Categotry Archives: The scented life


Book and Perfume Review: The Perfume Lover by Denyse Beaulieu, and L’Artisan Seville a l’Aube


Categories: Citrus scents, L'Artisan, Literature review, Perfume review, The scented life, White floral, Tags: , , , , ,

Oranges bénites / Blessed oranges

The subtitle for this book, by the author of one of the most long-running and influential/well-read perfume blogs, Grain de Musc, is “A Personal History of Scent,” and that’s a succinct description of what you’ll find inside its pages. We get all kinds of scented anecdotes, from perfume being banned from young Denyse’s home due to her father’s dislike of it, to her first exhilarating visit to a Paris perfume shop, to the shared bottle of “men’s” fragrance used by her university social group of young, intellectual punk-rockers as a sort of identity badge, right through descriptions of what she wore as a young freelance writer in Europe, what she wore at her wedding, and what scent became the symbol of a torrid love affair.

Perhaps more compelling to perfume fans than these stories is the story of how Seville a l’Aube came about, which is woven into the book. First there’s a chance meeting with Bertrand Duchaufour, then an invitation for her to come by his lab and learn more, followed by the story of how “the most beautiful night of [her] life” smelled and Duchaufour’s comment that it would make a terrific perfume. The seed – Ms. Beaulieu’s description of a Holy Week night spent in a Seville orange grove not far from the cathedral, standing with a Spanish boy and watching the religious festivities – fell on fertile ground, and much of the book is a step-by-step telling of how, exactly, a perfume is created. Continue reading →



Slow Burn: a rant about perfume blogging, Part I of II


Categories: Blog housecleaning, Rant, That's Just My Opinion, The scented life, Tags:

The Grudge, no. This isn't my car.

IRL, y’all, I am a touchy person.  A rude driver can ruin my morning.  If I call  The CEO’s cell phone to ascertain whether he picked Gaze up from track practice at the middle school, and he answers all my questions truthfully yet not completely, Bill Clinton style, obfuscating the situation and making me think ma blue-eyed bebe with his long eyelashes is standing on the school steps all alone instead of riding safely home with his sister, I am livid for twenty minutes.

Also, I can hold a grudge like nobody’s business.  I am the Repeat World Champion of Grudge-Holding.  I can cradle up my grudges like an armful of fluffy kittens and not let them go even when they are scratching me to ribbons. 

I am working on changing this behavior.  It is not easy.  Today I have failed, miserably.

Sometimes it takes me awhile to get my mad on.   I’ll hear or read some comment and be vaguely annoyed, and tell myself to just “let it go.”  So I’ll have, I thought, let it go, and six weeks later I wake up mad, and it takes me some time to figure out why.  And then I will need to address my feelings about whatever-it-was that annoyed me, and get the feelings all out in the open before I can really release the issue’s emotional hold on me.

So.  Here goes.  And I warn you now, toes will be stepped upon.  I have my big girl boots on today.  Names will be named.  I am prepared for the consequences.

I read this post by Dane on Pere de Pierre, which talked about “crap bloggers” and chastised new perfume bloggers for being unlearned and spreading misinformation.  It annoyed me, and I considered commenting, but then I realized that Dane has never once responded to any comment I’ve made on his blog, and that there was very little point in my saying anything to him.

Besides which, I get the feeling that he’d consider this blog a “crap” one. Continue reading →



Top 20 Bestselling Fragrances of 2011, or, They do still sell Shalimar here, don’t they?


Categories: The scented life, Tags: , , ,

It’s Ari’s fault. Again. 😉  I have jumped on Scents of Self’s Clever Bandwagon to do some reviews of the Best-Selling Fragrances of 2011 in the US (see Victoria’s original post on the matter at Bois de Jasmin).


Top 20 Bestselling Women's Fragrances of 2011 in the US, image from Scents of Self

Ari sees this as an anti-perfume-snobbery move, becoming further acquainted with the bestsellers, lest she suddenly be capable only of buying niche fragrances no one else has never heard of, and which are only available for purchase in person in Belgium on the alternate Wednesday of months ending in R, after one has purchased an option to buy well beforehand, and Lord help you if you leave that option ticket stuck to your fridge with a magnet before you leave the house.

Point well taken. I know that when I look at my favorite favorites, a good number of them are niche and still others are no longer available in the version that I prefer. (vintage Chanel No. 19, in the leathery old EdT, anyone? Discontinued Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur? 1974 Coty Emeraude parfum de toilette?) Hardly any of them are available at my local mall – local, pish, it’s 18 miles from my house and it takes half an hour to drive there.
Here's another shot of Hamburger!
I don’t think we’re in that much danger of becoming terrible snobs, sneering at Estee Lauder, as we are of overlooking something good at the most mainstream of mainstream perfumery outlets. Will I still love Amouage after this experiment? I’m sure I will. But I also notice that even after wearing Amouage or F. Malle fragrances, Jovan Musk for Women still smells good to me, too. Sure, it’s a little downmarket, like grabbing a burger after spending the week eating chef-cooked meals, but that doesn’t mean the burger can’t be awesome. Besides which, if I only bought Lyric, Memoir, Carnal Flower and Iris Poudre, I’d be broke. (I only have decants, y’all.) Continue reading →



Welcome to the new blog site!


Categories: Blog housecleaning, Family, fragrant gifts, The scented life, Tags: , ,

Happy Birthday

In honor of the inaugural post on The Muse in Wooden Shoes, I give you this stunning and delicious-looking cake from Georgie Sharp on Flickr.  (Well, actually, it has to be virtual cake.  If I could pass out slices of what looks like a very rich chocolate torte with burnt-sugar caramel pieces, I would – after I got my slice, of course. WANT.)

And because I am a self-centered and tiny-minded human… and because the timing was reasonable… the new blog site opens on my birthday.  I’m giving myself some virtual gifts today, so you get to enjoy them vicariously with me.  Continue reading →



More news on upcoming blog changes, and the inaugural TBR post


Categories: Blog housecleaning, Recipes, The scented life, Tags: ,

Woman cooking in a kitchen, from Wikimedia Commons

Mals has been cooking up something!

First: after hours of slaving over a hot computer yesterday, I managed to set up my blog at its new webhost and port over all the posts.  Yay!  I will need to do some tweaking of it, like adding the sidebar widgets, updating the blogroll, and choosing a new theme (since this one is no longer available, for some reason).  I’ll also be adding page breaks so that a longer list of posts will appear on the main page; to read the full post you’ll need to click once on the title or the “click here to continue reading” jump link.  

The new blog will probably go live next week.  I’ll leave a redirect up on this site.  I plan to maintain this blog site rather than delete it, but no new posts will appear at this location after the official move.

Second: ads will appear gradually on the new site.  I plan to keep them confined to certain areas, like sidebars, headers or footers, and will not use pop-ups because those things annoy the fire out of me. They will be content-linked, so I assume they’ll relate to perfume and books.

Also, I have a new weekly posting plan.  When I started blogging in 2009, the plan was to offer three reviews a week.  If you’ve been reading for awhile, you’ll notice that that idea fell by the wayside about the time that I started doing NaNoWriMo in November of that year, and from time to time all I’ve regularly posted has been Scent Diary.  However, since I would like to get back to posting more frequently, I have worked up a new schedule, as follows:

Continue reading →



2011: The Year’s Fragrance Releases in Review


Categories: The scented life, Tags:

Well, at least in part.

I’ve never done one of these posts, since it’s rare that I’ve even tried more than three or four released-this-year fragrances. But thanks to several shopping trips and a few decants, and some really lovely fumie friends, I’ve tried several of the year’s releases and can actually comment on the ones I’ve tested.  This is a new experience for me, as I’m typically behind the times.

It was a grab-bag sort of year.  I’ll divide the new fragrances I tried into categories, depending on my reaction to each one.

Well, Duh: new fragrances that I didn’t like, but then I didn’t expect to like:

Justin Bieber Someday; Jessica Simpson I Fancy You; Taylor Swift Wonderstruck – all three of these were simple, fruity, lowest-common-denominator kind of scents. I rather like Taylor herself, but I can’t imagine wearing any of these sugary fruitbombs on my actual skin.

Sonoma Scent Studio Fig Tree – what can I say? I don’t like fig scents. It was kind of Laurie to send me a sample to try, anyway, and this one is getting raves from lots of people. So it’s me.

Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude – anything with a “skin scent” descriptor is likely to disappear on me within an hour. This one’s no different: laundry musk and plastic.

L’Eau d’Issey Florale – the original is so reminiscent of industrial cleaner that I was sure that tossing some “light” florals like freesia and peony on top wouldn’t improve things much. I was right. 

Why Did I Bother?: new fragrances that I expected to like, but didn’t like:

Continue reading →



Mona di Orio


Categories: The scented life, Tags:

Perfumer Mona di Orio died unexpectedly yesterday.  The perfume blogosphere and the group of Facebook perfumistas where I often chat with friends were full of sadness and consternation.  I noted this, and though I feel sad for her family, it is in that vague, I-didn’t-know-her sort of way.

Because I didn’t know her.

Friends and fellow bloggers praised her creations.  They loved Carnation; I didn’t bother trying it because it’s not about the carnation flower, it’s named after blushing skin.  They loved Jabu; I didn’t wangle a sample because it’s orange blossom and jasmine.  They loved Oiro and Nuit Noire, they loved the Les Nombres d’Or collection from Vanille through Cuir to Musc; the notes didn’t appeal to me and I’ve never smelled any of those. I think those bottles are gorgeous, a true perfume-lover’s kind of bottle: beautiful, solid, a pop-the-champagne-cork joy to open, or so I would assume.  The idea of opening a bottle gives me little thrills, even though I’ve never actually touched one.   The only Mona di Orio creation I’ve smelled is Tubereuse from the Les Nombres d’Or collection, because as a matter of habit I get my hands on every tuberose fragrance I possibly can.  Also, Angela at Now Smell This rather liked it, and I admire Angela’s taste.

I did not like it.  I’m still  not sure why.  Was I having a bad skin day?  Was it interacting badly with whatever I showered with?  Was it me?

I’ll give it a shot again.  But I still feel that I didn’t know Mona di Orio.  For those of who did know her, even if it is in that “Hey, she made something great that gives me joy,” sort of way, my condolences.  May she rest in peace.

Image from Fragrantica.




Book Review: The Little Book of Perfumes: The Hundred Classics, by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez


Categories: book review, That's Just My Opinion, The scented life, Tags: , , ,

The first thing you need to know before you read this review is what I thought of the two earlier perfume-review books by these authors: I own both, frequently refer to them, and occasionally read them for fun and enjoyment, finding the snarky reviews as naughtily delightful as the lyrical ones are angelically so. My early forays into perfume sampling were in some cases guided by Perfumes: The Guide, with mixed results. I would never have ordered a sample of Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete – which has been on my Top Three All-Time list ever since – without reading Dr. Turin’s description of it as being “something close to perfection, rich, radiant, solid”. On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to forgive him for the rave review of S Perfumes 100% Love, which I hated. And I’m not even going to talk about Secretions Magnifiques, which positive review had any number of perfume fans preparing to come after him in a mob bearing torches and pitchforks.  Suffice it to say that as a strict guide to perfume choice, the earlier books were as controversial as they were helpful.  I’m writing this book review from the perspective of one familiar with the authors’ earlier works, as it’s my belief that most of my blog readers will also be familiar with them.

If, by some chance, readers are not familiar with the authors and/or their previously published fragrance review books, here are a few facts: Dr. Luca Turin has a PhD in biophysics, has spent many years studying olfactory science, and authored The Secret of Scent. Tania Sanchez is a writer and perfume aficionado well-known for her reviews on MakeupAlley. The two are married. For more information, please read this interview with the authors on Now Smell This, dating back to shortly after the first edition of Perfumes: The Guide was published in 2008.

The new, hardcover book is slender and handsome, measuring about 8 ¼” by 4 ¾”, with an attractive black dust jacket embellished with white. The endpapers are bright pink, an elegant 1950s-retro color combination that makes me, for one, smile. The book is 107 pages long, including indices, and includes the following features:


Authors’ Note states that they “judge formula changes based on side-by-side tests of previous years’ bottles and new samples, direct from the firms whenever possible.”

A new Foreword by Tania Sanchez points out that “the fragrances reviewed in this book are not the greatest of all time – instead, they are those that struck us as far above their peers in quality, inventiveness, or straightforward beauty when we surveyed nearly 1900 during the writing of Perfumes: The A-Z guide,” and also that this smaller book eliminates the one-line, snarky reviews for which the authors caught so much ire in earlier editions. (The two-word review for Paris Hilton’s Can Can comes to mind here: “Can it.”) I’m glad to see that the reviews that remain are all thoughtful, well-expressed, and darned helpful if you are trying to place a fragrance along the timeline of historical development, or trying to figure out its structure.

The bulk of the book is, of course, the Perfume Reviews. Essentially, this book is comprised of the five-star reviews from the earlier, lengthier editions, with updates for the 2011 version of those fragrances wherever e possible. Some of these fragrances – usually due to IFRA restrictions on raw materials – are no longer the works of magnificence that the authors felt that they were in 2007. Many of the reformulated scents, about 40%, have 2011 updates. I’ll list a few for you here: Guerlain Apres l’Ondee, Chanel Bois des Iles, Chanel Cristalle, Dior Diorella, Robert Piguet Fracas, Guerlain Habit Rouge, Jean Patou Joy parfum, Chanel No. 5 edt and parfum, Yves St. Laurent Opium, Dior Poison Guerlain Shalimar, Caron Le Troisieme Homme. Nearly all the reviews for fragrances known as “classics” do have updates. I was extremely pleased to see – finally! – a dissenting opinion from Ms. Sanchez following Dr. Turin’s rave review of Etat Libre d’Orange’s divisive scent Secretions Magnifiques. I’ll quote that one for you here (and only that one update, since I don’t want to discourage sales to curious people).

[Secretions Magnifiques] 2011: Smells exactly the same. For the record, there always should have been a dissenting view from me on this one: one star, absolutely revolting, like a drop of J’Adore on an oyster you know you shouldn’t eat. Whatever you do, do not allow any to touch your nose when you smell it off a paper strip. I know Luca is a convincing proselytizer, but trust me.

(Amen, sister. Not for nothing is this fragrance generally known among my perfumista friends as Secretions Gagnifiques…)

The authors also note that some of their chosen fragrances have now been discontinued, such as Theo Fennell Scent and L’Artisan Vanilia. Further, the few already-discontinued scents reviewed in the original, such as Le Feu d’Issey and Yohji Homme, are noted as still being discontinued.

Following the reviews, there is a section written by Luca Turin on the Osmotheque, the only perfume museum in the world. It stores and displays discontinued fragrances of “artistic significance,” and allows visitors to smell samples of these otherwise-unavailable joys. The Osmotheque was founded by perfumer Jean Kerleo and is currently directed by Patricia de Nicolai (who created my dear darling Le Temps d’une Fete, included in The Hundred Classics). Dr. Turin suggests that the Osmotheque should sell their reconstructed beauties, with “no reference to the original name, compounded according to the proper formula. The aficion will know its own. Label each bottle with a skull and crossbones and the warning ‘Do not put on skin’ to avoid IFRA trouble. Maybe if they did this they would shame the brands into reintroducing classic fragrances. I’m not holding my breath, not least because I need to sniff my strip of Iris Gris.” I agree. I do love my 1970s Coty Emeraude parfum de toilette, but I’m sure the recreation of the original parfum would put it to shame.

The Osmotheque section includes reviews of four scents only smellable in original (recreated) form at the museum: Coty L’Origan, Coty Chypre, Coty Emeraude, and Jacques Fath Iris Gris. I’d love to compare the Osmotheque’s version of Coty Chypre (not, you understand, the 1980s eau de toilette rerelease, which is pleasant enough) to my DSH Perfumes version of Chypre, which takes my breath away. And Dr. Turin also touches on the reason I love Emeraude so much: “the two halves of the fragrance [minty-fresh topnotes and lavish oriental accord] are so carefully welded together that they form a single deep saturated, transparent hue, not so much an emerald as the name would suggest, more the green starboard light of a ship gliding by in the dark.” I’d have put it more simply: to me, Emeraude smells like itself, top to bottom, all the way through. You can remark on its similarity to Shalimar, but Emeraude does not smell like Shalimar, it smells like Emeraude – a warm, smiling, bosomy presence, plush but clear.

The section following discusses Sources used by the authors to obtain samples: the Osmotheque, samples sold online, major brands, niche firms, specialty retailers such as Lucky Scent and Aedes de Venustas, department stores, and independent decanters such as The Perfumed Court. The authors also recommend, for perfumery raw materials, exploratory kits from The Perfumer’s Apprentice.

The last few pages are made up of a Glossary, Top Ten Lists, and an Index of Brands (fragrances listed by perfume house). These should look familiar to you if you’ve read the earlier books, except that I don’t remember seeing the “Desert Island” lists of each author before, and that was a fun read.

As I mentioned before in the “book review coming” post, I very much doubt that anyone who owns either of the two previous books will find it necessary to own this one as well. The material in it that you haven’t read before is good stuff, from Foreword to updates to Desert Island lists.  However, if you haunt the perfume blogs as I do, you probably already know that, for example, Diorella has been messed with recently, as have most of the classic Dior fragrances – and not for the better (except perhaps Poison, which probably needed to go on a diet, at least by my standards). You probably already know that IFRA has forced changes to the classic Chanels, and although they seem thinner and lack the lovely sandalwood of yore, the reformulations are still in the spirit of the earlier fragrances. You probably already know that Guerlain’s reformulations of their classics are uneven, with a few smelling slightly better these days due to a rebalancing of the formula, a few fragrances noticeably different but still very good, and a few having had the soul stripped from them.

I’d love to keep this book, but I have plans for it: I’m giving it to my local library. That’s my advice for those of you who are still wondering whether you need a copy: buy one (or two, or four), skim it lightly for the new bits, and then give it as a gift to people who are completely nonplussed as to why you love perfume. Buy a copy for your local library – or for your favorite sales associate, if you are so lucky as to have one of those. It’s short enough to be a quick and entertaining read even for people who have little interest in fragrance, and compelling enough to, perhaps, change that.

Not to mention, I want to encourage supporting people who write about perfume for a living. The book is fairly inexpensive, at $18.00 retail and $12.24 at Amazon.   It will be released on October 27, 2011, exactly a week from today, and it is possible to preorder it.  (Please note, if you go to Amazon, the associated reviews are actually for Perfumes: the A-Z Guide, which confused me momentarily.) A publicity copy was provided to me for review from Viking, free of charge.  Please note: Reader Nina clarifies for us that authors receive better royalties when books are purchased from independent booksellers than they get when we order from Amazon (and, presumably, other online sellers).  Keep that in mind when making a decision to buy books.

Also see Dimitri’s review of The Little Book of Perfumes at Sorcery of Scent.  (I love his blog pictures.)  Book image from Viking.



Upcoming: Short Review of The Little Book of Perfumes (Turin/Sanchez, 2011)


Categories: That's Just My Opinion, The scented life, Tags:


You know this is going to be available in a few days, right?  you have heard of this, right?  No?  It’s a trimmed-down, sometimes-updated version of the behemoth collection of Turin&Sanchez reviews we all love to hate/hate to love, plus reviews of four classics only smellable at the Osmotheque in recreated original form (Coty Chypre, L’Origan, Emeraude, and Fath Iris Gris).  Read more about it here, if you want more explanation.

I’ll review it here this week.  I have a publicity copy right here in my hot little hands, and I’ll dish the dirt for you.  The short version: if you’ve already got Perfumes: The Guide in hardback, or Perfumes from A to Z in paperback, you probably don’t need it.  If you’re me (and you own both books), you’ll probably want it anyway.  Just because.

I shamelessly lifted the image of the book from Now Smell This.




Busy weekend ahead


Categories: Blog housecleaning, Family, The scented life

Autumn image from

We will have company over the weekend.

International company.

This isn’t the first time we’ve hosted people from another country, and it isn’t the first time we’ve hosted two people at the same time.   This weekend, we’ll have two guys from China staying with us.

They’re Eisenhower Fellows, visiting the US for a 4-5 week stay and meeting people, making professional connections and seeing how Americans live.  These two particular guys work for the Chinese government, and because they’d requested to spend some time “in the country,” they’ll stay with us over the weekend, between their official meetings in New York/Washington, DC on Friday and in DC/Boston on Tuesday.

The CEO was the US Eisenhower Fellow for Agriculture in 2007; he did his six-week study in Australia and New Zealand, on international beef markets.  I was able to join him for three weeks – about five days at the tag end of his time in Australia, when we visited a sheep and cattle station in New South Wales and spent a few days in Sydney.  We were actually able to have dinner with some relatives-by-marriage in Sydney, and enjoyed that very much.  Kind of a complicated relationship: The CEO’s sister E is married to his college roommate K.  All of K’s grandparents were born in China, so he’s 100% ethnic Chinese, and he’s got family strung from New Jersey to San Francisco and other places around the world, including an aunt in Sydney.  She herself was born in the US, and then met a Thai-born Chinese guy at the University of Maryland, married him, and moved to Australia.  (It was amusing to meet K’s cousin, who looks strikingly like him, and hear this Chinese guy speaking with an Australian accent!  It’s probably just as odd to our Chinese visitors to see someone who looks like home, but talks like an American…)

I really enjoyed our trip to New Zealand, and I’d love to go back.  In fact, if we ever decided to live somewhere other than the US, I’d be pushing for Wellington, or somewhere near it.  The CEO had done his master’s degree at Massey University in New Zealand, and it was nice to be able to see where he’d spent those two years in Palmerston North.  New Zealand is very beautiful, with amazing geography, and I loved every minute there.  We’ve got loads of photos somewhere…

Since returning from The CEO’s Fellowship, we’ve hosted several international Fellows.  First, a lovely couple from Nigeria, a doctor and her husband, who owns a pharmaceutical company – Olanike and Biodun.  Then Somkiat from Thailand who is a political adviser in an independent think tank, and Dong Qing, who teaches at a high-level educational facility in China.  And Erik, from Brazil, who is CFO of a large company that provides electricity to the nation.  (Erik had never eaten chicken gravy until we took him to The Homeplace.  He loved it.  Called it “sauce”- which, I suppose, it technically is.)

Erik-from-Brazil took this photo of our family at Mabry Mill a couple of years ago.

I do like having people visit; I just wish we could pick a different weekend.  With one son’s birthday on the 5th and one on the 13th, we usually try to have a family birthday party for the two of them on the weekend in between.  Eisenhower Fellowships complicates that.  US Fellows can pick the time of year that suits them to make their trips (The CEO left for Australia in early July, and I joined him on the 26th, and we were home by the second week of August), but Fellows visiting the US are here during specified times of the year, October or April, so that they can meet each other. 

And this weekend, we’ll have Honghua, who is a university think tank professor of Chinese-American studies economic relations, and “Bill,” who runs the Chinese equivalent of the Social Security Administration investment fund, staying with us.  We’ll let them putter around on the farm, see some cows, maybe ride on the tractor.  We’ll probably take them for a meal at The Homeplace restaurant, which specializes in Southern food served homestyle: sweet iced tea, fried chicken, country ham, mashed potatoes and fried apples and green beans and biscuits, yum.  And then The CEO is planning to take them to Monticello on the way to catch their flights at Dulles on Monday.  So I’ll be busy, probably with no time to post reviews or Scent Diary until next Monday night or Tuesday, but look for something then.

Have a great weekend!



First home football game of the 2011 high school season…


Categories: The scented life, Tags:

You people do realize, of course, that I really go to football games to see the band, right?

I mean, I like football.  Football is fun.  I have rarely had as wonderful a time watching a football game on TV as I have in the stands.  Virginia Tech games, over the last fifteen years or so, have been awesome fun.  (However, you can’t get tickets cheap anymore, not like you could when the team stunk – because they really stunk.)  The high school games are considerably less fun, given the football team’s recent record, but I still go.

It’s hot here, and still humid, and I had thought I had signed up to work the concession stand for the Band Boosters, but it turns out that I’m scheduled for next week.  I’m going to go anyway… just to see the band.  SOTMorning was Aftelier Amber, a smoky-golden thing that actually gave me a headache, but also gave me a taste for the smells of fall.  Maybe I’ll drag out that sample of CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves, which does the Smoky thing very nicely but also adds a drizzle of maple syrup, which I find sort of weird – like scorched French toast.  Maybe instead I’ll go with my Virtual Marching Band scent, Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea.

WBHS Letter squad, 1984, photo by Angela Manseau's mom (That's me standing, third from left. Check out the bow ties!)

I miss marching band.  I miss my stupid uniform.  I miss the other Letter Girls.  I miss my band buddies.  I miss practice four days a week, for heaven’s sake.  Most of all, I miss cadence.   I miss the way my heart would pound listening to it… (okay, fine, I don’t miss the drummer boyfriend).

Is it wrong of me to get a vicarious thrill from watching my kid on the field?   If it is, don’t tell me.  Shhh… I can hear the percussion section practicing now… 

Photo by band geek ’09 at Flickr

Top image is from our high school marching band’s web page.  I’d prefer not to identify it here due to privacy issues with my children, but if you want the credit for it, I can email it to you.

Update: the game was postponed several times due to lightning and incipient rain; eventually the decision was made to play the game on Saturday.  Which meant no band.   Bummer.



Chicken or Egg?: Loud Perfume on Other People


Categories: Rant, The scented life, Tags:

Image from Makeup Files

Many times in the past, I’ve ranted that I hate loud perfume. Hate it, abhor it, despise it… and therefore I never apply perfume such that I can be smelled at farther than a distance of about five feet. My usual preferred wafting distance is about three feet, but every now and then I come across a particularly radiant scent that, however carefully applied, leaves goodly sillage. Of that kind of thing, I just use less than my usual moderate amount.

Not everyone is so thoughtful.

A couple of weeks ago, during a trip to the Wal-Mart to pick up a few groceries and a new bike helmet for Gaze, whose head is relatively large for his size, we were olfactorily assaulted by a woman pushing her shopping cart a good 18-20 feet away from us. This lady was completely doused in Youth Dew, a heavy-hitter of the first order.

(Wearers of Youth Dew, fear not, this is not going to turn into a diatribe. At least, I’ll do my best.) I hate Youth Dew. As a child, I smelled it frequently on ladies at church, and at concerts, and out shopping with my mother. I didn’t like it then, and I still don’t like it. Just last month, I rechecked it at the Estee Lauder counter at the mall, just to make absolutely positively sure that my tastes haven’t changed with regards to YD. I put the teeniest spritz I could manage on a tester strip and then swiped the paper across the back of my hand, figuring I could wash it off easily there. But no go, I still hate the stuff. It smells dusty-oily and cloying to me, just horrid.

If I look at the list of fragrances I have found hideous over the years, they’d include these: Youth Dew, Opium, Obsession, Poison, and Angel. What do these have in common? Well, the first three are hefty balsamic orientals, Poison is a hefty floral-oriental, and Angel is… lessee… perhaps we could call it a huge, stonking gourmand fougere. Further, each one of them is radiant beyond all belief, with a nuclear half-life, with as much personality as Ethel Merman or Liberace, and with a similar attention-grabbing persona.


My further question is, do I hate these because they are Perfumery’s Big Guns – or do I hate them because so many wearers apply too much? This is still the chicken-or-egg question. I know that frequently people who have a signature scent lose the ability to smell the fragrance at the levels that others can smell it, and accordingly, overapply. Also, I think I have to take the position that people who choose these hefty, radiant, personality-plus fragrances really love to smell them, and assume that everyone else loves those scents as well.

It’s not that I only like quiet, unassuming fragrances myself. I sometimes like a big wafter – for example, L’Arte di Gucci, or Carnal Flower. I mostly liked Portrait of a Lady, which is every bit as radiant as Opium. But I like these on a small scale, a drop or two at a time, not at levels that could choke a moose.

I’m dying to know why I never smell someone from fifteen feet away wearing something I love. Why aren’t these Floating-Clouds-of-Fragrance people wearing, I dunno, Cuir de Lancome? Or Chanel No. 5 parfum? Or Hanae Mori, another wafty one, for that matter? I would adore to bump into someone wearing a little mist of, say, Agent Provocateur or Alahine. (Alahiiiiiine, yum.) I once had a boss that wore something quite lovely, and while you couldn’t smell her down the hall, she did leave a tiny trail of delicious scent behind her. Other than that, I never seem to smell something lovely on the air.

I know it takes all kinds to make a world, and I’m sorry if I’ve stepped on toes today. Anybody want to weigh in on this issue? Have you ever suspected, or been told outright, that you’re wearing too much perfume? Whether you love the Sillage Monsters or hate them, whether you like big sillage or hate it, please share.

See also this blog post on people wearing too much perfume. I disagree with the blogger that church should be a totally fragrance-free zone, but (as I mentioned a few paragraphs up) I’ve certainly been smacked about the nostrils while sitting in a pew, so she does have a point. Mine is just – “Please, don’t give non-perfumistas reason to hate us. Wear something that smells really good, and unless you’re in a spot where you can let loose without bludgeoning people, be discreet.”

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