Twelve Smells of Christmas – Day One

It would have been nice to align the twelve smells of Christmas (or any other winter holiday you celebrate) with the items listed in the old carol.  But I can’t think what partridges in pear trees smell like – other than pears  – and so the next twelve posts will be a trifle subjective.  Here, at any rate, are some holiday smells and the perfumes that express them.

One of the most Christmasy to me is Grand Marnier, or Cointreau.  The smell of it is so wonderful, so delightfully orangey and spicy, that it is one of the immortally recurring fragrances of December, and good enough to swab onto your wrist, although when you factor in the stickiness involved, none of us ever do.

Thankfully, it is also one of the most successfully recreated scents and several versions of the  orange liquor in perfume form exist. 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