Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Proper Perfume

ChildThe subject came to mind after I had been writing a post on mothers, daughters, and perfume.  If you didn’t care for the perfume you smelled on your mother, what would you have chosen instead?  Mine wore Tabu, which I thought most inappropriate for a mother, but what would I have recommended to my mother, if she had been able to hear my advice at the age of thirty or so?

This is a delicate subject.  Everyone who wears perfume wants to smell attractive, or at the very least not off putting to other people, but is perfume like clothing?  Do we give off signals to others by virtue of the perfumes we wear?  Do perfumes have semiotic sub-texts, the way that just about everything else in our lives seems to now, or are they purely a matter of marketing and the accidents of skin chemistry? Continue reading

Parisian Evenings after the Blue Hour

bleu There is something about evening drawing in that is universally appealing and that has powered people’s impressions of perfume ever since L’Heure Bleue.  1912 is a long time ago now, but since last year was the centennial of L’Heure Bleue, I wondered what sort of segues have really come on the market since?

There’s L’Heure du Nuit currently in the Parisiennes bee bottle line at Guerlain, and that is wearer friendly, but less about the lowering of lights across the Seine than the lowering of lights at Laduree’s.  It might also be known as L’Heure du Macaron, and does not fit the bill as a romantic heir to l’Heure Bleue, although the scent is pleasant, probably bunny slope LB, arranged so that you could get onto the black diamond piste of L’Heure Bleue eventually. Continue reading

Roja Dove and the Maiden Voyage

Golden_HindRoja Dove the perfume collector, salesman verging on curator at Harrods, and expert, who was a nose at Guerlain for twenty years or so, has come out with his own line.  This is rather old news since he did this some time ago, but what is news is that Mr. Dove has changed his focus.

The first Roja perfumes I ever smelled were reconstructions of past marvels.  He had things in his line that recalled No5 and Fracas and so on and so forth.  It’s a perfectly valid way of doing things and makes a good deal of sense since the average consumer does not know her L’Heure Bleue from her Habanita, and besides these are time tested ideas that the public has fallen in love with many times before.  Continue reading

Perfumers Prefer Blondes; But Sell to Brunettes

ralph-barton-masterpieces-06 Because there are simply more brunettes (with apologies to my blonde readers) and to any stray red heads – and never fear- we’ll get to red hair later) who may be out there.

There used to be theories about coloration and skin chemistry.  It sounds antediluvian, and probably does predate Noah and the Ark, but perfume houses used to recommend scents according to whether you were blonde, or red haired, or brunette of any ethnicity.  I thought it was long gone as a strategy for selling fragrance until I went to a fragrance trunk show at Saks a few years ago and whammo! found myself in the brunette contingent.

“Madame will wear L’Heure Bleue particularly well,” said the very French company rep, transfixing me with a look as pointed as her stilettos and glaring at the bottle I had in my hand. (I’d picked up the tester of Oriental Brulant because I do not personally care for L’Heure Bleue.). “No, no, no, that perfume is not suited to madame at all.” she continued, firmly dabbing me with Cruel Gardenia, since I would not do any twilit blues.  I was forced to leave the Brulant strictly alone, but could have the new Shalimar, or Apres L’Ondee, or  Mayotte- but no Samsara.  That was for the blondes, along with Tonka Imperiale. Continue reading

The Goutals for Better and Worse

agAnnick Goutal’s house has been a gateway for many people who have since become perfume lovers, a lovely retro-rococo gateway,  delicately wrought iron wreathed in ivy, but a gateway just the same.

It was, along with L’Artisan Parfumeur, one of the very first niche houses, and I remember articles about Goutal in Connoisseur Magazine back in the day, that particular day belonging to the 1980s.  Such perfumes as Heure Exquise are now thirty three years old, and have achieved the status of classics.

Still, if you came to the line anytime in the last ten years, you might be forgiven for thinking the eponymous Goutal was Camille, and that the perfumer had always been Isabelle Doyen.  In fact, Camille is Goutal’s daughter and Ms. Doyen the perfumer she has preferred to work with, the creator of Duel and Madragore, among other Goutal hits. The house is changing once again, bought by Korean group Amore Pacific.  You can spot this in the newer packaging, and the changed line up.  It remains to be seen whether this is good or bad news for fans. Continue reading

Orient Express

francesco-ballesio-the-carpet-sellersSometimes intricacy is all I want, and then I go in search of the most detailed perfumery I can find. Of recent years some of my favorite perfumers in this category are the evocative ones.  Pierre Bourdon and Chris Sheldrake are still great favorites of mine here, despite Bourdon’s retirement.

Of all the richly layered scents I can think of, their joint composition Feminite du Bois, is one of the most crowded with impressions.  The scent’s like stepping into the Hagia Sophia, there is always something else to see and smell inside, even when you thought you already knew it well, because here, just as with the Bosphorus, is one of the touching points of East and West. Continue reading

Beastly Dirty Fall

Autumn-Landscape-with-Four-Trees-jpgThis morning I woke up and it was Autumn.

It was supposed to have been Fall a couple of weeks or more ago, but things don’t run on schedules in the States these days, and so it was not surprising that the seasons were behind schedule as well.  I had not gotten to the business of going through my bottles and putting the summer ones down cellar in their boxes, and I had not pulled up the colder weather ones…ah, but I don’t have much in the way of cold weather perfume, and what little I do have was pressed into service in the warm months because this year has been cold and rainy…. Continue reading

Eve’s Downfall

eveA simple apple that was all that it took to get humans thrown out of Eden.  Now everybody likes apples, but how many of us would go to that extreme for one?  Apple strudel properly made? Yes, there’s nothing quite like it, or a Tarte Tatin, also a possibility. If the devil showed up with a Dutch apple pie, we may guess that we’d waiver on the path of virtue.   Apples are so far up on my list of Good Things in life, that I have been known to choose an apple desert over a chocolate one (horrors!).

But to return to the original question, is an apple worth Eden? Continue reading