An Explosion of Brands

 John Singer Sargent  Promenade during the uncrowded fin de Siecle

John Singer Sargent
Promenade during the uncrowded fin de Siecle

Believe it or not this happened once before.  You may think that nothing like the multiplication of perfume niche companies has ever been seen in the history of scent sales but back in the early twentieth century something very like this happened.

Frankly I’ve long since lost count of the number of new niche fragrance houses that have debuted in the last three years or so.  Some of them will survive of course, and many will not, but back in the teens and twenties the world of perfume was similarly flooded. Continue reading

Had a Wife but Couldn’t Keep Her

Peter_Peter_PumpkinThe subject of the last line is, of course, Peter Pumpkin Eater.  Pumpkin is not on the short list of things that make me enthusiastic about anything, but according to the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, it’s the combination of pumpkin and   lavender that does it for men.

Really.

Pumpkin.

Lavender.

Uh huh.

You can forget your Shalimar, never mind the Mitsouko, detonate your Flowerbomb without him because it’s pumpkin and lavender that men love and respond to (the smell of cinnamon buns come in second by the way). Continue reading

Myrrh-myrrhings

Having recently written about myrrh, I’ve had it somewhat on the brain.   Myrrh is one of those notes that you think you know or think you like, except, I find, when it’s actually under your nose and then you remember:  “Oh yes, there’s that note.”

I’m not sure if all myrrh worth discussing is bitter, but the two myrrh notes that I know best are.  They are inside two veteran perfumes, Coty’s L’Aimant and Jean Patou’s Caline. It was Meg of Parfumieren who first introduced me to L’Aimant.  It’s an aldehydic floral that is, to my way of thinking, much easier to wear than No 5.

I know, that’s an outrageous statement, but in my experience the old Cotys are almost flawlessly wearable.  There’s no insistence on being avant garde, or opinionated.  The Cotys are simply lovely on skin. But to return to my point about myrrh, about ½ way through the evaporation of L’Aimant, you get the note. Continue reading

Music for Mosquitoes

Some perfumes are simply aimed at a very high note on the scale of smell.  They are in the citrus, aldehyde, or floral ranges, nothing else can stretch that far.  I mean, even standing on its tippy-tip toes, an oriental or a chypre just can’t reach that nose-bleeding altitude.

It is an odd concept, but I remember having a recent conversation with my sister about this, and her take was that some perfumes just buzzed in her head, they were so shrill. She named some Chanels in particular.

From her description I was pretty sure that her problem was chiefly with aldehydes.  She couldn’t abide Chanel No5, for instance, and also hated No22 for the same reason. Continue reading

Joy in the Morning, M. Kerleo in the Afternoon

M. Kerleo’s career was spent behind a curtain, choreographing some of the finest prestidigitation of French perfumery.  He was the man in the booth at Jean Patou for some thirty two years and in that time he not only kept Joy at its ebullient best, but also created the enigmatic 1000, the satiny Sublime, and what many consider among the best masculines ever created, Patou Pour Homme.

These are only the best known of his works.  He also orchestrated a revival of the most famous Patou scents for the Ma Collection series in the 1980′s including the green floral Caline, and the much praised gourmand/chypre Que Sais Je.  He did Ma Liberte in 1987, and Eau de Patou, Voyageur, also Patou Forever.  He composed a number of scents for Lacoste, including Land, and the first perfume for Yohji Yamamoto, simply called Yohji. He won the Prix des Parfumeurs in 1965, and the Prix Francois Coty in 2001. He is still the honorary president of the Society of French Perfumers, and the founder of the museum of historically significant perfumes, the Osmotheque in Versailles. It’s quite some record, you must admit. Continue reading

Under the Wind

There can seldom have been such a poetic name for a fragrance can there?  I’m referring to the Limited Edition Guerlain Sous le Vent of which the title here is a loose translation.

And yes, this is another in the series of very highly priced scents that you won’t run into at your local mall. Currently I think this sells for about $US 350.00 per 100 mls, and it’s a green chypre.

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The Smell of Adventure

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.

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(Rose 13) – Roses, Take a Bow!

Since there have been a dozen rose posts, this might a good time to take a breather,  go back, and re-cap.

For all the complaining that perfume consumers do about the industry these days, one thing is inescapably true: there’s more variety.  Once upon a distant time, Perfumer’s Workshop produced Tea Rose and Houbigant sold A Rose is a Rose.

That was about it in 1976.  Now you have entire lines devoted to the flower in all its variations.  Les Parfums de Rosine is one such house, and besides its twenty or so perfumes, there’s a slew of mainstream releases popular with the public such as Stella, or Valentino’s Rockin’ Rose.

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(Rose 6) – The Reddest Red Ever

Is certainly blood, in whatever form, followed by certain flowers. While living in Vermont, I once grew a hybrid tea called Precious Platinum that, despite the name, was anything but silver.  Platinum was a saturated scarlet, so intensely red that a local boy stopped by the garden one day and successfully petitioned for a rose to take to his girl with whom he’d had a fight.

I never heard if they made it up, but he couldn’t have found a redder rose if he’d trekked from one end of the state to the other.  That rose, that particular rose, was the epitome of redness.

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