Guess When and Win

Have you noticed an increasing frequency of people vlogging about buying and finishing products, from nail polish, to body lotion, to make-up and even perfumes? Googling videos with “YouTube beauty product empties” yielded thousands of results. A quick perusal showed that the most relevant videos ranged from 5 minutes to an average of 20 or so minutes each. The earliest video was from May 2013 and the most recent one was from a few minutes ago.

In Perfumeland, finishing a full bottle of perfume is like finding a unicorn, unless you have perfume-eating skin, in which case, you WISH said unicorn magically replenishes the bottle you are about to finish. I am close to seeing my next1 perfume unicorn. Can you guess for which perfume?

Chanel No 19 EdP

If you guessed Chanel No. 19 EDP, you are absolutely right!

According to Fragrantica, Chanel No. 19 was launched in 1970. The Number 19 in the name refers to the August 192, birth date of Coco Chanel. While there are various formulations of Chanel No. 19 (EDT, EDP, Parfum and even a flanker – Poudre), the one I like best is the EDP. It has a bracing combination of bergamot, iris, vetiver and a hint of leather. It is easy to wear, office-friendly and lasts all day with my usual 5 sprays. Chanel No. 19 EDP gives me backbone for anticipated stress-filled days; and there had been plenty of those since I bought this 100mL bottle in March 2015.

I still have a few wearings left and I am determined to finish it before the end of the year. To celebrate this milestone, I am offering a miniature L’Air du Desert Marocain3. To be entered, leave a comment and include the following:

  1. Date when you think I will finish the bottle.
  2. The last perfume bottle you finished – when and which one. If you have not finished one, which one will you use up within the next 6 months?
  3. Your country (there is no restrictions but we need to know).

The contest is open until 11:59PM PST on December 23, 2017. The winner will be chosen via Random.org from the commenters who guessed the date correctly. If not one guesses the date correctly, everyone will be included in the random drawing. Please note that neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for replacing the mini if it were to get lost or damaged.

Tauer LDDM Mini

1 Burberry Britt Sheer, Hermes Kelly Caleche EDP and Shu Uemura Fleur de Source

2 Coco Chanel was born on August 19. I started working full time after college on August 19. Coincidence, or not?

3 The L’Air du Desert Marocain mini is courtesy of Andy Tauer. He sent me 2 extra minis, one of which I sent to a dear perfumista friend and the second one is for this contest.

 

Images: hajusuuri’s own

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Math Reaffirmed: Two “Minuses” Make a Plus: Floris Honey Oud

As I was thinking about all the ways that NTS’s commenter was wrong about dismissing perfume samples (if you don’t know what I refer to, see my previous post – Math Revised: A Minus and a Plus Make a … Plus), I became curious what role samples played in my perfume life.

In my earlier perfume years there were not that many samples available in general. So unless I got a sample by some miracle or from the previous purchase, I kept returning to the counter to re-try the perfume I thought of buying. Usually it worked – unless I waited for too long hoping to find that perfume later on a discounter site only to see it discontinued (I missed this way the original Kate Spade perfume that I liked). But even after I would buy perfume, I liked having a sample as well – to take it with me when traveling: I kept refilling those sample bottles from my bottle (it was before decanting supplies became common).

Over years I decreased the number of samples I buy: I try to get them from stores, brands’ sites or do friendly swaps with other perfumistas. But sometimes I get tempted by some perfume that I just can’t get – then I pay. I do not do it too often: not even because I want to save money (though that too: all those samples quickly build up to a full bottle price), but also because I noticed that once I paid for a sample, if I dislike it, my disappointment with it is much stronger than when I smell it “for free.”

But free or paid for, perfume samples made significant impact on my perfume collection: I counted only original bottles (of any size); and in my estimate more than a third of my current favorites found its way to me through sampling perfumes to which I might have never got access otherwise.

 

Floris Honey Oud

 

Honey Oud by Floris got into my testing queue by pure chance: since I don’t like agarwood and usually don’t like honey, I would have never ordered this sample by choice or even tried this perfume at a store (not that Floris is available in stores around but just to make a point). But while I was on a perfume subscription boxes kick, I bought one from the Perfume Society. Honey and Oud was one of the samples in that box.

Honey Oud surprised me. I don’t smell agarwood – at least not its usual punch-in-the-nose medicinal aspect. The honey in this perfume does not turn urinous on my skin as it often does. In general, it’s so smoothly blended that none of the ingredients are prominent enough for me to notice (but if anybody wants to know, the complete list is: honey, bergamot, patchouli, rose, agarwood, amber, labdanum, musk and vanilla). Alright, I have to admit: I can smell vanilla.

Two ingredients that I usually do not like in my perfumes came together nicely in Honey Oud to create a beautiful and warm amber-y composition that I enjoy wearing. Minus and minus resulted in plus. Q.E.D.

 

Rusty and Floris Honey Oud

 

I’m thinking: should I try something with tuberose and cumin next?

 

Images: my own

Math Revised: A Minus and a Plus Make a … Plus

From the early school years we learned that multiplying or dividing negative and positive numbers results in negative numbers. Recently I witnessed a social interaction that proved that math rules do not always apply to outcomes with people instead of numbers.

A month ago I wasn’t participating in the NTS’s community project “Reeking Havoc Friday” because while in my spare time I periodically test 5-6 perfumes at once, to the office I can barely wear one. But since the idea itself was not foreign to me (unlike, for example, one of the previous projects – skanky perfumes), I still enjoyed reading what other people were doing that day.

When I came across a totally unexpected strange passive-aggressive comment:

In #confessyourunpopularopinion, I have to say that I hate perfume samples. I am a grown woman, not a child. I don’t need freebies in plastic vials like some cheap concert giveaway. And I’m certainly not going to pay 10 dollars just to try some fragrance. I either buy the bottle or pass. I have also never bought a perfume bottle from a sample. So, I must sadly miss out on these challenges, but instead, adore my full-size collection on my vanity.

… then level-headed Robin’s response:

There is nothing at all wrong with confessing unpopular opinions, but perhaps you could have found a way to say that you disliked samples without implying that the rest of us were children? Just a thought.

Anyway, to each his own! The majority of my bottles were purchased after trying a sample.

… and an even stranger rebuttal from the “offender”:

Yes, apologies for any offense. I was just expressing my frustration with this entire blog and should have chosen my words more carefully. It just seems to have more and more name dropping as free advertisements rather than essays, articles, and meditations on perfumes. It is a fun blog, no doubt, just not for me. Forgive my interloping.

… my knee-jerk reaction was to strike back. In my head I was constructing some sarcastic remark about sending rescue to the poor commenter who had obviously been chained to the computer with access limited to only the NST site… But since my office life not only prevents me from wearing loud perfumes but also urges me to spend most of the time actually working, I had to postpone the fight until later.

 

Rusty ready to jump

 

When I came back, I was amazed by the responses from other members! There was no hostility or combativeness, people were trying to engage that strange commenter – either joking (“Personally every time I sample first before jumping in to the cost of a full bottle, I congratulate myself on my maturity! :)”), or telling their stories (“I need to try something fully before I buy. I’m not a risk taker, I just can’t blind buy, no matter how much I think I’d like something. […] I wouldn’t have a fraction of my FBs without samples.”), or asking friendly questions (“What perfumes have you collected and like to wear?” and “Are you reeking havoc with your full size bottles?”). She never came back to respond, but it felt really good to see the kindness and high spirits of the group. It was totally unexpected and I’d even say unprecedented in my virtual life. I don’t want to say that Perfumeland is inhabited only by good-natured kind and considerate people – we probably all know examples of the opposite, – but there are such oases where you are more likely to come across that level of positivity that cannot be negated by random remarks of strangers.

A minus and a plus produced a plus – despite everything we learned in math classes. And it felt really good and positive. It is great to be a part of the environment that allows you to slow down, relax and smell the roses (or daisies, or great perfumes) and share your delight of doing that with others.

 

Rusty and Daisies

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Sample: FRASSAÏ

Do you know how many countries are there in the World? 195. I had to look up the exact number, I didn’t remember off the top of my head.

Without using Internet or consulting your records, brands from how many countries can you recall? I did that exercise and came up with 11. I know that I have more in my perfume database (I checked: as of today – 22), I just couldn’t think of them.

I did that counting just recently but even before that I was wondering what was the state of the perfume industry (or whether it even existed) in those countries, about which we do not usually hear in perfume news. Those thoughts were at least partially responsible for my interest when I read about the upcoming release of perfumes from the Argentinian brand FRASSAÏ: until then I hadn’t tried any perfumes from this country.

Since I was following their ad campaign that was building up interest for the upcoming launch, I caught the newsletter that offered to request free samples. I did.

FRASSAÏ debuted this November with, as it became customary, the collection of three perfumes.

 

Frassai Blondine

 

Two and Half Sea Stars

BLONDINE – Floral Musky Gourmand, created by Yann Vasnier, includes notes (according to the brand’s website): Green mandarin, Pear Leaves, Salted Butter Caramel, Tiger Lily, Ashok flower, Cocoa, Tonka beans, Castoreum, and Blond Musks. Perfume was inspired by the early last century’s French fairy tale.

Testing Blondine was a strange experience for me: I don’t think I got the same result twice, and I’m not sure what influenced my perception of this perfume. The very first time I had an immediate association with a couple of Parfumerie Generale’s woodsy gourmands, but the next time when I tried Blondine in parallel with those, the “gourmand” part completely escaped me and instead perfume came out very floral. On the next go-round Blondine had more wood with some non-gourmand sweetness.

Blondine is a nice scent for those who prefer their perfumes to stay close to skin. The more you try it, the more it grows on you but I’m not sure I would recognize it if smelled blind.

 

Frassai Tian Di

 

One and Half Sea Stars

TIAN DI – Woody Oriental, created by Olivier Gillotin, includes notes: Ginger, Galbanum, Star Anise, Olibanum, Peach Elixir, Red Chrysanthemum, Orris, Sandalwood, Chinese Incense and Tonkin Musk.

Tian Di’s story plays on elements of Chinese mythology (peach tree, a cosmic ladder that connects heaven and earth, which bears fruit once every 3000 years, the scent of which grants immortality).

I’m not objective with this perfume since I really dislike peach note in perfumes – and it is definitely present in perfume and not just in the list of notes.

 

Frassai Verano Porteno

 

Three and Half Sea Stars

VERANO PORTEÑO – Floral Chypre, created by Rodrigo Flores-Roux, includes notes: Calabrian Bergamot, Cardamom, Clementine essence, Sicilian Cedrat, Southern Magnolia, Imperial Jasmine, Alhelí Vetyver, Ambrette Seed and Argentine Maté.

Verano Porteño supposedly evokes summer streets of Buenos Aires filled with the aroma of blooming jasmine.

While testing Verano Porteño, I had a strong feeling that I knew that scent. After some investigation I pinpointed my scent memory – By Kilian Love & Tears. Smelling them side-by-side, even I can see some dissimilarities, and I’m sure that people whose nose is better “tuned” might find them even less similar but I know that smelling Verano Porteño and Love & Tears separately I would most likely confuse one for the other. I also want to share with you a curious coincidence: Kilian started as a perfume brand and ventured into scented jewelry; and FRASSAÏ did it the other way around.

 

Frassai Perfumes

 

All in all, in my opinion, this whole enterprise looks rather like jumping on the bandwagon of the growing perfume market than genuine love of perfumes. With stories all over the place and three hired guns French perfumers, I did not get an impression that the brand actually had anything new or interesting to say. There is nothing wrong with running business and earning money, and these perfumes are better than current average mainstream launches, so I would rather people wear these three (even the one with peach). This brand also does a good job providing customers with fair choices that would allow them to decide whether they like these perfumes: before committing to a full bottle (I can’t find the size on the site or on the cards sent with samples), you can buy very reasonably priced samples set, individual roller-ball small bottles or a set of all three.

 

Images: my own

Everyone Likes a Good Story, Right?

Last week, when I read the title of L’Esperessence’s post (How important is the story of a perfume to you?), I had a feeling of déjà vu: I could have sworn that not only I previously read something on that topic on the same blog, but even planned a post prompted by thoughts on the topic. After I failed to locate that post on my own, I asked the author, and she was very kind to point me into the right direction: it wasn’t a topic of that post 10 months ago but in conclusion of the review of a “story-less” perfume she did pose that same question.

So this time I decided not to wait another year and write my thoughts on different types of stories that accompany perfumes. Since I do not want to draw attention to perfumes, descriptions for which I use to illustrate the idea, and would like to make reading these blobs of text more entertaining, I’ll use pictures of Rusty that might or might not convey same ideas.

Descriptive Stories

This type includes more or less poetic description of the actual smell that perfume is trying to recreate.

[…] the smell of fresh bread from the bakery takes us back. The feel of warm bread against the cheek even more so, evoking a familiar sensation from my childhood.

I like these descriptions: they give me enough warning of what to expect (or to avoid).

 

Rusty and Lilac

Lilac always smells of lilac

 

Associative Stories

These stories describe not as much the actual scent but rather circumstances, places or events that perfume intends to remind of, images it conjures.

You don’t need to be Proust to let an aroma surround you with memories – sometimes, it can be a simple as the fresh, aromatic cologne of a departed lover, filling a room with bergamot, herbs, and a uniquely compelling whiff of rosemary. Even more than on his skin, the scent lingers and lingers, compelling us to eagerly wonder if and when he might return…

I do not mind these but I know that I’m easily suggestible, so I would rather read something like that after I tried that perfume: my nose isn’t that great as is, so I prefer to give it a chance to have a “blind sniff impression” first.

 

Rusty

Actual picture, no post-processing

 

Motivational/Inspirational Stories

These usually tell you what kind of a person wears such perfume or what one would feel while wearing it.

The new XXXX man […] is a modern dandy. Blessed with an instinctive sense of style and elegance, he effortlessly blends sophistication and casualness. Unbound and free, he remains true to himself in every circumstance and never needs to pretend. Confident without arrogance, naturally seductive, he radiates a form of charisma that leaves a deep imprint in the hearts and minds of the people around him. For him, life is like music and he is perfectly in tune with its inner rhythm and melody.

or

XXXX – the best ingredients for flirting and seduction, skilfully mixed into one unique scent. It’s the fragrance that remains at your side while you’re making your move, boosting your self-confidence in that all-important moment.

I’m still not sure if these are better or worse than the one for Amouage Blossom Love that I quoted in the recent Second Sunday Sample post, but I dislike this type of stories. Luckily, these usually accompany mainstream releases, which I avoid anyway.

 

Rusty and Doors Motivator

 

Fictional Stories

Whimsical, romantic or philosophical, these stories, abstracts and quotes from non-existent literary works are created to illustrate and enrich perfumes they are attached to.

She would do anything to climb the social ladder still further.

Her latest scheme is to poison her husband, Lord George, inheriting his wealth and burying his secrets for ever!

Her fragrance reflects her very essence: a green floral narcotic.

This type of stories usually amuses me more than anything else and neither add to nor subtract from the perfume’s appeal.

 

Rusty in a Hat

In my defense: it was Halloween; normally I do not dress up Rusty

 

“Real” [hi]Story

It belonged to a queen in the Trianon rose gardens, far from the splendors of the Court, before the turmoil of history was unleashed. Entrusted to a noblewoman and very dear friend, it has come down to us through the ages to be reborn today.

Usually I’m skeptical about any historical references, be that Marie Antoinette secret recipe or scented theater curtains, which makes me immune to this type of stories. But once I believed the story…

When I read that Edmond Roudnitska created what is now known as Le Parfum de Theresa for his wife, and it was publicly released only after his death, I was enchanted. Not only it was a truly romantic story, but it had some parallels to my own love story (I used Roudnitska’s Diorella to scent a secret note to my first love). From everything I read, it was an amazing perfume!

I tried it and was greatly disappointed: it wasn’t unpleasant or bad but I wasn’t in love with it. If to think about it, it wasn’t unexpected: nothing can live up to an image in one’s head…

When I came back to it several years later, I liked it much more. Not sure I want to wear it but I appreciate it and think I could have loved it, had I been exposed to it from my childhood. Or had I tried it without expecting the most romantic perfume ever based on the Story.

 

Rusty "helps" me to work

Eight out of ten lines on the screen were typed by Rusty. True story.

 

Have I missed any other types of perfume stories? Do you usually read official stories before trying perfumes? Do they influence you?

 

Images: my own

Happy Halloween 2017!

Halloween 2017

Happy Halloween to all who celebrates (and those who don’t – you should: it’s a fun holiday!).

We’re having a Mad Tea-Party tomorrow in the office. I’ll be wearing a Zorro hat (hats are the theme) and a combination of Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber and Sweet Milk (it’s more a story than a review – for those who weren’t around 6 years ago).

What are you wearing this Tuesday – related to Halloween or not?

Light and Shadows: Ineke Idyllwild

I’m a city person. I grew up in downtown of a big city, and I still would prefer to live in one of those. Moving to the Northern California suburbia wasn’t a conscious choice: work-related circumstances brought us here. But since we moved, San Francisco Bay Area became our home, and I love it.

There are many great things about this area but one of them that I want to mention in this post is that there are several great parks 30-90 minutes’ drive from where I live.

Idylwild, new perfume from the San Francisco-based brand INEKE, to my nose does not smell of any of the forests I’ve been to around here (and I’ve been to many different ones) but it perfectly evokes the image of California forest on a sunny day: as you follow the trail, you move from brightly sunlit areas through the mélange of light and shadows to dark patches and back to the bright openings.

 

 

Notes: rhubarb tea, grapefruit, lavender, Big Sur sagebrush, cypress, fir needle, cardamom, woods, oud and musk.

The moment I sprayed on Idyllwild, an unexpected association popped into my head: Christmas in July. Even if you’re familiar with the term, the association probably needs explaining.

This is one of those concepts, about which you are not aware until you either experience it yourself or come across it in some media. I grew up knowing about Christmas in the country that didn’t celebrate the “regular” one, let alone any other kind. After moving to the U.S., I embraced that holiday but until recently I haven’t heard about Christmas in July.

My knowledge about it came from the episode Murder Under the Mistletoe of the Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Not everybody who celebrates Christmas lives in areas that have winter, snow and everything else that accompanies Christmas celebration in Northern Hemisphere – for example, where I live it never snows – so for our winter-for-winter-holidays fix we usually drive to mountains but otherwise feel content with a single Christmas celebration. But it made some sense that living on the opposite side of the globe and having winter weather but offset 6 months related to Christmas, somebody would come up with the second celebration.

Back to my association. Idyllwild smells like Christmas in July but in the area where I live – meaning, a hot July Christmas. Why? All those evergreens and cardamom in the notes vividly conjure Christmas but unlike other Chistmas-y perfumes, for example, Fille en Aiguilles, Idyllwild starts so bright and light and cheerful that white and cold winter is the last thing that comes to mind. Grapefruit is as juicy as it can be and while it is citrus, I associate it more with summer than with Christmas (unlike oranges and mandarins). As it dries down, it transitions from the sunny territory into the shadowy wood full of fir needles – though you can still “see” glimpses of “light.” I can’t smell agarwood – real or not – but it is a plus for me. Idyllwild is not the most tenacious perfume I wear but it’s not the least either.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

Woody Aromatic perfumes aren’t “my thing”: until now I had just a travel bottle and a small decant in this genre. But somehow Idyllwild captured me from the first time I put it on. So soon after that a bottle has joined my collection.

Speaking of the bottle, this was my only disappointment about this perfume. Starting from the letter “E,” Ineke decorated each of the bottles so beautifully that I was looking forward to the arrival of my new bottle hoping for a nice forest-themed artwork. The bottle is still the same they used before but this time it’s back to “blank” bottle. Coupled with a slightly changed box – a generic box and a dust jacket with the perfume name on it instead of a “designated” printed box, it seems like the brand cheapened the packaging a little. But as long as they do not compromise on their scents quality, I won’t complain much.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

I was almost ready to publish this post yesterday but I couldn’t finish working with pictures in time. Last thing before going to bed I checked my inbox and was surprised by a coincidence: Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) published his review of the same perfume. He liked it as well. You might want to check it out if you’re curious what the perfumer told him about this perfume in a private conversation.

 

Images: my own