Early Fall Rotation, 2017

Golden mist

Golden mist, by Gergð Csordás at Flickr, Creative Commons non-commercial use license with attribution, click through for link to photographer’s Flickr stream.

Our weather has turned the corner into autumn (finally, and hallelujah). It’s cooler. We have foggy mornings and starry nights.

The high school football games have started; it feels odd not to have a kid in the marching band there this year. I think I might have to go and just drop by the band booster tent to cover pizza sales during halftime so somebody else can go watch their kid, just for old times’ sake.

Cross-country meets have started as well. Taz keeps getting faster.

The dog has started his seasonal allergy itchy-skin reaction again. Steroid shot to the rescue. And he totally did not bite anyone at the vet’s, even when they clipped his toenails. That’s three good vet visits in a row . . . although to be honest, I bet that warning sticker on his chart might have something to do with it. (You think?)

The late-afternoon sunlight has gained that autumn slant, that golden mellow shade I love so much.

It is time to change the seasonal perfume rotation from summer to early fall. I’m not yet ready for the sweater-weather warm fuzzies like Tabac Aurea and Organza Indecence, but I’m ready to store the lightweight summer florals and the citrusy things for next year’s warm weather, and bring out some scents that shine when the temperatures are below 80F.

What I took out of the hatbox on the dresser and put into the bedside cabinet:
Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Yuzu, Moschino Funny!, YSL Paris Pont des Amours, DSH La Fete Nouvelle, DelRae Wit, Carven Le Parfum, Donna Karan Gold edp, and Ines de la Fressange.

What remained in the hatbox for current use:
DSH Chypre, Cuir de Lancome, Hermes Kelly Caleche edp, Jacomo Silences pdt, Mary Greenwell Plum, Chanel 1932 edp, and Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete. Those last two will probably head over to storage in a couple of weeks.

What I took out of the bedside cabinet storage and placed into the hatbox:
Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete, Ralph Lauren Safari, vintage Coty Emeraude pdt, Lolita Lempicka, and Oscar de la Renta Esprit d’Oscar. Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur is in the cabinet for now, but will probably change places with 1932 and Rose d’Ete when they switch. (It won’t be long.)

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End of August, 2017

Along the road to Hana, on Maui. Photo by The CEO. Yes, the water really is that shade of blue.

Well, here we are approaching the end of summer (goodbye, good riddance, don’t let the screen door hit ya in the butt on the way out, August), and I’ve been shockingly remiss in not posting for the last, what, 7 weeks.

There will be a little bit of perfume stuff in this post. There will be some family stuff, some vacation stuff, and some maybe-future stuff. Read on. 🙂

So back in the early part of the summer, The CEO was invited to do a seminar through the Extension office of the University of Hawaii on the island of Kauai, in July. We had visited Kauai following his NACTA (National Association of College Teachers of Agriculture) convention in Honolulu last summer, and fell in love with the place.

Beach near our rental condo, Kapaa, Kauai. Photo by The CEO.

We’ve now been to four of the five populated islands of Hawai’i (well, okay, we did actually set foot on Molokai during our recent trip from Oahu to Maui, when our little inter-island plane set down to let a passenger off), and Kauai is the place where we felt most comfortable. It is considerably more rural/small-town than the other islands, even the non-resort area of Big Island, and there is a general friendliness and a regard for island life (culture, ecology, conservation, a spirit of aloha) I didn’t notice elsewhere. There is, I don’t know, a gratitude for Kauai, on Kauai.

Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Photo by The CEO. Beach on one side, beautiful mountain on the other…

In case you are wondering, the perfect fragrances for Hawai’i seem to be Big White Florals such as Frederick Malle Carnal Flower and Byredo Flowerhead — surprise, surprise — and Arielle Shoshana’s delightful passionfruit-focused fragrance, Arielle Shoshana eau de parfum. (Go order a sample here, stat. You won’t be sorry.) I also discovered the wonders of fresh island-grown papaya, and we revisited my favorite Kauai restaurant, Verde, for the best fish tacos I’ve ever had.

That trip took up the last part of July. The day we got home from Hawai’i, Bookworm got home from New Haven, and she’s here for the time being.  She’d still like to go to grad school, I think, but she wants some time away from school and is planning to get a job or long-term internship while she figures out where she’d like to focus her efforts next. I’m just glad to have her home for now.

L-R: Bookworm (22), Ian (13), Ian’s baby brother Erich (9 months), Taz (16), Airin (7), and Gaze (18). Incidentally, this is one of the last pics of Gaze before his hair got buzzed off.

We got to have a little family reunion with my sister and her family, and my brother and his family, at my parents’ house recently. With A in upstate NY and P in Florida, it’s hard to get everyone together. But here are all my parents’ grandchildren in one spot! Mom was thrilled.

New Cadet Gaze at the top of the rappelling tower. This face either means, “I really didn’t want to be up this high,” or maybe, “Get that stupid camera out of my face, I’m doing something here!” Also, notice his distinct lack of hair. Photo via the Commandant’s Facebook page.

Gaze is off to college himself. He is, as I’ve mentioned before, a part of Virginia Tech’s Corps of Cadets program, and he has just completed New Cadet Week, the week-long “boot camp” for incoming freshman. This is the time when new cadets are issued their uniforms, get their hair cut, learn to make their beds military style, learn to march, begin learning rifle drill, do physical training (PT), and become familiar with the training facilities (the rappelling tower and the obstacle course). Other than letters they might receive, there’s no outside contact for the cadets during NCW: no TV, no internet, no phone. Lights out at 10 pm, room inspections at 6:15 am. That will relax at the end of NCW, after the parade demonstration tomorrow.

Gaze at the obstacle course. Photo via the Commandant’s Facebook page.

Fortunately, the Commandant’s office posts photos (many, many photos!) of New Cadet Week on their Facebook page, so that parents can see what’s going on, and hope to pick out their own cadet by playing “where’s Baldo?”

Taz has started school as well, driving himself to and from with, so far, no issue. He’s a junior, which I can hardly believe, and it looks like he’s going to have a good cross-country season based on his times so far.

I am not quite ready to publish my first e-book; I need to do some hole-patching subsequent to a major overhaul of the original draft. However, I created its digital cover last Thursday and I’m ridiculously excited about it. I’d like to be putting it out around December 1. Stand by for further announcements.

Stuff I’ve been wearing this past week:
Chanel 1932. So pretty. Just so gosh-darn pretty! Delightful citrus with jasmine and, I swear, the lightweight version of its fellow Chanel Les Exclusifs 31 Rue Cambon’s beautiful iris-amber drydown.
Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete. Fruity yellow rose with a bit of talcum powder. I especially love its gentle simplicity.
Carven Eau de Parfum. I can’t really define it, but this is easily identified as a Francis Kurkdjian composition. I like FK’s stuff. I like this. It’s commercial and contemporary, a pinkish floral with patchouli. I’m not sorry I like it.
DSH Chypre. Mostly to bed, because the labdanum is a little disturbing during the day, but yummy.
Leonard de Leonard. Discontinued aaaages ago; I snagged a decant of it from a friend. Remember how vintage Ivoire de Balmain annoyed me because it was both soapy and mossy? This is soapy, mossy, and floral, and apparently that makes the difference for me. The patchouli in this is aged to almost a candy sweetness next to the dry richness of oakmoss; the orange blossom makes it Dove-soapy; the carnation and rose keep it from having that discord that Ivoire strikes me as having. This thing is very very green and very flowery. I go through occasional stages where nothing else suits me.

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Scent Diary, July 3-9, 2017

Monday, July 3: SOTD was Hanae Mori Haute Couture. This one is completely unlike the brand’s eponymous “berries with sugar and cream” fragrance in the butterfly packaging. Instead, it’s like a homemade spritzer drink — tart mixed fruit juices livened by sparkling tonic water.

Tuesday, July 4: For the first time in years we’re not having an extended family gathering. One aunt has moved to Florida, one aunt is ill, my mom’s still recovering from surgery and not up to helping yet, and my other aunt felt it was too much for her to handle alone. We took my sweet MIL to visit my parents and ate a nice meal there. It was not terribly hot, but it was so humid that once you stepped outside, you began to sweat immediately. Ugh. SOTD was DSH La Fete Nouvelle, drying hay and sweet musk.

Wednesday, July 5: SOTD was Silences pdt. Spent an unbelievable amount of time gathering things on Gaze’s “New Cadet Packing List” for August (I know, I’ve been working on it for at least three weeks now. I still haven’t bought his computer, either.)

Changed out the “spring” current-season fragrance rotation for the “summer” one. As it turns out, I have a lot of frags I only wear in summer… I highlighted the ones that only come into rotation between June and September.
Front row, L-R: decant of By Kilian Sweet Redemption, Marc Jacobs parfum, Bvlgari Omnia Paraiba, Hermes Kelly Caleche edp, Chanel 1932 parfum and edt, Ines de la Fressange (Calice Becker), and DelRae Wit.
Middle row: Cuir de Lancome, Donna Karan Gold edp, Chanel 1932 edp decant, DSH La Fete Nouvelle, Carven Le Parfum, Mary Greenwell Plum.
Back row: Parfums de Rosine Rose D’Ete, Jacomo Silences pdt, YSL Paris Pont des Amours, Moschino Funny!, Hanae Mori Haute Couture, and Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Yuzu.

Thursday, July 6: Took Taz to driving lessons and then to the orthopedist, in order to rule out possible arthritis in his hip, which his primary care doctor thought was a long shot anyway. (Back in May when the school offered sports physicals staffed by local doctors at $10 a pop, Taz answered a “Do you ever have any pain?” question with “Sometimes my hip pops and hurts,” so he was ordered to have this occasional mild pain evaluated before he could participate in school sports again.) We can consider it ruled out; it appears to be a tight IT (iliotibial) band — common in runners — that’s making his hip pop with certain sideways motions. He’s supposed to do some exercises, but that’s all.

It’s hot. It’s muggy. I hate July. I did manage to go for a quick walk down the gravel drive, then up the paved road to the airport and back home, something like 1.7 miles, and was drenched in sweat by the time I finished.

Then shoved off to a cookout for the church worship team, which was quite nice although the smoke from the fire pit kept drifting over us. SOTEvening was a small spritz of Wit.

Friday, July 7: Last day of driving class, and Taz passed the test so he can legally drive alone now.  Rain in the morning, tapering off in the afternoon, left the air still warm but considerably less muggy. The CEO left on a quick visit to three of his students’ summer internship posts.

SOTD was Mary Greenwell Plum.

Politician George Fox (Jim Carter) speaks to a throne-coveting Prince George (Rupert Everett), in a still from the film set in 1788.
Prince George IV, Prince of Wales, as painted by (the perennially optimistic) Thomas Gainsborough in 1782.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, July 8: Cleaned house with the boys until The CEO got home. Went for a short walk with my MIL, then a longer one in the cool of evening, and watched “The Madness of King George” on TV. Good story, but I admit I’m a little skeptical of Rupert Everett as a young Prince of Wales (later Prince Regent, then King George IV): he’s far, far too slender. Even when young, Prinny had nascent jowls.

Hit 9733 steps before bed. I’d set my goal at 8000 (look, it was just too difficult to get 10K, and it was depressing, so I nudged the goal down to 7500 and then to 8000 when I was starting to hit 7500 consistently) and it was fun to feel the Fitbit buzz at me.

Sunday, July 9: Church at the lake — pretty but really hot, and I got a massive headache in a short period of time. Should’ve taken the umbrella and used it to shield myself — tell me again, why did we give up sunshades? Oh yeah, Coco Chanel and the now de rigeur tan. SOTD was gorgeous Ines de la Fressange, the Calice Becker version.

I’m behind on revising the novel. Again. 🙁

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Scent Diary, June 26 – July 2, 2017

“Rose Garden,” pic totally stolen from download-wallpaper.net. Is this what summer looks like in England?

Monday, June 26: Sunny and not very humid. This is probably the kind of day that Henry James meant when he said, “Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” All I can say is that this dude was for sure not from Virginia, because summer afternoons here are typically hot, humid, full of bugs and mosquitoes — i.e., pretty miserable.

Except for today. Today was nice. Today was the kind of summer afternoon you get in England . . . I guess. Maybe particularly if you’re going to spend a 72-degrees-Fahrenheit sunny day playing croquet and drinking lemonade (that some poor kitchenmaid spent an hour squeezing the lemons for) and eating cakes and smelling the roses that the undergardener has been fertilizing and trimming and babying for two months.

Maybe that was a little snarky. Maybe watching Downton Abbey was too much for this poor vulgar colonist. (Maybe Henry James can just suck lemons.)

SOTD was Marc Jacobs Daisy. Studied for the math portion of the GRE (all the practice tests I’ve taken put me at about 91-95% correct on the verbal reasoning portion, so I’m focusing on math for now. My math skillz are so very rusty. 🙁 Walked for about an hour at the park, while Taz was at evening cross-country conditioning.

Tuesday, June 27: Another nice day, spent much the same as yesterday, except that I only walked 25 minutes because my feet hurt, and the SOTD was Penhaligon’s Violetta, all greeny violet and cool and aloof. I think it’s probably time to put some of my spring scents away now that it’s getting hotter. Will change out the contents of the hatbox soon.

They’re making hay in the Pond Field, so Gaze has put his sheep into the shop lot near the house. The donkey refused to come in with them, so now the sheep and the donkey are grazing comfortably on either side of the fence between the two fields. But there’s a sheep missing, and we can’t figure out where it’s gone. Snuck out under the gate and gone down the road? (But sheep mostly don’t like to be alone; they tend to feel very vulnerable without the herd.) Gone into a neighbor’s field, scared by the noisy racket? We don’t know, but there are twelve sheep where there should be thirteen.

Wednesday, June 28: Another nice day. Taz started behind-the-wheel driver instruction today — he was eligible to do that last summer after he finished the classroom portion in June, but we were so busy with taking Gaze on his college scouting/service academy visits and with the Hawai’i trip that we couldn’t get it scheduled. He’s doing it now, though.

I walked at the high school while Taz was running. It was hot even at 6:30 pm, bleargh. SOTD was Lumiere Noire pour femme (about the only patchouli-forward frag I really like, and even then it’s at least as much rose/narcissus as patch).

Thursday, June 29: Hot. I walked 2.12 miles at a different park while Taz was at driving class. No scent of the day today.

The CEO has been invited to give a presentation on agriculture on Kauai next month, and he would like me to go with him, so we’re planning that trip now.

The CEO’s mom has given us her old rope hammock, since the two trees that used to hold it have been cut down (and that’s a super long story I will tell another time). We have decided, in the tradition of naming household items with puns, to call it MC Hammock. The CEO is now wont to say, “It’s MC Hammock time.

Yeah, I live with that.

Friday, June 30: Cloudy/rainy. SOTD is MJ Daisy again, which I still do like, but honestly? it’s a little boring. I want something that really smells like cut grass drying into hay. The closest I’ve ever been able to come is DSH La Fete Nouvelle, which is almost perfect, but the musk in it is too sweet and too insistent. It does get the drying-grass thing just right. Too often, perfumery “hay” is sweet and coumarinic and doesn’t highlight the fresh, green aspect.

FOUND THE SHEEP. Once the haying was complete in that field, Gaze turned the sheep back into it. The CEO went out this afternoon and found them having a siesta under the big hickory tree near the gate, just chilling. He counted them: one, two… fifteen. Fifteen?

Aha! One ewe with two brand new lambs. Obviously, she had gone off to a secluded spot to lamb, and then waited a few days for everything to calm down before coming back to hang out with her clan.

Saturday, July 1: The boys cleaned their rooms and then headed off to go tubing with friends. The CEO cleaned off the porch and did laundry. I cleaned bathrooms and mopped floors. I worked on revising my novel — it’s July Camp NaNoWriMo! — and made fish tacos for dinner, then went for a walk. SOTD was Jacomo Silences, the old parfum de toilette. Gorgeous. It’s like walking around in a rose garden, after the evening shade has fallen.

The walk did not go well; I had to stop after just a few laps of the asphalt trail around the ball fields at Randolph Park. That’s the second time in a week that walking there has hurt my feet and ankles, so I won’t try walking that spot again. There are some trails that go into the woods there that are paved with that tiny gravel*, which doesn’t hurt my feet as much but the gravel bits get into my shoes and annoy me. Funny, though, that the asphalt trail at Rasnake Park near the Lions Club didn’t bother my feet at all.

*The CEO keeps calling it “pea gravel,” but it’s smaller and less round than what I think of as pea gravel, so the bits that manage to get between my shoe and my sock are pointy and painful. Ow.

Sunday, July 2: We began our church’s month of having services at the lake today. Claytor Lake State Park has a tradition of offering Sunday church worship, held by local churches, at 9 am near the gazebo site, and we do it in July. Sit in a lawn chair in your shorts, bring a cooler full of lemonade to share, sing about Jesus… what’s not to like?

SOTD is Silences again, which is like portable air-conditioning, or at least that handheld, battery-powered fan that I’ve taken to carrying in my purse, in case of Hot Flashes in Public…

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Five Fragrances for Summer, 2017

Summer looks like this.

I don’t always do seasonal-picks posts. Mine kind of get repetitive because I’m a creature of habit who tends to wear the same things over and over, and also because I don’t really care if I’m recommending something discontinued. (I’m sorry about that. Well, a little bit sorry.)

But! I have a New Shiny, so you get a Five for Summer this year.

The New Shiny is something I’ve mentioned before, albeit in the context of, “I want this but I probably won’t buy it,”: Parfums DelRae Wit. Based on the lovely scent of spring-blooming Daphne cnoreum, Wit starts off with a sunshine-bright lemon and continues into a jasmine/neroli heart accented with a beautiful, not-very-clean narcissus. Wit is maybe a bit heavier than my usual floral choices for summer, especially since its heart is lush instead of airy, but it is just so darn pretty that I don’t mind its bigger sillage. I also notice a definitive spicy note that I can’t quite place; it’s not quite clove, not quite pepper, not quite cardamom, but something in the general vicinity. I love that. The narcissus becomes more prominent near the drydown, and then there is a soft woody vanilla musk toward the end.

So how’d I get hold of this beauty? Perfumista RAOK, of course. Waterdragon, who comments frequently on Now Smell This and who lives in New Zealand, was looking to divest herself of a bottle of Wit, a blind buy that didn’t work out for her. She and her partner (whom she calls The Dear Man), recently visited the West Coast of the US, and very kindly braved the USPS in order to send it to me. I don’t know why it didn’t suit her, but I suspect that musk. It doesn’t read as uber-clean boring white laundry musk to me the way that No. 5 L’eau did, but I can see where it might veer in that direction. In any case, I’m glad it didn’t suit her.

Chanel 1932 EdP (Les Exclusifs collection) is becoming my second go-to this summer. I only have a decant, but it’s wonderful. Longer-lived than the effervescent original eau de toilette version, it’s missing the jubilant citrusy sparkle but has a stronger drydown that reminds me of Chanel’s 31 Rue Cambon. I’ve drained two 10ml decants of 31RC over the past 8 years but don’t feel the need to buy a full bottle, and to be honest, sometimes it’s just too darn much for me… but that drydown is so elegant: iris and sandalwood.

Moschino Funny! has been a summer favorite of mine since I bought it some years ago. Cheerful, mischievous, and refreshing, it fills the same sort of niche that Tommy Girl (yeah, yeah, put your snobbery away) does, for a quick pick-me-up. Grapefruit, blackcurrant, jasmine, green tea, cedar, musk. Simple.

Marc Jacobs Daisy was one of the first department-store scents that I smelled after my long hiatus from perfume, and you know what? I still like it. I waited several years and bought it on ebay, slightly used, for a song. It’s a very happy, feminine scent, and easy to enjoy in the air: fruit, a gentle white floral, and a woody-musk base. Complicated, original, unexpected, quirky? Niche quality? Nope. And I don’t care. It’s like cake made from a mix instead of from scratch. You might complain if you’re a serious foodie, but the rest of us perk up, because cake, y’all.

And one more: Hermes Kelly Caleche edp. I did not like the original version of this, in the eau de toilette, which I found unpleasantly vegetal; i.e., it smelled like celery to me. (I eat celery. By itself it’s pretty good, and if you slather it with crunchy peanut butter it’s even better. But I don’t like it in a tossed salad, where it tends to make everything in the salad taste only of celery. And I hate V-8, which combines the gross feeling of thick tomato juice with the oppressive smell of pulped celery, ew.)

Anyway. Kelly Caleche is an airy floral leather that begins in tangy grapefruit and slides its way down to a gentle sueded leather ice cream cone, by way of rose, iris and mimosa. Pretty, refreshing, and unobtrusive.

What’s your summer jam of 2017?

 

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June, 2017

Okay, so here it is:
May was busy. June’s been busy. July is going to be busy. August (despised by me anyway) will be busy.
Lather, rinse and repeat.
You get my point, yes? (Even though no shampoo bottle has included those instructions since, say, 1979.) You also get an apology. I have been neglecting the blog in favor of a) fiction writing, and b) plain, ordinary or garden living.

I will, in this post, catch you up on the family developments. Further catching-up and perfumery bits to follow in posts next week.

Bookworm has graduated from Yale with a BS in Chemistry. She is spending the summer in New Haven, as a dorm counselor for their summer sessions and as a teaching and lab assistant for the Organic Chemistry classes. She gets free room and board as well as tuition for one class as compensation for her dorm counselor duties, and Actual Cash Money as compensation for her TA duties. This is all very, very good. She is planning to apply for a paid internship or an entry-level job in her field, and then eventually to find a graduate program that excites her.

She turned 22 at the end of May, and The CEO and I drove up to CT to spend her one “weekend off” doing some fun stuff with her. We went to Pawtucket, RI, to see the Paw Sox (the Boston Red Sox AAA minor-league affiliate) play. We toured the RI state house in Providence, and visited the Newport mansions and the Submarine Museum before dropping her off at her dorm and driving several hours to my sister-in-law’s house for my nephew’s high school graduation.

Curiosity is a smart, thoughtful, wonderful kid who will be studying Engineering at Virginia Tech come the fall. I’m proud of him. Engineering is possibly the most competitive program at VT, limiting the number of students it accepts for this degree track, and Curiosity will be living in one of the honor dorm communities as well.

In case you hadn’t heard this story, Curiosity’s dad K and The CEO were assigned roommates at Virginia Tech way back in the day. Heaven knows what a farm kid of Scottish extraction from SW VA and a second-generation Chinese-American kid from the suburbs of New Jersey had in common, but they got along fine, and K wound up marrying The CEO’s sister E. Curiosity is just a few months older than Gaze, and Primrose about 6 weeks younger than Taz; they’re all pretty close and I think that’s awesome.

Gaze graduated high school himself just a few days after Bookworm finished up, and he will be joining the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in August. He had a number of dual-enrollment credits transfer, and his adviser suggested that since he’d be entering as a second-semester sophomore, he might consider a double major. He has already declared his primary major as Geography, with possibly a second major in National Security and Foreign Affairs. The Corps functions like a military school inside the larger campus of the university: cadets sleep, drill, and study together as well as eating two meals a day together, but they take classes alongside all the other students. Each cadet can choose an ROTC option (Army, Navy/Marines, or Air Force) OR the Citizen Leader track, which does not lead to an officer commission after graduation. Gaze is still awaiting final word on his Army ROTC scholarship; he needs a waiver for his eyesight.

Shopping for Gaze’s college stuff is turning out to be far more complicated than outfitting Bookworm was; the New Cadet Guide has a very strict packing list, and the cadets are encouraged not to bring anything extra. The list includes items like “2 sets white twin sheets (NOT Twin XL), sets consisting of a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and a pillowcase each,” and “12 pairs white athletic socks, ankle height, no logo or color visible outside the shoe,” and “12 pairs underwear, at least 3 white or beige in color for wear under white trousers of dress uniform.” Also, “One surge protector, with at least six outlets, incorporating a cord of 8-10 feet long. Extension cords are strictly forbidden.” My sister, the Army wife, tells me to get used to this kind of thing. (I’m still trying to figure out whether he can take a mattress pad or not, because it’s not on the list. Eye roll.)

Taz using the Serious Athlete Pose, while everybody else is just having fun. The youth camp is in Florida.

And Taz? As a rising junior, he’s simply got less bustle and drama going on in his personal life at the moment. I expect that to change this year, as he begins to discover a purpose and is left, gasp, all along with his parents, the only kid in the house! We’ve been trying to work in his behind-the-wheel driver training, and it looks like it will be August before we can do that for him, but he’ll be driving on his own soon. This week he’s been at a church youth camp (Bible study, worship, and service projects), and next month he’ll spend a week at running camp. When he’s home, he’s being Jack-of-all-trades — laundry, house cleaning, minor repairs, cooking, helping on the farm, mowing and weed trimming.

My mother is recovering very well from her spinal surgery. She uses the rolling walker occasionally, for assistance with balance or when she’s tired, but she is standing and walking upright for the first time in years, and the nerve pain in her leg is gone. She is still progressing with her exercises.

My aunt Cindy, the youngest of my father’s three sisters, has recently been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. This is bad stuff; it is terminal but if caught early can be ameliorated to some degree with treatment. She is undergoing chemotherapy right now. If you don’t mind throwing up a prayer (or sending some positive vibes, if that’s more your thing), it would be much appreciated.

 

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Mid-May, 2017

This is a busy month.

Mom had surgery on her rheumatoid-arthritis-affected spine, to remove bone spurs (ouch) and have titanium supports placed to protect her spinal cord and eliminate the pain she’s been having from pinched nerves and herniated disks (also ouch). The surgery was successful, but the bone spurs more numerous and intrusive than her doctor had hoped, so she has more recovery to make up than they had both hoped. She’ll be spending some weeks at the rehabilitation center for physical therapy, but already the pain in her leg from the pinched nerve has abated. She is still in some pain, but making progress.

The progress includes feeling better enough to start being concerned about a) the cat, b) the state of the laundry, c) the extent of the dust in her house, and d) my dad’s intake of vegetables, so we know she’s on the upswing!

Yale Commencement 2016. That looks like quite a crush on Old Campus, and I admit I’m not looking forward to the crowd. . .but miss it? No way.

Bookworm has finished all classes and exams and will be graduating on the 22nd. Her summer is set up: residential advisor in the dorms, teaching assistant for organic chemistry labs and classes for the summer session. She’ll be applying for jobs and internships as well. So proud of my girl! Sorry she won’t be coming home until August, but maybe we’ll go visit her. She is spending the week in Florida visiting friends and having a lovely vacation before graduation.

Pic from Virginia Tech News online mag, 2010

Gaze will graduate high school on the 26th. For university, he has chosen to join the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in the fall. VT is one of the few full universities incorporating a cadet body and a military environment within the larger student body. The Corps offers Reserve Officer Training Corps programs for Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as a Civilian Leader track; that is, there is the option to join the Corps and not go military afterward. I’m not sure which Gaze will choose. He may also choose to join the regimental band, but that is optional and he may decide not to pursue it. I’d be sad to see him lay his trombone down permanently, but I know that whatever he does with his spare time (which will be in short supply, given his cadet responsibilities), he’ll do it well. My nephew Curiosity will also be on the Virginia Tech campus this fall, as a student in the Engineering program. That’s pretty exciting, and I hope the cousins can get together for some fun on occasion.

My years as a Band Booster have come to a close, and I will now become a member of the Drama Mamas, supporting the Theatre Arts program at the high school. It will be interesting for Taz, I think, to be (finally) on his own there and to blaze his own path.

The boys ran in the last track meet of the regular season on Saturday; Gaze cut his 1600m personal record by 5 seconds, to 2:51, and Taz cut his 3200m PR by 8 seconds, to 11:05. I’m proud of them!

Perfume?
Well, it’s been a typical spring in terms of weather, if a bit colder than usual, so I’m wearing many of my favorite Greenies: Chanel No. 19, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, Ralph Lauren Safari. Oddly, though, I haven’t worn Chamade at all this spring, and every time I pick up Deneuve, something strikes me as wrong for the day/occasion and I have to put it down. (Shrug. It’s not like I’m short of fragrances to wear, right?)

I’ve been saying for months and months now that I really must divest of some of my lesser-worn perfumes. Really. Must. So here’s hoping that I’ll be able to get that started this week before we go to Yale graduation…

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April 2017

So it’s been busy around here lately. Sorry about that whole not-posting thing…

An April update:

Redbuds on a rainy day.

The weather, up until today, has been pretty much glorious standard spring weather, warm but not hot, with plenty of rain. The grass is in that beautiful stage where it is SUPERGREEN and everything looks like Ireland. Gaze’s sheep are stunningly white against the green; the cows are (mostly) strikingly black against it. The redbuds have been particularly beautiful this spring.

I ordered Gaze’s high school graduation announcements, and then it occurred to me that I had not ordered any for Bookworm either. Oops. I rectified the issue. Graduation gets expensive, doesn’t it? Especially two kids at once, even if you only go with the basics of graduation gown, cap, and announcement and eschew the myriad extras of — just for example — extra photo sessions, key chains, commemorative plaques/mugs/you-name-its.

That’s Taz there in the gray jacket! Photo courtesy RG Hylton.

Taz was in the high school drama production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” as the poor put-upon owner of the house where radio personality Whiteside is forced to recuperate from a broken hip. He did a great job as the straight man for the indignities perpetrated by the publicly-acclaimed, privately-insufferable celebrity. I was so proud! Then recently he and the rest of the Advanced Theatre Arts class did “Hey Good Lookin'” from Dogfight: the Musical, and he was good. It was his singing, dancing debut.

Cayla and Gaze, photo by The CEO.

Gaze attended his senior prom. Refused to rent a tuxedo and stuck with a plain black suit, but the silver vest and tie looked nice. We knew his date’s dress would be a difficult shade to match (“red, but not really red, more like coral pinky orange red”), and I’m glad we didn’t try. It was a beautiful dress, and Cayla’s a lovely girl. They had fun.

Gaze’s college plans are still a little bit up in the air. He’s fairly sure he’ll be attending Virginia Tech, possibly as a member of the Corps of Cadets (ROTC). The ROTC scholarship is not confirmed, though (that eye exam may prevent it), so it’s not official. He’d like to have one more shot at West Point, which is a possibility since you can apply twice, but I think he’ll be applying as a VT student. At least he’ll be close by, and his cousin Curiosity will be at Tech too.

Bookworm goes for the high pass.

Bookworm is busy with her thesis and with Ultimate Frisbee. She’ll be staying in New Haven after graduation, again serving as a counselor in the summer dorms and also working as a teaching assistant for the organic chemistry class and lab for both summer sessions. (They’re paying her, YAY!) I’m kinda bummed to not have her home until fall, but…they’re paying her.

The weather has been such that I have been getting the most wear out of all my greenies: my beloved PdN Le Temps d’une Fete (of course), Ralph Lauren Safari, and Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet head the list. Then I’ve also been wearing Guerlain Chamade, Chanel No. 19, Henry Dunay Sabi, Deneuve, and Penhaligon’s Violetta. Have not yet gotten out the Balmain Jolie Madame or the Jacomo Silences yet, but I’m sure to do that soon.

Have been working on the novel, and practicing for taking the GRE (more on that later). How about you?

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March 2017

So, no Scent Diary for the past, um, month. Sorry ’bout that. Been busy, been sick, been writing other stuff, been uninspired to write about perfume.

The weather is being weird.  We usually get the back-n-forth, cold-to-hot, rainy-to-sunny stuff in mid-March, but it showed up a couple of weeks early this year. And no real winter. Boo. So everybody has had the respiratory crud, which seems to be lingering long past its usual two-week run for me. I’ve been feeling pretty awful. Hunter is shedding, as well. Feels like we’re ankle deep in doggle fur!

I am ignoring March Madness, as usual.

I think I need to go back to making cold brew coffee. It just tastes better, and doesn’t leave my stomach agitated. It just takes a LOT of grounds, and some prior planning.

Recently tested: Parfums d’Empire Tabac Tabou. I like it. Review to come.

Bad news: The Dept. of Defense Medical Review Board has deemed Gaze’s eyesight unacceptable. No West Point. Gaze is very disappointed; I have mixed feelings. He was accepted at Virginia Tech and William and Mary, also a Virginia public university, but is 34th on the waitlist at the University of Virginia (which he was never going to attend anyway, since he’s been Hokie-brainwashed by his dad since birth). We are still waiting to hear from the other two of his five college applications, but that should happen by April 1.

The daffodils bloomed in the middle of March, and then we got snow. Not much, but the below-freezing temps kills the blooms, so I cut some and brought them in. I usually prefer to look at them outside, but with this cold coming, they’ll just die anyway. They smelled gorgeous.

It’s getting to be time for green florals: Le Temps d’une Fete (always). Silences, Chanel No. 19, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet. Deneuve. Chamade. I’m feeling luxuriously rich with green florals.

Ordered graduation gowns for Gaze and for Bookworm. OY. Can’t believe they’re both reaching those milestones this year.

Bookworm will be a dorm counselor at Yale again this summer, and has also taken a job as a teaching assistant for the two summer sessions of Organic Chemistry class and lab. They’re paying her. 🙂 Her plans for after that are loose.

Taz makes his stage debut in “The Man Who Came to Dinner” this weekend, as Mr. Stanley, the man whose household is disrupted when radio personality and dinner guest Sheridan Whiteside breaks a hip and is confined to the Stanley house for several weeks. I am so looking forward to seeing him act!

Taz and I sang happy birthday to my mother on the phone recently, and Hunter-doggle joined in. What a freak. 😆

I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo beginning in April, planning to whip the Behemoth Novel into shape once and for all. Wish me luck, y’all.

 

 

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Mini-Reviews Roundup, Feb. 2017

Le Galion La Rose – a 2014 reorchestration of a 1950 fragrance, La Rose is not the soliflore I’d thought it would be. It is warm and woody, and yes, rosy. Very attractive, comfortable, pleasant; more interesting than a plain rosewater scent but I find it quite comforting.

Head notes | Bergamot, Violet Leaf
Heart notes | Rose, Ylang Ylang, Water Peach, Royal Lily
Base notes | Cedar, Patchouli, Vanilla, Musk

I have no idea what “water peach” is, but La Rose doesn’t accent any peachy notes. It’s not particularly vanilla-y either, which is refreshing. I mean, a gourmandy rose-vanilla is always nice (Rochas Tocade, Lush Rose Jam, Montale White Aoud, etc., etc.), but this one is mainly fresh pink rose and soft woods. Very lovely. Lasting power is about average for an eau de parfum on me, 4-5 hours, and the sillage is mild to moderate. €140 for 100ml, €9 for a 6.5ml mini at the Le Galion website.

Short reviews at What Men Should Smell Like and Colognoisseur.

Dame Perfumery Desert Rose – A bit of overlap here with the Le Galion, but… you know. Rose. Duh. I’m always a sucker.

Dame Perfumery says this about it: “A blend of Turkish rose otto and Damascenia Rose with touches of peach, Sicilian lemon, Egyptian jasmine, geranium, carnation, heliotrope, sandalwood, musk, amber and vanilla.  For a woman, mostly.”

I suppose in my mind, a desert rose would be dry, but Desert Rose is quite pleasantly fresh and dewy, at least for the first half. I was thinking that “Damascenia Rose” was a typo, since I had only ever seen it written “damascena.” Turns out that Damascenia is a Firminich molecule. Whatever it is, it’s really pretty in this fragrance, which does smell fairly natural. I get little touches of peach in it, as well as carnation, but as it wears on, the whole thing goes a bit soapy. $85 for 100ml edp spray, $35 for 10ml oil rollerball, $10 for $5ml edp spray.

Short reviews at The Scented Hound and Scent of Abricots.

The fancy engraved bell jar, which is even pricier than the regular $300 one.

Serge Lutens De Profundis – I had only a vague memory of testing this one before — you know me, not the biggest Serge Fangrrl — and wanted to retry it. I am completely ignoring the wacko Serge description (death, chrysanthemums, carnality at the graveside ew ew ew, no, I’m not quoting it here) and the letter Oscar Wilde wrote to his bosom buddy Lord Alfred Douglas from prison, which is the purported inspiration for the fragrance. And maybe the Fleurs du Mal Baudelaire reference too.

To be honest, the backstory put me off trying the fragrance seriously for a long time. Instead, I have focused on the “Out of the deep” movement from John Rutter’s Requiem. The Rutter is one of my favorite choral pieces, and it is somber and gorgeous and ethereal. And then there’s the J.S. Bach setting of Psalm 130, also wonderful. (FYI, there are two Bach settings of this text, and it’s not Cantata BWV 131 but BWV 38 that I remember.)

“Life!” by Mohan Nellore at Flickr, some rights reserved.

De Profundis the fragrance does not move me the way the Rutter does, but it is very very pretty. Yes, I just called a Lutens “pretty,” and I’m not takin’ it back. It’s pretty, y’all. Shaddup. It is both bold and tender at the same time, quite floral and cool and meditative, and while that may be because I don’t associate any particular flower with funerals, still. I like chrysanthemums in flower, and I like them in this fragrance along with the carnation and the violets and the incense.

I could wish for better projection and longevity from this one, at least from a heftily-dabbed sample. Maybe it’s better with a spray application, but I got about three hours’ wear and very little sillage.

De Profundis will run you $300 for a 75ml bell jar at the Serge Lutens website.  (Ow. And that’s for the plain one, so nope.)

Other reviews: Grain de Musc, Kafkaesque, Bois de Jasmin, Scents of Self, Patty at Perfume Posse.

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Scent Diary, Feb. 13-19, 2017

Monday, Feb. 13 – Warm (upper 50sF) again. Taz was sick and stayed home from school; I went to pick up his classwork. I worked on revising — no, let’s call it what it is, rewriting the 250K behemoth novel.

I’m trying to wear rose fragrances this week. Today it was Le Galion La Rose, which I really must at least mini-review soon.

Tuesday, Feb. 14 – Colder than yesterday, but not February cold. More like November cold. Dangit. SOTD was Lyric Woman, very lovely. There’s just something about incense fragrances that seems to create a — well, an uncluttered space in the mind, is the closest thing to what I mean. A meditative attitude, maybe.

I am sick. I’ve probably got Taz’s bug.

Happy birthday to my favorite brother!

1982 Shalimar ad

In the evening, I was chatting on Facebook with a writer friend who is working on a novel set in Prohibition-era Chicago, with a protagonist who is a singer in a speakeasy nightclub. We were talking about the general friskiness of young ladies in that time, with music and dress, and smoking in public and short hair, all radical changes from pre-WWI, and I mentioned that you see this radical change in perfume about this time as well. We go from florals and soft florals on oriental bases to bold chypres, leather and tobacco scents, and those full-on, all-out orientals like Shalimar. Long story short, she’d like to smell some of those classics, so I’m going to send samples to her. Can’t wait for the book! Also, this sounds like a whole blog post: Flapper Perfume.

Wednesday, Feb. 15 – This would have been my father-in-law’s 92nd birthday. I miss you, Bill.

Temps in the 40s today, and I’ve resorted to a sweater. This is good. SOTD was going to be a tad of My Sin before I send it to Wynter, but I hate it (maybe it’s gone off? it’s quite vintage), and it is in no way a rose scent, so I washed it off. Wearing By Kilian Rose Oud, which is a jammy rose-vanilla with a bit of wood, nothing particularly oudy about it. Yum. Now I want raspberries.

I managed to get to Bible study in the evening, but I sat there feeling chilled and feverish, so it was not a good idea. When I got home I had a cup of hot tea, took a hot bath with the last of my Arabian rose oil (gosh, I bought that little 3ml bottle years ago on Ebay), put on some Tauer Rose Delight body oil, and went to bed.

Thursday,  Feb. 16 – Still sick. Yuck. Parfum Sacre today, for comfort.

Friday, Feb. 17 – Feeling somewhat better today; did all the normal Saturday cleaning chores. The boys went to play Capture the Flag with the rest of their church youth group – in the dark – and The CEO and I went out for Italian. SOTD was Shalimar Light, since I’ve been writing about flapper perfume and no longer own any actual Shalimar. This is good stuff.

Saturday, Feb. 18 – Gaze left early to go to Regionals indoor track meet. The CEO left around noon to watch him run. Taz and I went shopping for a new bookcase for him, since he has outgrown the one he has. (Yeah, Taz and his books. Eye roll. I just want them up off the floor!) When we got home I was exhausted; maybe I’m not so over this sick as I thought I was. SOTD was Cuir de Lancome. Every time I wear it I think, “Gosh, this is pretty.”

Gaze did very well at the meet. Didn’t win anything, but cut his 3200m time by 9 seconds! Most of our school’s athletes had a good meet, with new PRs popping up all over the place. I’m proud.

Sunday, Feb. 19 – I feel awful again. Stayed home from church. Napped. No perfume. Finished “Flapper Perfume” in the afternoon, though.

 

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Flapper Perfume

The 1920s was an influential decade for perfume, though striking changes in fashion began in the years immediately after World War I. The dust was settling in Europe after the war which had laid waste not only to infrastructure but also political alliances and the young male population, and everybody was tired of wartime bleakness and deprivation. There was a feeling that the old ways were gone and done with, and young women in particular were ready for a change. Gone were old-fashioned morals as well as those complicated hats, hairdos, and long dresses over rigid wasp-waist corsets.

The modern young lady was wearing tube dresses with little underpinning and tank-style bodices and short skirts, as well as dramatic makeup. She was drinking, not tiny ladylike glasses of sherry but potent cocktails in jazz clubs. She was cutting her hair and smoking! in public, yet! She could vote (as of 1918 in the UK for women over 30, and as of 1920 in the US). She could drive. She could — gasp! — possess her own checkbook.

And she wasn’t wearing her mother’s perfume, either.

She wasn’t wearing a soliflore  — lavender toilet water, or a simple floral like Coty’s Jasmin de Corse. She wasn’t wearing a simple floral bouquet like Houbigant Quelques Fleurs, or a soft floral oriental like Guerlain L’Heure Bleue. No, she was wearing a decadent, sensual oriental, a sharp and bold chypre, a sparkling aldehydic floral, or a gender-bending leather or tobacco scent. New directions in scent abounded, and aren’t we glad?

Here are some fragrances that graced many flappers’ wrists and décolletages, and which are still in production today (albeit in changed form). Try one, or a handful of these, and smell history.

Guerlain Mitsouko (1919, fruity chypre) This more elegant take on the chypre is such a classic among perfumistas that it is hard to imagine it being daring, but it is. It has the bold chypre tripod structure of bergamot-oakmoss-labdanum, rounded with peach undecalactone, and it smells not only formidable but also kind of, well, ripe. I’m guessing that those flappers who danced the night through smelled a bit like this on their way home at dawn.

Millot Crêpe de Chine (1925, aldehydic chypre) Crepe de Chine was a mashup of the bold three-part chypre structure and the modern-at-the-time aldehydic floral. It is bold, but in a well-groomed, exquisite-tailoring kind of way. Where Chypre was a little, well, tribal, Crepe de Chine is much more civilized. This is for the flapper who only drinks her cocktails out of proper glasses, rather than resorting to a hip flask.

Guerlain Shalimar (1921, oriental, came into wide release in 1925) It was once said that there were three things a respectable woman did not do: smoke in public, dance the tango, or wear Shalimar. With its almost chiaroscuro contrasts of bright bergamot-lemon top and dark smoky, leathery, vanilla-balsamic base, it is striking… and sexy. Louise Brooks wore Shalimar; ’nuff said.

Corday Toujours Moi (1920, spicy oriental) This one is a kitchen-sinky oriental similar to Tabu (1932) with some green notes, and it is extremely bold. It wafts. It is a Liberated Woman scent very far from, say, the very-Victorian Berdoues Violette. It goes perfectly with its name, “Always Me,” and the attitude “Look, I have my own checkbook! and these great T-strap shoes!”

Caron Tabac Blond (1919, tobacco/leather) There is no tobacco listed in the notes, by the way, but the effect is at least somewhat tobacco-like. This scent seems to me to be an androgynous, “let’s steal all the things that smell like a gentlemen’s club,” appropriation of notes that had been regarded as traditionally masculine, softened by traditionally-feminine florals.

Molinard Habanita (1921, leather oriental) This scent began its life as an additive for cigarettes — you were supposed to dip the glass rod into the oil and stroke it along the length of your cigarette, so that while you smoked, the fragrance filled the air. Leaving aside the reason this was A Thing (you didn’t want Mumsy dear to know you were smoking? I mean, presumably she also knew about the hip flask and the lace step-ins, so you weren’t fooling anybody), Habanita probably smelled good with the tobacco smoke. Here’s Robin’s description at Now Smell This, because it’s pretty perfect: “If you can imagine dousing yourself in baby powder, donning an old leather jacket and then smoking a cigar in a closed room with a single rose in a vase 10 feet away, you’ll get the general idea.”

Chanel No. 5 (1925, aldehydic floral) Perfumer Ernest Beaux’ attempt to recreate an Arctic snow field and Coco Chanel’s affinity for the smell of starched linen combined with No. 5’s enormous overdose of aldehydes, the aromachemical that is in smell form big Hollywood klieg lights. (Maybe.) And Chanel’s famous dictum that a woman should not smell of flowers, but like a woman, played into its abstract presentation, too. (Maybe. There are a number of contradictory stories about its genesis.) No. 5 feels like a smooth marble sculpture to me. In its day it was utterly modern, and to its credit, its florals are still lovely.

Lanvin My Sin/Mon Peché (1924, aldehydic floral) Like No. 5, My Sin is an aldehydic floral, but it is dark and carnal in a way that No. 5 has never been and will never be. It’s a complicated perfume: along with the aldehydes and florals are some deep woods and an animalic base just shy of “Are there mating buffaloes somewhere on the premises?” I suspect that it got worn more often by women grabbing a little vicarious sinful pleasure than by women who were actually sinning while wearing it, but there you are. Brilliant marketing. And that cat! Love it.

Chanel Cuir de Russie (1924, leather) Again with the gender-bending for 1920s gals. Leather was previously known as a masculine note, and this leather-for-ladies boasts the enormous and expensive Chanel powdery iris as well as florals and aldehydes. Fans speak of its “good purse” leather, or its “expensive car” leather, both things that flappers seemed to enjoy.

Weil Zibeline (1928, aldehydic floral chypre-oriental) “Zibeline” means “sable” in French, and this fragrance was intended for scenting furs. As you might guess, Zibeline is heavy and rich, and yet dry and aromatic. It smells very much not of this century, but it is a luxurious scent in the best sort of way. One imagines fancy cars and diamonds and satin gowns, and that ne plus ultra sable, for a fancy party.

By 1929, with the stock market crash around the corner, the general prosperity which had allowed so many young women to taste freedom and decadence was about to disappear, and the day of the flapper was drawing toward a sudden twilight.

What the flappers left behind were some glorious abstract perfumes. Like much of the Art Deco of the period, the fragrances are bold yet graceful, natural yet influenced by humans. Chanel No. 5’s beautiful florals are buttressed on either side by the highly-artificial aldehydes and the pillowy strength of (nitro) musks. Shalimar’s combination of lively bergamot and smoky-sexy vanillin makes it round and memorable, unlike anything smelled in nature — but if you smell it on a person, even now, fifty-‘leven reformulations after its release, it has affinity for skin and does not scream I AM SYNTHETIC! the way many modern fragrances do.

There were, of course, several other classic fragrances released during the 1920s which are still favorites today, but I have not included everything here. Caron’s Nuit de Noel (1924), Bellodgia (1925), and Narcisse Noir (1925), for example, were hugely popular and remain extant, but they are not what I think of as bold and daring “flapper perfumes.” Nor are Chanel’s lovely woody Bois des Îles (1925) and satin-smooth Lanvin Arpège (1926). Coty L’Aimant (1927) is likewise a bit too prim, Emeraude (1920) too soft.  Jean Patou’s Chaldée (1927), as a perfume recreation of French suntan oil (we can blame Coco Chanel for popularizing the tan!), seems to go with the flapper propensity for displaying bare skin, but it was not as widely worn as the others. Bourjois Evening in Paris (1928) is a gentle floral composition. Patou Joy, released in 1929, in my mind belongs to the Depression era.

Mia on the left, Carey on the right.

Do you have a favorite flapper perfume? Do you love Art Deco and low waistlines? Does Daisy Buchanan make your heart sing? (And did you prefer Mia Farrow or Carey Mulligan?) Do share!

If you’d like to read more about how the social phenomenon of the flapper arose, check out this post at We Heart Vintage.

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