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.


  1. I resent climbing out of my pyjamas to go to a business meeting too! Fortunately these are rare, and usually clustered in 2-3 week blocks after which I can relapse into my normal sartorial slackness.

    I don't know Fire and Cream, but love Magazine Street and L'Invisible, and have worn the former to meetings.

    My well-behaved standbys are legion, but include 31 rue Cambon, Prada Infusion d'Iris, Jasper Conran Woman, JM Vanilla & Anise, Byredo Bal d'Afrique and Bvlgari Omnia Green Jade and Crystalline, then Rykiel Woman and Safran Troublant, also (latterly) Tom Ford PC White Suede.

  2. Hey, flittersniffer! My apologies - my general mental slacking is extending to responding to comments.

    I definitely recommend giving Fire and Cream a try, though I really struggle to describe what's good about it.

    And I'm adding several of yours to my Lists.