Monday, Mar. 9 – Our internet is wonky. In, out, in, out… slllllooooooowwwww. It’s driving me crazy. Also? I’m sick. I have fever chills. My stomach is vaguely unsettled, but mostly it’s the fever symptoms that are making me feel so bad. The CEO left this morning to take some of his Ag students to the Governor’s conference on agriculture and trade, in Richmond. He’ll be back tomorrow.
Remember a few weeks ago when I was whining about the modern version of Tuvache Jungle Gardenia being thin and watery, and Jeffrey Dame offered me a fresh sample to try? Well, the “fresh sample” turned out to be a full bottle. Wasn’t that lovely of him? (Oh dear, now I have a moral conundrum as to what to do with it.)
The new stuff goes by Tuvache Gardenia, and I sprayed a bit on my wrist this morning before taking Taz to school. It’s not thin. No. It is a proper, thick, heady, bleu-cheesy gardenia. I could wish for a few more green notes to it, but basically this is a narcotic floral in the best sense. Wow. Stuck around all day, smelled great.
By evening, I was freezing, and I sprayed some Amouage Memoir Woman to help me sleep.
Tuesday, Mar. 10 – I feel awful. Spent the day curled up under the quilt, huffing my soothing Esprit d’Oscar. Such a shame that was discontinued – those “makeup” fragrances got popular all of a sudden, and then the trend moved on to something else. Of course, the celebuscents are still sugary-frooty-musky-dumb floral, and (unbelievably) they’re still selling. Oh, for the days when “celebrity fragrance” meant Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds! Or Deneuve.
Actually, let me back up a bit on White Diamonds. You know how yesterday I wore Tuvache Gardenia, and then put on some Memoir at night? Well, bits of both got onto my Yale hoodie sleeve, and now my hoodie smells like a big bouquet smeared with, um… okay, I’ll say it. Feces. You talk about indolic, baby. WHOA.
There is an older woman who sometimes shops for groceries where I shop, and she typically wears enough White Diamonds that you could follow her scent trail throughout the store. Eep. Well, on her, the indolic bits of White Diamonds come to the fore, so that it smells like this big gorgeous hotel-lobby bouquet of flowers… right next to a whole bucketload of filthy used cloth diapers. All the excretions, plus GIGANTIC FLOWERS… if you apply too much White Diamonds, apparently, it gets this noxious cast. And the combination of Tuvache Gardenia and Memoir Woman produces this wonderful/horrible juxtaposition of flowers and toilet as well.
So, please consider yourself warned. I am putting this poor sweatshirt into the laundry forthwith.
Wednesday, Mar. 11 – Le Temps d’une Fete, Le Temps d’une Fete!! Spring is on its way, I can feel it, and I’m so happy to be able to switch out my winter fragrances for the early-spring ones. Every time I open the hatbox to choose, I feel bad for the ones I haven’t chosen. Sigh.
I think I’m getting over the fever. My stomach is in rebellion, though – which could be due to the diet I had planned to start on Monday and put off until today.
Thursday, Mar. 12 – I still feel bad. I’m continuing to have digestive issues with this new diet (South Beach), and I hope things settle out soon. I feel fairly sure that having had my gallbladder removed in 2002 has a good deal to do with the way that I’m processing all this increased dietary fiber. Gah. But the scale is down several pounds, so I don’t want to give up too soon.
I’m testing things today, with several things up and down my arms. Fun.
Friday, Mar. 13 – This is the last day of The CEO’s spring break at Virginia Tech. I hope he’s had a relaxing week. SOTMorning was Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, for Now Smell This’ weekly Friday challenge; this week it was “wear something old-school niche, preferably released before 2010.” Iris Poudre I love anyway, and it was released in 2003, if I remember correctly.
By the afternoon IP was slowing down, and I added a dab or two of Annick Goutal Heure Exquise, which would also have fit the bill for the NST Friday challenge, and played nicely with the dregs of IP because of the iris and musk present in both.
And Bookworm is home! So glad we have her for a week.
Saturday, Mar. 14 – Hey, it’s Pi Day! So, of course, we made pie. Two pies. Or, as it amused The CEO to say, “2?r in our kitchen.” (Sorry. I’ll wait while you shake off the awfulness of the pun.)
It is so nice to have Bookworm home. I miss her when she’s gone. Looks like she’ll be in New Haven this summer, serving as a residential advisor in Yale’s summer-program dorms. She’ll get free room and board, plus tuition for one summer class.
SOTD is Chamade. Because, duh, Chamade. I love the way this thing turns from chilly to warm. I’m thrilled to break out all the greenies in my wardrobe.
Sunday, Mar. 15 – The grass is starting to green up outside, which is exciting. It’s funny, you know – the seasons change in largely the same way every year, and yet it always thrills me to see the change.
SOTD was Deneuve, which seemed a little more animalic than I remember it. There was the green and the hyacinth, the spring flowers, but also some really dirty musk that was prominent to my nose today. It wound up being a little much for church, to be honest, and after we got home I spritzed a bit of Le Temps d’une Fete over top. That one isn’t spectacularly clean, either, but it’s clean-er. And I love it.
My sister and her son are visiting while he’s out of school for spring break. They spent the week seeing family, and touring many of Virginia’s historical sites – Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, the state Capitol building in Richmond (designed by Thomas Jefferson, of course), Yorktown, Monticello. I think Doodlebug enjoyed it very much, and of course we loved seeing them. Texas is far.
Due to an issue that came up recently on a blog I generally admire, I have recently added the following policy on content sharing to my“Blog Policies” page:
If you’d like to quote from any item published on the blog, please either make it a brief quote (two or three sentences or so), or request permission to quote me. Unless you’re clearly content-lifting, I’ll probably grant permission and toss in my blessing to boot. If you quote at all, please attribute the quote to this blog and include a link. All material published here is mine, and copyrighted as of the publish date.
I am perfectly fine with portions of the material on this site being shared, as long as they are attributed and linked properly.
I don’t make any money from my blog. Any external links you see on it are for items that I love myself and would like to make it easier for interested parties to find. I don’t accept payment for reviews. If I accept samples for the purpose of review, I make it clear to the provider that I do not guarantee a review, much less a positive one. If I write a review at all, it will be an honest one.
Further, I promise not to quote other blog reviews to an extent that would make it pointless for readers to go and read those reviews for themselves at their original home. That is, you’ll find brief snippets from other reviews on occasion, and you will definitely find links to other reviews, but in deference to the words written by others, some of whom make a living from their online blogs, I won’t be quoting large chunks of them unless permission has specifically been granted me.
I have occasionally in the past quoted from written works such as Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, but have now removed these references until permission can be obtained from the publishers. Nobody asked me to do this, but I have become convinced that I am both breaking the law and being disrespectful to those authors by quoting more than a few words from those works.
Incidentally, the Walter Savage Landor couplet located on my home page is in the public domain. So are the images on my home page.
Well, it looks like we’re sliding into spring (on all the mud left behind by our late-winter snows and recent rains. MUD, I tell you). And I never did a post on winter fragrances, did I? Well then.
My winter loves haven’t changed much since I started blogging in 2009. I’m still a big fan of “cozies” in cold weather.
First, and always,Teo Cabanel Alahine. Beautiful, warm, forceful and joyous, this floral amber accompanied me on happy days this winter. Smells like church bells sound.
Soivohle Centennial is still the closest smell ever to a comfortable, soft, dark peach angora sweater that I used to own in college. (I wonder what happened to that sweater… probably I sent it to Goodwill, ages ago.) Centennial is based on a classic floral chypre recipe, according to Liz Zorn (it was originally called Historical Chypre), and it is very floral (jasmine and rose, with some ylang, I think) atop a seriously-chypre backbone with plennnnnty of oakmoss and patchouli and amber. I don’t know exactly what it is in the base that feels fuzzy, but it certainly does. I go through stages of being addicted to this thing.
I wore Amouage Memoir Woman a lot this winter, too. Memoir Woman is downright freaky, and I admit that it took me about nine wearings of it to really figure out what it even was: jammed full of every herbal/spicy/medicinal smell you could imagine up top (Band-Aids! Myrrh! Anise! Clove! Other weird stuff that makes you think of witches brewing up potions!), followed by a big luxurious armful of jasmine, ylang and tuberose in the middle, and the whole thing resting on an animalic-chypre platform that is mostly about leather but also smells a bit like fur and civet and incense. This one smells like Tom Hardy… if a bearded Tom Hardy should somehow show up at my door, wearing a leather jacket and bearing white flowers. And a love potion. Rrrowwwwwr.
It doesn’t get any cozier than Donna Karan Black Cashmere. This one was discontinued, then brought back in a slightly-reformulated version (no, it’s a good one) in a boring cylindrical bottle with none of the charm of the original “pebble” bottle. It’s spicy, woody incense with a side of warm milk, and I find it very comforting. Despite the name, it isn’t black at all. It’s a lovely warm deep rusty-brown color in my head.
And of course I can’t get through the winter without a honkin’ Big White Floral! I wore so many different ones that it’s tough to choose just a single BWF, but Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, ByRedo Flowerhead, Le Galion Tubereuse, Dior Poison, and Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur all figured prominently in my winter wardrobe. Yum. There’s nothing more luxurious than white flowers, nothing. Nothing. And I know they’re actually white, but somehow in my head, they’re pink. Like, Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” pink.
All the same, I’m glad to be turning the corner toward warmer weather. You?
Caron Pour une Femme– I’ve been interested in trying this for some time now. C’mon, I know that I don’t typically get on with the classic Caron fragrances (oh, don’t get me started), but this one is typically labeled a floral chypre. Okay, maybe we could be quibbling over whether it’s a floral chypre or a chypre floral – that is, whether it is primarily a chypre with a strong floral angle, or primarily a floral with chypre undertones. That’s a distinction I don’t feel myself particularly qualified to answer.
However, Pour une Femme, originally released in 1934 and reformulated who knows how many times (definitely in 2001, when it was reorchestrated by Richard Fraysse) is actually one of those modern chypres. I smell very little oakmoss in here. Plenty of dark marmalade-y orange to start with (as with many Carons, the topnotes are not particularly nice), plus a deep rose and some orange blossom. Lots of patchouli, lots of amber. Deep into the drydown there’s a bit of incense. It’s pleasant. If you’re a Coco Mademoiselle/modern floral-chypre fan, it might suit you well. I’m glad I sampled rather than springing for one of those adorable silhouette bottles – seriously, is this not a fabulous bottle? I love it. It goes more ambery the longer it’s on skin and I like it less.
Notes (via Fragrantica): Orange blossom, mandarin, orange, incense, rose, vetiver, musk, sandalwood, amber. The patchouli isn’t listed, but it’s there.
Another review: Victoria at EauMG.
Uzac Satin Doll – yes, another one of those modern floral chypres. There’s quite a bit of raw-carroty iris root in the topnotes of this one, though, and I rather like it. Can’t help being unimpressed in the first half hour, though, because where’s the tuberose? I was promised tuberose. And rose. And incense.
It was named for Duke Ellington’s jazz standard (listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing it here on Youtube.)
This one, I like more and more the longer it’s on skin. Oddly, the florals show up deeper into the base than they typically do, and they stick around awhile. It’s really lovely; I find myself thinking of Penhaligon’s Eau Sans Pareil (the new one – I never smelled the older version) and how refreshing and elegant it is.
Iris can sometimes feel satiny to me, and I like its presence here in Satin Doll. There is actually a bit of oakmoss in here, though I find myself wondering if it’s the atranol-free version. Not that that’s bad, necessarily – it just doesn’t feel like an old-school powerhouse chypre. Which is not a dealbreaker for me. The patchouli, too, is the heart-note stuff, very green and austere, no powdery dirt mess. There’s a good bit of wood in here, and a bunch of black pepper. I seem to have gotten more iris out of it than some other reviewers did, but since I’m not particularly fond of rooty iris, that isn’t really an enthusiastic recommendation. This is a nice smell. Not shelling out for it – and it doesn’t smell much like the song sounds to me – but it’s nice.
Two more reviews for you: The Silver Fox at Ca Fleure Bon and Angela atNST.
Notes (Fragrantica): elemi, pink pepper, black pepper, iris, tuberose, jasmine, rose, myrrh, incense, patchouli, opoponax, oakmoss.
I had also planned to include a review of Bogue Maai, but my reactions to that one were… um… unconventional, to say the least, so I’ll be putting that review up later. I’ve also got reviews for Hiram Green Moon Bloom and Shangri-La written, as well. Watch this space for those.
I sort of accidentally overwrote my Scent Diary for Feb. 9-15. Whoops. Nothing much happened anyway – the kids were out of school due to frigid temperatures (there are places in the county where students have to wait for a very early bus that they have to walk half a mile or more to reach). We did a TON of laundry, and basically got back into the swing of things after our San Antonio trip.
Monday, Feb. 16 – Cold. Snowing. Yay!! This is the first time all winter we’ve had serious snow. SOTD is Soivohle Centennial, for warmth, because it’s blusterous and in the single digits temperature-wise. The CEO has canceled his morning classes.
Tuesday, Feb. 17 – It was fairly warm today, in the low 30s, and the boys went out to play in the snow. It’s too powdery to be good sledding snow, but they were having some success building a snow fort with our neighbor, seven-year-old Zach.
One more of Gaze’s ewes lambed, but the lamb had a fairly serious birth defect and was either stillborn or died shortly after its umbilical cord was torn. It was sad. SOTD was Parfum Sacre, wonderful cozy rose-incense-vanilla.
Wednesday, Feb. 18 – Back to cold temperatures, and school is still out, but The CEO went off to Va Tech today. I worked on some sewing and laundry. SOTD was vintage Emeraude parfum de toilette, mmmmm. Took the boys in for their dental cleanings; took Gaze to get a haircut.
Thursday, Feb. 19 – Chilly weather. The dog is HAVING A TOTAL BLAST in the snow, by the way. He loves it. Took Gaze for his orthodontist checkup, and did some grocery shopping. Worked on farm books stuff. SOTD was Memoir Woman, because I love it so.
Friday, Feb. 20 – Really COLD again today. It was 3F when I got up at 7:15. Brr. SOTM: testing Uzac Satin Doll and Caron Pour Une Femme, both modern chypre things a little too light for this weather. SOTA: Escada Margaretha Ley, yummy ylang/white floral/coconut tropical thing that packs some serrrrrrious sillage. This is a good thing when it’s 6F by 1 pm. Go big or go ho-
Oh. Wait. I AM home. Never mind. I’m going big anyway.
Saturday, Feb. 21 – Started out by testing Bogue Maai, which has been described as a chypre Amazon on a panther. Did I get that? Um, nope. We were supposed to get snow, turning to sleet, later on today but it started early. Ugh. Fire in the fireplace, cleaning up the house.
Taz left the C volume of the encyclopedia out on the dining table, and I was about to fuss at him for it when it occurred to me: hey. My kid still reads the encyclopedia. I can’t really complain too much about it. (Yes, he knows how to Google. But there’s no computer in the kitchen/DR area. Or in the kids’ bedrooms, either.)
New lamb today! This one’s another boy, and he seems to be doing just fine. So now we have Precious, Sweetie, and George, and they are JUST SO CUTE. We might keep Precious, so far the only ewe lamb, but I expect the other two will go on off to market. I’m deliberately not thinking about it. SOTE was Shalimar Light.
Watched “Patton” with The CEO and the boys this evening, and crocheted some on Bookworm’s afghan. I’d never seen it, and I don’t think it was meant to be a funny film, but I spent about half the time cracking up at something Patton just said. The man was an egotistical nutcase/genius, and the utter temerity of his unfiltered comments were just… well, I kept thinking to myself, No way did he really just say that! IMDB, however, reports that a lot of Patton’s dialogue was watered down from his real-life commentary. HOO boy.
Sunday, Feb. 22 – Nasty weather this morning. No church today due to icy conditions. It’s much warmer today than yesterday (from about 8F to 53F) and the driveway was clear by afternoon, but this morning we weren’t going anywhere. Ugh. SOTD was Chypre d’Amboise (a cheapie eBay find), followed by Soivohle Centennial. Made two more mobcaps for the community chorus Broadway concert this spring; our director wants most of the chorus dressed as extras from Les Miserables. Taz shoveled the driveway for us and did such a good job.
After church small group/youth group this evening, we went to the Chinese buffet place for dinner. I really don’t recommend being the last diners at a buffet – the selection is bad and the food condition not stellar (dried out/greasy). The hostess did tell me that if we wanted anything specifically, to just ask her and they’d make it, but at that stage we just wanted to eat what was there and not wait on anything else. The tea was good, though.
I love gardenias, I do. I do. I crave them. It’s a little too cold for them to grow here in the mountains, unfortunately. If The CEO ever asked me what flowers I wanted for a corsage, I’d tell him tuberose (no, I wouldn’t, they’re unavailable around here unless you do a $75 special order) and then gardenia. I love yellow roses too, but that’s another story.
Gardenias. Sigh. Our neighbor once brought us a gardenia from his bush, back when I was, oh, twelve? Thirteen? And I was standing there in absolute heaven, while my poor mother was trying to say thank you without turning green. So I understand that not everyone likes them… but me, I love gardenias. So overwhelmingly gorgeous.
Sr. Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux speaks of re-creating a gardenia scent in a ÇaFleureBon interview: Gardenias are somewhat wild and raw, and you have to be careful not to domesticate the scent too much. The perfume must remain a bit unbridled. For a gardenia, the sharp green edge has to echo the milky, almost buttery sides harmoniously, and the animalic sides, which are both indolic and cresolic have to be very present as well. The descriptors “fruity,” “ripe,” “bitter,” jasminic,” “honey-like,” “smoky” and “fungus-like” also come into play.
Flores-Roux has it right: it should be very green but very creamy, lush but earthy. He calls gardenia “wild and raw,” but I think the word that comes most to mind for me with real gardenias is “narcotic.” As in, I can’t stop smelling them. A gardenia should make you weak at the knees.
Unfortunately it’s a difficult note in perfumery – because gardenia essence is extremely costly and labor-intensive to make, not to mention flower-intensive. And therefore it’s extremely costly. What usually happens is that perfumers “build” a gardenia on a base of tuberose plus other notes, and thus you rarely get something that replicates the flower.
Here’s an incomplete list of gardenia perfumes (whether smelling of gardenia, or just named for the flower), in no particular order. If you have suggestions, please add them in the comments, and I’d love to hear if you shrink from the real flower or melt in its presence. The ones I’ve tried are in pink lettering.
Tom Ford Private Blend Velvet Gardenia (discontinued since 2013) – this one is a kitchen-sinky gardenia, complete with earthy mushroom notes and a bit of bleu cheese. Divisive. If you love it, you love it. I didn’t, but I have issues with “earthy.”
Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia (which I like to refer to as ELPCTG) – lovely stuff, a good bit primmer than the Tom Ford. Sort of bridal, but in a good and lush sort of way. No off-notes to my nose here. I hear the parfum is STUNNING.
Michael Storer Stephanie – buttery gardenia (I think it’s a composition done with tuberose, not some of that pricey gardenia extract) with some musk and a slug of pepper. The pepper can take you aback; it did me. It leans a little too lactonic, though, for me. I wanted more green notes.
Marc Jacobs – This is beautiful stuff. Really. Gardenia/tuberose/jasmine, on the delicate side. I don’t know why I don’t own any. (Edit: actually, I do still own a mini bottle of the parfum, but it had gotten sort of lost in amongst all my mini bottles. I’ve been wearing it since I located it.)
Marc Jacobs Gardenia – incredibly beautiful bottle, but word is that it’s more aquatic than the original and less gardenia.
DSH Pink Gardenia– Lush Marilyn Monroe kind of fragrance, but done on Dawn’s usual musk base, which means it goes a bit too sweet on me.
Serge Lutens Une Voix Noire – This is Uncle Serge’s dark look at gardenia, not just an homage to Billie Holiday but also with the classic Lutens weird twist. It could be the smell of the Lady Day as her show winds down, with the gardenia she always wore in her hair beginning to brown and wilt from the heat of her body and that of the club, with a whiff of body odor, and the smell of burning tobacco in the ashtrays on the tables, and the hot sweet smell of whiskey and brandy left in the glasses. Could be, if you choose to interpret it that way. Or you could interpret it as a hot mess: wilting gardenia, dipped in meaty Mexican food and then in buttery caramel sauce, and rolled in some stale cigarette ashes to boot. I have a decant of this I bought unsniffed, and I never never never wear it. Three guesses as to why.
Isabey Gardenia – lovely. I’m not overly fond of the citrus notes up top, nor of the ambery ones at the bottom, but in between it’s attractive.
Guerlain Cruel Gardenia– as Luca Turin says in Perfumes: The Guide, “Not a gardenia.” He’s right. It’s not even a gardenia built out of tuberose. Still, it’s a very pretty perfume.
Chanel Gardenia(Les Exclusifs) – Also not really a gardenia. Sort of a lightweight mishmash of white flowers. Nice, pretty, not gardenia.
Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion – another not-really-a-gardenia. This is a tuberose with greenery. I like it anyway, but I don’t own any.
Jovan Island Gardenia– The current version is thin and bare, gardenia blooming three blocks away across chlorinated pools and the gasoline fumes from the whole neighborhood’s lawnmowers. It used to be better. Now it’s strictly low-rent.
Coty Sand and Sable – This one used to be better, too; when I was in high school in the mid-80s, I craved a bottle of it. (This is the one my mother made me return to the store, insisting that I was too young to wear it and smell like a divorcee on the make. Well, not that she SAID that, but I knew what she meant by the way she said it.) It starts out pretty cheerful and radiant like a real gardenia, but a scosh of air-freshener lilac and that screechy synthetic jasmine that saws on my nerves make it smell super-cheap.
Tuvache Jungle Gardenia – what I’ve smelled labeled as Jungle Gardenia was NOT the stuff I remember from my childhood. Man, could this thing knock you out from down the street: narcotic in the best sort of way. Now me, I loved that sensation. If you run across the vintage, snap it up. And if you don’t like it, send it to meeeeeee.
Edit: for full disclosure the sample I tried was secondhand, and I don’t know its provenance. It smelled thin and barely-there; like I say, the stuff I smelled growing up in the 70s was incredibly lush and powerful. If you notice in the comments, Jeffrey Dame says that the current version (since 1998) is made according to a 1974 formula. He’s kindly offered to send me a sample, which I’m going to accept with alacrity! I’ll report back when I have tried the new stuff.
Tauer Perfumes Sotto La Luna Gardenia – what am I to make of this thing? I still haven’t figured it out (need to review). It reminds me quite a bit of Tableau de Parfums Loretta, and it’s weird. It hits the mushroomy highlights though not the bleu cheese ones, but there’s that Tauerade Ambrox stuff in the bottom, and it’s… well, remember what I said about Une Voix Noire? It’s a little like that, minus the cumin and the ashtrays: sweet and wilty. Plus fruity. Plus balsamy. SO MUCH going on. Incredibly radiant, too. Look out.
Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia – if you like your gardenia with incense and a big mantle of grape Kool-aid*, this is the one for you. Pleasant, if you can get past the grape-flavored stuff. (* This effect, to me, is a sure sign that the gardenia in question is built out of tuberose, and maybe a bit of orange blossom. Methyl Anthranilate occurs naturally in certain white flowers; it’s isolated from natural sources and added to grape flavoring to intensify the grapeness. I have a range of tolerance for Methyl A., and this one is at least twenty decibels higher than the top end of it.)
Illuminum White Gardenia Petals – The former Kate Middleton reportedly wore this one when she married Prince William. It is quite innocently bridal, and has gentle sillage. It’s not very gardenia-like, either; it also boasts notes of lily, jasmine and muguet. Really, there’s a ton of that screechy synthetic jasmine in it. It’s not for me, but it’s at least inoffensive.
Annick Goutal Un Matin d’Orage– Nice. Not very gardenia, either, more a watery version of soft-focus white florals (gardenia, magnolia, jasmine sambac). That said, I think it’s lovely and if a bottle came to live at my house I’d wear it. It’s close to Dyptique Do Son, but where Do Son smells highly artificial to me (it has some clearly-synthetic tuberose in it as well as the watery accord), UMd’O smells more realistic. Pretty stuff, if you don’t mind aquatic notes.
Ineke Hothouse Flower – haven’t smelled this one, but Ineke Ruhland comments that she added creamy lactones and extra green notes like galbanum and fig leaf to tuberose to make it smell like headspace gardenia. I generally do very badly with Ineke fragrances, and I haaaaaate fig leaf, so I have not put this on skin.
JAR Jardenia – apparently a properly green-and-mushroomy-and bleu-cheesy version of gardenia. I haven’t smelled it.
Aftelier Cuir Gardenia – leather and gardenia as the name suggests, I’m told.
Arquiste Perfumes Boutonniere No. 7 – another indie version that is geared toward men. I’m not sure how that works (is it a gardenia fougere? I don’t know).
Jovoy Paris Gardez-Moi – Nice. Something along the lines of ELPCTG, but with a bit of grape Kool-aid up top. I’d rather have ELPCTG.
Penhaligon’s Anthology Gardenia – a reconstruction of an early fragrance by B. Duchaufour. No bloggers have anything to say about it, apparently. Shrug.
Strange Invisible Perfumes Epic Gardenia – I haven’t smelled this one, or any SIPs. Word has it that this one is good but not as good as SIP’s first gardenia perfume, Lady Day, which had to be discontinued because of the disappearance of a crucial raw material.
Creed Fleurs de Gardenia – apparently not a realistic gardenia, more a mixed floral.
Evyan White Shoulders – Like the Tuvache and the Jovan gardenias, this one used to be rich and lush and overwhelmingly narcotic, and easily bought in a drugstore. I remember it very well from church! (What else did church ladies wear? Youth Dew, of course, which is an entirely different story.) These days it’s made by Parfums International – whoops, no, Elizabeth Arden bought P. Intl. As you might guess, it’s only a shadow of its former self. Sad. Fortunately, you can still find Evyan-produced vintage bottles on eBay for not a lotta cash.
Parfumerie Generale Gardenia Grand Soir – Everyone I know was disappointed in this one’s being so ladylike and not very gardenia-y, by which I suppose we mean, well, ladylike. Gardenias are not ladylike. Gardenia screams “sexy” to me far more than tuberose ever does. Anyway, some people find a bunch of blackcurrant in this one, which I admit intrigues me. I love blackcurrant.
Aerin Lauder Gardenia Rattan – Reportedly, another “delicate” and office-friendly gardenia scent, which probably means that it isn’t gardenia-ish at all.
Parfums MDCI Nuit Andalouse – gardenia, jasmine, and orange blossom. A really lovely white-floral blend that reminds me somewhat of the original Marc Jacobs. Of course on me the orange blossom takes over, but that’s okay because it doesn’t go soapy.
VC&A Collection Extraordinaire Gardenia Petale – another I haven’t smelled; it’s reportedly one on the ladylike side.
Monday, Feb. 2 – Spent the day getting ready for a mini-vacation; The CEO is going to the National Cattlemen’s Convention in San Antonio, TX this week, and I decided to tag along with him. The boys will be staying at home by themselves, which ought to be an experience for them. It’s that more than anything that has me a little stressed. However, I think they’ll be all right. There’s plenty of food in the fridge and pantry, and they know how to take care of the dog. They can do laundry if necessary, and since Gaze got his driver’s license last month, we’re set for transportation to school.* My sweet MIL is going to come over and let the dog out for a bathroom break in the middle of the day so he’s not desperate.
*Sure, they could ride the school bus. However, there’s not that much point in getting up half an hour earlier and driving them half a mile to meet it (or getting them up 45 minutes early and making them walk half a mile to the bus stop. Particularly since they’ve both got after-school activities, and since Taz has that “zero period” Latin class at the middle school, he needs to be there before the bus could get him there.
Got the van inspected. I noticed on Saturday that not only had I missed the expiration date on the inspection sticker, I had missed it for THREE MONTHS. Yep. It should have been done by the end of November. I can’t really say why I didn’t notice, except possibly because this van, Stevie Ray Van, is exactly the same color and model as our old van, Eddie Van (Halen), but three years newer. Anyway, Eddie’s last inspection was in July, and I think the experience of driving Stevie Ray every day is so similar that I just forgot to look up at the windshield to check. WHOOPS. In any case, he’s inspected now.
Also got my hair done. Cut and color with highlights; I’ve never had my hair professionally colored, and I like the way it looks.
Then Band Booster meeting, where I took notes as Secretary. Made dinner, packed up, made the boys an exhaustive list of instructions and tips and people to call if they needed help.
SOTD was testing DSH Perfumes Jacinthe de Sapphir from the Brilliant Collection. I loved the top and heart notes, which were indeed sparkling and lively, but eventually the fragrance took a note toward the balsamic and I’m Just Not Into That. Shame, really. There was a moment where it reminded me a great deal of a floral chypre done with hyacinth… a tiny bit like Deneuve.
Tuesday, Feb. 3 – Got the boys off to school and then The CEO and I took off for Johnson City, TN, to meet with our investment advisor about some investment opportunities. Then ran off to see some young heifers that The CEO had made plans to buy when they got old enough. They’re old enough now and we’ll be taking delivery of them next week, and he just wanted to check that they were doing okay, which they were. SOTD was Hermes Kelly Caleche edp, the more floral version of the soft vegetal/floral leather. The bottle was right there on my dresser as I was rushing out the door. I briefly considered a small vial of Fracas in the car, but decided that I really did not want to antagonize fellow travelers.
Then off to the Tri-Cities airport to hop a connecting flight to Charlotte and from there to San Antonio. (For some reason, it was cheaper for us to fly a two-leg flight out of Tri-Cities than to drive to Charlotte and fly directly out of there. Weird, huh? Don’t ask ME to explain airline economic decisions. I don’t geddit.) We had some delicious barbecue at Northwood Farms in the airport. For airport food that had vegetables but didn’t require an hour to eat and $50 a head, it was really a good choice.
Sitting on a plane making its descent toward San Antonio, it occurs to me that I really should have packed some Deneuve or some No. 19. Those would have been great. Alas, I did not pack either – I don’t have a decant of Deneuve and probably shouldn’t have risked my small parfum bottle anyway, but I do have a couple of decants and two vintage minis of No. 19 edt, more’s the pity. What I did bring? Decants of Iris Poudre and Dior Cuir Cannage, as well as DelRae Wit and Mary Greenwell Plum. I always have Iris Poudre in my purse because it’s so versatile and comfortable (well, for me anyway). I also brought several samples that I’ve been meaning to test. We’ll see how I do with those.
I stopped into The Body Shop in the airport as well, mostly to try the rose body butter that replaced Moroccan Rose (which was wonderful, and incidentally which I have loved layering with Chanel No. 19 and with Jacomo Silences). It’s called Atlas Mountain Rose, and it’s so faint it might as well not be there. Shame on them. (The website shows new rose body products called Wild Rose, but the Charlotte kiosk didn’t have them.)
Wednesday, Feb. 4 – After The CEO’s morning interview in the selection process for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board Operating Committee**, he was free to explore with me. We went first to the Alamo, which is RIGHT DOWNTOWN. It’s incredible. Very well-preserved and maintained, and the National Park Service has created a nice little museum there that explains its historical significance. Of course it is surrounded by every tourist trap in existence: Alamo t-shirts, shot glasses, trolley or double-decker bus rides, ice cream, souvenir beer steins, Texas flags, metal signs depicting crossed pistols and the legend “We Don’t Call 911,” cheapie straw cowboy hats and t-shirts exhorting people to “Save a horse, ride a cowboy.”
From there, we went to the little downtown shop the hotel concierge recommended we visit to find The CEO a pair of boots. It’s called the Paris Hattery, and it sells genuine Stetsons as well as some other high-end hats, not just cowboy hats, and a nice selection of boots. It’s been in existence since 1917, a family business; the granddaughter of the original owner helped fit The CEO for his boots and told some family stories. The Hattery has fitted a number of country/western singers, including Johnny Cash and Dwight Yoakam, for hats, and several actors, including the casts of Lonesome Dove (Tommy Lee Jones!!) and Gunsmoke. They’ve even found hats for other celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal and Christian Louboutin, and if you can remember seeing a picture of Pope John Paul II in his white Stetson hat – well, that came from Paris Hattery too.
Then we went to visit La Villita, the “little village,” which is an arts community sponsored by the city of San Antonio. We didn’t buy anything, but came away with an appreciation of what it takes to make that kind of community successful, after a good conversation with artist Henry Cardenas (see some of his artwork here). We grabbed lunch and had a text conversation with Bookworm, who had been concerned about her physics exam. SOTD was Iris Poudre, yum.
After that, we took a city bus several miles to visit one of the five missions begun by the Catholic Church in Spain in the mid- to late 1700s, in order to convert the Indians of what was at that time Mexico. One of those missions was the Alamo; however, it was abandoned by the Church and became a fort and supply facility. We didn’t have time to visit Mission Concepción, but we enjoyed Mission San Jose and found it very interesting. The church in particular was small but pretty.
It’s a nice city, fairly clean, and peopled by some of the friendliest, most helpful folks I’ve ever met. We ran into a couple of people whose job it seems to be to keep downtown clean and steer visitors in the right direction; they wear official vests and park ranger type hats, and they don’t hesitate to walk up to you and ask, “Hi, how are you? Can I direct you anywhere or help you find anything?”
That’s their job, and they’re good at doing it with genuine smiles and welcoming attitudes. However, the attitudes and smiles spilled over to just about all the locals we met, including wait staff and locals taking the city bus home from jobs and shopping. The bus drivers and other passengers made sure we got off on the right stop, and even suggested other places for us to see while we were visiting. It felt like real concern, and I won’t hesitate to come back to San Antonio.
We went to dinner on the Riverwalk. It was late, and it took a long time to find a place that was still seating dinner customers after 9 pm, but we had some good Tex-Mex. SOTE was Mary Greenwell Plum.
** Don’t even ask me. There’s the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and then there’s CBB, which is a separate organization tasked with oversight of the Beef Checkoff Fund. It’s the CBB which is directly responsible for all those “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” ads, and for the expenditure of the $1 assessed on each head of cattle sold anywhere in the US, for the purpose of marketing and lobbying for this agricultural product. Incidentally, if you want some legitimate nutrition facts about beef or information about the industry, this website is a great place to go.
Thursday, Feb. 5 – Early on, The CEO and I went to have breakfast at Denny’s across from our hotel, and then walked several blocks to the The CEO had meetings most of the day, and so I was able to explore the city on my own to some degree. I walked around the Riverwalk, around the convention center, then into the mall. Found a really lovely sterling silver ring with what the jeweler was calling “pink coral” and which looks like enamel to me. It’s pretty either way, and not expensive.
Had some really delicious dinner at The Granary: pork and beef brisket barbecue, and the best baked beans I’ve ever had, plus some appetizers and such. Met some really lovely people – some other members of the CBB and spouses, two people who work for the beef ad campaign, a gentleman who works for MICA (Meat Importers Council of America). Shared a bottle of wonderful Riesling, too. Go ahead, call me unsophisticated, but I like Riesling very much.
SOTD was Cuir Cannage. It was very light in the chilly weather, for some reason. Native San Antonians keep complaining, “It’s so cold!” but it’s barely lower than 45F. The rain sprinkles and wind do make it feel colder, though.
Friday, Feb. 6 – Got up early(ish), and went down to the lobby to pick up my rental car. It was a little Kia Rio, a real change from the Caravan, but okay to drive. I was surprised that it had as much power as it did; it handled the Texas interstate speed limits, ranging from 55 in a construction zone to 75 on some long straight stretches, just fine.
Incidentally, either Mapquest for Android sucks or I can’t read Texas road signs. Or both, maybe. I got lost to a minor degree, going to see my sister A at Fort Hood. Wound up going about 10-15 minutes’ drive out of the way – not awful, but enough so that I came into town from the wrong direction.
We had lunch together and then went to her on-base house for the rest of the day. My BIL came home early – his work schedule over the last couple of weeks has consisted of making early-morning formation at… 7 am, I think, and then working until mid-afternoon, followed by a few hours of rest before he goes back to the motor pool where he’s assigned until 10:30 or 11 pm. But he was released early from work yesterday, and I’m sure he enjoyed being home and relaxing without the need to go back in. SOTD was DelRae Wit, so pretty.
My nephew was proud to show me his room and, then, how to play “The Battle for Middle Earth” on Xbox. He’s such a sweetheart, and so cute.
Got back late to the hotel, around 11:30 pm. It would have been sooner, except that I got off the interstate to put a few gallons of gas in the car and wound up stuck behind a disabled vehicle, THEN stuck in traffic when police, fire and rescue vehicles rushed out responding to an emergency.
Saturday, Feb. 7 – I have really enjoyed San Antonio – although to be fair I think I might not have enjoyed it quite so much during its hot, humid summer weather. It’s a city with a great deal of interesting history, and the downtown area in particular is very nice. The Riverwalk is enjoyable, but I also enjoyed walking outside the touristy area. In any case, it’s a very friendly and pleasant town.
Sometimes I wonder what air travel might have been like in the 1960s, when it was a great luxury and airlines went out of their way to pamper passengers. As I write, I’ve got my laptop open on my tray table and The CEO has his head leaned over on my shoulder (for some reason, probably the pressure in my head and ears from the high altitude, I can never sleep on a plane). SOTD is DelRae Wit, which I love a little bit more every time I wear it. I’ll work on this decant for now, because I have so much perfume on my hands, but I truly wouldn’t turn down a bottle of Wit. It’s a fresh floral in the nicest of veins.
We will definitely miss Gaze’s concert at Regional Band, unfortunately. It is just Not Going to Happen that we will be able to make it back to Bristol by 6 pm. However, my parents and The CEO’s mom, as well as Taz, are going to attend. I’m so glad of that.
Sunday, Feb. 8 – I’ve been working on a twin-size afghan for Bookworm since shortly before Christmas. It’s a fluffy thing in super-bulky chenille yarn, very soft and plushy. I hope it holds up to use. It’s an interesting variegated yarn, in colors that I think of as being very Victorian: raspberry-sherbet pink, deep plum, brown, and olive green.
Glad to be home, but I’m exhausted. SOTD is L’Arte di Gucci, big loud beautiful rose chypre. Wonderful stuff.
About three weeks ago, my “saved” password for the blog stopped working. (I still don’t know why. It had worked for months…) So I requested a password reset through WordPress. But it never showed up, until I contacted Technical Support. So then I received the password reset email, and went in to change the password.
But I had somehow lost my admin status. I could log in, I could see my dashboard… but all the usual options were gone. GONE, I tell you. I spent several hours over the course of a week talking to people on WP forums and trying to get some help from Tech Support, but nothing was working. The following week I was so frustrated, I couldn’t even look at it.
Then The CEO went to San Antonio for five days, for the National Cattlemen’s Association Convention, and I went with him. I did nothing about the blog.
Then we got back, and dug out from under the mountains of laundry, and I found a tutorial on changing one’s WP password through the database on the web host. So I took a deep breath, copied the current settings, crossed my fingers, and went mucking around in the code. Which is scary, lemme tell ya.
But it worked. I changed the password in the database to what it should have been/what I believed it was, and we are back in business. And the kids have another snow day, and I have time to write, and I have some saved up Scent Diaries and mini-reviews to post.
I’ll be getting back to the “BWF by flower” series soon. Meanwhile, this is an update as to what’s goin’ down.
We’ve had some cold and some inclement weather, but nothing serious. The big snows of two years ago haven’t hit us (yet), and the sleds are still in storage. We’ve had some lovely fires in the fireplace, and lots of mulled cider and hot chocolate, anyway. I’ve tried some new teas, but nothing I want to talk about.
I have pretty much given up Pandora for Spotify. Both of them have ads, but I like being able to vet a playlist and delete items I don’t like from it instead of waiting for whatever is coming up next, like the radio. That said, sometimes I want to listen to something new, and Pandora’s good for that.
Bookworm seems to be doing okay after the difficult semester she had in the fall. Yale and Harvard played their second non-conference “extra” game at Madison Square Garden the weekend before classes started, and Bookworm enjoyed playing with the pep band for it. I am no longer getting texts from her that discuss food she misses, or at least not on a regular basis. Her Facebook page is dotted with pictures of her with her suitemates and Ultimate Frisbee teammates and her bandmates, having fun.
Gaze just got his driver’s license. Oy. He does well with the driving, actually – it’s just everybody ELSE that I worry over. That’s my baby, y’all. Drive carefully and don’t hit him! As soon as we can shift some vehicles around, he’ll be driving himself, and perhaps his younger brother, to school. That’ll be helpful, especially since most of the time they’re both at indoor track practice after school. On Wednesdays Gaze has MACC (academic challenge) practice, and Thursday afternoons Taz has chess club.
Bookworm and Gaze and I now have smartphones (although Gaze’s and mine are prepaid, I admit). I’m still figuring out how to use mine… and it sucks power like nobody’s business, so I probably need to adjust some setting or other. Taz got my old full-keyboard phone (he’d better not lose it like he lost the other two!). The CEO is considering upgrading his slider, since we have started to feel like we’re stuck in the last century. No, we don’t NEEEEEEEED smartphones. We don’t NEEEEEEEEED to stream digital media to our TV. But we also don’t need to be our parents and shun technology just because we can get by without it.
On a related note, I got so sick of our internet going out multiple times over the past week, that I called Verizon tech support twice. After following their directions and buying new ethernet lines/new splitters for DSL, and resetting my modem FOURTEEN TIMES in an 18-hour period, I finally told them to just send me a new modem and we’ll see if that fixes the problem. (I bet it won’t. Every time it rains, water gets in on the main phone line in the area and causes our phone, as well as our neighbors’, to go staticky and awkward. Verizon says they’re meeting a minimum standard of service and they don’t have to fix it, and everybody’s going to cell phones anyway so it’s not financially feasible.) BUT. I’ll give it a shot. We don’t have FiOS out here in the sticks.
Is it wrong that I am totally amused by this?
I have been wearing the heck out of all my white florals. I almost used up my sample of Fracas (and let me tell you, that sucker is NUCLEAR). Have also been wearing some animalic things like Soivohle Centennial and Amouage Memoir Woman, and some other scents I only wear in the winter, like my beloved golden Alahine. Today I’m wearing Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea. Yum.
OH! I totally forgot to mention Gaze’s FFA project sheep! Two of the five of them have lambed, and we have theeee most precious and darling little critters running around in the shop lot now. They are absolutely the cutest animals I have ever seen, ever ever.
The Aztecs called it omixochitl, bone flower. The Mexicans call it nardo de San José, St. Joseph’s staff. Its common name in English refers to the tuberous nature of its bulb. Everybody has an opinion on the flower’s smell! What more is there to say about tuberose that hasn’t already been said by a million people, not to mention perfume bloggers? Fragrantica says: No note in perfumery is more surprisingly carnal, creamier or contradicting than that of tuberose. The multi-petalled flower is a mix of flower shop freshness and velvety opulence. Victoria of Bois de Jasmin says: Nothing captures better the essence of tuberose than its meaning in the language of flowers, used in Victorian England. Tuberose signified both dangerous pleasure and voluptuousness. The scent of the flower is a fusion of white petals and warm skin, an arresting sensual and heady fragrance. On a blotter, tuberose absolute opens up with a faint green note before warming into a sweet jasmine-like scent underscored by a rubbery accord. It vacillates between the coconut sweetness and the warm skin impression, as it dries down.
It’s funny – I don’t have an impression of tuberose as being “sexxxy” – it just smells good to me, luxurious and heady and rich but not slutty in the least. I’ve loved it from the start.
Tuberose is the Queeeeeeeen. She just is. And if you disagree, she will cutchoo. It’s okay with me; I love her. Most people either love her or hate her. For the lovers, here’s a list of BWF’s that feature tuberose, whether as a soliflore or as the centerpiece of the composition. (For the haters, you can keep this list for reference of Things to Avoid.) I’ve tried a number of these; the ones in black text I haven’t. Bolded ones I really enjoy.
By Kilian Beyond Love Le Galion Tubéreuse (newly rereleased) DSH Perfumes Tubéreuse Annick Goutal Tubéreuse Santa Maria Novella Tuberosa Caron Tubéreuse L’Artisan Tubéreuse (discontinued)
Creed Tubéreuse Indiana Il Profvmo Éclair de Tubéreuse Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle (The opening doesn’t work for me, but it’s not the camphor/gasoline/menthol – it’s the rotting raw chicken note in there. Bleargh. Can NOT handle it. If you can get through without smelling that, you’re golden, because the rest of it is a wonderfully uncomplicated, simply-beautiful floral tuberose.) Prada Infusion de Tubéreuse (infusion de boring, if you ask me)
Prada No. 6 Tubéreuse parfum (limited edition) Parfumerie Generale PG17 Tubéreuse Couture I Profumo di Firenze Tuberosa di Autonno
Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Tubéreuse Hiram Green Moon Bloom (all natural)
Terra Nova Tuberose (oil format)
Bruno Acampora Blu (oil format)
Honore des Pres Vamp a NY(all natural) Robert Piguet Fracas (There’s a ton of orange blossom in here, so much so that Fracas actually smells like tuberose-scented cold cream to me. Still the Queen. Still intoxicating.) Robert Piguet Petit Fracas Robert Piguet Douglas Hannant Miller Harris Noix de Tubéreuse Pilar & Lucy Tiptoeing Through Chambers of the Moon Mona di Orio Tubéreuse Versace Blonde(Huge. Somewhat synthetic. But nicer in the parfum.) Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger (as much tuberose as orange blossom) Ava Luxe Tuberose Diabolique Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose(YEAH YEAH I LIKE THIS ONE FOR A CHEAP THRILL, SO SUE ME) Juicy Couture Juicy Couture (Again, SO SUE ME. But it’s really good in the parfum.) Frederic Malle Editions des Parfums Carnal Flower Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia (one of the very few Lauders that doesn’t go nasty on me after 2-3 hours) L’Artisan Nuit de Tubéreuse
Histoires des Parfums Tubéreuse 1 (Capricieuse), 2 (Virginale), and 3 (Animale) Dior Poison
Nasomatto Narcotic Venus Roja Dove Scandal Giorgio Beverly Hills (It’s dead. Don’t try the new stuff – but the old, despite being huge, was rather nice.) Diptyque Do Son Carolina Herrera Carolina Herrera Parfums DelRae Amoureuse Givenchy Ysatis Arquiste Flor y Canto (tuberose and marigold and copal) ByRedo Flowerhead(tuberose, jasmine and rose) Parfums d’Empire 3 Fleurs (tuberose, rose and jasmine – pretty but I found it soulless)
Serge Lutens Cedre Serge Lutens Datura Noir Karl Lagerfeld Chloe Givenchy Amarige Tableau de Parfums (Tauer) Loretta (plum/grape/tuberose/PATCHOULI. A freakfest. Like Poison on acid.) Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle L’Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons (smells like perfumery linden to me, not like tuberose, but everybody ELSE says tuberose) Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion Balenciaga Michelle Madonna Truth or Dare Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian Michael Kors Michael
Providence Perfumes Cocoa Tuberose (all natural)
Anya’s Garden Starflower (all natural)
Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose (another all natural) Parfums de Nicolaï Number One
Ramon Monegal Kiss My Name Jean Paul Gaultier Fragile Amouage Honour Woman
Jil Sander No. 4
Jo Malone Tuberose Angelica
Goodness, there are a LOT of tuberose/tuberose-centric perfumes. A LOT. This is by NO MEANS a complete listing. Rather terrifyingly, I’ve tried 48 out of the 68 listed here (that’s about 71%).
Lily, in my opinion, isn’t the chiefest among the big white florals, but it’s a lovely one. I won’t get deeply into the definition and explanation of why white florals smell the way they do; I will simply point you in the direction of this blog post and this one by Elena of Perfume Shrine, for further reading.
I love lilies. Madonna lilies, Easter lilies, stargazers, orientals, all of them. I can’t have them in the house, however, unless I snip off the stamens. For one thing, the orange pollen stains, badly. I once ruined a white eyelet dress by getting too close to these monster 6-foot tall white lilies that bloom near the door at our old church. For another, the pollen is murder on my allergies. At that same church, they always used to decorate the rail of the choir loft with lilies at Easter, and before the service was over my head was stopped up and I was sneezing nonstop. Once the stamens are gone, though, I’m just fine.
And the smell – floral, green, spicy, creamy – is heavenly. Luca Turin famously commented that lilies en masse smell like ham, and I don’t really get that specific reference, but I do understand that thick, almost-salty, almost-fleshy smell. It’s gorgeous. It’s funny, but lily scents tend to highlight either the spicy aspects of the flower, or the creamy ones. Hard to find a photorealistic one, and I’m not sure I really want one of those; I’d rather just have a lily in a vase, sans stamens.
Lilies in perfume can sometimes take over – not that I mind that much.
(I’m not talking about lily of the valley, which has a completely different smell. Yes, they’re white florals, but I never think of muguet scents as “Big” white florals. No, not even Diorissimo.)
In the lists below, I’ve included both soliflores and scents where lily is the star among other noticeable components. The fragrances I’ve smelled myself are in color, and the bolded ones are favorites of mine. Any lily lovers out there? Please suggest some good ones.
Soliflores: Serge Lutens Un Lys Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Lys Mediterranee Donna Karan Gold (discontinued) Cartier Baiser Volé Annick Goutal Des Lys
Yves Rocher Pur Desir de Lys DSH Perfumes Madonna Lily
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia
YOSH Stargazer Antica Farmacista Casablanca
Compositions: Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs (a floaty, green mixed floral centered on lily) Tom Ford Shanghai Lily (spicy lily with milky-incensey woods, sort of as if DK Black Cashmere and DK Gold made a baby)
Ineke Gilded Lily (fruity modern chypre with lily) Hermes Vanille Galante (lily intersecting with vanilla, a soft billowy scent)
Serge Lutens La Vierge de Fer (stern metallic lily) L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer (faint lilies and soapy incense) Oriza L. LeGrand Relique d’Amour (lilies and incense and cold stone – similar in concept to Passage d’Enfer, but in my opinion this one works where Pd’E doesn’t) Penhaligon’s Lily & Spice (discontinued – lilies, spice and musk) Le Labo Lys 41(another soft billowy white floral with gardenia, jasmine and vanilla) Keiko Mecheri Soussanne (lily, datura, and sandalwood)
Tom Ford Jardin Noir Lys Fumé (lily, ylang, and labdanum)
Jovoy Paris Lys Epona (woody lily) DSH Perfumes Mother of the Bride (big mixed bouquet of lily, rose, and carnation) DSH Perfumes 1,000 Lilies (Susinon) (lily, cardamom, sandalwood and incense)
So it’s January, and it’s dreary outside, and I want flowers. Big ones. Big smelly ones. I keep hearing perfume friends talking about “picking up a couple of stems of tuberose at the market” with which to scent their houses, but I don’t live in a big city with a well-stocked flower market, so that’s out. (I could special order them… at a minimum $75 order, so THAT ain’t gonna happen.)
The Big White Floral, or BWF, is one of the most polarizing genres of perfume available. People either love it or they haaaaaate it, and they bring out the cross and the garlic to defend themselves (sort of the way I get with dusty tolu/patchouli orientals). I, of course, love me a BWF.
BWFs can range from soliflores to mixed florals to floral orientals (and possibly even white-floral chypres, depending how strong a floral presence there is), but quite often, the operative word in the sentence is “BIG,” like Andre-the-Giant BIG, and that might be part of the issue. I’m not generally fond of potent sillage, and I prefer to keep my waft within a couple of feet of my person, but I’ll break that rule for a beautiful BWF.
I’m going to list a few of my favorites, just the tip of the iceberg, today, and will follow it up with more detailed listings, organized by central note, over the next couple of weeks. Here are some fragrances that come immediately to mind when I think of BWFs:
Karl Lagerfeld Chloë, the original. It’s still being produced (now by Parfums Chloe), but it’s strictly an online-stock thing now, and it’s had the heart sucked out of it long ago. If you loved it in the late 1970s, don’t bother smelling a new version now, it’ll break your heart. The vintage is still available on eBay, and the three samples I’ve smelled of 80s Chloë all smelled wonderful. This is a big, generous, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink floral on a bed of woods and moss, with peach and citrus and a tiny flourish of aldehydes up top for sparkle. Carnation and rose are also present, as are muguet, jasmine, and honeysuckle but it is, first and always, a BWF centered on tuberose.
Christian Dior Poison. Yep, the Beast That Ate My College Dorm. It’s tuberose and orange blossom, plus resins and a few spices and a jammy plum so overwhelming you could swim in it. Definitely a white floral and a huge one (the sillage on this, even the reformulated stuff, is monster), but I can only think of it in terms of deep amethyst. Is that marketing, or is it truly a purple smell? I don’t like big sillage, I don’t even like purple, and I still don’t know why this stuff is so addictive.
Frederic Malle Editions des Parfums Carnal Flower. Centered on tuberose, with a lush, fresh jasmine backing it up, it is nonetheless somehow green, with menthol and green leaves up top. I first smelled it on a winter day so cold that warm breath turned to frost, and it was perfect. I’ve worn it on muggy summer days, too, and it was perfect. It’s never been not-perfect for me.
Robert Piguet Fracas. A ton of virtual ink has been spilt over Fracas, the first widely-popular tuberose-centered fragrance, created by Germaine Cellier to serve as the femme-est, pinkest, bombshelliest fragrance evarrrrr. Despite assertions of it being THE Tuberose Fragrance, it is also completely and utterly jam-packed full of orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia, lilac, peach, and a zillion other things. The orange blossom is particularly prominent to my nose, and Fracas smells like nothing so much as it does a starlet’s dressing table, complete with lipsticks and cold cream and swansdown powder puffs and lavish bouquets.
Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Big bad Black Orchid’s ingenue sister, this EdT version is discontinued. It centers on tuberose and ylang-ylang, with a milky, peppery veil over them. There is a light but persistent oriental base under it, with benzoin and woody notes. I can’t find the right text color for it, but it’s a sunsetty orange-pink color, pretty but vivid.