The Golden L’Origan

L'aimant and L'Origan from an Ebay listing

L’aimant and L’Origan from an Ebay listing

When the afternoon light turns amber that’s the end of summer.  It’s a phenomenon that you see in many different parts of the world. The light is a clear bluish color in Spring, has a strong un-tinted intensity in summer but in autumn, light slants and steeps in the atmosphere like tea.  There’s probably a perfectly rational explanation for this but so  far I’ve never heard one.

Fall is brewing. The foliage is already beginning to turn ever so slightly in my town, and soon the whole place will be covered with the annual oranges, tobacco browns, saffrons and scarlets everyone loves. Except me that is, because for me, Autumn is a busy season clipboard clutching, the time interrupted by meetings, and oh yes I have to change perfume. 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

Domesticated Animal Musks

Sargeant portrait of the dog Pointy

Sargeant portrait of the dog Pointy

Has anyone else noticed the stealth growth of musk in perfumery?  Musk is everywhere these days, particularly in the base of floral perfumes.  It’s getting so that you have to go to  great lengths to find a flower perfume that doesn’t end in a puddle of musk.

I don’t hate musk.  Although I do  dislike the huge old heavy macrocylic musks (Globalide, Muscone) whose molecules lumber past your nose like mastodons on the extinction march.  I’m one of those people who always have free and clear detergents in the laundry room, because I can’t stand the battle of different scents fighting for dominance over one sillage. Musk always wins. Continue reading

Despicably Me

Grimly Feendish“Try the hot pockets. They’re breathtaking!”

Dr. Evil.

If you think about it, not too many other animals worry about the nature of their scent signature in the way that most of us do.  It’s a uniquely a perfumista (er) concern.  We are identifiable by the way in which we always carry breath mints (because we can smell halitosis in millionth parts of any atmosphere, and therefore fear we’re spreading it, and therefore, carry mints).  Continue reading

The Manimalic

ManimalicYou may have thought you’d smelled it all, you may have thought that there was simply nothing else the perfume world could put over on you, but you would be wrong.  Certainly I was. A simple little sample from the natural perfumers Strange Invisible Perfumes threw me for a loop.

The sample was Tribute and it was supposed to be a panegyric to the great French perfumes of the past, in a completely unprocessed form, naturally. But whether it was supposed to smell like Bal a Versailles or not, it certainly reminded me of something I smelled a good deal, something everyday, something pervasive, something sort of pungent.  Now just what was it? It took me a whole ten minutes to figure it out. Continue reading

Chintz, Tea, and Civilized Discourse

There is something to be said for homogeneity.  Most of us never achieve it.  You can’t tell, when you enter our houses, or see our gardens, or our perfume collections or for that matter our clothes, that a single, organized taste supervised the process of decorating, planting, collecting, or selecting. Generally speaking what you get is a hodge-podge, and in a minority of cases, an expression of whatever the prevailing fashion is, in homes or gardens or perfumes or clothes.

But two English ladies tend to buck this trend,  and I might as well mention them here. Continue reading

The Oriental in All of Us

Once in an idle interval, I remember toting up all the perfumes worn by every member of my extended family according to scent families. An idiotic little game of parallelisms and no doubt OCD as all get out, but bear with me.

What I discovered was that of about a dozen of us, only one of us wore Orientals, and that was my Mom with…drum roll… Tabu.

Even Chypres were better represented (by me), but of Orientals there were, well, only that one .

Why was that? Now that there are more of us, and several of us are a good deal younger than the original test sample, I find the exact same thing.  The ladies in my family wear fruity florals, and aldehydic florals and the odd citrus perfume but now, only one Oriental, namely Poivre, worn by me. No one else wears them at all.  Continue reading