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.
It’s partly a matter of white florals forming natural heart notes. They do very well as the midsection of any fragrance and these days the dry off, the last evaporation of white florals are almost sure to be white musk molecules which trundle off your skin and into the air with slow predictability. They’re chemically stable, we’re all very used to them because industrial perfumery has used them for decades, and they are very cheap.
Unfortunately not all of us enjoy them. If like me you don’t one option is to under layer your white floral with a dark iris perfume. You can try combinations like Hiris and La Chasse aux Papillons, or PdN’s Odalisque with Penhaligon’s Iris Prima, or Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Iridum with one of her white florals like Pink Gardenia. The results tend to round out the white florals and make them more lasting and expansive on skin. I also find that where some florals like rose and jasmine are apt to turn acid on wrists (like bad white wines), irises are not and so are ideal for counteracting that sour note.
The other option is to go with a good animalic chypre like Bandit or Cabochard and to dab your white floral on top. This has produced some very good and lasting results for me. I liked the combination of La Chasse and Cabochard so much that I wore them together for some months until I ran out of La Chasse. The duo was full, sophisticated, had a sillage and also that brio that comes with a tiny bit of dirt. What can I say? It worked.
This is all, I guess, odd to people who love musk or the modern facsimiles of musk. I do like the dirtier ones, and do like fragrances like Muscs Kublai Khan but the majority of muskies, those dosed liberally with white musk, smell like chemical toilets to me. When I catch the dreaded note, the scent dies on me, or to be more precise, my interest in it dies. There are other fixatives out there, other animalcs, leathers, iris, woods, galbanum, vanillin, etc just nothing quite so inexpensive or so likely to wait until the end of a composition to make known its presence, and to ask in a genteel way if it can possibly use your facilities? You can’t say no now can you? Anyway I’m always certain that white musk will use Poo Pourri and my bathroom in its wake will smell of poop and prudence in equal measure. No. Forget it. Let us celebrate the poopier, sweatier, halitososis-ier facts of being human. Lets just wear a bit of dirty animalic. Or as Luca Turin’s relative was quoted as saying after one too many tours of perfume factories: “Un peu de merde s’il vous plait.”
If you must rub a little dirt on these beauties to make them habitable, simple or soliflore is best. I’ve always had an easy time with La Chasse and also fairly good luck with Fracas or more recently with Krigler’s Juicy Jasmine and Teo Cabanel’s Lace Garden both of which I like to layer. Complex whites like Joy are harder to manage as they already sport seriously indolic and civet components to the perfume which may clash with something you’re trying out. You can only experiment and if something does not work out on your skin, you can always go find the make up remover and try again. Have you tried any combinations with florals that worked well and upped their personality?