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.


Marina said...

I immediately knew what you meant by "one of those chicks who makes it partway through The Bachelor and then has a bad attitude", because I do watch the show :)))

ScentScelf said...

I watch one per season. I consider it akin to getting an immunization shot. ;)

Vanessa said...

"Easy listening leather/oud"? Perfumes for "timorous/beginner/delicate noses"? "Lightweight jersey knits" that are "less present"?

My ears pricked up at all of these descriptors, for this new launch sounds awfully "me". I am after all the champion of bland. The two pinky purply ones sound a bit scary though, but on balance, these I have to try!

ScentScelf said...

...and "bland" wouldn't be quite fair, either. Just navigating charted waters, and for my part, I've either already sailed and don't need to go back, or currently have a vessel to take me there.

But I could see them suiting any number of folks/situations. What was the color you so delightfully posted about? Ecru? They could serve. Every color has a purpose, and even the Pantone colors of the year get moved to the background.

Uff. Good thing I'm done. There's a simile hiding in the corner, afraid it was next up on the butcher block. ;) Good to see you back, Vanessa.