Monday, January 31, 2011


The winner of "The Secret of Chanel No. 5" is horror movie fan Nancy H. 

You can find my e-mail via the Information page.

Miss World 2010, Alexandra Mills, from TT Owonubi.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Offskin, aka The Space Between Us

One of the worst professors I ever had said two of the most memorable lines from my undergraduate life.

The first was part and parcel of satire:  {cue gravelly voiced, tired, tousled, deigning, gray haired presence at front of room, with what might appear to be the somewhat older denizens of Fast Times at Ridgemont High filling seats in a classroom furnished more like a high school than a college} "The mind, class, is like a sieve..."  {Various reactions make clear that this is a refrain as familiar, and perhaps as frequently punctuated, as "...take one down and pass it around..."}

But the other, the one that I have revisited many times: "It was not the icon itself, but the space between the icon and the viewer, that was worshipped."

Score one for Byzantine history, the Orthodox church, and the professor.  This one has not fallen through the sieve, and will not, ever.

Recently, I have worn two scents that have struck me as beautiful, but never when snarfed/huffed.  Only when experienced as that which floats above the skin.  It wouldn't be fair to say their "sillage," for in my mind the idea of "sillage" is a nearly visible vapor trail that is left in a wearer's wake.  No, this was the air above my wrist, discovered as I leaned over to pick up a paper, or reached up to open a cupboard.  If I tried to put nose to skin to discover the source, I got something different.  It was only as I pulled back that I got a hint of how to find the source.

It was a space above my skin, waiting to be discovered.  It would not be left behind as or after I left the room, but hovered there, somewhere above me, but not exactly part of me.  It took a combination of perfume on skin, plus a "viewer" searching the area above, to discover it.

"Many people make the mistake of thinking that these images were created as idol worship.  That is wrong.  They were an image of an idol, or perhaps more accurately, a concept, something to be reminded of.  The purpose of the image, which you will notice is rather two-dimensional, was to allow for an interaction between the viewer and the representation.  The act of reflecting, of contemplation, caused the space in between to be sacred.  That space was only "alive" or sacred during the act of contemplation.  

Thus, it was not idol worship, but idol contemplation, if you will; but do not confuse reverence for object deification.  Or, indeed, deification of a person.  It was as if the idol allowed for, in combination with a reverential viewer, a sacred space.  It was the space that mattered, and it only mattered during the act."

Vintage Houbigant Aperçu and Nina Ricci Filles de Eve are two examples of perfumes that I find are better experienced off skin than on it.  Filles de Eve in particular; when I go in for the close up, it falls apart.  It's all old lady perfume, and not particularly complex.  I persisted in trying it, because I had smelled it on a friend in perfume, and remembered it as beautiful.

The trick of memory was to adjust the preposition.  I hadn't smelled it on a friend; I had smelled it off a friend.

Sure enough, I've caught the cloud a couple of times now.  Much better.  I am still sussing Filles de Eve out, and not sure if I love it, or I am just having fun visiting.  In fact, I may decide I have fun visiting, but don't like it at all.  Aperçu is actually more likely to be my bag, though I am still not sure why.  For one thing, it has more layers to it, at least as it plays out in my nose.  The thing is, taking time to think about exactly what is playing out in my nose is distracting me from that space, that beautiful space just off of my skin.

I'll be spending time in the future sorting out whether or not I find this phenomenon more prevalent in older style perfumes than newer ones.  As it happens, I am wearing Andy Tauer's Reverie au Jardin as I write this, and this is one that I love discovering offskin.  But, and perhaps and important "but" to consider as I try to sort this out, Reverie au Jardin is pretty faithful in the huff.  What you catch in the cloud is what you find on your skin.  Not that I'm complaining.  Just saying.

Today, I am all about offskin.  This space between us.  Present, perhaps, only when someone stops to contemplate it.

image of Saint Stephen icon from

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bulb bumps progressing

Slaying dragons beyond the blog, but am here to remind you that I will draw names for the free copy of "The Secret of Chanel No. 5" tomorrow.  Late tomorrow.  Go comment on Saturday's post if you are interested.

Posting a picture of the hyacinth bulb progress.  Am continuing to turn a blind ear (yes, blind ear) to yearnings for spring.  Winter has what it has.

I love the way the roots know to reach out for water that is just beyond.  Soon enough, they'll have engulfed the marbles, and I'll have detangling to do when all is said and done.  Things change.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vol de Nuit Isn't

Subtitled:  A Failed Narrative but a Great Perfume  (A Review)


No matter how you approach perfume, completely naive, or studiously researched, it would be hard to come upon Vol de Nuit and not immediately conjure a back story.  Even if you don't speak French.  Because--and, fine, I will speak for the American audience here, hoping one of you Brits speaks up regarding your school experience--most American school children are exposed to "The Little Prince."  Lay Payteet Prahnce, perhaps your teacher added.  Or, perhaps, if you moved fairly frequently, you were exposed to other helpful pronunciations of the "original" title; Luh Pehteet Prince being among my favorite clarifications.  Mind you, I didn't know a speck of French as a child, but even I was able to ken onto the fact that Peter Sellers could have done better at awful.  I could READ, for heavens sake, I just wasn't French-knowledgeable.

The petit point?  Said teachers would generally then offer up, another title by the same author, should we wish to consider reading further:  Vol de Nuit.  Night Flight.  Which sounded romantic, but made me wonder if it was a sequel or prequel that would help me figure out the plight of the lonely guy and his flower, kind of like one wonders what became of Scarlett after Rhett left not giving a damn.  (After I started writing this, it occurred to me that there is now a generation of students who might get a malevolent association with the sounds of Vol de Nuit, being similar to Vol de mort and all.  Which might serve them better when thinking about the perfume.  But that is another story.)

In addition to the teacher voices in your head, there is the "official story," and if you at all poke your nose into Guerlain's business, you are pointed toward Antoine de Saint-Expury and how the fragrance was created in his honor / drama of aviation / a pilot / blah blah blah.

So, in my head, I have:  Vol de Nuit = Night Flight.  Vol de Nuit = perfume.  Vol de Nuit ≈ smells like a night flight.  Vol de Nuit ± solves/addresses the problems of the little prince.  Vol de Nuit ≅ will transport me so I don't worry about existential conundrums.

(For further cognitive miasma, see Kevin's lovely review of Vol de Nuit as a night flight, wherein he constructs his own narrative.  Or Helg's review, where she acknowledges the narrative and locates where she finds Vol de Nuit among a pantheon of galbanum scents.)

There it is.  Identified, labelled, sorted, catalogued, told.  If you are me, you try Vol de Nuit many times, starting with early in your fall down the rabbit hole.  It strikes you as difficult, as bitter, as old, as a potential scrubber, as interesting but probably not you, worth coming back to for academic purposes but not for pleasure.  It's no night flight.  But you go back, repeatedly, looking for nocturnal, or at least crepuscular, lift off.

And then, thank goodness, you have the good fortune to one day out of the blue decide to spray in the bright light of mid morning, and spray generously, and just let things be, immediately forgetting what you have done.  So that this waft springs up from your wrist, and you say "wow," and you spend hours upon hours with it.

And find you are happy.  And decide to relocate yourself vis-à-vis Vol de Nuit.

The Review Part

What Vol de Nuit isn't:  blackblue and murky hard to see with the only clearness being the stars above you and the whole experience gravity defiant, transporting you through the air.  Vol de Nuit is not a night flight.

What Vol de Nuit is:  greenherbybitter powder mashed in such a way that earthy bits (perhaps the daffodil, certainly the oakmoss) ground you and yet eartly lifts (sparkly citrus bits or invigorating herbal sniffs with florals interwoven just enough to keep it from being a total Druid potion) keeping things from being all around your ankles.  Vol de Nuit is a tree growing in the forest, knowing which way to reach for sunlight, aware of all it touches from root to leaf.

Vol de Nuit is more "Tree of Life" than "Flight of Night."

In less fanciful terms, it is a green plant-focused woody with plenty of powder.  The notes mention flowers, but I don't get much (read "any?") of that.

In mathematical expressions, Vol de Nuit ≠ transportation, literal or existential.  However, Vol de Nuit = an interesting perfume that I will sometimes want to wear.


My long day into night with Vol de Nuit was interesting.  Repeated pleasure from huffing, frequent wrist to nose and/or putting nose to the waft like a dog might kind of day.  It was a totally different experience of exactly the same thing...unlike those times when you have an "a-ha!" of something different, some new note or aspect striking you, this was one of those times when you know full well you are experiencing the very same input you did last time, but it's coming in differently.  Like...the first time you think in a different language.  Or when you see the vase and not the human faces in that picture.  Or when you have been spending your time playing jazz copying other solos and/or carefully constructing a line based on the key and the tempo and the meter but then WHOOPS! you are just playing the thought without worrying about the parts behind the expression.

Or like when you shift your angle slightly, and instead of seeing the reflections in the plate glass window, you see the display inside.

It's always been the same information available to you.  Were the earlier reads "correct" also?  Were they your own?

Here's what I know:  I've been spending years assiduously checking out fragrances whose notes or explanatory copy mention "forest" or "green woods" or "druidic potion."  (Okay, haven't come across that last one, really.)  Little did I know that adding a healthy dose of powder, and accepting the sentence constructions of a writer from the PREVIOUS turn of the century, rather than the one I lived through, would best express the thought.  Herbalgreenbitterwoodyhintsofsmoothdefinitelypowderystuff that smacks of/with my beloved galbanum but doesn't bite hard, I'll be back.

What I was sniffing:
Vol de Nuit, parfum concentration.  That iconic Guerlain purse sprayer holds a refill of VdN parfum.  I sprayed the day of the revelation.  I've dabbed for my return while writing.  The sample vial is for size reference; early in my perfume explorations, I was surprised by how small those expensive extraits were.  Chalk it up to a supersize culture plus an edt life?  Plus, I suspect, there is something about how large things loom in our imagination.  Those Lutens bell jars are not cookie jar size, for example.  You could hold one between your thumb and finger, thumb under the bottom, finger on the top.  Not that you'd want to.  Just saying.  So, there's my Vol de Nuit, purchased as a gently used item, quadrilobe stopper already undone.  Purse sprayer new old stock.  Have since smelled samples from other vintage and new bottles, am satisfied the partial bottle was not altered.  (I may not be so good at identifying notes, but I can do pretty well at recognizing watered down side by sides, thank you {cough cough} Chanel Coco NOT.)

Um, that'd be your disclosure statement for the day.

The image is the author's own.  As usual, play fair if you wish to use it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekend Book Club / Chanel No. 5

I'm reading Tilar Mazzeo's The Secret of Chanel No. 5.  Never a fan of spoiling a reveal, I am going to say nothing about it.


But when I do, I'd like you to join me.  Let's turn this book review thing around, and make it a book chat.  I'm looking at the February calendar, and thinking either the third (19th) or the fourth (26th) weekend.  At that time, I'll post my thoughts, and invite you to put your thoughts and/or questions in the comments.   This should give you time to find the book at a bookstore or library.

Or, get a free copy from me.  Register your interest below.  If you take the time to be clever, I'll enter you twice.  Will draw a name next Thursday, at which time I will be ready to pop it into the mail to you as soon as you (that would be You, the drawn name/winner) tell me your address.  All I ask is that if you win a copy, you join the conversation.

Listen to Mazzeo on NPR.
Reader copy of The Secret of Chanel No. 5 provided by Harper Collins

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Forcing bulbs

Papery outside, soft mealy nut inside.  Onion of potential.

While vulnerable when out of the ground, in the ground, a bulb is capable of pushing aside compacted soil that would make a Bobcat cry in frustration.

It is a power that can and should be used for good.

Many people like to have forced bulbs around their home as part of the winter holiday decorations/atmosphere, but me, I'm not so keen on that.  I know that winter is going to drag on, and often doesn't even start hitting full force until after the new year has begun.  It's inevitable; around here, there's something about the middle of January.  You look around you, you are no longer all Winter Wonderland sleigh bells jingling in your ears holiday festive; you look around you, and you see frozen tundra, hopefully covered by at least some snow, because turf is bleak right around now.

You look around you, and you know.  Winter settled in around you, and it set up shop while you relaxed your standards and padded up on holiday goodies.  Winter was like a cat, coming in and getting onto your lap perhaps without you even realizing it, but suddenly you realize you have reached out to pet the creature, who has entirely molded themselves to your contours.

Winter is all about you.  And it will leave when it is good and ready.

I alternately chuckle and get peevish when I hear folks talk about "signs of spring" right now.  You have got to be out of your cotton-pickin' mind.  In fact, only cotton picking minds could even conceive of such a thing...sure, maybe where you are, a wayward jonquil is poking its green tips through your soil.  But up here they're daffodils, dude, and unless your dryer vent played a dirty trick on a small patch, or Mother Nature sent up a warm spell in December that fooled 'em, daffodils won't be poking up for a couple months yet.

NOW is an excellent time to start bringing a little spring green into the house.  From scratch.  To remind yourself of all the effort it takes to move out from under winter's blanket.

"Forcing" a bulb is a beautiful experience with a horrible name.  Whenever I read or hear it, I imagine People for the Ethical Treatment of Bulbs joining forces with Amnesty International to protest the inhuman (inbulban? infoliate? malfloral?) flogging of innocent life form storehouses.  It even makes me wince a little bit when I set up my river rocks and pebbles and little glass marbles in pottery here and there, as if I am setting up some sort of bear trap.  Forcing.  Against their will.  Ouch.

Nonetheless, I get over it.

And I play with water, and pebbles, and bulbs, and enjoy the slightest smell of dirt, the faintest smell of water.  (Yes, your water smells.  It might smell like chlorine, it might smell vaguely rusty, or air passing over it might simply smell "ozonic"--but it smells.  I'm guessing you knew that.)  I prop the bulbs pointy side up, I make sure their bottoms are hovering just above water, and I even put them in light, even though I know they don't need light until the green spears start poking up.  Because I enjoy checking on them, to see what is...dare I say this without seeming too sappy?...a tiny wonder.

hyacinth (click. enlarge, see root bumps)
Things happen.

Roots start appearing underneath the bulb, trusting they will find the water they somehow know is there. (I mean, how cool is that?  They sat in a bag or a box for months, and didn't bust a single move, and suddenly...tentacular reaching....)  Then, voila! a green tip is suddenly at the tip.  And then all starts growing, and the green tip becomes a shoot that seems impossibly long in proportion to the height of the bulb, and yet it manages to hold itself up...and then, if you have forced a paperwhite narcissus, the start of a flower that announces its arrival before it even fully unfurls.  A fragrance so powerful, it forces some grown men to leave the room.

All from that bulb you were afraid of destroying just a short time before.

But make no mistake.  Yes, miracle of life inside your house, pumping out green and scent on your tabletop...but outside, still winter.

This is okay.  Because, despite my flagrant disregard for the potentially abusive treatment of bulbs, I am no fan of forcing seasons to come.  I can wait.  I use the bulbs not to fool my mind, or even fool my eye. I see full well what is beyond the window that brings light to the bulbs.

I like the contrast.  I like the reminder that some things just take time.  I like also remembering that certain pleasures can only come in this season, whether they are the smell of woodsmoke when you walk the dog, the chance to actually use the cross country skis, the squealing happinesses of a snowman being built on the neighbor's lawn.  Or even the act of nothing, the drape of snow that insulates all the potential growth underneath it, keeping it warm for now, letting it rest.

Fallow times can actually be quite good for what lies beneath.

So, keep your signs of spring to yourself.  There isn't even a witchhazel showing its fake bloom around here yet.  We're USDA Zone 5A and above, thank you very much.  We are frozen in and just now settling into the routine that is winter.  Weeks and weeks before we bust out of our skins.

A trick which, if we take the time to reflect, we recognize is a miracle worth waiting for.

It may be Fleur d'Narcisse for me today.  Not to push a season, but to think of it.  I'll wear it, and think.  Maybe I'll do busy winter things.  Maybe I'll cozy up with a blanket.  And find myself with a cat on my lap.

images author's own

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The wintery texture of Heure Exquise

It is winter.

This may or may not be clear to you, or even true for you.  But here, where I sit, the temperature on the other side of the window is below freezing, a blanket of snow covers the ground, it in turn covered by a crust of partially thawed then certainly refrozen ice.  There is still enough of the powder to make it pretty, but the ratio of ice makes it the kind of environment you step into gingerly, testing the traction, making sure you can get your footage.

As it turns out, there was just enough thaw yesterday to soften it up, so that the sheen is indeed slippery, but has some give.  You still need to be alert, but you can relax a bit.  Enjoy the walk.  See the landscape as beautiful, because there's a little bit of cush under that crust.

This is the texture of Heure Exquise.

Drop the temperature a few degrees, and there's no hint of plush.  That is the texture of Iris Bleu Gris.

Have you ever had a perfectly made shortbread, where the crumble was right even as it veered dangerously close to too dry?  Where the amount of butter used was enough to let those fatty molecules hover around your tongue without obscuring all other flavors, letting the slightest hints of sugar caramelized by the heat of the oven come through?

Have you ever heard of a flavoring called Fiori di Sicilia?  An extract you can use in baking, a la vanilla or orange, which some call a citrus vanilla but which really rings of a field of flowers?  Try to conjure it even if you haven't; if you have smelled it, remember it.  Got it?  Now, a hint of that in the shortbread.

And shoot the whole thing through with orris root.  Or maybe wash the shortbread down with orris tea, should such a thing exist.

This is a dream shortbread, and is the flavor of Heure Exquise.

I love wearing perfumes in winter.  I love listening to them in the same way you hear sounds across a snowy landscape: overall input is attenuated, but specific qualities or registers carry further than ever.  There is both a hush, and an amplification; if nature were an auditorium, the outdoors in winter is full of both sound absorbing baffles and chutes that channel input straight to your ears.

A light wind through a few tenacious leaves on an otherwise bare tree across the way.  Laughter on the other side of the park.  A train in the distance.  You can hear it all, and still feel ensconced in a cocoon that makes you feel like you just might be all, entirely, wholly alone.

Perfect for listening to your feet in the snow and gauging the temperature based on amount and quality of crunch and smoosh.

Also wonderful for listening to the smell of things.  Even inside, the quality of smell "acoustics" is different in winter.

While I now know I am going to love Heure Exquise any time of year, and that I am NOT going to become impatient and assume it is on its dying away drydown two hours in, because four hours in a surprise powdery beauty will emerge...while I now know that in the middle I will be rewarded with a green smooth floral something that will feel lovely in the heat...while I now know I will find this beauty any time of year, I may not have fallen in love unless I played with it in winter.  When it sounded different, and I could pay attention differently.


photo by Matheson Beaumont, available for purchase here
I have gotten Fiori di Sicilia from King Arthur Flour

Monday, January 17, 2011


Never succumb to the taste of bitterness.  (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Yesterday, I had a brief Twitter exchange with the person who tweeted this article.  It is a "follow me" kind of piece, in which the intrepid journalist plays with a bitter blocker.  A bitter blocker is just what it says: a kind of immunity granting substance which, when employed, alters your tongue/brain communication so that you will not perceive most of the 50 or so types of bitter.  Burnt toast becomes just toast.  Beer shifts to umami.  Stuff like that.  (Apparently, orange bitters...not the kind in a bottle on the bar, but the kind inside an orange peel...are not covered in this particular chemical insurance plan.)  When I philosophically Tweeted "but do we WANT to mask that which is bitter," I got a very literal response about a particular application of bitter blocking: the salt on the rim of a Greyhound cocktail, and the high volume of salt in commercially prepared broth.  Fair and true.

Still, I pondered.

Embedded in that article is a link to another article, one about scent memories and attachments.  It includes that phenomenon we have discussed before, the fact that we need to familiarize ourselves with foreign tastes, exposing ourselves to them a number of times before we can even begin to formalize our impressions of them, let alone sort them into an "opinion."  (Which would then seem to raise the spectre of the "first I liked/did not like you" chart, but further sorting is not part of their discussion.)

The fluctuation of memory.

Reading backwards.

The influence of the food we eat as children upon our preferences as adults.

Whether we should mask that which is bitter.

On a holiday the United States sets aside in honor of the memory and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., it seems to me there's lots of food for thought right there.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


A tale of ginger lost.

Growing up in Detroit meant that if you felt queasy, someone ran off to the store to get Vernors.  7-Up was a pale substitute, in every way including color.  Vernors was NOT ginger ale, thank you very much; everyone knew that ginger ale was Canada Dry.  Vernors was like a Gran Marnier; sure, technically speaking, it belonged to a certain family of beverages (ginger sodas for Vernors, orange liqueur for Gran Marnier), but what made it outstanding was not that it was the epitome of that family.

It was a creature related, and yet entirely unto itself.

Since it was so fabulous, so weird, so dense with flavors that weren't your basic ginger ale, let alone soda pop (simply "pop" in Detroit, but I'll put in the soda for the east coasters, and to demonstrate my inclusivity and tolerance in rhetoric)...since it was so novel, so tasty odd, the flavor alone had healing powers.  In retrospect, it was probably the ginger that made even carbonated sugar banning parents like my mother relax the rules in cases of illness.  The fact that it was concocted by a pharmacist wouldn't have persuaded her as to its efficacy; she was sharp, and would have immediately cracked something about "snake oil" and "what USED to be in Coke" (forget it, I'm not going to be rhetorically correct and say "Coca-Cola"), and she would have pointed out that she wasn't serving Kool-Aid just because I was sick, because that was just sugar and water and what good was THAT going to do?

But she softened for Vernors.  Everybody did.

(Not everybody softened for the remedy we learned from Wilma Jean, our neighbor across the way at House #1.  "Coke syrup, honey," I heard her drawl as I rested against my mom on a concrete stoop outside on a hot summer night.  "She needs Coke syrup."  What in the world was that?  I could tell my mom didn't even know...Wilma Jean walked back home to get some of her own supply, and my mother didn't know the answer to my questions.  "Does she mean the pop?  Is it cough syrup that tastes like Coke?  How would cough syrup help a queasy tummy?"  She didn't know.  Wilma Jean returned with a small bottle, a cross between a bitters bottle and a medicine bottle.  To my amazement, my mother let me try some -- after reading the label.  It was...Coke syrup.  Had I had some seltzer, or a soda fountain, I could have made soda pop.

It didn't help, even though it scored on the exotic quotient.  But I digress...)

I have learned that some people drank Vernors hot, sometimes only and specifically in cases of illness.  Otherwise, they consumed it like the rest of us:  cold.  Though, truth be told, I sometimes drank mine tepid, when extreme temperatures in either direction could spell a rumbly turned into a rumble.

other graphics on 6-packs encouraged you to bake your ham with a Vernor's glaze
All of this association with illness is endemic to those who grew up with Vernors.  And yet it is a shame.  Because Vernors was one heck of a concoction.  It was..."deliciously different," just as the tagline declared.

In the same way you will hear perfume folk bemoan modern versions of old formulas, anyone who knows their Vernors will talk about the Real Vernors.  The Late, Lamented Vernors.  Old Vernors, the way they used to make it.  They may tell the tale of the near death of the brand, it being purchased by a bigger company, leading to its final death.  The graphics and the mascot remained, was never, ever the same.

The new owner fiddled while the gnome wept.

Detroit's an interesting place.  There are two foodstuffs invented in Detroit, the Boston Cooler, and the Coney Island, which are unique--and which have nothing to do with their geographical namesakes.  The Boston Cooler is basically an ice cream soda, using vanilla ice cream and...did you guess?...Vernors.  The Coney Island is a hot dog with chili sauce over top.  Chili *sauce,* not chili...while it has almost discernible ground meat in it, it is more liquified than what you would typically conjure when thinking "chili."  With our without onions, your coney.

You can imagine the looks of curiosity, disbelief, befuddlement, near anger, derision, then humor that passed across my Brooklyn-born beau's face when I introduced him to a Coney Island.  A situation that kind of piled on when I asked him if I wanted to go to American or Lafayette to try one.  "Which one is closer?" he asked.

But I digress.


Today I tasted Goose Island spicy ginger soda.  In spite of what it doesn't have, I wilted.  It is, in perfume parlance, a flanker, the eau legere of Vernors.

To translate for the not-perfume-smitten, its like a less intense Vernors, but with the spirit of the original.  A lighter version of the original juice.  Unlike the New Vernors, which you might as well ditch for Canada Dry.

We talk scent and memory plenty of times.  We've talked about Francis Kurkdjian and his bubbles.  Today, I mashed 'em up.  What if those bubbles, like some perfumes, immediately whisked you through a life-flashing-before-your-eyes series of vignettes, of memories you could smell and taste?

I would pay online auction mania prices for the chance to taste Real Vernors again.

No longer do I whimper for Vernors when I am sick.  But in over a decade of raising kids, it has never ceased to be my first instinct to reach for some Vernors when they were ailing.

The old Vernors was aged for four years in oak barrels.  In a little bit of auld lang syne, I'm going to raise my glass tonight.  With something aged for 12 years, I think.  A substitute cup of kindness, as it were.

Unless I choose to pilfer my kid's eau legere Goose Island.

∞Vernors sign from the Dewey from Detroit blog
∞Vernor's six-pack from the Vernor's Club on Flickr
∞"The Vernor's Story" poster from Beverage Underground
∞Photo of Lafayette and American Coney Island from Fancy Mag (and a good narrative of the scene, too, though it doesn't mention how each joint would have a guy in an apron out front waving you in, battling with the other guy for your business)
∞Wilma Jean not the real name, though not far off the mark in a family full of double names, up from Kentucky to work in the auto factory, a case of Detroit taking on other geographies for real

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow falls, precipitates flurry

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.  Oscar Wilde

White is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black.  God paints in many colors; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.  Gilbert K. Chesterton

ELOQUENCE, n. The art of orally persuading fools that white is the color that it appears to be.  It includes the gift of making any color appear white.  Ambrose Bierce

Color, especially white, is rumbling rather persistently through my mind the last few days.  It has come up in in so many contexts over the years...color versus video...fabric...language...fragrance...I think about that paths white has used to enter my conscious... I like white, because it allows you to easily contemplate contour and shadow...

...the color of the good guy's ten gallon hat...GALLON water has no color...WATER makes the snow...WATER AND TEN frozen water falling now is ten times the volume it would be if it were rain...RAIN on my parade, would be embarassing if I were wearing white...WHITE is not the color of my true love's hair, but is the color I should wear if we get married.  Well, that if, plus one more "if"...

...not to mention all the white that is falling across the U.S. these past few days.  49 of 'em with snow on the ground.  Right now, thoughts are accumulating in my head as if I were in the path of lake effect snow.

Is white the absence of color, or the presence of all colors?  Depends if you are adding or subtracting.  A confluence of different approaches to one result ("white") that at the moment is making me think how both "luxury" and "art" are applied to perfume.

It's all questions today, folks.

Though I think my additive white perfume would be Douce Amere, while the subtractive would be L'Eau d'Hiver.

Does color steer our thinking?  Or does it augment it?

More ellipses....

snowscape, icicle lights, china mold, all author's own
"Snow Clouds off Lake Michigan" NASA Earth Observatory

~Lovely blog on things grammatical, including ellipses (providing clear evidence I can identify wise advice without using them in the least)
~Olfacta mentions color in the form of carpet dye (though I believe the careful reader will note an allusion); note also photo helping illustrate the snow situation, even there in the Deep South
~A while back I pondered perfume from the angle of color vs black & white; interesting to note that January seems to elicit these musings

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sorting Out the Meat in my Lily

I had heard the talk for years.  "That lush tropical flower smells like meat [often ham, or rotten]."  I always thought of it as a concept, as gestalt of smell that when looked at from one angle, was reminiscent of meat, or meatish.  Perhaps meat-y, or meatish and meaty.


Then this opened among the supermarket bouquet sitting on the kitchen counter.  Oink, oink, people.  Not as an idea, or an association, or something seen on the other side of a transparency.

I could have sworn the langorous sow on the flyer for my preferred porcine purveyor was looking longingly toward the counter.

Or was that fright on her face?

Over the weekend, Victoria at Bois de Jasmin asked about changes in perfume taste.  I was so already there.  You see, on Friday, I had an arranged date with Musc Ravageur, goosed on by a friend who thought it was a crime against perfamity that I had given my sample away to another perfume person.  The decant arrived unannounced earlier in the week, with a lovely note, saying "For Pete's sake, you need some Musc Ravageur."  How to tell her that thing had been a beast on me and in my nose whenever I smelled it on someone else?  And by beast, I mean half-skank animal.  Not in a good way.  Just...beast.

I waited until the next day.  Then, out of a sense of duty and perhaps morbid curiosity, I sprayed.  There was the animal...but also something warm and spicy.  And the drydown?  Be still my heart.  Which is to say, my heart slowed down.  In a purr of comfort.  Sure, the animal was still there, but now it was in a pen with things spicy (cinnamon?) and things warm (musk, the non-dirty veer).  Other things bouncing around, but unidentified.  Maybe even vanilla?  In a way, it did not matter, because it wasn't all about the beast.

The animalic perfume Grinch's heart grew two sizes that day.

Meanwhile, a stargazer lily became Roast Beast.

So, with not one, but two exemplary anecdotes about changes in smell, I started to formulate this post.  Not the first time I'd dealt with situations in which I'd changed my mind about a perfume, but the first time I had crossed the zone into enjoying bedding down with a beast.  It was time, I thought, to bring out Psych 101:  the "I Like You THIS MUCH" chart. A little foursquare that has been in my head since I first laid eyes on my "good heavens, are they all going to cost this much???" textbook by Philip K. Zimbardo.  Anyway, the idea I could never get out of my head never forgot was something like this:

  • When you meet someone, you make an initial decision about whether you like them or dislike them.  You get to know them.  You come to a conclusion, a sort of game show Final Answer about how you feel about them.  The interesting observation made by the study?  Of those people the subjects ended up liking, or deeming "friends," they felt the most strongly about those whom they had initially disliked.
I have passed a lot of life through the foursquare illustration I can still see in my mind's eye (left page, toward the bottom), checking off examples that fit nicely into the chart.  Perfumes are the latest something.  I'm still thinking about it...

...but this thing with Musc Ravageur is going to be interesting.  Because suddenly, after years of avoiding it, I want more.  I had to work HARD to find a way to like this one.  In fact, it was probably a little birdie in my ear, a friend who I trusted who said "really, I find value in this person perfume," that encouraged me to give it another try. But I did.  And would not predicted the thought I heard pass my brain.


Are we fickle?  Do our noses/tastes/sensibilities learn, and therefore adapt, and therefore change their minds?  Or do we need to consider another principle in the equation, one I learned in cognitive psych --humans have very powerful mechanisms to justify their choices and/or actions in the face of dissonance.

Meanwhile, the Roast Beast was wafting.  Trying to trap me inside, I think.  Swoop my right past those powdery anthers into the heart of the beast.  Meanwhile, yet another voice joined the chorus: "do you ever change your mind about perfume?"

A ha ha ha ha ha.....

Sure, I do.  Witness Chanel No. 19, which was a welt-raising slap of galbanum the first time I tried it.  But I really hate when people call things that seem "cold" "heartless," which was what I kept reading from others.  I lucked into a 1/5 full bottle of vintage edp.  "Heartless"?  Silly people.  It keeps a cool exterior for the get to know you period, because it is so heartbreakingly beautiful on the dry down.  Score another point for that "you love best that which is first difficult" idea.

Witness also Apres L'Ondee, which when I first tried it seemed like a wan flower, and not much more.  Mind you, I am a fan of quiet, in people and in perfume; this one just didn't seem to have much...depth.  Interest.  And was offering a note I wasn't particularly fond of.  WAIT!! No need to scream "heretic!" I tried some parfum.  Vintage.  And saw into its depths, and found its development, and saw just how beautiful that one main something was.  Changed my mind again.

But let us consider the other corner on the "I've gotten to know you" side of the foursquare.  Bois des Isles, I have always loved you.  Poeme, I'll never tell anyone publicly, but I'll never trade you away.  Bulgari Au The Vert?  Prada Infusion d'Iris?  Hermes Hiris?  All loves at first sight.  And I still feel it whenever I spray.

Consider also something that falls outside the chart, or better put, beyond the left edge of the chart, items whose entry point is not yet decided:  people foods perfumes I have no idea what to make of at first, so I make sure to have multiple meetings, in various contexts, until I can sort out just what IS my initial feeling.  Generally, with these, there is something new enough, or jarring enough, or puzzling enough, that I just can't get my balance at first.  Eventually, usually, I'll get my land legs, then be able to move forward through the experience.  Right now I'm getting to know a vintage Houbigant, Apercu, and there was an amount of learning a foreign language involved.  I'm liking it.  But I wouldn't call it a dislike turned into a like; more a "what kind of creature what planet are you from what language can we communicate with" into a "aha let's talk and see if we can be friends or simply coexist in this universe."

So, let's see, on the positive integration side, there's "I have always loved you" and "I learned to love you," plus the nether zone known as To Be Determined.  On the negative outcome side, as yet unconsidered, is "I loved you at first but now I don't" and "I have always disliked you."

Yeah, I've got ones for those categories, too.

Oh, and there's the far right, the side beyond conclusions.  The part I call "changed my mind," even after making conclusions.  Yes, Victoria, there is a changed my mind clause.

Meanwhile, the Roast Beast continues to blast its meaty call.  Another bud is threatening to open.  There is something obscene about this flower, about this ostentatious display in the kitchen.  Not the ridiculous juxtaposition of ordinary brown freckles against exotic deep pink petals--which is pretty showy--but this horrible intense food smell coming from not fauna but flora.  Double ridiculous is that it seems wrong in the kitchen, but equally wrong in the living room.  Or the bedroom.  Or the bathroom.  Whether I should separate it from the more decorous flowers in the bunch.  I can't figure out what to do with it.

(Maybe it belongs in a vase next to my Love Speaks Primeval.  A visual and olfactory pairing of voluptuous ham and seductive foie gras.)

When it comes to what I now get out of that flower, we've got a strong case of "Take Me to Your Leader."  As in, the alien has landed, right there on my kitchen counter, next to the sink.

While our drama unfolds, the lunchmeat languishes in the refrigerator.

And musk, civet, and castoreum whisper from the drawer and closet upstairs.

mug shot of the carnal perpetrator in floral clothing is author's own

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Arrivals and Departures

I took Son the Elder to the airport yesterday.

When faced with the fork in the road, yesterday's journey took the car under the "departures" sign.

This picture (not mine) shows that point as you approach the airport circle.  When you know you will have to select "arrival" or "departure," and are ideally already positioning yourself appropriately, but if not, know that now is the time.

See, there in the distance. Arriving, or departing?

Smacked me pretty hard, looking up.  There was no choice.  Just a direction.

These days, you can't go to the gate with passengers. One must simply perform a most unceremonious curbside drop and run, under the piercing stare of traffic attendants who are intent upon making sure that there is not ONE BREACH of homeland security on their watch.  So you are forced to put on your most winning smile, whilst strapped in to your automobile, and say a hurried goodbye to the departing one(s).

There is no friendly last call from the conductor.  No "All abooaaard! All aboard who's getting aboard!" A door shuts, you move back onto the circle.  And try to remember to shoot yourself out of it at the entrance/exit.

"Lady, move it."

So I left the airport, and as I headed through the out door that is the airport highway spur, an incoming plane dared descend directly toward me.  Arriving.  I leave, one of many.  It arrives, one of many.  Life has these habits of putting my singular self into perspective.  I start banking on the interchange to get onto the tollway, and BANG! a billboard with Marc Jacobs entertaining himself appears immediately in front of me.  Fortunately, the angle of the turn is fairly acute, and I don't have do think about Marc's exploding metal for long.  I head home.

The music on the radio is at that level Son the Younger calls "Mom is Not Listening."  I'm not.  I'm paying more attention to the hum of the tires, the drone of the bass, the awareness that part of my brain is doing its thinking-thinking-observing-thinking thing, but there is another part, very silent.

I realize my scarf is getting wet.  It's cold around here.  Scarves are required, even in cars, especially when you've got all settings to functional levels but nothing to overwhelm.  I wipe my jawline and drive on.  I'm not sad.  Not in the thinking-thinking part of my brain.

The visit was great.  Lots of laughter.  Plenty of old routines, mind you--family scripts are hard to rewrite--but the old routines aren't all bad.  Just funny to note that people have slipped into their roles.  And yet, are now shaking them up.  One of the monkeys fell out of bed.  We're all rolling over.

So this all brings me back to vintage perfume.  I've talked about it before.  I refuse to turn my head away.  I am a knowledge omnivore.  I'm also a bit of a mashochist, apparently...gadZOOKS! some of those things make me yank my head away from my skin as if I were a cobra doing a reverse strike.  Stinky.  Stanky.  Insta-headache.  But when they're good...and especially good in a way I would never have met otherwise...totally worth it.

I don't cry over "I'll never have any more!"  (Okay, not much.)  But, really; if you're not madly huffing all that you can get your hands on, if you're taking your time moving down the path into the forest, because you fell down the rabbit hole and that was all so fastfastfast and you've already gone through the phase of grabbing as much as you can as you fall because it's all so beautiful or interesting or might be and it's going by so quickly and you don't know if you've heard of it before and might it be like that green one you just tried and oh my somebody said this one was fabulous hurry up and try it here's one that is promising hurry hurry hurryhurry, if you've already gone through that, well, then, the blur is over.

And you are in one of those moments when you realize you'll never grab it all.  Mistakes will be made.   But, by gum, if you breathe...if you allow yourself to breathe, and take something in, and let others pass you on the'll enjoy *that* moment.  And you'll have it.  Always.  Later, you'll be able to turn the radio on to a nearly discernible volume, and let the hum of the tires add to the music, and remember what it smelled like.

Maybe you'll even have the memory of it on your scarf.

photo not author's own (I was driving, silly); find it at Virtual Tourist
an article on the effect of smelling women's tears: ScienceMag

Friday, January 7, 2011

Salted Caramels: A Layering

Take your favorite amber.  Not a dry one, though; rich.  Maybe even a bit chocolatey?  (A hint of patch might do that for you.)  Apply.

Let rest for a few minutes.  Now, take out Heeley Sel Marin.  Quick spritz over.

Mmmm, salted caramels.

photo, author's own.  Bite marks, also author's own.  Oh, darn.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh, for a Joy Ride: Dior La Collection, Round Two

Okay, so I took each of the seven around the block.  I was highly attentive.  I didn't backseat drive, just waited to see where they would take me.  The quick look says that I am probably going to use the Leather Oud, maybe the Mitzah, I'll gift the Granville, I'll pack the Cologne, I'll probably toss the Vetiver in my purse and figure out what to do with it later; it's a fine "oops, I thought I didn't want scent but I kinda think maybe now I changed my mind at least I feel a little incomplete" something.  But the other two... I'll stare at the New Look and Milly-La-Floret in the same way a toddler does when their dad swoops in and eats some of their mac and cheese without asking first.

Now why did you do THAT?

They are nice.  There's nothing WRONG with them.   They are very polite.  Nothing wrong with that, but adventurers need not park here; move over to the Cartier Heures...folks in search of sillage and/or volume are going to want to move along, too; nothing to see here.  Again, nothing wrong with that.  Remember, I'm the person who went full bottle on L'Eau d'Hiver.  Who finds that just one spritz will often do for both wrists.  (I mean ONE, on one side, rubbed together with the other.)  I have no problem with speak softly but carry a big stick.

There's just not that much to the stick.

Again, can't complain about the contents.  The ingredients seemed good enough.  But the construction, while inoffensive, is...uninspired.  Which is perfectly fine if you are looking for a serviceable something, and don't know where you like your flourishes, or simply don't feel like having any.  Wardrobe-wise, it's the basic white shirt without the touch of a special cut at the collar, or french cuffs, or a fitted bodice, or whatever it is that turns "white shirt" into "my white shirt" or "the white shirt that's right for this occasion." Nothing wrong.  Just...serviceable.  Even pleasant.  Worth sniffing, if you're in the neighborhood.

Here's the thing with a wardrobe, clothing or perfume:  It's good to have a sense of what are the operational aspects:  pants/shirts/dress/sweater/belt or amber/soliflore/mixed floral/incense, with amendments as befits your climate.  But the interesting thing about a wardrobe to me is the one that takes shape over time, and/or expresses particular tastes and quirks of its owner.  And knows enough to select cuts and fabrics that suit the owner best.  When you are young, you gather up pieces as quickly as possible for the sake of at least having them.  But as you spend more time in the world, getting to know it and yourself and yourself in it, you start to figure out that you're about a french cuff, that a shell neckline is never going to be your friend, that the antique silver bracelet you picked up is kind of a signature piece for you.

Style and substance with personality are hard to buy in one fell swoop.

Nonetheless, here we are, presented with a chance to walk away with a starter kit.  So, what of this collection?  Here, in Round Two, we information gather.  In the form of a first wearing and reactions.  I've shared my general note taking process before here; this time, the difference was that instead of going about my other business being at the ready to jot down cryptic notes and keywords or phrases, I stayed at the keyboard (doing other "desk work") and tried to keep track whenever and whatever I reacted.  (Not difficult; the moves were fast or non-present, as you shall see.)  I don't like to do quartets when I'm more attentive; more than two, and it's hard for a non-trained nose to keep track.

Oh, and I should note that a) I did not get any of the three which were previously released (Ambre Nuit, Eau Noire, and Bois d'Argent), and that b) all were tested from roller ball bottles.  I do wonder if spritzing might affect a some of these (Mitzah, New Look, and Granville especially).

Onward.  Dior La Collection, Round One.


FIRST UP:  Leather Oud, Granville
Leather Oud
Right out of the gate, yes, leather, yes, oud; but dilutions of each.  Honest dilutions, straight up leather, honest whiff of oud.  But not overwhelming of either.  Getting the feeling that this would be perfect for anyone on the fence about either.  Someone like me, say, who has to save Bandit for the right day, or who knows she favors the mitigated leather of a peau de espagne, or who is intrigued by oud but knows to approach with caution, because sometimes the band-aid medicinal aspect slaps her straight to migraine land, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Son of a gun, as it dries down, other elements come in.  Whereas in a peau de espagne, the blending occurs from the top, here it starts as you enter the second act.  There’s a tart citrusy something threaded throughout this part; kind of like that all-natural lemon tonic mixer thing I got to try with my cocktails.  (Stirrings Bitter Lemon, to be exact.)  I’ll bet that makes sense, instead of florals (a la espagne), as a way to bridge the initial double hit of leather and oud.  In fact, it makes so much sense it is distracting me from figuring out what else is there.  Something else is there.  I’ll get a finger on it.  Maybe.
In a conversation with a perfume friend, I described this one as "perfect for somebody who thinks they might like leather, or oud, and/or is shy about them...the volume is at "easy listening leather and/or oud."
Out of the bottle, first hit is pretty much what I had thought it might be: the Dior answer to Bel Respiro.  Green.  Galbanum-ish.  Which means I like, but have nothing much more to say.  I pay more attention to the Leather Oud.
Which is a shame, because when I come back, I discover it has done it’s first (we’ll see if last) change, and now is sweet and uplifting.  There might be an excuse to have at least a decant of this, even though I have Bel Respiro.  Truth be told, BR does sometimes veer sweet on me.  When it does, it stays in a lower register.  This Granville has a higher note blended in, which makes it a little more tolerable than BR’s sweet twist.  So, if I had to pick between them when they dive sweet, I might go Granville.  
OTOH, Granville has pulled out the green station.  Maybe still the last car is in.  So Bel Respiro still preferred, though Granville is nice.

And then I never thought about Granville again.  Until now.  Let's see...nope.  Nothing else to say at the moment.
Apparently, no third act for either.  Leather Oud continues to play with the lemon bitters soda, Granville just fades into the sunset.
SECOND UP:  Vetiver, Milly-la-Foret
Immediately cementing my sense that this collection is going to be “serious notes for the timorous/beginner/delicate nose.”  Sure, that’s vetiver, nearly straight up.  Again, like the Leather Oud, honest.  But somehow, they turned down the volume.  It’s not diluting it so much as...through a layer of glass?  Filters and screens would suggest an alteration; this is a lighweight jersey knit is to a thick sports weave in cotton.  Same material, just...less present.

Again, an easy-listening scent.  Remember how I had to back door my way into vetiver, because straight up it was too difficult?  This might have been a way to enter the front door, gently.
Oddly, I’m scared of florals.  They can be too pretty, or too screaming, or too indolic, or too much like something I’d much rather smell fresh in a vase, or too cloying, or just not interesting.  Maybe it was me Mme Chanel had in mind when she said “a woman does not want to smell like a flower.”  On the other hand, I’m no girly girl, and it didn’t even occur to me until I looked up the perfume notes for this set of test runs that offerings in this collection were gendered.  Hence, Leather Oud and Vetiver are “masculines.”  They could be my two favorites so far.  So take this with the appropriate grain of grey sea salt.
It’s a “pretty” floral, but again...not too much.  I see people on Fragrantica mentioning “green”--heck, no, not on me.  Pink, baby, with other colors too.  A thoroughly saturated pink, joined by green and a hint of purple and maybe a touch of blue, again, with the volume turned down to, oh, 3.  The best part about it is when you discover its non projecting non-changing meek self still plugging along two hours later...but can best make that discovery 2” away from your skin, not when in full nuzzle.  Interesting.  A whisper that projects.  As far as it is capable, I suppose.

Okay, this one and New Look 1947 I most questioned my reactions to.  So I reapplied before writing this.  Which turned out to be a little cruel/unfair, what with the discovery that a bit of last night vintage Diorella edc lingered on my wrist.  Sigh.  Anyway, I reapplied, and thought, "hey, there should be a "perf-logne" category...something is lifting this a LOT, something citrusy...and then very quickly, something curled my nose a bit.  Something that read vaguely chemically, something out of (as in beyond) perfume...ergh.  Mister Bubble?  Second time did not help.  Dislike button, please.
No second act for either, let alone a third.  Very linear.
However, I’ve had difficulty finding love for vetiver--an ongoing process I first discussed here but which has not come to any conclusions.  I’d easily point to a bottle of the Dior Vetiver, however, when asked the question “is there such a thing as an easy vetiver?”  I had to trick myself with smoke and mirrors, back-dooring it to vetiver via blends that allowed me to follow another note in.  This one, I think, allows one to step inside without adding a spoonful of sugar or starting off cloaked or some such ruse.
THIRD UP: Mitzah, New Look 1947
Immediately upon applying, an “mmm” and a search to find the blank in “this reminds me of _______.”  Glad I take pauses before adding on the next scents when doing multiple patch tests, because this one immediately begins to morph, sending out some cedar, then something sweet; I can almost smell movement.  Decide to adjust that phrase to “I can smell movement; time is being marked in my nose.”  Decide I might be a bit delusional, figure it’s fair to note I’m only halfway done with my first tea of the morning.
Less than seven minutes in, I smell the opening again, only now am more attuned to the wood. Whether because it is more present or I am more primed, I don’t know.  I am thinking hey, this is the one that is going to make me not generalize this set.  Then it strikes me, hey, this IS also a perfume for beginners.  Because those who don’t have the patience and/or experience to wait through a full length could see it in a short subject here.  Mental note:  Now have two perfumes to throw the idea of “drydown” in high relief:  Poivre Piquant (for the wow, what a shift!) and Mitzah (for the hey, look at that change!).
Again, there’s nothing loud about this one at all, projection, volume, or manner.  Suppose that would be another consistency throughout.
Stop thinking, and clear brain for New Look, the one that is already getting happy press.
{{see New Look notes for comments during this phase}}
Two hours later, and the Mitzah has is a warmed up wood, lightly sweet, and hands down the one I’m likely to try to get more of.  Skinwoodhoneyed.  No, swap Sugar in the Raw for honey.  No...I dunno...something lightly dosed, hint o’ sweet...
4+ hours later, still there to huff.  The first one to work this way...or at least work this way dabbed.

Oh, Mitzah, after ruminating, I realized why I had liked you.  Other than the welcome distraction from New Look 1947.  You are the easy listening version of a classic Pierre Guillame trick; push the sweet accord against a contrast, somehow make it work as a composition and not a train wreck.  Except I reapplied you, too, without that gaggle of girls on the other side.  And you know what?  You're riding a line.  You're working a nerve with this sweet thing, right out of the gate.  Where is that which I thought was woody?  Patchsense?  C'mon.  Shoot.  Okay, maybe I'll use you with a comfortable but worn sweater on a cold day.  Let's see.
Most of these I came into blind, but New Look was already generating buzz in an online social group for perfume freaksfans.  What am I trying to ignore?  Two things.  “Beautiful” (could set up too high expectations), and “doesn’t last long” (hey, that would too easily fit in the overall “not loud/easy” profiling I’m trying not to do...until I’m done).  I stare at the vial, and wait another couple of minutes.  There’s always plenty to distract me online.
And I catch a whiff of Mitzah, and the woods are definitely taking over, and I need to note that.  Here, or back up with Mitz?  OOOOOoooh, Mitsouko would be peeved to see that.  Poor Mitzah, barred from a nickname.
Finally apply New Look.  Oooooooh, pretty.  Wait, blast; I really liked right at the opening, when it had a nearly sharp note that carried through in a nicely green way.  But within a minute, purply pink, that effect again!, like in Kiss Me Tender or Vamp a NY.  Do you remember that semi-hard candy, sweeter than Smarties, that came on elastic strings that you could wear on your neck or wrist?  And if you ate some, your skin would get dyed from the various colors each disk had been made, because your saliva just could not be contained singly to each target victim ?  I do.  Right in that moment, especially.  Okay, now they’re starting to come together, those two effects...hey, what’s up this morning?  Is my nose operating in slo-mo?  Or are these two really doing some sort of fast paced morphing in front of my very eyes, erm, nostrils?
Regardless, I see why pretty fans were excited.  It is.  But I’m happy to have the Mitzah on the other wrist so I can go back and cut? leaven? the Sex and the City girlfest that’s going on where New Look lays.
(Note to self: be sure to leave that phrase in there.  SATC + “lays” = funny, if they see it.)
One hour later...sometime during my absence from this note page things went pretty “neener neener” with New Look.  Take some screaming girls, yammering and all excited about Bieber and trying to calm down because there are some older “women” (in their twenties) around who are obviously cool but the intensity of energy doesn’t change much, and put them on the other side of a large, well appointed but comfortable room.  When they are closer and all out screaming, we have a screechy floral.  Here, we have floral alert! floral alert! nice enough, but too much...don’t get any closer!  I just don’t do this sort of thing well.  
Thank you, Mitzah, for being there.
Two hours later...there, I did it.  I sniffed again.  I won’t ever have to again if I don’t want to.  I suspect that the plaintive wail I heard about a fan (whose thoughts I like to hear and pay attention to) was predicated on the pretty part.  I am not finding this fleeting, alas...but it is the final iteration which won’t go away.  Points to NL for evolving.  But of those chicks who makes it partway through The Bachelor and then has a bad attitude?
(OMG.  I may admit I’ve seen an episode of The Bachelor.  It’s like a horrible crash.  I can’t turn away.  I start yelling at the screen.  REALLY?  You’re heart is broken because ONE DUDE IS GROUP DATING TWENTY GIRLS AND YOU BELIEVED YOURSELF TO “BE IN LOVE” BUT STRANGELY FEELINGS WERE NOT RECIPROCATED EVEN THOUGH YOU HAD HOT CANOODLING IN A BATHTUB?????@@@!!!!!  Oh, America.  I don’t watch, because I choose to believe in you.)
4+ hours later...and it’s still there to be snorfled.  Should I wish to do so.  Neener neener  is pretty well gone, but it’s not either happily or insufferably pretty, either.  
With fear and trepidation, I also reapplied this one.  Just now.  (Hey, I was askeered.) Was pleasantly surprised the Neener Neener effect didn't hit me right off. I get what girly-girl friendly folk might like in this one. Can you believe I've never smelled YSL Paris? But New Look 1947 smells magenta and hot pink and a bit of purple all at once; makes me think of that Paris box.  And sweet young things with blonde curls, figuring out how to use their lipstick.  And now it occurs to me this is on the back of my hand, not my wrist.  Factor?  Ruh-roh.  Neener in the distance.  Stopping for now.
Right out of the bottle:  Nice.  Bright.  More Eau Imperiale than Chanel.  Which means this little decant immediately gets put on the watch list--could be a perfect one to pack for travel, do double duty as way to scent oneself and to soothe a headache/get a perk up.

Yeah, that's about it.

Have you tried any?  I've a 'fume friend who was smitten by New Look 1947, complaining only that it didn't last long on her and had minimal sillage.   (I'm tempted to chalk that up to the "easy listening" aspect of the collection, but that's opportunistic.)  Leather Oud has generated a mixed bag, with a couple people saying it was 'nice but toned down' (paraphrasing there), but others ho-hum.  Hmmm.