Chanelophobia

Chanelophobia2 It’s been an age since I had my first bottle of perfume, and in the long interim that has followed, with lord knows how many bottles passing through, only one of them has ever been a Chanel.

Isn’t that peculiar, isn’t that abnormal, for a perfume enthusiast? I’ve worn just about everything else, but for some obscure reason, hardly ever a Chanel.  The closest I came was a bottle of Coco, and a bottle of No 19 bath mousant given me for Christmas once.  Used up both, did not replace either, that must say something about Chanel, personal aesthetics and moi, probably in that order, namely that they have a style, it is pronounced, and I don’t get it.

This may be a familial glitch, because my sister doesn’t get it either.  Neither one of us have worn Chanel for long, and both of us are slightly leery of the customary Chanel aldehyde blends.  The result seems to be that my sister simply dislikes Chanel, and to me, the perfumes are impressive, but my admiration is expressed from a safe distance. Continue reading

Twelve Smells of Christmas, Day Ten: The Trajectory of Fizz

I only recently learned how to open bottles of Champagne without spritzing an entire kitchen in the process.  It’s a useful skill.  You don’t have to bellow for your husband when the ladies want to make mimosas, you just do the opening and mixing on your own.

By the way, I know that I am not supposed to refer to any sparkling wine as Champagne unless it was grown in the region so denominated – my brother-in-law is French, you see, and so I know that it is really Vin Petillante and not Champagne. Whether or not it came from France, I have just noticed that you can get bubbles in your wine much more cheaply these days and that the Spanish are dab hands at this kind of doubly fermented drink. Continue reading

Frankincensely, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn

Incense perfumes seem to be the dividing line between true perfume enthusiasts and everyone else.  For the great majority of the public, incense perfumes smell like Church- especially if they are Catholic- and, curiously, seem to have otherworldly associations even for people who are not religiously affiliated.

Frankincense is in the vanguard in this perfumed assault on heaven, although I find in reading the notes that one perfume on my list contains no frankincense.  This is Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marrocain.  It does have everything else that he could crowd into a sacred conference room: coriander, petitgrain, lemon, bergamot, jasmine, cistus, geranium, cedar, vetiver, vanilla, patchouli and ambergris.  Wow.  I could swear that was frankincense in there out-whiffing everybody else – but no havana.

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The 1912 Overture Part II

Not every perfume released in 1912 was actively influenced by Coty’s decade dominating hits.  Houbigant, which had left off the last century with an unprecedented perfume (Fougere Royale,1882) was due for another world beater.

Their business had begun in 1775.  Jean Francois Houbigant had opened a boutique called A la Corbeille de Fleurs on the rue Saint Honore.    Wigs were the fashion of the day (see The Powdering Gown), and for reasons that pass modern understanding,  people insisted on powdering them – maybe it put off lice? Whatever the reason, Houbigant supplied the powder.

He also sold hair pomade, and floral essences, which gets us back on familiar territory.  The making of him was the patronage of Madame du Barry, the equivalent of a thirty-dollar Good-time Girl, whom the aging king Louis XV had installed as maitresse en titre. Continue reading