The Subject Will Be Roses and Violets and Overlooked: Summersent

Summer Garden for SummersentThis has been a particularly hard and unpleasant winter on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, and in fact in the US generally, so to make up for some of our collective chilblains and blocked driveways and backs thrown out by snow shoveling, I am offering my readers a bouquet of roses and violets plus a small selection of chocolate spiked perfumes, as a virtual Valentine. Who doesn’t need a little scent and color this February?  I think we all deserve a treat just for surviving till March. Continue reading

A Bitter Chypre Martini

Martini glassMals over at The Muse in Wooden Shoes recently noticed that she was experiencing a completely uncharacteristic craving for chypres.    The ones she had a yen for were not just any old chypres, but ones with a bite, a stinging edge of tartness- well, you can see what she meant here.

I commented and noticed while doing so that I no longer had any real chypres left in my scent wardrobe.  This was a surprise because all my adult life, I’ve worn chypres. There was a furlough when I was first married, and another while we expecting our daughter, but aside from those two periods yours truly has always been the Chypre Queen and an oakmoss junkie. Continue reading

Magical Marigolds: Lauren, Flor Y Canto, Sleeping with Ghosts

wiki/File:Flor_de_ofrenda.JPG

wiki/File:Flor_de_ofrenda.JPG

Yes, the same little annuals you have planted in your vegetable patch to discourage insect predation, those are the ones used in perfumery, or to correct myself, they were used in perfumes.  Tagetes (which is their proper surname) seldom put in appearances in fragrance formulas anymore.

Once they were common enough.  In the eighties when the first generation of fruity florals came out, tagetes were frequent top notes in scents.  They had a strong but slightly fruity touch to their herbal tartness and so ended up in compositions like that of the original Lauren, Weil’s Bambou, and Calyx. Continue reading

Alluring Ellenas: Ambre Narguile, Rose Ikebana, and Vanille Galante

hippieJean Claude Ellena is a man who knows how to play with the public’s expectations.  He must have realized that most people who think of Hermes were going to associate any limited availability perfume line of theirs with insane levels of luxury.   Maintaining this luxury is a pretty difficult assignment since Hermes is a global brand that, at least in theory, should sell as well in Beijing as in Paris, and the expectations of consumers in those parts of the world differ.

Hermes must have brought Ellena on because his work is subtle and minimalist, but not really as lifeless as those two adjectives might lead you to expect.  I had not smelled most of the Hermessences and some of them, such as Paprika Brazil, I can barely smell at all.  Others, though, have a robust presence that makes you sit up and take notice.  Continue reading

Looking For Shanghai Lil

Shanghai LilPerhaps you’re not familiar with Footlight Parade of 1933 with Ruby Keeler and Jimmy Cagney?  This was the movie that came to mind when I ran across Tom Ford’s Shanghai Lil the other day.

The reaction of other bloggers to this scent has been rather like that of Cagney, Lil is irresistible they say and highly original.  I was a bit less struck by the fragrance’s originality since I recognized the lily top notes as being similar to my Gardenia Petale’s, the Van Cleef & Arpels fragrance from some years ago.  They probably share a high end floral material, although the green side of the floral is stressed in Shanghai, and not so much in Gardenia Petale which eventually devolves into a vanilla lily of the valley note. Continue reading

The Feel Good Factor

calesthenics Next spring I will have been at this for three years but have never discussed what is to me, the decisive reason for either wearing and keeping a perfume or letting it go: how it makes me feel.

Just to define a term or two here, I mean does the perfume make you feel healthy? Does it promote a sense of well being? Does it induce that feeling of being at home and happy in your own skin?  Or does it, alternatively, give you an uneasy sense that you may have sprayed on something too synthetic, something just the faintest bit nauseating?  Continue reading

Coverlet of White Flowers: Dolce Tuberose, Splendid Gold, and Sparkling Diamond

coverletThe temperature finally rose, our teeth are no longer chattering hard enough to shake the fillings out, and outdoors it is a comparatively banana belt 36 degrees (fahrenheit). Thank heavens for upper air movements.

I’ve stuck to my resolution not to wear anything but florals all week, and have ended up pleased with the effect.  No heavy ambers, no gourmands, no complicated orientals, not even any leathers.  This week was florals and nothing but florals, most of them white.

It ended up being a bit of a Krigler fest because my self discipline failed and I bought another set of samples and went a bit hog wild with them.  Then too, the savvy people at Krigler enclosed a few freebies and I got to try Splendid Gold and Chateau Krigler as well.

Unfortunately, Continue reading

White Bouquets in January: Tubereuse, Jardin Blanc, Juicy Jasmine, and Muguet de Bonheur

White flower5It is frightfully cold in the Midlantic states and New England this winter, and in the natural order of things I should be wearing amber (see preceding post) but only really like Jean Claude Ellena’s ambers and you can’t wear them all the time.

Besides, it’s rather hothouse-ish and true to my Southern roots to side step all this amber and load up on greenhouse blooms, even to excess. For one thing the cold air corsets their huge sillages, making them fit into everyone else’s atmosphere. Cold puts the white floral on a reducing diet, suddenly she’s slender, even chic. Continue reading

Trapped in Amber

© Anders L. Damgaard,  www.amber-inclusions.dk

© Anders L. Damgaard, www.amber-inclusions.dk

Yes, I like amber.  Everyone does, or nearly everyone, and that’s why practically the first perfume released by any niche firm is either an amber or else an amber floral, aka floriental.

Ambers are also the big money makers. Serge has got Ambre Sultan, Annick Goutal has got Ambre Fetiche, I Profumi di Firenze has got Ambra di Nepal, and then there’s Ambra di Venezia, and Parfumerie Generale’s L’Oiseau de Nuit.  I have barely scratched the surface.  Ambers are everywhere, and there is some confusion as to what amber actually is, amber confuses me as well since half the time it seems to be an amalgam of labdanum (otherwise known as rock rose, or Cistus) and vanilla.

But that’s not the real thing. Continue reading