Sunday, October 31, 2010

SOTW: Bubbles and Cthulhu

Saturday was, of course, scentless Saturday. Though that doesn't affect the bathtub. I realized, while surveying the expanse of bubbles, that I'm racking up a lot of scented products all at once. This time, there was Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange soap, Emz Blendz Mandarin Mint Shampoo Moon, Cranky Baby bubbles, and Elizabeth W Rose bath oil. This may be overkill. Three out of four involve oranges, though; does that make it sound any more sensible?

I also realized that in winter, the White Jasmine & Mint bath oil that I've been using is the wrong scent. (Even if it does go with the shampoo moon.) In winter, it's roses that produce that happy immersed-in-sleepy-fog feeling.

On Sunday, of course I had to wear Cthulhu In Love. Slime, evil, and chocolate - what could be better for Halloween?

And have a look at Himself's pumpkin art. Cool, huh?

Photo: Mine.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Admin: New Windows, and New To Perfume?

I can't do anything without explaining it. So here are two explanations.

First: I've added a static page titled "New to Perfume?" to the blog, where I point to a lot of articles, mostly from other blogs. This is so that anyone who wanders into my blog but isn't so sure about this perfume thing has some introductory stuff (and some not-so-introductory stuff) to read. I'll be maintaining this as I run across new general-interest perfume articles, and eventually may start expanding it with articles on notes, on houses, and so on.

Second: In my posts, I've always set all links to open in a new window. But according to the usability experts that I trust the most, this is not the right thing to do. So I'm not doing that any more, and I may sloooowly work my way through the post backlog and change past links.

Image: By AnasiZ. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, October 29, 2010

SOTD: The Different Company Oriental Lounge. And the courage of my stinky convictions.

I wore this one again. And I wore (I lower my voice for this) enough for someone else to smell. I consciously put on a bit more than usual, and a friend complimented me on the scent at lunch.

I can never make up my mind how I feel about my perfume being noticeable. When someone wafts past me wearing a good perfume, I always enjoy that moment, so apparently I approve of it in others. Even if they waft past me wearing bad perfume, I mildly approve, as long as it's not a choking fog. I approve of perfume in general. I was pleased to get the compliment.

But I still usually wear one halfhearted spritz on the back of my neck under my hair, and another on my stomach under my shirt, so that even I only rarely get a faint whiff of the stuff. I'm a spritz wimp.

Is it time to change that?

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Ilmari Karonen. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SOTD: The Different Company Oriental Lounge


A while ago, I wrote a post about a mythical reduced fragrance wardrobe. I covered greens (two of them, actually), three major flowers, incense, wood, leather, and Sushi Imperiale. (Sushi Imperiale does not require a category.) There was no oriental, because I don't wear orientals. Really. Sort of.

Today I wore Oriental Lounge again, and realized that not only do I like it, but it fills the tenth spot in the wardrobe. This is, for me, an unprecedentedly rapid ascension - from "dislike" to "core fragrance" in a matter of weeks.

Also, yum.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SOTD: Assorted. And MIA bottle.

First, I wanted to wear Parfumerie Generale L'Eau Rare Matale. But the bottle's missing. Gone. Nowhere to be found. This is not normal. My bottles live in very specific places, and I've never misplaced one before. I did go traveling recently, but I brought a decant. So I'm at a loss. Do we have some thieving and now really good-smelling mice?

So instead, I wore L'Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two. Yes, it's a lovely scent, yes, it's perfect for the fall weather, blah blah blah. But scent cravings are not transferable, and I wanted L'Eau Rare Matale.

Then I took a shower before an evening appointment in close quarters with strangers, so I put on a little Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange solid, for minimal projection and sillage and therefore minimal potential annoyance.

But where's that bottle?!

Review Roundup for L'Eau Rare Matale: is here and for Tuscan Blood Orange is here and for Tea for Two is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SOTD: Guerlain Rose Barbare

Last time I wore this, I noticed fruit, with some bitterness, at the beginning, but referred to a bone-dry chypre-like rose as it developed.

This time it's all fruit all the time. Sweet fruit, like a peach-strawberry-orange.

I'm puzzled.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, October 25, 2010

SOTD: Eau D'Italie Paestum Rose (The Decluttering Resumes)

Yet another perfume purchased without a proper sampling cycle, yet another perfume that I'm likely to give away.

I like this one better than most roses mixed with incense or bitter notes, but it just doesn't have a niche. If I want incense, there's Serge Lutens Serge Noire, and if there weren't, I'd buy Comme des Garcons Kyoto. If I want a rose, there was Elizabeth W Rose and Hermessence Rose Ikebana and Rochas Tocade, and now there's Shiseido White Rose and all other roses can just run along.

So Paestum Rose is nice, it's interesting, it's high-quality, and I can't imagine why I'd wear it. I may give it one more try, but I think it's on its way out of the house.

Image: By Veshi.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Aomassai

It was Sunday. I was hungry. So I sprayed on a sticky pastry.

And that's all.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Peter Stadler, Vienna. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

SOTD: None again

Scentless Saturday and lots of driving. And, I mention in an off-topic manner, an enormous Monte Cristo sandwich. You know, the one with turkey and ham and Swiss cheese, dipped in batter, deep fried, and served with jam and sour cream to dip it in? Is there a weirder food?

Image: By PatriciaR. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, October 22, 2010

SOTD: None. And grumbling.

Today was one of those frazzly days. Worked at work against a deadline, encountered an issue that overrode the deadline, pruned the garden on a deadline after work, and did housework on a deadline after the pruning.

I never got around to perfume. I now have a deadline for going to bed, because I have a deadline for when I need to get up.

Hmph. I want my usual clock-free Friday night.

Image: By Eva K. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Chergui. And musty houses.

A recent discussion on Muse in Wooden Shoes motivated me to try Chergui again. In the comments, I didn't agree that it was musty, but I've changed my mind. It's honey, tobacco, sticky pastries, and old-house mustiness.

I used to be a bit doubtful about this fragrance, but it's growing on me. Wondering why, I find that the old-house note reminds me of a great-aunt's house that my family visited many times during my childhood. The surprise is the realization that I have positive memories of the place.

We were the sort of frugal family that spent all holidays and vacations staying in relatives' homes, with the kids permanently planted on the sofa listening to the adults reminisce about the decades before they were born, telling the same stories year after year.

I have a photo-clear memory of an evening in the home of someone's cousin or school friend, when a son of the family offered me a book of Doonesbury cartoons to read. Compared to the usual experience, it might as well have been a ride on Star Tours. I had a mild crush on the son (who I believe I never saw again), and a tremendous fondness for Doonesbury, for years afterward.

I remember how orderly all of those houses were, my great-aunt's most of all. The furniture and ornaments were generally older than me, and often older than my parents - this wasn't a family that went in for decorating trends. But every single thing was impeccably maintained, dusted, cleaned, un-shabby, and when someone chose it, however long ago, they chose it carefully.

This being the American South, most houses had the traditional "for company" living room and dining room. Furniture was arranged in one position for a lifetime, and ornaments, down to the doilies, were almost as permanently fixed. The only thing likely to change in these spaces was the multicolored hard candy in the cut-glass covered dish -- another spark of excitement for visiting children bored out of their tiny minds. In one way, this sounds simply dreadful. But in another way, it reflected a commitment and attention to detail in the home environment that I craved.

My parents weren't all that interested in our home -- it was adequately furnished, adequately maintained, generally adequate. The roof didn't leak and the appliances all worked, but nobody loved it. Drawer pulls fell out and weren't replaced. Drawers got stuck, and no one squared up the furniture or ran soap along the runners. The furniture was whatever was sufficent and cheap enough when something wore out. Shabby spots happened - nobody cared enough to get those extra pieces of fabric for the arms or the heads of the chairs, at least not until the fabric was already worn through.

I particularly remember the rice pot. It lost its handle and the knob on the lid, and for my entire childhood, we lifted the lid with a bent fork poked into the hole the knob left behind, and lifted the pot with a hot pad wrapped around the metal stub that once held the bakelite handle. And nobody ever considered buying a new pot. It wasn't that we couldn't afford one, it was just that nobody ever looked at that pot and said, "This is silly. This is depressing. Let's get a new one."

So when I sniff Chergui and see my aunt's impeccable living room, full of overstuffed furniture twenty, thirty, fifty years old and infused with mustiness that even the most determined housecleaner couldn't remove, everything clean and carefully placed, wooden floors shiny enough to go sock-skating, that awful sentimental figurine on top of the piano , and all that uncluttered  space between the furniture -- that memory smells good to me.

Image: By Takk. Wikimedia Commons.

Writing: Writing. About writing.

NaNoWriMo is on the horizon. That means that my thoughts turn toward writing. And the writing stuff is over on the other blog.

So this post is to let folks on this blog know that I'm trying the nervous-making experiment of posting some scraps of fiction. Here's the post that talks about it. And here's the first scrap. It may or may not be the last one; we'll see how my nerve holds up.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SOTD: Uh...

It's really Wednesday. But I forgot to post the SOTD on Tuesday. I'm backdating. And now I can't remember if I wore anything.

I don't think I did.

But I'm apparently pretty fuzzy of mind.

That is all.

Image: By Karla Fitch. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, October 18, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Iris Taizo

I went into the office. This always gives me a disoriented feeling - I usually work from home. It was odd - but pleasantly so - to actually see coworkers, and startling to realize that time passes. New haircuts, new tans, new fashions, new quirky toys and posters in the cubes. And they're no longer selling junk food out of the office fridge. Hmph.

Entering the office also, of course, means that I have to wear respectable street clothes, and have some concern for whether my perfume is too weird. I was pleased to realize that any of the newbie bottles would have done fine, but I went with a single spray of Iris Taizo, which I think of as particularly sober and well-behaved.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, October 17, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

I love this one.

The weather isn't quite right for it - it's better when it's blazing through crisp cold air, or trying to drown you when it's hot and humid. But I still love it.

It's flowers in a bad mood. Powerful flowers in a bad mood. Flowers flaunting their ability to smell like decay and fire and death. Flowers that are in no mood to suffer fools gladly.

I wonder what percentage of lovers of Tubereuse Criminelle are cat people?

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Hannibal Poenaru. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

SOTD: Scentless Saturday

Scentless Saturday was scentless. (This is not always a given. Sometimes I only remember it's Scentless Saturday after spraying.)

We also went to The City and saw Scapin with Bill Irwin. It was fabulous. So fabulous that I didn't even feel cheated when we didn't make it to Barney's afterwards.

That is all.

Image: By Thierry Biezecourt. Wikimedia Commons.

Link: Writing: Finding The Drive

Sometimes a post seems to belong on both blogs. So I pick a blog, and post, and link to it from the other blog. Like this one.

Image: By Ziko-C. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, October 15, 2010

SOTD: The Different Company Oriental Lounge

I wore it again. This time I did catch the weird fruity thing that The Left Cost Nose mentioned. The first time I got distracted and missed it, and the second time I interpreted it as the alcohol in the top notes, and then got distracted and missed it again. I'm not sure if I like or dislike the fruit, but it passes quickly, and then the fragrance is all warm velvety sweet smoke.

It also makes me think of dragons. Though that could be because I want an excuse for dragons in the blog.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Aaron Logan. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Bas de Soie

I wore it again. I loved it again. But I'm ready for something sweet and resinous and smoky again tomorrow.

Which makes me wonder if this one will take its appropriate place with all the greens, or if it will be illogically filed in memory with incensy smokey things? I met it in the company of the smokey things, see. I'll find out. Probably next summer.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Bas de Soie

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie is a vintage black and white photograph of a scent. It's "retro", not in a funny-nostalgia way, but with that unruffled elegance that no one seems to possess any longer. Many of the reviews refer to it as cold, with the two major notes battling for control. I see it as warm and sunlit and soft, with the iris and hyacinth napping together like intertwined cats, so that you can't tell where one ends and the other begins.

I initially made a proper and sensible decision to spend a few days with a sample, and think about a possible, someday, eventual purchase. Then I caught a whiff of it from my arm and scurried back to the shop - where Himself bought it for me. He does a very fine job of keeping me smelling green.

Review Roundup: The Scented Salamander and 1000 Fragrances and Grain de Musc and Bois de Jasmin and Fragrantica and Perfume Posse and Cafleurebon and Perfume Shrine and Perfume-Smellin' Things and MakeupAlley and Now Smell This and The Fragrant Foodie (scroll down) and I Smell Therefore I Am and The Non-Blonde.

Images: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Link: Himself on Portland

Himself is a far better travel blogger than I am. Below, I present his posts on our Portland trip, in chronological order:

Portland Sucks!
Dinner in the City
Sleeping Around, Getting Around
A Day Filled With Bacon
Portland Day 3: Mass Transit Mania
Lions and Tigers and Hash, Oh, My!

Image: By Cacophony. Wikimedia Commons.

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Iris Taizo

This used to be called Iris Taizo. Parfumerie Generale changed the name to Iris Oriental, and I've been politely using both names. But I've decided that I prefer Taizo, so forget the politeness - that's what I'm calling it.

It's a very satisfying fragrance, but one that demands a little work - it's sharp and grainy and challenging, then slowly sweetens over a very long time. I've discussed it before - I was dubious, and then I was undubious, and then I declared it a grumpy day comfort scent, and now I own it. Woohoo!

It's a scent that I wear for the basenotes rather than the earlier stages - what I refer to as a drydown scent. Serge Noire is my main example of this category, and I recently learned that Tocade is one, too. I particularly enjoy these scents - the faint hint of the basenotes makes me love an opening that I don't really like, and then the destination that I do like keeps on growing, as if rewarding me for giving the opening a chance. Like dessert after eating my greens.

Review Roundupl: Is here.

Image: By Carol Wycoff. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, October 11, 2010

SOTD: Andy Tauer Orange Star

I wanted to love an Andy Tauer scent. This is an irrational desire - what difference does it really make if I can't handle L'Air du Desert Marocain or Incense Rose or Lonestar Memories or Un Rose Chypree or Vetiver Dance? Even if all sorts of people whose opinions I respect are knocked over by all of them? It doesn't make me a perfume ignoramus with an oblivious nose, does it? Huh? Huh?

OK, well, maybe not, but I'm relieved to like something from this house.  Unfortunately, while I wore and enjoyed Orange Star today, I didn't actually pay attention, and I don't have any fine and eloquent words to describe the experience. All I have is: Textured spicy orange. Yum.

Image: By Daniel G. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

SOTD: The Different Company Oriental Lounge

I acquired The Different Company Oriental Lounge recently, even though I officially don't like oriental scents. There are some exceptions to that rule, like Theorema and Chergui and Serge Noire and Bvlgari Black and Iris Taizo and Feminite du Bois and Cedre Sandaraque and... um. Well.

Fragrantica declares that all of the above are orientals (or the subcategories like "Oriental Spicy"), and I love them all. There goes my thesis.

Except, I'm picking my thesis up and dusting it off again, because with the possible exception of Chergui, I consider all of these to be orientals only by a "where else do we put them?" technicality. To me, an oriental scent is one that's full of amber and musk and lots of heavy smoky spicy sweetness, and most of those perfumes don't qualify. Also, orientals are a perfume category that I don't understand or have a vocabulary for, and I didn't have trouble talking about any of those fragrances. So I guess I'm saying, if it doesn't confuse me, it's not an oriental. And Oriental Lounge confuses me. But in a good way.

So what's in there? I get spicy powder riding on billows of vanilla, and amber that I don't hate (a rarity), and in general a lot of soft, squashy sweetness of a kind that I usually dislike, except that here I don't. From my reading, I suspect that the explanation is the curry leaf.

Various sources refer to the scent of curry leaf as green, woody, pungent, camphorous, fetid, spicy, metallic, warm - while there seems to be limited agreement on exactly what the curry leaf smells like, all of these descriptions sound like something that could cut through sweet gooey smoke like a knife. And that's how I'm experiencing Oriental Lounge - something is adding just enough transparency and sharpness to allow me to bask in the wintery warmth, rather than drown in it.


Review Roundup: Perfume Posse and Now Smell This and Fragrantica and 1000 Fragrances and I Smell Therefore I Am and Nathan Branch and Basenotes.

Link Roundup: Grain de Musc.

Image: By Amcaja. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

SOTD: None.

Scentless Saturday returns. I didn't wear any perfume, but I wrote plenty about it. Except, well, all right, not in this post.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, October 8, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale L'Eau Rare Matale. And back to the handkerchiefs.

I didn't dare attack my angry sinuses with a relatively unknown fragrance today, so I sprayed on smooth, clear, L'Eau Rare Matale. It worked beautifully. The new bottles stand by, all proud and shiny, waiting for their chance.

Meanwhile I'm considering a handkerchief purchase. I've been planning, for a while, to become a Handkerchief Person rather than a Kleenex Person. It seems so much more dignified. I'm no doubt influenced by Judith Martin's assertion that, "Weeping into paper is disgusting; weeping into fine linen is romantic drama." I'm planning on sneezing, not weeping, but still.

I have ten or so handkerchiefs already, some vintage (from my own family), some nice big modern cotton squares, but that's just enough for special occasions. Because I'm not an Ironing Person, I need enough for a month, so that I can wash and iron the whole batch all at once and then put the iron away for thirty days.

I'm tempted to declare this a collection and hunt down some more vintage, but will I really use those? Gently dabbing a barely perspiring brow with someone's carefully handcrafted embroidery and hemstitching is one thing, but is it proper to sneeze into vintage?

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SOTD: Ow. More handkerchiefs, please.

I returned from vacation with a cold. Or possibly an allergy attack resulting from the pervading smoke fog that results when a hotel puts all the smokers in a comfy lounge with an insufficiently tight-fitting door, rather than shooing them outside.

Anyway, while I can smell, which tempts me to perfume, my sinuses are annoyed to the point that perfume triggers an attempt, in their part, to escape from my head and go on vacation themselves. So there was no perfume worn today.

Image: By PocketSquareZ. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Perfume: The Candy Store

We were just in Vancouver, for a little under a day. I spent a little under an hour in The Perfume Shoppe.


I will now draw the veil over all budgetary offenses that may or may not have ensued.

Image: By Andreas Praefcke. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Perfume: All Season Fragrances

I've rambled on about seasonal fragrance preferences. Wood and leather and musk and smoke and coffee and sticky-bun gourmands belong to winter. Lemons and peaches and aquatics thrive in summer. Flowers most often belong to summer, though a craving for the white floral monsters can inexpicably grow on one in winter.

And, of course, cold weather diminishes scent, while warm weather enhances it. So the heavy, smoky, animalic or syrup-coated scents that are perfect in winter could clear a room in the summer. Well, and then there's the vole theory.

That all makes sense. At least to me. But today I'm curious about the scents that break that rule, the all-year scents. What makes an all-year scent? For me, the notes that make it happen, and the fragrances that it happens for, are:

Oranges: Fruit normally belongs to spring and summer. But in the midwest in the seventies and eighties (and no doubt for many decades before that), in frugal households, which is when and where and how I grew up, oranges were the main winter fruit. Frozen reconstituted orange juice (in small doses - "that stuff is expensive!") was the anti-cold magic potion. Happier associations come with tangerines eaten at holidays, and the big fat naval orange in the Christmas stocking.

All of this means that any scent with a significant orange note has strong winter associations for me. Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz The Color Orange, Hermes Eau d'Orange Verte and Terre d'Hermes, those Merveilles things - all of these are fine for summer or winter.

Grapefruit picks up a little of this association, too - if the fruit in front of me in winter in childhood wasn't an orange, it was likely to be a grapefruit. I'm in the market for a winter grapefruit fragrance - Fresh Hesperides, my old favorite, is no longer working for me.

White flower bombs: Again, flowers are associated with spring and summer. But killer white flowers also work in winter for me. I think that this is largely about the indolic notes, on the theory that whatever makes us crave leather and musk in the winter also makes us crave the animalic aspect of the major white flowers.

But I also have a "corsage theory". Indolic white flowers tend to be tropicals that refuse to grow in the midwest in any season. They're only encountered as florist's specimens on special occasions, and those special occasions tend to cluster in the winter. So these warm-weather tropical flowers seem particularly suited for winter, rather like the floral equivalent of white velvet.

As a result, Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture, Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle, Robert Piguet Fracas, Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia - they're all wintery. But, of course, they'll also all do fine in summer, at least in a large enough room.

Tea: I suppose this is simple - tea is a preserved food, just as available in winter as in summer. It is a little more summer than winter for me - my iced tea to hot tea consumption is probably several hundred oversugared glasses to one overhoneyed cup.

But still, the dried leaf, the stern edge that's almost, but not quite, entirely unlike smoke, makes it work for winter, in fragrances like Parfumerie Generale L'Eau Rare Matale and Harmatan Noir and Comme des Garcons Tea. Only L'Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two, of all of the tea fragrances that I've tried, is season specific - for me, it's a winter fragrance only. I think it's the hot-tea and smoke vibe.

Bergamot: This travels with tea, in my mind. It's a little brighter and sunnier, so that would tend to push it to summer. But it's a flavoring in Earl Grey, a tea that I would only drink hot, so that pushes it to winter. The result is that bergamot and bergamot-heavy fragrances, like Annick Goutal Mandragore and L'Occitane Bergamot Tea, sit tensely between summer and winter, never definitely falling to either side.

Mint: I don't recall encountering fresh mint as a child. I primarily tasted it in candy. So to me, mint has no season. Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint and Ava Luxe Moroccan Mint Tea are all-season choices.

So, what makes a scent an all-year candidate for you?

Image: By Tylicki. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Perfume: The Blank Spaces On The Map.

The perfume world is very large. The portions of it that I have explored are very small. I have never smelled a vintage Dior. I have smelled only one Caron. I have yet to truly appreciate any Guerlain or Tauer. Vero Profumo? I had to Google to see if that's a perfumer or a perfume house. I've been meaning to try LezNez for at least two years, but they never float to the top of the decant list.

I have a philosophy for vacations. Rather than exploring a country, or even a city, I advocate settling into one small space. Pick a neighborhood and walk out to the bookstore or the bakery or the museum or the gallery - whatever makes the neighborhood what it is. Any vacation that doesn't allow time for sitting for two hours over lunch with a book is a mis-planned vacation.

So I've been spending much of my perfume exploration in specific perfume "neighborhoods". The classic or classically-styled greens. Most everything by Parfumerie Generale and Serge Lutens. Tea scents. The Crazy. (Exemplified by L'Artisan Dzing!, Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle, BPAL The Malignant Dreams of Cthulhu in Love, Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose.)

I enjoy this, and it will always be my main mode of perfume exploration. But I sometimes think that I should try the equivalent of the ten-cities-in-seven-days tour, for at least one Perfumed Court order, and catch up on some of the perfumes and houses that I've ignored.

Any suggestions?

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Perfume Rambling: Delicious Blandness

I miss Szechuan Garden.

Szechuan Garden was a Chinese restaurant a ten-minute walk from our house. It had a lot of good food, but my very favorite dish was the sesame chicken. This wasn't the usual version of the dish, the kind with a thick batter dotted with an occasional sesame seed and dipped in sticky sauce. Instead, it was just thin, wide, planks of chicken breast coated in a thick layer of sesame seeds (presumably glued on with egg) and fried to golden brown, served crisp and dry, and begging for the eater to sprinkle on plenty of salt. I don't think that there was any dipping sauce, or if there was, I ignored it.

It was plain. Bland. Distinctly boring-looking. And to me, delicious. The subtle variation in flavor and texture between chicken that was a couple of millimeters thicker or thinner, or seeds that were fried a little more or less brown, was fascinating. I preferred thinner chicken and browner seeds, but much of the pleasure in that variation came from the contrast with the areas that were thicker and less brown. I want some right now, and I can't have any; Szechuan Garden is gone. I need to order some more bags of sesame seeds and continue my effort to duplicate the dish.

There are perfumes that have a similar delicious blandness, an apparently plain flavor that I can't quite put my finger on, but one that makes me want to gobble, chasing the taste.

Strange Invisible Perfumes Fire and Cream is the first fragrance that comes to mind. It doesn't offer obvious flavors - no obvious sweet, or bitter, or green, or "fresh". Instead, it's a mix of notes that disguise and change each other. I can't get a grip on the patchouli or tuberose; the lavender and sandalwood freshen them into unrecognizability. But I can't quite smell those; the barely-there orange sweetens them out of character. And the frankincense and orange blossom add an odd, dueling fog over the whole mix.

The same way that I used to crunch across a piece of sesame chicken, seeking out browner seeds or crunchier bits, I keep sniffing Fire and Cream, chasing after the orange, then the lavender, then the tuberose, and never quite catching any of them.

L'Artisan Navegar has a similar quiet complexity, mostly cedar, but it's a faint ghostly cedar mixed with hints of other notes - maybe cucumber, maybe spices, and something a little watery. The now-sweet, now-bitter powdery and milky scent of Serge Lutens Douce Amere is another entry in the category. And Hugo Boss Boss Woman, of all things, has some of the same appeal - it's terribly bland, but I keep sniffing at it.

I'm hungry now.

Image: Sanjay ach. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

SOTD: None. Unless Coca-Cola counts.

Today involved much driving and no perfume. Very sad.

But I'm taking a couple of days off work, so I allowed myself two glass bottles of Coke. With real sugar. And lots and lots of ice.


Oh! And those couple of days will involve limited computer access, so I'll be racking up some auto-posts, and will (gulp) miss cataloguing some Scents Of The Day. Incomplete data! Oh, noooooo!

Image: By Jason7825 Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, October 1, 2010

SOTD: Rochas Tocade

I've never understood the appeal of Rochas Tocade. Luca Turin loves it. Everyone else seems to love it. And it's inexpensive, so I bought a bottle unsniffed, and was disappointed - in everything but the whacky bottle itself, which I love. Today, I sprayed lots on with the expectation that I would add Tocade to the giveaway list.

Maybe overspraying was the key to success. On previous wearings, I smelled this as uninviting synthetic rose, fading to nonspecific "Yeah, there's still some perfume there" basenotes. This time, the dubious rose was veiled by better things - I got more of the vanilla, and something else that might be the magnolia and lily of the valley. As the flowers faded to the background, the end was musky powder, something that I normally hate, but not this time. Maybe the overspray gave me enough patchouli and cedar to reconcile me to powder, just as the coconut and sandalwood in Cadjmere lead me to love the powder in that fragrance.

So I'm declaring it to be a powder-musk-wood fragrance, not a rose scent. Using that definition, I enjoyed the last few hours, and I can imagine that with a few more wearings, I could grow fond of this. So I'm keeping it. And I still love that bottle.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By JM Suarez. Wikimedia Commons.