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

Twelve Smells of Christmas – Day Eight: Wholly Myrrh

Most of the incense scents out there have a habit of replicating the experience of being in church for many of us, but some of them have a habit of reproducing particular churches at particular times.

Now, a disclaimer-  for a Protestant, I have a very long experience of Catholic churches. Part of it came from growing up in Rome, and part of it came from having a high church mother who eventually converted to Catholicism: result of such equation, one Protestant with a Catholic education.

To me, myrrh is the smell of St. Peter’s Basilica. I went there on a number of occasions to see services- invariably long and impressive- due to the gigantic size of everything in St. Peter’s, a church designed for titans if ever one was. I was in the habit of staring at the huge canopy over the altar on its twisting black and gold columns just to bring the whole cyclopean pile down to the human dimension, only to find of course that the canopy itself was enormous, a sunshade for Gargantua. Continue reading