Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mixology #1: NK Violette over Ava Luxe Black Tea

I have a bottle of Ava Luxe Black Tea, which I quite has both a sweet and an earthy aspect haunting the tea-ness. I also have a decant of Norma Kamali Violette, which I have chatted about before. This morning, I found myself to represent a crisp fall day that I knew was going to get mild & sunshiny?

Layers! I had been knocking around the idea of smoke + violet (CB Burning Leaves? SSS Fireside Intense?), which I still intend to investigate. But this morning, I arrived at the Black Tea + Violette concept. Which I still like, as a concept. And which one arm tells me I like as a side-by-side one-two punch. But, when you put one on top of the other, as on the other arm...

...they become a kind of grape sasparilla. Bubbly, with the violet element now easily interpreted as a "natural" grape soda blended with sasparilla, which is what the tea became. Wow. That's chemistry in action. One atop the other didn't work as a palimpsest of scent; instead, it became a third something.

Eventually, as with most sodas, the bubbles settle and nearly go away. Then you are left with an intensified Black Tea, a scent which was probably sweet enough to begin with.

So, if you're searching for Natural Grape Root Beer, load up Black Tea + Violette. If you want to preserve the integrity of each scent, load 'em side by side, and run your nose across them in succession--as if your sniffer were a mouth and your arm a harmonica. Or, perhaps the best choice of all, skip this combination altogether...I'm pretty sure I won't be back myself.

I'll try other combinations in the future, and will undoubtedly report on those. Meanwhile, if you have a combo you like, please share!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Caron Pour un Homme

Lavender. Very clearly. Like an essential oil suspended in carrier oil. Not unpleasant, and certainly not complicated. The roll-on applicator, even on the manufacturer's samp, kind of makes sense. Reminiscent of both scented natural oils, and those Healing Garden roll-ons.

Then a simple morph into vanilla. I'm thinking, this is what boys like? Or might this be what Aimez-Moi would be, if you conceive it pour homme? Regardless, I can see purposing it as an uncomplicated daytime scent. When she reviewed it two years ago, Victoria at Bois de Jasmin mentioned green & floral touches, which I honestly didn't catch, but I must admit, today's run around the block posed challenges, as I was busy teacher who ended up pre-migrainey.

(Which brings up a point worth noting: this one did not act as a trigger, nor did it exacerbate when symptoms began.)

I can see having a sample vial of this travelling with me as a way to bridge the gap between the old essential oil concoctions I'd blend for mood and a hint of gourmand comfort. It might strike as even more valuable in the dark cold of winter, when the no-frills value of the straightforward lavender serves restorative and soothing purposes, even as the vanilla gently elevates and levels out my mood in a gently "warm" way.

Nothing complex. Nothing wrong. Nothing more.
(Will give it a go again sometime in the future, though, to see if the same impressions hold.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ear wax?


I think I've thought of a note that those alchemists of scent with skank can turn to for 2009: Ear wax.

That's right, it's not panties. (I mean, cumin.) It's not armpit. It's less offensive. It's in some ways odder. It perhaps offers the opportunity for variation. It's equal gender opportunity. It could be the vanilla of the animalic scent notes.

Have I forgotten someone/some scent? Am I right? Can we position earwax as an up and comer?

(Are you laughing?? Don't be laughing. I am, right now, the Faith Popcorn of scent. I just cut right THROUGH the mountain to leap ahead of Symrise/Firmenich/nose of the month. Seriously. You're gonna be glad you knew me.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

SCRUBBED! Bond No.9 "Chinatown"

Say it ain't so, Joe.

My first ever application of a Bond scent. Because I was rushing out to meet some friends (none of them fragrance fiends, or even gentle fans), I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and go for bird #1) a Bond No.9, a few of which been waiting for me for a while, and bird #2) a scent which I had gathered was pleasant and inoffensive.

Should have known better, right? It's always different strokes for different folks in this world--especially in the world of perfume.

I put it on, whiffed, and yanked my head back. "Eh?" Returned for another sniff. Nope...or rather, yes indeed, that was nearly syrupy sweet floral I was getting. I tried to wait a minute or two, to let things settle a bit, but it then turned into something cloying. Not if I kept my distance, mind you, but any time I leaned in for a hit...WHOMP!, there it was.

No can do. Out for (very) late brunch with the gals, and the last thing I need is a headache. To the sink I went. And then back to the samps. The clock was ticking...I was supposed to be there already. Ah! -- Fresh Index Violet Moss. Much better. Somehow, the sweet that comes with that violet seemed less overwhelming, and was carried in by a fresh breeze, whereas the Chinatown was hanging in the air of a room that had no ventilation and was only going to get warmer.

So, yes, I am a plebe, a naif, an uneducated nose...or, perhaps I just know what works for me. And, given the prices on a bottle of Bond, I'll shed no tears that Chinatown is not on the "it works" list.

Of course, the Fresh Index Violet Moss is not even in production anymore.


Shout Out: "Moe's Fracas Effect"

There's exploring perfume, there's exploring life, and there's pulling the two together.

Over at Boomtown Boudoir, there is a wonderful essay that combines a compelling portrait with a twist on the search for a signature scent. Fracas was never so uniquely captured. Good reading, thoughtful essaying.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Strange Huffing Effects: L'Heure Bleue

Do you have any L'Heure Bleu around? Even an eetsy bit? Will join me in an experiment?

I could swear that repetitive huffs--well, stronger than a wee sniff, not quite as dramatic as a full huff, but certainly each in a row without drawing back--result in instant morphing when it's L'Heure Bleu that's beneath your sniffer.

It starts with that powdery, vaguely Playdough scent that has been so frequently described. But right away, on the second huff, flowers start coming out. Sniff three, it's all floral, and sniff four, the flowers have gone sweet. So then, if you leave and come back quickly, it's flavored Playdough--flavored with floral infusion. If you wait, you need to go back to "Go" and start over.

Maybe it's just today. Maybe it's just the edp. (The nice sales rep gave me a sample decant of Eau de Parfum to try, since they did not have parfum. They did have Nahema, Vol du Nuit, and Samsara in parfum however.) I've been circling around this classic for almost nine months now, but this is the first time I've found this effect. I must admit, however, that I've become more liberal in both my spraying and my huffing, especially on return visits.

Let me know. If you try to call, let it ring a few times before giving up...I'm gonna have my nose stuck to my wrist a lot, and it might take me a moment to get away.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

3,2,1 ... Caron Third Man : second wearing, first impressions

Nathan was right. I am liking it. But I have not yet reached conclusions.

Caron's Third Man is a scent I could wear. It opens with a lavender syrup punch that knows just when to start drying down. At the moment, in the midst of my second run with this, I'm trying to figure out why there's more incensey spice on my left arm drydown and a swath of summer garden flower on my right. It's okay, I'm alright--both are cool.

Good thing, because now the vaguely incense note jumped to my right. What IS up...I'm only sampling one fragrance at the moment, for Pete's sake; it happens to be on both arms, solo. No worries, I'm still alright; I remembering that my general impression on the first run was "I like," and had lavender running throughout, as it seems to this time. Now I'm burying my face in my arms, and got a simultaneous shot of cigarette smoke and lavender clothes detergent. Whoa.

Which means I pull back to a more traditional sniffing angle (one arm, nose just there), and I'm smelling 'em all: lavender. sweet (but now in the background). spice/incense. smoke ever so lightly curling through.

At two hours, I thought it was going to disappear, but no, at three, it still lingers. Huffs in series lead to separate impressions: first the lavender still hanging in an ambery sweet gel; then that vaguely incense-y thing (I'm writing too early, perhaps; my specificity, while never my strong suit, is still off ); then some combination thereof as a hangs in my skin scent.

I'm not going anywhere near Caroll Reed's film The Third Man right now, though it's dawning on me that this "what is up with this?" shifting experience could be related...(you think?)....

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm it.

Ah, the jig is up.

I've enjoyed watching this game of blog tag scamper about some of my favorite blog writers. It's been an interesting combination of gossip and chain letter.

And now, OlfactaRama has sent the ball to my court. I find myself in good company among Olfacta's "tags," making me wonder how I ended up in the midst of this round. But, since nobody has threatened personal injury, bad luck, financial windfalls, or seven years of psoriasis if I don't participate, I'm going to join in the fun. Here goes.

Six Random Things About Myself

one: I was once the "guest star" on a children's television show;
two: I prefer a manual transmission;
three: I played fiddle parts on flute in a dixieland jazz band;
four: I like to believe that I invented "Busy Parent Gourmet Mac N Cheese," which means that you add goat cheese and julienned sun dried tomatoes to a prepared box of K-r-a-f-t;
five: I am certain that humans continue to "develop" through their adulthood. Personal evidence includes a) I've gone from a "keep the book pristine and don't you DARE crack the spine" person to "if I need to take a note in the margin, I will" kind of person, b) I no longer care about vampires and their immortal torment, but I will watch a talking head documentary, c) my spouse didn't know football from foosball when we were married--now I am a football widow;
six: Johnny Cash may walk the line, but I've walked the wire. As in tightrope. (Okay, it was a practice height, but still.)

and an extra, not required by the rules:
I still regret not learning capoeira.

The Rules of the (er, this) Game

1. Link to the person who tagged you. check
2. Post the rules on your blog. check
3. Write six random things about yourself. check
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. coming up
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog. good heavens, I hope they still let me read their blogs!
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Now, for the chain letter aspect. I find all of the blogs below to be entertaining, informational, attractive and/or thoughtful in their presentation, and a nice cross-representation of the kinds of topics that catch my interest. My inclusion of them in the chain-letter aspect of this "tag" game in no way represents their support of me...or even awareness of my existence.

Nathan Branch general category: perfume
Mrs. Blandings general category: home decor
Bad Science general category: science debunking
Musical Perceptions general category: music
Adventures in the Print Trade general category: art prints
Ledge and Gardens general category: gardening

I have not tagged my two loyal followers, Jenavira and The Daily Connoisseur, because Jen has already been tagged, and Daily is off for holiday in London. But do stop by; they both enjoy and write engagingly about perfume (and other things in life).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Caron L'Anarchiste, and other smoke

Would you like some tobacco with that?

The other day, I was driving down a city street, and saw cigarette smoke foofed out the window of the car ahead of mine. I wondered if part of the cloud would make its way to me, as it often does...and indeed it did. Good, I thought; I had a plan.

I had recently read someone musing how certain perfumes would have smelled in the era of rampant cigarette smoking, and in fact speculating that perhaps some vintage scents were designed for just such an experience. In other words, they were constructed with the assumption you would almost always experience someone's perfume through a cloud of smoke. And there was I, ambling through city traffic, with a fairly fresh shot of Chergui on the back of my hand. I was ready. What if.....

Zonk! There it was. A layer of cigarette smoke over the dense comfort of Chergui. And you know what? It had a certain appeal. I am not a smoker; not only am I frequently nauseated by the smell, I play a wind instrument, so there's no good end in taking up what would probably be a bad addiction on my part. But. There I was, inhaling the Chergui through the cigarette smoke, and nodding my head. I could see the appeal.

My ruminations went in the direction of incense + Chergui....

Not that day, but today, I tried Caron L'Anarchiste for the first time. Tobacco. Not the plant-y tobacco of Fleur de Narcisse, but cigarette smoke. Something bright inside, but a dense cloud of tobacco at the opening. As it settles in, the tobacco pulls back, and the something bright is denser than you originally thought, a bit sweeter, a hint of spice, as if the time spent with the tobacco allowed some sort of apple juice to be mulled into a flavored, thicker beverage. With tobacco still swirling around the edges, natch. Eventually, the tobacco gets sucked back into the mulled brew, popping its head to the surface every now and then. [time passes] Oh, this is not a good evolution. Tobacco = gone. Sharp bright apple, also spice = gone way inside. What is this outer juice that's left? Smells like... after-shave.

Nonetheless, I may have to adjust my expectations of what scents to pull out for fall. Next post, I'll continue rummaging in the men's cabinet, and pull out Caron Third Man.

Monday, October 13, 2008

London / Paris

Are you familiar with the game "London/Paris"? It's a driving game. You drive on the side of the road appropriate to the city called. I was introduced to this "game" by the father of a babysitting charge as he drove me home one night. I believe he thought he was connecting with the younger generation. I was pretty sure that I was about to be disconnected from all generations I knew.

"London / Paris" came to mind this morning, because I started this morning's sampling with Creed Silver Mountain Water on my right wrist, then picked up the Chanel No 22 decant a friend sent me and spritzed my left. Aiy yi yi. It's kind of like having a floral syrup on my right, and powdery floral air freshener on my left. I don't think I'm helping either by running the sniffer by in quick succession, but I can't help it...kind of like not averting your gaze at a car accident.

I can't stop to do any serious picking out of notes or pay attention to dry down; I keep going back and forth, thinking things like "Grandma / modern teen" and "purposely dressed up / purposely dressed down." Paris! London! Paris!! London!! Gadzooks, I'm compelled to participate in this tennis match.

Clearly, I'm not constitutionally built to be an ambassador. I keep "hearing" the two different sides, but my head can't build a bridge. No wonder there's been so much trouble across the Chanel, er, Channel. We have two seriously different approaches to scent here.

Usually I don't finish these ruminations until the party's either over, or seems to have subsided into its final character. I may be at the sink before my last sentence. Hey, even something like Kingdon didn't drive me to scrub; I just held my arm at a safe distance, and revisited whenever ready. This particular experience has me bouncing back and forth like I'm some sort of voodoo doll being controlled by a maniacal outside force. Like somebody is driving me down the road, weaving back and forth across the yellow line. I'm outta here.

Somebody remind me I don't like this game next time, okay?

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm very confused...

...and I know it's the weather.

I have a wedding to attend, and had planned out my scent choices months ago. After all, October in the midwest...pretty clear we can jump into autumn fragrances, right? And, good fortune, my friend the bride also has a fondness for grass & hay. (In her case, her preference is for the real life version, since she spent part of her childhood on a farm. She's not into perfume.) So, I was all thinking GREEN (Manuel Canovas Ballade Verte or HAY Fleur de Narcisse, or, if the weather got cold enough, Chergui.

Now, I've got hours to go, it's sunny and over 70 degrees, I'll not be wearing any sleeves after all, I want interest and mystery but not to overwhelm my fellow guests. We'll all be in the same room for the entire evening--ceremony and dinner/reception are in the same space. ZOIKS! I don't want Chanel (Bois des Iles, for example), because that seems a bit too...I don't know. It's not hitting me right. Gourmandy vanilla-y scents are out; I'm not part of the buffet. Challenging skank-o's are not generally on my list, anyway, but I've got nothing to prove.

I want warm grass and dry hay with a hint of earth and a touch of...not musk...what????? It might end up being Bois Blonde.....

Vini, Scenti, Good Timini.... I solved my dilemma as follows: Ballade Verte went on the arms & neck after all. That was the perfume that started my grass/hay/green exploration last spring, and my first thought at the first spritz was that it would be good for my friend's wedding. Plus, she's also a dancer...Ballade...Verte.... Signs pointed to "wear."

But, for a little fun, I put a smidge of L'Ombre Fauve on the back of my hands. Bare arms and hands, but "gloved" with perfume...ah, a perfume geek's in-joke. Anyway, it worked well for me, and the ceremony was of course as fabulous and unique as the friends who got married.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

And they said it wouldn't last...

...I know *I've* said it in the past.

But today, a mild-side-of-cool fall day, Bois des Iles went for more than eight hours. Yes, e-i-g-h-t, "8," two-cubed, behind the eight-ball, pieces of eight "eight."

At nine hours, it's still on my skin...close...but still...

Who knew?

Sampling Rituals

How do you do it?

This summer, I had developed a rather pleasant morning routine. Cup of tea, check the e-mail, pick the samples of the day. Apply samples, check blogs while experiencing the top notes. Fire up the Wii-Fit, perform balance/strength/cardio/yoga as appropriate. Check in on the dry-downs--frequently while in the midst of Wii-Fitting. By that time, others are up, breakfast is underway, and by the time shower time arrives, decisions can be made about first impressions.

The ever interesting and informative Nathan Branch recently explained why he tends to review a quad at a time; in a sort of humorous karmic moment, he makes jest of the very practice I found myself in: combining yoga and sampling. A practice which, I must say, allowed for sampling not just quartets, but sextets of scent. Yes, it's goofy, I know. And can tend to be a "splat it all on the wall and see what sticks" approach. But I had found myself with a LOT of samples, and knew that the easy days of summer were going to come to an end...

But that's not the only way I've done it.

Before that, I had been limiting myself to one fragrance at a time, fully committing myself to whatever the single choice was. And allowing it the whole day, just in case it was one of those rare beasts that introduced a whole new character more than two hours into it, or which magically reappeared after seeming to disappear. A much more intimate and relaxed way of making an acquaintance. And one to which I find I am returning as the hectic fall schedule gets into full swing. It's rather nice to have a laid-back pace to at least one thing in my day.

And then, there is not doing it at all.

For one of two reasons: either I am taking a total scent break, or I am in a period of wearing only that which I know well, and can predict how it will behave on a given day. Recently, there was a week of no scent, followed by one day/one scent. I was inclined to stick with one week/one scent, but ended up a little too curious...this is, after all, my first fall as an all-out fragrance fan. The cooler weather offers so many opportunities for getting to know things a little (or a lot) differently; I guess it's just not possible for me to have a Scent of the Season.

Thus, I am currently inclined toward loyalty, but actually practicing more of a SOTD kind of practice.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Norma Kamali Violette

Imagine a sugar cookie done just right. You need to step back for a minute, and not imagine a thick, oversized, slightly chewy discus of every so slightly undercooked dough that is a pleasing lunk of comfort food.

I mean a not too precious in size, just right to the bite, hint of rosewater, dough blended with butter to just the right consistency, shimmer of crystal sugar on top cookie.

Norma Kamali Violette.

There is nothing fancy or tricky about Violette. It is true to the rising sweet note of violet without making it syrupy; it has enough green to give it a little something beyond the single tone. Not much, but a hint.

Clearly, this is a scent that would do well to be layered. But the nice thing is that it smells quality--a silk shell for going under the scarf/shirt/sweater you choose to put on with it.


As a side note...if your budget doesn't allow for the designer silk, you might consider Yves Rocher Vie Privee. The violet doesn't ring as clear, in fact there is no single note star...and there is a sharp opening that lets you know you've started clever shopping...but it has a similar effect. A few more notes to catch, all lighthearted; doesn't have the lasting power of the Kamali.

Kamali = $80 for 100ml; Rocher = $18 for 50ml when on sale.