Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Scents that were beautiful in 2008

Here is something I recognize:  what smells good to my sniffer is subject to change.  There is recurring change, such as weather, season, time of day, mood, headache factor.  And there is evolutionary change, as in I liked the smell of bubble gum and Jolly Ranchers when I was young, but not any more.  Or, as in, that Amarige that smelled SO good right after I started this journey?  Not so much.

Since I think it might be valuable to track my evolutionary change, I'm going to add today's angle of reflection on this past year:  Things that smelled good in 2008.  I thought it might be interesting to look back, not just right now, but on this record in the future, and see how the current crop fares with my future nose.

After all...despite my general distaste, I had one good dance with Kingdom...and there was at least one skank that hit a GOOD nerve, albeit very late in the year (Theo Fenell).  Here goes...

1st trimester--remember, I am being honest, which means I am not editing for cool factor:

WORKED:  Magie Noir.  Frank Los Angeles (#1).  Bois Blond.  Amarige.  Fleur de Narcisse.  Poeme.  Shalimar.  Hermes Hiris.  Poeme.  SIP Black Rosette.*  Bois des Isles.  Bulgari Au The Vert.  Songes.  Lolita Lempicka.  L'eau d'Issey.  BBW Sandalwood Rose.

DIDN'T WORK, BUT TRIED:  Arpege.  Fracas.  Diorissimo.  Rose Poivree.  Soir de Lune. SIP Black Rosette.*  

*How, you ask, does Black Rosette get both?  Because I thought I was smelling something toxic when it opened.  Because I thought for sure I was about to have my first scrubber, but I couldn't help continuing to sniff.  Because I kept on checking, and then OH, MY it started to morph, and I went for a ride.  Because it ended up as something I'd call beautiful.  Because I had no idea what to do with it--wear it, throw it away, hide it.  Because I tried it again the next day to see what would happen.  Because I wanted it, and had a minor coronary when I got my first gander at real perfume prices.  Because it was amazing.  Because of Black Rosette, and went back and ordered three sample sets of various types.  

2nd trimester-- Nearly all of the above happy scents continued to be happy, and I added in: Jose Eisenberg Jose.  Manuel Canovas Ballade Verte.  En Passant.  28 La Pausa.  Yves Rocher Voile de Amber.  Poivre Piquant.  Cuir Mauresque.  Organza Indecence.  Gucci by Gucci.  Jean Paul Gaultier Fragile.  Nemat Narcissus.  Cinema.  Bandit.  Madame Rochas.  24 Fauborg.  Cashmere Mist.  Reverie au Jardin.  Bel Respiro.  Diorissimo.  Vent Vert.  Niki de St. Phalle.  Van Cleef & Arpels First.  TDC Bois d'Iris.

Not:  Rose Ikebana (I smelled...nothing).  Fracas.  Mandragore.  Lolita Lempicka.  Parfum Sacre.  Soir de Lune.  L'Eau de Issey.

3rd trimester-- Writing Lyrical Poetry.  Bond No. 9 Little Italy.  Bulgari Black.  Ormonde Jayne Woman.  Parfum de Therese, Une Rose.  Angelique Noir.  Jean Paul Gaultier Classique.  Jolie Madame.  Mandragore.  L'Ombre Fauve.  Chergui.  Aqua di Parma Iris Nobile (edt and edp).  Prada Iris.  Parfum Sacre.  Narcisse Noir.  TDC des Sens et Bois, Osmanthus.  Black Cashmere.  L'eau de Issey.  Odalisque.  L'Heure Bleu.

Not: Fracas.  Cashmere Mist.  La Chasse Aux Papillons.  Soir de Lune.  

Coming out/recent-- Theo Fennell.  Amouage Jubilation 25, Lyric Woman.  Carons for men (3rd Man, Pour Homme, L'Anarchiste.)  Diorella.  Gucci Envy.  Arpege.  Feminite du Bois.  Rose Ikebana.  Soir de Lune.  Nu.  Coty Chypre.  JLS #2 (Chypre).  CB Cradle of Light.  Liz Zorn Journeyman.

Not: Fracas.**  L'Eau de Issey.
**I think I need to try it the beginning, I spritzed, but in subsequent trimesters, I've been relying on a solid version...but much as I might like a good big white floral, this is just...not.quite.right.  All in all, I think I'd still rather wear Amarige, if I were to go in this direction.  Unless Cradle of Light showed up on my doorstep.  Or Drama Nuui.  But still, those have green, and we're talking tuberose slam-down here.  Any hoo how...

I'm forgetting something, I know; perhaps many things.  While I do keep a spreadsheet, it is incomplete right now (of course), and I'd rather finish writing than rifle through all my samples/decants.  This list is not exhaustive, and does not limit itself to transportive scents.  I did really enjoy all the ones up there, at least during the period mentioned as such.  I have no idea what to do with that Issey Miyake bumping around...especially since ultimately I could live without it.  But it certainly demonstrates the point about a changing sniffer.  

And I still like that Sandalwood Rose.  

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Year in Review : Retrospective

Today's post is one of a collection over a theme proposed by Helg at Perfume Shrine...use the links at the end of this article to see other visions of this year from the collective.

It will have to begin, and possibly end, with Norrell.

After all, it was finding a bottle of Norrell on the shelves at Loehmann's while shopping last winter that sent me into a research frenzy, trying to find out what I could about it, starting with a NYT article I was sure I had read a few years previous, about how the once lofty designer scent was then only available at...K-Mart.  And it has been due to my explorations this year that I probably appreciate Norrell and its ilk, even if I still don't choose to wear every vintage whammer I discover.

But let's travel through the fragrances of 2008, as seen through my lens:  Perfumes which have helped define this first year of my olfactory journey.  These are the Top 10 Landmarks in my perfume year, not because I love them (though some I do), or because they are important in 2008.  They are here because they somehow represent milestones in my learning & development.

1. Norrell
A no holds barred scent that started out as a pure visual:  Seeing that typeface on the box on the store shelf brought back my grandmother's bathroom, her perfume bottle sometimes left out on the sink, her hair when it was "done"...I wanted to smell it, and see if I would recognize it.  I bought it.  And thus the floodgates (and nose hairs) were opened.  Little did I know I was starting with big guns, something beyond "beginner."  But don't get any big ideas about my little sniffer.  My second bottle in this year's journey, which seemed to smell nice but in a different way, was Issey Miyake.  (Different?  No kidding.)  So there.  Such vagaries, I would come to learn, would punctuate my journey.

2. Decants
The best decision I made was made early in my journey, after I invested in the full bottle of Issey.  I took a flyer on The Perfumed Court, having discovered their website during my research on "vintage perfumes."  Went ahead and invested in a few sample packs, to introduce myself to fragrance families etcetera.  Then I was introduced to Fishbone (long live Fishbone!), and amassed quite the mini-bar of fragrances.  Much more learning done on many fewer dollars.

3. Magie Noir
An example of eBay working.  I purchased a used bottle as part of my "research," spouse really, really, REALLY liked it.  In fact, he left THAT DAY to go out and purchase a full bottle, and presented it to me that evening, therefore earning Magie Noir a spot in the First Year Hall of Fame as "first full bottle purchase, completely intentional and fully satisfactory."

4. Fleur de Narcisse
     Bois Blond
     Reverie au Jardin
Oh, my, but what a rapid fall, what a tangled web.  Thanks to my samples, I thought I'd like Fleur de Narcisse.  I bought a decant, and loved it even more when I sprayed it.  I discovered it was a limited edition, panicked, and asked for a bottle for my anniversary.  Lo and behold, it was given to me!  Ah, joy and beauty in things narcissus & this day, this scent remains in Extremely High Esteem.

Two full bottles, success in selecting scent, and I was in trouble.  I followed up another sample happiness with a full bottle purchase, and again, discovered I was oh so happy with the result.  On its heels I purchased a partial bottle of Reverie au Jardin, and ended up with what remains my grown in the earth hat trick, my trio of interest and ease, and probably my best purchases to date.  (With the exception of #x.)  Because I love them.  Because I feel they express me, at least a good part of me, really well, and I don't feel the context in which I can wear any one is particularly limited.  Because they make me so happy, I just can't feel purchase guilt.

These three became intwined as a triad long ago, and as such, are entered as one.  All purchases fully intentional, and completely satisfactory--to me, at least.  ;)

5. Coco
I was so curious...the bottle was was Chanel...the price was too good to be true.  Truly, too good to be true; even I could tell, when I opened my package, that the juice was, well, not right.  It should have been stronger in smell, darker in color.  It smelled good, mind you...just not...right.  I examined the crimp, and it looked messed with.  I considered my $20-some investment worthy as both a gambling enterprise, and a lesson learned...though I really don't like gambling, so I'm not likely to take that path often.

6.  Kingdom
I have rattled this cage, and I'm going to rattle it again.  This stuff stinks.  Like panties.  Not cumin.  Panties.  Out of the eight times I've tried it, 1 1/2 wearings have yielded a really attractive rose scent.  Inside, alongside, alternating with...skank.  I can't do it.  I really can't.  I liked Bandit out of the box, enjoyed dancing with Norell, and think Black Cashmere is a comfort scent.  But down the outright skank path is a place I just don't think I will go.  My recent infatuation with Theo Fennell nothwithstanding.  And Magie Noir regardless.  (See what I mean about vagaries?)

7. L'Ombre Fauve
The girl likes leather.  Who knew?  I found myself driving down the road with my nose up against the wheel, because I was afraid if I took my hands off the wheel and brought them to my nose, the magic spell would be revealed and some sort of rotten trick of olfactory context would be revealed.  I ended up wearing leather to a wedding, fragrance-wise.  I wore this when the gloves came on this fall, because I loved taking them off and finding L'Ombre Fauve underneath.  Between this and Bandit, I decided I'd better explore this leather thing, and have found that I find Chanel Cuir de Russie beautiful, but too sharp for me; Cuir de Lancome a rather smooth leather suitable for everyday use; Knize Ten a fun dabble in straight up leather; Bulgari Black a vanilla heavy happy fest; Jolie Madame a light leather with violet.  I should note that Helg puts Fleur de Narcisse in there with the modern leathers...what can I say?

8. Bois des Isles
Truth be told, this is another fragrance I loved early on, but I couldn't begin to describe why in Spring of '08, when I first put nose to arm.  It was different from my hat trick style fragrance; clearly, human hand was evident in its composition.  It didn't bubble up like No.5, but it made the hat trick seem nearly syrupy.  It was old, it was not old; one of the few vintage fragrances that to me were truly timeless, and not simply classic.  I had to revisit it at least once a month until sometime mid-summer, when I set my sights on a larger amount.  The question was, decant, or full bottle?  Procrastination paid off, as the equation per ml on the full bottle, laid over an opportunity to purchase at the Chicocoa Scentsation, meant that one of those lovely hefty bottles with the ever-satisfying cap that "thwunks" into place ended up in a bag in my hand.  Call it planned impulse buying.  And, like the scents in my hat trick, I don't regret it for a minute.

9. Eau Imperiale
Actually belongs earlier in the sequence, time wise.  But I put it here, not because it was a successful online discounter full bottle purchase (though it was), or because I find it eminently wearable (I do), but because here's one where the story myth translated into truth for me.  Do any reading up on Guerlain Imperiale, and you'll find that it was purportedly offered as a migraine cure.  I am a migraineur.  Before this year, I was pretty secure in my knowledge that perfume was, as a rule, to be avoided, because it was so potentially a headache trigger.  But I, like any susceptible victim, was willing to take a chance on the story, and purchased some without smelling.  The bottle remains in the downstairs bath, with the medicines and the essential oils, a happy mist of relief.  And of good smelling.

Honorable mention then should go to 4711, which of course you wonderful bloggers kept talking about, and serves much the same way.  Shame on you to Chanel, whose Exclusif Cologne is wonderful, but so close to Eau Imperiale that even I, who justified a different 200ml of Exclusif scent, and who is willing to buy scent as remedy, can't justify purchasing that one.

Which shows another way Eau Imperiale offered lessons in perfume:  Not everything is worth buying, even if it is "nice," or "good," or "Chanel."  I'll probably move earth in order to ensure a lifetime of access to Bois des Isles, but I won't even turn my head for the Eau de Cologne.  (Okay, I'd spritz some from a tester display.  But it's hard to justify, even as a gift from a comfortable wallet, when the same dollar investment could get you quality AND perfume strength.)

By the way, a serious shout out to the house of Guerlain here, since I'm approaching the end of my milestone list, and realize that not one Guerlain perfume has been mentioned.  Please see back posts to get a sense of my respect for Mitsouko, even if I do not yet love it; the trippy time travel Jicky evoked; the alpha wave flat line of happiness/nostalgia/sniffing pleasure when I smell L'Heure Bleu.  I think Guerlain and I have not yet entered our prime.

ACK! I've run out of room...there are so many classics I've learned to love...the joy of the swap...the fraternity of fragrance...what one perfume should I mention to wrap up this year's journey in Top Ten style?  Jean Nate, EveryWoman for the American gal?  Amouage, where beauty and quality draw me in despite the sky high price?  CB IHP, whose Cradle of Light led one observer to comment on my, um,  "When Harry Met Sally" moment with a perfume?

10.  Habanita
It's not precious, it's not profound, and it's heavy on powder.  I do enjoy the tobacco in it, as I do in many perfumes.  But it's not the smell of Habanita that puts it on my's the experience.  The first time I tested this was in the midst of a summertime sniffing bacchanal.  As I recall, I actually had Habanita behind one knee, as part of a six scent test drive.  Six, you ask?  Sure: two wrists, two elbow folds, two knees; one scent each.  There I was, up early, taking notes on the top notes, running through a round of WiiFit and yoga, getting a whiff of Habanita while twisting my torso and hanging upside down--yup, this was the life of an emerging perfume nut.  So, #10 goes to Habanita, which for me is the scent that defines descent--not just of nose to knee, but of self down three rings of the perfume rabbit hole in one swell droop.  Er...fell swoop.

So, what have I learned in 2008?

That I'm not likely to find a single Holy Grail of scent, but I will find more than one home run.  That I'd probably better not heavily invest in one particular scent, because my preferences have already gone through a couple of iterations.  That I love hay, grass, leather, tobacco, the occasional white flower, most ambers, and the occasional oriental, and that vetiver can be my friend.

That for all my skepticism about online "communities," I've met a friendly, supportive, sharing, and good-humored bunch of people through this perfume exploration, and I am grateful to all--whether I know them as flesh-and-blood, or they remain virtual.

That not only may your mileage vary, but the very fuel that runs you might be very different when it comes to how perfumes wear and what you prefer.  Just as it is a good idea to benchmark your thoughts against film reviewers opinions when deciding if you're going to like a particular unseen film, one would be wise to get to know any blogger or reviewer's tendencies before making a call.  And to explore beyond your tendencies when you are inclined--you may find the fence has moved.

That this has been a fun ride, and I'm going to keep this set of wheels.  We'll see how I trick it out in 2009....

Please be sure to visit the other bloggers participating in the Retrospective:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Well Tempered & Bespoke: Chocolate

A bit of a divergence today, but I'll bring it around.  The topic?  Chocolate.

Today's New York Times includes an article in the Business section wherein the intrepid reporter heads to Cadbury's Green & Black division to play in the kitchen.  Harry Hurt III (my favorite byline since the iambic lilt of Polk Laffoon IV) gets to mix up his own chocolate recipe, basically caramelized peanuts in milk chocolate.

The article gets jiggy with prose and refers to a "well-tempered chocolatier" (hey, piano/music entendre!), bespoke chocolate (in the teaser on the front page, hey, fashion and fragrance entendre!), and a "metal palate knife" (hey, an epicurial spelling spoonerism!).  My goodness, has HHIII read my diary?  He seems to know my very soul....

On the surface the Times article seems to be a rather thin vanity piece.  You don't learn much about chocolatiering you can't pick up from a decent cookbook, and Harry doesn't dabble very far into the conjuring part of cooking.  But it reminded me of conversations about bespoke perfume that burbled across the perfume blogs this year, and the thread of chocoholism, erm, chocomania, erm, discerning chocolate mavenry that seems to connect many perfume fans.  I am not innocent of either.

So I find myself on a Saturday morning, cup of tea in hand, letting my thoughts meander over chocolate, creating chocolate, perfume, creating perfume, personal creations offered to the masses, the (select) masses being offered a personal creation, and whatnot.  Perhaps the fact that the fog outside is so thick it seems like you could gather handfuls and spin it into yarn is affecting my brain's clock speed.  Then again, I've never had trouble creating a thick cloud all on my own when thinking...

Be sure to tune in on Monday, when hopefully the fog clears, and I join other bloggers in considering the perfume year in a 2008 retrospective.  I'll try to tell tales without spinning yarns.  :)

For conversations this year about bespoke perfume, see:
The Savvy Thinker discussing Neil Morris, Jan 16
Perfume Shrine, November 21

Finding bespoke perfume in Paris:
Gridskipper, March 19

and, from 2007, Now Smell This on Memoire Liquide (Sept 8)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Warmth, good company, and happy journeys to all this holiday season.  

image courtesy WeatherUnderground, posted by Gemini

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Scents of the Season

Not that I'm running around trying to make sure magic happens...but...

It's my first winter holiday season as an out and proud perfumista.  My historical tradition is Christmas, but that was always a cultural celebration, as the holiday did not involve any trips to religious rituals.

Hence, the fragrances suitable for the season are going to incorporate baking, merriment, snow, evergreens, thick syrupy, refreshing whatnot, with but a hint of the incense.  I'm keeping a running list in a box on the left; I'll offer my rationale/associations in the post.   If you have time, I'm curious to hear what is on your mind--or wrist.  

Incidentally, this is one post that will develop.  Content will grow over the next 48 hours.  I'm not sure what editorial policy is on such a thing, but notification seems appropriate.  :)

Organza Indecence --  ummm, vanilla with a hint of a kick; it has a syrupy middle that seems, well, appropriate.
Ambre Narguile -- spicy baked goods; this time, vanilla gets a strong dose of amber
Nuit de Noel -- Okay, the name, duh; colored by a lovely darkish spiciness as it dries down.  This one is rather complex, and being snowed in gives me time to really appreciate it.
Mandragore -- Hah! You say summer; I say citrus is as refreshing in winter...think pomander, Earl Grey tea, and the oranges that were the only thing Uncle Rufus got in his stocking.  PLUS it's spicy, it's are the ornaments on my tree!  Let's go!!  Things to do!  Roust from your somnambulent fire gazing, and finish your preparations!!  BTW, you smell good
Journeyman -- Liz Zorn has created my most recent favorite leather, so a) why not wear things you love when you are happy & celebrating, and b) if I need to draw a more direct metaphor, I can assure you that with 8"+ of snow out there, the leather glove is an apt motif.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Music & Scent: Clive Christian

"X is not going to undress during the day."  Back to that in a minute.

Robin over at NST alerted readers to the Clive Christian piano composition competition, wherein music composition students from the Royal College of Music are being invited to compose a piece based on one of three perfumes from the CC line.  You can poke through their website and see a video wherein the impetus behind the competition is discussed, and the competition is introduced to students at RCM.  It's a fun concept, overall; smell this, now, tell us what it is as music. 

If you've been reading for a while, you know that I am interested in parallels between music and perfume, both in terms of how the body receives/interprets, and in terms of language appropriate to describe each.  If "X" -- a CC offering -- is "not going to undress during the day," it is not going to have a drydown development.  Which is an interesting choice as a muse for a music composition competition...even pop music develops ABACAB.  (Phil Collins knew this, and Genesis sang about it during his tenure.)

Appropriateness of scent choice aside -- after all, perhaps X = Philip Glass (oh, no fair; try this link) -- I like the idea, and hope that all parties involved end up finding it a "successful" endeavor.

Though I'm not sure it was necessary to point out that CC is "the most expensive perfume" -- really, how does that form of data inform what your smeller communicates to your composer?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow Melt

Typical formula for calculating "if that snow melted, how many inches of water would there be?":
10-12" snow = 1" water

Density of Friday's snow, in formula, according to local meteorologist:
3" snow = 1" water

Some people refer to this as "heart attack snow."  I like to think of it as extrait.  Come on over; we'll toss some whomping balls of extrait.   Or build an extrait fort.   

Friday, December 19, 2008

Peut-Etre, Theo Fennell

A study in contrasts:

Peut-Etre, steady eddie, goes on as a glove scent that I am happy with from first moment--which is a good thing, since what you whiff is what you get.

Theo Fennell, magic morper, starts off with a skanky waft that changes into a golden floral (and I mean that in a positive sense), then spends time weaving back and forth, touching on other notes along the way.

Peut-Etre could be a kinder, gentler L'Ombre Fauve.  (Not that I, for one, need L'OF to be any kinder or gentler.)  It is different in that it is haunted by not freshly opened, or freshly cut, but mature...could have been in the vase for a day, or have spent a day in the sun out in the garden.  This is totally in my wheelhouse, for an all-purpose scent that has interest.  (As opposed to those all-purpose scents that I know are safe at any speed, the ones I can wear around students or to dinner or in close quarters with fellow musicians.)  The interest is in the way I think any good scent has that element that introduces the "better" portion of a "your skin but better--here, the betterment coming from leather and flowers.*  

Theo Fennell seems to be a perfect "going out" scent.  Hits with the danger of skank as it starts on my skin, morphs into this lusciously deep warm without syrup floral, and then meanders back and forth between the two.  Who knew?  I am not a fan of skank, and I never would say I like a "floral" perfume, because I don't want to run the risk of an error.  (Because when a floral perfume is not good to me, it is SO not good.  Blechh.  Headache.  Cloying.  Artificial.  Any, all, or more.)  But this one, I like.  Wait a minute...something new going on...I tell you, almost every time the flowers come back, they are different.  And again, next round introduced a hint of something...foodie?  Oh my, but I am having fun.  And it's not just gimmicky; this is very nice material.

Maybe Theo needs multiple categories.  Sophisticated, quality interest for going out.  Sophisticated, quality entertainment for staying in.  Oh, dear...I'm talking like one of those people with disposable income...but of course, when it comes to music, books, certain foods, office/art supplies, and now perfume, I do behave that way.

Thanks, Marina, for the chance to experience these.  Not only do you write a fantastic blog, you are generous with your draws.  So far, that's three (these two, plus the CB Cradle of Light from Tom) that are further weighing down my "get this" list.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mitsouko Musings

It was time for another whirl around the dance floor with Mitsouko.  I'd been practicing, I've learned a few more steps, there was probably a chance for me to better understand, if not appreciate, it.

As happens for many wearers, Mitsouko prompted musings far beyond my sniffing experience.  I drew steps closer to the fragrance, still experiencing it as "old," but liking it more.  I even found the peach, which had eluded me until now.  (If you happen to have trouble smelling it, too, try holding your sniffer a few inches away from your skin rather than burying it against your skin.  That's where I found the fruit...dangling, if you will.)

I'll come back for more dances with Mitsouko.  Meanwhile, what I'll take out of our recent time together is not so much the sniffery, but the reflections that resulted.  As I spent time with Mitsouko, I realized that I didn't necessarily love it--yet--but I wanted it to survive.  Just as it was.  Not modernized.  Because I might not love it, but I value it.

Around this point in my ruminations, my thoughts hopped onto a different subject:  my former house, and my current house.  My old house was old; today, it is more than 110 years old.  I loved the full timber beam that ran down the middle of the basement, the balloon framing, the original wavy glass windows.  It was challenging to live in:  2 closets for the whole house, a layout meant for entertaining in another era, and a "modern kitchen & bath" that were over 50 years old (and remuddled at that).  We waited to collect money to rebuild the front porch right; solid cedar columns, tongue & groove panelled ceiling, a hint of our personality in the rail baluster pattern.  We did projects we could handle on our own -- ripping up carpeting to expose hardwood, stripping paint from moldings and linoleum tiles from a fireplace mantle, etc. --according to what revealed the house's innate beauty.  We were still waiting for the right money to fix the kitchen appropriately, faithful to what that house called for, when we moved.

That house had personality, and earned my respect and devotion from the day I first slept in it.  I still mourn leaving it.  But...and this is the critical insight my latest dance with Mitsouko taught me...that house was not the best reflection of me.  The architecture I currently inhabit, for all I bemoaned it, reflects the actual me more than I cared to admit.  Friends of mine saw this long before I did.  I dismissed the new house; I was disappointed by what it didn't have that the old house did.  I had spent so much time making sure the old house was honored that I fit myself into it.  And, it did reflect a layer of me.  A few layers of me, in fact.

But this house I live in now, it is more honestly who I am.  Can geometry reflect personality?  I think so, even if I cannot explain how.  An open floor plan, multiple levels visible from one spot, plenty of closets to store stuff, clean lines with the fussiness placed here and there but not something that need be edited at the very bones...this "landscape" is more me.  I will defend, love, and admire the old house always.  And it is a part of me.  But it may not be most of me.

I will also do all that I can to preserve and protect a classic like Mitsouko.  Folks should. But, truth be told, a more "modern" scent composition may be a better, fuller expression of who I am.  

Time will tell.

(And I'll try to remember that the fruit might be just beyond where I am expecting to find it.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Here's a crazy thing...

Terrible ice this morning.  Yesterday was a weirdly balmy 40+ degrees, melting our snow cover.  Temperatures plunged overnight, turning the remnants of melt and ongoing rain into a miles wide ice rink.  Beautiful.  Treacherous.

I, with an early morning commitment.  Wanting a bit o' scent to fortify, to make me more present than perhaps my slow-waking scelf might actually be.  Thinking over the usual suspects...mulled over a Chergui, an Organza Indecence, a repeat of yesterday's happy round with Black Cashmere.

Just before hopping in the shower, I find something else, because it is stored with the specials -- like Chergui -- and on a whim, I spray it.  Knowing it is out of season.  That I had something different, with a "low center of gravity," in mind.  

Ka-blam!  I loved it.  More than ever before.  I dally a bit before hopping in the shower...yup, am loving it still...ponder it even while scrubbing.  And realize, you know what?  It's early, I'm not ready for the potential downside of the heavy, and I'm still loving what happened with that.  So, on it goes.

Rose Ikebana.  It's just right for a casual suit worn with a turtleneck in the dead of single degree digit weather.  Who knew?  

My close waft made me happy all day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sensory Overload?

Or deep cover?

Have spent a week wearing perfume, and reading all my favorite blogs, but have been plum out of writing.  Even though I have a couple of mostly composed posts in the hopper, awaiting attention, I could not turn to them for relatively painless content.

Life is full this time of year, of course, but I think my brain is taking a virtual "full breath." Things perfume have gone into deep percolation, and I can't really access the processing (or simple settling) that is going on.  I do know that I chose to wear a scent every day to work this week, which is not necessarily typical for me.  What?  gasp!?!  It's true...between being a person who needs to ramp into my sensory day, and working with highly sensitive peoples, I have to be careful about how I go about wearing scent to work.  And sometimes, it's not worth the effort.  Which doesn't bother me...I'm not one of those folks who feels like I'm "going commando" without an extra scent layer.

What did I pick to wear?  Let's was an innovation:  Mandragore for a day I was worried stress might lead to a headache (again, a reason to avoid scent), but really did feel I wanted a layer of scent for finish.  (There we go, one of my inner conflicts; apparently, I don't feel wrong for not wearing scent, except on days when it DOES happen to strike me as a useful layer of armor.)  And you know what?  It was perfect, and who knew, given the cold weather.  It functioned as Eau Imperiale can for me (headache tonic), while imparting a certain subtle sense of being pulled together and functional in a "if you care to notice" way--perfect for the potentially difficult meeting I anticipated.  And I didn't worry that anyone would be put off by it.

What else did I wear?  I looked at Bois des Iles almost every day, since that is a faithful slam for me.  But no; I also wore Liz Zorn Violets and Rainwater, and who knew?  Either by the power of subliminal wishes, or a trick from Liz, I was surprised to find a leather note emanating from my skin by the end of the work day.  Hunh!! Now, I don't mind me a leather (Cuir de Lancome, I will have you some day), but I've got to tell you, title and test drive on this one did NOT lead me to expect this outcome.  But it was just right; don't confuse the fact that the flower smells sweet with the notion that it is not powerful and firmly rooted in the ground.

I took the easy route one day.  Showered with BBW Sandalwood Rose body wash, followed with a spritz of the same; that stuff has excellent lasting power on me, and really works well as a skin scent plus touch of something else.  Sometimes, I mentally review if an old faithful is the right choice for a given day, and the 8-Ball says "please try again."  But that morning was "signs point to yes," and the signs were right.
this just in...BBW offers to revive discontinued product for the sake of one needful customer...
...wouldn't that be nice???  

So, it wasn't a week to experiment, to try out new things...though discoveries were inadvertently made.  (The potential for leather.  In Violets and Rainwater.  Who knew?  Must follow up in other contexts.)  And it wasn't a week to articulate.  But I don't feel like I was in retreat...I was just...a little bit somewhere else.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fawning over fauns

Drat.  My so-called real life has interfered with my pretensions at paganism.  Yesterday was Faunus.  (Thanks to Tea, Sympathy and Perfume for reminding me.)

Perhaps the blanket of snow covering the ground this week also distracted me from dirty woods celebrations?  Hmmm.  It's pretty outside, but winter has so arrived.

In honor of faunus, woods, crops, dancing, merrymaking...with a plonk of snow over top...I conjure some layers:
  • Black March + Iris Bleu Gris  (that gives you the earth, hint of woods, skank of faun and dancing, with iris serving as the cold note of snow)
Pause.  Uh-oh.  My plan was to list three combinations.  Then ask you for more.  I'm stuck, because most of the earth in perfume I've encountered has a sense of the opening of spring, rather than the end/closing of things as you approach the winter solstice.  

So, I'll put this one up, and add in ideas as they come...or as they are offered.  (Please, offer.  I'm not just stuck--I'm curious.)

On a side note, some rather scary character apparently accompanied Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas across Switzerland yesterday.  Looks like Faunus clear reverberates in this tradition. In a nice twist for perfume fans, Andy Tauer has incorporated a discussion of this Schutzli character into the advent calendar he is keeping on his blog.  There's other fun going on there as well...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Crucible of White (CB Cradle of Light)

I'm puzzled.  I'm excited.  I may be about to make a fool of myself.

I have a sample of CB I Hate Perfume Cradle of Light.  You know, CB's gift to white florals and expensive ingredients.  I applied today for the first time.  Mother of all that is green perfume fabulous, thank you.  Thank you for not being afraid to toss in some tobacco.  Thank you for remembering all the material that makes a plant.  Thank you for keeping it interesting, and developing, as a perfume should.  Thank you for the hint of floral that never whams.

SCREECH.  Yup.  That's right.  With full open acknowledgement that this is just the first run, I have to say this:  I really don't get the white floral part.  (I'm still standing, because I'm just too stupid or naive to duck and cover.)  And I'm nervous, because that's what the fracas {ha, ha, ha} is supposed to be all about.

What I'm getting is the happiest non-galbanum green experience I've had thus far in my short but intense perfume career.  With that waft of tobacco I mentioned, which isn't even mentioned in the official notes.  I figure the possibilities are these:

1) All sniffers are different; YMMV.
2) I was on the verge of a migraine for 2 days, and finally ditched it earlier today.  My sniffer is still affected.
3) I'm stark raving mad.* 
4) The juice in the vial is really something else.

*BTW, if you happen to have any good expressions for mad/off your rocker/cuckoo/nuts/one brick shy of a load/etcetera, please share them with me.  I know someone who is conducting a linguistic study, and I can pass along the data.  Thanks.

I really must return to this.  Whatever happened here, I liked it.

UPDATE:  Oh, precious beast that haunts drydowns...can it be?...more than THREE HOURS after application, and white florals emerge?  Sweet mother of drawn out pleasure, by this point you have made me forget my ambivalent relationship with white florals.  I love that you have managed this (perhaps by taking so long?), that the green still informs it all, that you made me wait, that I almost forgot, then THERE YOU WERE.  You make me think I should always delay at least three hours before publishing a test drive review. 

Whatever ends up becoming of us, I am glad you came into my life.  I couldn't have appreciated you as much when I was (a) younger (perfumista), and may not appreciate you as much when I am (an) more experienced (perfumista).  

Experiencing CofL might end up being a terrible case of "the first one is free."  Ready?  Are you sitting down?  You can find a 1/4 ml (that's right; 0.25 ml.) decant for $10 from the Perfumed Court.  You'll have to go to a CB boutique to find retail bottles, which near as I can tell are $50/2ml.  And the sad thing is, I'm up in the middle of the night, writing and sneaking one more hit.  Thanks, Tom, for my sample.   It'll go in the safe deposit box.