Ever since the famous study about moths and railway soot in the mid-nineteenth century England, it has been apparent that evolution proceeds not at a steady pace, but in bounds. Things don’t just go along at a predictable pace, they leap forward and then step backwards.
It’s the same way with perfume. Whenever something new and wonderful comes along, it does so when you were least expecting magic.
L’Accord 119 from Caron is one such event. When the scent was released a couple of years ago it was reviewed and briefly talked about as interesting, the more so since it was a fruity floral, but then the subject of 119 was dropped. Evidently among the perfume smelling and buying classes, it was not a hit. Continue reading →
Patou’s 1000 came out in 1972, which was when my family lived in Rome. Back then, Roman real estate was relatively cheap, and we were right in the heart of old Rome in a penthouse apartment of the sort that I suppose few people could afford now. Anyway, there were little perfume and makeup shops around every few corners, and one of them was on my route home from school.
Not being of an age yet to wear perfume, or make up, for that matter, I still was compelled to go and stick my nose into bottles out of curiosity, and would stop by. That proprietress must have been fond of the young, and pretty indulgent. Most shopkeepers would have tossed me and my tatty book bag out the door. Instead, if she was not too busy, she would tell me about what was in the bottles, and let me smell things on a finger (no paper strips then). This was how I first met the Balmains, Balenciagas, and Cotys of the era.
Periodically perfume people mourn the death of the chypre. It’s supposed to be down to the restrictions on oakmoss which was the constituent that gave the chypres so much salty depth and dryness. Now you cannot use oakmoss in amounts large enough to produce the chypre effect, or you have to use low atranol oakmoss which is, from the chypre’s perspective, rather like trying to pass off a gelding as a stallion. You just know something is missing.
Among those who comment about perfumes these days the positions on chypres are mixed. Perfumistas sorrow over their absence but in practically the same sentence they also accuse them of formality, of masculinity, or of being difficult to wear. Still there are many good ones to be found on the internet. Continue reading →