The perfume house of Mugler has become one of the most innovative ones in the world. Forget niche perfumery- most of the niche companies anyway- because if you want something totally new and different, half the time that something will come from Mugler.
They didn’t focus test Angel back in the day, because they knew the scent would be too polarizing and swept off the market triumphantly with a huge hit. Proving, I suppose, that to be a true entrepreneur takes true grit no matter whether you are selling smart phones, Bitcoins, or …perfume. And although I may never have taken to the blue Angel, millions of other people have, and by now the structure of Angel has inspired dozens of similar perfumes, everything from Flowerbomb to Magical Moon. Continue reading →
This may be an irrelevant question for perfume enthusiasts, since we tend to like what we like defiantly*, no matter how odd or old or inexpensive it is, but for the rest of the world, a gap is opening up and getting wider between what most of us smell of and what the very rich can, and sometimes do, waft.
The concept came home to me last week when the water company sent a man over to fix our water meter. He was an affable Jersey guy who went right down cellar and got on with it. But his scent, that was a different matter.
It was omnipresent, it stayed on the main floor with me, while simultaneously laying down a serpentine trail behind him every time he surfaced to get something out of his van. In was powerful, it was pervasive, it had monster sillage, and boy, did it last! It was a combination of sweat and Bounce.
If there are ethnicities represented in the world of perfume, then the dominant one these days is probably Arabian, possibly Saudi, more probably the UAE, but either way situated on the Arabian Peninsula. Possibly it has to do with the abandonment of so many natural materials that Western Europe via IFRA restrictions has espoused, although of course all Montales and Amouages sold in France have to comply with those restrictions.
But the style is one that I find intermittently rather heavy. I appreciate the richness of the scents, and there is no mistaking their opulence, but what I really want is…well, something Japanese. Continue reading →
That probably sounds strange. Perfume is perfume, right?
Wrong. Some is like caviar or truffles, a taste you may acquire, but that you won’t be born with; some perfume is sophisticated and has to be appreciated in retrospect.
When I first encountered Tabac Blond back in the nineties, it was more emphatic than it is today. It was a dry melange of tobacco and leather. Tabac Blond was not sweet at all, and so very civilized that you didn’t understand it at first. TB was beautiful, but severe as a parterre, that was my first take away from the encounter. Continue reading →
Everyone has one of these stories, either concerning what you remember your Mother wearing, or else what your Mimaw wore, but either way, their choices influence yours. It’s inevitable. Some mothers never wear perfume, and their daughters react against the austerity; others had mothers who over-spritzed, and a lifetime of no scent can be the result.
However the nicest tradition perhaps, is the generational carry over of a perfume: the mother who always wore Joy, and so the daughter does as well, for instance. It’s lovely, but seldom seems to happen. People often want to distance themselves from what their mothers wore, more than they want to reprise them. But there comes a time in everyone’s life when remembering does take on some importance. Continue reading →
I spent Saturday in exotic company, my three companions were the Guerlains Rose Nacre du Desert, Songe d’un Bois d’Ete, and Encens Mythique. They were startling to encounter because they all do what Guerlians used to do, namely last, have a sillage, and project an air of luxury. A few posters on line have called this series Guerlain doing Montale, but I bet these three were Guerlain doing Amouage, and possibly doing Amouage better than Amouage does itself. Continue reading →
That dubious distinction still seems to go to floral aldehydes, the unpopular but deserving members of the floral class. Never mind that the class photo features No 5 sitting front and center, the attractive teacher, chicly conservative in her boxy little jacket, with a sprawling disparate group around her, some obviously not having paid attention to the dress code laid down for picture day. Some of the newcomers are in jeans, Clean’s Cotton T Shirt for instance.
Perhaps this unpopularity of late years has had to do with the perception of being unfashionable. If so, then the unfashionable stigma on aldehydic florals dates from some time in the 1980s. Not much came out in that decade that was recognizably aldehydic and floral. Nina Ricci’s Fleur de Fleurs dates from 1982, a green aldehydic scent that fell into the group by default, as did Bogner’s Sonia, and Shiseido’s cult hit Nombre Noir, and even such oddities as Italy’s Deborah Time. Only Amouage’s Gold really had much lasting impact, and that because it was a new spin on an old genre, mixing the aesthetics of middle eastern perfumery with French. Continue reading →
Does anyone (else) remember the wonderful garden writer for the Washington Post, Henry Mitchell? He wrote the Earthman column for years and his collection of essays on gardening, culled from old pieces, The Essential Earthman is wonderful reading matter for arm chair gardeners everywhere. The essential thing to know about Henry Clay Mitchell – besides his love of grubbing, building and garden planning – was his absolute passion for bearded iris. Continue reading →
The day in question would be one of those puddle jumpers of late spring, you know, umbrella and Wellington boot weather. This has been our lot for weeks on the eastern coast of the US, where the spring has been tardy and cold.
This unexpected weather has played hob with my usual perfume choices for this time of year. Normally, I would have cracked my Carons, and it would have been a Bellodgia fest with a bit of En Avion and Narcisse Blanc to break up the rose/carnation cabal. That is what it might have been like. However it’s been too raw for all those scents, and frequently too wet. I kept Coty’s l’Aimant in rotation, as the sole floral, because that smells dry and slightly peachy, a comforting perfume for cold, raw days. Continue reading →
Maybe it all began with Baudelaire, or Zola, or Maupassant, or Huysmans; certainly it carries over into the work of Proust, but arguably it was Colette who wrote about perfume with the greatest delicacy and exactitude of all French writers.
If perfume was entering artistic culture at the turn of the 19th century, then it was authors of her generation who helped usher it in. The human response, simple but profound, to the ordinary stimulus of scent, was something Colette with her instincts, sensitive as feelers, understood. For her, the mystery of this world was visual, palpable, smell-able.
“I recall,” she writes in Flora and Pomona about visiting a greenhouse at a Parisian flower show, “an extraordinary prodigality of irises, in May…thousands and thousands of iris, a clump of azure approaching a yellow clump, a velvety violet facing an extremely pale mauve, black iris…thousands and thousands of iris, occupied with their punctual births and deaths, without a pause, with mixing their perfume with the mysterious foulness of manure…”. All this accompanied by “the sound of half opened fore wings, the sound of an insect’s delicate claw, the noise of a dead leaf’s dance, but it was the irises, in the propitious filtered light, loosening the desiccated membrane rolled at the base of their calyxes, the irises who in their thousands bloomed.” Continue reading →