Friday, March 19, 2010

Comfort Scents for Uncomfortable Times

It is the vernal equinox, and I have had a habit of writing about “balance” when the equipoise of day and night arrive.  However, I was invited to join some wonderful bloggers in thinking about “Comforting Scents for Uncomfortable Times”...and given the range of perspectives and styles of voice among this fun group, I’m gonna call this balance.  Rather, a post.  About balance.  In the form of comfort.  When not comfortable.
Okay.  Think it through.  In order to say what is comforting, I need to be particular about what kind of comfort we’re talking about.  
For example, am I seeking/enjoying comfort in the company of another?  In the arms of another?
Am I looking to lose myself?  Be blissful, without worrying out how anyone else is doing?
Am I seeking the comfort of protection?  When I need this protection to feel safe--comforted--do I need it to be low key?  Loud?  Something that will keep people at a distance, or something that will only seem like armor if you keep your distance?
I thought.  And came up with some scents...and a couple of surprises.  But I get ahead of myself.  First...
Comfort.  For the Vernal Equinox 2010.  
Comfort, as I am thinking of it today, is something sought.  It’s not centering which brings peace.  It’s not “happy.”  It is a place...some perfumes can take you there.
But there is variety in the where that is “there.”
✒Just me?  Doesn’t matter who might smell me?  But I want to feel...
     Sensuous ~ Feminite du Bois
     Wrapped in warmth with a hint of elation ~ Attrape Couer
     In touch with my inner bitch ~ Bandit
     In touch with my inner naif ~ Acqua Allegoria Aqua Fresca
     Gently reminded of beauty, on and off but throughout the day ~ En Passant
     Is there anyone else in the world? ~ once upon a time, this was L’Ombre Fauve.  Liz Zorn’s Journeyman was there for a while, but it is discontinued.  Position is open.  Please apply. 
✒Me and someone else?  And I’d like them to enjoy, too?
     Sensuous ~ Magie Noire
     Cozy in cashmere ~ Chergui
     Mmmmmm ~ Ava Luxe Vamp wafting up from my top drawer.  
✒Makes you think I’m a cool customer...until you get to know me ~ Chanel No. 19
✒Cozy, warm, but strangely unavailable ~ Bois Blond 
✒Hey, you smell good...what’s this force field? ~ Pick a cool iris.  Like Hiris.
The surprises?  Two of them.  One, a realization that something that something I like, that as a note is generally guaranteed to get me to say “ahhhh, nice,” actually serves as a kind of chain mail.  No, silly, not chain mail that is super annoying and against postal law anyway.  The woven metal kind.  The lighter than full-out armor but still provides protection stuff.  The kind butchers and fishmongers wear as gloves to this day as protection from sharp blades.  The kind that is apparently beneath the note than can be warm orris root, but when chilled and earthed out a bit, still says “beautiful”...but Not Vulnerable.  Iris.  Cool iris.
The other surprise hit me after I drafted my list.  Bois Blond?  But that’s my happy sunshine scent!  Of course, there’s comfort in laying in the sun on a spring day when you can smell the grass and the ground and know everything is warming up, right down to the bones...yours...the earth’ in the world did that end up in the “protected” category?  And it struck me.  It’s the opposite of the chilly reception followed by the reveal of a warm heart that is a scent like Chanel No. 19.  Bois Blond is...warm heart, on your sleeve, everything in motion toward joy...with a hint of resolve.  Not steely resolve, like, say, a cool iris.  Not Imma Gonna SmackYa resolve of leather.  No, it’s strong, tenacious, stubborn resolve.  The note that I think does that is tobacco.  The effect, whatever the note, is very appropriate. The effect tells you the wearer has a back which is flexible but is not going to be easily broken.    
No wonder it came to me for both protection and the equinox.  As you lay on the earth on a warm mid-spring day, and can smell both dried plant material and growing greens, all being coaxed out by the heat of the sun on the dirt which is coming up to temperature but not quite ready for planting, you rest.  Assured that whatever the challenges, the earth will keep turning.  
With a smile on its face.  Resolve doesn’t always have to be grim.
✍ ✍ ✍ ✍ ✍

Here are the other bloggers participating in today’s project.  I always enjoy reading their various perspectives; hope you do, too.
Roxana's Illuminated Journal ** BitterGrace Notes ** Perfume Shrine ** Scent Hive ** The Non Blonde ** Perfume in Progress ** Katie Puckrik Smells ** A Rose Beyond the Thames ** I Smell Therefore I Am ** Olfactarama ** All I Am A Redhead  ** Savvy Thinker ** SmellyBlog

This group blog was coordinated by Ayala Sender.  I thank her for the invite.  Ayala informs me the title of the post is an homage to Michelyn Camen's original article of this same name on Sniffapalooza Magazine in 2008, in which she interviewed several perfumers to comment on what botanical elements make their perfumes comforting.


Ines said...

Wow! The ending thoughts are great!
I love the places your perfumes take you - that is really a great description of what good perfume can do for you.
Iris. Cool Iris.- Bond. James Bond. ;) That's what Santal Blanc does for me.

ScentScelf said...

Ines, thanks for the chuckle! I'm going to introduce Hiris, Iris Silver Mist, all of 'em in that range in that Bond voice. "Iris. Cool Iris." Followed by offering a cool handshake, and fixing them with a cool gaze.

Scent Hive said...

FdB might be the ultimate comfort scent. I need to wear this more.

Happy Spring!!

BitterGrace said...

I agree with Ines--great closer! Your list is made up of such beautiful scents, it reminds me of the enormous pleasure to be found in the world of perfume. Sometimes I forget...

Mals86 said...

Interesting list... I notice that I feel safe and protected in aldehydes, of all things: Mariella Burani, SL La Myrrhe, L'Aimant. Probably the influence of my No.5-wearing mother.

Other comforting smells: rose, either light and fresh or deep and rich (Petite Cherie, Parfum Sacre), and benzoin/vanilla/tonka. Seems like all my "settle down for sleep" scents have something like that - the MBurani, Shal Lite, Tocade, Emeraude, TF Voile de Fleur...

Musette said...

Very interesting choices, dearest! And a great post!! Just lovely.

You know my comfort scents - and none of them are charming, alas. All armor, all the way. Gets a bit tiring sometimes but...

Bel Respiro is softly-lovely and somewhat comforting - maybe it's a step in a different direction?

xoxo your Resident Alien

Ayala Moriel said...

Thank you for contributing to the comforting joint blogging project!
Your insights are inspiring and so bang-on. I love your writing, and how you managed to find balance for the Vernal Equinox.
I loved Herba Fresca, such a summery scent with reference to the herb garden I grew up with; but I was unable to wear it often, the tea note I think was too sharp for me.
Your armour analogy is so true. Never thought about it that way. Scents such as No. 19, many masculine fougeres in general and also Feuilles de Tabac have that effect on me.
Happy Spring!

ScentScelf said...


Happy Spring wishes returned! :)

ScentScelf said...


Sometimes I forget, too! Sometimes, because things get too thick; sometimes, because I think I need a break from scent (and probably do).

But I am grateful that -- so far, at least -- there has always been a return to being able to find various joys in perfume. I think I shall never lose nor need a break from the sense of joy in smelling my garden, though. :)

ScentScelf said...


That is interesting -- aldehydes generally spell comfort for you. Hmmm...and the mother factor... As you know, aldehydes = Big Challenge for me. But I continue to nip at their heels. In the future, I'll be aided in my dogged attempts to find the hidden joys there, knowing it's an easy match for other 'fume friends. (In fact, Musette, who comments below you, is hard pressed to find a "sparkly" she doesn't like.)

In return, I'm going to amuse you with a tidbit I left as a comment to one of the other joint project bloggers: I don't general go for wearing scent to bed, but one that I *do* occasionally use for that purpose? Are you ready? One that challenges you...L'Heure Bleu. Settle steady happy. For me. :)

ScentScelf said...


Thank you. :)

But not of your comfort scents are Charming? You make me think...have you not mentioned Charmes & Feuilles as being something you go to in order to just feel good? I think choosing to spray on happy is another way of spraying on armor; both offer a form of comfort. At least, so I am thinking today.

Ah, Bel Respiro...come to think of it, that's kind of like a watercolor alternative to No. 19. Got some green in there to sharpen your senses, but blends it in; doesn't hit you upside the head first and then make you wait for it. Yes, yes I say! It is a step in a different direction, away from some of the more strident, in your face armors. It is...armor in balance! For the Equinox!! applause

Okay, I get a little silly. But my drift remains the same.

Nice to see you here. :)

ScentScelf said...


Well, now there's an interesting transposition in my head. I called it "Aqua Fresca," didn't I? *Herba* Fresca. I'm going to say it is because connecting to green is as essential as having water to me.

And you are so right about the masculine fougeres. If I revisit this idea in the future, I'm going to have to consider them. As for Feuilles de Tabac...I look forward to trying that and finding out just what effect it has for me!


Perfumeshrine said...


loved reading about your thoughts on what constitues comfort, protection, the categories you devised :-)
And yes, I also consider orris/iris to be comforting in its own way. It's just so plush!

ScentScelf said...


Thanks so much. I love orris (gonna go ahead and get specific here; someday, SOMEDAY they'll capture the bloom, too), and the way it can be massaged in one direction or another, but still maintain its essential character. I like that..."plush"...yes. :)

Katie Puckrik said...

I loved your insights, here! I'm fascinated that something as evanescent as a smell has a distinct character, ie iris's beautiful invulnerability. The way everyone can agree on its self-contained plushness is so intriguing. I can't get enough of this crazeee sniffing biz...

Rose said...

what a lovely write up of comforting scents. I can't believe I didn't think of En Passant- which is comfort personified. It's definitely true that different things will be comforting at different times- sometimes the only thing that works for me is Bach's rescue remedy!

ScentScelf said...

Ah, well, Rose. Perhaps because En Passant plays that peek-a-boo seems to be gone, then pouf! it's haunting you's only fitting that it escaped your mind. Momentarily.

You remind me...though around here declaring it to be "spring" would have been pushing things...I think that perhaps, as of today, I dare uncover En Passant. Which I do tend to categorize by season first, then mood. But it is never truly far from reach...too beautiful to ever go into deep rotation.