Her Life Was on Fire, But at Least She Smelled Good

“Farmhouse Fire” by Fishin Musician on DeviantArt (click through for link)

Ever had one of those life-upheaving events happen? Where you’re not sure where you’ll be tomorrow and what you’ll be doing? And you don’t know who will be with you?


This has been my life, since April. I’ve managed a couple of posts since then, but it was in the spirit of stiff-upper-lip, steady-the-boat “normality.” That was probably a mistake, but then I’ve made a lot of those at this point.

Things are starting to settle down a bit. Things are looking up a bit, as well. (Counseling, reordered priorities, heavy-duty prayer, stuff like that. The fire is out, for the time being, and rebuilding is going on.)

The constant? You won’t be surprised to hear that I smelled good the whole time. I turned first to sweet, gentle roses, because roses smell like love, and they will heal your heart. Then my greenies came into play — because with me there are always greenies! — for spring, and for delight.

I was a little worried that I might accidentally ruin a favorite by associating it with a time of upheaval. It didn’t happen. I’m not sure why, except that I might have been conscious of wearing perfume for my own comfort, and I tended to choose fragrances I find comforting – nothing “difficult” or odd.

Joseph's Coat climbing roseI even bought something new: a slightly-used bottle of Teo Cabanel Early Roses, on eBay, at a very steep discount. I’d used up two samples, so it wasn’t a blind buy, and it had been on my vague and nebulous To Buy list, but it leapfrogged over a couple of other fragrances because of the bargain. I’m loving it. (FYI, it’s a gentle fresh rose over ambered woods, soft and pretty and uncomplicated.)

I’ve been running around like a no-headed chicken this summer, what with Gaze’s crazy schedule, and then there was a tropical vacation, and then we all got sick, but things are better now. More on The Suitcase Summer later.

Here’s to rebuilding. And smelling good no matter what. Love y’all.



Flip-Flop. Again.

flipflop111I’ve changed my mind on perfumes before.

Just to name a few I went from disliking to loving, and my original perceptions of them: Ralph Lauren Safari (too sweet), Jacomo Silences (too screechy), Amouage Memoir Woman (weird enough to come out of some sorceress’s grimoire). And then there was Guerlain Mitsouko, which I tried and tried and didn’t get, and then I got it, and promptly decided I didn’t love it and need never try it again.

I’ll probably reverse myself at least once more at some point in the future. There was a guy who used to work for my father-in-law who would say, “Uh-oh, we’ve got this back’ards. Got to flip it a hunnerd degrees the other way.” He meant 180°, of course, but you had to speak Charlesish to translate.

jasmine-poet-10I’ve flip-flopped, a hunnerd degrees different, lately.  Y’all hold on to your seats, because this one startled me.  I, like everybody else, have my preferences. I love rose and tuberose and narcissus, galbanum and aldehydes. I really hate balsamy orientals and I loathe patchouli in its earthy, dusty, cocoa-powder role; if it smells like Youth Dew, or God forbid, Opium, it is an abomination to me. Lavender gives me massive headaches. Indolic jasmine smells like soiled panties; the “clean” kind you find in, say, Jennifer Aniston‘s fragrance works my last freakin’ nerve, so jasmine soliflores are pretty much off the table.


Photo stolen from Bois de Jasmin (click for link).
Photo stolen from Bois de Jasmin (click for link).

I resniffed A La Nuit. And guess what happened? I liked it. It wasn’t poopy-diaper jasmine, or Ho Panties jasmine, or high-pitched squeaky-clean jasmine. It was just flowers. It made me relax enough to get sleepy, just from one hit.

So I wore it one evening. I still liked it. No poop, no panties, no screech. Instead, narcotic.

Huh. I’m hangin’ out with Jasmine the cool girl and we’re getting along just fine.

A Cautionary Tale: remember me and Chanel Cuir de Russie? I should have loved it. I like Chanel, I like aldehydes, I like floral leathers. In actuality, I hated it because it was such an odorealistic presentation of the cattle working pens here on the farm (iodine, rawhide, dust, dried manure, and fear). People kept telling me I was wrong, it was the softest pink leather imaginable, and one day, one day! it smelled like a perfect leather purse full of flowers, and that was wonderful. The next six times I tried it (differing concentrations/sources/weather), it was back to Virtual Working Pen, and I was back to hating it.

Here’s hoping I don’t start hating A La Nuit.

Jasmine. Who knew?


Parfumerie Generale

How come nobody ever talks about PG anymore?

PG, from his Facebook page (yes, he has a FB page! you can friend him yourself!)
PG, from his Facebook page (yes, he has a FB page! you can friend him yourself!)

Pierre Guillaume is still pretty dang good-lookin’. His Huitième Art Collection gets some press these days, and there’s a new house called the Pierre Guillaume Collection Croisiere. Of course Now Smell This is faithful to report a new Parfumerie Generale fragrance release. But people talking about the regular PG scents lately? Nope. (If they are, and I’ve missed it, please let me know.)

In sorting my samples, I ran across a fairly large pile of PG vials, and then I realized that I’ve tried far more of the house’s fragrances than the ones I still have. (Pretty sure I passed a few on to a friend.) And I realized that I had a mental impression of Parfumerie Generale fragrances as a whole: solid, made of nice raw materials, sometimes interesting and sometimes different takes on well-established/well-known scents, but none of them seizing me by the heart.

Shrug. If that happened every time, I’d be living under the bridge and eating out of Dumpsters, the best smelling homeless person ever.

I decided to post a swift rundown of the current Numbered Collection that I’ve tried, as well as some limited editions and some from the Private Collection. The Private Collection cannot be reached through the main website, and is described as “by invitation only,” though you can find some of them through retailers like LuckyScent.Aromateka-Moscow-4-450x300PG03 Cuir VenenumNotes of lemon, orange blossom, coconut, leather, musk, myrrh. A white-floral/leather, with the orange blossom amping grape-flavor methyl anthranilate to the max. A friend of mine describes this as “Grape Slushee on my suede boots.”

PG04 Musc MaoriNotes of cacao pod, tonka bean, amber, vanilla, white musk, woods, coffee, floral notes, green notes. Basically, this smells of milk chocolate, a Hershey bar in a bottle. Interesting, but I really hate cocoa/chocolate in my perfume. And for what it’s worth, I can hardly stand to eat milk chocolate; it’s too sweet.

PG10 AomassaiNotes of spices, wood resin, hazelnut, caramel, vetiver, incense, licorice, bitter orange, resins, hay, woods. I remember this one as being a strange almost-dessert smell, with something burning keeping it from being edible. Weird and nice, but also not really a scent I would like to wear. In color, it’s a brown so dark it’s almost black.

PG11 Harmatan NoirNotes of salt, tea, woodsy notes, citruses, green notes, virginia cedar, jasmine, mint. If the idea of salty mint tea drunk while sitting on a big piece of driftwood appeals to you, this scent will too. It is not “noir” in the least.

PG13 Brûlure de Rose – Notes of  litchi, Brazilian rosewood, amber, musk, raspberry, vanilla, cacao, raspberry and rose. The name means “Burning Rose,” or something like that, but where one might expect woody notes and incense along with the rose, instead there are fruit and caramel. This is Rose Crème Brûlée, maybe. Nice.

PG14 Iris Oriental (formerly Iris Taïzo) – Notes of fig honey, iris, Mexican vanilla, cardamom, kyara incense (olibanum) and woods, according to Fragrantica. The PG website says, “An ‘Orris Honey’, fruity and woody… Guatemalan cardamom, iris, Jinkoh wood, fig-tree honey and precious unguents infused with the warmth of the sun.” Well, all righty then. I don’t remember this one being honeyed at all – more a dry, lightly spicy woody scent with a bit of orris root, also dry and woody. (Thank heavens, no fig leaves.)

PG15 Ilang IvohibéNotes of Madagascar ylang-ylang, vanilla, California orange, Egyptian jasmine, lavender, orris, patchouli. At one time, I had a sample of this one which I cannot find now. I remember it as being very “golden,” except for the topnotes which I did not like (probably the lavender), but a bit too vanilla-sweet in the drydown.

PG16 Jardins de KerylosNotes of green fig, white peach, sycomore, herbal notes, and tuberose. I did not like this one at all, but then I really hate fig leaf.

PG17 Tubéreuse CoutureNotes of kalamanzi oil, green jasmine shoots, ylang-ylang, sugar cane, Indian tuberose, Sumatra benzoin and papyrus. Kalamanzi is a small citrus fruit (also known as calamondin, among other names) similar to a kumquat. I like this one a lot; it’s a bit green in the opening, and then candied tuberose later; it’s like a sweet fruit drink made with sugar and tuberose. Yummy. If Fracas is opaque and heavy, this is light and “clear.”

PG21 Felanilla – “Feline vanilla.” Notes of iris, amber, hay, saffron, banana leaf, Tahitian vanilla. Really pleasant, both dry and sweet.

PG23 Drama Nuuï Notes of absinthe, spices, jasmine, woods, musk. It’s mostly a green jasmine (“virginal jasmine,” according to the PG website), with an unfortunately honking laundry musk that takes over completely. I’m not a big jasmine gal anyway, but even I was disappointed when the musk muscled everything else out of the way.

PG24 Papyrus de CianeNotes of galbanum, grass, broom, oakmoss, musk, powdery notes. I should have loved this one. I didn’t. It is musty, earthy, and pale after a sharp green opening. I might like to smell this in a room, or outside, but not on myself.

From the Private Collection:
Bois BlondNotes of grass, galbanum, wheat, cedar, hay, ambergris, musk, blond tobacco. I should try this again; the first time I tested it, I was looking for The Hay Fragrance For Me, and it was a fail. But the more I look at that notes list, the more I think I might like it if I tried it without expecting anything in particular. I’d have to get another sample, since I gave the first one away.

Bois de CopaïbaNotes of orange, ginger, sandalwood, amaretto, mahogany, myrrh, copahu balm. I barely remember this one, except that it was boozy and I gave my sample away. Did not love it.

L’Oiseau de NuitNotes of artemisia, leather, davana, labdanum, benzoin. I gave this one away too (why? maybe someone wanted them?), but I remember it as being rather similar to Shalimar, without that light/dark effect you get between the bright lemon and the shadowy woods. It seemed dark blue to me somehow. I love the name, Night Bird.

Praliné de SantalNotes of heliotrope, sandalwood, hazelnut, cedar, cashmere. Sandalwood smells almost edible anyway, and adding heliotrope and hazelnut to the mix pushes it even farther to the gourmand side. Cashmeran and cedarwood push it back to the woody side, so it hovers between edible and inedible. Nice stuff.

QuerelleNotes of citrus, cumin, cinnamon, myrrh, caraway, incense, rose, vetiver, oakmoss, ambergris. This one I did not like; it seemed dissonant, with spices that really were not friendly to each other. (Shrug. Maybe it’s me.)

TonkamandeNotes of aldehydes, almond milk, tonka bean, wheat, sandalwood, vanilla, amber. The difference between this one and Praline de Santal is… um… okay, I forget (I gave this sample away too). Maybe this was less sweet, more milky? They’re variations on a comforting theme, anyway.  I can no longer find it on the PG website, but LuckyScent still has it.

Une Crime ExotiqueNotes of Chinese osmanthus, gingerbread, tea, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla, maté, sugar, sandalwood. Again, a variation on the almost-edible woody gourmand, except this one is more definitely gourmand. You could almost eat it. Name’s weird, but it’s pleasant. Also no longer available on the PG site or at LuckyScent, so I guess it’s really gone.

What about you? Have you tried any PG or Huitieme Art fragrances? Do you have a favorite, do you get on with the house, do you have any idea what I’m talking about since nobody seems to mention PG anymore?


Sample Sortage and Storage

Pic stolen from Clouddragon.
Pic stolen from Clouddragon.

For at least a couple of years now, I’ve been keeping my samples in two compartmentalized plastic craft boxes, vaguely organized by house alphabetically. However, I had neglected filing them, and they were starting to pile up around the bedroom. In cardboard boxes… in the cute little carved wooden box my mother bought me at the Wolfahrt Haus gift shop… in the pink depression-glass bowls I have slung around the bedroom to corral the clutter.


I bought another craft box and started sorting: A-H in one pile, I-P in another, Q-Z in the last. I had thought there would be tons of Ps, with all the houses named Parfums de Something, but the A-H pile was almost twice the size of the other two. Only at that point did it occur to me that there are a lot of perfumes from houses beginning with A, C, or G, and it’s a good thing one of my sample boxes is much larger than the other two.

I ran into a minor snag or two, when deciding how to file. Patou fragrances wound up in the J category, because the house is really called Jean Patou. But Balmain, although the house is formally known as Pierre Balmain, stayed in the B’s. Why? No good reason, except that’s how I think of them. (Balmain, incidentally, uses that B on its packaging, whereas Patou uses JP on its bottles.)

So. I have no “before” pics (no, this is a good thing. You’d be calling Social Services on me), but here are a few of the completed project.

The Big One, A-H
The Big One, A-H

Here’s Elisa of Bois de Jasmin on the way she stores her samples: http://boisdejasmin.com/2015/11/perfume-samples-where-to-get-and-how-to-store.html. The “sort into bags by genre” works for her, would probably drive me crazy. Whatever makes sense to you intuitively is probably best.

Box #2, I-P
Box #2, I-P

I’ve been finding things I haven’t tried, and things I really liked but not enough to buy a larger portion of, whether decant or full bottle. I’ve also been finding things I hated and wouldn’t touch again if you paid me — often things that other people find pleasant! — so I need to find them a new home. They’re mostly things that would only be appreciated by other fumeheads, so I don’t really see myself dropping them off in a ladies’ room at the mall. Can’t take them to the local women’s shelter; they don’t allow donations of used personal care items. Gah. Could maybe offer them for a penny plus shipping costs on ebay, I guess.

Box #3, Q-Z
Box #3, Q-Z

I do like to keep samples for reference sometimes, but sometimes they evaporate or turn, so they’re less than ideal for long-term storage. I shall endeavor to use them up — in the bathtub, if necessary.

I think I shall do another Rose Week soon! Apparently I never met a rose frag that I didn’t at least want to try, so I have a lot of samples here…

… a LOT of samples…


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.


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?


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.


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?


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







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.



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.


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.


Scent Diary, Feb. 22-28, 2016



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.



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.