In the Search for the Perfect Lavender, Take II

It’s not exactly true: I think I found my perfect lavender perfume – Lieber Gustav 14 by Krigler. Since I published that Take I post, I finished the decant of Serge Lutens Gris Clair and bought a bottle of it. And I’m still contemplating getting Fourreau Noir if I ever get somewhere where I don’t have to pay $300+ for the bell jar. Maybe I should go for a travel spray.

    

Rusty and Lieber Gustav

 

But lavender is still on my mind, and I seek it in many different forms. Earlier today, for example, I had a cocktail with lavender syrup. It was probably the best part of the dinner.

For the recent 3-4 years I kept planning to go to a lavender festival. But every year I was either traveling somewhere else at that time or would remember about it only when I saw some lavender at a store – and it was already too late for that year: the main flowering time would be over.

Before I proceed with my story, I want to remind you (if you haven’t read it before and/or didn’t follow the link I shared above) that lavender came into my life relatively late, so I wasn’t really familiar with many aspects that probably would be obvious to those of you who grew up in countries where it was widely used.

 

Lavender

 

A couple of years ago I bought a lavender bunch at a local farmers market and, as I do with other flowers, put it into a vase with water. It smelled nice but a week later it started dropping buds and, what was even worse, the stems were rotting. I cut off everything that was in water, fasten the remaining stems with a blue rubber band, and put that improvised lavender sachet into my linen closet. Unlike it happened with Le Labo’s Rose 31 (if you weren’t around 5 years ago, see my post Know-how [not to]: Freshen up a linen closet), this haven’t fended me off lavender, though, as it was drying, it kept losing its petals, which made it a little messy… But I put it on some napkin and kept moving that napkin from place to place when I needed to take something out of the closet or put in.

 

Rusty and Lavender

 

The next year, when I got another lavender bunch, I was smarter: I hanged it to dry in the spare bathroom and then, once it was dry, I used one of a bigger organza bags that I’ve got either with a purchase of something else or from a swap with a perfumista friend to put the bunch in to prevent a mess.

 

Lavender Sachet

 

You can’t imagine how proud I was coming up with that novel idea! What’s more, my vSO was very impressed with what I’ve done. I was (and still am) using it in our bed putting it between pillows during the day. By now I have probably half of it just bouncing in the bag loose, but it still smells nice though very faint. I bet Rusty can still smell it strong.

 

Rusty and Lavender Sachet

 

And then one day Robin from the NST posted in her Daily Lemmings this:

 

Diptyque Lavandier Wand 2018

 

I was gobsmacked: it was so beautiful, so elegant, so… in a different league compared to my creation. I don’t remember if it was still available when Robin posted it, but by the time I thought of getting it, it was sold out. And since it usually means that it isn’t coming back, after researching it online and discovering that, even though there were many similar products offered, nobody does it exactly the way Diptyque did, I started planning on trying to make one myself next time I get a lavender bunch.

I studied instructions, found ribbons to use (2 different sizes and colors!), and was waiting for the lavender season… It must have happened this summer, right? Every weekend I was on a lookout for the main ingredient for my DIY project – without much success. I don’t know how but I managed to miss it again. I blame my work schedule. I should try again next year.

Meanwhile, I keep adding from time to time a drop or two of lavender oil into my sachet. And I also found and was enjoying Lavender Lip Mask from Bite Beauty – a brand that makes my favorite Agave Lip Balm.

 

Lavender Bite Lip Mask

 

Images: all but Diptyque’s wand – my own

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Summer Iris

While most of classifications, such as gender or seasonality, as well as more specific designations – genres, families and notes – are relatively abstract and often very subjective, we still use them, even when we break all the rules and wear heavily pronounced oriental perfumes in a heatwave or cheerful citrus number in the dead of winter.

In my mind iris perfumes belong to spring. It doesn’t mean that I don’t wear them all year round, especially considering our local weather, and I had a full winter month of iris perfumes (do you remember last year’s Februiris (©Lucas)?), but mentally I place my favorite Chanel No 19, Prada Infusion d’Iris or Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris somewhere in March, maybe April when their warmth and cool duality perfectly matches an early Spring weather (or, at least, my conceptual image of it).

 

Butterfly Iris

 

As it often happens in Perfumeland, I tried this perfume by chance: last year my occasional guest writer and perfume twin hajusuuri sent me Swarovski studded atomizer filled with Houbigant Iris des Champs. I do not remember the exact story of that atomizer but I think hajusuuri got it from a friendly SA with a purchase of something else, tried it and passed the remaining portion to me.

It was such a pleasant surprise! From the first time I sprayed Iris des Champs on I was charmed by it: it was a very subtle and beautiful floral composition with warm powdery iris nicely blended with Lily of the Valley, rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang (additional notes listed are bergamot, pink pepper, sandalwood, amber woody notes, vanilla and musk). I quickly finished the decant, refilled it from a bottle I bought soon after that and sent it back to the original owner.

 

Houbigant Iris des Champs

 

I do not think that Iris des Champs is not suitable for a colder weather: I wore it in December and enjoyed it very much. But either because I got my bottle in summer or it actually fits me better when it’s warm, but I consider Iris des Champs my summer iris. All those notes I listed above? I don’t know, if you tried this perfume, please tell me what you can smell besides iris. I think that a slight soapiness that I get comes from rose (and, strangely, I do not mind it here, even though usually it bothers me). And I could probably vouch for whatever could be considered very light amber. But beyond that you could take or leave any of the notes, and I’ll believe we’re still talking about the same fragrance (as I stated earlier, it’s abstract and subjective).

Iris des Champs is elegant, light and extremely office-friendly while not boring. You might not like it (I don’t think it’s everybody’s darling) but I find it original and unusual enough to have it in one’s collection if you happen to like it. Also, the packaging is nice, and price is more than reasonable if you do not mind shopping at discounter sites.

 

Rusty and Houbigant Iris des Champs

 

Images: my own

(Pillow) Talking myself into buying perfume

I like makeup but do not wear it much, so finally I persuaded myself to stop buying eyeshadows, eyeliners and other products that I never finish up or even use enough before I feel they are too old to touch my skin.

So, not to tempt myself, usually I do not read magazines, make-up-focused blogs or groups and do not watch YouTube tutorials and such. But from time to time I can’t help being exposed to some cosmetics-related news. Over years I noticed that one of the most effective marketing moves with me is reading that something “iconic” is back in stock.

I do not have a good explanation why it affects me – after all, I didn’t care about those products when they were popular and still in stock. But it’s a fact: I immediately feel like I need to at least try that product.

This was exactly what happened to me with the Charlotte Tilbury’s lipstick Pillow Talk: a couple of years ago I read that it was being finally re-issued. Before than I’d never heard of either the brand or that lipstick but for some reason it sounded (and looked on pictures – ha!) really appealing.

 

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lipstick Ad

 

If it weren’t for years of resisting the urge to blind-buy perfumes, I would have bought Pillow Talk lipstick online months ago. But I thought I should try it first. Time passed, and I either couldn’t remember the brand name when I came to a store, or that store wouldn’t carry the line. Then recently I almost payed a double of that lipstick’s price for a set of the lipstick, lip liner and gloss from that collection in the last Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale but others beat me to it (hopefully, knowing what they were buying), so I finally made an effort, found and tried it at Sephora.

I’m almost positive that had I tried it on my own before reading anything about it and hunting for it for that long, I wouldn’t have bought it. But I was conditioned, and I couldn’t resist.

 

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lipstick

 

I’ll spare you my attempts at swatches: you can find a lot of those online if you’re curious. It is a nice lipstick that doesn’t suit me completely but I wanted to get it, I did, and I’ll use it up. Eventually. But it directed my thoughts toward perfumes: do I ever do the same there?

I think with perfumes I exercise better restraint, and a news about any perfumes being re-launched, if anything, would rather make me more skeptical since I’d suspect reformulation at play. And reissue means that it’ll be available for a while… so why to hurry? But when I hear about perfume being discontinued, that’s when I suddenly get anxious and start talking myself into grabbing a bottle while I still can. A couple of days ago, after learning about Parfums DelRae closing, I sifted through four or five pages of search results looking for perfumes that were still available. I knew that a couple of perfumes that I wouldn’t mind getting were sold out long ago (I tried looking for them before), but I found 3 perfumes that were still available, and only after that I checked my database for what my impressions of those were. To my surprise, one of the perfumes that I could still get was the one that I previously tried and liked a lot – Coup de Founre. The “surprise” part comes not as much from the fact that it was still available but from reading my thoughts on that perfume from four years ago (that’s when I tested it last): I liked it and thought that I needed to test it from a spray bottle… but then I never did because the only store that used to carry the brand in our area – Barneys – dropped the line a while ago. Had it not been discontinued now, I would have probably never got to buying it. But facing the complete extinction of Coup de Founre, I pounced.

 

Rusty on a Pillow

Will you miss any of DelRae’s perfumes?

 

Images: the first one – brand’s ad; the rest – my own

Linden Week

I planned to do this mini-project for the first week of July, a month a name of which, as we discovered, in several Slavic languages is connected to linden. But first it was my mini-vacation, then I was too busy, then something else came up. But I still did it!

I love linden, and I wouldn’t mind wearing perfumes with this prominent note for 7 days in a row or even longer but I didn’t have enough to cover the whole week.

 

Linden Blossom

 

From my two previous Single Note Exploration posts (Take 1 and Take 2) I found only three perfumes that I like, own and wear: my two absolute favorites Jo Malone French Lime Blossom and April Aromatics Under den Linden. I also wore Tauer Perfumes Zeta, which still didn’t smell like linden to my nose but since otherwise it’s a pleasant green perfume, I will finish the bottle eventually.

In addition to these three that I wore, I tested two more linden-centric perfumes.

One of the readers shared with me a sample of Frau Tonis Parfum No. 10 Linde Berlin. Until she mentioned it, I haven’t even heard of the brand. Notes for this perfume are not too complex: green notes, honey and linden. A couple of times when I tested it, it smelled a little too sweet while on other occasions I thought it was rather bitter and acidic, which I liked more. It is not my favorite linden perfume but had I traveled to Berlin, I would have picked up at least a travel bottle of it. Maybe one day I will.

Schone Linden 05 by Krigler (seriously, what is it with all these brands and numbers?!) got to me by pure chance: a friend who was shopping at the boutique managed to get this free (!) sample for me.

Do you know of this brand? I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for that friend who introduced me to the best lavender perfume I found so far – Lieber Gustav 14.

Schone Linden is a beautiful-beautiful perfume. Despite the name though, it is not a linden perfume. Rather it smells of the whole bouquet: camellia, carnation, gardenia, lilac, linden, tuberose and violet (additional two notes mentioned vanilla and musk). I would love to give it some more skin time but unfortunately my small sample is empty.

Despite my love to Lieber Gustav and some infatuation with Schone Linden, the brand irritates me: they keep spinning that BS about perfumes for royals and stars but for me it feels like they could take some lessons in sticking their pinky out (I won’t name names). Nowadays, at $365 for 100 ml and availability for online purchase, their perfumes are hardly that exclusive or special but they carry themselves as if they were. Their samples are $20-$31 for a single 2ml plastic vial (or $105-$165 for 5 x 2 ml). Not even redeemable against a full bottle purchase.

Krigler currently has 4 stores Worldwide with 2 more opening this Fall. One of them – in San Francisco, where I plan to visit it to try Schone Linden sprayed lavishly (I guess, should go for at least $5-worth spraying spree).

In my search, I discovered one more beautiful linden perfume, thanks to Asali (The Sounds of Scent). First she sent me a “blind sample” for testing. It smelled pleasant, I liked it. But what I liked about it probably even more was that not only I recognized several notes that actually were present in it – linden and mimosa, but I guessed the brand (it reminded me of Tiare Mimosa, which I didn’t know well but smelled earlier), which is not something ordinary for me and excites me every time it happens.

As it was revealed, the sample was of Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Aromaparfum Apaisant launched in 2002 but sadly discontinued long before I got to try it. Asali was very kind and shared with me a decant from her bottle. I used it up and liked so much that I kept rummaging through eBay listings until several years later I found a partial bottle.

 

Guerlaine Aromaparfum Apaisant

 

Aroma Allegoria Aromaparfum Apaisant’s notes: freesia, wormwood, linden, mimosa, chamomile ylang-ylang and vanilla. If you look at this perfume’s entry on Fragrantica you’ll notice how “yellow” the scent description in notes pictures looks – and this is exactly how it smells! It is an uncomplicated and indeed soothing spring/summer perfume with an unusual longevity: applied in the morning, it stayed noticeable on me until the end of the work day (in an AC’d office though). It is not a masterpiece the loss of which we should lament but it is very pleasant to wear, and I could think of other perfumes that should have rather been on a chopping block.

Have you come across any good linden perfumes recently?

 

Images: my own

A Postcard from Undina: From Mendocino with Love

Nothing restores feeling of inner balance better than 3 days at ocean shore, almost “unplugged.” It was a wonderful mini-vacation full of serenity and beauty.

Mendocino July 2019

I’m sorry I had to come back that soon. I’m glad to be back – back to Rusty, to my blog, even to work. I missed you. I hope summer is treating you well. Is it?

In memory of a dear friend

For a week I went back and forth on whether I should write privately to several people or write about it here. In the end I chose to do it publicly.

Suzanne Keller who some of you know from the Suzanne’s Perfume Journal (formerly Eiderdown Press) passed from this life on May 5th.

Suzanne was a wonderful friend – kind, supportive, attentive and generous. We met just once but we periodically exchanged e-mails, and I hoped to spend more time with her in the upcoming years. I believed we had all those years ahead of us, so what is 3-4 months of missed comments or even just “likes” on posts when my life was so busy and hectic, right?

I didn’t know her illness came back. I didn’t know she was dying. And it was only when a note I sent to her to inquire whether everything was fine returned to me, undelivered, I discovered that both of her sites were down (her perfume journal and a site about her pet rabbit Boxer whom you met last December at Rusty’s 10th anniversary), ran some searches and found out what happened.

I assume that taking sites down was Suzanne’s choice, and she didn’t want to leave her thoughts out there in the digital Universe after she’d be gone. But it makes me even sadder: she was such a talented writer! And she wrote not only about perfumes: once she shared some chapters of the book she was working on – one more thing that I was sure would happen at some point in the future…

Since we met and communicated a lot on the topic of perfumes, I have dozens of perfume connections with Suzanne: if you were to run a search in my blog, you’d see how often she came up in my posts (and it’s not even counting her thoughtful and extremely kind comments). But at the moment all that doesn’t feel significant enough to write about (maybe in several months).

I could write about how her death has affected me – but it seems wrong too because there are so many people in her family for whom it’s an enormous loss, so compared to their grief whatever I feel is just a tiny prick.

I am grieving but I feel a little like an impostor: I’m not sure if Suzanne needed me in her last months, but I didn’t even try to be “there.” I was busy, I was sick, I didn’t know she was sick again, I thought she just lost interest in perfumes since she wasn’t wearing them any longer, I was waiting for her next post about Boxer, I was very busy, and there supposed to be tomorrow, next month, next year… I don’t have regrets that I didn’t get to talk to her, say or do something. But I regret if there was at least a moment when she would have felt even a tad better had I found time to send the same note I sent a month too late.

While Suzanne’s perfume stories would probably disappear forever, I want to remind those who read these before and share with those who hadn’t links to two interviews Suzanne gave 6 years ago: one at the Purple Paper Planes and one at the Olfactoria’s Travels. Who’s better to tell us about her than she herself?

She was such a beautiful person, so whether you knew her or not, if you’re reading this, please do something beautiful for somebody in your life with her name in heart. And send warm thoughts into the Universe to those who is affected the most by Suzanne’s untimely death.

Do “Bad” Perfume Samples Circulate Better?

What does a perfumista do while being sick to the degree that wearing any perfume is temporary out of question? She thinks about them. And thoughts might flow in an unpredictable direction.

But first let me explain what I meant by the title. Did I mean samples of bad perfumes or perfume samples that are bad? Either. Of course, “bad” is a subjective term: tastes differ, and for almost any perfume there is someone out there who adores it. But we all know that some perfumes get everyone’s love while others pass by to be forgotten half a year later. These “others” are those that I called “bad perfumes.” Besides, most people (though, not all) prefer spray samples, hence, the other ones (those messy 0.7 ml dabbers from Luckyscent and other similar places) are “bad samples.”

What I’ve noticed over years of swapping perfumes: when it comes to exchanges not with friends and usual “sparring partners,” percentage of perfumes that I didn’t care for at all would go up significantly. When I started thinking about it, it made sense. I’ll share with you my train of thought.

 

Small Perfume Samples

 

A perumista (let’s call her P.) gets a sample, tries perfume and likes it. If she doesn’t love it enough to buy, P. wears it until it’s finished (or keeps in her collection planning to finish it eventually). This sample never leaves P.’s possession.

If perfume goes onto the “to buy” list, P. continues using that sample waiting for a bottle, especially if it’s a convenient spray sample. By the time that bottle finally joins P.’s collection, the sample is either gone or is so depleted that it feels wrong to send it to anybody else. The sample stays with P.

Unless it was a dab sample because then it wasn’t worn as much; or let’s say it was, but even a 0.25 ml in a dab vial is still suitable for testing, especially it it’s a “freebie” that P. adds to a split or a swap.

On the other hand, if P. didn’t like perfume, a nice spray sample of perfume that everyone else praises has a better chance to go into a “maybe” or “try again later” pile (and die in it), while a sample of perfume that nobody else proclaimed to love, especially in a dab vial, seems like a good candidate to be sent unsolicited and, most likely, not to one of the friends whose tastes P. knows. It is easier to just throw it in than spend time asking if the recipient even wants to test it.

… Another perfumista, S., gets a sample from P. – and everything repeats. In the end, those “bad perfumes” and/or “bad samples” get to move from one perfumista to another much more often than “good” ones amplifying the common perception of the recent years that niche perfumery becomes worse and worse.

What do you think? Were those just feverish emanations of my perfume-deprived brain?