Classic Soliflores?

The Pearl in in full bloom

Single note floral perfumes used  to be short lived on the market.  Back in the day they were called “handkerchief” perfumes because in the pre-Kleenex era, you sprinkled a drop of rose or lavender water on your handkerchief rather than your skin. Those little fragrances “sent bons” were miniature essays in the perfumer’s art.  Not many of those perfumes survive today. No one wears Yardley’s Lavender, or Coty’s Jasmin de Corse, few wear Tea Rose the big late seventies hit from Perfumer’s Workshop, and Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare is diluted out of recognition- which makes me wonder- which are the  new classic soliflores?  Which ones will survive for decades on the consumers’ skin? Continue reading

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

Tuberoses for a Founding Father

Thomas Jefferson at the age when he was experimenting most in the garden at Monicello

Thomas Jefferson at the age when he was experimenting most in the garden at Monicello

Ever wonder what were the favorite scents of historical figures?  In the case of Thomas Jefferson we know one of his: the Mexican tuberose.  Jefferson was a gardener when he was not writing the Declaration of Independence or being president.  Monticello was a sort of test garden for all sorts of plants and flowers that Jefferson had admired abroad, or that he thought might be useful or simply ornamental, in American horticulture.  One such discovery for him was the tuberose.

He kept a diary which is how we know about his tastes and what he ordered.  Like anybody else who gardens, he loved to look at plant lists from nurseries and dream of where he could tuck this or that little rarity into the spaces he had open. 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

Grand Fracas and Petit Fracas

fracas1Are there people who wear Fracas straight through from the Junior Prom until the Heavenly Rest Funeral Home?  I’ll bet that there are.  I can’t remember a time when Fracas wasn’t part of the crowd on any perfume counter.   It was also a staple south of the Mason-Dixon Line, there is just something about Fracas that appeals to the most feminine women in the world, some of whom are from the southern US.

It’s the tuberose in Fracas that creates the ruckus in the first place.  Tuberoses speak in a big unapologetic voice about mating, and they get even huskier voiced and more come hither at night, and are often used in moon gardens, which 19th century ladies roamed in order to preserve their complexions from the sun. It calls up the irresistible image of Mae West vamping her way up and down a gravel path somewhere, about equally lethal to her lovers and their bank accounts. 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