Pop, Fizz, and Carbonation: Aldehydes in the Summer

Orange Sanguine from Atelier Cologne

Orange Sanguine from Atelier Cologne

Do you recall Soda Stream? That was the system which allowed you to create your own carbonated sodas .  You could buy the equipment and the carbonating packets at Bed Bath and Beyond, and a few summers ago, in the lost era before the Paleo Diet took serious hold and before gluten became unfit for human consumption, there was soda pop.

Now soda is considered worse than wine, which at least has anti-oxidents going for it.  Soda is merely an indulgence, a fattening, tooth decaying indulgence at that. I have to sneak about with my glasses of Dr. Brown’s Cherry Soda. Yes.  I know. Continue reading

Peaches, Fracas, and Iris Gris

Early Fracas advertising

Early Fracas advertising

Peaches unexpectedly have a great deal to do with 20th century perfume.  Peach sits so prominently in so many formulas, as it does in Fracas, next to the orange blossoms and the bergamot.   What made this omnipresence  possible? Success. Or sales. Or aldehyde C14 if you prefer. It’s in Chant d’Aromes, and yes , everyone points out the peach in Mitsouko, (that’s practically a tourist attraction by now.) Well, ditto Fracas.

Somehow or other Fracas is often the perfume of respectable women.  How does that come about?One explanation may be that the heart has built in restraint, like a camisole over a bosom, consisting of orris and carnation, in other words the exuberant tuberose is there buxom as can be, but so is the fabric smell from orris, while carnation provides the starch. Continue reading

Salty-Mossy

Oakmoss in nature

Oakmoss in nature

Oakmoss is pretty hard to find now.  Once it was a cinch to smell the dry and pungent scent of oakmoss in fragrances, moss was part of every chypre, now because of regulations, oakmoss is largely banned and the sort that is allowed in fragrance (ie IFRA compliant meaning it is in line with the  dictates of the Industry watchdog) has low atranol.

What is atranol?  Besides being the operative bit of oakmoss?   Apparently along with chloroatranol, it is the leading allergen in oakmoss absolute which is determined to be problematic by skin patch tests.  So much for wonkery.  What this means is less dryness and darkness in commercial fragrances.  Perfumery loves sugar, like the girl I overheard at the wine shop saying that she really, really, liked her Rieslings and her Marsalas.  Continue reading

Pavlova

Anna Pavlova

Anna Pavlova

This, due to my having cut my hand pretty well last night and so typing with three fingers, is going to be a very short post.  I hope you will excuse my terseness this time out, but I recently had an interesting encounter with a vintage perfume, Pavlova actually.  Which was named for the ballerina of course not the delicious meringue dessert. (Although I do love a good pavlova!)

Payot came out with this fragrance in 1977, but some perfume books notably Fabulous Fragrances, Jan Moran’s guide, date the scent to 1922.  Was there an earlier perfume?  La Pavlova was certainly very famous in the 1920’s, dying a swan’s death on stage with  astonishingly regular fidelity all over the world.  Payot as far as I know is a French skin care company, these days moving into the Chinese market.http://www.payot.com Pavlova, must have been one of their forays into the perfume world.  If so, then their effort was a success. Continue reading

The Best Customer?

Original advertising for Coty Muse

Original advertising for Coty Muse

The best perfume customer,  Do such people exist?  Can they exist?  Are they us?

In the States we tend to reference Estee Lauder’s steady and entirely sensible business practices, the slow and persistent knock on consumers’ sensibilities with demonstrations, free samples, and gifts with purchase. Estee was in fact a follower of Francois Coty in all this.  He too, wanted the wide market, and bet that he could obtain it-which he did of course- and with spectacular success.  That all began though with demographic democracy by targeting the middle class consumer. Continue reading

Iris…Actually

Black iris painting offering from etsy.com

Black iris painting offering from etsy.com

Detecting the principal notes of fragrances is one of the most annoying and confusing aspects of perfume collecting.  Who would know-for example-that the main note of Fracas is Tuberose?  And who would intuit that YSL Paris is largely concerned with roses?  No one does. You simply have to find that out yourself over time checking out different websites, and ultimately, trusting your own nose.

So last year when Patricia de Nicolai’s fragrance Ambre Cashmere came out I thought it was an amber perfume  because of the name, and  since most of the reviews accused AC of a tooth enamel eroding sweetness, I let the matter rest, and it wasn’t until for entirely different reasons a sample came my way, that I actually tried Ambre Cashmere. Continue reading

Mysticism, Oud, and Deja Vu: Caron’s Yatagan and Parfum Sacre

M7 from manlovescologne.com

M7 from manlovescologne.com

Oud sloshes about perfume retailers nowadays, you need waders or gumboots to keep the stuff from soaking your shoes. There is practically a flood warning out for it, and still the public seems to love the smell and to keep on buying.  Sometimes I wonder if this is not due to the fact that the Industry killed off one of their better dry fixatives with the oakmoss ban imposed by IFRA?  It could be, and after all, synthetic substitutes for oud have existed for some time, but the beginnings of oud and the Middle Eastern influence on mainstream perfume is a good deal older than you might expect.

Yves Saint Laurent’s M7, a synthetic oud fragrance for men, was introduced in 2002 and has remained a love it or loathe it experience ever since.  However M7 wasn’t the first mainstream release containing oud.  The first was probably Yatagan (1976) into whose formula a certain amount of oud wood was incorporated.  The oud is not in the notes,  neither in the H&R Guide of 1991, nor yet on  any of the websites, but there is a reference to this note of Yatagan’s in The Book of Perfume by Barrille and LaRoze  who claim that the perfumers of Caron, always interested in rituals (with their own Royal Bain de Caron allegedly part of Voodoo ceremonies) decided to include this nearly sacred material in their new masculine.* Continue reading

The Lavender Bears’ Picnic

Bobbie bear in plush toy form

Bobbie bear in plush toy form

If you go down to the woods today you’d better not go alone…especially not in China where you might be witnessing one of the biggest bear jamborees on earth.  It seems that a fad of huge proportions was born this past year.  The Bridestowe Lavender Estate in Tasmania had been selling only the occasional Bobbie Bear in lavender plush stuffed with dried lavender, ten a month or so up until 2013, when a Chinese actress posted a picture of herself with Bobbie on social media.  Bobbie was, according to Zhang Xinhu, the perfect companion on a cold night in Shanghai.

After that, Bobbies began selling like crazy, up to 4 thousand a month and Bridestowe was at the limits of its  lavender production.  That was when their problems really began. Continue reading

Till the Weekend Do Us Part

An 18th century couple

Married Couple  by Jacques Dumont 1733, Notice the dog, symbol of faithfulness.

Once upon a decade I had a signature perfume and that time is so far behind me now that I have trouble remembering what it was.  Oh yes, Chant d’Aromes, and in the summer Eau de Hadrian.  It was pretty halcyon,  you never had to think about what to put on.  It was always the same stuff.

I wonder what would happen if I wore the same perfume for a work week?  Continue reading

Alaia Urban Smog

James Abbott Macneil " Nocturne"

James Abbott Macneil
” Nocturne”

There are a lot of scents out there these days which strike me as only one part of a perfume.  Alaia which I have been smelling  round  me on scent strips (from Saks) is certainly one of them. I’m kind of amused that many bloggers think that it’s a wonderful modern perfume.  Alaia’s the coda to a modern perfume.  There’s no heart, and no beginning, you could call this linear but there isn’t enough of a high note to pull you in. It’s a base.

Alaia smells totally synthetic and there is something dark and tarry that I remember from the days when I was toying with Kate Walsh’s Boyfriend (remember that? No?) and  from Estee Lauder’s Sensuous Noir, although that had more of a presence than Alaia. Continue reading