Iris in Disguise

iris wallpaper print late 19th century

iris wallpaper print late 19th century

Iris is one of the most expensive notes in the world of perfumery, or used to be, before the development of anisaldehyde, and Alpha Irones or the heavy synthetic iris Irival that makes an appearance in Iris Silver Mist. As you can see these days iris is unlikely to be natural, the cost alone more or less precludes that, but there are plenty of irises on the market some self advertising, some not.

Among the synthetics my personal favorite has to be the discontinued Shalimar Eau Premiere.  This perfume had nothing to do with Shalimar, instead the scent had a good deal in common with Dior Homme and DH’s lovely synthetic iris note was reproduced but lightened just a little bit.  They were pretty close to one another as compositions.  I went out and spritzed Dior Homme from my local Sephora and then Shalimar EP and found out how close the kinship was.  They were siblings really, not even cousins. The Shalimar EP did not prosper.  I suppose the fact that the new perfume had nothing to do with actual Shalimar hurt the sales in the end since those who loved Shalimar could not love this new iris concoction. Continue reading

Do We Adopt Our Perfumes?

 

new Bottle of Anne Pliska from Luckyscent

new Bottle of Anne Pliska from Luckyscent

Long ago when I first started this blog I asked the same simple question, and in the years since then have become more convinced of the reply: we adopt.  This may not be the experience of my readers.  There may be several people out there who find that when making a selection they choose simply the best made, the most beautiful perfume, not the trendy one or the one their best friend wears so well.  Still I’d make book that for most of us there is something in certain perfumes that takes up residence on our skins and we scarcely know why. Continue reading

The Sensuous Wallflower

Wallflowers from Unwins UK

Wallflowers from Unwins UK

Wallflowers are not supposed to be sexy, I know, but the flower Cheiranthus Cheiri has a wonderful rich scent that is sensual.  Usually their fragrance is described as being halfway between lillies and carnations, which is a hard notion to get your head around.  Carnations can be green and sparkling and spicy, and lilies are green but creamy and with that big old white flowered whiff that makes them an irresistible choice for Spring, but few people think of walflowers in that capacity at all.

However the scent has made a few appearances in perfumery, though not very often and not very recently.  The all time famous one, if anything regarding Wallflowers can said to be famous, is Dior’s Dune, that monster hit from 1993, which among its wood and floral notes also contains wallflower. Continue reading

Life with Fleurs de Rocaille

Fleurs de Rocaille parfum

Fleurs de Rocaille parfum

The other day I acquired a classic: Fleurs de Rocailles.  This particular classic isn’t in vogue.  Right now I’d say that weighty orientals are all the rage , but this is a season in which Spring cannot come soon enough for me, so when I saw a bottle of Fleurs de Rocaille on Ebay I bought. Then the perfume arrived packed with extravagant care, and I discovered the old extract had never been opened. I was the very first wearer of this perfume which must have been forty years old or older. How appropriate. Continue reading

What Is That Smell?

Gorey

Gorey

One of the trends that I noticed most particularly in 2014 was the increasing inclusion of powerful synthetics in high end perfumes-including niche.  Ouch.  Many materials hurt my nose, many give me headaches, and all of them are horrid when encountered in the subway or worse, a restaurant.

Back in the early Oughts when the trend was for whisper-thin wraith perfumes in the wake of the attack of unsophisticated pudgy gourmand fragrances which had bowed the shelves at Sephora, all you could smell was the retreating tiptoe of L’Eau d’Issey off consumers’ skins. You may not have liked E d I, but at least the stuff was discreet.  Continue reading

Wearing Vintage

Opium advert

Opium advert

A disclaimer here, I’ve always worn vintage clothes.  I did stop after the age of forty, but in my twenties I never wore anything more recent than the fifties-why?  Contemporary stuff was much less chic. So my take on old perfume tends to follow the same pattern, if it works why not wear it? Perfumes are not antiques, you can use them.  The question is where and how?  Some old perfumes have become cliches and everyone knows what you are wearing or thinks that they do- which can be worse Continue reading

Forbidden Fur

When i have a little Girl by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Hilary Knight

When i have a little Girl by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Hilary Knight

You don’t see too many fur coats on the streets in New York these days.  I have to say I’m glad having always been happier with fur on the original animal than on humans, but I’m not quite of the same mind on the subject of animalic notes in perfume.

They seem to be making something of a comeback in the world of niche and natural perfumes and I’m happy about this development.  Some of the newer animalic ingredients are not cruel- ones derived from goat hair for instance or sea shells, or are botanicals like angelica, cumin or helichrysum which smell furry or musky but are actually plant derived. Continue reading

A Warm Island in Winter: Bois des Iles

Vogue Cover from the 20s

Vogue Cover from the 20s

Chanels are challenging perfumes for me.  Not many people share my  prejudice, Chanel is one of the top selling brands in the world, but if I had to choose a Chanel I would take their cologne and Bois des Iles.  It’s not as though a whole lot of thought would have to go into this selection.  You are either one of those people who love No5 or you aren’t, you have to be a lady to wear No19, by which I mean a woman who knows how to say no gracefully. (If you can never say no I suspect No19 will not suit you)

Bois des Iles is far more easy going though.  Being one of those people who in Henry James’ phrase try to take things easy rather than hard, I appreciate this quality. Continue reading

Sandalwood Sisterhood

narniaOf course, it was obvious all along, but I never saw it.  Call it one of those annoying instances when your subconscious mind realized something from the get-go but chose not to share it with your waking consciousness.  Very irritating, very sneaky, very left brain of it, but then, as it is the left brain, very typical as well.

The apercu in this case is that the great classic  Chanel Bois des Iles is of course, a do-over of Caron’s Nuit de Noel.

Oh yeah! Right?  You always knew that. We always knew it, but critical opinion had a way of making us think that the two things were poles apart and probably at opposite ends of the good taste spectrum – well, not so much. Continue reading

All in the Execution Afterall?

L'Heure Bleue Advert

L’Heure Bleue Advert

As I was going through the usual blizzard of new releases this season, something struck me: no one perfects perfume anymore.  I know perfectly well that there are art directors at Amouage and Guerlain and Chanel and so on, but because the business model of perfumes has become the model of planned obselescense, with buyers most interested in the novelties (little suspecting that the novelties are often oldelties) you get a paradox, an ocean of novelty, mostly already passe. Continue reading