Mini-Review Roundup, Sept. 19, 2014

roundupYee-haw!!! A mini-review roundup again, after, like, months.

Guerlain Vol de Nuit (modern EdT, from Surrender to Chance) – after a brief hit of galbanum, this smells like… um… nothing, really. Musty nothing. I keep spraying it multiple times, trying to find it, but it is so pale it’s like it doesn’t WANT to be found. The notes list and descriptions I’ve read say that this is supposed to be a woody oriental. The only thing I can call it is confusing.  I’ve heard that the current version isn’t good (see Victoria’s comparisons of vintage and current Guerlains at Bois de Jasmin), but I assumed it was another one of those “compared to the old stuff it’s terrible.” Boy, they weren’t kidding. It’s awful. Doesn’t even smell like a Guerlain to me, whatever that means. (Notes: bergamot, galbanum, petit grain, jasmine, daffodil, spices, iris, vanilla, amber and woody notes.)

Carven Ma Griffe (vintage EdT, again from Surrender to Chance). Another big hit of galbanum to start, but also a blast of decaying aldehydes, followed by moldering whitish floralish stuff and then a ton of vetiver and musk. Vetiver/musk/aldehydes seems to pop up a lot in fragrances that had their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s (Madame Rochas, Rive Gauche, Prince Matchabelli Cachet – and even in the wonderful Chanel No. 19), but I don’t like it. It bores the crap out of me. The reason I love No. 19 and like Annick Goutal Heure Exquise is the galbanum-iris-rose stuff, not the vetiver-musk. Borrrrring.  I thought I’d love this. Nope.  (Notes: aldehydes, gardenia, green notes, asafoetida, clary sage, lemon, iris, orange blossom, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, rose, labdanum, sandalwood, cinnamon, musk, benzoin, oakmoss, vetiver and styrax.)

Also, I hear that Carven has reorchestrated and rereleased this one with a “soft” rollout, no heavy advertising, but I can’t find a sample of the current version anywhere. Guess you have to live in Europe to get it, even though their recent Le Parfum is available in the US.

Speaking of which, I really enjoyed my carded spray sample of Carven Le Parfum. So pretty. So, so, SO pretty. I am often just as thrilled with a just-so-pretty floral fragrance as I would be if you came up and thrust a dewy bouquet right into my arms. I’m not ashamed.

sweet-pea-0210-lIn any case, Carven Le Parfum starts off with citrus and a tart apricot note, and then quickly eases into a gentle mixed-white-floral. It is clearly a Francis Kurkdjian fragrance, which is generally a good thing from my viewpoint – I like FK’s stuff, generally. There’s some clean patchouli in it, which absolutely ruined Elie Saab Le Parfum (also composed by Kurkdjian) for me, but here it isn’t too hijacky, it’s just a support for the lovely florals to rest on.  I’d say that it skews a bit younger and more innocent than the Elie Saab, and despite the apricot, less sweet to my nose. The hyacinth is prominent to my nose, but it does also actually smell like sweet peas, which my mother used to grow up against the wood fence in our yard when I was a child. The only other sweet pea fragrance I can recollect trying was Lolita Lempicka’s Si Lolita, which was also jam-packed with pink and black peppers, but ended with a lightweight amber. That one was sweeter, and spicier, less floral in character.

I like it. If I owned this, I’d wear it. So what if it’s not groundbreaking or dramatic? It’s pretty.  Fragranticans are calling it “sweet,” but it’s real fruit as opposed to the fakey-fakey stuff I call “froot,” and as I say, not particularly what I would call sweet. No cotton candy here, though if you’re a fan of dry, woody, incensey stuff you’ll probably hate it.  (Notes: mandarin blossom, apricot, white hyacinth, sweet pea, jasmine, ylang, sandalwood, osmanthus, and Indonesian patchouli.)

Historiae Jardin De Le Notre – apparently this was an exclusive fragrance created for sale for the Domain of Chantilly at the Le Notre Gardens, and it’s no longer available. But it’s a pretty, gardeny floral that came my way as a carded sample, and I enjoyed it so I’m discussing it.  It starts out with a green-leaves accord, which slides into an attractive mixed-floral bouquet (rose, hyacinth, lily of the valley). The notes list on the card also includes gardenia, but that’s clearly delusional; I get a lot of clean jasmine out of this. It eventually goes a little screechy, but not more so than my 2006 Diorissimo; I just have less tolerance for that these days, and after three or four hours, I’m ready for something else.

DSH Perfumes Peony – this is, well, peony. Plus a bit of rose and a good bit of greenness, and it is another bundle of pretty flowers atop a tiny bit of musk to extend the florals. I like it a lot, though not quite as much as the delicate, lovely peony/fresh-rose MDCI Rose de Siwa. But I can’t afford Rose de Siwa, so if you loved that you might want to check out DSH Peony.  (Notes: peony, grass, green leaves, rose.)

Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire California Reverie - OOOOOH, I said to myself upon smelling it for the first time.  Citrus floral! So pretty!  That lasted a fairly long time for this sort of light floral thing, at least about three hours, before I started getting tired of the jasmine.  (Notes: mandarin orange, neroli, jasmine sambac and frangipani, beeswax and vanilla.)  If I owned this, I’d respray every two hours for the addictively beautiful citrus-floral opening.  And then I’d kick myself for literally blowing, like, $2 a spritz.

Parfums d’Empire Corsica Furiosa – not “furiosa” at all.  Nope. It’s a pleasant herb-garden fantasy with grass and plenty of tomato leaf, and something that smells like juniper to me, as well as some light woody notes. Stays green all the way through, but it is quite light and fleeting, with minimal sillage to me.  Reading Kafkaesque’s review of it has me wondering if I *am* anosmic to ISO E Super after all, because I’m not picking up rubbing alcohol or pepper at all, and Corsica Furiosa is so light! There and gone. (Notes: mastic, lime, grass, hay, honey, moss, labdanum, mint, tomato leaf, pepper.)

I’ve also recently tested Piguet Douglas Hannant, which reminded several people (including me) of a lightened-up Fracas. Then I reacquainted myself with Fracas. I’m planning on a Throwdown for those two soon.

Enjoy the weekend! Our high school football team travels about 75 miles away for tonight’s game (WHAT were they thinking, scheduling that? Driving right past a dozen other schools? Silly), so the band isn’t going. I get a rare band-mom night off. :)

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Well, this is embarrassing…

After all that hullabaloo about the blog format and finally going with that girly Parisienne-ish black and pink, and the back-and-forth of “I can’t read it,” from my husband and “I have no problems” from some readers and “the background’s in the way” from others…

It transpires that the black and pink was actually sort of making me feel depressed.  I don’t mean Clinically Depressed, because I have family members and friends who deal with that, and I spent a good 4-5 months being it several years ago. I know what that looks like/feels like, and I don’t mean that. I mean simply that looking at that pretty black and pink made me feel heaviness of spirit.

Frankly it made me want to avoid my own website.

This just in: that’s a bad sign.

It’s funny how much color affects us, isn’t it?  I’m sure there are those of us that it affects more than others, and the marketing gurus absolutely know that. There’s a reason why McDonald’s uses red and yellow, for example. I’d like to think that I’m at least aware of the practice, and I do try to stick to my shopping lists (and coupons) wherever possible. As a matter of fact, I buy a lot of house brands, so unless I’ve found a house brand to be unsatisfactory (i.e., house brand Cheerios always get the texture wrong), I’m usually spending the least amount I can.

My bedroom walls are painted the color of this door. I love this color, though I admit it isn't particularly flattering ON me.

My bedroom walls are painted the color of this door. I love this color, though I admit it isn’t particularly flattering ON me.

But I digress. There are colors I like to live with, and colors that make me feel down, unenergetic, just-plain-wrong. I like the colors in my house. My bedroom is painted a soft buttery yellow, and the wall hangings and bed linens are a gentle silvery blue and cream, with accents of sage green (in summer I switch to a white comforter). I love turquoise and coral and pink and apple green; I love tan and tomato red and Delft blue too.

I don’t want to live with black, and I suppose that furnishing my blog with that much of it was a bad idea for me. So. I’ll be trying this blog theme out to see if I can live with it.

As for fragrance? I’m in that transitional niche, where as the weather is changing to Really Autumn, I’m setting aside my light florals. Ralph Lauren Safari, Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete, and Cuir de Lancome are getting a lot of wear these days. And I need to go dig out my decant of Dior Cuir Cannage, because I think it would be lovely in this cool, rainy weather.

Oh, and I’m behind on Project Perfume Divestiture. The dog has now eaten three perfume boxes (an Ungaro Diva mini box, the box for Rochas Tocadilly, and the one for… oh, a Love, Chloe mini I think it was). He has not yet tried to eat any actual perfume bottles, but GAH it is like living with a toddler, and I’m kind of frightened to get the To-Be-Divested box out of the cabinet again.  I’m WORKING ON IT, I swear.

 

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September Start

Here-Comes-September-August-2013Yay, it’s September. Have I mentioned how much I hate August? I hate August.

On the other hand, somebody forgot to tell Mother Nature that the calendar flipped over, and it is mizzzzerably muggy around here. They’re even letting the kids out of school two hours early today because of the projected heat index.

(I’m quite sure all the Floridians are laughing. However, I bet all the schools in Florida are air-conditioned. They’re not, here. Both county middle schools and at least one elementary school are un-air-conditioned.  Heat on the upper floor of the middle school where Taz goes has occasionally topped 85F, and it is even worse at the elementary school all three of my kids attended.  The elementary school – built on the cheap according to plans drawn by an architect who specialized in strip malls – has tiny, tiny windows, and its halls are not constructed for air flow. The heat at DES can be over 90F. The school board has been trying, for the last two and a half years that The CEO has been on it, to convince the county Board of Supervisors to build a new consolidated middle school to replace these badly-aging structures and to substantially renovate that one elementary school. I think everyone agrees that something must be done at the elementary school, but there is ongoing argument about what should be done with regards to the middle schools. AAAARRRRGGGHHH. If  one new school had been built in the 1990s and another in the early 2000s, as planned, we wouldn’t be in this mess. However, it was apparently felt that the buildings were “adequate for now,” and construction/substantial renovation was put off until renovation is no longer a good and inexpensive option. But nobody wants to spend the money to build a new school, even though renovating two schools is nearly as expensive as building a new one, centrally located near the high school.)

Gaze is going to go to cross-country practice with Taz – there’s a meet on Saturday – for the short workout Coach O has planned, then come home, shower, eat something, and zip back to the high school around 4 pm for a trombone sectional before the band has their pregame practice at 5.  The football game will start at 7 pm, assuming that the storm seen approaching on the weather radar misses us.  I’m supposed to help sell pizza on the visitor side of the stadium – I cannot imagine that it will be any more comfortable for us than it will be for the band, or for the football team, tonight.

plumNow Smell This has a scent challenge going on this weekend: Wear the same fragrance for four days, starting Friday, and see if you notice something new about it, or simply describe the experience. Most of us fragheads switch every day, and sometimes wear more than one fragrance a day (I frequently do), so this ought to be interesting.  I’m going to go with Mary Greenwell Plum, which I love.

Incidentally, it is getting tough to find Plum in the US nowadays. If you go to the Mary Greenwell website, it’s still listed, but clicking on  the picture takes you directly to Harrods. Harrods, in case you don’t know, is an iconic British retailer, and they don’t ship perfume to the US. LuckyScent no longer carries Plum (they still have Lemon), and I suspect that Ms. Greenwell’s low brand recognition in the States has led to a loss of US distributorship.  It’s a shame, too.

Hunter Dog is kind of driving me nuts, just Being a Puppy.  He’s a funny thing – but he came into the bedroom this morning and sort of flopped his head down in my lap so I could pet him. It was sweet. He’s still doing weird stuff like licking the carpet and the dishwasher, ripping covers off paperback books (my blood pressure just spiked, writing that), and whining like a baby when he wasnts to go sniff things, but he’s sweet too. He went with me in the car to drop Gaze off at school today, and as soon as Gaze got out, Hunter commenced the pleady I want to get out! whine. It lasted until we got home, too.

Hope your weekend is good.  Feel free to share plans, if you like, and your scent of the day.

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Labor Day, 2014

Happy Labor Day to my fellow Americans!

I have, again, sorely neglected to keep my Scent Diary up to date, so you’re getting a summary.  That’s The Way It Is. (Heavy sigh.)

outlanderI’ve been watching “Outlander” on Starz.  I’ve loved the books ever since I picked up the first one in the series (which now stands at eight books, with at least one more in the works), in 1995. It was a good fat book, and it seemed to involve Scotland and a romance, so I figured it might be good reading material for what I was doing at the time. Namely, sitting on the couch and nursing my first baby. Bookworm did not have a good handle on this breastfeeding thing – and neither did I, to be honest. Besides that, she was a small six-pound baby and wanted to nurse every two hours around the clock.

Let me repeat that: around the clock. Every two hours. Without fail.   So I was spending something like 10 hours a day parked in one spot. I needed stuff to read.  And I was quickly engrossed in the story of Claire, a WWII nurse suddenly transported back 200 years in time, without a way to get home, forced to escape the perverted interest of an army captain by way of marrying a young Scotsman.

Ah, Jamie Fraser… if you can find me a woman who’s read the books and not fallen for Jamie Fraser, I’ll tell you that she is either a newlywed or has no heart.

Taz at Grand Tetons, a selfie using his dad's camera and tripod.

Taz at Grand Tetons, a selfie using his dad’s camera and tripod.

I’ve sampled a few new things, as well as a few fragrances new to me. More about that coming, but here’s the list: Carven Le Parfum, Robert Piguet Douglas Hannant, and Dame Perfumery Pear, Waterlily and Amber.  I have re-explored Monyette Paris (oil format) and Robert Piguet Fracas, plus Sonoma Scent Studio Yin & Ylang.

What I would love to know is, why can’t I find a manufacturer sample of the rereleased Carven Ma Griffe? I read somewhere that it was considered a “soft” launch, not much fanfare… but NO samples?  Perhaps this is a US problem only, and there are at least testers available in multiple places in Europe. I did once buy a mini of the vintage stuff on eBay, but it was truly spoilt so I still don’t know how it was meant to smell.  I’m very interested in smelling the new, anyway.

Bookworm with her sax.

Bookworm with her sax. Photo by YPMB Photogs.

Bookworm went back to school on the 23rd. She seems to have settled in just fine. She’s in a suite with four other girls – Kat, Maya, Sophia, and her roommate, Ring – and practices for the Yale Precision Marching Band have already started.  (Ring is Chinese, and that’s her English-language use-name because apparently her Chinese name is difficult for Americans to pronounce.)

Gaze is a sophomore in high school, and Taz is an eighth-grader.  They’re out of school today for the holiday, and so is Bookworm, for that matter, but Virginia Tech held classes today, so The CEO is teaching today.  We’re going to a potluck meal with my extended family for lunch today, and when we get home, I intend to rearrange my perfume cabinet. There are some bottles in there that I’m not wearing, and I want to organize them and prepare them for sale on eBay. Never done that before, so that will be a new experience.

(Perhaps I shall offer them for sale here first? Think I will. Don’t expect any hidden gems, though.  It’ll be mostly mainstream stuff – no 1930s Vol de Nuit or anything like that.  I probably will slough off my two purchases of 1980s Coty Chypre, however. That is tough to find. I just don’t love it, not the way I adore the really vintage stuff. In any case, I will take pictures and post things for sale here, and leave that post up for a week or ten days, after which everything goes straight to listing on eBay.  I’m sorry to say that I will only be shipping within the US; attempts to mail out of the country have gone very badly for me. Paypal only.)

Gaze with his trombone.

Gaze with his trombone. Photo by Stacey Utt.

The high school had their first football game Friday. We lost 28-8. Miserable.  The band did well, though.  Weather’s been odd for August – very wet, continuing the rain that marked the last half of July.  Just in the last week or so, it’s been hot and humid, which is more like our usual August. I hate August.  And last week, the cross-country team hosted a scrimmage against a school from a neighboring county. The course was laid out over land that we own or rent, and it’s an extremely tough one: hills and varying surfaces (paved road, gravel road, grass).  Finishing times were  slow, and although that must have been partly because the course was so new that no one had run it before (except Gaze, who’d run it once) and partly because the temperatures were brutally hot.  We did not exactly cover ourselves with glory, but we had all of our boys finish, including the two middle-school boys, Noah and Taz.

 

The dog is driving me crazy. It’s like living with a toddler.  Out! In! Out! In! Investigate the goats! Bark at nonexistent threats!  Attempt to steal food and eat inappropriate things like quarters and pieces of plastic! On the other hand, he’s sweet. And he hasn’t really destroyed anything… much.  Except three shoes, one of his leashes, several used tissues, a plastic bag, one of The CEO’s socks that he bit a hole in, one of Taz’ socks that he bit the heel completely out of, his plastic Frisbee, and half a pan of cinnamon rolls he snagged off the counter (I don’t want to know what acrobatic feats he accomplished to even reach the pan).  I can’t watch him every single second! Sometimes I have to go to the bathroom!

Hunter is spoiled rotten!

Hunter is spoiled rotten!

Fragrances I’ve been wearing recently: Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, Mary Greenwell Plum, Penhaligon’s Eau Sans Pareil, LeLong pour Femme, Chanel 1932 edt, Guerlain Vega, Dame Perfumery Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour Femme, Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete, and Ralph Lauren Safari.  I even pulled out Amouage Memoir Woman for a bedtime spritz last night. (It was lovely.)  I’ve been trying to wear decants, and I’m going to try to continue that focus into the future.

I purchased two inexpensive blind buys off eBay recently: Lucienne von Doz Lucienne, and a nearly-anonymous vintage thing in a vaguely Avon bottle, called Chypre d’Amboise and labeled Paris. I haven’t worn it yet. I’ll report on Lucienne soon as well.

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Perfume Review: Dame Perfumery Scottsdale Black Flower Mexican Vanilla

Artwork for Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, by V. Dave Dame. From Dame Perfumery website.

Artwork for Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, by V. Dave Dame. From Dame Perfumery website.

The Aztecs called vanilla tlilxóchitl, meaning black flower.  The origin myth explaining the existence of vanilla springs from the Totonac people, who live on the eastern coast of Mexico, and may have been the first to cultivate the vanilla orchid.  From Dame Perfumery’s website:

According to Totonac mythology, the tropical orchid was born when Princess Xanat, forbidden by her father from marrying a mortal, fled to the forest with her lover. The lovers were captured and beheaded. Where their blood touched the ground, the vine of the tropical orchid grew.

I’ll be honest, I have never been the biggest fan of oriental vanilla fragrances for myself.  I did love Emeraude, back in the 80s, at first sniff, and even though it is now an absolute disaster (seriously, don’t sniff the current stuff. This has been a Public Service Announcement), it has a very definite vanilla focus and at one time was a pure-genius sort of fragrance, the kind of thing that belongs on cleavage.  Rumor has it that famously-vanilla Shalimar is a riff on Emeraude.  Other vanilla fragrances often either have a “vanilla-and” character, or can be ridiculously simple to the point of dopiness.  Either way, I have yet to really love a vanilla scent the way I love vintage Emeraude.  (See my Sexy Cake post for an elaboration on the subject.)  The short version is, I like my gourmandy vanillas (berry-vanilla, or caramel vanilla), or my white-floral vanillas.

I will say that I loved the drydown of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Havane Vanille (renamed Vanille Absolument) – after the boozy, fruity, pipe-tobacco parts faded off, about eight hours into wearing HV, the vanilla appeared on stage solo, so clear and intoxicating. No hint of powder.  I sometimes had difficulty waiting out the early stages to get to the part I really liked.  What was really super-awesome about that clear, intense vanilla drydown was putting a dab of By Kilian’s Beyond Love on top of it. Tuberose-vanilla, yum, a do-it-yourself floral vanilla that I loved.

So I admit that I was sort of hoping that Black Flower Mexican Vanilla would be something like the drydown of HV, particularly when reading the description of it on the Dame Perfumery website: “A perfect vanilla is simply vanilla without added accents, and its creation is a task of restraint and avoiding misguided add-ons of ‘vanilla + such and such’.” 

The notes list for BFMV is more complicated than “simply vanilla.”  Fragrantica‘s list is as follows: lemon, grapefruit, caramel, nutmeg, gardenia, jasmine, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, musk, tonka. Fragranticans smell mostly vanilla in it, plus tonka bean; the other elements seem to be noted as present but not a large portion of the scent. I’d agree: vanilla and tonka, primarily. It’s not particularly sweet, either, which is nice in a vanilla fragrance.  I was expecting a floral cast, but there isn’t one: it’s mostly just vanilla-tonka.

What I don’t understand is what smells so powdery in it.  On my skin, BFMV has a good bit of powder, following its barely-citrusy opening. I do not smell much in the way of white florals or woody notes, and I don’t notice vetiver or nutmeg at all. The caramel shows up, but if I’m being honest, all it does is make me want to go buy a mini of Prada Candy.  Perhaps the powder is due to a dusty-quality patchouli making itself noticeable; whatever it is, I’m not enjoying that bit.

There is a similar dusty/powdery quality to another one of my “vanilla” fragrances, Givenchy Organza Indecence.  But OI has so much else going on (the orange, the spices, the woods) that I can forgive it a smidge of powder.  Black Flower Mexican Vanilla – not, I emphasize, very floral on me, despite its name – has placed the vanilla front and center, so there isn’t anything to distract me from the dusty qualities.  The aspect of the drydown of Havana Vanille (which does, yes, have a dusty quality in its heart) that I loved so much was its clarity and its complete lack of powderiness; it is much more like vanilla liqueur than the powdery stuff.*

Sillage is gentle and lasting power is quite good, 6-8 hours on me where I typically get 3-5 hours’ wear out of an eau de parfum.  If you are looking for a nicely-done, unsweetened vanilla fragrance, test this one. It might be what you’re looking for.  It’s decently priced, as well: you can still pick up a 7ml spray sample for $10 including shipping, and it’s worth it if you ask me.

*Habanita nearly killed me, if you’re wondering about my tolerance for that version of “powdery.”

Well done, Dame Perfumery. It’s still not my sort of thing, but it’s competent and pleasant and engaging to wear, all the same.

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Cave

So the kids found a cave in one of the pasture fields on the farm.  This was back in the spring, actually, when a school friend of Bookworm’s and Gaze’s came over to shoot Airsoft rifles with Gaze.  They found something that looked sort of more than our usual “hole in the ground,” which we have plenty of because this area is highly karstic and prone to sinkholes and small caves.  There was no time then to explore the cave.

Cave entrance from the outside. (All photos in this post by Bookworm.)

Cave entrance from the outside. (All photos in this post by Bookworm.)

Grey came back on Sunday afternoon with his caving equipment and good flashlights and ropes and whatnot, and he and Bookworm went slithering into the cave to see how far it went. They could see from the opening that it would probably be big enough for one person to enter and get out, and possibly for two people, so they took the appropriate precautions when entering an unexplored cave and went in.

There is a big rock in the center of the opening, and it’s necessary to scramble to one side or the other in order to pass it, but once inside the main room, the space opens up.  It’s tall enough for most people to stand up in, and is about the size of our kitchen (10 x 10, approximately).

Cave entrance closeup.

Cave entrance closeup.

There’s a secondary room to the left, and from it you can see an opening to the surface where light comes in, as well as two small tunnels too narrow to explore.  To the right of the main room (entrance at your back) is a tunnel with several tiny side passages.

There are stalactites and stalagmites forming in the cave, showing the presence of water and minerals. This fascinates me.

Stalactites!

Stalactites!

The kids spent all afternoon in the cave. Don’t think I’m going in it! But it’s cool to know it’s there.

rsz_julie_camera_024

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Almost-Scent Diary, Aug. 4-17, 2014

Photo from FarmGirlBloggers.  (I JUST NOW found out this site exists. Now must explore...)

Foggy August Morning in the Appalachians. Photo from FarmGirlBloggers.

As usual, when things get crazy, I neglect keeping up with the Scent Diary. Sorry. :) But here’s a summary-type entry.  (Hey, I just NOW found out that the Farm Girl Bloggers site exists… must explore.)

As I mentioned in the post about the new dog, I’ve Been Busy. I had forgotten how much time a not-grown dog takes, not to mention the time it takes for a rescue dog to acclimate to a new situation. Bookworm came home from her internship in Louisiana last week, and there were all the school administrative things to take care of before school started, which it did last Friday. (That’s early for us, but the school board is trying an adjusted schedule so that the students who have standardized tests to pass before receiving credit for certain classes can take the tests before Christmas break, instead of having two weeks off and then coming back to take the tests unrefreshed. I hope it works, even though starting early is a huge pain in the behind.) And we all had dentist appointments.

So much stuff going on.

Taz is not taking band this year. I am sad, but it is his choice. He’ll be taking one semester of Information Technology and one of Technical Education instead.

This is a portion of the low brass section (t-bones, tubas, baritone horns) at band camp. That's Gaze there in the red shirt and gray shorts. Love these kids.  Photo by Stacey Utt.

This is a portion of the low brass section (t-bones, tubas, baritones) at band camp. Photo by Stacey Utt.

Gaze, on the other hand, will be busy with band all year, and particularly this fall with marching band. The band has already played – for the school administration’s Convocation service last week – and will be playing for the “benefit” scrimmage football game this coming Friday. (The Band Boosters are selling pizza and barbecue pork sandwiches at the game, so I won’t see them play.) Then there’s the Parent Preview Picnic, where the parents get to see the show as it currently is, on Thursday, just before The CEO leaves to take Bookworm back to school. And all of that is before the marching season proper begins, with the first official football game on August 30.

Bookworm has been transitioning from living on her own in an apartment to ten days at home, being babied (yeah, come on, cut me some slack on that. I missed her), and then packing up for another school year. I think she might be a bit apprehensive about declaring a major, but I know she’s looking forward to getting back to her friends on the Ultimate Frisbee team and the band. Classes this year might be less tough on her.

There is a middle school cross-country team this year, and Taz is participating on it. He gets on a bus at the middle school which takes him to the high school after the school day ends, so he can practice with the older kids. (I’m not sure Gaze is crazy about having his baby brother around, but he’s taking it with good grace.) Besides after-school practice, the team also goes to the New River Trail to do a long run on Sunday evenings. Yesterday, Gaze and his buddies and the coach and assistant coach ran about eleven and a half miles. Taz ran nine, himself. We’re very proud!

The CEO and Coach Sirak have laid out a cross-country course ranging from the adjoining airport property through our pasture fields, and our high school will be hosting at least one race there this fall. They’re excited about the Farm and Field 5000. It should be fun to watch, I think.

I need to take some new pix of this guy. He's cute.

I need to take some new pix of this guy. He’s so cute.

The dog’s name is no longer Gunnar, but Hunter, and he is starting to settle down. Except that he desperately desperately wants to meet the neighbors’ goats. Desperately. He throws his entire 38-pound body into his leash-harness, going low to the ground in order to get me to take him into their field. Goats, however, are pretty smart: they see him, and they retreat far away from the fence, eyeing him suspiciously the whole time. He also desperately wants to meet the wild rabbits living in the shop lot and the cows in the Pond Field, but the rabbits race away terrified and the cows ignore him. The other being he desperately wants to meet is the other neighbor’s dog, the one that attempted to attack Gaze in our shop lot several years ago, prompting her owner to install Invisible Fence. Hunter’s foster mom also had a large female German shepherd, so I imagine Hunter thinks that this German shepherd is his buddy. He’s wrong. Dakota would like nothing more than to rip him to shreds, and then me afterward, so I’m keeping him away from her.

He loves to chase tennis balls and the boys’ remote control cars. It’s hilarious. He also thinks it’s a “fun game” to growl at and play-bite anybody sitting on the downstairs couch, which it’s not. It really is not, and we’re trying to break him of that weird little habit. But he has learned his name, and he’s pretty good at “Sit,” “Come,” “Down,” and “Go Get It.” We’re still working on “Stay,” “Drop It,” and “Thank You for Alerting Us to Potential Intruders, but That’s Enough Barking Now because This Is a Friend.”

The weather has been oddly cool, in general, for early August. We had six straight days of rain last week – we needed it badly, and we got a good six weeks’ worth of our average rainfall in those six days. Now we’re back to cool foggy mornings followed by sticky, hot, humid afternoons and evenings, which is our normal August weather.

I have made a determination to try to wear more of my minis and decants, in order to use them up. Recently I’ve worn Leonard de Leonard, LeLong Pour Femme, Iris Poudre, Penhaligon’s Eau Sans Pareil, Citizen Queen, Flowerhead, and a few others. I’ve also been testing some things I plan to review, and I want to discuss further my plan to Use It Up, Wear It Out. Obviously, I am having trouble writing recently. I hope to get back to it soon.

Whew. Once more into the breach, dear friends…

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Posting delay

Okay, so… we got a dog.

Which, YAY!

But, not YAY quite yet. Because said dog needs some adjustment time, and so do we. We’re doing a trial period.  He’s not used to us, we’re not used to him, and he’s got some issues. We have the leash-pull-y issues, the whining-to-go-out-at 4-am issues, and the growl-at-family issues. We’re dealing with a lot of stuff, okay?

So please bear with me, and I will update with posts and a couple of mini-reviews when I can. Mwah.  Meanwhile, Gunnar (I don’t like his name, and we’re thinking of changing it) says hi.Gunnar

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Fragrance Throwdown: Ines de la Fressange I versus Ines de la Fressange II

THROWDOWN!

THROWDOWN!

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a throwdown, but thanks to Portia’s comment the other day, I finally got down to business to set the two Ines de la Fressange fragrances head-to-head.

Okay, first off, let’s clarify things: the first Ines fragrance was discontinued before the second came into being, so apparently nobody thought it would be confusing to give them the same name. (Wrong.) Luckily, the packaging is different enough that there should be no question which version you’ve got – unless you are looking at a sample vial labeled simply “Ines de la Fressange.” Because then, you’re going to have to smell it to find out. :)

Inès Marie Lætitia Églantine Isabelle de Seignard de La Fressange, daughter of a French marquis and banker and an Argentinian model, is a model and couturier who worked exclusively for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel in the 1980s.  She is a designer in her own right, and has owned a chain of boutiques; she recently wrote a style guide called Parisian Chic. On top of her own career, she’s a mother as well: that’s her lovely daughter Nine d’Urso featured in the ad campaign for Bottega Veneta’s first fragrance.

Photo stolen Fragrantica.

Photo stolen Fragrantica.

And in 1999, she released the first perfume under her name. It was created by Calice Becker.  This one was packaged in the octagonal column bottle with simple silver top, and the juice inside it is a soft peachy-yellow color. That’s appropriate, because this scent is one of the best representations of fresh peaches out there (according to me), at least in the topnotes.  If you’re already shuddering, please give me a moment. It’s not about the peach. In fact, it’s a multilayered Proper Lady’s Fragrance, and if I had to classify it, I’d have to resort to a description that goes like this: Aldehydic Fruity Floral Woody.  It’s not exactly everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, but it’s complex.

The notes for Ines I include peach, aldehydes, bergamot, Brazilian rosewood, rose, jasmine, ylang, carnation, iris, lily of the valley, sandalwood, tonka bean, benzoin.  I warn aldephobes that the aldehydes are noticeable here. They are less soapy than they can sometimes appear, and add a great deal of sparkle in a fizzy Champagne-like way. The peach is not sweetened, candied, or even creamy; it’s very tart and refreshing. From that sparkling Bellini top the florals come up, and they are beautiful. The rose and ylang are prominent to my nose, but this is definitely a big bouquet of flowers, symphonically floral in the way that, for example, Estee Lauder’s Beautiful and the old Karl Lagerfeld Chloe are floral. Both of those fragrances are considerably bigger than Ines’ first – if they’re big hotel-lobby arrangements, this one is a far simpler mixed arrangement on your best girlfriend’s dinner table, not formally arranged but simply flowers heaped into a bowl in a simple profusion. The base, which blends benzoin and sandalwood undergirds all those flowers with a warmth and friendliness. I do not know whether the sandalwood is real Mysore, though given the release date, it is just possible that there is at least some in there. The general effect of the fragrance is summery, graceful, and effortless, maybe even a bit nostalgic.

I reviewed the first Ines (Garden Party in a Bottle) in August of 2012, and I still love it every bit as much as I always did – maybe more, because supplies are truly drying up. (It’s extremely hard to find now. I paid under $15 for a 1-oz bottle from Beauty Encounter – not affiliated – in 2009, and under $20 for a 1.7-oz, once I realized how lovely it was. Those days are gone.  I can’t find any reasonable supplies of this one at all, save for ONE 100ml bottle, currently listed at $150, on eBay. It seemed to have been available at the discounters when I wrote that review two years ago, but time unfortunately goes in one direction…) I wear this fragrance only in the summer, when its quiet, effortless elegance seems just right. It’s perfect for tea parties and afternoon weddings, or any occasion where peach silk and cream lace wouldn’t be out of place.  (For other reviews, click the “Garden Party” link above.)

Photo stolen Fragrantica. See, isn't this bottle pretty?

Photo stolen Fragrantica. See, isn’t this bottle pretty?

The second fragrance from the house of Ines de la Fressange came just five years later, so I might assume that the first one didn’t sell like hotcakes. (It might have been too ladylike.) This fragrance, packaged in a beautiful flask-shaped bottle with a gold overlay and gold oak leaves, was created by Alberto Morillas.

I recently snagged a manufacturer’s sample of the 2004 version and have been wearing it. It’s… nice. It’s perfectly okay.  It may be suffering from not being sprayed, because even dabbed generously it’s pretty quiet (and I’ve heard from two friends who own both versions that the Morillas one is louder and more fun).

Notes for this one include bergamot, mandarin, either blackcurrant or blackberry depending on the list, neroli, peony, iris, white rose, muguet, patchouli, benzoin, vetiver, white musk.  I’ve read reviews of this one that call it “blackberry musk,” but to be honest that’s not what I get out of it. It is, instead, something of a Coco Mademoiselle clone on me, dominated by patchouli until very late in the drydown.  I am sort of freakishly sensitive to patchouli, so of course your experience may vary, but there it is: patchy floral.

It opens up with a sharply acidic fruit note – I say it’s blackcurrant and mandarin – and, to be frank, the opening is my favorite part of this one.  “Froot” smells that approximate candy or Kool-Aid, those I don’t like, but I tend to appreciate a fruit note that smells realistic, as this does.  It’s nice. Blending with that tart fruit accord is some neroli, joined by rose and peony, and then very quickly I get a snootful of patchouli. It’s at this stage, and for the next four hours, that Ines II reminds me of Coco Mademoiselle. (It also reminds me of Patou Enjoy, for that matter, and it’s not all that surprising since all three are modern chypre florals, “modern” meaning no oakmoss, with a number of notes in common. Come to think of it, a three-way tussle between CM and Enjoy and Ines II would be a fun throwdown as well.)  There are clearly some natural florals involved here, as well as some that are clearly synthetic (the peony, obviously, and there’s a “clean rose”

Well into the drydown, Ines II becomes a real joy to wear. It’s in this late stage that I do begin to get the musk, which does have a berry tinge to it, and there’s a good deal of benzoin. I am a sucker for that, I admit. The soft plushy base lingers for a long time, as a quiet skin scent, and it’s lovely.  Whether you find Ines II pleasant may depend on whether you like this style; if the phrase “modern chypre” incenses you, you’ll curl your lip.

This one is still available (albeit in limited quantities) at discounters, and it’s reasonable, approximately $30-35 for a 50ml bottle.  Other reviews: The Non-Blonde, March at Perfume Posse, Musette at Perfume Posse (brief).

Neither one of these fragrances are groundbreaking or innovative or terribly distinctive; nor were they apparent commercial successes.  I enjoyed wearing both of them, however, and it’s highly unlikely you’d cause a fellow elevator-occupier to faint while wearing these.  Ines II seems very much “of its time,” the husky-voiced, floral-patchouli-musk “modern” chypres of the early 2000s, but for all that it’s quite pleasant.  Ines I is a Calice Becker through and through, with its soft-edged floral blend that seems shot through with light and grace.

It’s pretty clear which one I prefer, but then I love perfumes done in a soft mixed-floral bouquet style.  Feel free to disagree.

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Posted in aldehydic floral, Fragrance Throwdown, Fruity floral, fruity woody, Ines de la Fressange, Perfume review | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Scent Diary, July 28- Aug. 3, 2014

Monday, July 28 – Second day of band camp. Well, first full day. Weather could not be better – it’s cool and breezy, but sunny, and the kids are very comfortable. The new band director arrived today, and I think things will go well. He’s very quiet, but also very confident, and does not raise his voice to the students but gets across his intentions quite clearly. The show is coming together nicely already, and I have enjoyed hanging out with other band boosters under the tent, chatting away and handing out granola bars and Gatorades at snack time. SOTD: Byredo Flowerhead. I have to get this review written! Luckily, I do love tuberose.

PCHS T-bones, 2014. L-R: Jeremy, Lakin, Gaze, Alex, and James. Photo by Stacey Utt.

PCHS T-bones, 2014. L-R: Jeremy, Lakin, Gaze, Alex, and James. Photo by Stacey Utt.

Tuesday, July 29 – Gaze’s trombone section is doing well. The two sophomores – Gaze and Jeremy – are the oldest in the section, because Mr. Butler (band director at PCHS, 2002-13) felt that he didn’t have enough trombones to march them as a full section, and it was only as Gaze became old enough for high school that Mr. Butler relented and allowed the rising 9th graders to keep their trombones instead of trading them in for baritone horns (similar range, same mouthpiece, but with valves instead of the slide stops). Freshman James marched last year as an eighth grader; freshman Lakin is new to marching but is doing very well. Eighth-grader Alex, who also marched last year, can play just about anything, but is too small physically to manage a larger instrument like a tuba or baritone. I’m just waiting for him to get his growth spurt. The fun thing about band camp this year is that all five of the trombone moms have helped with camp already, so the T-bones have their own devoted cheering section.

I love getting to know the kids. I really do. SOTD: Patou Enjoy, which is reminding me strongly of Coco Mademoiselle but without the high-pitched screech that Coco Mlle has on my skin. More fruit, too. I don’t think I want any, but it’s a pleasant modern-chypre. Speaking of CM, one of the band booster moms wears it, and it is fully as nice on her as it is on my sister – a lovely woody floral thing with patchouli.

Wednesday, July 30 – Our minister called today to see if I could lead worship music on Sunday. EEP.  Funny, I would have been just fine with that if we used a piano (no, an electric keyboard is not the same) and sang out of a hymnal, but we don’t.  Our worship style is Contemporary Christian music, which I love but which I can’t play because I can’t read guitar chords. I read music notation.  And this is not to disparage in any way people who play by ear (hey, I sing harmony by ear) or who “only” play guitar chords. I’m actually sort of the exception among a lot of contemporary-style church musicians these days, for reading music while everybody else just does their thing based on something that looks like this:  G B F# G.  Can I play single notes? yep. Can I play chords based on that? Nope. The thing about it is, it’s like trying to read in one language and translate on the fly in another.  I can DO it, but not fast enough. It’s a little embarrassing.

Anyway, it was a pretty good day at band camp today. Very little drama. No injuries. Perfect weather (low-to-mid-70sF, generally sunny).  NICE.  SOTD: the girly-wirly LeLong Pour Femme. (Heh, you know, somebody commenting on Musette’s review of it on Perfume Posse calls the LLPF bottle “Flavor Flav in a leopard cape,” and that’s so spot-on that it cracks me up.)

Thursday, July 31 – Starting to wonder if Band Camp will EVER END, EVER. Gah. Also, miss my girl very badly. SOTD: Ines de la Fressange (1999 Calice Becker, not the 2006 Alberto Morillas, which HEY I finally snagged a sample of recently).

Nothing new on the doggie front this week.  Too busy with band camp.

Friday, Aug. 1 – It rained last night. The practice field is absolutely soaked – which sort of ruined the senior prank today. They came in early and pitched tents on the practice field, intending to roll out of the tents as the rest of the band came to the practice field and claim that they’d spent the night camping there. Instead, they all made their way back to the band room once a parent took pity on them and texted his kid that the director had decided not to come out and march outside this morning, so they’d better come inside.
(Reasonable on the part of the director – wet weather ruins woodwind pads and then they have to be replaced. Also, have you ever marched around, half the time backward, on wet grass? Let me just say, Bad Idea.)

Oh well. While the band was having sectionals, one of the drumline guys was goofing off and pretending to fall… only to have his jaw bang directly into the shin of another drumline guy, who was practicing a leg-swinging move that the drumline actually does incorporate into the show. So: Shane was goofing off, Logan wasn’t, but Shane got banged up enough to chip a tooth and develop a nasty bruise on his jaw. He went home. This seems to have been the only injury of the week, which is awesome! I can remember years when a band mom made an ER trip almost every day of the week…

SOTD: Penhaligon’s Amaranthine. Yum. I smell like a flower/banana smoothie.

Saturday, Aug. 2 – Everybody is exhausted. Well, I mean, Gaze and I are exhausted; Taz is not. Taz shouldn’t be exhausted, since he hasn’t done much all week except go to cross-country practice and do some basic cleaning in his room and practice his trumpet. And read books, of course, but for Taz that’s like breathing. ;) Practiced music for church this morning, took recycling to the town center, and went to the grocery store, where they had cluster rose bouquets on special. I bought one: white long-stem roses, plus several stems of those small garden-type roses in a beautiful deep coral-pink-red color. Gorgeous. SOTD: Tableau de Parfums Miriam. So beautiful – aldehydes, sandalwood, some very deep quiet florals (rose and ylang in particular, though the jasmine and violet are there too) and that buzzy-fuzzy Ambrox stuff.

Young Kurt Russell, ca. 1970 or so.

Young Kurt Russell, ca. 1970 or so.

I think it’s going to rain; it’s been cloudy all day. Did some laundry, cleaned up the house, cooked steak for dinner and watched “Tombstone” with the boys. (If I’ve never mentioned my almost-forty-year-long crush on Kurt Russell, well… I blame Disney and their Sunday night movies that used to air when I was a little kid.) Ahhh, Kurt…

The CEO got home late from Denver.

Sunday, Aug. 3 – I was right, it rained last night. Back to our regular spot at the elementary school for church services today. Music went well, I thought. SOTD: Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, largely because apparently the last time I put on my white eyelet blouse I was wearing it. No matter, I love Iris Poudre, which is to me less of a dry, rooty iris thing than an aldehydes-and-benzoin thing. FLUFFY!

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Scent Diary, July 21-27, 2014

Monday, July 21 – Beautiful cool weather today. The CEO left on his usual summer trip to visit the places of business where his students are interning and marching band pre-camp (for rookies and section leaders) started today, so Gaze is at the high school. It’s just me and Taz in the house. I’m writing; he’s goofing off (Taz in his natural state, actually). We turned off the AC a couple of days ago because the weather was so cool, and it’s stayed off. It gets warm in the evenings; the thermometer in our bedroom says 78F in the house and 72 outside, but that’s still below my “I’m dying, turn on the AC!” threshold.

summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons

summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons

SOTD: Tested Tom Ford Shanghai Lily and rather enjoyed it, except for about ten minutes when it was cuminy BO. It spent a lot of time smelling something like a lightweight DK Black Cashmere, though, so I forgive it. It’s not worth Private Blend prices, if you ask me, but then I’m notoriously cheap.

My MIL left on Saturday to go to a conference for Bible teachers; she goes every summer. She’s going to go visit her daughter E in Northern Virginia, spend the rest of the week with E and K and her other grandchildren, Curiosity and Primrose. While she’s gone, I’m doing the evening feedings for her cat, a sleekly self-centered (ooh, aren’t they ALL?) feline named Fidel Catstro. He’s largely white, but has some gray markings, including a mustache on his face.  SOTE: testing Lush The Smell of Weather Turning. Wow: freakfest. At least for the first hour, after which it becomes actually wearable and comfortingly soft. Lots of tonka, I think.

Tuesday, July 22 – The day started off cool again, and I decided not to hang laundry out. Popped it in the dryer instead. SOTM: Magnolia Grandiflora Michel. This does not smell like magnolia. It’s got the lemony blossom, it has the creaminess, but it is so soapy that I am not enjoying it. “Soapy” on my skin (it was much better on paper) usually indicates orange blossom. I had high hopes, but I suppose now I shall have to test the new Frederic Malle Eau de Magnolia.

SOTA: Jacomo Silences PdT, a cool breeze on a day that is becoming uncomfortably warm and humid. Took the boys to the fair since this was the day when from 2-3pm there was no admission fee, and unlimited-rides wristbands were $3 off. Poor Gaze, who pushed himself yesterday by attending marching band pre-camp from 8-5 and then went to cross-country practice (without food!) from 6-7:40, said he did not feel like riding rides, so Taz went by himself. Gaze had the afternoon off from band, because the brass sections worked yesterday and the woodwinds are practicing today. We took a turn through the livestock barns (I like goats), checked on the results of the photography contest, and went home to have ice cream.

The CEO’s color landscape took first in the adult division. His black-and-white Yosemite pic was second in B&W landscape, and his picture of elks fighting in Yellowstone was also second in Animals. Gaze’s B&W landscape did not place in the high school division, but his color landscape was first, and his picture of buffaloes fighting second in Animals. His photo of fireworks was also second in Special Effects. Taz only entered one picture, a photo of a small Canadian town beneath a towering mountain, but it won first in color landscape in the middle school division. I think everyone was pleased.

goatsAbout twenty minutes after we got home, we found our neighbor’s goats in our yard, nibbling grass. I don’t mind them eating the grass down (my lawnmower needs a new battery, actually) but I’m afraid they might wander down the road onto the highway and get run over, or get lost, so we put them back into their field. I repeat, goats are cute. SOTE: Leonard de Leonard. Don’t know why, but I was craving this green-floral-chypre. There’s marigold in it, I think, and I sometimes get the itch for that bitter, aromatic floral note.

Wednesday, July 23 – Humid, hot day today. Taz and I did laundry and went through the clothes in his dresser, discarding the ones that are too small. He’s grown recently. SOTD: Byredo Flowerhead. I’ve been working on a review. We put the goats back into their pasture.

Thursday, July 24 – Gaze has been at band pre-camp all week; he says his trombone section only has one rookie, who is doing very very well. There are only five members of the section anyway: Gaze and Jeremy are sophomores who have each marched one year. James and Lakin are freshmen, and Alex is an 8th grader, but James and Alex marched last year so Lakin’s the only rookie. SOTD: Flowerhead again.

We put the goats back into their pasture and blocked the gate at the bottom six inches with two boards. That’s where the young goats have been getting out; goats can squeeze through incredibly small spaces. The CEO got home this evening. SOTE: Shalimar Light. For some reason I was craving it.

Friday, July 25 – Went to meet the possible doggie adoptee this evening; drove 55 miles to meet her. I am unsure that this is The One. She is larger than we had expected, and her foster mom was unable to confirm that she is indeed housebroken, as she’s been living outside for the past 8 months. A nice dog, but we don’t think that she’s the right one for us. SOTD: Ferre 20. I like aldehydes.

Saturday, July 26 – The usual Saturday cleaning deal. Dull. Replaced my lawnmower battery, which is a totally tedious task that involves acid and electric battery chargers.  SOTD: various samples.

Drumline at band camp. Photo by Stacey Utt.

Drumline at band camp. Photo by Stacey Utt.

Sunday, July 27 – Church at the lake again. We got rained on. Er, poured on. SOTD: Penhaligon’s Amaranthine, yummy banana-ylang thing with cream. I know some people have trouble with the so-called animalic angle of “Amaranthigh” (which, inexplicably, has been discontinued!!), but it’s perfectly proper on me.

Band camp started this afternoon. More on that soon, as I’m quite sure you’re aware.

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Perfume Review: Byredo Flowerhead

flowerhead-by-byredoI’ve had this decant for a couple of months now, but I haven’t reviewed it yet. That’s partly because I needed a break from blogging, and partly because I was wearing it the afternoon that we took Hayley to the vet, never dreaming that she wouldn’t come home with us. But I pulled it out to retry today, and I am writing with a pic of Hayley-dog on the screen, so I think I will be all right.

This is a truly beautiful floral, centered on tuberose-jasmine-rose. I don’t think Byredo has done many florals, other than La Tulipe (mixed spring bouquet) and Inflorescence (a muguet). Byredo is very much an art-directed outfit, very visual, and typically the notes lists/art inspiration for their fragrances don’t encourage me to purchase samples. What I remember Byredo for is the sticky, melting, frozen-fruit-bar of Pulp, and the Blanche sample a friend sent me, which was fresh-air-and-clean-laundry to my nose (and I even like aldehydes. Oh well).

This one, as most fumeheads probably know by now since I’m months behind the curve on reviewing it, was inspired by the visual of an Indian bride adorned with a floral headdress. Byredo’s creator, Ben Gorham, is half Indian and had a large part to play in the wedding of his cousin, and was inspired by the vision of her with flowers for a head.

The six-year-old girl in me is RUTHLESSLY DELIGHTED at these bridal hairstyles. But they don't say "flower head" to me.

The six-year-old girl in me is RUTHLESSLY DELIGHTED at these bridal hairstyles. But they don’t say “flower head” to me.

Well, okay. Whatever caused Mr. Gorham to decide to focus on the natural glory of blossoms, I don’t really care much; I’m just here for the tuberose. And the jasmine and rose. Hand over the flowers and nobody gets hurt, okay?

The tuberose does tend to dominate, in my opinion, not that I’m bothered by that. It’s kept very fresh by tart berries, angelica and green notes, and I have to say this is one of the loveliest floral openings I’ve ever smelled, a glorious explosion of blossoms with the sharpness of cut stems and leaves. I love it. It’s almost like sticking your nose in a big bouquet – that’s one of my favorite scent experiences, by the way. The only thing missing from the bouquet is a “wet” dewy note. The visual for the fragrance features marigolds, and Ben Gorham has stated that he and perfumer Jerome Epinette attempted to include marigold but weren’t able to integrate it successfully. The tart berries and sharp herbal accents, to me, seem to take the place that marigolds would have taken, and I do love that effect.  In fact, the opening reminds me very much of Arquiste’s wonderful Flor y Canto (tuberose and marigold), and it’s gorgeous.

Half an hour in, it calms down a bit and the berries retreat, and there’s a wonderful tuberose-jasmine duet. The rose flies under the radar for me, and I can only pick it up occasionally, as a counterpoint to the white floral blend. There’s a fair proportion of natural materials in this, and it smells very fresh and gentle. I wish, to some degree, that the fragrance would stay loud, but the initial blast does calm itself down to a smaller sillage. This middle stage lasts three to three and a half hours, respectable for a floral fragrance on my skin.

Gradually it begins to fade away to a very quiet drydown. The official drydown notes are “suede and ambergris,” but I’m really smelling a quiet, dry woody musk rather than anything *I* would call ambergris. It may be, as a reviewer on Fragrantica suggests, Iso E Super there in the drydown. I am not sensitive to Iso E Super myself, can barely smell it at all; what I’m getting here is a soft, barely-there presence that simply helps to extend the florals. This stage lasts about three further hours on me, so that I get about 7-8 hours of wear from one goodly spritz. I would not choose the “spray until wet” method for this one (as I typically do for lightweight fragrances like summer Eaus and Annick Goutals), since Flowerhead’s initial sillage is so big.

Notes, according to Fragrantica, include lemon, cranberry, angelica, green notes, tuberose, jasmine sambac, rose petals, suede and ambergris.

Flowerhead is a really lovely fragrance. The straight-up floral is one of my favorite genres of fragrance, and I enjoy wearing it. One reviewer on Fragrantica says that it’s “too floral,” but I say Nonsense! No such thing! The more flowers the better!  Know your own tastes, I always say, and Flowerhead suits mine very well.

I could wish that the sillage would stay at the same level, or only gradually taper off, rather than dropping drastically half an hour after application – that was my frustration with DelRae Coup del Foudre, for example. At $220 for 100ml and $145 for 50ml, it’s probably outside my price range, but I will use and enjoy my 5ml decant.

Other reviews: EauMG, The Scented Hound, Robin at Now Smell this, Grain de Musc, Patty at Perfume Posse (brief), Colognoisseur.

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