Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Delivery Systems" -- Lentisque

In my household, we have a kind of running joke:  Bread, potatoes, pancakes, waffles...all delicious...but often, as prepared, they end up being "butterfat delivery systems."  How would you like your butter today, goes the gag...carried by whole wheat or sourdough?  Waffle or pancake? Perhaps on a baked potato?

This approach works for other forms of dairy fat, too.  For example... half & half is delicious when you spike it with some coffee.  (Sugar optional.)

Such are examples of gustatory delivery systems in my house.  And such was the joke I thought of when taking a hit on my left wrist this morning, which sports 06130 Lentisque today.  Officially described as an "homage to the pistachio tree," and listed by Helg as one of her perfumes of spring, I am also connecting it to a perfume of spring.  Apres L'Ondee.  But why?

I think I might be crazy.  But...an hour into it, I huff, and sure enough, I smell...L'Heure Bleu Apres L'Ondee heliotropin.  Hmmph. 

Mind you, I like it.  And this is my concern.  Is my nose just manufacturing my experience, or my brain mixing the signal?  Do I like heliotropin so much, my body is willing to cross the wires so that  Lentisque, Ambret Seeds, Jasmine, Melon, Oris(Iris), Turkish Rose Absolute, Musk, Haitain Vetiver oli, Voluptuous Amber  /whatever ingredients are really there organize themselves to register as heliotropin?  Am I missing something?  Could the ambrette be evoking this reaction?  After all, it is not flat out L'Heure Bleu I am feeling here.  Just a haunting.

(Maybe my body is just being very smart; research has shown that the aroma of heliotropin reduces anxiety.)

Whatever is "true" here, I know that I am enjoying Lentisque.  I'm just a little too distracted by this "am I smelling what I think I am?" thing to give it a full and fair description.  I'll return to Lentisque, and attempts to describe it...but for now, am enjoying it as a medium-light vaguely green heliotropin delivery system.

Kind of like taking your half & half with moderate amounts of coffee and a light hit of sugar, or your butter on a fresh baked slice of medium bodied vaguely whole grain blend. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Play it like a harmonica...

Not layering exactly--rather, in series.

Lay down a couple of swatches next to each other, then run nose from one to the other.  Kind of like you play the notes on a harmonica.

For example, today:  Yves Rocher Voile d'Ambre next to Penhaglion's Elixir. Run your sniffer over the two in that order. Yummy spicy nice.  Fun for surprise snow.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

one scent ... or many?

The Holy Grail, versus a wardrobe.

The One, or a scent library.

I don't know if I'll ever return to a search for a "signature scent," my holy grail of perfume.  I do know that when I first started falling down the rabbit hole of scent, I was determined to find a scent that was clearly "me."  And I did find three that came close, any one of which would be a good candidate for the just one scent I was allowed if there were such restrictions in the universe.  They are:
  • L'Artisan Fleur d'Narcisse
  • Parfumerie Generale Bois Blond
  • Tauer Reverie au Jardin
Each is rather distinctive, which is something that would seem to fit "signature" scent by definition.  (Though upon writing that it seems perfectly fair to argue that a person's signature scent could be all about just "smelling good" to the maximum amount of people, or blending in, or what have you.)  Each also has a clear vegetal element, hay, narcissus, lavender, galbanum.  That has proven to be a common "me" element through my descent, even as I learn more notes and my general attractions open up and shift.

But I don't know if any would be on a Top 5, or even Top 10, list for recommendations for a scent wardrobe.  None are scents that appear in the current version of my regular rotation.  And for a fragrance wardrobe, which (for me, at least) needs to incorporate woody, oriental, fresh, classic, and comfort among its elements--see, already five down--I would go elsewhere. Perhaps, following those elemental guidelines:
  • DKNY Black Cashmere (or YSL Nu)
  • Guerlain Shalimar
  • Guerlain Eau de Imperiale  (or Annick Goutal Mandragore, or Prada Infusion d'Iris)
  • Chanel Bois des Iles  (or maybe Lanvin Arpege, or Jolie Madame)*
  • Givenchy Organza Indecence  (or Guerlain Bois de Armenie, or Parfumerie Generale  L'Ombre Fauve, or Serge Lutens Chergui, or...there are many, many in this category)
I haven't even touched earth or galbanum yet, which I absolutely, positively must have, and could perhaps satisfy with a bottle of Jacomo Silences.  So, I guess, cut the classics, because while I like to have them around, maybe I don't absolutely, positively have to have them.

But then what do I do with Bois des Isles, which is both "me" and "classic" and not ever going to leave my real life options?  Go ahead, bring on your hired guns; you'll have trouble prying it out of my cold, dead hands.  (Oh, dear; apparently too much Mafia Wars and cowboy references this week.)

And what of the rites of spring?  Diorissimo, the ritual dabbing of which from a vintage bottle is already an untouchable ceremony.  Or CB-IHP Black March, which gets used layered and alone for a few weeks just before I can huff the real stuff in my garden?  Or dismiss the gimmicks, and stick with the pained pleasure of En Passant, or Apres L'Ondee?  But if I dismiss the "gimmicks," I'll drop an important element of the rites of fall, too, when Burning Leaves and other smokes enjoy a few weeks of ritual transition.  

Uh-oh, that reminds me of another favorite category:  amber.  Should I pick a sweet one, or something more in the spice range?  Or perhaps a mix?  Or is that going to limit its use to the dead of winter???

Oh, yeah, picking out amber reminds me of another category which deserves a bottle of its own:  green.  And there are so many, which version would I pick?  Diorella?  Bel Respiro?  

I'm doomed for a five bottle wardrobe.  Let's go back to ten.  Then Bois des Isles can be its own category.  I think that's eight categories, leaving me room to pick more than one for one or two categories.  If I don't open up the categories to include florals...or bring back the "gimmicks"...

Dear heavens, I forgot leather.  I absolutely love leather.  

This exercise falls under the category "brain bending futile fun."  If I write it next week, different scents will show up.  If you came to this post hoping for an answer, I don't have one. Is it possible to have a signature scent?  Sure.  Is a fragrance wardrobe a reasonable approach? Absolutely.  

No answers, but I do know is I feel incredibly fortunate that my sniffer works and brings me such silly guilty pleasure.  And that I have discovered an incredibly enthusiastic, sharing perfume crowd who are more than happy to open my eyes (and nose) to new things.  If you are trolling the blogs as part of a regular habit, you know what I mean.  If you are just starting out...well...whatever contours your path takes, it's going to be a fun adventure, and there really is no "right" way to do it.**

*hey, notice how things that are "classic" can also veer widely from each other; and here I haven't tried to include a modern "classic"
**well...except that you should use decants and swaps.  Lots of pain, heartbreak, and cash can be saved that way.
***I am footnoting like crazy today...somebody is responsible...you know who....
****okay, it's not like crazy, and now I'm pushing the convention intentions, but what the heck...maybe one day soon I will go footnote hog wild....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Apres L'Ondee

I took it out as part of my arms open wide embrace of spring two weeks ago.

I need to try again.  Some other time.  The whole day, I kept thinking:  who's trying to be L'Heure Bleue???  It just doesn't seem to be a fair assessment of Al'O, which has such a loyal following.

At least I won't be tempted to throw dollars at it any time soon.  (Unless I am seduced by an extrait in a vintage bottle...no...NO...I don't even have the $$ for a decant....)

Violets & Rainwater, revisted

An open letter to Musette:

Dear Musette,

I so respect your thoughts on scent, whenever you go ga-ga for something, I automatically activate search->sniff->prepare to purchase neurons.  (Unless it's going your preferred skank path, which I continue to leave free and clear for you.  I've got my issues, as you know.  ;)  )  So, when you started waxing beautiful about Liz Zorn's Violets & Rainwater, I knew I'd better get sniffing.

Which I did, and found a lovely--beautiful in a quiet way--little true violet scent.  I tried it a couple of times over the winter, even bought a share, feeling that perhaps I would eventually use it to replace my decant of Norma Kamali Violette and use it for layering opportunities.  Simple.  Light.  

I was wrong.

I tried it on this morning, and BLAM, greenery!  And then, not very long until this creamy element enters the dry down.  Oh, my goodness.  I think that this is what some people find/love in the Guerlain violets, this nuanced but sweet violet.  (Vanillic sweet, not the mouse sex of Caron.)  And because I entered through the happy green door, I don't resent it for being some sort of pastille.  I'm still early on, and will be happy if the green returns head on, or if it continues down this creamy violet path.  I have my memory of the green...

Is this what happens with you?  You had mentioned dirt in the past, which I never got until today.  Just in the 5-10 minute opening, mind you, but there.

That's a whole other bottle in that cute but stylish canister on my shelf.  Not the watery violet I experienced in the winter.  Who knows--I've certainly been finding a lot of shift in my sniffer as spring entered this year.  Could be seasonal; could be evolutionary; could be I was just daft.  All I know is, I'm suddenly feeling VERY clever for shadowing you.

Your friend in scent,

P.S. I know that shadowing can lead to big disappointments; I won't hold any bum lemmings against you.  (OTOH, I'll be sure to hang on to them for a while, in case what was bum becomes ba-dum!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Renewed Romance: Bois Blond

Here's one indication spring finally has opened the door:  I'm in love with Bois Blond.  Again.

Bois Blond is one of my original triumverate of "me" scents.  But it was set aside for other explorations, and for fear that I would run out and never, ever have it again.  Time passed. Then I tried Bois Blond a couple of times in the depths of winter.  It was just not the same. Which made me sad, because I had loved it so profoundly, and it made me scared, because I had loved it so much I invested in back-up.  (A full bottle of anything is rare for me, let alone a spare bottle, for which I do not have a temperature perfect hermetically sealed time travelling capsule.)  I could only console myself with the knowledge that as a "limited edition," I might someday have the heart to sell the back-up bottle and invest in other loves.

Enter today.

Here it is, returned, in all of its hay dappled in sweet with hints of tobacco glory.  Hooray!!  *This* is the power of perfume for me; the ability to capture my thinking fancy while putting me into a strong emotional zone.  For me, that zone from Bois Blond is deeply happy calm.  Not placid calm, but centered calm.  As in, there can be plenty floating (bouncing? banging?) around in my head, but it won't bother me or even sound like noise if I have this on me.

Marina reviews it here; Aromascope posts a guest review from BB fan Elena Singh here; Sakecat and her fascinating perfume project get something entirely different from it than I do.  Mind you, Elena picks up on the galbanum, which I tend to gravitate toward but do not find in this.  I guess my feelings are closest to Marina's, who mentions damp hay; I'd agree, but put it squarely out in the sun and sprinkle honey over top.  And the warmth of the sun goading out wafts of tobacco.  Then again, Nathan Branch gets a similar vibe.

All I know is, I'm glad to have it, glad I tried again, and delighted to have it on.  Some loves are best in specific contexts, I guess.  It probably will take quite a few dates, in quite a few venues, over all the seasons, to decide if ultimately this is romance can be a marriage.

Guess I've found a place in my life where there's room for big love...


UPDATE...6 hours later
Just would like to point out that I am STILL feeling the love, with plenty of reward when nose goes to wrist.  Thank you, lasting power.  This is like my LZ Journeyman (or Cuir de Lancome...or Chergui), only for the other side of the global year spin.

Which has really gotten me to thinking...perfumes that are "through the looking glass"?  More anon....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Illuminated Perfumes Giveaway

I have enjoyed following the musings and updates of Roxana Villa on her Illuminated Perfume blog.  Roxana is a visual artist as well as a perfumer ("botanical perfume artist," to use Roxana's term of choice), and her overall artistic aesthetic shows in her work and her writing.  

Roxana is offering a chance to win a free 1gram of her liquid perfume, which will come with a mini solid, in honor of the spring equinox.  Use the link above to go directly there.

Learn more about Roxana Villa in Sniffapalooza Magazine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Star Trek Perfume

From the Chicago Tribune:    (Click here for the full article.)

The world of fragrance is about to boldly go where few have ventured before: the Trekosphere.

Hoping to profit from the May 8 release of J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek film, chronicling the beginnings of Capt. James T. Kirk and the USS Enterprise, Maryland-based Genki Wear will release three Star Trek-themed scents on April 24.

John McGonigle, president of Genki, said the two men's colognes and one women's perfume will retail for about $30.

Soon, Trekkies will be able to channel their inner Starfleet commander—or inner William Shatner—with "Tiberius," based on Kirk's character. The scent, which carries the tag line "Boldly Go," is described by Genki Wear as having a "warm vanilla, white musk and sandalwood" base.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring on tap

Must have been magic.  Roxana contacts me last night to let me know Greenwitch is now available to sample.  I've been curious to try that since she first tempted us with a quick reference to it in the depth of winter (followed by a full post explaining her methodology).

Then I head out for a brief foray and hear the first birds of spring at night...

...and wake up this morning to knowing, just knowing...sure enough; the beds are ready.  I clear away leaves, cut down the perennials, and *as I am working* some daffodils poke up.  The soil is the right warm; it smells fantastic.

I spend the day working with decomposing material, clearing it away, saying a little thank you for how it protected the live things during this incredible winter.  I get a home project done.  I finally shower...thinking, of course, that a decision is coming up...

...have been egged on by perfume pals and weather to make the leap...


...and after mentioning doors #1 and #2, I pick door #3.

En Passant.

And it has been beautiful.  I remembered just how beautiful shortly after spritzing (it is a bit odd straight off).  And the best part has been how it has haunted me these 5-7 hours since...it famously leaves the wrist after a couple of hours...but it isn't really gone.  It apparates in the air just around you, time and again, for hours.  You can't put your nose to it...it's gone...but yet, it comes back to you.  Beckoning?  No, not quite.  Nearly embracing.  More like a little visit.  And gone again.  

Perfect.  Like glimpses of the spring to come.  (And, which will go again.)  A bit of a ronde, a dance mimicking the entry of the season.

Today's beautiful weather will not last.  But it will be back.  More and more so.  As such, a reverse of En Passant, which slowly comes back less and less.  

What a great cross-fade.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I've been gone...

...and Nature has been busy.

...which led to...

What is this?  Why, it's the "thumb" of Michigan, with the "mainland" of the Michigan mitten to the left/west.  Saginaw Bay.  

Ask again:  What is this?

Somebody's knocking at their door.

The winds blew hard across Lake Huron, blowing ice off the lake and onto the beach, pushing right into lakefront homes in the Saginaw Bay area.

Was I affected?  No.  Would have been a great excuse for why I haven't been blogging of late.  But it *is* a wonderful metaphor for what I've been dealing with, so I'll leave it at that.

Winter threatens to depart, and so does Spring.  It's been an interesting battle to close the short days of the year around here...have been sorely wanting spring, but have not yet dared to fully break out the spring time scents.

I have found a few things to tide me over until the ceremonial Diorissimo and Apres L'Ondee come out.

Parfums de Nicolai  Le Temps d'Une Fete
Nathan called it "oh so pretty," and it was nearly damning praise.  But I love that it smells of quality ingredients, that there is not too much white flower and a smidge of green, which means that while it is no jolly romper for me (more green, a hint of dirt would do that), it is a reliable no brainer makes me happy at the end of winter I can wear it for a full day of teaching scent.

Frank Los Angeles  Frank (aka Frank #1)
Oh, I'm happy I pulled this one back out.  I had remembered vaguely "fresh green," but not the hint of flowers.  Again...flowers?  Wouldn't seem to be my cup of tea...except that there's closer to the ground lily of the valley somewhere in there (maybe? I think?) and when I spritz it on the back of my hand to revive ye olde memories from last week, I get a whiff of carnation, which AGAIN would not be my cup of tea except it seems just right in here, and for this time of year.  I am going to have to try this out again when it is truly warming up, and not just bright and sunny but cold outside.  Wonder what it will bring then.

(This scent earned FB purchasing early last summer, and earned that spot on the list due to green freshness.  I've become more chypre happy since then; perhaps nose has evolved?  Then again, maybe this is one of those climate related things??)

Donna Karan  Gold (edt)
I have Gold in both concentrations.  It interested me enough to get FB of it from the controversial online auction which shall not be named...and, truth be told, that purchase was as much motivated by the deal I got and my admiration for the bottle as for the juice itself.  I had found the juice, especially in edt, sharp and metallic, and wasn't sure what it was about.  Into the recesses of the closet it went.  Out it came last week, on a whim, and voila!; just right.  It had become a...well...a creamy floral, just like those "crazy" posters I had read a year ago said.  And, once again, not generally my cup of tea...but it hit the spot when it came to this awful nether time between the end of winter and the start of spring.

What is this?

A reminder that revisiting can yield interesting renewals and/or revisions...re-visioning being key.  And perhaps that climate can affect "vision," too; I know my *inclinations* change based on season, but perhaps what my nose picks up changes, too.  

I may have also learned that while I am a fan of earth/dirt in scent, perhaps it is just too, too cruel to enter that into the olfactory picture just yet.  Just as any gardner knows only heartache will come of setting plants out too early for your climate, perhaps I need to know that I cannot enjoy an earthy perfume *too* far ahead of me actually being able to smell it outside.

We're still a little frozen around here.  

But not forever.