Three’s a Party

This is my  way of expressing a piece of advice I came across in an old perfume book.  The Book of Perfume (Barille and Laroze, 1995)  suggests ways in which to keep some aesthetic order in your perfume collection.

The one that intrigued me was to find trios of perfumes and colognes that worked together in a pleasing way, complimenting one another, not hissing and dissing each other the way the various casts of housewives do on reality TV shows.  A little harmony, the authors seemed to feel, would go a long way to improving life in the perfume cabinet.

Alrighty, I was up for an experiment and what exactly did they suggest?

One trio was: a fresh toilet water, a green perfume and a fruity floral.  No sooner read than off I went to the sample bags to see just how many ménages a trois I could arrange before lunch.  How hard could it be? Were the notorious Madame Claude’s mornings like this back in the seventies?

For the toilet waters I lined up Eau de Cologne du Coq (Guerlain), Eau de Grand Siecle (P. Generale) and Carthusia’s Mediterraneo.

The greens were J. Patou’s Vacances, Papyrus de Ciane (P. Generale) and PdN’s Odalisque

The fruities were Jo Malone’s English Pear and Freesia, Hilde Soliani’s Il Tuo Tulipano, and Caron’s L’Accord 119.  Quite an opinionated bunch, you will admit.

How did it all work out?

Surprisingly well.  Apparently Mmes. Barille and Laroze knew a thing or two about nasal harmonies.

Three good partiers together were Vacances, Mediterraneo, and English Pear and Freesia. Another good group were the same Mediterraneo, English Pear again and Papyrus de Ciane, which altogether produced a surprisingly muted, tasteful sort of mix – excellent for men, I’d say.

Also wonderful together were Odalisque, Eau de Cologne du Coq, and Il Tuo Tulipano, though the effect there was lighter, almost bubbly.  Quieter, basically the perfume equivalent of a Don’s sherry party in someone’s college rooms was Mediteraneo, Caron’s 119, and Vacances. Lastly, English Pear, Odalisque and Il Tuo Tulipano made a pleasant understated threesome although there was no cologne in that group.

My only quarrel here is with Carthusia’s Mediterraneo, which does a runner on its excellent citrus top note after a while, and goes lamentably sour, so you might want to stick to a bergamot or lemon based cologne, but otherwise does it work?  You bet. The point here is not that you have to layer these perfumes, but that if you want to wear them in close proximity to each other the result will be pretty instead of smelly.

You can take three of basically any kind of cologne, green fragrance and fruity floral on vacation together and they will still be talking to each other two weeks later, which may be more than can be said for your other traveling companions.

It all makes me want to try the book’s second suggestion for trios: a floral, a semi-oriental, and a mild oriental, but I felt that I’d solicited enough combinations for one morning.

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