essentially produces a dabber-like leak.

The result is utterly different. Spicier, more foodlike, more Lutens like. It's like a blond version of Chergui. And it's not plastic, at least so far. I'll be trying it again, though I may wait for winter, when spiced-syrup-drenched vanilla pastry seems right.

Image: By Dalton Holland Baptista. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, March 29, 2010

SOTD: None. And breaking the code. And, eew.

You know how sometimes a series of random inputs comes together to produce an idea?

I've been puzzled over my weird scent preferences this spring.

I was just over at All I am - a redhead, reading Ines' post about spring scents, in which she was also puzzling over the same thing. Ines had a picture of daisies, and she mentioned Bal d'Afrique. My thoughts played with these things, without my actually noticing. Bal d'Afrique contains an African Marigold note. Marigolds are rumored to kill bugs. Pyrethrum daisies do kill bugs. Oh, and earlier, Left Coast Nose used the phrase "spring cleaning".


I'm craving spring scents that kill bugs.


But, yep, there it is.

Now, I don't mean modern bug spray. I mean scents that smell like the various plant-based oils that you would do spring cleaning with, and repel bugs with, 'way back when. Smelly vegetation that you'd strew on the castle floor to kill the winter's unwanted visitors, and then sweep right out the door, leaving the inside well-aired and smelling faintly of the remaining traces of the harsh oils. That's what I want. Minus, you know, the bugs themselves. Let's not go overboard with authenticity.

touched on this with Fou d'Absinthe, but I failed to see the larger pattern. I'm also enjoying Brin de Reglisse, with its strong, un-ladylike lavender note. And Vetiver Tonka, smelling of a stinky oily grass. And mint, in White Jasmine & Mint and a natural mint oil that I tried on a recent sniffathon. And cedar everywhere I find it. And I'm thinking back to the bitter orange-peel scent of Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba, and thinking that I might like it now.

And if I had any, I'd be wearing Comme des Garcons Tea, which smells of any number of similarly aggressive things. And Tubereuse Criminelle, with that gasoline note. Almost everything that I enjoy right now has a volatile note that would drop a beetle in its tracks.

Spring, the season of bug-killing perfume. Eew?

Now, I suppose this makes a certain amount of sense. As discussed in the vole theory, in winter it would make sense for me to want the smell of warm unwashed nearby humans. In spring, it makes sense for me to want to bathe myself and my home in things that smell of critter-killing oils. Both scent preferences would have survival value. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. Because I'm not weird, or anything.

Image: By Louise. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

SOTD: Hermessence Vetiver Tonka

I've discussed Vetiver Tonka before. It's a fragrance that I like only moderately well while it's on, but the next day, when I'm wearing something else, I badly miss it.

So I got some. (Not the big bottle, no.) And I wore it today. And I liked it only moderately well, so tomorrow will be the test of the trend. Tomorrow I may offer a proper Review Roundup; today I'll just check in and offer another kitty.

Image: By Deirdre A. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

SOTD: Un Lys. And Rambling.

When I buy a bottle after long consideration and sampling, I always worry that something will go wrong. Maybe the bottle won't be the same as the sample. Maybe the last wearing was the last time that I'll like the fragrance. Maybe the perfume will suddenly become one of those that give me a migraine.

Nope. I wore Un Lys from my new bottle for the first time, and it was just as beautifully grainy-lily as ever.

Then, despite being thoroughly lily-scented, I went perfume sampling.

First, Hermessence Brin de Reglisse. Lavender. Medicinal. Licorice. No eagerness to please.  I think I like it.

Next, Chanel No 18, the Les Exclusifs version. I wanted to try this for the ambrette seed. Like many Chanels, it's so well blended that I can't pick the notes apart. Perhaps that's why I can't describe it. A little musky, a little vegetal, a little bitter? I need to try it again.

Next, Annick Goutal Heure Exquise. I was excited that Neiman Marcus had a tester, but my excitement was dampened by the fact that they didn't actually have a bottle in stock. I tried it anyway.

I like it, but it doesn't strike me as a big market pleaser - the top notes are somewhere between "classic" and "old lady". But it got better and better as the hours went by. Now, a good twelve hours after application, that patch of skin is a lovely blend of floral and green and a little bit of powder. For a review of this one, head over to Muse in Wooden Shoes.

And finally, I gave Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia yet another try. I've discussed this one. Repeatedly. Today the elusive beeswax is showing itself, and I'm craving it again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

SOTD: None again, and a ramble about fiction

So, my Perfume Brain seems to have gone temporarily idle, as evinced by the high frequency of short perfume posts. I expect it to be back soon. But meanwhile my Fiction Brain seems to be creaking to its feet. So why not talk about that?

I love fiction. In a sense, I've been creating fiction my entire life.

I just haven't actually been writing it down.

I've been creating plots and scenes ever since I was a kid. If I wasn't reading, I was daydreaming stories. My Skipper doll went walkabout in wilderness that only I could see.  When my book of the moment turned out to be boring, I spent schoolbus rides directing action in my head, maybe creating something new, maybe adding a little danger and chaos to that old Monkees rerun that I saw the day before. Murder, mayhem, adventure, mystery - I'm not, and never was, one for the peaceful and uplifting in fiction.

I created fiction every single day. But I hardly ever wrote any of it down.

When I got to college and Himself introduced me to roleplaying, I fell in love with the 1920s world of Call of Cthulhu. Professors and private eyes and antiquarians and flappers and, of course, unspeakable monsters and crazed cultists.  I "wrote" adventures, in a sense - I created plots, and character descriptions, and maps, and described the world and the goals of the bad guys, and I lured in the good guys, and I refereed what happened, and I played many, many characters in the fictional world. 

It was so much fun. But I didn't actually write a story, just the outline. The story was created when the players got there. So I was doing my part in creating fiction, but it was a momentary thing, nothing but memories when it was over. Great memories - I may well value those games more than I'd value writing a book - but nothing permanent to pull off a shelf.

After everybody graduated from college and we moved to the adult world outside the dorms, the roleplaying shifted online, to chatrooms, MUSHes, MOOs.  Dozens of people creating collaborative fiction. No automation, at least not if I had any say about it. Just roleplaying, people writing a cooperative story. But even though it was in words and you could save the log, the log was still just a shadow of the experience. It really wasn't much more permanent than the face-to-face roleplaying.

But that was years ago, and online roleplaying is essentially gone, as far as I'm concerned. It's all code, all very high quality video games. More people seem to enjoy it more, but it's not for me.

So I need my fiction outlet. So it may finally be time to...

(ominous music)

... write some.

Now, I've written some. I did do NaNoWriMo last year. I've written stories now and then. But the fiction that really captured me was the daydreaming and the roleplaying. The rest was... meh. An experiment. I think it's time to figure out how to put some heart into it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SOTD: None

No perfume! Again! Oh, noooo! And if I put a bunch on now, in the evening, Himself will sneeze, and so that seems mean.

However, I have mint chocolate candy and milk. So I'll be happy.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SOTD: Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale

Y'know, this might work in warm weather after all. It didn't work in early spring, but now the fizzy sparkly light-filled thing is working. Maybe it doesn't need snow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale L'Eau Rare Matale

Bitter, bitter tea. And charred wood. Sounds awful, doesn't it? But it's... well, lovely is the wrong word. There's nothing remotely feminine or softly pleasing about this. It is what it is. But I like it.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, March 22, 2010

SOTD: Nothing

Himself has been doing some sneezing, so I'm refraining from perfume for the day. I'll just focus on plotting what to wear tomorrow.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SOTD: L'Artisan Parfumeur Fou d'Absinthe

Spring cleaning. Well, decluttering, in preparation for spring cleaning. So I wear my spring cleaning scent again.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Mzelle Laure. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

SOTD: Lancome Climat (The La Collection version.)

Mals (of Muse in Wooden Shoes) recommended this, and reviewed this, and used the phrase "hit of civet" about this. I had to try it.

I intended to be well behaved and just get a sample. But the re-issue is new enough to be available from the discounters, and discontinued enough to be available for only so long. That's a combination that inclines me to buy it before it's too late.

Plus, it comes with friends! The La Collection set also includes Mille et Une Roses, Sikkim, and Magie. At least, the one that I was looking at does - it appears that sometimes the rose is replaced with Sagamore. Anyway: Green. Civet. Classic. Solid recommendation. Discontinued. Available. Pretty stopper bottles. Extra bonus fragrances. Foregone conclusion: I bought the set.

I wore the rose scent casually one evening, but I reserved Climat for a day off, to give it a proper evaluation.

It's gorgeous. I guess it would be wrong to just leave it at that and go away to sniff my wrist all evening?

Gorgeous. For the first minute or so I was both pleased and concerned that it closely resembled No. 19 parfum - it was a lacquer-smooth merciless green, and I could swear that I was smelling galbanum, though it's not listed in the notes.

But that phase passed. The glassy smoothness melted away, exposing an herbal smoky note that I interpret as incense - also not in the notes. Texture developed - not rough, but like silk velvet, soft as well as smooth. It's warmer and more herbal than No. 19, less goddess, more human. It's also, as I may have mentioned, gorgeous. That's the best that I can do in describing it; perhaps I can tease out more detail next time.

I agree that this is a distinctly ladylike fragrance, but it's the kind of ladylike that I approve of. It's not powerless, and it doesn't play dumb; it's a warm, intelligent woman. A woman who has the talent of being lovely and feminine, but wouldn't sneer at me for my lack of said talent. I imagine that she'd loan me a spare white glove after I inevitably spilled hot chocolate on mine.

In fact, it's another Myrna Loy fragrance. I think that this has become a category for me.

It's gorgeous. I said that, right? Thank you, Mals, for leading me to it.

Review Roundup: Muse in Wooden Shoes and Bois de Jasmin and Perfume Posse and Basenotes and Fragrantica.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, March 19, 2010

SOTD: Nothing.

I'm scent-free and tired, but celebrating Friday. Tomorrow there will be much sleeping.

Photo: By Enmerkar. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SOTD: L'Artisan Parfumeur Fou d'Absinthe

I posted in my earlier review that L'Artisan Parfumeur's Fou d'Absinthe had an armored feel.

I'm not sure if that's inherent in the scent, or if the fleeting thought permanently associated itself with the scent in my mind. But it is associated, and now I think of Fou d'Absinthe as another "don't mess with me" scent. I'm angry today, for reasons too long and messy for the blog, so it smells just right.


Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Golden Hound. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SOTD: None. And what about spring comfort scents?

Today has been characterized by:
  • Stress.
  • A vat of milk.
  • No perfume.
I wondered why I was wearing no perfume, considered the stress, had another glass of milk, and realized: I have no spring comfort scents. And had another glass of milk.

I don't want to be challenged by my perfume today. I'm sufficiently challenged by the project that I'm working on and the meetings that I'll be attending tomorrow.

I want a quiet scent. A sitting-still scent. I have those for winter: Cadjmere. Sutra Ylang. Just Breathe. New Haarlem. Un Crime Exotique. Patchouli 24. Art of Shaving Sandalwood...Oh.

Huh. Actually, I guess I could be wearing Art of Shaving Sandalwood right now.

But all the same, I have a whole brigade of comforting winter scents, while in the spring, everything but Sandalwood is Bright and Bracing. I need something quiet. Peaceful. Comfortable. I need something else that goes with rumpled, untucked white linen.

The two Malle scents that I just posted about are possible candidates. But while I go get some more milk, would any of you fine folks care to suggest others?

Photo: By Stefan Kuhn. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, March 15, 2010

SOTE: None. And then Lancome Mille et Une Roses

Photo of a red rosebud surrounded by leaves.

I suspect that my lack of Full Scent Wearing Commitment is about the halfhearted weather. I remained unscented until late evening. And my pre-bedtime scent is just a touch, on the back of my hand, of Lancome Mille et Une Roses. From my new Lancome La Collection set. (New bottles!)

It's nice. It's not a revelation or a solution to the Rose Problem, but it's quite nice. Sweet, resinous, with enough texture in the rose to keep it from smelling synthetic. A grown up rose. An indoor rose, a bouquet of roses that's a day from being replaced, when all the green is gone and the petals are starting to wilt, rich and oily.

Really nice.

It might grow on me.

And that is all.

Photo: Mine.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SOTD: Nothing, and City trip report

Building in San Francisco Chinatown
Saturday, we went to The City. (Yay!) Lunch at my favorite restaurant in the world, The House on Grant in San Francisco. A play that shall remain nameless, because we walked out on it at intermission. A pause in Union Square to witness a large gathering of The Brides Of March.

When the Brides started to amble off in small groups, I ambled off to Barneys. Himself retained a cafe table, a Limonata, and our bag of almond cookies from The House. (Which reminds me; did he save me any? Must search shopping bag.)

Barneys had Serge Lutens Un Lys in stock, so I gave in to the inevitable and bought it. (Woohoo!) I'm keeping it in its little Barneys bag until I do some house cleaning; I wouldn't want it to get one look at our place and flee back to France.

I sniffed a handful of other Lutenses, with the assistance of a very nice man whose name I have, of course, forgotten. He shouldn't be offended by this; have I mentioned that I used to forget the name of my home room teacher until roughly Christmas break? The highlights:
  • The infamous Musc Kublai Khan (on skin) wasn't nearly as ill-mannered as I expected. Yes, the beginning was stale sweat, but as time went on it was a surprisingly mild, increasingly sweet, animalic musk.
  • Borneo 1834 (on paper) has no chocolate smell for me - to my nose, it's vaguely spicy and mostly medicinal.
  • Santal de Mysore (on paper) was sweet and spicy and edible, much nicer than I remembered.
  • Datura Noir (on paper) was much too friendly and well-behaved. I need more weird in my Lutens.
  • Oops. I liked either Chene or Cedre much, much better than I did last time I tried it. And now I can't remember which one. It had a lot of sweet, and some floral, and a gasoline-like note. Neither scent's description matches my memory - any votes for which one that sounds more like? Bad one-syllable similar names!
  • The reformulated Feminite du Bois (on paper) was almost exactly like the old Feminite du Bois, except without the soul.
  • L'Eau (also smelled on paper) might work as a "clean" Jo Malone.  Serge Lutens? I don't think so.
After that, a very nice lady whose name I also don't remember walked me through some of the Frederic Malle fragrances. I was impressed - after having me sniff a few things, she recommended three fragrances, two of which I put on skin and like very much:
  • Le Parfum de Therese. I have, of course, heard of this one, but I'd never given it a real wearing. It's lovely. Blended to the point that my nose can't pick out the notes, but not to the point of being simplistic. Fruity, but not "Oh. Fruity." Beautiful but without drawing attention to itself. I want some.
  • Angelique Sous La Pluie. Also lovely, though less indescribably so. My response was, "Cedar. Nice." and I never really expanded on that. But I love cedar and have never before had enough of it in a fragrance.
Sniffing was followed by shellfish and Wicked (which we did not walk out of) and sleep. And a brain, today, that's too fuzzy to appreciate a scent.

Photo: By Nadavspi. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Today I'll be away from the computer and out in the Big Room. And then in the theater. And then in a restaurant. And, I hope, doing a little sniffing in between.

Photo: By Jonnyblood. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, March 12, 2010

SOTD: No Comment

You know how a cat will fall off a windowsill and then give you that ultra-dignified I Meant To Do That look?


I opened a new bottle just to sniff the sprayer. A Scent Accident ensued. I have no further comment. Please turn your attention to the kitty while I continue to wash myself off.

(Edited to add: Yes, the bottle is fine, if slightly less full.)

Photo: By Martin Bahmann. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SOTD: Revlon Charlie, and stand-ins

When put to the test, however, it invariably produced a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.
The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
"Daddy, how come in Kansas City the bagels taste like just round bread?"
Abigail, Calvin Trillin's daughter, as quoted by him in Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties, from Kansas City to Cuzco
Long, long ago, I fulfilled my work study obligation at the Kiltie, our college cafeteria, in Pittsburgh, PA. There was a girl who came to me on Sunday mornings, always looking for sliced raw onions. This being the days before twenty-four hour salad bars, she was always turned away disappointed. One day she explained her need: Back home, far from Pittsburgh, she was accustomed to eating bagels, cream cheese, and lox for breakfast on Sunday mornings. Sunday just wasn't right without that breakfast. So she was trying to duplicate it, and the closest that she had come was bagels, cream cheese, and raw onions.

One of my books, The Rituals Of Dinner, describes a culture's customary meal of soup accompanied by a heap of small balls of bread, which the eater dipped in the soup. When times were hard, and bread was not available, and the soup was the thinnest of broths, the bowl would be accompanied by a heap of round stones, to represent the absent bread.

Calvin Trillin's piece, "A Softball, a Lump" describes the travails of three young lawyers exiled to Omaha, far away from the gastronomic delights of Kansas City, Missouri. They rhapsodize over the shape and dimensions of the steak at a Nebraska steakhouse, in an effort to convince themselves that it's just as good as what they ate back home.

People will go a long way to reproduce the comfort of the familiar. I suspect that this explains the continued existence of perfumes that are reformulated to be almost, but not quite, entirely unlike themselves.

And that's what I thought of when I smelled Charlie. It smells like a memory. A faded memory. An attempt to resemble something else - a something else that was probably Charlie in a past life.

Now, the memory that Charlie is trying to imitate is not in my memories - to the best of my recollection, I have never before smelled Charlie. For all I know, the modern version may be utterly true to Charlie's original inner self, and I may just not be a Charlie fan. But I'm doubtful.

There seems to be some disagreement on the notes for Charlie - if I combine sources, I get aldehydes, citrus oils, lemon blossom, hyacinth, tarragon, jasmine, peach, rose, orrisroot, lily-of-the-valley, cyclamen, carnation, vanilla, sandalwood, oakmoss, musk, and cedar. And, yeah, I can smell it trying to accomplish that, but it just doesn't have the resources to do the job thoroughly.

The top notes smell thin, and jumbled, and prickly. They don't seem to be part of the show, but instead something that you need to wait out, rather like a band tuning up.

The middle is better. Hyacinth, yes. Jasmine, yes. I think that I can even distinguish between them, rather than just getting "shrill mixed floral". The orrisroot is presumably represented by the powder, a bit coarser than the silky powder that I prefer, but it would pass with powder-lovers. And it's not pure sweet or pure floral - I can't pick out the oakmoss or whatever's playing that role, but there is something calming and darkening the mix, just a bit. And the base is better - vanilla and wood, yes, I get that, and the remaining floral notes are deeper in pitch.

The notes list is that of a lovely fragrance. The fragrance itself makes an attempt to present those notes. But there are just too many compromises. This is the round bread, not the bagel.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and MakeupAlley and Basenotes (I think - what's Charlie Blue?) and Fragrantica and Feminine Things and Yesterday's Perfume.

Link Roundup: The Scented Salamander (a retrospective of Charlie advertisements).

(Edited to expand the Review Roundup.)

Image: By Alnokta. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SOTD: Chanel Cuir de Russie

Important wardrobe tip: When wearing a silk scarf and spraying a scent on the back of your neck, make sure that you do these things in the correct order. Luckily, the scarf is a solid color, so it should survive the laundering.

Meanwhile, Cuir de Russie remains lovely. Still not quite as lovely as it is in cold weather, but I'm still thinking longingly of that giant monster bottle.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: Mine. The newly leather-infused scarf is not present in the photo.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Serge Noire. Again.

On skin, Serge Noire lasts a good long time. On a sweater, it lasts forever, or until laundry day.

Since I needed to re-wear that sweater, I decided that Resistance Was Futile. Volcano ash again. Yum.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, March 8, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Serge Noire

Incense. Smoke. Volcano. It's lovely. That is all.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

SOTD: L'Artisan Parfumeur Fou d'Absinthe, and Spring Cleaning


That is, this is the perfect scent for the current season. It's not lemony-sparkling-soapbubbles-pink-flowery fresh, like many of the summer fragrances that I'm not ready for. And it's not smoky-musky-furry-cat-napping-on-buttered-toast, like many of the winter fragrances that I'm tired of.

It's bitter. And a little sweet. A volatile, vaporous, new-green kind of bittersweet. Medicinal, in a good way. It's Spring Cleaning perfume, at least right now while I'm doing the spring cleaning.

Though in the vision that it generates, I'm not doing the spring cleaning. I'm sitting around in clothes that were extracted from the pine-scented wardrobe that's been keeping them safe all winter and aired on the line all morning, drinking liqueur from a very fine glass and occasionally catching sight of the housekeeper doing the spring cleaning. The housekeeper of my very British and very well-run city house, who uses old-fashioned things like herbs and resinous polishes for refreshing the place, not nasty modern things like white-musky detergent. It's an Edwardian house, the sort where murdered guests are found on the hearthrug and written about by Agatha Christie...

Yes, OK, I'll get a grip. But this is the sort of perfume that offers plenty of food to the imagination. The notes - just to give you some concrete information - are absinthe, angelica, blackcurrant buds, star anise, four-spices, patchouli, pine needles, labdanum, and fir balsam. Reviews call it a fougere, but one where anise takes the place of the lavender. As someone who loves anise and tends to see lavender as something for dusty old-lady sachets, I approve of the substitution.

It is, by the way, officially a man's perfume. This rarely worries me, and it doesn't worry me here.

I'm having trouble describing the development, I suspect because I'm not too familiar with these notes. The beginning is stronger in anise, absinthe and alcohol. The end is much softer and more herbal. The middle is, well, in between those two.

None of it is the least bit cuddly, but somehow all of it is still very comforting. It feels clean and safe, but not in a soapy, grocery, TV commercial way. It's a more armored sort of way, as if nothing bad would dare intrude through those vapors. A sort of olfactory protective talisman, perhaps.

Yes, my imagination's running away with me again. But it is, again, perfect.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Bois de Jasmin and Basenotes and Perfume-Smellin' Things and MakeupAlley and Fragrantica and Perfume-Smellin' Things again and Perfume Shrine.

(You know my Postal Regulation Phobia? Now I'm developing an FTC Regulation Phobia. It's driving me to mention that I got my bottle at a discount, at a perfume shop that knew that I had a blog. I'm confident that there is no Discount/Blog connection - in addition to the fact that no one would waste money buying my opinion, the shop owner was offering discounts right and left to other people. But here I go, Disclosing, just in case. Take note, FTC.)

Photo: By Eric Litton. Wikimedia Commons. (And I have used it before, but it's so beautiful, I couldn't use anything else for this perfume.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Un Lys

One advantage of having too many samples is that sometimes you give yourself nice surprises. I thought that I was flat out of Un Lys, but I just found a nearly full 1.5ml sprayer of it and, of course, immediately put some on.


I think that I should start growing some more lilies, to go along with those roses that I was discussing yesterday.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Photo: By Marty Lucas. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, March 5, 2010

SOTD: Hermes Hermessence Rose Ikebana, and The Rose Problem

Photograph of drooping pink roses.

Advance warning: There will be no review of Rose Ikebana in this post. The weather isn't ready for it. It's bright and cheerful and sunny and fizzy. It's great in summer. It's only okay right now.

So now let's move on to roses in general. I love roses. Real roses. On a shrub in the garden, or in a vase in the house.

I grow as many as I can make room for. Sally Holmes and Madame Alfred Carriere and Mademoiselle de Sombreuil and Sir Thomas Lipton  and Graham Thomas  and L. D. Braithwaite and Dr. Huey and Felicia and Moonlight and Bubbles and Moschata and Complicata and Trier and Tuscan Superb.

And that pink hybrid tea that the neighbors gave us and that pink miniature with the amazingly fine foliage deep into the fall and that bright frilly pink one that's inexplicably named after a military man whose name I can't remember just now.

Each one of them has a different smell - even the officially scentless one has a greenness about it - and most of those smells are better than almost any perfume I've ever been able to buy. They're glorious.

But for some reason, I don't love rose perfumes. I don't know why.

I like, or even love, some perfumes that contain rose. Rose Ikebana is nice, and sometimes I do crave it. But to me, it's not a rose perfume, it's a floral citrus. Paestum Rose is nice, but, again, it's not a rose perfume, it's a floral incense. No. 19, which I adore, has rose, but it isn't a rose perfume, it's galbanum magic.

I've discussed my issues with dark roses more than once. Une Rose, No. 88, Dark Rose, Rose 31, Incense Rose. At best, I respect them, but in actual use I generally dislike them.

The rose perfumes that I like, I don't love, or at least I don't love the perfume. ElizabethW Rose is quite nice, and I do use the bath oil, quite often. I can't come up with any criticism of the perfume, but I just don't crave it. CB I Hate Perfume Tea/Rose in the oil version is even nicer. Realistic rose calmed by tea; subtle and lovely. I enjoy it when I wear it, and then it sits unworn for months.

And so on and so on. Voleur de Roses. Rose de Nuit. Red Roses. Un Coeur de Mai. Sa Majeste de La Rose. Lipstick Rose. Ecume de Rose. Tocade. Drole de Rose. Don't like 'em. Don't crave 'em. They're not bad, but they just don't make me care.

So what do you think? Is it time to give up? Or are there entire categories of roses that I haven't hit on yet?

The Perfumed Court cart is still in flux. Got any suggestions?

(Edited because two or more typos makes me crazy.)

Photos: Mine.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

SOTD: Nothing but plans

I am once again unscented. And obsessively shopping for samples.

So no perfume details. But I do offer a pink flower and a pudgy bee. Pretty, yes?

Image: By Lodewijk van den Broek. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

SOTD: Stetson Lady Stetson

I can't decide. I just can't decide.

Lady Stetson is an extremely inexpensive drugstore perfume, but one that Luca Turin decorated with four stars. So I didn't know what to expect. And I still can't decide what I think.

Now, I have no doubts about the top notes - I fervantly disliked them. Sneezy aldehydes combined with a touch of artificial sweetener. Blurgh.

But as it dried and developed --

I'm going to pause here to note that it did develop. Lady Stetson is definitely not linear. There are at least three distinct phases.

-- as it dried and developed, I liked it better. There was a growing warmth and depth, a sort of glow behind the sneezy aldehyde prickles. And also a large dose of soapy white musk, but a musk thoroughly pureed with something woody, something sweet-gourmand and perhaps something the faintest bit animalic. The blend works - this is the rare perfume containing white musk that doesn't give me any basement washing machine vibe at all. That, alone, is a significant accomplishment.

But I'm puzzled as to what it actually smells like. It's officially an aldehydic floral. People smell peach in this, and rose. To me, it's not at all floral - at first I get aldehydes and Nutrasweet, then it turns to wood and soap with a little bit of sweet gourmand. The final drydown is much more gourmand than floral to my nose - the Basenotes reviewer who mentions eggnog is closest in my view.  Angela from Now Smell This mentions amber and ylang ylang, and I sense them as well, but they both blend into the gourmand mood.

I like the drydown very much. I hate the top notes with a fiery passion. I'm not quite sure about the middle. This is going to make it difficult to wear, because the drydown is very subtle - to have as much of it as I'd like at the end, I'll have to marinate myself in aldehydes and Aspartame at the beginning.

But I will be wearing it again.

Review Roundup: Basenotes and Now Smell This.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

SOTD: Nothing.

Still no perfume. What's the deal? Is it the weather? Is it... well, the weather is my primary theory.

However, the Urge to Sample has returned. More specifically, the Urge to Buy Samples. Buying samples is, of course, not a straightforward process. With hundreds of possibilities, and a very good and convincing reasons to buy every one of them, there's a lot of cycling in and out of the Perfumed Court and LuckyScent carts. And, of course, Aedes and BeautyEncounter has some samples too. You get the idea. Candy stores.

Recent candidates include:
  • The Pefumed Court Les Exclusifs coffret. I like the idea of getting all of these in hand at once. On the other hand, I'll be in a Chanel boutique in just a couple of weeks, so shouldn't I just sniff and beg there, to smell some of them for free? Of course, if I set foot in a Chanel boutique, I might well walk out with that thermos-sized bottle of Cuir de Russie, so that could be a mistake. 
  • Caron Alpona, as part of the ongoing quest for the perfect orange. Of course, it's discontinued; no one ever said it would be an easy quest.
  • Annick Goutal Heure Exquise, based on Mals' throwdown at Muse With Wooden Shoes.
  • Vintage Bandit EDT. I loved the modern version. Is it really wise to experience the vintage, given that it may be much better? It's another Something Else To Grieve decision. (Has that concept reached acronym status?)
  • Caron Tabac Blond. Glorious and discontinued. Or formulated. Which is it? I forget. Anyway, STETG. (Or should that be SETG? I prefer the first one.)
  • Lancome Climat. Also Mals' fault. I'm just saying.
  • Parfums de Nicolai Number One. I used up this sample, loved it, and need another one. Or possibly a really big decant.
  • Strange Invisible Perfumes Fire and Cream. Another candidate for the orange quest.
  • Parfumerie Generale Haramens. Not just discontinued, but a special edition in the first place. Why on earth would I want to do this to myself?
And those are just some of the top candidates. Today.

Monday, March 1, 2010

SOTD: Nothing

I think my nose is overwhelmed from yesterday's mall sniff-fest. Today, I didn't crave anything at all.

Image: By K bogusz1. Wikimedia Commons.