Monday, May 31, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale L'Eau Rare Matale

For some reason, this one surprises me every single time I wear it. I always remember it as clear water and clean gentle tea, and, well, no. Burned wood. Bitter tea. Sometimes something a bit harsh-herbal, in the bug-killing realm. And this time I did catch the tiniest trace of the "white flowers" that are listed in the notes.

And I love it. But I never remember, between wearings, what it really smells like, so I wear it far too seldom.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Mike Peel ( Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, May 30, 2010

SOTD: Scentless Sunday

No boom today. Boom tomorrow.

(Yeah, we've been watching a lot of Babylon 5.)

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

SOTD: Scentless Saturday. Sort of. Then I went shopping.

It was going to be a scentless Saturday.

But then I remembered that there were Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (Parfums des Beaux Arts) perfumes in town. (Alchemy Botanicals in Ashland is carrying them! Woohoo!)

So I went to sample. I tried on Pamplemousse, Tubereuse, Bancha, and d'Anjou, all at once. And walked around town in a perfumed fog. And promised Himself a Scentless Sunday instead.

As for the perfumes, I'm uncertain:
  • Pamplemousse started out nice and sharp-fruity, but ended with a little too much sharp and too little fruity, and the fruit that was left wasn't specifically grapefruit to my nose. I've read that this has neroli in it, too, and neroli is a note that I love for about forty seconds, and then grow actively tired of. So this one isn't for me.
  • Bancha started out with a lovely combination of bergamot, tea, and other green things. It seemed to turn unpleasantly sharp later, but I now suspect that that was Pamplemousse aggressively announcing itself from the other arm, because several hours later Bancha is gorgeous, soft bergamot with just a hint of tea and an even more subtle hint of something richer. It's soaked into my skin as if it belongs there, and I'll be very sad when it finally fades away.
  • d'Anjou was a lovely pear for an hour or two, and then it was gone. I may have missed subtleties; I'll try it again.
  • Tubereuse was tuberose. A whole lot of tuberose. If I want a straightforward tuberose soliflore, this is in the running, but before that happens I want Tubereuse Criminelle. Though, there is an engaging graininess about it, rather like that of Un Lys...
So the favorite is Bancha. Am I going to do anything about that? I'm not sure yet.

Friday, May 28, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Un Lys


Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

(Edited because I apparently thought, one confused day, that this was a Parfumerie Generale perfume.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

SOTD: Chanel No. 19 parfum

Eep! I forgot my SOTD post!

Well, through the magic of backdating, here it is. Thursday's scent was Chanel No. 19 parfum. I've mentioned that I generally save this scent for days that are near-guaranteed to be pleasant. But I badly wanted to smell it, so I risked wearing it on a work day. And it was a medium lousy work day.

But No. 19 was its usual self, a combination of surpassing beauty and "you wanna make something of it?" strength. So maybe it's the best thing to wear on a bad work day.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Aomassai

I've been neglecting the main body of the collection, so today I tried the blind-stab-at-the-perfume-bottles method. My finger touched Aomassai, and I put it on, despite assuming that it would be far too sticky-foody for relatively warm weather.

It turns out that I was wrong. In the winter this makes me think of sticky pastries, but now it's more like a crisp little wafer of a cookie, not sticky, syrupy, or otherwise smothering. I'll be interested to see how it works in flat-out hot weather.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SOTD: Balmain Ivoire

I've learned today that Ivoire is not a wafter. One spray on the back of my neck - my usual dosage for most scents - simply vanishes as if never there.

I'll overdose a little next time.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Nick McPhee. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, May 24, 2010

SOTD: None

No scent today. Do you think that the bottles are offended? Bottles, y'know, all lined up and disapproving, like The Birds...

Image: Mine

Sunday, May 23, 2010

SOTD: Cranky Bubbles and Oily Roses

I'm typing this with pruny fingers.

I love bathtubs. Bathtubs, and bubbles, and getting into water that's too hot for comfort, and getting used to it and then making it even hotter, and soaking with a book until the water cools down and I half-drain the tub and add still more hot water. I've loved them all my life, as many, many damp books can attest.

When we bought our house, it had a lovely old-fashioned white cast iron tub with claw feet. We intended to remodel the bathroom, turning one medium-sized space into two tiny ones. That bathtub didn't want to fit into "tiny", and the holes for the faucets were in the wrong place, and measurements and drawings repeatedly hit the roadblock of The Bathtub. And Himself assured me that if I would give up that tub to some good home somewhere, he'd happily buy me the finest of replacements.


So Himself turned his determination, instead, to making the tub fit. Drawings were redrawn and doors were shuffled and the faucet holes were plugged and a lovely plumbing monstrosity was arranged to fill the tub from above, and the tub spent a few remodeling weeks out in the side yard until it finally returned in glory to precisely where it belonged.

My bathtub. I suspect that I spend more time reading there than I do at my desk or on the couch.

Naturally I have many bath potions, but generally I fill it with blazing hot water, "cranky baby" bubble bath (California Baby Tired & Cranky), and Elizabeth W Rose bath oil - so far the one rose, in the one context, that gets past my doubtful response to rose perfumes. The combined scent is permanently associated with bubbles and turning pages with damp fingers, and there's not much that can beat that.

Image: By Muu-karhu. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

SOTD: None (Scentfree Saturday)

Another unscented Saturday today, but the garden is enthusiastic about May, so there's plenty to sniff.

Photo: Mine

Friday, May 21, 2010

SOTD: Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale

Ginger sparkles. Yum.

But I still don't know why they name it after sushi.

Image: By Gabriel Pollard. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SOTD: Issey Miyake A Scent

Why do I like this one so much? It's sweet - I'm not a big fan of sweet. It's "fresh" - I hate it when salesfolks tell me how fresh something is. It's candy, I don't like candy fragrances, and I love it.

I'm just fickle.

Image: By De Celais. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SOTD: Fendi Theorema

I recently told someone that this is more of a winter than a summer fragrance, and tested it today to see if I was right. I was, but it's still lovely. Spicy oranges. Yum.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, May 17, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture

I temporarily lost access to Tubereuse Couture, and as a result I've been craving it for weeks. (It's a long travel story involving packing and decanting errors.) It's back, so today I'm blissfully drowning in tuberose. And green. And... well, what is in this stuff? Let's have another look at the notes.

There's tuberose, of course. Indian Tuberose. And ylang-ylang. I've met those.

And kalamanzi oil. I asked Google what a kalamanzi was, and I'm told that it's a sour citrus fruit, somewhere between a mandarin and a lime. That's interesting - I've never consciously detected any citrus in this fragrance, but now that I'm told, I feel as if I can smell it.

And a lot of green stems - jasmine shoots, and sugar cane, and papyrus. I'm imagining a giant lawn mower rolling along, snipping off all of these grassy things and raising a perfumed fog that rivals the Wicked Witch's poppy fields for falling down enchantment.

And Sumatra benzoin. I've never understood benzoin - I thought that it was what produced the sweet powdery note that I like in some fragrances, but my Googling mentions a "vanilla ice cream aroma", and nothing about powder.

And that pretty much takes care of the notes list, leaving me only fractionally more informed. I think I'll spray on a little more, close my eyes, and dream of that field.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Martin Sell. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

SOTD: Nothing Again

A sleepy Sunday, and I never quite got around to wandering through the bottles.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Clothes and Books: The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant

I just bought four bangle bracelets and two linen shirts.

And it's all Linda Grant's fault.

Linda Grant is the author of The Thoughtful Dresser, a book about clothes. The second title is "The Art of Adornment, The Pleasure of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter". The author has a website by the same name, so she may already be old news to all of you, but I just picked up the book on a whim, so it's new to me.

It's a good book, and I say that as a person who doesn't care about clothes. Except that Linda Grant would say that she doesn't believe that I don't care about clothes, and, yes, she's right. It's not that I don't care about clothes, it's...

Well, it's several things, but let's get back to the book, and perhaps return to me later. It's an absorbing book, one that shifts from topic to topic in an apparently meandering, random-conversation sort of way. But when I was done I had the sense that I had just walked through a precisely crafted path, rather like one of those meditation mazes that turn you around and around, giving you many different views of the same place.

It started with a red high-heeled shoe in the museum at Auschwitz. And while that image was still filling my mind, the  assertion that "you can't have depths without surfaces". And then it went on to pursue that argument - the argument that the surface formed by clothes and fashion is an important one, and that the men and women that dismiss it for various reasons, whether honorable or self-serving, are just wrong.

It ambles from topic to topic. The historical significance of handbags. The invisibility of women over fifty. The overweight male couturier who sneers at women over size six. Traversing the class system through changing dress codes. Self adornment among the ancients. Dressing to appease the ancient gods or the modern hiring manager. Foot binding. Liptstick in the Blitz. Glamor. The rise and fall of the New Look. The shame of nudity.

And it keeps returning to that red shoe, and to a woman who survived Auschwitz because of a hat.

It feels odd to return from the depths to, again, clothes. But it is consistent with the thesis of the book, and the book is what I'm writing about.

So. So, returning to me, why do I behave as if I'm not interested in clothes? I originally typed here that I'm a person of limited style sense and far from ideal figure, and as such the amount of effort and money required to dress well is more than I'm willing to invest. Blah, blah, blah.

And that's all true. But, really, I think it comes down to the belief that, appearance-wise, I'm just not worth dressing up. I have a deep-down notion that if I were to make any perceptible fashion effort, small children would point and laugh.

That looks like a thought that's worth knocking down. So, bangles and linen today, as a start. And I'll be posting, as I think about it a little more.

Photo: Mine.

SOTD: Scentless Saturday

I continue the Scentless Saturday tradition. In the park. With books. And Cello Man playing in the background.

Nice. Even without perfume.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, May 14, 2010

SOTD: None

No scent today! But it is Friday, so that's worth celebrating.

Image: By Crystal. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Un Lys, and a photo ramble

I enjoy the process of finding a picture for a post. Ambling through (usually) Wikimedia Commons is sort of like free-associating using someone else's thoughts.

Today's fragrance was Un Lys. I skipped the lily photographs, and the lilies in art, because I've used those categories several times before. In the process of searching, I did find a nice cat named Lily, but that didn't quite seem to work.

Un Lys also makes me think of penuche - that grainy, light-brown-sugar fudge. So I looked for pictures of penuche, but I've already used the one that I found.

So I looked more generally for fudge, and found a hamster named Fudge, more or less the same color as the penuche, staring dubiously at the camera. He didn't look as if he'd enjoy being part of a perfume blog, so I passed him by.

Oh, and in between Lily and Fudge, I looked at vases, because after all, the lily is a flower. There are some startling and faintly disturbing vases out there.

And then I found this landscape of lilies and trees, and liked it, so that was that. Free association complete.

Getting back to Un Lys itself: It remains lovely, as always.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By ITA-ITU. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SOTD: None

No scent today. Also, no caffeine. Or chocolate. In other words, it's really just a day for a nap.

Image: By Luciano Roth Coelho. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SOTD: Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie


I sprayed this one on the back of my neck, intending to experience it for a day without any conscious effort at processing the notes.

That meant that the various elements drifted by my nose, and vanished, and drifted by again, leaving a vague, misty impression of...

Elmer's Glue.



You know, the nice harmless white milky glue that you used in kindergarten, back before gluesticks became the vogue? I never realized, before today, that there's a rather sweet, floral note in that stuff. Or, at least, there is in memory, as recalled by this fragrance.

I'm quite confident that the next time I wear this, other notes will emerge, inspiring images of flowers rather than construction paper collages. But this time, well, I'm rather enjoying it.

Image: By Kalmalukko. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rambling: A Chicken of Very Little Brain

I've been slacking off. Y'know, mentally. Especially on writing, including blogging.

My posts aren't up to snuff, my comments aren't up to snuff, even my reading comprehension isn't up to snuff. I read other people's posts and stare blankly at them in an  impressed but thought-free state.

I'm not quite sure why. There are several possible theories, but none is the clear winner.

But just in case you've noticed my increasing intellectual sloth, I felt the urge to state for the record that I haven't lost interest, in my own blog or anyone else's. I'm just waiting for my brain to return from whatever junket it's on. Possibly with gifts.

Image: By Charles M. Sauer. Wikimedia Commons.

SOTD: Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese


We pause here to listen to the echoing in my empty mind.

Fruity and beautiful.

It's a lovely fragrance. I'll offer more, on another day.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

SOTD: None

Today was too sleepy a day to write coherent note-description thoughts.

But I thought that I ought to. So I never got around to putting on an old favorite that didn't need describing.

So here I am, unperfumed and looking at cat pictures.

Image: By Mueller-rech.muenchen. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

SOTD: None

Today is Scentless Saturday. No perfume today, though there was a little perfume browsing and (woohoo!) some new samples.

So tomorrow will be thoroughly scented.

That is all.

Image: By Jorge Barrios. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, May 7, 2010

SOTD: Gucci L'Arte di Gucci, really quick sniff


I can't tell, yet, if I like L'Arte di Gucci, but I certainly can't dismiss it. And if I were to do a thorough post on those "don't mess with me" scents that I mentioned yesterday, this would be in the list.

And, well, that's all I have to say today. This one really needs at least two wearings.

Review Roundup: Perfume-Smellin' Things and Perfume Shrine and Eiderdown Press and Fragrantica and Muse in Wooden Shoes and MakeupAlley and Basenotes and The Scented Salamander and Yesterday's Perfume.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

SOTD: Strange Invisible Perfumes Fire and Cream again. And well-behaved perfumes.

So I had an in person business meeting today. (Dismay: I have to change out of my pajamas to work?) Fire and Cream seemed quite appropriate, so I tried it as a back-of-the-neck perfume, and it worked well. There's an extra texture and sparkle to it when it's sniffed from a few more inches away.

This led me to think about the subject of well-behaved perfumes. By "well behaved" I mean perfumes suitable for  business meetings, or job interviews (if you dare wear scent at all), or meeting one's boyfriend's mother - at least, when these situations are expected to be more or less pleasant. When they're not, there's an entirely different category of "don't mess with me" perfumes. But that's not today's subject.

To me, a well behaved perfume needs to avoid being a number of things. Not a bombshell, not a little girl, not too ladylike. Little to no aggression, but without that "don't worry; I'm helpless" vibe. Not stupid, not... well, OK, I don't put an upper limit on how smart it can be.

Some candidates are those with a careful balance of wood and gentle, dry spices. Today's Fire and Cream is a fine example, and so are the saffron-filled drydown of Washington Tremlett Black Tie and the medicinal hit of l'Artisan Fou d'Absinthe.

The unsweet tea fragrances, like Parfumerie Generale L'Eau Rare Matale (tea and charred wood) and Harmatan Noir (tea, mint, sunshine, and dust) also fill this role, though some, like Comme des Garcons Tea, may be just a little too weird. And the syrupy and delicious ones, like l'Artisan's Tea for Two, don't qualify at all. I can't put my finger on why, but smelling edible doesn't seem to qualify for the very highest level of well-behavedness.

Irises seem to be inherently well-behaved - Iris Taizo's calm dry powder, for example, and the cool standoffishness of Iris Silver Mist. I'm not sure about Cuir d'Iris - that delightfully "off" leather note seems to take it out of the running. And Chanel Cuir de Russie definitely has leanings in both the bombshell and "don't mess with me" directions. It has far too much glamor to be well-behaved. But it also couldn't care less, in a way that may transcend the entire category.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

SOTD: Strange Invisible Perfumes Fire and Cream

The orange quest continues! This time with Strange Invisible Perfumes, a line that, for no reason I can put my finger on, I find rather intimidating. But I couldn't resist the name Fire and Cream, so now I have a sample to play with.

The notes for this one are orange, orange blossom, tuberose, frankincense, white lavender, vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli. It's interesting but subtle - I may find it forgettable, or I may end up with a severe craving.

The beginning has a medicinal mood, with no trace of the sweetness that I would have expected from the orange blossom and tuberose. I'm just as happy to have the orange blossom drowned, but I wouldn't mind a bit more tuberose, and a bit less lavender. There's also something that I translate as celery seed - distinctly odd, and I suspect that I may be misreading something.

The shifts over time were subtle, and I need to try it again, and perhaps with a more generous application, to be able to describe the middle stages. The end is a gentle but resinous orange, more peel than juice, and just a little wood. Pleasant.

So, no conclusion.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Fragrantica and Perfume Posse and MakeupAlley and Scent Hive and RagingRouge and Perfume-Smellin' Things and All About The Pretty and CaFleureBon and A Rose Beyond The Thames and EauMG and I Feel Pretty.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SOTD: Caron Alpona, and the Orange Quest

I've been on a long quest for the perfect orange perfume. Not the perfect citrus - it has to be orange. With some peel but not too much, and some juice, but not too much. Not quite a fresh orange, not quite a preserved orange. Not a bright sparkly citrus cologne that quickly fades away - I want something denser.

The sensible thing would have been to stop where I started, with Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange solid, the perfume that initially gave me the craving for orange perfumes. It's lovely. It's almost perfect. It may be perfect, but I can't seem to take its word for it.

So I keep questing. Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba is too bitter and sophisticated for me. It may someday be the one, but not today. Atelier Orange Sanguine is too far in the other direction - it's Orange Crush. Hermes Terre d'Hermes has too much pepper and gravel and not enough orange. Hermes Eau d'Orange Verte is just a cologne - there's a little bit of gravel in this one, too, making it more interesting than usual, but not enough to keep it in the running.

Fendi Theorema is lovely. It might be the ultimate orange fragrance, at least for winter. I bought a bottle, and if I see it again (it's discontinued) I may break my rule against backup bottles and buy another one. But I can't stop and be satisfied with it, any more than I can with Tuscan Blood Orange.

So I finally got myself a sample of Caron Alpona, one of the other (discontinued) classic orange perfumes. And I sprayed it on today - too much of it; I forgot that it's a parfum.

Before I really get started, the notes: lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, rose, orange, jasmine, orchid, thyme, patchouli, myrrh, cedar, sandalwood, musk, and oakmoss.

The beginning is startling - it's simultaneously "dirty" and soapy. I (and others) have described some animalic notes as smelling like a clean warm cat; Alpona makes me think of what that warm cat might smell like if he accidentally stumbled into a bathtub full of marmalade-scented suds. Looking at that notes list, I'm not sure where the cat is coming from - maybe an animalic edge on the jasmine or the musk? Maybe the patchouli?

As the perfume dries, the animalic notes move to the background and the scent is dominated with a rich, resiny-spicy bitter orange, still a little soapy. A little bit of animal remains, but the cat is dry now, still strongly scented with the remains of the soap.

A few hours after that, the resinous, bitter edge is gone, and what remains is gentle, barely powdery orange-scented wood.

I like this at all phases, though the somewhat shocking beginning might be too much for me on some days. But if it weren't discontinued, it would be joining the Bottle List, and as it is, I'll be budgeting for a larger decant.

Oh!  But in case you're wondering, no, it's not the end of the quest.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Pink Manhattan and MakeupAlley and Fragrantica and The Scented Salamander and Basenotes.

Image: By Falk Lademann. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, May 3, 2010

SOTD: Guerlain Rose Barbare

The rose quest continues!

Flittersniffer of Bonkers About Perfume pointed me to Guerlain Rose Barbare. After wearing it for a day I am, once again, Unsure. I suspect that all of these roses will require multiple wearings.

The first couple of hours are my favorite part. There are roses, of course, and something edible and... well, I want to say fruity, but I don't want to say fruity, because it doesn't have that sugary juicy summery feel about it. If you imagine crossing peach with a thick-skinned orange, this is what the peel might smell like - dense, slightly bitter, not too wet, and some sort of fruit that is neither peach or citrus.

After that, this fragrance settles into a dusty, slightly bitter chypre-like rose - bone dry, with a barely perceptible hint of unidentifiable spice. It's not one of Those Roses, but it's also not girly-fluttery. This combination of characteristics is a good omen for future wearings.

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

Image: By Korall. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

SOTD: Washington Tremlett Black Tie

A while ago, I posted about my problem in finding a rose perfume that I really like, and many people kindly recommended things to try. One of them was Diana of Feminine Things, who recommended Washington Tremlett Black Tie.  Many weeks later, I finally sent off a Perfumed Court order, and here we are.

As seems to be happening with all new perfumes this spring, I can't decide. I'll have to try it again and offer a proper review then. But that won't stop me from rambling today.

The notes, just to give some context to the upcoming rambling, are saffron, walnut, galbanum, salvia, rose, geranium, tuberose, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, and musk. And I should mention that this is a men's perfume. This fact doesn't worry me, but I thought that I should disclose it.

The beginning is a strong mix of saffron and rose, and some of the sage, and I think that I can detect some galbanum. There's a strong vibe of of Those Roses, like Czech & Speake 88, the ones that I can't seem to reconcile to. But the saffron reduces the impact; there's hope for the top notes of this one.

And I seem to have missed the middle notes - or perhaps there are none? At least one of the reviews suggests that this is pretty linear after the top notes have burned off.

In any case, the base notes, a few hours in, are worth the price of admission. It's saffron, softened with wood and probably vanilla and a little musk, and it's simply lovely. So this is likely to become my favorite saffron perfume, but I don't think that it's going to fill the rose gap just yet.

Review RoundupFeminine Things and Now Smell This and Fragrantica and Basenotes and Would Smell As Sweet and SorceryOfScent.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Un Lys

I wore a mock turtleneck. And thus unintentionally learned that Un Lys is not quite as beautiful on fabric as on skin. But it's still beautiful.

(I also learned that, wow, spring is here. Turtlenecks are over.)

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Link: The Latest Bond No. 9 Controversy

A link to a post about Bond's recent controversial tweet to The Perfumed Court, on state of the [car]nation.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.