The end of the twentieth century was very concerned with clear atmospheres. This was probably because of crowding in public spaces which I suppose also meant crowded air. Perfume and cigarettes, those two great offenders, were sometimes banned, although the evidence that perfume harmed anyone was extremely spotty. Still what it meant for me was caution. Now I do not wear perfume anywhere that contains a large number of people e.g. airplanes, offices, restaurants, theaters. What’s left?
Here’s the odd part. I used to like shared atmosphere as a child. I enjoyed going to church and huffing whatever the lady in the fur wrap was wearing. My mom’s Tabu I avoided but when she changed to Fidji, that was quite another matter. Women on subway trains trailed something cheap and cheerful like Friendship Garden (essentially a knock off of No 5) or later there was Coty’s Sweet Earth series and patchouli made the nearness of hippie chicks bearable. Continue reading →
Since there’s such an ocean of perfume out there now I think it helpful when mentioning old classics to pair them with something that is still in production, and similar. I wish someone had done as much for me when I first started to love perfume. You could search for years looking for a particular note and not come across it.
There are services that can help. Michael Edward’s database is a good place to start, but unfortunately he does not list discontinued perfumes and so if you grew up loving a particular scent, or want to find something your mother or grandmother wore, you are fresh out of luck. Continue reading →
Keats said it best about autumn being the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. His point is perfectly valid but modern fruities don’t seem to satisfy me, they are too flat and there is nothing fruitful or fecund about them. it’s difficult to fake that in a retort. Take Ralph Lauren’s Tender Romance. It’s rather pretty, quite modern. and on the whole banal I’m afraid. What I seem to want is dried fruit, and raisins, and liquor the sort of thing that Frapin did rather well, only I like my perfume very classical and that means complex.
This takes me right back to the basics: Jean Patou. The very best of all the fruit perfumes I ever came across was the vintage Que Sais Je? from 1925. I even include By Killian’s Back to Black in this blanket statement, although that is a good version of the contemporary fruit infused perfume. Continue reading →
Last week I was up and down and out of town, and the sole scent experience of the week was a bar of the great black Spanish soap Magno. I used to wash with Magno in the past and had forgotten how wonderful it is. In a time when most perfume companies let you down with awful reformulations, sometimes soap makers do a better job of maintaining old formulas. Magno appears to be one of them.
I am a bit of a nut on soap. There are a lot of days on which I wear no perfume at all but do scrub with scented soap, and in the past have loved Magno, Roger et Gallet, and even Zum, which tends to have rather strong scents. If you asked me my favorite it would have to be Magno. This preference is based partially on the fact that like many people I have reactive skin. Soaps,cosmetics, skin creams, and sun screens are apt to give me dermatitis and so I am careful about what I wear. Magno never has brought on an episode though, and I do love the stuff. Continue reading →
When you divide the lengthening nights by the dwindling sunlight of the days the remainder is what’s left of summer. We used to call it Indian Summer, probably because it was the last of the growing season in this part of the world, a time the native peoples still used for gardening. Myself I begin to worry about the dahlias and tomatoes during cold nights.
I like to to use up the last samples I have of summer florals during the warm days. Those samples are not going to be right a month from now. Today it’s Musc Monoi which Parfums de Nicolai gave me in Paris. I think they should sell it as an Eau Fraiche though the scent’s currently one of the line’s Eaux de Toilettes Continue reading →
Woody perfumes are not so popular with women. Don’t ask me why. I am one of the out-lying oddities who like wood. I wear vetiver and leather and chypres and all sorts of dark, dry things in winter. You might think from the description that I was kindling some kind of aromatic fire, but it’s simply personal taste.
There is a small, repeat small, group of perfumes that lie right on the line between orientals and chypres. I’m not discussing ambery orientals here. Those are resin-y or incense heavy perfumes. The ones I’m writing about today don’t belong to that tribe. They may contain some amber in the dry off, but they are not really amber perfumes. Continue reading →
My heliotrope was a big disappointment to me this year. The seeds were ordered from Monticello and when they germinated and grew to plant-hood what did I find? A great big bush the height of my waist with feathery heads of purple and then lavender flowers that did not have any scent.
Color me disappointed. But although I may have been cheated of my almond and sugar and cherry perfume, the bees were in heaven. The bees and the butterflies were all over my heliotrope practically from the very first day it came into flower in July. The bees evidently don’t care what human noses smell, they have their own standards of attractiveness. Which makes me wonder what is it really that bees smell? Continue reading →
There’s some very good advice out there for anyone who wears clothes (most of us, most of the time) and it’s that we should not buy anything that doesn’t fit in with our activities. This means what it sounds like. If you live in jeans and that’s what your life requires, or you are seldom out of Athleisure then don’t go buying the vintage brocade ballgown from Oscar de la Renta circa 1985. Though who wouldn’t want to rock a train in the coffee aisle of Shoprite?
Perfume though is different, or let’s say it ought to be. You can’t see a mismatch between someone’s dreams and someone’s aspirations, you can only smell them. This is probably what Roja Dove means when he says that “perfume can lie for you”, and it may be what is meant by those perfumers who claim a woman should have a perfume for “courage”. Continue reading →
Vetiver is like comfortable old shoes to me. Ahh…vetiver, it’s relaxing and there are relatively few versions of vetiver I’ve ever come across that I didn’t like. I love Terre d’Hermes, though perhaps it’s not as good a vetiver as in its salad days. I also love Guerlain’s wonderful old Vetiver. A marvelous scent, and the tobacco in there is a brilliant touch.
I’ve always crossed the aisle and so wore Givenchy’s Eau de Vetyver and I loved and briefly wore Maitre Parfumier et Gantier’s Racines. One was very masculine and comfortable- kind of like borrowing your boyfriend’s hacking jacket- and the other was more refined, good to wear in fall with woolens. Naturally I also had Guerlain’s Vetyver for a long time. The square bottle with the wave pattern on the glass was sublime but gave headaches, so I sprayed it in my shoes or on my feet. I still managed to get my vetiver fix and discovered along the way that the Guerlain Vetiver killed moths. Continue reading →
My sister as a teenager spent some time working in stables, and says that what she misses most from that period is the smell. Actually I’m pretty sure she meant something specific, not for instance the smell of mucking out- which is never the best odor in stables-and in fact she was thinking of the scent of the horses. Horses while they were being groomed. She liked the brushes, and the whiff of a healthy horse, and their sweet breath, and also she loved to clean tack. Murphy’s Oil Soap was what they often used, and she enjoyed the smell of that too. Murphy’s made her downright nostalgic. Continue reading →