© Anders L. Damgaard, www.amber-inclusions.dk
Yes, I like amber. Everyone does, or nearly everyone, and that’s why practically the first perfume released by any niche firm is either an amber or else an amber floral, aka floriental.
Ambers are also the big money makers. Serge has got Ambre Sultan, Annick Goutal has got Ambre Fetiche, I Profumi di Firenze has got Ambra di Nepal, and then there’s Ambra di Venezia, and Parfumerie Generale’s L’Oiseau de Nuit. I have barely scratched the surface. Ambers are everywhere, and there is some confusion as to what amber actually is, amber confuses me as well since half the time it seems to be an amalgam of labdanum (otherwise known as rock rose, or Cistus) and vanilla.
But that’s not the real thing. Continue reading
Annick Goutal’s house has been a gateway for many people who have since become perfume lovers, a lovely retro-rococo gateway, delicately wrought iron wreathed in ivy, but a gateway just the same.
It was, along with L’Artisan Parfumeur, one of the very first niche houses, and I remember articles about Goutal in Connoisseur Magazine back in the day, that particular day belonging to the 1980s. Such perfumes as Heure Exquise are now thirty three years old, and have achieved the status of classics.
Still, if you came to the line anytime in the last ten years, you might be forgiven for thinking the eponymous Goutal was Camille, and that the perfumer had always been Isabelle Doyen. In fact, Camille is Goutal’s daughter and Ms. Doyen the perfumer she has preferred to work with, the creator of Duel and Madragore, among other Goutal hits. The house is changing once again, bought by Korean group Amore Pacific. You can spot this in the newer packaging, and the changed line up. It remains to be seen whether this is good or bad news for fans. Continue reading
There’s a very odd thing going on out there in the world of perfume: niche fragrance prices are rising. This year the cost of a 50ml. bottle is well over a hundred dollars US. In fact, and in the interest of consumers, it’s worth pointing out that this hike comes at a time when many commodity prices are falling, natural gas, metals, pork, corn, etc, and when inflation in the US is running at or below 1.7% (the Federal Reserve’s target is 2%). So, why are perfume prices up so much? Is it demand, is it production costs, is it the dollar/euro exchange rate*, is it something that someone outside of the business can’t calculate, or are we…just being suckered for the sake of fashion? Continue reading
The oddity of body chemistry is one of those imponderables that never cease to amaze me. We all know the scenario by now, how two people can try on the same perfume and it will coalesce into a beautiful flower arrangement on one wearer’s skin, and devolve on the other’s, into a rotten soggy mess. Hard to believe, but it does happen.
Sometimes the quality of the perfume is at fault. If a formula is harsh or thin, then skin will not save it. Conversely, even well made scents can fall apart on an epidermis like an under rehearsed ballet on stage. Chandler Burr in The Perfect Scent laments the formulation of fragrances to perform best on paper, which isn’t very useful, he remarks – unless you are made of paper. Continue reading
Ever see those “flowers” on stems that, once startled, flutter off the plant in a scatter-graph of wings? In nature this imitation is not merely flattery, but a viable stratagem for survival. It is incidentally, pretty spectacular.
Sometimes perfumers pursue this same goal: mimicry. On occasion a simulated note is better, fresher, a less clichéd version of the real thing. That’s true of rose perfumes, too.
Anyone who has stood in front of a display of perfumes soon becomes aware that a number of those bottles are going to contain the name “tuberose” on the label. Even if they don’t, as in the case of say, Fracas, they soon announce their tuberose intentions to the world. Even a perfume novice learns to recognize tuberose early on. Tuberose is hard to miss, and once you’ve smelled it, you never forget it.
It’s a winner, that much is certain. Of all the floral notes out there, tuberose is the one that never seems to go “out of print” (or let us say, “out of bottle”). This is not the case with many other florals. There have been long stretches of time when there were relatively few rose perfumes on the market, and times when neither carnation nor lilac was plentifully represented – now, for instance. Continue reading
Generally, I don’t mess with perfume until the afternoon. This is not a hard and fast rule so much as it is habit. There is simply no point in trying to get yourself completely turned out at seven a.m. or earlier-which it often is around here-unless you have to catch a plane or something.
Still there are times when the morning fragrance is a helpful prop, literally, when you have to get up and get going pronto. I have written about this phenomenon before, and then my choices were distinctly prickly perfumes, things that got you up and held up up at an early hour. But there are gentler ways of waking up as well. Continue reading
We always got them in February in Rome, silly fluffy little bouquets that made some people sneeze but which delighted others. They were so bright and saffron and yellow, after a Roman winter of greige and beige and gray, mimosas in flower markets signaled an abrupt change of season.
To this day, mimosas are the true heralds of spring to me. I may appreciate snowdrops, but they are northern flowers, and go along with winter jasmine, in dense yellow starred hedges, and primroses. None of them have much scent. The yellow winter jasmine has no scent that I can detect. Every year I try to smell snow drops, but it is an undignified exercise at best, with me bending nearly double and failing to smell anything after all. If I’m going to pretzel myself, it’s probably a better bet to wait until the lilies of the valley are in bloom, then I’m sure to get a payoff for my impromptu yoga position. It should be called the Ostrich. Continue reading
My father was fond of scaring us all into hysterics when we were children by humming a dirge that began, “There was an old woman, all skin and bone…” in a sepulchral tone. The whole piece was about old lady and her seemingly interminable journey to the cemetery, and how she had run into a corpse there; and subsequently inquired of the preacher, “Will I look like that when I am dead?” to which the answer, delivered in a banshee shriek was, “Yes, you’ll look like that when you’re dead!!!” so suddenly, that whoever was listening to the song would invariably jump out of their skins, all the previous droning on having tended to make you drowsy. It was purposefully macabre, like a Grand Guignol production or a Bram Stoker novel, or Halloween in New Jersey. Continue reading
Green has to do with zeitgeists, I’m convinced. If the spirit of the Age is strictly stay-at-home then green, the entire spectrum of it, will not appeal. Nevertheless, green is the smell that comes swirling in when you open the casements ( if you have casements) – wild, unpredictable, an invitation to the great unknown; in short, an incitement to move the itchy feet all of us have. Only some periods of time, and some people take to this anarchic note which tends to whirl about you and beckon you out the window, dispensing with the perfunctory formality of the front door.
Well, I did say it was anarchic.