Ballgowns or Jeans?

“Some of the most beautiful perfumes are like a ball gown, but sometimes you just want to wear a comfortable pair of jeans.”

Christopher Brosius

Dandelion Clocks by Pippalou

Dandelion Clocks by Pippalou

At this time of year, the ball gown analogy, though apt, breaks down to “the most comfortable pair of jeans”. Today was too lax and lazy for anything formal at all. I had been planning to wear my Guerlain LE Plus Que Jamais, but that was simply too grand. I had to roll around in Krigler’s Juicy Jasmine instead, the equivalent of a pop tune, rather than wear the complicated Miles Davis jazz piece that Plus Que Jamais is, or to continue the original comparison, shrug on a slightly slubby maxi, instead of a cocktail dress.

Does summer call for this sort of fragrance? I think so. In fact I can’t make myself wear anything that requires complication or thought. I just want comfort.

To this end I’ve compiled my brief list of End of Summer Perfumes, suitable for hammocks, barbecues, and porches. Their common denominator is the low number of easiness.  These are perfumes that almost anyone can wear and enjoy whether a newbie, a collector, or a perfumista with a perfume population explosion.  Continue reading

Spritzing with the Enemy

Audrey Volk  The Mother profiled in Shocked

Audrey Volk
The Mother profiled in Shocked

You may be familiar with Hal Vaughan’s book, Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War.  The book came out in 2012 and caused some flutter as mention of Coco’s wartime activities inevitably does.  The fact of Coco’s affair with Von Dincklage, and her attempt to emphasize her larger amount of “Aryan” blood to oust the Wertheimers from Parfums Chanel is all pretty easy to discover.  However, having a spouse who writes non-fiction history makes you sensitive to primary material, plus I have always wondered if we know some of Coco’s war activities, how much did people know during the forties? Continue reading

Perfect Peach, Perfect Nectar

Flavorcrest peaches

Flavorcrest peaches

There is no such beast in a bottle.  I keep on looking.  There is or was an aldehyde, C14 which imitated the scent of peaches and is to be found in Mitsouko (or in older formulations of Mitsouko.  I don’t know if C14 is considered kosher by IFRA regulations) and the same aldehyde came in as a  moderator in all sorts of fragrances from Joy to Lancome’s Climat, but nowhere is there a  perfect stand alone peach. Continue reading

Bare Skin Scents

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara

Maybe this is an ooh la la sort of question, but I wonder what are the best fragrances for nudity?  Now I realize that the answer is going to vary a good deal because the subject of skin and what works on the skin also varies considerably from one person to another, but factoring that in, which are the very best scents for nothing at all? Continue reading

Dries Van Noten

Grinling Gibbon Carving

Grinling Gibbons  Carving

Some years ago sandalwood was nowhere to be found.  The white sandalwood that I remembered from my childhood was produced by too few trees in India, and as a result, Indian authorities  shut down production for some time.

In the interim, you got imitations of sandalwood, Mcqueen’s Kingdom for instance, a fragrance that was a flop with the market, but not at all bad as a sandalwood mock-up.  Worse, far worse, to my mind was what happened to perfumes that were constructed around sandalwood.  Bois des Isles one year  smelled of Santalum spicatum though really the scent was thrown off by this kind of substitution, but what was a fashion house to do?  There was no Santalum album to be had.  Chanel merely made the best of a bad business. Continue reading

Realistic Lilies

Casablanca Lilies photo my own

Casablanca Lilies
photo my own

When they fester, they may smell far worse than weeds, but lilies, especially the great big oriental and trumpet lilies of July and August, are still among some of my favorite garden flowers. They’re favorites with many people. There was a time in the nineties when no chic New York interior was complete without an extravagant display of pure white oriental lilies nearly toppling out of a vase. So far though I don’t wear any lily (meaning these big lilies, not pee-wee lilies of the valley) scent successfully- that is, up to now. Continue reading

Salty Melons and Married Love: Le Parfum de Therese

Cantaloups

Cantaloups

People remember the late Edmond Roudnitska for different reasons. Myself I remember his book about perfume, the first serious one I ever read on the subject. In it he made a plea for perfume to be considered an art form, maybe not a major art, but an art all the same. I’m not sure what I made of that at the time I read the book in the nineties, but I am sure that a number of Roudnitska compositions struck me as being quite artful. Continue reading

The Symphonic Fragrance

Dublin Symphony Orchestra

Dublin Symphony Orchestra

Periodically the fashion press will trot out the statement that “perfumers have been liberated from the old pyramidal structure” of fragrance. This to me is often a tip off that the new scents about to be described by a harassed beauty editor are essentially accords.

Whole perfume business models have been built on this idea, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but if you don’t like layering fragrances, the modular system can be daunting. If you prefer to wear something finished and worked out to the final evaporation, with no roughness, no fade outs, and no awkward sections, what you are looking for is the symphonic fragrance. Continue reading

Lemon-y but Lovely: New Citrus Florals

Freesias

Freesias

Right now colognes seem to be out of favor with the market. This always surprises me since colognes seem like such a wonderful option for many people. They’re often largely natural, they’re light, they offend very few, and yet look at Andy Tauer trying to get the Cologne du Maghreb into circulation. Apparently, that’s an uphill battle. Continue reading

Bubbles in the Soap Dish: Cruel Gardenia, Caline, Fleur de Rocailles

Cold Cream Camay

Cold Cream Camay

Most of us are very clean.   I’ve never met anyone interested in perfume who was not something of a clean freak.  Maybe we don’t take three baths a day a la Tom Ford but we are very fussy about hygiene.  So why do most of us just not like soap in our perfume?

Possibly the note seems old fashioned to us now.  Back at the turn of the century though J Lo did have that hit of hers Glow.  The whole idea there was freshness and something similar happened with Narciso Rodriguez’ Essence. I thought that the scents were nice enough and had the advantage of wearability in public places.  However, both were modern soaps, and understated. Continue reading