Back home, July 2015

So I just spent a beautiful two weeks in New Zealand at the height of their winter weather, and now I’m back to so-called “normal life.”  If you want the brief update, it’s this: the planning trip went well, NZ is still gorgeous even in winter, the journey back was exhausting, and I was glad to be home.

Swans on Lake Tekapo, with Aoraki/Mount Cook in the background. Photo by Joe Guthrie.
Swans on Lake Tekapo, with Aoraki/Mount Cook in the background. Photo by Joe Guthrie.

The trip was very successful. The CEO lined up the entire trip for his students for this upcoming January, and it is going to be a wonderful experience, not just for the travel but also for the educational opportunities. They’ll be visiting aquaculture farms (salmon and green mussels), dairies, wineries, beef and sheep farms, and deer and elk farms, as well as government officials who deal in international trade of agricultural items, and a farmer who specializes in precision agriculture and is now marketing the same kind of equipment he made for his own use. Precision agriculture, if you’re not familiar, deals with connecting a GPS to your tractor and, in some cases, to computer software that instructs the tractor as to exactly how much seed/fertilizer/irrigation/soil additives are needed in this particular field, or portion of a field. Pretty fascinating stuff.

2. The trip was a lot of fun. It was, unfortunately, raining in Wellington (still my favorite NZ city so far, though Napier’s nice and I liked Nelson too), so there the CEO didn’t even bother to try to get any good pictures. But we met some terrific people, saw some impressive farms, ate some excellent food and enjoyed some stunning scenery. We ran into one of The CEO’s buddies from his days getting his master’s degree in Ag Econ at Massey U. in Palmerston North. Richard’s no longer with the World Bank; instead, he works at one of the government agencies that deals with international ag trade. We had a lovely meal with his family.

3. That trip home is killer. KILLLLLLERRRRR. I’m still exhausted. Our Monday 7/12 went like this: 90 minute flight from Christchurch to Auckland, wait around a couple of hours at AKL for our next flight. 12 hour flight from AKL to San Francisco (during which I did not sleep. At all). Then a mad rush to pick up our (gigantic) checked suitcase, which I was going to take home with me so The CEO wouldn’t have to take it with him to Denver, where he was going for a meeting of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. We went through US Customs, and then through the extra bio screening because we’d been on a farm outside the US, and then we rechecked the big suitcase on to Dulles. So then I shlepped my carry-on baggage to the domestic terminal, went through security again, got to my gate and determined that they were loading first-class passengers and I would have time to grab something to eat. I did, but just barely; I bought a sandwich and an enormous bottle of water, which I consumed while sitting on the runway for half an hour (!) waiting to take off. The plane landed (very roughly) at IAD five hours after that, and my sweet brother-in-law picked me up and took me back to his house, where I slept like the dead for twelve hours. Then I ate some lunch and spent the next six hours driving from NoVa back home, through two traffic delays caused by separate construction issues, and one delay caused by an accident. Gah.

But when I did pull into the driveway, Hunter-dog practically wagged his tail off his body, he was so excited to see me. Taz was happy enough that he hugged me several times (and then demanded food. Typical teenage boy). Gaze didn’t get home from cross-country practice until late, but I got my hugs from him too. Home looks good, by the way – rain in July is always welcome, and my stargazer lilies were just opening up when I got back. There are apples on a few of our trees, too.

I did not get the chance to meet with other perfumistas or to smell a lot of perfume while in New Zealand, outside the airport duty free shop. That was okay, I suppose – I did get to try Bottega Veneta Knot (five minutes of pretty orange blossom, followed by two hours of soap, which is par for the course with OB and me) and several other mainstream fragrances, the names of which elude me now.

And I wore a number of warm frags: Organza Indecence kept me company at the glaciers. Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur spread its squashy BWF comfort around.  Tauer Une Rose Vermeille was wonderful on the inter-island ferry. Vintage Ralph Lauren Lauren kept me smelling (relatively) fresh on airplanes.

More details on the trip coming soon, along with pictures The CEO took.

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Off to New Zealand!

The CEO will be leading a class/overseas trip next December & January, during Virginia Tech’s 3-week Wintermester class period between fall and spring semesters. It will focus on international agricultural trade in New Zealand, which has a fabulously diverse and strong export business in agriculture. He won a grant that enabled him to go to NZ this summer (their winter) to set up and “test-drive” the trip… and I’m going with him.

Don’t know if I’ll get the chance for sniffery, or to meet up with any perfumistas, but I’ll enjoy the trip very much, I’m sure. I loved it when I visited for two weeks in 2007, and I’m thrilled to go back. It’s a very beautiful place.

I’ll be back with posts in a few weeks!

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Five for Summer, 2015

summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons
summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons

HOLY MOSES, it’s summer already. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t like summer. It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s boring. I’m not a beach person. Gah. But I do change my seasonal perfume rotation to deal with summer, and here are a few fragrances I really enjoy wearing in hot weather.

Cool and refreshing: Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl. Go ahead and roll your eyes, perfumistas. I’ll wait.

You done? Okay then. There is something so unmussable about Tommy Girl, which survives heat and humidity with aplomb. Her hair doesn’t go limp (or frizzy) in the heat; her clothes don’t wilt. She goes on radiating relaxation and freshness for a long, long time, and that effect of drinking iced lemon tea on the porch near the flower beds is very welcome to me when I’m outside in our muggy summer weather. Don’t shoot the messenger, but Luca Turin was right about this one.

So Pretty: Carven Le Parfum. I know a lot of perfume people found this one underwhelming, but most of them have less interest in the Just Pretty than I do. I love a just-pretty, and this one is wonderful if you like that kind of thing as I do. It’s basically mandarin, sweet pea, jasmine, rose and a very cleaned-up patchouli/quiet woody base that lasts fairly well.

Green and composed: Jacomo Silences, the original. My bottle is the old 80s parfum de toilette, which has aged very well, probably due to its black bottle. It’s an air-conditioned blast of galbanum and the restrained elegance of iris and moss, with florals, particularly rose, in between. I have the reissued Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime, and it’s nice, but it lacks the bold eerie calm of the original, which has just been discontinued. Go buy some now, before it disappears from the discounters.

Zingy floral: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune. Grapefruit, blackcurrant bud, petitgrain, something floral that I swear smells like rose to me, neroli, clean herbal patchouli and woody notes. Yeah, sure, it’s got that almost sulfurous thing going on up top, but I love it, and this citrus/floral thing is really refreshing in the heat. I’m less happy about the patchouli in the drydown, but I don’t like patchouli in general. It’s saying something that I don’t want to scrub this off when the patch floats up; instead I just want to reapply.

Most people love citrus fragrances. I usually don’t – the only traditional citrus/herbal/floral cologne I own is a small decant of 4711, and I don’t use it all that often. But I love a citrusy floral, and Pamplelune hits the spot. I’ve gone through a couple of minis so far, and I keep waffling on whether to buy a real bottle. Perhaps I will, when my Moschino Funny! is all gone.

And of course, I have to have a BWF. Always need a Big White Floral. Doesn’t really matter which one I pick, because they’re all good in the heat. Maybe not so great if you’re trying to get work done, because they can eat your head and monopolize your senses. But there’s nothing more swoony. Suggestions: Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Carnal Flower or Le Galion Tubereuse (the rerelease), if you like your BWFs joyful and lighthearted. Escada Margaretha Ley (discontinued. #sorrynotsorry) or Honore des Pres Vamp a NY (bonus: all-natural) if you like them coconutty and tropical.

(Heh. I just crammed four perfumes into a one-perfume slot – how about me?)

So – what’s for summer wear in your neck of the woods?

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Peonies, and Peony Fragrances

Peonies are some of my favorite flowers. I adore them.

My Sarah Bernhardt peonies - blooms six inches across!
My Sarah Bernhardt peonies – blooms six inches across!

One of my grandmothers grew them. The other grandmother adored them as well, would stop anywhere to bend and sniff the flowers. She called them “pinies,” which must have been either some Appalachian pronunciation variant, or a pronunciation specific to her mother, because no one else I know calls them that. My sister insisted on having them at her June wedding. My daughter loves them. When our sweet Hayley-dog died last summer, we planted peonies near her grave.

PinkParfait2I prefer bush (herbaceous) peonies, not the Japanese tree peonies, which look pretty but lack the delicate but pervasive sweet scent of the old-fashioned ones. I like the double-flowering type. And I prefer them in pale pink or white; the dark pink ones are attractive, but I always think the smell matches the color of the lighter pink ones. Maybe that’s simply because the ones my grandmother grew were pale pink (Sarah Bernhardt) and white (Duchesse de Nemours), but there it is, an irrational preference.

Unfortunately, you can’t dry peonies, either whole or in petals, and retain any of the lovely scent, and I presume that’s why peony accords in perfumery often can smell very synthetic. There aren’t all that many fragrances in current production that smell like real peonies, in my opinion, but every now and then one will pop up and gain my affection.

I know that peony scents are not generally loved among the perfumisti. Witness, just for example, Luca Turin’s review of Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pivoine in Perfumes: The Guide: “Like chewing tinfoil while staring at a welding arc,” and his review of Thierry Mugler Angel Pivoine as “Giant Transvestite [that would be Angel] versus Ditzy Blonde from Hell [that would be the peony component]” is hilarious. I think it’s probably safe to say that Dr. Turin has a special dislike for peony perfumes, however he may feel about the flower. And generally speaking, I see a lot of comments like “smells cheap” about many peony scents.

Duchesse de Nemours peonies.
Duchesse de Nemours peonies.

I don’t care. I’m always on the lookout for one that smells like my Sarah Bernhardts, which have a strong overtone of rose along with the more delicate peony scent, and a cool, light freshness. I’ve noticed that the few peony scents that smell most natural to me also contain some rose – and sometimes they’re marketed as “rose” scents, too! Here’s the shortlist for peony fragrances that come closest, in my opinion, to the Real Thing. Some of them are unfortunately discontinued or otherwise unavailable. (Sorry about that.)

rose de siwa fifParfums MDCI Rose de Siwa. First on the list is the one that smells closest to just-cut peonies, to me. It’s also by far the most expensive, and I cannot in good conscience recommend that you buy it, because it is neither wildly original nor reasonably priced. But it’s my favorite. It has notes of litchi, peony, hawthorn, rose, violet, cedar, vetiver and musk, and was composed by Francis Kurkdjian, who has a great track record of success with me. I tested it from a sample vial, expecting a fresh rose, but got an enormous bouquet of peonies and a bit of wood in the drydown. It is basically perfect if you love garden peonies. However, I haven’t yet made up my mind to sell my firstborn in order to buy a bottle.

(Kidding. Kidding kidding kidding. Of course, whoever bought my firstborn would have to fork over for two more years of college, and I don’t see that happening.)

dsh peonyDSH Perfumes Peony. This is a close second, and far less expensive. Lovely stuff. It is perhaps less rosy and more green, but it’s beautiful and the drydown is pleasantly woody. I’ve never smelled a DSH fragrance that smelled synthetic in the least, and this one is very nice.

peony & mossJo Malone Peony & Moss. This one was a limited edition in the “London Blooms” series, composed by Christine Nagel, and the bottles were gorgeous. (See? BOTTLE SO PRETTY.) Wish I’d bought one while it was still available. The notes for it included blackcurrant, green leaves, ivy, peony and moss, and it smelled very green to me. I like that. (Jo Malone is currently producing Peony & Blush Suede, which I haven’t smelled, but I hear that it’s quite pleasant.)

VS pink, fragranticaVictoria’s Secret Pink. I don’t mean Pink Beach or Pink Thong or whatever the heck VS is currently marketing, or even their newer version of Pink, which is not the same as the original early-2000s version in the conical bottle. It’s a green floral with notes of artemisia, juniper berries, mandarin oranges, violet leaf, bergamot, peony, freesia, neroli, muguet, sandalwood, musk, vanilla, and vetiver. It was composed by Annie Buzantian and is more green than any of the others I’ve listed here, even the DSH. Still very pretty, though.

Not included on this list are a number of fragrances with “peony” in the name (including the L’Occitane peony fragrances and Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine), because they don’t smell real to me. Also not included is a really nice fragrance, Penhaligon’s Peoneve – not because it doesn’t smell natural, but because it smells of jammy rose to me with not a peony petal in the mix. Another one I didn’t include was Parfums DelRae Coup del Foudre, because while it is absolutely gorgeously peony-rose for an hour, after that it shrinks down to the skin in a marked manner, and the sudden disappearing act annoys me.

Donna (“Flora”) who reviews for Perfume-Smellin’ Things, has in private conversation recommended Ellen Tracy Peony/Rose. That one is also unfortunately discontinued and I haven’t smelled it, but at this writing you can buy the gift set of perfume and lotion on Amazon for about $27. Donna likes her perfumes lush and trés femme, and we have a lot of overlap in our tastes. The notes list includes peony, rose, and gardenia.

One more I’d like to try is Parfums de Nicolaï Rose Pivoine, which I seem to remember was recommended to me by Blacknall at A Perfume Blog, and has notes of red fruits, rose oil and absolute, geranium, chamomile, woody notes and musk. I am a little concerned about the geranium, which often seems a little screechy to me. But it’s PdN, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and try it when I get the opportunity. (Incidentally, PdN is now listed on Fragrantica as Nicolaï Parfumeur Createur. Which, okay, it’s their company and they can play with the name. I keep wanting to say PdN, though.)

I also hear that Ann Gerard Rose Cut is a lovely fresh rose with peony, but haven’t smelled that one either. Please do comment if you’ve tried it.

Are you a peony fan? Please share your favorite peony fragrances!

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May 2015

The mad end-of-school rush has started (middle-school track pizza party, end-of-year band banquet, end-of-year FFA banquet, et cetera, ad nauseam). There’s more to come, too; school here ends on May 29. There’s still FFA state public-speaking competition and the 8th-grade dance to come, and the conference track meet as well.

Bookworm is home for two weeks, before heading back to New Haven for the summer school sessions, at which she will be serving as a residential advisor in the dorms. She doesn’t get paid, but she gets room and board and tuition for one class, which seemed like a good deal to us! I love having her home.

Hunter-doggie has been scratching himself silly lately; we took him to the vet for checkup and shots and flea meds. The technician took him to the back for examination, and I heard him making his grizzling I-don’t-like-this noise… and then growling. Oh dear. The tech brought him back in to see if I could get the muzzle on him, which I did, but more growling ensued, and when the vet came in, she wanted to know if he was a problem at home. I told her that we’d clipped his nails once – and only once – because despite (or maybe due to) being held securely by both me and The CEO, he bit.

The vet suggested training. Which, yes, we probably ought to do. I just don’t know when we can manage to squeeze it in. I’m planning a small party for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, with my siblings, as well as arranging things for The CEO and myself to go to New Zealand for two weeks immediately after that.

The CEO will be teaching a travel class on international agricultural trade during Virginia Tech’s “Wintermester,” a short optional class session between the end of fall semester and the beginning of spring, this coming January.  He received a grant to go to NZ – where he did his master’s degree on a Fulbright scholarship – this summer to do all the logistics planning, and I’m going with him.

This is such a beautiful time of year. We’ve rolled through the redbuds blooming, the tulips and daffodils and hyacinths, the apple trees, the dogwoods, the wild cherries, and now the black locusts are perfuming the air far and wide. Gorgeous. The CEO will probably start cutting hay next week.

bjrHave been watching Outlander on Starz, the second half of the first season (season 2 is already in production, yay!). It just keeps getting better. The CEO is watching it with me now, and enjoying it as well. The casting in this is just so good… the only time I remember seeing Tobias Menzies before was as [Judi Dench] M’s assistant in “Casino Royale,” but he is tearing up the screen as the truly loathsome and sadistic yet totally magnetic Black Jack Randall. GO WATCH, if at all possible. You’ll thank me.

Photo by The Southwest Times.
Photo by The Southwest Times.

Gaze had a really good track meet where he lowered his mile (1600m) personal record to 5:09. That was followed by a mediocre meet, and then one in which he ran a solid first leg of the 4 x 800m relay, threw up, then ran half of a killer 20-seconds-faster-than-his-PR-pace mile, hit the (metaphorical) wall, and finished with half a mile probably slower than his middle school races. SIGH. Poor baby. The track team’s Facebook account ran some great pics, including one of Gaze during that 800m, looking like Death in a singlet, with his coach looking really alarmed on the sideline.  As his mother, if I hadn’t seen him looking okay and consuming food between the time of the meet and the time the photo was posted, I’d have been very very worried.  But I’ll give you one of him kickin’ it in the relay instead.

We are bottle-feeding two baby calves. They’re both girls, with eyelashes longer than a B-list star with two sets of false lashes on the red carpet. The CEO wants to call them Priscilla and Lydia, but Bookworm objects. I’m not sure why. One got separated from her mother when a group of cows was moved to a new field, and the other was found simply wandering and looking hungry – she may have been a twin. They’re very sweet.

I’ve been wearing all my greenies, same as last month. But it’s already getting hotter, and I’m wanting less greenery in my florals now. Time to haul out the summer things and put some of the chillier fragrances away. (Still loving Le Temps d’une Fete, though. I think that’s perennial.)

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Bloggity Blog Blog Blog, or In Which I Yahoodle About Pretty Much Nothing

Okay. I know. I knoooooooooow. It’s been forever (well, something like five weeks) since I last posted anything. Why haven’t I?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

Why do I bother to leave this blog up when I’m not posting anything?

And the fact is, I have no idea. It’s not that I have nothing to say. I probably have less to say about perfume at this point in my life, that much is true. But I do have things to say, and I am saying them in another venue every day. I am working on novels (to the point that The CEO is all like WHY HAVEN’T YOU DONE THIS YET AND WHY ARE THERE NO CLEAN SOCKS WHY WHY??? And I have to hang my head and say things that sound really lame coming out of the mouth of an adult. Like, “Well, I was writing.” WRITING WUT?? he wants to know, and I have to hang head further and say, “Well, I was writing the story of this teenager just struggling to get through high school and worried that he will never get into college and his abusive dad will find him now that his mother is dead and he’s totes afraid that his girlfriend will go off to college and forget him.” And The CEO says, DID YOU JUST ACTUALLY SAY TOTES DID YOU YOU DID DIDN’T YOU? DEAR GOD MY WIFE IS DIGRESSING TO THE MENTAL AGE OF A ONE DIRECTION FAN STOPPITTT NOOO!!!”).

keyboard-blurbystriaticatflickrOkay, so I’m not really writing that story. And I don’t talk to him about what I do write, because he doesn’t read fiction. But I only exaggerate to make a point.

And then there is the drama with Taz, who is now an 8th grader. We still cannot read his handwriting. Worse, his teachers cannot read his handwriting, and have now instituted the consequences we have been discussing with them since first grading period: if they can’t read it, it’s wrong. His Algebra I grades are suffering now.

Oh, and Gaze still thinks he wants to attend a service academy for college. Which his worrywart mother, which would be ME, has mixed feelings about. Send my baby into the military? Well, fine, but you better not be sending him into combat, or I will come beat you over the head with my mother angst.

The community chorus just performed our spring concert this past weekend, and I’m glad it’s over because I am just EXHAUSTERATED. We normally sing Serious Choral Music – which I really like – but we just did a Broadway-and-popular-music concert, at our local theater, which has come back from the dead as a community project over the last five years or so. I did a lot of Broadway stuff in high school, probably too much of the same-old same-old, and I don’t find the music challenging at all, so I was sort of dreading this concert. It was only when A) our director announced that we would be costuming and adding some stage action, and B) I realized that a good half of the program would consist of humorous pieces to balance the gravity of the Les Miserables medley that constituted the second half of the program, that I began to feel that it would all be okay.

I like musical theater. As a kid, I performed in several productions at our church – nobody does this anymore, do they? There was one called “Cool in the Furnace,” about Daniel and his three long-named buddies getting tossed into the fiery furnace for disobeying the Persian king’s stricture against worshiping any entity other than himself. And then there was one called “Sam,” I think, about the Good Samaritan, in which I got to be the man robbed and beaten by thieves, later helped by the Samaritan man. I collapsed TOTALLY CONVINCINGLY. Totally. Then there was a valley-wide production of “Celebrate Life,” a musical about the life of Jesus, put on by all the youth groups of the Baptist churches in the area.

My high school drama department did not do musicals. But my first year of college, I did a turn in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” as Tintinnabula, one of the courtesans. SO. Much. Fun.

And this performance was fun, too. I enjoyed creating my French peasant costume: long blue skirt, white peasanty blouse, scarf, vest, mobcap, apron, revolutionary cockade. I enjoyed seeing what everybody else came up with for costumes. I got to ham it up on stage, too, which is always a blast. Stages are MEANT FOR HAMMING, Y’ALL. It’s only since the age of the movie closeup that we’ve come to understand the art of acting to be more subtle.

And now we have, for example, Gary Oldman. (Who can, mind you, chomp up scenery with the best of them, but most often doesn’t.) And My Fantasy Boyfriend Tom Hardy (why, yes, that title is now officially part of his name), who was once described in a review of “Lawless” as doing more acting with the back of his neck than his costar Shia LeBeouf (I am not a fan) did with his entire self.

But I digress. And now I have a confession to make.

The ladies were on the risers, behind the curtain, preparing for our next piece, while two gentlemen from the chorus performed “Agony” from Into the Woods. There was an introduction for this Sondheim musical, which I admit I have only seen pieces of and never the entire thing, either live or the recent movie. Our narrator described this “battle of the romantic leads,” where Cinderella’s Prince Charming meets up with Rapunzel’s prince in the woods and they start chatting… “They compare their swords and their troubles,” the narrator said, in the middle of this intro.

THEY COMPARE THEIR SWORDS. I missed the rest of it because I was laughing so hard I snorted.

Multiple times. On stage. Behind the curtain. You know sometimes when you know you’re not supposed to laugh but you do anyway, and then while trying desperately to stop things get exponentially funnier, and you practically swallow a lung because you are trying so hard but you can’t stop laughing? That.

This is a big big no-no. I’m not proud. Really, I’m not. Please remember, I know from teenage boys. Of COURSE they compare their swords. Or their “swords,” heh. (I am hanging my head in shame right now.)

But anyway, here’s the song, from the recent Disney movie, with Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen.

(If only all Charmings were so open about it, there would be less heartbreak in the world.)
(If only all Charmings were so open about it, there would be less heartbreak in the world.)

I have never been a big Chris Pine fan. For one thing, he looks a lot like our neighbor’s teenage son. My recurrent thought upon seeing the Star Trek reboot movies was, “I can’t take this seriously. They’ve handed the Enterprise over to Jake-the-kid-next-door, and he just got his license last week, for heaven’s sake! Also, Spock is kinda hot, and That’s Just Wrong.” Besides which, I made the mistake of watching This Means War, with My Fantasy Boyfriend and The New Captain Kirk as spies battling over the same girl, and Pine is pretty much a jerk in it. (Actually, that’s a terrible movie in general. Don’t see it. Or Lawless, that’s terrible too although Hardy is great in it – read the book, called The Wettest County in the World, instead.)

But now that I’ve seen Chris Pine sing, I’ve kind of changed my mind about him. Yes, that’s really him singing. And he’s channeling William Shatner here, too, I think, which seems to indicate that he’s got a sense of humor.

I’m such a sucker for a guy with a nice voice, especially one who can make me laugh. I still think he’s more of a ham than a subtle actor, but who says there’s no call for that anymore?

safariSpeaking of which, perfume. 😉

I did not wear perfume on stage. I wanted to, but I wanted to not bother other people more.

I’ve tested some new things recently, but am far more focused on enjoying what I have.

It’s spring, so of course I am wearing All My Greenies. Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete, Chanel No. 19, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, Ralph Lauren Safari, Guerlain Chamade. Haven’t gotten out the Jacomo Silences yet, but I probably ought to.

I’m wearing All My Spring Florals, too: DelRae Amoureuse, DSH White Lilac, Penhaligon’s Violetta, Mary Greenwell Plum, and my too-small decant of DelRae Wit. I still haven’t formally reviewed Wit, but to be perfectly honest about it, all I really need to say is, I need more of it.

Claude Monet, Iris Garden at Giverny, 1899. Apres l'Ondee smells like this looks, except through recent rainshowers.
Claude Monet, Iris Garden at Giverny, 1899. Apres l’Ondee smells like this looks, except through recent rainshowers.

I’ve also been wearing my small 2009 decant of Guerlain Apres l’Ondee, which is without doubt a wonderful thing, all Debussy/Monet Impressionism, a gauzy silk scarf of wistful loveliness. It’s been reformulated recently (2013 or 2014, I think), to be less heliotrope and violet, and more iris. Which is a darn shame, I tell you, because the world needs more wistful and less businesslike.

I have only worn my treasured bit of Jean Patou Vacances once this summer, despite its being almost as perfect a spring scent as Apres l’Ondee. Vacances has been rereleased in Patou’s “Heritage Collection,” and I’ve already ordered a small decant of it. Can’t wait to smell it, although I am trying to school myself to the attitude that it won’t smell like it used to, either. I’m just hoping for “pretty good” at this point.

So. I’m going to stop beating myself up about not having anything to blog, and just blog when I feel the spirit move me. Hope that’s okay.

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Scent Diary, March 8-15, 2015

Monday, Mar. 9 – Our internet is wonky. In, out, in, out… slllllooooooowwwww. It’s driving me crazy. Also? I’m sick. I have fever chills. My stomach is vaguely unsettled, but mostly it’s the fever symptoms that are making me feel so bad. The CEO left this morning to take some of his Ag students to the Governor’s conference on agriculture and trade, in Richmond. He’ll be back tomorrow.

Remember a few weeks ago when I was whining about the modern version of Tuvache Jungle Gardenia being thin and watery, and Jeffrey Dame offered me a fresh sample to try? Well, the “fresh sample” turned out to be a full bottle. Wasn’t that lovely of him? (Oh dear, now I have a moral conundrum as to what to do with it.)

The new stuff goes by Tuvache Gardenia, and I sprayed a bit on my wrist this morning before taking Taz to school. It’s not thin. No. It is a proper, thick, heady, bleu-cheesy gardenia. I could wish for a few more green notes to it, but basically this is a narcotic floral in the best sense. Wow. Stuck around all day, smelled great.

By evening, I was freezing, and I sprayed some Amouage Memoir Woman to help me sleep.

Tuesday, Mar. 10 – I feel awful. Spent the day curled up under the quilt, huffing my soothing Esprit d’Oscar.  Such a shame that was discontinued – those “makeup” fragrances got popular all of a sudden, and then the trend moved on to something else. Of course, the celebuscents are still sugary-frooty-musky-dumb floral, and (unbelievably) they’re still selling. Oh, for the days when “celebrity fragrance” meant Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds! Or Deneuve.

Actually, let me back up a bit on White Diamonds. You know how yesterday I wore Tuvache Gardenia, and then put on some Memoir at night? Well, bits of both got onto my Yale hoodie sleeve, and now my hoodie smells like a big bouquet smeared with, um… okay, I’ll say it. Feces. You talk about indolic, baby. WHOA.

There is an older woman who sometimes shops for groceries where I shop, and she typically wears enough White Diamonds that you could follow her scent trail throughout the store. Eep. Well, on her, the indolic bits of White Diamonds come to the fore, so that it smells like this big gorgeous hotel-lobby bouquet of flowers… right next to a whole bucketload of filthy used cloth diapers. All the excretions, plus GIGANTIC FLOWERS… if you apply too much White Diamonds, apparently, it gets this noxious cast. And the combination of Tuvache Gardenia and Memoir Woman produces this wonderful/horrible juxtaposition of flowers and toilet as well.

So, please consider yourself warned. I am putting this poor sweatshirt into the laundry forthwith.

Daffodils and tulips coming up in the front yard. Can't wait for the blooms!
Daffodils and tulips coming up in the front yard. Can’t wait for the blooms!

Wednesday, Mar. 11Le Temps d’une Fete, Le Temps d’une Fete!! Spring is on its way, I can feel it, and I’m so happy to be able to switch out my winter fragrances for the early-spring ones. Every time I open the hatbox to choose, I feel bad for the ones I haven’t chosen. Sigh.

I think I’m getting over the fever. My stomach is in rebellion, though – which could be due to the diet I had planned to start on Monday and put off until today.

Thursday, Mar. 12 – I still feel bad. I’m continuing to have digestive issues with this new diet (South Beach), and I hope things settle out soon. I feel fairly sure that having had my gallbladder removed in 2002 has a good deal to do with the way that I’m processing all this increased dietary fiber. Gah. But the scale is down several pounds, so I don’t want to give up too soon.

I’m testing things today, with several things up and down my arms. Fun.

Friday, Mar. 13 – This is the last day of The CEO’s spring break at Virginia Tech. I hope he’s had a relaxing week. SOTMorning was Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, for Now Smell This’ weekly Friday challenge; this week it was “wear something old-school niche, preferably released before 2010.” Iris Poudre I love anyway, and it was released in 2003, if I remember correctly.

By the afternoon IP was slowing down, and I added a dab or two of Annick Goutal Heure Exquise, which would also have fit the bill for the NST Friday challenge, and played nicely with the dregs of IP because of the iris and musk present in both.

And Bookworm is home! So glad we have her for a week.

2 pi r in our kitchen (cherry and chocolate)
2 pi r in our kitchen (cherry and chocolate)

Saturday, Mar. 14 – Hey, it’s Pi Day! So, of course, we made pie. Two pies. Or, as it amused The CEO to say, “2?r in our kitchen.” (Sorry. I’ll wait while you shake off the awfulness of the pun.)

It is so nice to have Bookworm home. I miss her when she’s gone. Looks like she’ll be in New Haven this summer, serving as a residential advisor in Yale’s summer-program dorms. She’ll get free room and board, plus tuition for one summer class.

SOTD is Chamade. Because, duh, Chamade. I love the way this thing turns from chilly to warm. I’m thrilled to break out all the greenies in my wardrobe.

Sunday, Mar. 15 – The grass is starting to green up outside, which is exciting. It’s funny, you know – the seasons change in largely the same way every year, and yet it always thrills me to see the change.

SOTD was Deneuve, which seemed a little more animalic than I remember it. There was the green and the hyacinth, the spring flowers, but also some really dirty musk that was prominent to my nose today. It wound up being a little much for church, to be honest, and after we got home I spritzed a bit of Le Temps d’une Fete over top. That one isn’t spectacularly clean, either, but it’s clean-er. And I love it.

My sister and her son are visiting while he’s out of school for spring break. They spent the week seeing family, and touring many of Virginia’s historical sites – Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, the state Capitol building in Richmond (designed by Thomas Jefferson, of course), Yorktown, Monticello. I think Doodlebug enjoyed it very much, and of course we loved seeing them. Texas is far.

 

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More Blog Housekeeping

Due to an issue that came up recently on a blog I generally admire, I have recently added the following policy on content sharing to my “Blog Policies” page:

CONTENT SHARING

If you’d like to quote from any item published on the blog, please either make it a brief quote (two or three sentences or so), or request permission to quote me. Unless you’re clearly content-lifting, I’ll probably grant permission and toss in my blessing to boot. If you quote at all, please attribute the quote to this blog and include a link. All material published here is mine, and copyrighted as of the publish date.

Official copyright logo from Wikimedia Commons.
Official copyright logo from Wikimedia Commons.

I am perfectly fine with portions of the material on this site being shared, as long as they are attributed and linked properly.

I don’t make any money from my blog. Any external links you see on it are for items that I love myself and would like to make it easier for interested parties to find. I don’t accept payment for reviews. If I accept samples for the purpose of review, I make it clear to the provider that I do not guarantee a review, much less a positive one. If I write a review at all, it will be an honest one.

Further, I promise not to quote other blog reviews to an extent that would make it pointless for readers to go and read those reviews for themselves at their original home. That is, you’ll find brief snippets from other reviews on occasion, and you will definitely find links to other reviews, but in deference to the words written by others, some of whom make a living from their online blogs, I won’t be quoting large chunks of them unless permission has specifically been granted me.

I have occasionally in the past quoted from written works such as Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, but have now removed these references until permission can be obtained from the publishers. Nobody asked me to do this, but I have become convinced that I am both breaking the law and being disrespectful to those authors by quoting more than a few words from those works.

Incidentally, the Walter Savage Landor couplet located on my home page is in the public domain. So are the images on my home page.

 

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Winter Perfumes, 2015

Well, it looks like we’re sliding into spring (on all the mud left behind by our late-winter snows and recent rains. MUD, I tell you). And I never did a post on winter fragrances, did I? Well then.

My winter loves haven’t changed much since I started blogging in 2009. I’m still a big fan of “cozies” in cold weather.

First, and always, Teo Cabanel Alahine. Beautiful, warm, forceful and joyous, this floral amber accompanied me on happy days this winter. Smells like church bells sound.

A fluffy thing, in this rich color. Very cozy.
A fluffy thing, in this rich color. Very cozy.

Soivohle Centennial is still the closest smell ever to a comfortable, soft, dark peach angora sweater that I used to own in college. (I wonder what happened to that sweater… probably I sent it to Goodwill, ages ago.) Centennial is based on a classic floral chypre recipe, according to Liz Zorn (it was originally called Historical Chypre), and it is very floral (jasmine and rose, with some ylang, I think) atop a seriously-chypre backbone with plennnnnty of oakmoss and patchouli and amber. I don’t know exactly what it is in the base that feels fuzzy, but it certainly does. I go through stages of being addicted to this thing.

Tom Hardy. Leather jacket. What's not to like?
Tom Hardy. Leather jacket. What’s not to like?

I wore Amouage Memoir Woman a lot this winter, too. Memoir Woman is downright freaky, and I admit that it took me about nine wearings of it to really figure out what it even was: jammed full of every herbal/spicy/medicinal smell you could imagine up top (Band-Aids! Myrrh! Anise! Clove! Other weird stuff that makes you think of witches brewing up potions!), followed by a big luxurious armful of jasmine, ylang and tuberose in the middle, and the whole thing resting on an animalic-chypre platform that is mostly about leather but also smells a bit like fur and civet and incense. This one smells like Tom Hardy… if a bearded Tom Hardy should somehow show up at my door, wearing a leather jacket and bearing white flowers. And a love potion. :) Rrrowwwwwr.

What is this bottle - a mouse? A worry stone? A hot rock from the massage room of a fancy spa?
What is this bottle – a computer mouse? A worry stone? A hot rock from the massage room of a fancy spa?

It doesn’t get any cozier than Donna Karan Black Cashmere. This one was discontinued, then brought back in a slightly-reformulated version (no, it’s a good one) in a boring cylindrical bottle with none of the charm of the original “pebble” bottle. It’s spicy, woody incense with a side of warm milk, and I find it very comforting. Despite the name, it isn’t black at all. It’s a lovely warm deep rusty-brown color in my head.

pinkmonroe

 

And of course I can’t get through the winter without a honkin’ Big White Floral!  I wore so many different ones that it’s tough to choose just a single BWF, but Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, ByRedo Flowerhead, Le Galion Tubereuse, Dior Poison, and Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur all figured prominently in my winter wardrobe. Yum. There’s nothing more luxurious than white flowers, nothing. Nothing. And I know they’re actually white, but somehow in my head, they’re pink. Like, Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” pink.

All the same, I’m glad to be turning the corner toward warmer weather. You?

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Mini-review Roundup, March 6, 2015

roundupCaron Pour une Femme – I’ve been interested in trying this for some time now. C’mon, I know that I don’t typically get on with the classic Caron fragrances (oh, don’t get me started), but this one is typically labeled a floral chypre. Okay, maybe we could be quibbling over whether it’s a floral chypre or a chypre floral – that is, whether it is primarily a chypre with a strong floral angle, or primarily a floral with chypre undertones. That’s a distinction I don’t feel myself particularly qualified to answer.

pour une femeHowever, Pour une Femme, originally released in 1934 and reformulated who knows how many times (definitely in 2001, when it was reorchestrated by Richard Fraysse) is actually one of those modern chypres. I smell very little oakmoss in here. Plenty of dark marmalade-y orange to start with (as with many Carons, the topnotes are not particularly nice), plus a deep rose and some orange blossom. Lots of patchouli, lots of amber. Deep into the drydown there’s a bit of incense. It’s pleasant. If you’re a Coco Mademoiselle/modern floral-chypre fan, it might suit you well. I’m glad I sampled rather than springing for one of those adorable silhouette bottles – seriously, is this not a fabulous bottle? I love it. It goes more ambery the longer it’s on skin and I like it less.

Notes (via Fragrantica): Orange blossom, mandarin, orange, incense, rose, vetiver, musk, sandalwood, amber. The patchouli isn’t listed, but it’s there.
Another review: Victoria at EauMG.

satin dollUzac Satin Doll – yes, another one of those modern floral chypres. There’s quite a bit of raw-carroty iris root in the topnotes of this one, though, and I rather like it. Can’t help being unimpressed in the first half hour, though, because where’s the tuberose? I was promised tuberose. And rose. And incense.

It was named for Duke Ellington’s jazz standard (listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing it here on Youtube.)

This one, I like more and more the longer it’s on skin. Oddly, the florals show up deeper into the base than they typically do, and they stick around awhile. It’s really lovely; I find myself thinking of Penhaligon’s Eau Sans Pareil (the new one – I never smelled the older version) and how refreshing and elegant it is.
Iris can sometimes feel satiny to me, and I like its presence here in Satin Doll. There is actually a bit of oakmoss in here, though I find myself wondering if it’s the atranol-free version. Not that that’s bad, necessarily – it just doesn’t feel like an old-school powerhouse chypre. Which is not a dealbreaker for me. The patchouli, too, is the heart-note stuff, very green and austere, no powdery dirt mess. There’s a good bit of wood in here, and a bunch of black pepper. I seem to have gotten more iris out of it than some other reviewers did, but since I’m not particularly fond of rooty iris, that isn’t really an enthusiastic recommendation. This is a nice smell. Not shelling out for it – and it doesn’t smell much like the song sounds to me – but it’s nice.

Two more reviews for you: The Silver Fox at Ca Fleure Bon and Angela at NST.
Notes (Fragrantica): elemi, pink pepper, black pepper, iris, tuberose, jasmine, rose, myrrh, incense, patchouli, opoponax, oakmoss.

I had also planned to include a review of Bogue Maai, but my reactions to that one were… um… unconventional, to say the least, so I’ll be putting that review up later.  I’ve also got reviews for Hiram Green Moon Bloom and Shangri-La written, as well. Watch this space for those.

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Scent Diary, Feb 16-23, 2015

I sort of accidentally overwrote my Scent Diary for Feb. 9-15. Whoops. Nothing much happened anyway – the kids were out of school due to frigid temperatures (there are places in the county where students have to wait for a very early bus that they have to walk half a mile or more to reach). We did a TON of laundry, and basically got back into the swing of things after our San Antonio trip.

Monday, Feb. 16 – Cold. Snowing. Yay!! This is the first time all winter we’ve had serious snow. SOTD is Soivohle Centennial, for warmth, because it’s blusterous and in the single digits temperature-wise. The CEO has canceled his morning classes.

sledding feb 2015Tuesday, Feb. 17 – It was fairly warm today, in the low 30s, and the boys went out to play in the snow. It’s too powdery to be good sledding snow, but they were having some success building a snow fort with our neighbor, seven-year-old Zach.

One more of Gaze’s ewes lambed, but the lamb had a fairly serious birth defect and was either stillborn or died shortly after its umbilical cord was torn. It was sad. SOTD was Parfum Sacre, wonderful cozy rose-incense-vanilla.

Wednesday, Feb. 18 – Back to cold temperatures, and school is still out, but The CEO went off to Va Tech today. I worked on some sewing and laundry. SOTD was vintage Emeraude parfum de toilette, mmmmm. Took the boys in for their dental cleanings; took Gaze to get a haircut.

Thursday, Feb. 19 – Chilly weather. The dog is HAVING A TOTAL BLAST in the snow, by the way. He loves it.  Took Gaze for his orthodontist checkup, and did some grocery shopping. Worked on farm books stuff.  SOTD was Memoir Woman, because I love it so.

Friday, Feb. 20 – Really COLD again today. It was 3F when I got up at 7:15. Brr. SOTM: testing Uzac Satin Doll and Caron Pour Une Femme, both modern chypre things a little too light for this weather. SOTA: Escada Margaretha Ley, yummy ylang/white floral/coconut tropical thing that packs some serrrrrrious sillage. This is a good thing when it’s 6F by 1 pm. Go big or go ho-

Oh. Wait. I AM home. Never mind. I’m going big anyway.

Saturday, Feb. 21 – Started out by testing Bogue Maai, which has been described as a chypre Amazon on a panther. Did I get that? Um, nope. We were supposed to get snow, turning to sleet, later on today but it started early. Ugh. Fire in the fireplace, cleaning up the house.

Taz left the C volume of the encyclopedia out on the dining table, and I was about to fuss at him for it when it occurred to me: hey. My kid still reads the encyclopedia. I can’t really complain too much about it. (Yes, he knows how to Google. But there’s no computer in the kitchen/DR area. Or in the kids’ bedrooms, either.)

George (1024x768)New lamb today! This one’s another boy, and he seems to be doing just fine. So now we have Precious, Sweetie, and George, and they are JUST SO CUTE. We might keep Precious, so far the only ewe lamb, but I expect the other two will go on off to market. I’m deliberately not thinking about it. SOTE was Shalimar Light.

Watched “Patton” with The CEO and the boys this evening, and crocheted some on Bookworm’s afghan. I’d never seen it, and I don’t think it was meant to be a funny film, but I spent about half the time cracking up at something Patton just said. The man was an egotistical nutcase/genius, and the utter temerity of his unfiltered comments were just… well, I kept thinking to myself, No way did he really just say that! IMDB, however, reports that a lot of Patton’s dialogue was watered down from his real-life commentary. HOO boy.

Sunday, Feb. 22 – Nasty weather this morning. No church today due to icy conditions. It’s much warmer today than yesterday (from about 8F to 53F) and the driveway was clear by afternoon, but this morning we weren’t going anywhere. Ugh. SOTD was Chypre d’Amboise (a cheapie eBay find), followed by Soivohle Centennial. Made two more mobcaps for the community chorus Broadway concert this spring; our director wants most of the chorus dressed as extras from Les Miserables. Taz shoveled the driveway for us and did such a good job.

After church small group/youth group this evening, we went to the Chinese buffet place for dinner. I really don’t recommend being the last diners at a buffet – the selection is bad and the food condition not stellar (dried out/greasy). The hostess did tell me that if we wanted anything specifically, to just ask her and they’d make it, but at that stage we just wanted to eat what was there and not wait on anything else. The tea was good, though.

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BWFs: Gardenia

whipped cream gardeniaI love gardenias, I do. I do. I crave them. It’s a little too cold for them to grow here in the mountains, unfortunately. If The CEO ever asked me what flowers I wanted for a corsage, I’d tell him tuberose (no, I wouldn’t, they’re unavailable around here unless you do a $75 special order) and then gardenia. I love yellow roses too, but that’s another story.

Gardenias. Sigh. Our neighbor once brought us a gardenia from his bush, back when I was, oh, twelve? Thirteen? And I was standing there in absolute heaven, while my poor mother was trying to say thank you without turning green. So I understand that not everyone likes them… but me, I love gardenias. So overwhelmingly gorgeous.

Sr. Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux speaks of re-creating a gardenia scent in a ÇaFleureBon interview: Gardenias are somewhat wild and raw, and you have to be careful not to domesticate the scent too much. The perfume must remain a bit unbridled. For a gardenia, the sharp green edge has to echo the milky, almost buttery sides harmoniously, and the animalic sides, which are both indolic and cresolic have to be very present as well. The descriptors “fruity,” “ripe,” “bitter,” jasminic,” “honey-like,” “smoky” and “fungus-like” also come into play.

gardenia arrangementFlores-Roux has it right: it should be very green but very creamy, lush but earthy. He calls gardenia “wild and raw,” but I think the word that comes most to mind for me with real gardenias is “narcotic.” As in, I can’t stop smelling them. A gardenia should make you weak at the knees.

Unfortunately it’s a difficult note in perfumery – because gardenia essence is extremely costly and labor-intensive to make, not to mention flower-intensive. And therefore it’s extremely costly. What usually happens is that perfumers “build” a gardenia on a base of tuberose plus other notes, and thus you rarely get something that replicates the flower.

gardenia 2Here’s an incomplete list of gardenia perfumes (whether smelling of gardenia, or just named for the flower), in no particular order. If you have suggestions, please add them in the comments, and I’d love to hear if you shrink from the real flower or melt in its presence. The ones I’ve tried are in pink lettering.

Tom Ford Private Blend Velvet Gardenia (discontinued since 2013) – this one is a kitchen-sinky gardenia, complete with earthy mushroom notes and a bit of bleu cheese. Divisive. If you love it, you love it. I didn’t, but I have issues with “earthy.”

Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia (which I like to refer to as ELPCTG) – lovely stuff, a good bit primmer than the Tom Ford. Sort of bridal, but in a good and lush sort of way. No off-notes to my nose here. I hear the parfum is STUNNING.

Michael Storer Stephanie – buttery gardenia (I think it’s a composition done with tuberose, not some of that pricey gardenia extract) with some musk and a slug of pepper. The pepper can take you aback; it did me. It leans a little too lactonic, though, for me. I wanted more green notes.

gardenia 4Marc Jacobs – This is beautiful stuff. Really. Gardenia/tuberose/jasmine, on the delicate side. I don’t know why I don’t own any. (Edit: actually, I do still own a mini bottle of the parfum, but it had gotten sort of lost in amongst all my mini bottles. I’ve been wearing it since I located it.)

Marc Jacobs Gardenia – incredibly beautiful bottle, but word is that it’s more aquatic than the original and less gardenia.

DSH Pink Gardenia – Lush Marilyn Monroe kind of fragrance, but done on Dawn’s usual musk base, which means it goes a bit too sweet on me.

Serge Lutens Une Voix Noire – This is Uncle Serge’s dark look at gardenia, not just an homage to Billie Holiday but also with the classic Lutens weird twist. It could be the smell of the Lady Day as her show winds down, with the gardenia she always wore in her hair beginning to brown and wilt from the heat of her body and that of the club, with a whiff of body odor, and the smell of burning tobacco in the ashtrays on the tables, and the hot sweet smell of whiskey and brandy left in the glasses. Could be, if you choose to interpret it that way. Or you could interpret it as a hot mess: wilting gardenia, dipped in meaty Mexican food and then in buttery caramel sauce, and rolled in some stale cigarette ashes to boot. I have a decant of this I bought unsniffed, and I never never never wear it. Three guesses as to why.

Isabey Gardenia – lovely. I’m not overly fond of the citrus notes up top, nor of the ambery ones at the bottom, but in between it’s attractive.

Guerlain Cruel Gardenia – as Luca Turin says in Perfumes: The Guide, “Not a gardenia.” He’s right. It’s not even a gardenia built out of tuberose. Still, it’s a very pretty perfume.

Chanel Gardenia (Les Exclusifs) – Also not really a gardenia. Sort of a lightweight mishmash of white flowers. Nice, pretty, not gardenia.

gardenia 3Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion – another not-really-a-gardenia. This is a tuberose with greenery. I like it anyway, but I don’t own any.

Jovan Island Gardenia – The current version is thin and bare, gardenia blooming three blocks away across chlorinated pools and the gasoline fumes from the whole neighborhood’s lawnmowers. It used to be better. Now it’s strictly low-rent.

Coty Sand and Sable – This one used to be better, too; when I was in high school in the mid-80s, I craved a bottle of it. (This is the one my mother made me return to the store, insisting that I was too young to wear it and smell like a divorcee on the make. Well, not that she SAID that, but I knew what she meant by the way she said it.) It starts out pretty cheerful and radiant like a real gardenia, but a scosh of air-freshener lilac and that screechy synthetic jasmine that saws on my nerves make it smell super-cheap.

Tuvache Jungle Gardenia – what I’ve smelled labeled as Jungle Gardenia was NOT the stuff I remember from my childhood. Man, could this thing knock you out from down the street: narcotic in the best sort of way. Now me, I loved that sensation. If you run across the vintage, snap it up. And if you don’t like it, send it to meeeeeee.

Edit: for full disclosure the sample I tried was secondhand, and I don’t know its provenance. It smelled thin and barely-there; like I say, the stuff I smelled growing up in the 70s was incredibly lush and powerful. If you notice in the comments, Jeffrey Dame says that the current version (since 1998) is made according to a 1974 formula. He’s kindly offered to send me a sample, which I’m going to accept with alacrity! I’ll report back when I have tried the new stuff.

Tauer Perfumes Sotto La Luna Gardenia – what am I to make of this thing? I still haven’t figured it out (need to review). It reminds me quite a bit of Tableau de Parfums Loretta, and it’s weird. It hits the mushroomy highlights though not the bleu cheese ones, but there’s that Tauerade Ambrox stuff in the bottom, and it’s… well, remember what I said about Une Voix Noire? It’s a little like that, minus the cumin and the ashtrays: sweet and wilty. Plus fruity. Plus balsamy. SO MUCH going on. Incredibly radiant, too. Look out.

Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia – if you like your gardenia with incense and a big mantle of grape Kool-aid*, this is the one for you. Pleasant, if you can get past the grape-flavored stuff. (* This effect, to me, is a sure sign that the gardenia in question is built out of tuberose, and maybe a bit of orange blossom. Methyl Anthranilate occurs naturally in certain white flowers; it’s isolated from natural sources and added to grape flavoring to intensify the grapeness. I have a range of tolerance for Methyl A., and this one is at least twenty decibels higher than the top end of it.)

Illuminum White Gardenia Petals – The former Kate Middleton reportedly wore this one when she married Prince William. It is quite innocently bridal, and has gentle sillage. It’s not very gardenia-like, either; it also boasts notes of lily, jasmine and muguet. Really, there’s a ton of that screechy synthetic jasmine in it. It’s not for me, but it’s at least inoffensive.

Annick Goutal Un Matin d’Orage – Nice. Not very gardenia, either, more a watery version of soft-focus white florals (gardenia, magnolia, jasmine sambac). That said, I think it’s lovely and if a bottle came to live at my house I’d wear it. It’s close to Dyptique Do Son, but where Do Son smells highly artificial to me (it has some clearly-synthetic tuberose in it as well as the watery accord), UMd’O smells more realistic. Pretty stuff, if you don’t mind aquatic notes.

Ineke Hothouse Flower – haven’t smelled this one, but Ineke Ruhland comments that she added creamy lactones and extra green notes like galbanum and fig leaf to tuberose to make it smell like headspace gardenia. I generally do very badly with Ineke fragrances, and I haaaaaate fig leaf, so I have not put this on skin.

JAR Jardenia – apparently a properly green-and-mushroomy-and bleu-cheesy version of gardenia. I haven’t smelled it.

Aftelier Cuir Gardenia – leather and gardenia as the name suggests, I’m told.

Arquiste Perfumes Boutonniere No. 7 – another indie version that is geared toward men. I’m not sure how that works (is it a gardenia fougere? I don’t know).

Jovoy Paris Gardez-Moi – Nice. Something along the lines of ELPCTG, but with a bit of grape Kool-aid up top. I’d rather have ELPCTG.

Penhaligon’s Anthology Gardenia – a reconstruction of an early fragrance by B. Duchaufour. No bloggers have anything to say about it, apparently. Shrug.

Strange Invisible Perfumes Epic Gardenia – I haven’t smelled this one, or any SIPs. Word has it that this one is good but not as good as SIP’s first gardenia perfume, Lady Day, which had to be discontinued because of the disappearance of a crucial raw material.

Creed Fleurs de Gardenia – apparently not a realistic gardenia, more a mixed floral.

Evyan White Shoulders – Like the Tuvache and the Jovan gardenias, this one used to be rich and lush and overwhelmingly narcotic, and easily bought in a drugstore. I remember it very well from church! (What else did church ladies wear? Youth Dew, of course, which is an entirely different story.) These days it’s made by Parfums International – whoops, no, Elizabeth Arden bought P. Intl. As you might guess, it’s only a shadow of its former self. Sad. Fortunately, you can still find Evyan-produced vintage bottles on eBay for not a lotta cash.

Parfumerie Generale Gardenia Grand Soir – Everyone I know was disappointed in this one’s being so ladylike and not very gardenia-y, by which I suppose we mean, well, ladylike. Gardenias are not ladylike. Gardenia screams “sexy” to me far more than tuberose ever does. Anyway, some people find a bunch of blackcurrant in this one, which I admit intrigues me. I love blackcurrant.

Aerin Lauder Gardenia Rattan – Reportedly, another “delicate” and office-friendly gardenia scent, which probably means that it isn’t gardenia-ish at all.

Parfums MDCI Nuit Andalouse – gardenia, jasmine, and orange blossom. A really lovely white-floral blend that reminds me somewhat of the original Marc Jacobs. Of course on me the orange blossom takes over, but that’s okay because it doesn’t go soapy.

VC&A Collection Extraordinaire Gardenia Petale – another I haven’t smelled; it’s reportedly one on the ladylike side.

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