Monthly Archives: January 2017

Cats and Rose Trees

Charcoal at about the time we adopted her.

Charcoal at about the time we adopted her.

Cats seem to be the inevitable partners of those who love perfume,but I’m not sure how often they are the partners of gardeners.  I have had memorable dog friends and currently have a cat associate who I came to know in a singular way involving a rose.

When I first met Charcoal she was living on the street in New Jersey.  The particular street she lived on was the same one we lived on  but our paths had not crossed often because we had an aged dog, and she was wary of him.  Mr Tang detested cats with all the energy a veteran Shih Tzu can muster, and used to curse her out roundly when she came into view, but he was in the twilight of his years.  Inevitably we lost him and when we did my daughter announced that she wanted a cat. Continue reading

Characters in Bottles: The Carons

Ayn Rand as postage stamp

Ayn Rand as postage stamp

If you read last week’s post you know about the first part of my essay on the Caron perfume house.  I was making the point that Caron,or more precisely their founder/perfumer Ernest Daltroff, created highly distinctive perfumes.  Along with Francois Coty who also used psychological marketing, Daltroff seems to have composed perfumes for different personality types, some of them quite extreme.

Take for instance Nuit de Noel (1922), Caron itself calls this fragrance an oriental though the formula is on the line between chypres and orientals, and describes it as “woody, flowery (mainly jasmine) spices (sic) and moss.”  This was the controversial writer Ayn Rand’s favorite perfume and remains a grave, almost stately scent that suits anyone who loves luxury.  The absence of any cologne or bergamot top-notes makes the the scent rich, yet not at all animalic since the base is  25% sandalwood, the rest mousse de saxe. This may be the origin of the comments about Caron’s relative “propriety” since unlike most of its competitors, Nuit did not feature civet or musk.  The scent is dignified and lavish but not in the least sexual. Nuit de Noel is a perfume for judges, executives, even Prime Ministers ( Theresa May take note). There is nothing silly about the contents of the little black bottle. Continue reading

Characteristic Carons

Distinctive ladylike image for a ladylike fragrance

Distinctive ladylike image for a ladylike fragrance

Caron has been a constant in my blogging world and my closet for so many years now that I can’t remember when I first wore a Caron. The house is no longer a fashionable one and although some perfume critics used once upon a time to revere the company, Caron has garnered bad reviews, and released ho hum fragrances in the past decade which in turn garnered more bad reviews.

This is a little unfair.  Even Guerlain is not what it was these days, with its plethora of releases, and its onetime art director starting a perfume company of her own.* That is not even to to mention the last living Guerlain perfumer initiating his own line*. Continue reading

The Smells of Winter

Rocco guards our front door.  This is him in winter "furs".

Rocco guards our front door. This is him in winter “furs”.

One of the reasons that I enjoy living in Connecticut is the four seasons.  There are precisely four and none of them is rushed or hurried past ( perhaps Spring comes too quickly or slowly for my taste) but otherwise there are four, and there are smells that go with each one.

Perhaps I should explain my recent musings on winter scents. Yesterday I spent five hours in the car driving home through the remains of winter storm Helena and that was an experience. Continue reading

Quelques Fleurs: Eternal Feminine

quelques-fThis is a Christmas post which means a little off beat.   I tried to think of a perfume for which I have always had affection and of which I have a very long memory. Quelques Fleurs was it.

Houbigant which is the creator of QF has a lengthy history.  Arguably Houbigant is the oldest of the great French perfume companies having been founded in 1775 which makes it one year older than the United States. Francois Houbigant’s shop, A la Corbeille des Fleurs, was patronized by both Marie Antoinette and Madame du Barry, the familiar “basket of flowers” was the recognized sign not simply of the shop, but of the house, and has remained as a company symbol.  You can see it on such late Houbigant perfume labels as Apercu from 2002. Continue reading