Monthly Archives: June 2013

Can I Have That Honeysuckle To Go?

mabel normandHoneysuckles are difficult to do properly in perfumery.  No less a perfumer than Francois Coty was said to be annoyed at the end of his life that he never mastered the scent. There wasn’t much that Coty hadn’t succeeded at in sixty four years of existence, so you can imagine the magnitude of the difficulty involved.

When honeysuckle season blows past me every June or so, I inhale and wonder if anyone actually bottles this wonderful smell?  It isn’t in the least indolic, even though honeysuckle gets repeatedly cast in walk on roles as a white floral. It’s not remotely suited to them. The scent has something fruity about it, but the fruit scent is abstract. Honeysuckle actually has a lot more in common with osmanthus or freesia than jasmine, and I wonder that no one has combined the note  with them, they would make a natural fruity floral of great charm, with none of the overtones of pricey sensuality that jasmine, or worse rose, bring to the table. Continue reading

Gin Fizzing

LimeOnce upon a time the perimeters of summer were demarcated by the cocktails people drank from June to September, versus the ones they tossed back at all the other times of the year.  Having been born as WASP as it gets, I remember the buzz of cocktail parties, rising and intensifying as the decibel levels increased, over green lawns, lawns which hissed noisily themselves- if Joni Mitchell was to be believed- on those afternoons in the 70s. (or 60s.) Continue reading

Booty Kinks

bootsLeather is one part of a sartorial triptych that all Jerseyans aspire to.  The first part is leopard (shoes, handbags, tights, thongs, Kleenex – if it’s leopard, we’ll buy it), the second grommets (we use the Bedazzler, big time) and third leather (pronounced lea-thuh, and anything we really, really want is made of it.)

Mugler seems to have read our collective mind and produced something that all of us can get with: leather, or A*Men Pure Leather, if you want to get specific here.  You have to be a true enthusiast and experienced Mugler watcher to know all about all the A*Men flankers the house has released in the last decade or so.  Besides A*Men itself, there is Pure Coffee, and there is Pure Havane, and there was the wonderful Pure Malt, which smelled of peat and whiskey, and made me think of Cumming the Fragrance.  But this does not exhaust the list.  Continue reading

Through a Looking Glass Darkly

alice-entering-the-looking-glass-world-by-sir-john-tennielThe perfume house of Mugler has become one of the most innovative ones in the world.  Forget niche perfumery (most of the niche companies, anyway). If you want something totally new and different, half the time that something will come from Mugler.

The company didn’t focus test Angel back in the day because they knew the scent would be too polarizing. It didn’t matter; the stuff 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 Angel’s structure has inspired dozens of similar perfumes, everything from Flowerbomb to Magical Moon. Continue reading

Do You Smell Rich or Poor?

perfume rockwellThis 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.

The cat hid.  Continue reading

Japanese by Choice

ikebanaIf 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

A Taste for Tobacco

vespucciTabac Blond is a perfume that you need to grow into.

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

Mothers, Daughters, and Perfume

Mary_Cassatt_Young_Mother_Sewing 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