What I Wear: Leather

Bandit

Bandit

I came to this conclusion recently when  taking inventory of my several bottles, all of which have got to be moved. Many were leather scents.  I mean a surprising proportion of them were leather, almost thirty percent of what I actually wear these days qualifies as some sort of leather scent.  I had not the faintest notion.  If you had asked me, my nice well mannered left brain self would have told you that I wear florals. Yes I do wear some florals, mostly aldehydic florals, and some modern chypres, but a lot of the time…well you know. Continue reading

The Ylang-Ylang Tree

le de Givenchy in reissued bottle

Le De Givenchy in reissued bottle

Every Spring turns into summer and then scents with a touch of tropics are what you crave.  Anyway they’re what I generally go looking for, though in the case of Ylang Ylang, I seldom succeed.  It’s very difficult to discover ylang starring as the main note of a perfume rather than as supporting player. Ylang is like the blonde in a Film Noir, obligatory, seldom featured, often dying in the first reel.

Some years ago I spent an entire summer wearing I Coloniali’s Javanese Cananga which was the closest thing I have ever found before or since to a ylang ylang soliflore.  There are some claims made for Micallef’s Ylang in Gold but I have never smelled that and wonder if it ever emerged from the vanilla pudding vat into which so many Ylang Ylangs tumble. If you are lucky those vats are full of creme anglaise made with cream and if you are not, they are Jello mix made with skim milk. Continue reading

The Tidal Wave of Pollen Known as Spring

Bee and Pollen

Bee and Pollen

Spring this year is unusually pollen heavy, everywhere I go in New Jersey people have watery eyes and running noses.  My Hub is apparently in competition for the greatest number of recorded sneezes during any twenty four hour period, and even the check out people at Shop Rite can barely see out of their swollen eyes.

What is causing all this misery? Pollen, pure and simple, but also remarkably plentiful this year.  Our car is covered in a powdery chartreuse veil of the stuff.  I can’t help  but wonder, how many more floral smells can we actually endure? Continue reading

Reconsidering Smells

Christmas tree cauliflower

Christmas tree cauliflower

There are some smells that all of us have a visceral dislike of, some people hate boxwood with its pungent slightly cat pee odor.  Others love it and have all sorts of happily associated memories of parks, gardens and playgrounds triggered by boxwood.  Eau Illuminee from Parfums Delrae is said to feature boxwood as part of the sensory landscape of San Francisco. Then again some people love the scent of cumin while for others cumin (especially detectable in  the revamped Femme from Rochas or old Alpona from Caron) can put off a lot of people who only smell sweat and stale takeaway curries. Even roses can be controversial, although most of us love them. Anne of Austria (Louis the XIV’s Mum) so hated them that reportedly she couldn’t stand to see a rose in a painting and who knows what happened when she spotted one in a vase…* Continue reading

Beauty and the Bottle

Le Labo Bottle

Le Labo Bottle

Bottles and packaging used to matter very little to me.  I was what your might call a reverse perfume snob, in that the prettier the presentation the more I thought the perfume inside the bottle would be a thin chemical mess.

Of course there was some justification for assuming that because in the past packaging for perfumes had taken up a good deal more of their budgets than the actual perfume, a  cart before the horse situation that predominated for a long time. Francois Coty’s old saying that you should offer a woman a quality product in the best packaging that you could afford seems to have gone by the wayside, but I wonder if after all he wasn’t right. Continue reading

A Pounding Perfume Headache

The headache

The headache

One thing is for sure, I’m not the only one.  Increasingly I hear and read about people getting headaches from perfume.  It’s a very unfortunate side effect of being a perfume enthusiast.

Now you might think being someone who blogs about perfume  and smells generally, that I therefore spend my days drenched.  Not so.  In fact I generally only wear perfume after three p.m. if  I have nowhere to go in the evening.  No restaurant, concert or theater trips get accompanying perfumes .  I’ve been to those places and had my evening scented with someone else’s selection once too often.  I have also gotten what you might call  contact headaches from perfume saturated venues, and so steer clear of any powerful perfumes in public. Continue reading

Have You Read Any Good Perfumes Lately?

Bookshelf from nextimpact.com

Bookshelf from nextimpact.com

Perfumers don’t compose perfumes, instead they “write” them.  It’s an interesting choice of verb.  If you are one of those people who regard perfume as rather like cooking, then this idea will probably not appeal to you, but it is part of the industry, especially in France where fairly or unfairly, the metaphor for “cooking” in perfumery also exists but in a pejorative sense.  A chemical brew is known as a “soup” and these comprise the majority of releases on the  mass market.  Something may be cooking or stewing at the big oil production houses , but  isn’t being conceptualized, most product has no discernible plot beyond, “Make the sale!”

However perfumers themselves who are concerned with more than the fiendish difficulties of scenting detergent or soap, have a little more leeway, and for them the idea of ideas becomes feasible, even defensible. You get Frederic Malle’s “Editions” de Parfums, for all the world like Hachette or Gallimard. Continue reading

Nesting

Robin's nest from evoillusion.org

Robin’s nest from evoillusion.org

I don’t know about other parts of the country but around here in Jersey the perfume counters are a tad lackluster.  Most of the new perfumes are flankers of the Dolce “Floral Drops” variety, and do not cause much in the way of excitement, put it this way, you can buy the aforementioned drops on Overstock.com. What does seem to be different is the growth in the Nest personal perfume range.  Our Sephora now sells what must be about eight of these and they are all beautifully packaged in prints derived from the work of Mary Delaney the 18th century botanical decoupage artist. Continue reading

Tuberoses for a Founding Father

Thomas Jefferson at the age when he was experimenting most in the garden at Monicello

Thomas Jefferson at the age when he was experimenting most in the garden at Monicello

Ever wonder what were the favorite scents of historical figures?  In the case of Thomas Jefferson we know one of his: the Mexican tuberose.  Jefferson was a gardener when he was not writing the Declaration of Independence or being president.  Monticello was a sort of test garden for all sorts of plants and flowers that Jefferson had admired abroad, or that he thought might be useful or simply ornamental, in American horticulture.  One such discovery for him was the tuberose.

He kept a diary which is how we know about his tastes and what he ordered.  Like anybody else who gardens, he loved to look at plant lists from nurseries and dream of where he could tuck this or that little rarity into the spaces he had open. Continue reading