The Beautiful

Pursuant  to the quote by Olivier Creed, a sixth generation perfume dynast, that every woman needs three perfumes, one to make her feel brave, one to make her feel beautiful, and one to make her feel comfortable, here is a discussion of the beautiful perfume.

Perhaps contrary to expectation, I will not suggest a particular scent family here because – and the caution is important – you have skin in the game.  Or you may, possibly have skin in the game later, because as the French say, love is largely a question of skin and always a game.  Anyway, as you have already guessed, the beautiful perfume is all about your skin and what sets it off.

Unlike the office (I mean the brave ) perfume, which can perfectly well consist of soap or a cotton ball soaked in cologne in your pocket, the beautiful perfume is something you’re going to wear even if you’re not wearing anything else.  That retiree under a cloud, perfumer Jean Paul Guerlain, has remarked that a woman who chooses her perfume well retains an advantage over a woman who doesn’t, because what is left when the light goes out?  Her perfume.

So, in the matter of choice the beautiful perfume is the most tricky, and must be based on honesty.  Here is where you’re going to have to take your time and lots of samples, and never mind what your best friend wears because this is an individual choice par excellence.  Never pick anything that doesn’t smell wonderful on you.  It should get you compliments, and those compliments should come from men (unless of course you are looking for a lady in which case you are looking for a Chanel masculine).  The idea is to make you feel that you are gorgeous.  Meaning you and just you, other women are irrelevant to this discussion.

Someone is sure to suggest that the boyfriend or date’s preferences should be taken into account.  I don’t think you should worry about this.  Men of the heterosexual persuasion do not sit there and analyze just what it is about their date’s perfume that strikes them as over the top.  No.  Negatory.  However they do have an unerring instinct that tells them when a woman has gotten it right and when she has gotten it wrong.  They like taking out the girls who get it right.  So choose that perfume for yourself correctly, and then if it suits you, to the guy, it’s just your perfume.  That’s how you smell.

Places to start, and remember this is just a start:

Estee Lauder’s Sensuous Noir,
CB I Hate Perfume Cradle of Light,
Anne Pliska,
Caron’s Parfum Sacre, Puredistance Antonia,
Van Cleef and Arpels Gardenia Petale,
Montale Aoud Queen Roses,
Parfums d’Empire 3 Fleurs, (or its predecessor Houbigant’s Quelques Fleurs,
Guerlain’s Plus Que Jamais (hard to find  but worth it),
Coty’s Les Muses *(not quite so hard to find but also worth it)

Or, if you are a bolder, muskier sort, try

parfums d’Empire Cuir Ottoman,
Serge Lutens Daim Blond,
Miller Harris’ L’Air de Rien,
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Dzing,
Parfumerie Generale’s L’Oiseau de Nuit,
vintage Rochas Femme (very sexy this),
Guerlain’s Oriental Brulant (a vanilla amber but a man magnet)
Micallef’s new Vanilla Orient ( a husky sensual little number) from this year’s Collection Vanille**

Creed’s Fantasia de Fleurs (like something Lily Bart might wear in the House Of Mirth) and Hilde Soliani’s CiocoSpesizissimo which takes gourmands in a snuggly direction and ends with frankincense.

All my choices are for close encounters, whether that’s just with you on your own skin or to share with someone else, because beauty may be more than skin deep, but even beauty has to start somewhere, and it usually starts with skin.

*My decant courtesy the generous Meg at Parfumieren.

** My sample was sent me by the company and tested very well.

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10 thoughts on “The Beautiful

  1. I think my brain just exploded.

    Trying to imagine any of your “beautifuls” on me, that is. Just… just… okay, it just exploded a little bit more.

    I overstate, perhaps (YOU THINK SO, MALS, you chronic exaggerater?) – I got on just fine with Aoud Queen Roses, though I actually preferred the pinkiness of Aoud Roses Petals, and also with 3 Fleurs, though it wasn’t love. I’d probably like the VC&A Gardenia if I ever came across a sample. And I just tried Cuir Ottoman the other day, and found it quite nice.

    BUT: Anne Pliska I dislike. Sensuous Noir was dreadful on me. Antonia had a hissy, metallic undertone that repelled all three of my children, AND the dog. Daim Blond was gooey. Dzing smells like cotton candy and sawdust and dried manure (uh, no thanks. Though I admit The CEO liked it). L’Oiseau de Nuit also too dirty. Vintage Femme… oh dear, I see that I’m going to have to write about that vintage Femme. I got on just fine with the refo, cumin or not, so I thought I’d really enjoy the vintage. Found a 25ml bottle of Parfum de Toilette, sealed in box, on ebay for a reasonable amount of money. Facebook fumey friends bought the other three bottles. They say the juice is in excellent shape after the first three minutes – I’m just fine with three minutes of disintegrating topnotes, no prob – and it smells like Femme should smell.

    And I haaaaaaate it. It is BEYOND raunchy. (Already found a friend who’ll take it off my hands; she seems happy.)

    Parfum Sacre might be the only one on your list that might, possibly, make mine. It has the curious effect of making me feel both maternal and sexy. At the same time. Quite a feat, no?

  2. Oops. had more to say. (Nice blog hijack I’m perpetrating here.)

    I think you’re so right, though, about skin mattering with this one. “Beautiful” should involve that promise of intimacy, a hint of carnality, along with the I Feel Pretty, and scents that melt into the skin and seem like an exhalation of the woman’s body are what we are going for here.

    Here is where I do wonderfully with white florals. They get cozy on me, in general, and they tend to make my kids say things like, “You smell like you.” Certain scents induce an arm-nibbling reflex in The CEO (think Gomez Addams and his “Cara Mia,” here): Amoureuse, Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, the old Lagerfeld Chloe, and even Poison.

    (Poison! I swear. I used to hate the thing, back in the day – back when jetstreams of it clogged dorm halls and college classrooms – but either it’s mellowed, or I have. I bought a decant so I could write a scathing I-Hate-This review of it, and every time I put it on I got waylaid and smooched, so I started paying attention to what it actually does on MY skin. Poison gets unpoisonous on me, all milky-soapy floral glamour. Guess I should go buy a bottle, shouldn’t I?)

    Other Very-Beautiful-Me scents: FM Iris Poudre. JHaG Citizen Queen. BK Rose Oud. Sometimes vintage Coty L’Aimant, which smells like nothing so much as hot peach deep-dish pie in its waft (up close it’s more perfumey, less foody).

  3. Oh, and one more (sorry):

    Consider the curious case of Amouage Memoir Woman. Which Amouage calls “an animalic chypre,” with leather and moss and all kinds of ballsy un-me stuff, and which opens up with the cinnamon-herbal weirdness of Serge Noire. Wore it the other day to a dinner of the Virginia Cattlemen, and the very minute we left the table The CEO grabbed me and said, “You smell *really* good.” And what is Memoir at its core? where it spends most of its skin time on me?

    White floral. Yep.

    • Never apologize, never explain. Well, you can explain all you like, but what’s evident here is that the White Floral is really you. And that is an unalloyed good thing.
      When I included scents like Dzing and Femme and Daim Blond I was going for perfumes that I’d heard other people consider skin friendly just more musky and assertive than the florals. You’ve put it exactly right here in describing them as scents that “seem like an exhalation of the woman’s body”. Yep that’s what I meant alright.
      Of course I neglected to mention one that’s done that for me for years: Caron’s Narcisse Blanc and it’s a, guess what – white floral.

  4. This post sounds as if it’s written for readers who know almost nothing about perfumes, are mostly novice in the subject. Do you get a lot of those readers? Or is it a draft to be used in a future book/series of articles?

    • No, certainly not a draft to be used in future articles; my perfume writing begins and ends with this blog. This is merely fun and no more. As to readers’ level of perfume interest and knowledge, I can only guess at that. Many of my readers come from outside the US, so I know that a broad spectrum is one of the conditions of blog writing. This must be the case for you too.

      Because I think that overly obscure stuff may be off-putting to some readers, sometimes I try to lighten it up; this is one of the bubbles in the brew, as it were.

      (No PLANS to write a book, but if you know a publisher who wants one, well….)

  5. My most “me” perfume is Ormonde Woman. And when I consider what makes me feel beautiful, as opposed to something like sexy (that’s when Cuir Ottoman and Black Cashmere come out…) the word that comes to mind is elegant. My other elegant perfumes include Réglisse Noir, 31 Rue Cambon and Heure Exquise.

    • Everyone I read loves Ormande Woman, and somehow or other I’ve never actually smelled it, but now I will. Everything else you mention here makes perfect sense to me. I love Cuir Ottoman which makes up for some long lost leathers, and when I get mopey about the old Caron Tabac Blond and its bad refo, then I get my sample of CO and everything comes back into focus. Heure Exquise is my favorite Annick Goutal. I associate it with a particularly good evening out with the spouse and weaving home after an excellent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon under the Vermont stars, Heure Exquise was the SOTE.

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