Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feminite de Bois

I am having a long term affair with Feminite du Bois.

Sure, when I first encountered it, FdB was both attractive and eyebrow raising...a combination of captivating and offputting elements.  But I dared to try it again, and it became beautiful and complex, and I knew right away I'd have to have more.  A swap, and a larger amount came into my possession.  I applied with a bit less caution, and found more to explore that way.  More of the wood came out, along with a sort of fruity element...and the realization that this one morphed as appropriate with weather and mood.

So, I have a partner I'm always happy to join on the dance floor.  Many perfumes are kind of one occasion/situation affairs--good for a perk me up, or a special date, or an important business meeting.  Feminite du Bois is more of a me scent, one that gently lifts my spirits and accomodates my moods.  Which makes it a bit more than a "skin scent," a bit less than an "occasion scent," and a wonderful expression of me.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Didn't Make it Up

In this morning's Chicago Tribune.  Obviously, they're only in it for the resale; a maven would have gone for the Azuree or Private Collection.


Two thieves stole more than $2,500 in high-end perfumes from a Deerfield cosmetics store, then sped off in a silver Porsche SUV, police said. 

The two entered Ulta Cosmetics, 130 S. Waukegan Rd., on Jan. 14, but aroused suspicion and were confronted by a store manager. One woman in her 20s opened her empty bag and then abruptly left, while the other bought a comb and soon followed.

Employees found dozens of bar code labels and scissors used to remove them under a shelf, then went outside and saw the women drive off together.

The stolen items included bottles of Coco Mademoiselle, j'adore, Euphoria and Miss Dior Cherie, according to police.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Coming Back to My Senses...

The title might suggest I'd had a cold or some such and am once again able to sniff. But, it simply means I've been on a sugared fruit bender, and proceeding willy nilly from this sodden concoction to that in a rather joyous but somewhat reckless traipsing through my collection.

(I have been brutally enabled by know who you are...sending me flocks of fragrance...where to begin? How can I say no? Aren't I supposed to just have fun with this?? Gulp gulp gulp.)

No worries. I have been settled by Silences.

BitterGrace has a delightful habit of posting one-sentence reviews over at her blog, BitterGrace Notes.  (And only in this moment has the musician in me heard the joke in the title.  The gardener in me kept on thinking of bittersweet, and blocked my brain.)  Anyway, in her one line review of Jacomo Silences, she both delighted me and reminded me that I had found something intriguing in Silences when I tried it early in my scent development.  And that I thought at the time it was something I should come back to when I was more "mature," sniff-wise.

Time passes.  Remember yesterday's post, where I was waiting for my impetuous application of Fragile to fade?  It did.  I applied Silences.  Ahhhhhhh.

You know how after you haven't been eating so well...too much junk, not enough fruit and vegetables, too much processed food, not enough true after you haven't been eating well, and you sit down and consume a well-prepared meal with plenty of all that is good and fresh and recognizable as it grew on the planet, even as you chew, your body relaxes and says "thank you!" and your mood improves and your head clears and you immediately feel better physically?  

That's what it was like to sniff Silences, from the sharp (but already layered) opening through the dark green first layer and on into the galbanum earth to the very smooth remnants of extreme dry down.  Good eating all the way.

If you follow the link above, you'll see my comment to BitterGrace; I realized that Silences is the perfect link between cool weather and flat out winter.  I am absolutely going to pull it out as winter fades; its complexity will be just right for holding interest in the cold, yet the green and dirt will give hints of the growing that is beginning under the soil (and perhaps still under the snow).  

It's good to be eating well again.  If I am honest, though, I am going to have to acknowledge that winter still has a firm grip on things, and likely will for a while; if I want to keep on encouraging my "mature" sniffer in the near future, I'll have to keep those better quality, more complex cold weather scents in my fragrance diet.

I hope you'll forgive me if I dip back into the hooch sometimes.

For other thoughts on Silences, see Victoria's review in Bois de Jasmin; hers is the take that sent me in search of a sample in the first place.  

Silences is delightfully affordable at online retailers.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wrong Turns: Jean Paul Gaultier Fragile

It's not an edgy amber.  Perhaps you knew that already.

I did too, but I forgot what I knew.  Something that happens when I don't keep notes, have no memory of reading about a fragrance, remember only adjectives like "pleasing," and decide to be impetuous and spritz without aforethought (or afore-research):

Feeling adventurous, I selected the ambery fluid in the retro-kitschy-chic Jean Paul Gaultier snowglobe bottle, because a) I tend to enjoy ambers; b) the idea of Gaultier invokes edginess; c) I remember spraying Classique early last fall, and thinking it was indeed nice in a "classic" way (uh-oh...see where this is heading?...); d) the juice is amber colored, and has that darn torso inside it.  

Spritz, spritz.

Instantly, I remember.  Floral.  Smooth white floral.  Amber meter plummets.  I remember my recent tuberose sampling, and smack my forehead.  THAT's what this is.  I shake my head, and realize I am two for two today.  Why?  This morning, I was asked to describe Mariella Burani, and went through a similar process: I knew I remembered being pleasantly surprised by what was inside, but could not remember just what "it" was.  Rather than track down any notes, I just spritzed.  What MB was was something considerably more floral, and considerably less amber, than I anticipated.

Maybe my recent run of sodden fruit perfumes has influenced me, along with the subzero temperatures?

All I know is, while there's nothing wrong with the Fragile, as it dried down and now as it fades away, I'm thinking of how I could have spent my afternoon.  With Chergui.  Or, investigating value perfumes, like that L'Aromarine Opoponax extrait, or Yves Rocher Voile d'Amber.  Or any of the leathers I was thinking of putting on and scenting my sweater with.  Sorry, Cuir de Lancome!  Au revoir, L'Ombre Fauve!

Fortunately, this will be a three day weekend, so I have an extra day to play and experiment.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Guilty Pleasure: Indult Manakara

Liquor sodden fruit with flowers plunked into caramelized sugar, with a hint of the other stuff that makes an amber an amber.


No!  I mean eeeyeew.  Eeew, I say.  Weeelllll....I kind of mean yum.  Okay, I mean "yum."  Fun yummy  yum.

Sure, I love savory foods, slow cooking, raw vegetables, reductions, single malt, good wine...but, to tell the truth, I can also eat my way through a pile of potato chips.  Or a dozen of the right kind of chewy, oversized cookie.

Does it help that I really, REALLY like the quality chips, or the cookies when they have dark chocolate, real vanilla, and fresh nuts picked by a free range monkey who can sniff a legume virus from 100 yards?

Not that I have any guilt over my eating habits, er, abilities.  Or my fondness for Indult Manakara.

It's a ridiculous pleasure, like laughing at a sitcom, or getting hooked on "talent search" television shows.

Not that I've ever done that.

If you come over, the Manakara sample is next to the dark chocolate, behind the kettle cooked organic potato chips, on the highest shelf of the cupboard.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Scent for a Snow Day

It’s a beautiful day outside.  Snow has been falling for hours.  The gentle blanket is at this point becoming a mattress, soon to be an oversized pillow top.  The sun is bright whenever the snowfall lessens, it is cold enough for snow but not so cold to be uncomfortable.  With so much snow about, one is compelled to slow down, because so many plans and tasks are clearly undoable.  Snow games and warm drinks.  Happiness and cocoa.

It’s a great day for L’Or de Torrente.

L’Or is flowers with a generous dash of Torani syrup.  To me, the syrup is chocolate.  Officially, the note is coffee, but I think the combination of vanilla/coffee/angelica/”white amber” has more of an overall chocolate effect.

In fact, if I were doing a pairings, I’d be finding the right chocolate liqueur, and offering that up as a potential member of the flight that accompanies L’Or.  You might want to include a special cocktail, blended with a floral and a chocolate.  Good old St. Germaine comes to mind; given the fruit notes listed in L’Or, the edible quality of elderflower, and its brightness, are a good companion to that part of the equation.  There’s a nice chocolate liqueur, Alumni,* that would do well for that end, though for a third concoction in the flight you could use Kahlua and probably come up with the right concept.

I disagree with Luca Turin, who called L’Or de Torrente a Negroni.  A Negroni is gin, campari, vermouth, twist of lemon.  I get the lemon, but the Campari is the wrong nose-feel/mouth-feel.  Too bitter, too sharp on the tongue.  Needs to be a liqueur that hangs out a bit, in the vein of Drambuie or Cuarenta Y Tres.  And I quibble with gin, though if you are using a Hendrick’s type, it could work.  (Still, the mouth-feel/nose-feel is not thick enough for my experience of L’Or.)  

It’s a snow day around here.  Perky, but with warm comfort.  Try some L’Or de Torrente to go with.  Playing in the snow is free; L’or is a veritable bargain, under $30 for 1.7oz at a number of online retailers.

*Alumni may have gone out of production.  Drop me a line if you’re in the neighborhood; I’ll pour you a snort and you can see for yourself.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Can a fragrance be in black & white?

Classic topic among film folk: color vs. black & white.  (Discuss among yourselves.)

Today's New York Times discussed a new DVD release of two Michael Powell films, and I took special note of the discussion of "A Matter of Life and Death." Apparently, in the film "heaven is in black and white, while...bursting Technicolor is reserved for earthly delights."

I spent a fair amount of time with film at one point in my life, so it was easy to have a quick flood of associations,  Wim Wenders "Wings of Desire" being foremost among them.  I don't know why scholars and critics didn't point to the Powell movie when Wenders released his film, since clearly there are strong parallels between the two.*  That aside, I began ruminating on the effect of b&w versus color in film and if there was a way to connect this to fragrance.  Motion picture film, mind you, not still photography; scent exists through time, and frequently has a development, whereas a photograph is a frozen moment--even if motion is implicit--for the viewer to linger on, with, within, without.  That's what you learn when you make movies:  it's not just sound + vision, it's sound + vision + time.

Is there such a thing as a black and white fragrance?  I tried at first with the historical angle, but that just doesn't work.  It's like the notion that people dream in black and white, and color dreaming was an aberration; dreaming in black and white was more commonly reported in an era when films (and then television) were in black and white.  Color has been with us for the duration of our history; its obviously an option for a perfume from any era.

So black and white is more about...what?  Focusing on contrast?  Emphasizing moments over movement?  Filtering out extraneous information so that one examines a particular set of details?  

I don't know yet.  I'm pondering this.  I'll tell you this:  It's hard for me to conceive of a white floral that isn't a fragrance that is in "color," soliflore or not.  And I'm thinking that maybe Knize Ten is a black and white fragrance--so clearly about that sharp leather that one starts to see the nubbies in the hide.  But I'm not convinced.  

Maybe if I tried to triangulate it with music...but what is the musical equivalent of color versus black and white?

Sorry...all I'm doing here today is raising questions.  Clearly, I'm not done rumbling this around in my head.

*A male character falls to earth, one due to the mistake of an angel, the other an angel himself.  Both are in love with a woman on earth.  Both need to explain why they should stay on earth.  And, for both, earth is full of "information," i.e., in color.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Violet meets Space: Commes des Garcons - Stephen Jones

There's a funky new 'fume on the streets.  And it endeavors to stamp itself as different in everything from its packaging to its marketing to its olfactory presence.  And, by joe, I think it's working.  

Packaging:  It's like a hat in a hat know, the kind with the netting, that goes with your tailored suit?  (That's suit with a skirt, as in old time Dior?)  And I've got to say--as one who has a few of those hats lying about just for fun--I like the packaging.  I generally don't go for kitsch or gimmick...unless it is well executed and/or relevant to what smell is inside.  As shown in photographs, at least, this one is working for me.  I'll need to go find a real bottle and report back.  

Marketing:  The copy says "a new perfume directed by Stephen Jones and produced by Commes des Garcons.  Many perfumes have an "artistic director" or some such, and a "nose" who actually creates the thing.  But being so upfront is not typical (we know that this is how the Goutals work, but don't often hear about it in general).  I understand "producers/artistic directors/directors" from film & theater.  I have no idea how influential Comme des Garcons was as "producer," and the influence of a given producer on the "product" you see on a movie screen will vary.  So does the "product" they bother to attempt -- think Cubby Broccoli with a Bond film, Merchant Ivory with a costume.  Nor do I know how strongly Stephen Jones affected the juice.  But a director's influence will vary, too -- but for a sense of difference, check out Franco Zeffirelli vs. Baz Luhrman doing Romeo and Juliet.   That said, clearly somebody had a vision, and something of a statement was carried out.

Perfume:  Violets.  Meteorites.  Magma.  Yup, OsMoz lists a "meteorite accord" up top, and a "magma accord" in the base.  I think what CdG is calling "meteorites," I am smelling as "ozone."  And magma in my nose is dry dirt.  But you know what?  They're there.  From my sniffing notes:

The first thing I note is that on a day when I have a few collected samples in front of me, ready in their mailers, it is the CdG SJ that offers a hint of scent when I take it out of its mailer.  And again, a bit more so, when I take the vial out of its protective little sealed bag.  By the time I circle back around to try to open the vial--which was, btw, quite tightly stoppered, and required a little extra english to get it open--I have tantalizing little mini-hits coming my way.  And what has been suggested by these successively increasing hints turns out to be true of the opening:  potent. true violet. dirt. skank. air and beyond.

Emphasis at the top on dirt, air, and odd skank.

But, comes the sun...well, violet.  So what breaks through isn’t all bright, high, and sunshiney, but rather pure, natural, green/purple, lowish down, and refreshing/comfortable.  It’s coming.

Now, almost an hour in, I have a most interesting violet on my wrist.  It is pretty tightly woven with other elements...something green, something dirt, with that odd ozonic skank dancing about ever so lightly (so lightly that I’m not sure I would have caught it as such had it not been such a prominent voice in the opening).  I’d really like to go out smelling like this...reactions might include “Nice...what?,” which I like to think of as a way to describe me.  ;)

Good heavens, 1 1/2 hours in, I put my sniffer up...a hint of...soap???  Try again...ah, it seems that was a cumulative impression...when I break it down, it’s everything from before, but it’s like when the vegetables start breaking down in the soup...certain spots in the pot are a little bit of everything.

What does it all add up to?  A perfume that I like in my head, but am trying to figure out if I connect with emotionally.  Obviously, if I'm asking, the answer so far is no.  But this might be a "learn to love it" situation...and while some immediate grabbers, like Chergui, have remained on the love list, others were merely passing infatuations.  I will come back to this sample...and am pretty sure a decant will be ordered.  Full bottle worthy?  Not sure yet, though if you are a bottle nut, this one's a good 'un.  Freaky juice fan?  This doesn't have the asphalt & rubber you can find hiding in Creed Love in Black (yeah, I KNOW, weird to hear that kind of thing from Creed), but then again, it develops, speaks, and hangs on more strongly than the Creed.

I'll be exploring other violets for the next few months, still on the search for the perfect one for me.  But you should try this; it might be the perfect one for you.

Notes per OsMoz:

TOP: violet leaves, meteorite accord, clove
HEART: violet, rose, carnation, jasmine, heliotrope
BASE: magma accord, gaiac wood, cumin, vetiver

Thursday, January 1, 2009