Oriza L. Legrand samples

I was going to do my usual history-in-brief, but I think I’ll just link to the Fragrantica info on this perfume house, and get straight on to the frag reviews. My sample set came with seven scents, really nice sturdy 2ml sealed glass spray vials, and then I managed to scrounge up a couple more in the standard decant service 1ml dabber vials. Deep breath. Okay, I’ll start with the ones I didn’t hate and proceed from there.

Small historic church interiorReve D’Ossian – The name makes reference to Ossian, the purported author of a cycle of epic poems in Gaelic (really the 18th-century work of James MacPherson), and the notes are aldehydes, incense, pine, cinnamon, benzoin, elemi, tonka, guaiac wood, opoponax, balsamic notes, sandalwood, leather, labdanum and musk. Longtime readers will look at that list and think, Okay, Mals is gonna definitely hate this. I thought I would, too. I don’t. It might be my favorite of the nine I tried – not that I’m jonesing for a larger amount of it, but I enjoyed wearing it. It does that cool-and-meditative thing that incense does, and when it softens into the basenotes it gets comforting. Not ground-breaking, quite linear, but it holds a feeling of quiet, expansive equanimity for me.

Heliotrope Blanc – I’m iffy on heliotrope, too. (Never once has perfumery heliotrope ever smelled like the plants I had growing in the front flower bed – those smell like jelly doughnuts! – but often will go very powdery or Play-doh-y.) This one is powdery, but pleasant nonetheless. Did I love it? Nope. Notes are orange blossom, heliotrope, violet leaf, almond, mimosa, iris, musk, rice, benzoin and tonka. I tested this on one wrist, with Parfums de Nicolai Kiss Me Intense on the other, and KMI was far more to my taste.

Marions-Nous – The silly name means something like “let’s get married,” and of course it is a floral bouquet – with aldehydes, orange blossom, hyacinth, rose, carnation, ylang, iris, jasmine, cloves, tonka, civet, musk, and sandalwood. The preponderance of orange blossom in there pretty much guarantees its resemblance to scented soap to me. I mean, it’s nice soap. Nice soap is better than most of the rest of this fragrance line, IMHO.

Relique d’Amour – okay, I didn’t hate this one either, though I didn’t mind it. It’s faint lilies, incense and a cold stone effect, but there’s also a hint of old vasewater and celery in there too. Official notes include: fresh herbs, pine, white lily, powdery notes, pepper, oak, incense, myrrh, elemi, musk, moss, waxed wood. I wished to pick up the “waxed woods” note, but didn’t find it.

From here it gets much, much worse. #sorrynotsorry

Oeillet Louis XV – Y’all know I love carnations, except when they go bitter-soapy. This one is bitter, soapy, AND powdery, on top of cloying honey sweetness, and I really hated it. Official notes are carnation, pink pepper, mandarin, honey, white orchid, iris, rose, clove, rice powder, musk, woody notes. The topnotes are okay, and from there it keeps devolving further into OMG why did I put this on my skin? gedditoffme.

marcy_borders_c0-17-640-390_s885x516Jardins d’Armide – I suppose it’s not all that weird that a company that used to make scented wig powder should feature powder in its modern creations, but this thing is OTT powdery. We are talking baby-powder BOMB, people. It starts off promisingly enough – I get the heliotrope right off the bat, and there’s a nice rose-violet, and then five minutes later I’m blinking from a Dumpster’s worth of powder. Remember the picture of that lady who was covered in dust after the World Trade Center bombings, and who died of cancer last year? (Prayers for her family.) That’s how I feel wearing J d’A. Official notes are rose, powdery notes, orange blossom, orris root, violet, carnation, wisteria, honey, almond, tonka bean and musk.

oh heck noHorizon – I didn’t expect to like this “oriental fougere”, and I sure didn’t. Petitgrain, tangerine, marmalade, rose, cognac, amber, tobacco leaf, cacao, almond, oak, patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, white tobacco, vanilla, honey, leather and peat.  Sounds great, right? But on my skin, it’s a big ol’ slug of patchouli and sweated-out booze, and it smells like poor judgment – not just no, OH HE** NO.

Forest StagChypre Mousse – this is the reason I bought the sample set. I blame Kafka for this one; she is my Mostly Evil Scent Twin, but every now and then we have congruent tastes. I was expecting something like vintage Coty Chypre, or even original Miss Dior (which is an acquired taste, to be sure): green notes, moss, woody notes, and labdanum, a veritable Bambi’s Forest right there on my wrist.

No.

garbage forestInstead, I got this pile of garbage right in the middle of said forest. Yes to moss and a hint of galbanum, but also tons of dirt and garbage atop it, with the sour fizz of rot over all. It gives me enormous stonking headaches every time I try it, and terrible nausea. Every member of my family recoiled from me with horrified expressions, so it wasn’t just my sniffer. Sprayed on paper, I pick up fleeting impressions of various woodsy things – wet fern, mushroom, raw chestnut, something sweet like pipe tobacco, and was that mint? – amid the overall greenness. On my skin? Awful. Indescribably awful. A decomposing mess.

But the worst disappointment for me was Deja le Printemps. Described as a gentle green floral, it seemed like the one most up my alley, and I didn’t check the notes list (mint, orange blossom, chamomile, fig leaves, clover, mown grass, lily of the valley, galbanum, musk, vetiver, cedar, moss) before trying it on skin. You saw it in the list, right? It’s there. I should have known: those blasted fig leaves.

It looks so innocuous, doesn't it? NOT.
It looks so innocuous, doesn’t it? NOT.

I’ve never experienced live fig trees or eaten fresh figs (I love the dried ones, which are the only ones you can get in this temperate zone), so I do wonder how I’d react to this bitter, acrid green scent in the wild, so to speak. I don’t usually mind sour, pungent notes like blackcurrant or grapefruit – but fig leaf just does me in. I hate it. I could not wait to get Deja le Printemps off my skin. I stuck it out for two hours, and then just could not stand it any more. The galbanum in this thing was pretty and soft, and everything else just lovely, but that (@*% FIG LEAF… I’m still mad about it.

Oriza L. Legrand’s range includes sixteen fragrances; I tried nine. I might be interested in giving Muguet Fleuri a go, and I wouldn’t turn down a shot at Violettes du Czar either, if I didn’t have to buy it. I don’t know how different Royal Oeillet is from the earlier rendition of Louis XV or whether to bother with it. However, I have zero interest in Villa Lympia, Vetiver Royal Bourbon, Foin Fraichement Coupe (perfumery hay absolutely never smells like hay to me) or Cuir l’Aigle Russe.

I am now sending my Oriza samples off to a new home, where I hope they’ll be welcome. How have you done with this house? Like it, love it, hate it?

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Rose Week #1, spring 2016

mycityflower pink roseThe Now Smell This Friday project is “wear a rose perfume.” I’ve taken the opportunity to make this a rose week. ROSE WEEK YAY!

If I’m being truthful, I probably have enough samples of rose perfumes that I could do a Rose Month. Maybe two months. 😳 And yes, rose perfumes come in many moods, so I could run the gamut from vampy, Gothy dark roses to fresh-cheeked sweet roses, to rose chypres and rose gourmands and woody roses and citrus roses and fruity roses and incense roses and…

Okay, you get the idea. In any case, what I’m longing for now is the gentle, uncomplicated ones, the ones that “feel pink” on my skin and just make me smile. I didn’t even have to dig very far to find several gentle pinkies. Here’s what I wore this week:

My bottle of Petite Cherie looks like this, all lovely celadon green frosted glass.Monday, April 12Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, edt. This is very definitely a fruity rose, and rather simple, which isn’t odd considering that it was created for Annick Goutal’s young daughters. It’s cut grass, pear, peach, rose, vanilla and musk. I never smell peach in it – or vanilla, for that matter. Instead, it’s pear, cucumber, and rose, and it evokes a sweet childhood memory for me, so that I find it extremely comforting. There was a time when Gaze used to ask me to spritz it on the hem of his sleep shirt… (why do they have to grow up? sigh.) My bottle is the pale celadon-green frosted glass one, 25ml, and I keep it in the fridge since it’s so well-known for going off; it’s now seven years old and smells just fine.

paris YSLTuesday, April 13Yves St. Laurent Paris vintage parfum. I bought this mini recently on ebay and am utterly floored by it. It’s like rose liqueur – heady, intense, very beautiful. Not that I’ve tasted rose liqueur, but I’m sure it exists. (It does, I just looked it up. Pretty sure they don’t sell it at my local ABC store. They do sell moonshine there, though!) Man, if you sprayed the parfum on, you’d radiate for three city blocks. Not that that would be a bad thing.

roses and peoniesWednesday, April 14Parfums MDCI Rose de Siwa. I can’t help sighing in pleasure over it, because it is just the pinkest, prettiest, un-Barbie-est floral ever. If you hate it, you probably hate kittens and babies and flowers, and I’m not sure I wanna be friends with you.

(Just kidding.)

Thursday, April – Testing Parfums de Nicolai Rose Pivoine… and I don’t like it. Not enough peony, too much geranium for my personal taste. Once that wore off, I tested Ann Gerard Rose Cut, which I cannot now make up my mind whether I like or not. I did love the first hour of it – a gorgeously jammy rose, with a hint of patchouli and just a tad of vanilla. From there it got more and more oriental-balsamy, and by the end I was just waaaaaiting for it to wear off.

creme de la cremeFriday, April 15Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete. Okay, I admit it – for all my yarking on about pink roses, the yellow ones are really my favorite. Rose d’Ete smells like yellow roses – a soft hint of apple, and a gentle powdery rose that makes me feel joyous. I think this one might have been THE first niche fragrance I ever bought, and I still love it.

I found so many rose perfume samples in my stash that I’ll be sure to do another Rose Week soon! This was fun.

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Violet, you’re turning violet, Violet!

This image, from Wikimedia Commons, makes me think of the Prince lyric, "An ocean of violets in bloom" (from "When Doves Cry").
This image, from Wikimedia Commons, makes me think of the Prince lyric, “An ocean of violets in bloom” (from “When Doves Cry”).

I already did a post, five years ago, on violet fragrances (The Big Violet List, November 2010). But here I am wearing violets again, so I thought I’d revisit the topic. (And yes, I still hate purple. Don’t let’s dwell, ‘kay?)

Miss Piggy with Carol Channing. Probably from The Muppet Show; I don't remember this episode, but I bet it was an inspired duet.
Miss Piggy with Carol Channing, singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” on The Muppet Show, 1980.

Just for fun, here’s a three-second “Violet” clip from 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”  I was always troubled by that movie’s divergence from the book, when the book was perfectly excellent as it was! However, I loved Gene Wilder. And I loved Veruca Salt’s paean to hedonistic selfishness, “I Want It Now,” with its delightful, horrible lyric, “I want a party with roomfuls of laughter/Ten thousand tons of ice cream/And if I don’t get the things I am after/ I’m . . . going . . . to . . . scream!” (Taz can sing the heck outta that, btw.)

If you're telling me you don't see it, you should maybe get your eyes checked, stat.
If you’re telling me you don’t see it, you should maybe get your eyes checked. I mean, stat. Eerie. They eyebrows are not helping.

The 2005 Tim Burton version with Johnny Depp was equally disturbing, but for different reasons — one of which was Depp’s appearance as the love child of Carol Channing and Michael Jackson. Ugh, it’s still creeping me out. Let’s just not talk about it, hmm? Let’s just all go read the book instead.)

Back to lovely springy violets. I’m still wearing the ones I loved in 2010, but there are a few more I’ll bring to your attention. Violets are perennial, so there are changes in the violet frag-scape all the time. Guerlain’s gorgeous violet/rose/ambreine Attrape-Coeur (or Guet-Apens, or Vol de Nuit Evasion, as it was tweaked and rereleased) is gone. Alexander McQueen’s My Queen, too.

Tom Ford Black Violet hit my radar and then disappeared within that timeframe, too. But not without my seizing one of those adorable 4ml mini bottles on ebay, despite its being what Patty at Perfume Posse called “a scary violet clown” in her long discussion of violet frags (link at the end of this post). Yeah, it’s weird, and yeah, wearing it is like forcing myself to look over the edge of the balcony at the ground sixty feet below, or like watching the disturbing but sweet “Edward Scissorhands.” (There’s another Burton/Depp collaboration for you.)  But there are days I crave it.

Balenciaga Le Dix has been gone for some time; so has Houbigant Demi-Jour and Diane von Furstenberg Volcan d’Amour. I’m not going to talk about the reformulations of Caron Violette Precieuse or L’Artisan Verte Violette  (neither of which I liked). I can’t bear to talk about the less-violet, less-heliotrope, more-iris post-2011 refo version of Guerlain Apres l’Ondee (it was basically perfect; now it’s not).

violetI won’t completely rehash The Big Violet List post – it’s easy enough to click through to read it. Here are some new ones, as well as a few I didn’t mention before :
Mona d’Orio Violette Fumee – violets and tobacco.
Van Cleef & Arpels Feerie – reportedly, a fruity violet.
DSH Perfumes La Danse des Bleus et des Violettes and Giverny in Bloom – I haven’t tried the blues-and-violets, but Giverny in Bloom is a lovely galbanum smack followed by some noticeable violet and vetiver, with too many other notes to name. Reminded me just a tad of Jolie Madame (which I love).
Imaginary Authors Violet Disguise – a plummy, dried-fruity, balsamy violet, which does not sound like my sort of thing at all.
Smell Bent Violet Tendencies – leather and violet leaf.
Giorgio Armani Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste – I have a ‘fume friend who calls this one “Grape Slushee on my suede boots.”
Balenciaga Paris – citrus, violet leaf, half a violet petal, and lots of sawdust. Nice, but dull if you ask me.
Lolita Lempicka – I can’t believe I forgot to mention this little gem, green and licorice and violet and vanilla. I first tried it in Rome and have found it delightful every time I’ve tried it since, but I still don’t feel the need to own more than a sample or two.
Tom Ford Violet Blonde – The baby-aspirin/Tang-dust chemical-orange note up top pretty much ruined this one for me, but it’s violet leaf, pepper, jasmine, iris, and some woody suede. I don’t remember much actual violet in it. Do Not Want.
Serge Lutens De Profundis – I still (still!) haven’t tried this, since Oncle Serge is not my bon ami. Also, I am wary of the chrysanthemum.
Histoires de Parfum Blanc Violette – violet, a particularly vicious violet leaf, and powdery white musk. Ehhh.
Parfums d’Empire Equistrius – powdery violet iris.
LUSH/Gorilla Kerbside Violet – violet, jasmine, woody notes.

You can find other violet lists at Perfume Posse and The Non-Blonde, as well as The Candy Perfume Boy and Blogdorf Goodman (share if you’ve found other helpful lists, too).

I’m still wearing Penhaligon’s Violetta and vintage Balmain Jolie Madame parfum, as well as YSL Paris. Now and then I have delusions of hunting up a bottle of CdG Stephen Jones, that weird but fascinating violets-blooming-on-black-lava-rock thing, since my sample is long gone.

What are your favorite violets, if you like them?

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Presidents Versus Dictators

Interesting conversations happen at my dinner table.

The other night, The CEO and Gaze and Taz, inspired by the upcoming NCAA  basketball tournament, put together a Dream Team of US Presidents for a pick-up basketball game against the World Dictators All-Stars.

Here’s The CEO to describe their plan:

The rules: Presidents and Dictators are chosen based on their peak physical condition. Dictators were chosen from a timeframe consistent with the existence of the US Presidency, 1788-present (so don’t look for Julius Caesar, who was reportedly tall).

Here are the lineups:

The American Presidents Dream Team
Starting at point guard, from New York City, speaking softly and carrying a Big Stick… standing at 5’10… wearing number 26…
Theodore “Teddy Bear” Roosevelt
At shooting guard, from Harvard … 6’1… wearing #44…
Barack Obama
At small forward, from the College of William & Mary…6’3… wearing #3…
“Too Tall Tom” Jefferson
At power forward, the General and team captain…His Excellency himself…6’2… wearing #1…
George Washington
And at center… 6’4 without the top hat… from the Illinois Home School League… wearing #16…
“Honest Abe” Lincoln

For the World Dictator All Stars:
At point guard… 5’7… from Russia and parts of Ukraine…
“Bad Vlad” Putin
At shooting guard… 5’8… from Libya,…
“The Desert Rat” Moammar Gadaffi
At small forward… 6’3… from Zaire…
“The Rumble from the Jungle” Mobutu Sese Seko
At power forward… 6’4… from Cuba…
Fidel “I Can’t Gitmo Satisfaction” Castro
At center… 6’4″… ‘The Ugandan Nightmare’…
Idi Amin

Here is some commentary about the players and the match-ups at each position:

At the point guard position, this looks like a great match-up for the fans to watch.

TR cowboy

putin

 

 

 

 

 

The always energetic Teddy Roosevelt will push the ball up the court for the Americans looking for fast break opportunities. The Russian strongman Putin, while the shortest of the dictators, is their most physically imposing. We’ll see if Teddy can dribble with one hand while carrying his Big Stick or if Bad Vlad will take over the backcourt like he took over the Crimea.

(Photo credit EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

libya-young1The shooting guard should be the Americans’ strongest scoring position with Barack Obama the Presidents’ best pure shooter. His biggest weakness is that he only shoots from the Far Left Wing. He’s matched up against the always elusive Gadaffi who gets open for his jump shots by using his well-honed nomadic skills developed from years of living in tents in the Sahara dodging missile strikes.

 

Thomas-Jefferson-Quote-Youngg20110215-mobutuinaugOn the front line, at small forward, an intriguing match-up pits the author of the Declaration of Independence against the man who created kleptocracy: theft as the fundamental purpose of government. Will Jefferson get the freedom he needs to hit some open jump shots or will Mobutu steal the show at the small forward position the way he stole most of his country’s mineral wealth? We hold these truths to be self-evident: if Jefferson can’t post up against Mobutu it’s going to be a tough night for the Americans.

Peale_GeorgeWashingtoncastroAt power forward it doesn’t get any more powerful than George Washington, the Father of our Country, taking on Fidel Castro, the last hold-out of Communism (well, the last one with any height, anyway. We were going to start the North Korean guy here, whatever his name is, but he’s just too short and fat). Washington stands head and shoulders above any other American President, but at 6’2 he’s giving up 2 inches in height against the 6’4 Father of the Cuban Revolution. But we don’t expect Washington to give up an inch of ground in the paint where this battle will be fought. After all, this is the guy who taught the world that Americans will cross an icy river to kill our enemies in their sleep on Christmas morning. Washington will have to be aggressive, but he also has to play smart against the cunning Cuban Commie. He doesn’t want to be first in war, first in peace, and first to the bench with three fouls in the first half.

Abe youngidi aminCenter looks like the toughest match-up for the Americans with the Great Emancipator, Abe Lincoln against the Ugandan Nightmare, Idi Amin. While they both come in at 6’4, the concern is whether the long-armed, lanky Lincoln can use his enormous wingspan to counter the much heavier and bulkier Ugandan dictator and former boxing champ. Neither of these guys is a natural scoring threat, so the battle down-low will be more about defensive positioning, blocking shots, and rebounding. Lincoln’s got his hands full here. If Amin is enough of a monster to eat the carcasses of his dead enemies he’s going to be a monster to stop on the boards, too.

If Lincoln gets into foul trouble trying to curtail the self-proclaimed Last King of Scotland, then Coach Eisenhower has another problem with his depleted bench at this position. The next tallest option is 6’2 Andrew Jackson, but his minutes will be limited due to injury. He still has a bullet lodged near his lung from a duel with the man who was supposedly Jackson’s wife’s ex-husband but who says he never divorced her. So, while Jackson was our seventh President, he was the first whose relationship status was “It’s Complicated.” And it’s going to affect his playing time.

Initially Ulysses S. Grant was going to back up Lincoln here, just as he bailed Lincoln out from Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War. We thought “Unconditional Surrender” Grant might force Idi Amin into submission in the paint the way he did to the Confederates at Vicksburg, but Grant’s continuing struggles with alcoholism have led to him being suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

The Americans are coached by President and former General of the Allied Forces in World War II, Dwight Eisenhower. We like Ike as coach. Anyone who could plan D-Day can design an offense that can score points in the paint and stop the Dictators’ pick and roll with a collapsing zone defense.

The Dictators were initially going to be coached by Adolf Hitler, making this a rematch of the Normandy Invasion against Eisenhower, but even among the Dictators nobody could stand to be around this son of a [gun] so they sent him back to his bunker and hired Vladimir Lenin. Actually, they didn’t really hire Lenin, he just kind of sneaked in on a train from Germany and took over.

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Hyacinths

blue and white hyacinths

It’s that time again. It’s spring, and I’m craving spring florals bursting up out of the wet ground. Narcissus, hyacinth, tulip, I want ’em all – in bloom, and in my perfumes.

Hyacinth in perfumery often seems to take one of two tacks: either spicy floral, or chilly metallic. I have a definite preference, and frequently find that fragrances which are supposed to be “hyacinth” don’t smell anything like the real flower to me. (Looking at you, Bas de Soie.)

I love hyacinths in bloom, however, even with that hint of decay they give off along with their greenness and their spicy aspect.

Fragrances with a hyacinth note to consider:

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie – Oncle Serge’s list of notes, always brief, includes galbanum, hyacinth, iris, spicy notes and musk. Unfortunately for me, Bas de Soie comes off as all metal. I tried twice, but wearing it was like chewing tinfoil. (I shudder to remember it.)
Eric Buterbaugh Apollo Hyacinth – I could wish for a tiny, tiny bit more floral stuff, but this is green and stemmy to a perfect degree, with no metal. Gorgeous.
Tom Ford Ombre de Hyacinth – Another icy metallic one. Notes are galbanum, hyacinth, cloves, incense, and benzoin, and I should have loved it. I don’t. I might have liked it better had it been named “Ombre Argent,” but then again, maybe not.
Guy Bouchara Theosiris Classique – Described as a green floral with hyacinth and narcissus. I’m intrigued enough to be watching it on eBay.
Penhaligon’s Bluebell – Five minutes of beautiful green/spicy floral, followed by Gigantic Chemical Spill. Double no.
1000 Flowers Fleur No. 1 – green notes, galbanum, narcissus, hyacinth, iris, magnolia and violet. How can I turn that down? (Well, actually, I’ll tell you how: I can’t get a sample from this Canadian company. Would love to try it, though.)
Union Gothic Bluebell – notes include hyacinth, narcissus, violet leaf, ivy, oak and bellflower. (Do bellflowers have a smell? The ones I’ve grown don’t.) See my note on Fleur No. 1 as to why I haven’t tried this one, except that this is a British company rather than a Canadian one.
Annick Goutal Grand Amour – another hyacinth-floral mix, this time with a deep, sweet ambery base. I think it’s nice, but I don’t love it and I don’t know why not.
Gucci Envy (discontinued) – another supposed green floral with hyacinth and lily of the valley, that instead smells of aluminum foil.
Kenzo Parfum d’Ete – the newer version (smooth leaf bottle) is probably more hyacinth-and-green-leaves than the old (upright veined leaf bottle), which has a more strongly floral cast and centers more on lily of the valley. Both are nice.
DSH Perfumes Jacinthe de Sapphir – gorgeous spicy hyacinth, not green at all, with orange blossom and jasmine over a deep balsamic base. Loved the hyacinth, couldn’t deal with the Youth Dew balsams.
CB I Hate Perfume To See a Flower – this is the wet spring dirt accord from CHIHP’s Black March, along with green notes, hyacinth and narcissus. I love the smell of this, but I can’t wear it. It makes me cry.
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise – Not really hyacinth-centered, but it’s there amid the galbanum, iris, rose and musk. Gorgeous.
Guerlain Chamade – Again, I don’t find this one centered around hyacinth. It makes the list because it is beautiful all the way through.
E. Coudray Jacinthe et Rose – Rose and hyacinth, pretty much, with a touch of peach and a bit of green over musk. It reminds me of a shower gel I owned and loved in college (named, inventively, Peach Rose Hyacinth, though I can’t remember the company name). It’s simple, but very very pretty.
Ralph Lauren Safari – Safari is pretty busy, actually, jam-packed with notes. Galbanum, marigold, hay, woods and benzoin are prominent to my nose, but the hyacinth is in there.
Smell Bent Florist’s Fridge – with a name like that, I expected (and wanted) a bit of rose in there with the other florals, including hyacinth. Layer it with a fresh rose fragrance (like Diptyque Eau Rose, or any of the YSL Paris Printemps editions) to get that feeling of sticking your head into the chiller and picking out your own bouquet. I can’t be the only one who loves that, right?
Henry Dunay Sabi (discontinued) – green spring floral (hyacinth, narcissus) with lots of vetiver. Nice. Bottles pop up on ebay for $200 and up, from time to time, but you’ll have to fight its aficionados to the death to snag one.
Thierry Mugler Les Exceptions Supra Floral – hyacinth over amber and oud. The heavy basenotes have scared me off testing this one (well, that and the fact that this was an LE). Could be good, though.
Paco Rabanne Métal (discontinued) – another green floral with hyacinth. I suspect that it is fully as metallic as its name, so I haven’t tried it.
Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet (discontinued) – I’ve raved about this one before: big wet slap of marigolds and galbanum, then quiet white flowers and hyacinth. Beautiful. Curse you for killing it, Clive Christian.

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Tuberose Series 18: Fracas

It would be pointless to review tuberose scents and leave out The Queen of Them All: Robert Piguet Fracas, of course. It would likewise be pointless to refuse to review it just because everyone else has reviewed it.

fracas adA brief history: Created in 1948 by perfumer Germaine Cellier for designer Robert Piguet, Fracas was designed as the pinkest, girliest, swooniest Big White Floral ever. It’s The One BWF to rule them all, if you will. Piguet’s fashion house closed in the 1950s, and its fragrance arm folded some time in the 1970s-’80s (a shame, really – Cellier’s gigantic floral and its butchy leather counterpart Bandit would have fit perfectly into the ’80s More Is More zeitgeist), and then the name was sold to a company called Arpel in the mid-1990s. The Piguet fragrance business was revived in 1998, with perfumer Aurelien Guichard reportedly responsible for the reorchestrations of most of the classic Piguet fragrances, from Fracas and Bandit to Calypso and Baghari.

It was the 1980s which saw restaurants banning the use of scents such as Giorgio Beverly Hills, or more correctly the overuse of that decade’s popular go-big-or-go-home bludgeoners, but Fracas is also one of those big, and I mean B I G, fragrances that can clear a room. Or a concert hall. (Or a football stadium, for that matter.) Ergo, everybody has an opinion on Fracas, and it largely depends on whether you like big white florals or not. I do!

I’m always surprised to see Fracas referred to as being THE tuberose perfume, because it isn’t just tuberose. There’s a big slug of creamy-soapy orange blossom in there, too, and jasmine and lily of the valley and half a dozen other florals, plus peach and moss and woody notes. It is, in fact, symphonic and baroque and dramatic densely constructed. I tend to see it in my mind as being one of those gigantic ball gowns one saw in the mid-1950s, made of iridescent flamingo-pink satin, with layers of ruffles. (The dress in the Piguet ad at the top of the page is far more streamlined than the one in my mind.) It’s so femme as to be almost ironic, and you will either find it intoxicating or ridiculously over-the-top.

tubeyFracas wasn’t the first tuberose-centric fragrance released (that would be Le Galion Tubereuse, created by Paul Vacher and released in either 1937 or ’39 – see Grain de Musc’s post here), but Fracas was an immediate commercial success. It has always been iconic and instantly recognizable, worn by countless women and inspiring just about every tuberose fragrance since.

I have only tested the modern eau de parfum, though I’m quite sure I smelled the old version on other people when I was a child – when I first tested my sample, it was familiar to me in a lovely way. On me, Fracas opens with a beautifully green, fresh tuberose. Hyacinth and a very crisp green menthol are noticeable, but I never get the citrus. Gradually the green notes tone down, and the white florals become very creamy and buttery. The orange blossom is very noticeable to me. Occasionally I get a whiff of jasmine and gardenia, and occasionally a tiny hit of violet. The basenotes are far less distinct than the florals, to my nose, but they are pleasant. The drydown is lovely, a sweet white-floral woody musk that smells like clean skin and goes on for hours and hours.

Sometimes when I wear Fracas, the orange blossom comes to the fore very quickly and the whole thing smells like cold cream. Other times, the tuberose stays front and center, but the orange blossom always shows up for me no matter what. This aspect is probably why I don’t adore Fracas. I like it, I almost love it – but that soapy, creamy orange blossom interferes to a degree that precludes my personal adoration. Still, it is amazing and there is nothing else quite like it. If you like tuberose, or BWFs at all, you simply must, must try it.

For further reading (see whuttimean about everybody reviewing it?): Robin at Now Smell This, Kafkaesque, Yesterday’s Perfume, Bois de Jasmin, The Candy Perfume Boy, Perfume Shrine, Marina at Perfume-Smellin’ Things and Donna at the same blog, just for starters.

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Scent Diary, Feb. 22-28, 2016

leather

 

It’s Leather Week!

And I’m sorry for the posting delay… I got locked out of the site and it took some days to reset everything, yada yada, so I’m late posting last week’s Diary.

Monday, Feb. 22 – Wet, cold and icky. I wouldn’t mind the precipitation if it were snow, but it’s rain. Very messy. Snowflake doesn’t seem to mind the wet (well, he’s got plenty of hay to lie on inside the stock trailer), but I think he’s lonely.

SOTD is, in conjunction with Leather Week at Now Smell This, Balmain Jolie Madame in extrait. Vintage extrait, of course, because they don’t make it anymore. I love this stuff.

Gaze did not go to the MACC match this evening; instead, he went to track practice and FFA public speaking practice. Taz went to the match, however, and he reported that the Social Studies team apparently relies on Gaze too much to answer questions – they lost. Boo.

Tuesday, Feb. 24 – Rain. Again. When you walk on the grass, water rises up around your feet.  SOTD was Ann Gerard Cuir de Nacre, very pretty glove leather with irisy florals. (I’m stocked up on Cuir de Lancome, though, and not sure why I should bother with any other leathers until it’s all gone.)

Still revising. Gah.

Wednesday, Feb. 25 – Mucky rain, bleargh ick ugh. It rained absolute buckets before lunch, so I was surprised to look out and see sunshine in the afternoon.

SOTD is Cuir de Lancome, and I got my car inspected and its oil changed this afternoon. This just in: Cuir de Lancome is really, really good.

Thursday, Feb. 26 – Chilly again. Wearing Tom Ford Tuscan Leather, from my teeny decant. This is such a comfortable leather scent – very gentleman’s-club (and I mean the English-gentleman type, not a strip club!).

Took Gaze to the eye doctor for his annual checkup… and surprise! His vision has actually improved since last year. In fact, it’s improved to the point that his corrected vision is 20/20 in the right eye, and 20/30 in the left. That’s within the acceptable standards for all three service academies. He wouldn’t be able to be a pilot (that requires perfect uncorrected vision), but I don’t think that’s his aim anyway. He’s very pleased.

Friday, Feb. 27Cuir de Lancome again. Not sorry. The only time I’ve been sorry I picked CdL was when I wore it to a community chorus concert when I was singing. It was spring, and the church hosting the concert had neglected to turn on its air conditioning, and all the windows were shut. It was quite, quite toasty at the front under the lights, shall we say, and even a light application of CdL was too much in close quarters.

Went to see a production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” at the high school. I hadn’t seen it in years, and had actually forgotten the plot. (I’ve read every Christie mystery at least once, and most of them numerous times, but not the plays. I’ve also seen “Witness for the Prosecution” once, but I think that’s a more complex plot.) The students did a lovely job with it.

Saturday, Feb. 28 – Warmish outside, very windy. I find these warm days in calendar-winter very disconcerting – and I haaaaated that warm December we had. Just hated it. I’m not getting good wear out of my heavier, cold-weather scents, and I can sense that I’m about to be ready for florals soon. SOTD was Safari, which works very well in this transitional weather.

Snowflake after a month of TLC and six pints of milk a day. He's really grown.
Snowflake after a month of TLC and six pints of milk a day. He’s really grown.

Snowflake went to the livestock market today. He’d already finished two bags of lamb milk substitute powder (at $20 a pop, yet!) and we’d started giving him calf milk replacer because we had that on hand. In any case, Gaze felt that it was time, and things went well: he brought $85 and went to a family from West Virginia who wanted a 4H show lamb for their kid. He’ll probably continue to get spoiled.

Sunday, Feb. 29 – Another warm day. Everybody at church was talking about how nice it was, and I kept my mouth shut. Thumper rule, Thumper rule. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. Ah, Plum, I’ve missed you.

 

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Random Stuff, Feb. 15-22

contemplationThe ground is soggy from rain and snowmelt. Every time I go outside, my feet get wet inside my shoes – it’s like stepping onto wet sponges. Wish it would either get cold or stop precipitating, one or the other!

Gaze went to the regional indoor track meet and did better than he’d expected but did not qualify for the state meet.

Snowflake the lamb has been moved out to the stock trailer which is parked right next to the farm shop. I was getting terribly tired of the mess on my laundry room carpet. It’s too soggy to take the carpet out and wash it (it’s indoor-outdoor carpeting and can be cleaned with a hose) – it would never dry.

I’ve been all over the place with fragrances this week – Alahine, Chanel No. 19 EdT, Tableau de Parfums Miriam, Parfum Sacre, Iris Poudre, Daisy, Safari, and probably a couple of other ones I’m forgetting now. Also tested a few new things, too.

On Thursday I went by the good grocery store (ahem, the expensive grocery store). While I was there, I picked up a bouquet of pink tulips and white hyacinths, and my house smells wonderful. I need some more hyacinths.

You know, I am often disappointed in so-called hyacinth fragrances, because they can so often turn metallic and icy. Serge Lutens Bas de Soie, Penhaligons Bluebell, Tom Ford Ombre de Hyacinth, Gucci Envy, all just awfulawfulawful, fake blooms made out of cut aluminum. No fresh-cut, juicy green stems, none of the clove-y spice that I often smell in hyacinth blossoms, just ice and metal. That Eric Buterbaugh Apollo Hyacinth is less sweet-floral than the blooms in my vase, but it gets that crunchy-stem thing just right. Chamade is supposedly hyacinth,  but I barely notice the note amongst the galbanum, rose, jasmine, and mimosa. Smell Bent Florist’s Fridge has a lot of the green and spicy aspects of hyacinth. E. Coudray Jacinthe et Rose is the floral-green version of hyacinth, mixed with rose and peach, and it is really lovely.

Am revising The Long Road Home very heavily. I did some plot analysis and found that I actually have too much material – but also that if I split it roughly in half at a strategic point, I could have two books rather than one!

We won’t discuss the bloated original version, mmkay?

So that’s the plan. I am currently writing a couple of fill-in chapters since its themes have changed a bit from the original. I’m kinda crazy right now. Mwah, y’all, Scent Diary will be back next week and I hope to get some Mini-Reviews up soon too.

 

 

 

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The Five-Stars, Pt. 2 – According To Me

61_1_blue-ribbon-perfect-logoOkay, my turn to give out the Best in Show blue ribbons.

It’s almost a guarantee that I’ll leave something out. It’s just going to happen; I already know it’s going to happen. Oh well. But here goes.

I do have some overlap with the P:TG five-stars. There are a few on my list that received short shrift from the Guide authors. Some weren’t reviewed at all; they were not in production at the time of writing (either discontinued, or not yet released), or they were available only from indie perfumers and not widely available.

I’ll point out here that “best” does not necessarily mean “favorite.” I’ve commented before that I can find something admirable without really loving it. Conversely, I can love something all to little-bitty pieces without needing to say it’s the best evarrr.  My favorite Beatles song, for example, is and will always be “Here Comes the Sun,” but I wouldn’t say it was the best musically. Or lyrically. Or most representative, most distinctive, most necessary to the history of Western music. In fact, I could make a pretty good case that the best-of-the-Beatles wouldn’t include it. I’ll try to keep those strictly-personal favorites off the list.

What’s on the list will be fragrances I think are distinctive, have a defined character, have endured, are classics, and can transport the wearer. Feel free to argue that I left something off, or included something unworthy… it’s my list, not THE list. 🙂 Items in red were not given five stars in P:TG, just by me.

Chanel No. 5 parfum and eau de toilette – like the Parthenon in a shade of creamy gold, amazing stuff, proportions just right. The EdP has something in it that raises my hackles; don’t know what it is but I wind up scrubbing an hour in, every time I try it.

Chanel No. 19 – forget that “wire mother” nonsense and see 19 for the Amazonian earth-witch that she is. Plenty of backbone, yes – lack of heart, no.

Dior Eau Sauvage – Remington Steele in a bottle. ‘Nuff said.

Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower – Robbed of a deserved star in The Guide, IMO. I suspect that someone felt it’s too copycat or perhaps not groundbreaking enough, or isn’t as good as Fracas. Bosh, I say. Fracas is amazing, and so is Carnal Flower, in a lastingly-fresh and green vein rather than the boudoiresque Fracas. It has plenty of personality and lasts for hours.

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel – Jimmy Stewart in a bottle, ’nuff said.

Guerlain Apres l’Ondee – Impressionist perfection in periwinkle, blue and lavender shades. There’s nothing else like it.

Guerlain Chamade – like falling in love with someone you hardly noticed when you first met.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue – One of a handful of classic Guerlain masterpieces I don’t personally love.

Guerlain Mitsouko – an autumn symphony. Another Guerlain masterpiece I don’t love.

Guerlain Shalimar – see L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko.

Jean Patou Joy parfum – if No. 5 is the Parthenon, Joy is the beautiful woman who just completed a tryst with her lover inside it. Raunchy, but gorgeous.

Neela Vermeire Trayee – All three of the first releases from Neela Vermeire (which came into existence in 2011) are wonderful, striking, and distinctive, but Trayee is as mesmerizing as staring at a burning candle.

Parfums de Nicolaï Odalisque – that elusive thing, an irisy floral chypre that doesn’t seem bent on slipping a shiv between your ribs.

Parfums MDCI Enlèvement au Sérail – see Joy.

Parfums MDCI Promesse de l’Aube – as lovely as the dawn in its name.

Parfums MDCI Rose de Siwa – a straight-up rose/peony bouquet that despite its lack of originality, smells so gorgeous and perfect and enticing that it makes people sigh in sheer happiness. (Suck it, rose haters. Go peddle your “but it smells like a bouquet!” elsewhere, we’re all full up on delight here.)

Robert Piguet Fracas – Fracas is the queen, no doubt about it.

Serge Lutens La Myrrhe – Unmistakable, solid, and glorious. The only Serge that seems to get out of its own way and simply exist in beauty without worrying about its artsy quotient.

Tauer Perfumes L’Air du Désert Marocain – nice. Distinctive, unlike anything else. Doesn’t move me, but it’s great.

Teo Cabanel Alahine – A floral amber of great personality and enough complexity to keep you paying attention to it, while also being comfortable and lovely. (Teo Cabanel started production in 2007, which might have kept it out of The Guide.)

Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl – yeah, yeah, stop complaining about it already. It’s good. It’s absolutely identifiable, and it’s never inappropriate.

I’m going to cheat and add a few fragrances that are no longer in production.

Gucci L’Arte di Gucci – the diva rose chypre in mink, carrying an absolute armful of deep pink roses (Pink Traviata hybrid tea, if I’m being specific to color) and sweeping through the room irrespective of other people in it. Seriously, this thing is Kathleen Battle – definitely temperamental, with a dark streak in her mood, but so gorgeous in the high notes that you almost don’t care. Discontinued sometime in 2006 or -07.

Jacomo Silences – cool, smooth and introspective. Silver-green, blue-purple, rose-pink, and moss-green, the most meditative non-incense fragrance I’ve run across. My preference is for the older parfum de toilette, which is more strongly floral than the most recent eau de toilette version, which is drier and more focused on vetiver, iris and moss. It’s a wishing well in a forest glade, a pair of swans gliding across a glassy lake. Rereleased as Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime in 2013 (nice stuff, smells like it could have been chosen as a No. 19 flanker), and then the original was axed in 2015. Shame.

Jean Patou Vacances – Gorgeous springy green with lilac and hyacinth, as green as it is floral, utterly tender and delicate. Nothing has ever matched it (except maybe Apres l’Ondee). I never smelled the original, only the Ma Collection version released in the 1980s, which was perfect. Reworked into a perfectly nice, dull, lilac-floral-musk in 2015.

Soivohle Centennial – The entire catalog at Soivohle has been revamped in the past year, and this gorgeous recreation of a classic floral chypre disappeared. If Mitsouko was a “perfected Chypre,” this is perfected Mitsouko – no floor wax, no moldy peach, no stabby fingernails, but a seamless and beautiful floral with plenty of backbone and plenty of resinous depth.

Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fete – It was in production during the writing of The Guide. The bottle I bought in 2012, after draining a 1-ounce bottle of the 2007 version, was thinner and more weighted towards the pretty florals, away from the woody-mossy base. Then PdN announced that it would only be available upon request, and I snapped up another bottle of it via Luckyscent, only to find that it had been thinned still further. This version still smells like Le Temps d’une Fete, but wears like an eau fraiche. The original was amazing and gorgeous, unlike anything else. I contacted PdN by email in November of 2015 and asked if this scent was available for purchase, but was told that it had been discontinued. I could have cried.

Ralph Lauren Safari for Women – apparently this went out of production, and then came back in. The current version is thinner, less mossy-ambery and lasts less long, but I think it’s still good; the older version is five stars for sure. This is the warmest green I know, and one of the few commercial fragrances that smells like hay drying in the field, as opposed to earthy, fermented hay in a barn. It’s drying grass, polished wood, and an unsweetened vanilla (well, okay, and a bunch of other things including marigold, rose and jasmine, and moss), and manages to be formal and elegant while staying unfussy, like a pristine white tablecloth.

What overlooked marvel would make your five-star list?

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Scent Diary, Feb. 8-14, 2016

snowflake closeup
Photo by Alexey Kljatov, via Flickr Creative Commons

Monday, Feb. 8 – Cold! I headed out to the grocery store, and on the half-mile drive from the house to the main road, I came across Taz, who had ridden the bus home instead of staying for indoor track practice, because he won’t be going to the conference meet.

This past Friday, Gaze qualified for the conference meet in the 3200M, with a new PR. Unfortunately, he had to skip All-District Band to attend the meet. We didn’t realize until a few days before that the two conflicted; the band director, when he mentioned Districts, used the phrase “the first weekend of February,” and in the past, this two-day clinic and concert event has been held on Saturday and Sunday. This year, however, its location was moved and the dates moved to Friday and Saturday (possibly to avoid a conflict with the Super Bowl on Sunday?) – so no Districts for Gaze. I suppose he can still put on his resume that he was selected for this honor by audition, but he missed out on the learning experience. I’m very glad the meet turned out well for him.

Scent of the Day, in accordance with the weekly challenge at Now Smell This, was the lovely Guerlain Apres l’Ondee. The theme for Friday was announced as “wear a fragrance rated as five stars in Perfumes: The Guide,” and several regular commenters at NST including myself decided to make it a five-star week. Apres l’Ondee is a silk scarf in watercolors of blue, periwinkle and violet, as soft-edged as any Debussy étude or Impressionist painting, with which the scent is contemporary. I had to reapply at least twice for all-day wear, because this soft dewy thing of violets, iris, and heliotrope wears very delicately.

It began to snow and sleet (sneet?) in the evening, and it took The CEO about an hour to get home from Blacksburg, twice as long as normal.

Tuesday, Feb. 9 – Snow day, and The CEO does not teach any Tuesday classes this semester, so everyone was home today. The snow is only about two inches deep on the grass, and none of the roads in my immediate area are covered, but there are pockets in the school district which are difficult for buses to traverse in poor weather.

We built a fire and watched “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” Ate Mexican for supper. I worked on revising The Long Road Home – which needs a new title, in fact, since its focus has changed a great deal in revision.

Photo by Len Langevin, via Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Len Langevin, via Flickr Creative Commons

Scent of the day, in keeping with Five Star Week, is the only Serge Lutens I really adore – La Myrrhe. It always reminds me of a pink-and-gold sunrise on blue-shadowed snow.

Wednesday, Feb. 10 – Quite cold, with temperatures in the low 20s F. These past couple of weeks have been reminding me of my childhood winters in the 1970s! School was two hours late, but Gaze has started going to rowing practice early in the mornings. Taz, who ditched band for drama this year, and I discussed “Little Shop of Horrors,” which he’s never seen, and I’ve promised to rent it for him sometime so we can watch it together. I think his sense of humor would appreciate this show.

I worked on revision again. The scent of the day was once again a P:TG 5-star, Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fête. (Oh, hey, and how about my attempt to use the diacriticals for once?) I love, love, love LTdF. If I absolutely had to choose only one scent to live my life in, I’d be happy in it.

Also wore a dab of Dame Perfumery Narcissus (soliflore) along with it, and they played very nicely together. I only have samples of two of this six soliflore series, but am wishing for all of them. I also wish for samples of all of the Eric Buterbaugh scents, having sampled only the Apollo Hyacinth (which is gorgeous, very green, very long-lasting), but that ain’t gonna happen. The Buterbaugh scents are easily a dozen times the cost of the Dame Perfumery soliflore counterparts.

Thursday, Feb. 11 – Cold and blowing snow this morning; school was delayed two hours. But there’s a MACC (academic team) match this evening anyway.

I struggled to choose a scent for the day, having several options – even if several of them are only in sample size. I finally decided on 31 Rue Cambon, and it was lovely. I reapplied once, and then later at bedtime decided that I wanted to sleep in L’Arte di Gucci. I do wonder what rating it might have gotten in P:TG. LT blasts every rose chypre he reviews in it, calling them all “thin.” Estee Lauder Knowing, reviewed by TS, gets 5 stars and a comment that other rose chypres overdo the rose, while Knowing “just lets the rose peek out” of the greenery. I think that’s a personal preference thing – I like ROSE in my rose chypre, thanks very much. (Mind you, I think Knowing is excellent and would wear it if it didn’t do that Blasted Horrible Nauseating Lauder Base Thing.)

The more I get into researching self-publishing, the more I realize that it isn’t the same as the old vanity press idea. With ebooks, a self-pubbed author can actually get paid. I’m not giving up on traditional publishing, not yet, but independent publishing is seeming like more of an option for me at this point. It’s heartening. Sure, there are still a lot of really crappy self-published books out there (I’ve read at least a few), but I’ve read some good ones, too. The Martian – yes, the book that was made into a movie starring Matt Damon – was originally self-published, and it’s excellent.

The Social Studies MACC team won, 80-30, and both Gaze (team captain) and Taz did well. I’m proud of them.

Friday, Feb. 12 – Still cold. BRRRRR. Snowflake the lamb’s new Favorite Thing is to leap around in the laundry room, banging into things and knocking the laundry sorter around on its wheels. He’s pretty funny. Getting bigger, too. We’re supposed to keep having cold weather for the next few days, but after that he may go back to the rest of the flock, to catch-as-catch-can milk from all the other sheep mamas.

SOTD wound up being Chamade. Glorious Chamade – there’s nothing like that lovely drydown. I got whiffs of it hours and hours after it should have been long gone.

Saturday, Feb. 13 – The CEO went to the conference indoor track meet with the boys. Gaze was running the 4 x 800m and the 3200m and Taz was an alternate (just in case one of the relay team broke a toe or something). The relay team finished 3rd, and Gaze finished 5th in the 2 mile, so he’ll get to go on to the regional meet. The high school’s boys’ team came in a close second, and the girls’ team won the championship! Big congrats to Coach Sirak, who along with Coach Day has done a wonderful job of training and motivating these kids.

I revised. WHY IS IT SO HARRRRRD IT IS SO HARDDD. (That should teach me not to write so much crap next time…)

SOTD was Safari. Again. I’m not sorry.

Sunday, Feb. 14 – happy birthday to my favorite favorite brother! Best Valentine I ever got. I started out the day in No. 5 Eau Premiere, but started craving Soivohle Centennial‘s fuzzy warm florals, so I put that one in the afternoon.

Brrrr, in the low teens today. The CEO has a fire going. This weather reminds me of what winter was like when I was a kid in the ’70s! I sort of love it. Gaze is miserable – and my poor sister in Texas, comfortable in 70F weather and wishing it were cold enough for sweaters, would trade places with him in a heartbeat.

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The Five-Stars, Pt. 1 – According to Perfumes: The Guide

Five stars - CopyThe Friday challenge at Now Smell This this week was to wear a fragrance rated five stars in Perfumes: The Guide. Some readers, including me, made it a five-star week, and in fact I’m going to continue wearing one five-star scent for as long as it’s still fun. We’ll see how long I can keep going before I want something else.

Part One of this series is the list of five-star fragrances according to Perfumes: The Guide.  Part Two will be the list according to me. Five-star fragrances are described in P:TG as “masterpieces.” From my reading, additional criteria seem to involve things like distinctiveness, coherence, consistency, decent raw materials, and possibly innovation.

I won’t get into critique of the book that had the perfume blogs buzzing, or of the criteria used by authors Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, though I would recommend that everyone who’s interested in perfume at least read it. Today I’d like to talk about the fragrances instead.

However, I will point out that even though the authors undoubtedly have a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the industry as well as of the heart of perfumery, they’ve got their own personal biases. So do I. So does everyone with a nose, so if you disagree with anyone on perfume, take their judgment with a grain of salt. Your own judgment is what matters most.

Tania Sanchez addresses the preference issue head-on when she says, “… one can certainly admire a perfume without necessarily loving it. Love, of course, is personal (but best when deserved).” She hits the issue from the side when answering FAQs, in this fashion:

Q: Why has Amarige got only one star, when it is in a top ten list in the back?
A: Amarige is a genius work of perfumery, utterly recognizable, memorable, technically polished, and spectacularly loud. But we hate it. In the end, we figured this was the fair thing to do.

Well, okay then. There you go, bias is acknowledged so you are allowed to disagree.

Here is the Perfumes: The Guide’s list of five-star fragrances (in alphabetical order by house, not by perfume name), and what I think of each one of them. If there is no description, I have not smelled the fragrance.

Amouage Gold Wearing this is like walking into a football stadium or some other giant enclosed space, albeit in the case of Gold, the AstroDome ceiling has been gilded and carved into rococo shapes. Enormous, colossal, too big for any one person to wear. (The body lotion, however, is wonderful.) Four stars.
Amouage Homage (now d/c)
Amouage Ubar I own a 5ml decant of this and am always forgetting I have it. It reminds me of my small bottle of Lancôme La Collection Climat, and of Parfums Divine Divine: creamy civet lemonade. Nice, but there are other fragrances I love better, and other Amouages I prefer. Four stars.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing! Yep, virtual circus. Fun, but who really wants to smell of stale orange circus-peanut marshmallow candy, sawdust, and tiger pee? Three stars.
L’Artisan Timbuktu
L’Artisan Vanilia (now d/c)
Azzaro pour Homme Instant headache. So. Much. Lavender. Two stars.
Badgley Mischka Fruity chypres never suit me. They always seem curdled; I always get nauseous. Two stars.
Bond No. 9 Chinatown Fruity chypre/oriental. See “Badgley Mischka.” Two stars.
Boucheron Boucheron Pleasant, but muted. Basically floral soap with very sharp edges. Described by LT as “huge floral,” but he’s wrong. Three stars.
Bvlgari Black I like Black. I do. It smells mostly of new sneakers, or new bike tires, plus a powdery vanilla that reminds me of flavored coffee-creamer powder. That’s fun. Genius? Nope. Four stars.
Cacharel LouLou For once I’m in total agreement with LT’s description of it as having a texture like those glass Christmas-tree baubles that look like velvet and feel like sandpaper. We just differ in our enjoyment of that texture. Also, this sucker is really loud. I lived through the 1980s; I don’t necessarily want to revisit them. Two stars.
Caldey Island Lavender
Caron Pour un Homme
Caron Le Troisième Homme This is a floral (jasmine) fougére. Not my thing, and actually I find it sort of creepy. Three stars.
Caron Yatagan
Chanel 31 Rue Cambon For full disclosure, TS gave it four stars and I’m with her on that. It’s lovely, I enjoy wearing it, but I don’t think it’s groundbreaking or classic. I’ve gone through a 10ml decant (of which the last ml was unwearable, after six years), but to be perfectly honest, I could probably get by with just my Téo Cabanel Alahine for a floral amber.
Chanel Bois des Iles Lovely, lovely stuff. I first tried it from a sample of pre-Les Exclusifs eau de toilette, and it lasted at least four hours, dabbed. The Les Exclusifs version lasts about two hours on me, sprayed-until-wet. The parfum lasts better but hovers only two millimeters above skin. I’m taking half a star off the P:TG rating because of the longevity and sillage issues.
Chanel Cristalle Citrus chypres are not my thing, but in any case Eau Sauvage kicks this thing’s butt all over. Four stars.
Chanel Cuir de Russie As I’ve commented before, smells like our cattle working pens: live hides, dust, iodine, dry manure, sweat and fear. Just no. Two stars.
Chanel No. 5 eau de toilette Absolutely. The Guide nailed it.
Chanel No. 5 parfum Ditto.
Chanel Pour Monsieur
Chanel Sycomore
Clinique Aromatics Elixir As I’ve commented before, AE smells like somebody took a wiz all over a rose hedge. On paper, two days later, it’s absolutely wonderful; too bad I can’t skip that opening. Great stuff, unwearable by me, and a real bludgeoner into the bargain. Three stars.
Clinique (formerly Prescriptives) Calyx (now reformulated) I can’t manage the opening, which smells like overripe, rotting fruit. Once it’s past that stuff, it’s a wonderful sweet juicy floral with good intentions. Four stars.
Davidoff Cool Water This is the men’s version. Groundbreaking and all that, sure, but I think it smells a bit bare and chemical. Four stars.
Dior Diorella Fruity chypre. See “Badgley Mischka” and “Chinatown.” Two stars.
Dior Homme (now reformulated) Nice stuff. I don’t love it, but I think I may have tested the current version, which seems thin to me. Four stars.
Dior Dune Like a lot of powdery vanillas, it sits there on my skin being boring and flat. On my SIL, it’s great, warm, cozy. Four stars.
Dior Eau Sauvage This is what Cristalle wants to be when it gives up merely pretending to be nice and trims those lethal fingernails. Five stars.
Dior Poison (now reformulated) Man, I used to hate this thing back in the day. Dorm halls reeked of it. So did the university buses. Now that it’s been tamed and everybody isn’t wearing six spritzes too many, I rather like it. It has, however, lost its poisonous edge and they’ve upped the orange blossom in it so that it’s almost soapy. Four stars, unless you’ve got the old, soft, esprit de parfum concentration, in which case it gets five.
Elternhaus Unifaith (MoslBuddJewChristHinDao)
Estée Lauder Azurée Gin with lemon, driving gloves, a full ashtray, pointy fingernails and a steely gaze. Scary. Three stars.
Estée Lauder Beyond Paradise Two hours of lovely flowers, becoming barer and shriller after that thanks to whatever jasminoid aromachem. Like all the other classic Lauders, has something in the base that turns my stomach after a couple of hours. One of my aunts wears this, and she always smells lovely; I think it’s my skin. Three stars.
Estée Lauder Beyond Paradise Men
Estée Lauder Knowing Gives me the same nausea issue as the others, but it’s probably my favorite from this house. I love a nice rose chypre and wish I could wear Knowing as well as another one of my aunts does. Four stars.
Estée Lauder Pleasures Pale flowers and laundry musk. It might be the first and best of this kind of squeaky-clean thing, but leaving aside the usual Lauder base, this might be one of the most boring things I’ve ever smelled. Three stars.
Estée Lauder Private Collection I so wish I could wear this; green florals are right up my alley. Alas, the Dreaded Lauder Base pops through at T-2 hours. Four stars anyway.
Estée Lauder White Linen I like aldehydes, but White Linen has always smelled sour and vinegary too me. My private name for it is “Mildewed Laundry.” Three stars.
État Libre d’Orange Sécrétions Magnifique In The Little Book of Perfumes, which wound up being largely a stageshow revue of the five-stars in P:TG (plus reviews of four classic fragrances you can only smell at the Osmothéque in Paris), TS admits that she disagrees on SM and describes it as “absolutely revolting, like a drop of J’Adore on an oyster you know you shouldn’t eat.” Bang on, lady. It’s horrifying. One star.
Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel Classic, conservative, reassuring, absolutely masculine. Five stars.
Givenchy III I agree with LT that it smells like dirt under the flowers. We just disagree on how appealing that should be. Three stars.
Givenchy Insensé (now d/c)
Gucci Envy (now d/c) Metallic enough to make my back teeth hurt. Two stars. Yeowch.
Gucci Rush
Guerlain Après l’Ondée (recently reformulated) Impressionist perfection, at least in the version available in the mid-2000s. Now it’s more irisy and colder, less wistful with its heliotrope toned way down. I’d give it four stars now, but the older stuff is amazing and absolutely deserved its five stars.
Guerlain Chamade The epitome of romantic surrender, starting cold-shouldery as it does in galbanum and hyacinth and aldehydes, moving through rose, jasmine and other assorted flowers, and then gradually melting into a powdery-creamy mimosa-vanilla-woods comforter. Five stars.
Guerlain Derby
Guerlain Eau de Guerlain
Guerlain Habit Rouge
Guerlain L’Heure Bleue The EdT is Hell’s Medicine Cabinet. The parfum is medicinal pastry, but in a really good way. Five stars.
Guerlain Insolence eau de parfum Horrifying shrieky attack parrot with knives attached to its beak and feet. One star.
Guerlain Jicky Lavender and bad breath. Two stars for being groundbreaking and influential, zero for smelling good.
Guerlain Mitsouko Mitsy hates me. It took me over twenty tries to really “get” Mitsouko. I tried current EdT, I tried EdP, I tried vintage EdT, I tried vintage parfum, I tried current parfum. I tried different times of year and different weathers. Finally I tried some parfum from the early 1990s, and then I got it: round, full, autumnal, tapestried. I still don’t love it the way I love the vintage Coty Chypre parfum I tried – Chypre made me cry tears of overwhelmed happiness – but Mitsy is a force to be reckoned with. Five stars.
Guerlain Nahéma I have trouble smelling Nahema. The first time I tried it, I could tell there was something on my skin but could not smell it. The second and third time, all I really got was scented soap. I feel cheated, but there it is. I can’t give something this inane five stars; I’ll go with two. Word is this one’s discontinued anyway.
Guerlain Shalimar Lemon-vanilla-tar-and-sex. Utterly distinctive; in all its variations it’s always Shalimar and it’s always far too sophisticated for me. A marvel of perfumery. Five stars.
Guerlain Vol de Nuit I don’t understand this scent at all. If I look at the notes, I should like it if not love it: galbanum, jasmine, narcissus, moss and woody notes. On paper it sounds like my beloved Le Temps d’une Fete. I’ve gotten two different samples from the decant services (both edt, both relatively recent), and they smell like… nothing. Musty nothing. As if I opened the trunk that belonged to my great-great aunt and a moth flew out of it. I can’t be smelling what everyone else smells. One star.
Hermés Osmanthe Yunnan Gorgeous apricot-tea floral that lasts all of 2.4 seconds on me. How can they charge $200+ for this? Three stars.
Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade (now reformulated)
Issey Miyake Le Feu d’Issey (now d/c)
Jean Patou Joy parfum Heh heh heh. This thing is raunch in overdrive on me – amazing, alive, and thoroughly unashamed to be walking home the morning after, with hair bedraggled and makeup smeared, missing her panties. I can’t wear it, but it’s a five star if anything is.
Kenzo Ça Sent Beau “Beau” as in beautiful? No. This struck me as being like Calyx for Dudes. The melon-mango-flower-shaving cream thing is just Too Weird. Three stars.
Knize Ten
Le Labo Patchouli 24 (now reformulated) Smells like the 150-year-old stone smokehouse behind my grandparents’ house, which produced many a Virginia ham in its day. Fascinating, but who wants to smell like that? Three stars.
Lolita Lempicka I resisted trying this one for ages, as I’d read that it was a takeoff on Angel. It’s only tangentially related, and LL is both interesting and really pretty. Four stars.
Lush (formerly Be Never Too Busy to Be Beautiful) Breath of God
Missoni Missoni Off-putting, like a soft chocolate with an incompatible flavor center (lemon? Kiwi? Mango?) Two stars.
Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie
Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Man
Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman Wonderfully coniferous for three minutes, violet for one, and then amberamberamberamber. Dull and considerably overrated. Two stars.
Paco Rabanne Calandre (now reformulated) I was taken aback by TS’s “wire mother” review of Chanel No. 19, particularly because this hissy, metallic, narrow-eyed parody of femininity should have gotten that review instead. Three stars.
Parfums de Nicolaï New York
Parfums de Nicolaï Odalisque (now reformulated) Doesn’t move me, but is really wonderful. Delicate yet strong in nature. Okay, fine, I’ll call it five.
Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fête (reformulated twice and now d/c*) If you held a gun on me and told me to choose one bottle, just one, of all the ones in existence in the world, I’d pick this one. Magical. Eight stars. 😉
*For a time, you could special-order it through the PdN website. However, when I emailed PdN in November to ask about it, I was told it was not available. I have backup bottles, but I mourn.
Parfums MDCI Enlèvement au Sérail Reminds me of Joy. Different flowers, same raunch, same aliveness. Still unwearably skanky for me personally. But given my reaction, how can I give it fewer stars than Joy? Five.
Parfums MDCI Invasion Barbare
Parfums MDCI Promesse de l’Aube Absolutely gorgeous. As innocent as Enlevement is carnal and just as florally overwhelming. Five stars.
Pascal Morabito Or Black
Robert Piguet Bandit How can I give this perfume that always rushes at me with a scimitar five stars? (shudder) Sure, it’s got galbanum. Sure, it’s amazing and influential and all gender-bendy kewl, but I hate it. I can’t wear it. Four stars, and that’s because I’m allowing for history.
Robert Piguet Fracas Everybody always says Fracas is The Quintessential Tuberose scent, but that’s not so. However, you can make a case for it being The Quintessential Big White Floral, because of that metric crap-ton of orange blossom in there. Basically, on me it smells like tuberose cold cream, and wearing it is like whacking a guy you fancy over the head with the heel of your marabou kitten-heel slipper and dragging him into your boudoir to have your way with him, once he wakes up all disoriented by your cloud of scent. Five stars.
Rochas Tocade (now reformulated) I liked Tocade at first. I used up a good 30 ml of it when I first bought the bottle, because it was awfully friendly. Then That Slut Tocade started hanging out with the smokers, and every time she came home her bottle smelled like ashtray. Maybe this fragrance doesn’t age well, but whatever. I’ve gone right off her and am ready to kick her out of the sorority. Three stars.
S-Perfumes 100% Love Hissy, screechy geranium-y rose backed by pungent patchouli and dusty chocolate-milk mix. Dear God, kill me now. One star.
S-Perfume S-eX
Serge Lutens Bois de Violette Nice. Faint and timid version of Feminité de Bois. Way overrated. (And I even like violets.) Three stars.
Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist Reportedly the earthiest, driest, rootiest, most pallid and ethereal iris evarrrrr. I don’t know why it makes me think of pigtailed little girls with freckles playing hopscotch. I find it cheerful. Four stars.
Serge Lutens La Myrrhe Like a pink-and-gold sunrise over blue-shadowed snow. Pristine, cold yet warm. Astonishingly beautiful. Five stars.
Serge Lutens Sarrasins Filthy jasmine leather. Who wants to wear this? Smells like what I imagine the back room of a strip club would smell like. (Also, it’s purple. I hate purple.) Three stars.
Tauer Perfumes L’Air du Désert Marocain A very calm, meditative, yet comfortable scent. I wouldn’t have called it transcendent, but I can’t really name a reason I would knock a star off, so all right, five stars.
Theo Fennell Scent (now d/c)
Thierry Mugler Angel Like I drank an entire bottle of cherry cough syrup and fell into a vat of Drakkar Noir. I do not give two flips that Angel started the whole gourmand trend and the fruitchouli trend and the gender-crossing Coco Mlle. trend. Famed perfumer Guy Robert is quoted at least a couple of times in P:TG as saying “A perfume must above all smell good.” This? Doesn’t. One star.
Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl Like drinking lemony iced tea in the sunshine in an American garden. Pretty, unpretentious and easy to wear. (Hello, Angel? This one smells good. Take notes.) Five stars.
Yves Saint Laurent Kouros
Yves Saint Laurent Opium (now reformulated) If I may use someone else’s words: “A genius work of perfumery, utterly recognizable, memorable, technically polished, and spectacularly loud. But [I] hate it.” One star, and I’m not sorry.
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche This aldehydic floral packs every bit as much metal as a factory floor and is considerably less warm and fuzzy. It has rose in it? Where? That’s no rose, that’s a very screechy geranium, plus a hyacinth note so metallic it twangs. Two stars.
Yohji Yamamoto Yohji Homme (now d/c)

This list does not include anything released after 2009; nor does it include anything Dr. Turin has reviewed since the publication of P:TG in his Style Arabia columns. It was a vast undertaking, and yet it is now (and always was, really) inadequate to the current flood of perfumes on the market today. Still worth a read for information and entertainment, if you ask me.

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Random stuff, Feb. 1-8, 2016

Well, I lost the Scent Diary for last week (which I generally start as a Word document so I can add to it each day in the week), and then got stalled out on this week’s SD post due to general busy-ness. So you get another summing-up.

(“The Princess Bride” might just be my favorite movie of all time, y’all. Really.)

So it’s been cold and icky. Man, you know, winter rain is just horrible. Snow is nice, but winter rain is like the bitter tears of the earth. I’ve been testing samples, but I’ve also been wearing winter staples like Black Cashmere, Alahine, and Soivohle Centennial, as well as more year-round loves like Mariella Burani and Safari. I know, I keep wearing the same things over and over, but those are the ones I want. Shrug.

Incidentally, that text color I found for Centennial is the dusty dark peach color it really has in my mind, just the shade of an angora sweater I used to have in college.

The other thing I’ve been wearing frequently is Marc Jacobs Daisy. Now, look – Daisy is straight-up department-store let’s-not-offend-anybody uninspired. I acknowledge it. But it is also pretty and uncomplicated, and it just plain smells nice. It is, in fact, exactly the kind of thing that my female protagonist in the women’s fiction/romance novel I’m currently editing would wear. I like to wear fragrances that might suit my characters; I find it helps me keep their personalities firmly in mind while I’m writing.

The current plan is to self-publish this novel for Kindle/e-book, but I can’t tell you when that will be.  A matter of months, no doubt. I’ll be sure to share info for it here.

Snowflake the lamb is growing by, er, leaps and bounds. He’s so stinkin’ cute!

Mini-reviews coming soon, as I promised.

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