Nixing the Musk in Your White Florals

The Pearl in in full bloom

The Pearl in in full bloom

In the perfume world some people are proponents of layering perfumes, and some people aren’t.  It can depend somewhat on the perfume itself.  If you are spritzing on some masterpiece of perfumery with all sorts of crescendos and diminuendos, then dabbing something else on top can simply add up to a multi note cacophany.  Trust me, I’ve tried combining old Jean Patous and the results were seldom good, except with their citrus Cocktail (which picked up stodgy florals and orientals with a zing).

Most perfumes these days are not so complicated as old Jean Patous.  My personal favorites for this sort of treatment are white florals. Continue reading

Boo! In a Bottle

Witches in costume

Witches in costume

Halloween is almost here, and in the grand tradition of Jersey which takes Halloween quite seriously, I am thinking about the very darkest fragrances and how well  they play with the public these days? Or whether, and I’d lay odds on this, they simply spook them?

Darkness was in once.  People wore extremely strong and heavy fragrances and no one thought twice about it, Cabochard for instance, or Guerlain’s old heavy hitter Djedi, or the original Ungaro which I recall had a very dark sillage, sort of like a black hole altering the time space continuum  as it came down the street, sucking in every other fragrance for yards around into its impossibly dense core.  Come to think of it, the original Must de Cartier did that too.  But then, once upon a time, it was the eighties and nineties.

You get a lot of perfumes called black or noir now, but the reality is often a tame backing off from animalic musks or woods, or Heaven preserve us! Oakmoss!! Continue reading

A Bitter Chypre Martini

Martini glassMals over at The Muse in Wooden Shoes recently noticed that she was experiencing a completely uncharacteristic craving for chypres.    The ones she had a yen for were not just any old chypres, but ones with a bite, a stinging edge of tartness- well, you can see what she meant here.

I commented and noticed while doing so that I no longer had any real chypres left in my scent wardrobe.  This was a surprise because all my adult life, I’ve worn chypres. There was a furlough when I was first married, and another while we expecting our daughter, but aside from those two periods yours truly has always been the Chypre Queen and an oakmoss junkie. Continue reading

Don’t I Know You From Someplace?

william-bouguereauThe other day I received a sample of Etat Libre d’Orange’s Rien.  A good deal has been written about this perfume which has been considered toxic and difficult and so forth and so on.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Rien is just a good old leather chypre, genus Banditus, species Cabochardus.

My sample of Rien came from the lovely Sigrun at Rigtigparfym, and although I had read about it from time to time, I had never come across the scent before.  The brouhaha online about it does strike me as overblown.  Rien is no more difficult to carry off than Absolue Pour le Soir, the other Cabochard wannabe I’ve encountered in the last six months or so.  However, one thing about these polarizing scents that I do note, besides their obvious descent from Cabochard, is how blatant references to sexuality were in the perfumed past, and how muted they are now.  Continue reading

Playing with Your Perfume

First of all, should you?  There are two schools of thought on this one and I remember a post on Bois de Jasmin from a year or two back, featuring a piece from French Elle on this subject of layering scents.  Some whole lines are predicated on the idea that you should combine things, Jo Malone for instance, but other people are adamantly against the idea, their notion being that a finished perfume is a complex piece of engineering, and should be worn as is, and not tinkered with.

I was in the latter camp for a very long time.  I don’t think it ever occurred to me to change anything about the scents I wore, except to switch them from time to time. I didn’t spray anything on top of anything else, I didn’t combine deodorant this with body crème that.  But of course I knew that some women did, however I figured that they were the sort of ladies who were more sophisticated than I was, and that they  had a better sense of olfactory style than I did, and – let us just cut to the chase here. I assumed they were French.

Continue reading

Befriending the Bandit

Sometimes I think that the first perfumer anyone who is interested in perfume learns about is Germaine Cellier (1909-1976?).  This figures, because she was such a glamorous entity. There she is, in black and white photos, wearing her well-fitted tailleurs like armor,  usually with a cigarette clamped between her first two fingers. The story goes, that she was lesbian, witty, the friend of Jean Cocteau, and very talented.  Then there’s the fact that she’s credited with the most memorable Robert Piguet perfumes – Bandit (1944) and Fracas (1945) and some Balmains: Vent Vert (1947) , Jolie Madame (1953), Monsieur Balmain (1964) as well as Coeur Joie for Nina Ricci in (1946).  That’s a lot of hits for a single career.

The one that people struggle with these days is Bandit.  I’ve read the reviews.  Everyone thinks that Bandit’s dark, difficult, a bad girl scent, even a scrubber.  Old lady comments seem to drop off, since I guess that even contemporary sniffers suspect this perfume saw more action than World War Two, and indeed, Bandit was worn by Marlene Dietrich, so probably did. Continue reading