I changed some stuff around; this is to test if the site is reachable by mobile.
I changed some stuff around; this is to test if the site is reachable by mobile.
Monday, Jan. 13: Y’all, it’s still warmish. I hate it. The FB perfume group theme for the week is Armchair Traveler, which I was excited about in theory but am not inspired in practice. Don’t know why, except that I’m still trying to use up decants and samples, so maybe that’s it. Decant of the day was CdG Incense: Zagorsk, which I bought a 5ml split of after looking forward to it for months, and then promptly went off it because there was a vegetal celery note in my decant that I didn’t notice in the sample. The celery seems to come and go. Today, it was there, so bleah.
Tuesday, Jan. 14: COLD. (Well, finally!) SOTD was lovely Shalimar Light. I was going to add “the blue juice” to clarify, but to be honest this one has been out of production so long that there’s no point in clarifying. Either version was good, and they’re both long gone. Sigh.
Wednesday, Jan. 15: Chilly but not ridiculous. Took The CEO’s mom to her doctor’s appointment today; she is getting around *so much better* this week. SOTD was DSH Le Jade, a pretty green-floral chypre that I would probably like much more if it had more presence. As it is, it goes faint within an hour and I might as well not have applied any.
Thursday, Jan. 16: Warm again. Dang it, this is dumb. It ought to feel like January in January! I was busy, and forgot to wear anything.
Also, I miss Taz. 🙁
Friday, Jan. 17: Still warm, thought we’re supposed to get wintry mix tomorrow. Wound up taking MIL to her doctor for a re-check of some blood work; rented that Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie on Redbox. (Our verdict: disappointing movie, but Joaquin was pretty amazing.)
SOTD was Prince Matchabelli Potpourri, from that $5 1-oz bottle I bought on eBay. (BARGAIN. Super-pretty spicy carnation amber scent, a lot fresher and less dry than one would assume given the name.) Made shrimp scampi and mahi-mahi with lemon-garlic butter for dinner — YUM.
Saturday, Jan. 18: Well, now it’s cold again. Cleaned the house, served as Bookworm’s sous chef as she made a Catalan beef stew from her Culinary Institute of American cookbook, wrote some stuff. SOTD was Shalimar Light again, not sorry.
Sunday, Jan. 19: Up early for worship team at church. Member meeting/lunch afterward, to amend the bylaws (a matter of some terminology changes and clarifications). SOTD was Cloon Keene Castana, an almost-gourmand thing that I really like.
Came home, wrote, had calzones from Verona’s for dinner, hung out with Bookworm and Gaze and Gaze’s girlfriend. Virginia Tech starts classes on Tuesday, so he will be back at his dorm tomorrow.
Monday, Jan. 6, 2020: Well, this weather is more like it for January: mid-40s and breezy. SOTD was Laurence Dumont Vanille de la Reunion, which is deliciously gourmand and really nice. Too bad it’s just a decant. On the other hand, it’s discontinued so there’s no point looking for more, and I’m not a huge vanilla-scent freak anyway.
Tuesday, Jan. 7: Frustrating day for the side project. Probably didn’t help that I forgot entirely to wear scent. The weekly challenge in the Facebook perfumista group I’m a member of (there are probably hundreds of them, but these are nice people) was to wear samples and decants. I’m falling down on the job here.
I did, however, enjoy watching another couple of episodes of The Last Kingdom with The CEO and Taz. (I am so going to miss Taz when he’s gone back to school. Sigh.)
Wednesday, Jan. 8: Quite properly chilly today! Yay! I’ve been playing in my sample vials, investigating. (Gone are the days when I would test things four at a time, because I just don’t have the mental space for it.) Today I wore DSH Perfumes Marzipan, which is really wonderful for half an hour, exactly the delicious almond-extract smell that I wanted, and then gets very flabby and Play-Doh-ish. I wound up disappointed overall, but the opening was fab.
Thursday, Jan. 9: More Laurence Dumont Vanille de la Reunion. Yum. (Incidentally, I found a 100ml bottle on German eBay for, like, $50, but I don’t like it THAT much.) I don’t know what’s up with me and gourmands this week, but I keep picking those types of samples/decants. Huh.
First community chorus rehearsal of the new year.
Friday, Jan. 10: SOTD was Chanel Bois des Iles EDP from a small decant, nice restrained gingerbready goodness that somehow isn’t gourmand at ALL. Also, you know? I have no idea why people are whining about Chanel changing their boutique fragrances, the Les Exclusifs, from EDT to EDP. I haven’t tried all of them, but the ones I’ve tried I’ve generally enjoyed in both iterations. I think the one people were most complaining about was 31 Rue Cambon — but I really liked the EDT, and I really like the new EDP, and maybe I’m insensitive to the changes but I thought they were both nice. Shrug.
Saturday, Jan. 11: It’s too warm. I was so hot after cooking dinner that I had to stand outside to cool off. In Jaaaanuaryyyy. (This is deeply wrong. I remember birthdays when there were two feet of snow on the ground.) At night, it started pouring down rain very heavily, and then we got lightning. Eep.
SOTD was a light spritz of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour femme, which is such a pretty rose chypre with narcissus. The kids gave me a pretty pair of earrings and The CEO chose a necklace that sort of goes with them, as well as a hand-painted porcelain bowl to put them in. We ate seafood pasta and Bookworm baked a delicious chocolate torte, which we had with dark cherries and whipped cream.
Sunday, Jan. 12: Another warm day. This is awful. SOTD was, um, nothing, because we were rushing to get out the door for church earlier than usual (Bookworm and I were scheduled to work in kids’ ministry). And then, after eating all the leftover Italian sausage, Taz had to go back to college for spring semester. I miss him already.
I’m going to continue working on that side writing project because I’m still mostly enjoying it, although half the time I don’t know what I’m doing.
Monday, Dec. 30, 2019: It’s warm — too warm. I hate it when it’s 60+ degrees Fahrenheit in December, because a) that means we’ll have a frigid January, and b) it’s just wrong, that’s why. However, I’m enjoying having the boys home for college for the next few weeks. SOTD is beloved Teo Cabanel Alahine, my favorite Christmas-season fragrance. It grieves me to see the level dropping in my ca.-2010 bottle, knowing that Teo Cabanel has utterly ruined the formula by adding some nose-blasting aromachemical and that there will never be more Alahine as it should smell.
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019: I’m looking forward to the new year, but for the first time in several years I’m not nearly so disgusted with the year we just finished. 2019, and particularly the last quarter of it, was a relief to me in several ways. It wasn’t perfect by any means, and I see challenges ahead, but that’s okay.
The CEO and Taz and I have been watching “The Last Kingdom” on Netflix, and enjoying this historical-fiction tale of the Danish conquest of Saxon England, based on Bernard Cornwell’s novels. (It doesn’t hurt that Alexander Dreymon is pretty easy on the eyes.) I’m smelling root-beer-happy in Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka, even though my favorite part of it, the cheery lime in the topnotes, is subdued these days.
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020: (Huh. “2020” seems for some reason easier to write than “2019,” both writing it by hand and typing it. Interesting.) I began the day by showering with the very last drops of my Lush Rose Jam shower gel, and layered By Kilian Rose Oud on top of it. (Goes great with a vibrant pink sweater, by the way.) It’s quite properly cold and sunny today, and I’m spending it doing some necessary maintenance on my blog here and my author website.
Thursday, Jan. 2: How are we going to have a proper winter if it never gets cold? How do Californians manage?? (I asked my brother how he managed January in Florida, where he lives now, and he just laughed at me. So I’m clueless here.
SOTD was Mariella Burani, comfortable as an old pair of jeans. I watched another episode of The Last Kingdom with The CEO and Taz, and worked on a side project I’ve got going.
Friday, Jan. 3: Another warmish rainy day. Dang, if we had normal temperatures, we’d have had snow. SOTD was Prince Matchabelli Potpourri, which is honestly one of the nicest carnation fragrances I’ve ever smelled. I paid $5 for this 30ml bottle (obscure and long discontinued, of course) on eBay several years ago, and I’ve never been sorry. The longevity isn’t great, but it’s labeled cologne, it’s in a dab bottle . . . and it’s something like 50-55 years old at this point, by my best guess. So I really have no complaints about it.
Saturday, Jan. 4: The Christmas decor came down today. We bought an artificial tree this year, having borrowed my parents’ artificial one last year. It’s a big change from 25+ years of cut trees, but meh, it’s not bad. SOTD was nothing; it’s a “reset my nose” sort of day. I decided to put up my strings of crocheted snowflakes instead, to keep the house from looking so bare; since I long for snow, this is sort of a physical wish.
Sunday, Jan. 5: We’re back to a normal church schedule, after a month of holding services in the evening at someone else’s church (meant to give our setup/teardown volunteers an annual break). I’m glad to be back at the YMCA in Pulaski. SOTD was Serge Lutens La Myrrhe.
My sweet MIL fell at her house today, and The CEO spent most of the morning and early afternoon at the hospital with her. As it turns out, she hasn’t broken anything; she was just shaken up. Her house has a lot of stairs, and we are probably going to need to do some renovations so that she can stay there comfortably.
. . . and hello to my new webhost as well! I’m hoping for better tech support from InMotion Webhosting as well as a few new cool features.
It’s been a pretty relaxed New Year’s Day so far. I used the very last drop of my Lush Rose Jam shower gel this morning, so I had to top it with a couple of sprays from my last sample of By Kilian Rose Oud, which is a lovely rose-vanilla with hardly any oud in the picture. I smellz gud.
One of my perfume-related goals for the year is to use up samples and decants, so I’m beginning as I mean to go on. Of the four Rose Oud samples I owned, there’s only this one left, and it’s half empty.
Another goal is to test at least six new releases this year. A third goal is to post here weekly — Scent Diary every Monday, at the very least — and a fourth is to post a freshly-written fragrance review each month. I’ve been too far behind with maintaining this blog, and honestly, the fact that I’ve been behind has actually kept me from posting. Now that we’re starting fresh this year, I’m ready to take up the responsibility of regular posting, albeit less frequently than in the past.
In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of design stuff recently, with Canva and a few other online sites where one can manipulate images and add text. (I created the “2020” image above on Canva. Yay me.) It’s fun!
And I am of course still working on my fiction. I’m also still dealing with some medical issues, but I hope to be able to find some solutions this year.
Have you got some intentions for the year? Feel free to share. I wish all of you 365 days of awesomeness!
I’m in the process of migrating The Muse in Wooden Shoes to a new webhost, so things are a little chaotic around here: sawdust, nails, stuff like that.
Wishing you a wonderful start to 2020 — see you then!
POST EDITED January 2020
Y’all. It is halfway through November. Already.
I should probably let you know that I’m planning some changes for The Muse in Wooden Shoes.
I started blogging in 2009. That’s a long time ago, now. While I’ve also written about family and farming and literature, this blog has been focused on perfume. And I have mixed feelings about the truth: that perfume doesn’t consume my brain space the way it used to. I still love it, but I’m simply enjoying what I have and only sampling the occasional new-to-me scent that appeals based on notes.
That’s probably obvious, given that I haven’t written much beyond a few reviews over the past couple of years, and I’ve probably yapped on about my children much more frequently of late than I have about, say, my longtime fragrant love, tuberose. I have been spending far more time on novel-writing and on trying to get my life organized to pursue some professional goals.
I’m reorienting my focus toward fiction right now.
Edited to remove a link that does not work, and to say that I wound up choosing to change my webhost, with no changes to the blog site. All the old links SHOULD continue to work, but please let me know if they do not.
I do hope to post once a month or so, just to keep my hand in, even if everybody’s gotten tired of my not posting regularly and moved on to other fumehead blogs. Thanks for reading and talking about perfume with me over the past ten years.
Thanks for everything.
Our daytime high temperatures have finally, finally dropped out of the 90s to the upper 70s level which is more seasonal for us, historically. I only turned off the air-conditioning on Sunday evening.
It’s super-dry. Even after the very-welcome rain we got over the past two days, we’re well under our typical monthly average of 3.7 inches. I’d complain to the management, if I thought it would do a whit of good.
However, as a hopeful effort, last week I transitioned from summer fragrances to the ones I wear more in early autumn — not the deep autumn, chilly weather, heading-into-winter ones, but the ones for my very favorite time of year: a blue-and-gold October, embroidered with red and orange leaves. I’m sorry to say we seem to be having more of a “green leaves on the trees until they turn brown and fall to the dead grass” sort of a month, which is such a bummer.
Anyway, these are the bottles that left the Hatbox of Current Rotation for storage in the bedside washstand:
Jacomo Silences edp Sublime 2012
Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere
Ines de la Fressange 1998
Hanae Mori Haute Couture
Arquiste Flor y Canto
Arielle Shoshana Saturday
Donna Karan Gold edp
Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete
YSL Paris Pont des Amours
Carven Le Parfum
Hermes Kelly Caleche edt
Chanel No. 19 edp
Chanel Les Exclusifs 1932
Maison Lancome Jasmins Marzipane
It was surprising to me, given our miserably hot-n-humid summer, how little I wore my usual citrusy florals, like Haute Couture, Funny!, Kelly Caleche, and the Carven. I barely wore No. 19 and the BWFs (Flor y Canto, Jasmins Marzipane, and DK Gold) as well; it seems I stuck to rose and mixed florals.
Guerlain Les Elixirs Charnels Floral Romantique remained, and so did Mary Greenwell Plum. Those are sweet florals with a little edge to them, and since it’s remained so warm this far into autumn, they’ve been serving me well.
Moving from the washstand to the Hatbox:
Leonard de Leonard
Ralph Lauren Safari
Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete
Smell Bent One
Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka
Jacomo Silences 1978
Fendi by Fendi
Cuir de Lancome
Balmain Jolie Madame (mini parfum)
Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea
Coty Chypre (mini parfum)
Lanvin Arpege (mini parfum)
It’s probably not cool enough yet for either Tabac Aurea or Arpege, but I’ve already been wearing the heck out of Safari, Le Temps d’une Fete, and Jolie Madame (which The CEO doesn’t like, but oh well). And Epidor you’d think would be too summery, but it smells like plums and drying hay to me, and it is gorgeous. I’ve been wearing that one to sleep in.
Do you do the seasonal switch?
I can’t remember when I first heard of Rogue Perfumery. It may have been on a perfume blog (which one?) within the last few years, or it may have been mentioned by another perfumista in a Facebook group discussion. I’m still not sure. One of my favorite sites for perfume research, Fragrantica, lists Rogue under Perfume Houses; my other favorite, Now Smell This, doesn’t reference it at all.
Briefly, Rogue Perfumery is the brainchild of Manuel Cross, a chef who became intrigued with creating fragrances a little over ten years ago. (Read more at the link above.) Rogue Perfumery, befitting its name, is defiantly and unrepentantly noncompliant with IFRA regulations.
In any case, a member of a perfumista Facebook group wore a Rogue Perfumery scent a few weeks ago and mentioned it as his scent of the day. I was intrigued, did some research, and immediately ordered samples.
Rogue’s website has a small menu in the top right corner: Shop, Collection, About, and Contact. “Shop” takes you to Rogue’s Etsy shop, where you can buy perfumes chock-full of intoxicating and IFRA-restricted ingredients such as oakmoss, nitromusks, and eugenol at $75 for 30ml, $110 for 60ml, and $150 for 100ml. You can get a boxed set of 8 samples (including a preview due to release in late summer of 2019) for $33, or a set of 3 samples of your choice for $15.50, which is what I bought.
I chose three samples (Chypre-Siam, Champs Lunaires, and after deliberation, Mousse Illuminee in spite of its “masculine” designation) and received a bonus fourth sample of Derviche. The samples are sturdy 2ml vials, each individually bagged with a gorgeous Art Deco-style illustration to identify the scent.
I started with Champs Lunaires, because tuberose, is why. I’ve long been a lover of BWFs, and in my opinion it is difficult to go wrong with white florals. This one is described as “moonlit fields of white flowers,” and how could I pass that up? Notes include tuberose, white rose, pomelo, sandalwood, coconut milk, and musk. Mr. Cross’s Etsy listing description says this:
The tuberose base I created for Champs Lunaires was based on three models: the realism of PK Perfume’s TNT, the amped methyl salicylate notes of Serge Lutens’ Tubereuse Crimenelle, and the lusty creamy fruit notes of Piguet’s Fracas.
Ironic that Tube Criminy was part of the inspiration for Champs Lunaires, because this deep into my BWF exploration, TC is still the only scent in the genre that I really cannot bear. I had the misfortune to have cleaned out the refrigerator the week I tried it, and that forgotten package of uncooked chicken at the back had an odor that (oh Lord help me!) I will smell in my nightmares forever. When TC echoed it, I nearly tossed my cookies, and did not even care about the lovely clear tuberose that followed the opening. I liked the wintergreen part; could not manage the decay.
You may be relieved to note that Champs Lunaires reminds me not in the least of the opening of Tubereuse Criminelle, which is both a relief and a disappointment. I liked that wintergreen thing, and I get very little of it in Champs Lunaires. It doesn’t remind me strongly of Fracas, either, which is probably good. Champs Lunaires is creamy and soft, but lacks the fatty-soapy orange blossom overdose that Fracas beats me over the head with every. single. time. I wear it. I never smelled PK Perfumes’ TNT (Tama ‘n Tuberose), though I counted Tama a friend and still miss her.
Champs Lunaires is simply lovely. It has a fresh, cut-stem greenness in the opening, and then it blossoms out to a full, rounded, creamy, gentle tuberose scent that is not so much a Big White Floral as it is a friendly one. It stays pretty a long time, about six hours, before fading away.
Side note: I’ve noticed recently that BWFs — maybe because they tend to “sink in” to my skin and get cozy — are the easiest no-brainer scents I wear. As in, I can put on something like Black Orchid Voile de Fleur and just roll all day and stop really thinking about the way I smell, or anything else for that matter. I mean, I literally go brain-fuzzy with comfort, like I’ve worn fuzzy slippers to work. I feel like there’s a lesson here, or a maybe a warning.
In any case, Champs Lunaires is gorgeous. If I wasn’t already stocked up with BWFs, I might buy it.
The impetus for my sample order was Chypre-Siam, the fragrance my friend was excited about. The Etsy listing details its origin as a variation on Coty Chypre using slightly different accents, as if it had been born in Thailand instead of in France. Manuel Cross says that he was picking kaffir lime leaves for a curry dish not long after testing the seminal Coty fragrance, and caught a whiff of jasmine nearby:
I thought how novel it would be to recreate, not the original Chypre, but rather the experience of the original using Southeast Asian materials (namely kaffir lime, holy basil and lemongrass…)
My first sniff of vintage Coty Chypre (a well-preserved parfum from the late 1960s), following my surprise love of DSH Perfumes’ take on it in oil format (don’t bother looking for it on the website now, it’s been out of production for years), bowled me absolutely head over heels. I would never have thought it was my kind of thing, and maybe it’s still not, but it is stunning. Elemental, a perfumery Titan. It doesn’t give a fig what anybody thinks. So, a new take on Chypre? I had to smell it.
Also, that bottle is amazing. LOOK AT IT. Look at the angular, uneven Art Deco lettering in gold on green, look at the shape of the label, look at the cap decorated with gold baubles and green ribbon! So reminiscent of the Coty packaging, so gorgeous on its own.
It’s a far cry from Mall Juice, and a new variation on the original is right up the alley of a perfume outfit that calls itself “Rogue.” The Etsy page uses this description: Opening notes are kaffir lime and basil. Jasmine and ylang sweep across the forest floor and rest upon a warm base of oakmoss, sandalwood, spices, benzoin and civet. I’m fairly certain those aren’t the only notes, but the list is a fair representation of the smell.
The opening of Chypre-Siam is a tad difficult for me. Kaffir lime I am really not familiar with in real life, as Thai restaurants are uncommon here in rural Appalachia, and I only remember running across the note in one fragrance, Anya’s Garden Kaffir Cologne, which I did not like at all. I can see that someone might find the opening exciting and exotic, but it seems really brash to me.
After the opening, Chypre-Siam settles down to a truly lovely moss-edged floral glowing with jasmine. It’s very green and expansive, and I do find myself thinking of tropical jungles which hide not only exotic blooms among their luxuriant greenery, but also dangerous fauna . . .
(The jungle might just be on my mind at the moment because that’s where Gaze right now, spending a month in the Philippines as part of an exchange program between US ROTC cadets and the Philippine Military Academy. He’s already got some harrowing stories, and I am super-grateful he didn’t tell me about them until after they were over. Whew. This “mother-of-young-men” gig ain’t a walk in the park, I tell ya.)
I don’t get much in the way of civet; there’s just a tad there to soften some edges. The moss is real and plush, the sandalwood aromatic and deep. The labdanum is warm and golden without having that mildewed-tarpaulin effect that it sometimes has. The whole thing? Beautiful. Lasts several hours, even on me. Sillage, dabbed from the vial, stays fairly close to the skin, but would probably bloom better if sprayed. Chypre-Siam only comes in EDT strength, but it feels more powerful and richer than that.
I will confess that I tried Chypre-Siam on one hand and put some of my cherished vintage Coty Chypre on the other, for comparison. This was probably unfair of me, but I tried very hard to be impartial when considering.
The citrus notes of the Coty are faint with age, so in the first twenty minutes, Chypre-Siam with its aggressive opening stage blasts the Coty out of the water. Then for the next several hours, the two are remarkably similar. I do get a bit more rose and less ylang-ylang from the Coty, and the lonnnnng maceration time (according to the Coty’s packaging, at least 50 years) has buffed its surface satin-smooth. Chypre-Siam is, however, fully as excellent in quality, and it is a joy to wear. The Coty, hand-sanded as it were by that long time in the bottle, slides almost imperceptibly into its long lovely drydown. Chypre-Siam’s gear changes are more noticeable, but since I particularly dig the turn from the middle, very-floral, phase to the basenotes, when my nose is catching the blend of jasmine and moss and sandalwood with hints of leather, those changes are wonderful. If the melody of the Coty was entrancing the first time around, Rogue’s cover version, while putting its own spin on the classic, is every bit as good.
Hence, I say to you all, if you feel like you missed the boat on Coty Chypre, worry no more about it. Haunt not the eBay auctions; wager not a week’s pay on the vintage. Instead, hie yourselves Rogue’s Etsy page, and buy this. No, it’s not Coty’s Chypre rebottled — and I’m not going to say it’s better, having already loved the Coty — but it is amazing and wonderful and a worthy successor. Six thumbs up.
For another blog review of Chypre-Siam, check out The Alembicated Genie’s swoon here.
The summer solstice has rolled around again, and it’s already hot. And will get hotter. Summer is my least favorite season.
I did enjoy summer when I was a kid — back when “summer” meant “school’s out, a week’s vacation away from home, swim meets, playing/hanging out with friends, spending time at my grandparents’ house, and Deb’s frozen lemonade.” These days it just means that the weather is miserable (thank God for A/C) and The CEO is home and cranky about farm stuff. So, yay.
On the other hand, The CEO and Taz just built us a lovely brick walkway from the front porch to the shop lot next door. I’m pleased about that.
Also, Bookworm has bought a car to replace the 2005 Sebring my dad gave us when he bought his Jeep SUV a few years ago. Sabrina has been a good car, but she’s had close to a thousand dollars’ worth of repairs in the last year, and we’ve gotten to the point where maintaining her in drivable condition is going to get expensive. Right now, she’s making a truly ominous creaking noise, as if she’s got a broken motor mount. Yikes. So Bookworm has purchased a 2016 Honda-certified Civic, as yet unnamed, that we hope will serve her well.
Gaze is spending a month in the Philippines, courtesy of an Army ROTC program called CULP (Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program) that is, more or less, a foreign exchange program with U.S. military allies. We had expected he’d be spending the time sleeping in rustic barracks in Manila and doing a field exercise in the jungle, and we loaded him up on sunscreen and bug spray. As it turned out, the currently-favorable monetary exchange rate meant that this crop of ROTC kids from across the country is staying in a 5-star hotel with a breakfast buffet Gaze described to us in a text as “insane.” They will still be spending a week in the jungle, but at least they’ll be comfortable before they go.
We took Taz to Emory & Henry this past Saturday to get him signed up for classes, and came home with swag: a Wasps Cross Country t-shirt and an E&H polo for The CEO, an Emory & Henry Mom t-shirt for me, and car stickers to go along with our Yale and Virginia Tech ones. Taz has already started his conditioning program for the upcoming XC season.
The Army has assigned my brother-in-law from Fort Hood in upstate NY to Fort Lee in Virginia, less than an hour’s drive from his hometown and about three hours from my parents’ house. They’ll be moving there next month, and everybody is thrilled.
On the fragrance front, I have changed the spring perfumes for the summer ones; I love making the seasonal switch as the weather changes!
Ines de la Fressange (the 1998 Calice Becker)
Hanae Mori Haute Couture
Arquiste Flor y Canto
Arielle Shoshana Saturday
Donna Karan Gold edp
Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete
YSL Paris Pont des Amours
Carven Le Parfum
Hermes Kelly Caleche edt
Chanel No. 19 edp
Maison Lancome Jasmins Marzipane
Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique
Jacomo Silences edp Sublime (the 2012 version, not the 1978 galbanum bomb — which I also love)
Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere
Mary Greenwell Plum
Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet
Chanel No. 19 edt, vintage
Ralph Lauren Safari
Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete
Cuir de Lancome
Parfums DelRae Amoureuse
Parfums DelRae Wit
Wit could probably have remained, but it’s getting crowded in the Hatbox of Current Rotation. Le Temps d’une Fete has been a year-round choice for me in the past, but sometimes it’s too much in the heat (and if I want it, I’ll just haul it out of the bedside cabinet). I swapped the rosier, friendlier No. 19 edp for the bitey, leathery vintage edt. I did not pull out the Teo Cabanel Early Roses, because the more I wear it, the less I like it. I finally dragged out my manufacturer sample, which made me want to buy some, and tested it against my small bottle. The liquid in the bottle is altogether harsher with a ton of Iso E Super, and I suspect that some kind of reformulation took place between the production of the sample and this bottle. That definitely happened with my beloved Alahine, so I am nearly certain a change occurred with Early Roses as well. (Boo on you, Teo Cabanel. Guess all those natural florals got too expensive, but MAN, did they smell great. RIP, Alahine.)
Three months of summer. Sigh.
So I’ve done a 180 on mango, y’all.
If you’d asked me last year what fruits I enjoyed, I’d have said, “All of them . . . except mango. It’s got a weird ‘off’ taste to it, and I don’t like it.” Of course, I haven’t tried every single fruit in the world, much less all the varieties of each fruit! (On the “haven’t tried” list: persimmon, pawpaw, custard-apple, feijoa, jackfruit, pitanga, quince, sapodilla, sapote, tamarind, soursop, rambutan, dragonfruit, pomelo. I’ve also never eaten fresh dates or figs, though I do like them dried. I have eaten gooseberry preserves, but not fresh gooseberries.) I have, however, eaten such unusual fruits as uglifruit (Jamaican tangelo), pluots/apriums, carambolas (starfruit), guavas, lychees, papayas, fresh blackcurrants, and boysenberries.
I mean, I’m not as limited as Taz, who, despite all my efforts to accustom him to different tastes, will only eat apples, grapes, and canned mandarin oranges. It’s sad.
But mangoes? Bleah. Too much, um, whang. (“Whang” is a slangy southern word that refers to a taste that isn’t what it should be and indicates that the particular food you’re eating may not be fresh, or that the food is considerably more sour or bitter than you were expecting. See this short clip from Sh%t Southern Women Say, starting at about 1:19, for more.)
Plant Medicine News breaks down the scent of mangoes, listing the chemical names of the aroma compounds and their qualities. I won’t get all sciencey on you and share the chemical names, but the scent descriptors range from peach, fruity, pineapple, cucumber, green, caramel, maple, and coconut to sulfurous, terpenaceous, vinegar, cabbage, barnyard, metallic, sweaty and rancid, with cooked rice, cooked potato, and hay somewhere in the middle.
I’m pretty sure I was getting a lot of sulfur and terpene, and maybe a tad of rancidity out of mangoes — in short, whatever it is that makes tropical fruit smell and taste, you know, exotic and weird and tropical. (As Luca Turin asks in his review of Fraiche Passiflora in Perfumes: The Guide, “How do fruits know when they’re in exotic places? Who taught them to samba?”) I was not a fan of mango.
However, last week, I was at the grocery store buying ingredients for fajitas because I had run across a new fajita marinade recipe from Isabel Eats, and I saw a different variety of mango than I had tried before. The only mangoes I was familiar with were the large red-and-green ones, and these were smaller, S-shaped, a uniform gold color. I bought two on impulse, largely because my mother used to buy odd fruit at the grocery store in order to let us kids try something new. (I still remember my first taste of kiwifruit. I was twelve. YUM.) These mangoes were a tiny bit wrinkled, and they smelled delicious and ripe.
I looked up the technique for slicing mangoes on Mango.org, and found that the golden mangoes I’d bought were the Honey or Ataulfo variety, as opposed to the Haden or Tommy Atkins varieties I had eaten before. Ataulfo mangoes are generally known to be sweeter and less fibrous than other varieties, and have a thin cling-free pit. They also have less of the “whang” I found so objectionable in the past. My first taste of the Ataulfo was sheer heaven. Sure, there was a tiny undecided moment of wait-is-this-thing-rotting?-oh-I-guess-it-isn’t, but I came down on the side of finding it addictive.
The very next day I went back to the store and bought more, after reading that June is the last peak month for Ataulfos. Now I’m hooked. The CEO likes mangoes — he says, “Eleven million fruit bats can’t be wrong,” — and Gaze, who is a Fruit Omnivore and will probably be in Tropical Fruit Heaven while he’s in the Philippines later this month, doing ROTC training, does too. Bookworm and Taz? Big nopes. Taz wouldn’t even try them, and Bookworm is overcome by the Dreaded Whang. Which, you know, I get, even if I have come around on the edge of possible wrongness that probably comes from those sulfur compounds.
I keep thinking of a Perfume Posse post in which March rhapsodized over the angelic dichotomy of lush almost-decay that is a perfectly-ripe mango, but I cannot find it. This happens to me pretty frequently. I was sure that Abigail of I Smell Therefore I Am posted about the first Ines de la Fressange, because whatever it was that I remembered her saying about it was what made me buy a 1-oz. bottle from Fragrancenet for like $12 in 2010. As it turns out, I can no longer find that post, or another perfume blog post at all on the subject. There are two from Perfume Posse, actually, but both of them also mention the second Ines de la Fressange fragrance, and neither is the ode that I remember reading. So huh. Did I imagine reading posts back in the day, or have they simply disappeared in the interim?
Anyway, back to perfume: now I want a mango perfume, complete with ripe juiciness and that subtle hint of danger. Jo Loves makes two mango scents, but because they haven’t yet gotten a US distributor, I can’t sample either one. (I could buy a bottle online untested, but that seems idiotic, not to mention spendy.) Then there’s a Pacifica Brazilian Mango Grapefruit, and Parfums de Nicolai, which is now to be known as Nicolai Parfumeur Createur, did an eau fraiche with mango that somebody (Robin of Now Smell This, maybe? Eau Exotique?) loved, but the PdN is discontinued. There are a bunch of mango solifruit fragrances by outfits like Demeter and The Body Shop, but I don’t know how good they are or how long they’d last. Vilhelm Parfumerie makes something called Mango Skin which sounds great, but it’s Vilhelm and it’s niche, so it is certain to be more expensive than I really want. Ditto for Manguier Metisse by Pierre Guillaume’s Huitieme Arte brand. Neela Vermeire’s Bombay Bling is fabulous, but also probably out of my price range. Nava at Perfume Posse mentioned that Ed Hardy’s Hearts & Daggers for Women smelled to her like Thai mango salad, minus the onion and hot pepper. That appeals, and it’s a cheapie brand. Wonder if my Wal-Mart would have a tester for it?
All this despite my conviction that I have more perfume than I need to finish out my life. Shrug. I’ll probably look for a mango scent desultorily until I give up on finding The One, and by then I’ll be craving something else.
Maybe just those Ataulfo mangoes. I will fight you for them.
(Incidentally, those fajitas were fabulous. Make them now.)
Robert Piguet’s fragrance line was originally an extension of its couture fashion line, established in the 1930s. Its first fragrances, Fracas and Bandit, were developed with Germaine Cellier and quickly became big perennial sellers. The couture house closed in 1951, shortly before Piguet’s death, but the brand continued to develop and market fragrances into the 1960s. The house, now exclusively selling fragrance, was sold several times, the last time to Fashion Fragrances and Cosmetics in the late 1990s.
Since that time, Robert Piguet has reformulated its classics to adhere closely to their original versions, albeit with modern materials, and has also released several entirely new fragrances. The house nose seems to be Aurelien Guichard; I have only seen his name and no other perfumer’s connected with the newer fragrances, and we do know that he designed the reorchestrations of Piguet’s classic scents.
I very rarely get the chance to smell the newest, latest, hottest niche perfumery, much less all the indies, but for whatever reason, I’ve had the opportunity to test a fair portion of the fragrances from this house, and wanted to do a few thumbnail reviews here.
I’ve divided these as Robert Piguet has suggested in its marketing materials: unisex fragrances are highlighted in green. Women’s in (Fracas) pink, of course. Ones I’ve smelled are in bold. I have not listed limited-edition anniversary versions, because typically there is nothing special about the juice. (I’ve also not listed Fracas for Men, which is produced by a licensee of the name from the ’70s era and is generally not regarded as being a legitimate Piguet fragrance.)
Alameda 2013 – Modern chypre. Really, a sweetened patchouli-rose with lily, something like Calypso but without the cheerful fruit, heavier on the patch and castoreum.
Baghari 1954 – Aldehydic woody floral. I bought a small portion through a split. Obviously, vintage bottles age differently, but this thing was intensely animalic on me, so much so that the grocery clerk actually leaned away from me while ringing me up.
Baghari Refo 2006 – Still an aldehydic woody floral, but cleaner. Candlewaxy aldehydes, an intense orange, woods.
Bandit 1944, reformulated 2006 – Mean green chypre leather in both iterations, though the modern ingredients took some of the bulk out. Tried to shiv me in the nose, then went for the eye socket. I had to duck. Bandit indeed. (Hmph.)
Calypso 2010 (Original released in 1950s) – Floriental. Candied orange peel, rose and geranium, a greeny herbal patchouli, a bit of suede, and iris. Fun and pretty. I’d have bought it if I didn’t already own at least two other rose-patchouli scents.
Cravache Refo 2007 (Original released in 1960s) – Aromatic woody chypre.
Douglas Hannant 2011 – Fracas Lite, with pear (also see Petit Fracas, below). To be honest? I liked it. And I’m not sorry. I mean, it sho’ ain’t Fracas, but then absolutely nothing else is.
Fracas 1948, reformulated 2006 – Iconic Giant White Floral. My in-depth review is here. I’ve tried both 1960s parfum and the current EdP; both are very good, though the modern is streamlined (to some degree!) where the vintage was plussshhhh and narcotic.
Futur Refo 2009 (Original released in 1960s) – Green floral. I was sure I’d love this, but I don’t; it is standoffish and almost unfriendly, in my opinion, and now I understand why some people hate green florals. There is a ton of violet leaf in this, which I don’t mind, but also a ton of vetiver, and I wanted more florals than I got. There’s no reason Piguet should classify Futur as feminine, other than that the original was intended for women. I’m convinced a man could wear this successfully.
Knightsbridge 2013 (Harrods exclusive) – Leather. This scent is still exclusive to Harrods and more expensive than the rest of the line (which is not exactly cheap), at $325 for 50 mls, but I found it really enjoyable. It’s a rose made out of smooth glove leather, sprinkled with nutmeg and drizzled with Calvados, resting on a bed of makeuppy iris powder. Not quite edible, almost addictive. If only it were priced reasonably . . .
Nuit Velour 2017
Oud Delice 2015
Oud Divin 2015
Petit Fracas 2012 – Fruity floral. Like its name suggests, it’s a youthened version of Fracas; actually, it’s Lite-Fracas-Lite, with a fruity topping and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. (I preferred Douglas Hannant for a modernized Fracas.)
Rose Perfection 2013 – Rose soliflore. Wisps of powdery violet and a little mean-green smack of geranium surround a very pure, pretty rose. I’d probably rather have YSL Paris, but this is nice.
V Intense 2014
Visa Refo 2007 – Woody oriental. Part of this I liked (the candied-peach/vanilla/suede thing), part of this I really really hated (the Angel-esque, piercing patchouli). Overall, I found it nauseating, but if you liked Angel, give it a shot.
Les Celestials de Knightsbridge Collection:
La Lune 2017
Les Etoiles 2017
Les Soleil 2017
Bois Bleu 2013
Bois Noir 2012 – Woody incense. Sometimes I like a nice woody incense (Comme des Garcons Zagorsk, anybody? Amouage Jubilation XXV?), so I tried Bois Noir. Smoky guaiac, aromatic cedar, frankincense and some fairly harsh woody aromachemical lead into dirty patchouli and labdanum. Sigh. No.
Casbah 2012 – Oriental spicy. This one is what I expected Bois Noir to be: woods and incense, with nutmeg added. Not something I’d buy at this price point, but really nice.
Mademoiselle Piguet 2012 – Floral woody musk. Basically, soapy orange blossom, screechy neroli, and shaving-cream tonka on me. I didn’t love it.
Notes 2012 – Herbal fougere. I didn’t realize it was a fougere before trying it (Fragrantica calls it a chypre), but IT SO IS. And therefore, Not My Thing.
Jeunesse 2012 – Fruity floral. I thought I might enjoy it — I like a good fruity floral, emphasis on good — but the Pacific Collection was patently made for the Asian market, which tends to favor very light florals, and Jeunesse (“Youth”) is an olfactory raspberry macaron, sugared berries over a floral background so light it’s almost not there.
Overall, there are only a few Robert Piguet fragrances I would wear on a regular basis: Knightsbridge and Douglas Hannant (forgive me, Fracas, but that cold-cream orange blossom sometimes just does me in). Maybe Calypso, if I wasn’t already stocked up on rose-patchouli scents. On the other hand, I think the line is fairly well-composed and varied, and Fracas is so iconic that everyone should at least smell it, even the modern iteration.