Beginning the Fragrance of Summer

Seeds from Monticello

Seeds from Monticello

We’ve just gotten our big wallop of a snowstorm and it’s the first of the season.  Among the other joys of snow: digging out your driveway, attempting to drive on uncleared streets, and other people’s frantic, over fast swerving around bends, “because it’s going to snow”,  I have one more calm and quiet one.  This is the weekend to start the seeds.

Every house has its micro climates and when it comes to plants I am rapidly learning the ones in this house.  The mud room is my cold frame, excellent for the white miniature rose and herbs, the family room is fine for potted plants and forced bulbs.  The front windows though may be ideal for starting seeds. Continue reading

Nixing the Musk in Your White Florals

The Pearl in in full bloom

The Pearl in in full bloom

In the perfume world some people are proponents of layering perfumes, and some people aren’t.  It can depend somewhat on the perfume itself.  If you are spritzing on some masterpiece of perfumery with all sorts of crescendos and diminuendos, then dabbing something else on top can simply add up to a multi note cacophany.  Trust me, I’ve tried combining old Jean Patous and the results were seldom good, except with their citrus Cocktail (which picked up stodgy florals and orientals with a zing).

Most perfumes these days are not so complicated as old Jean Patous.  My personal favorites for this sort of treatment are white florals. Continue reading

Jasmine His, Jasmine Hers: Gandahara and Lace Garden

Head from Gandahara

Head from Gandahara

The idea that you can sequester perfumes by sex is sort of an odd one.  I admit though that given contemporary tastes and mores guys can’t spritz themselves silly with tuberose easily, and that gals while they can macerate themselves in pine oil and leather, tend to avoid those smells.  I’ve always felt though that the guys get kind of short shrift with flowers.  I don’t see why men can’t wear roses, or iris, or wisteria, or lilac, if they want to and not come off as whiffy and foppish.

Jasmine is a case in point.  The Queen of the Night ought  to be gender blind and unless she can see in the dark like my cat, probably is. Are there jasmines out there which would suit men?  I’m pleased to say that I’ve been wearing one today done by Neil Morris called Gandahara, and long story short, it’s complex, sophisticated, and a wonderful scent for a man who likes scent.  Here’s the thing, I could I suppose rattle off the notes but what I smell here is a strong bouquet that includes something like mimosa, musk, earth, and salt and then and only then, jasmine. I catch something fresh and green binding this fragrance together, possibly a tea or mint note.  The scents’ tendrils wrap around each other in an organic, lushly overgrown jungle of a perfume which would be perfect on a masculine skin. Continue reading

2015: The Year of Flora and Fauna

The surprising source of castoreum

The surprising source of castoreum

Animalic perfumes are back. This may help to explain the popularity of challenging scents like Papillon’s Salome with its initially furry and glandular notes. ( I also enjoyed Bonker’s  wonderful  interview with Liz Moores of Papillon who keeps her snake collection in drawers! And no, that is not a spoonerism of mine. She keeps them in doors in drawers or racks) If the taste of the public is changing and the sterile field of synthetic fragrance is breached by scales or fur or fins, then Salome might as well be the perfume to do the breaching, although if you ask me, Mandy Aftel’s Cuir de Gardenia did this just as well, and I personally liked Anya’s Garden Enticing which also included a  strong animal note in natural musk.  You could say that, from a niche point of view, this was the year that re-established the connection between our skins and our scents.

Certain perfume families have always maintained that link and I refer to chypres and leathers here.  If you wore those you always kept that chiaroscuro of prettiness and relative ickiness in impasto on yourself .  Your perfume read that life, and maybe you too, were complex and had different motivations and activities on different days.  Some days you hibernated, some days you hunted and gathered, some days you groomed, and some days you played.    Continue reading