My First Celebuscent

Celebuscents have that stigma in the Perfumeland: many perfumistas try to distance themselves from these concoctions; they become the butt of easy jokes; and just from time to time somebody almost apologetically concedes liking one of them despite it being a celebuscent.

Until recently I stayed more or less immune to all of those releases: the only two perfumes I’ve ever tried on skin were Dita Von Teese’s first perfume (a perfumista friend sent me a decant of it because she liked it; I vaguely remember that it wasn’t bad but not good enough to justify even the adorable bottle) and Etat Libre d’Orange Like This (it was a part of one of the LuckyScent’s sample packs – when I was still buying those; I think I rather liked it but since I do not support that brand, sampling was the end of it).

A couple more celebrity perfumes – one from Jennifer Aninston and one from Madonna – I tried on paper but don’t remember anything other than the latter looked like a coffin and had tuberose, which I usually do not like. I would have probably tried CB I Hate Perfume 2nd Cumming (I love that actor, and all the proceeds go to charities), but I’ve never came across that line. And I haven’t tried Boyfriend from Kate Walsh, even though it was widely liked at the time.

Celebuscents

The only perfume that can be classified as celebrity perfume that I like, own (a decant – thanks to Suzanne of Suzanne’s Perfume Journal) and wear is Deneuve by Catherine Deneuve. But it is classic perfume already (and regretfully discontinued) so I probably do not even have to be apologetic while admitting that.

When I started coming across multiple mentions of the new Sarah Jessica Parker’s perfume Stash, I wasn’t even tempted: I’m not interested in celebuscents in general, I’m not a fan of SJP, and I don’t like the name (it has drugs connotation for me, which I do not condone).

When hajusuuri asked me if I wanted to get a sample of Stash, I told her that I would test it at a store (how hard can it be to test something like that, right?), which I tried to do on my next trip to the mall – just to discover that none of the stores carried it. There is a chance that I would have eventually visited Ulta, the only store that currently has that perfume, but I’m not sure since I don’t like Ulta as well.

You can see how everything was against our encounter. But then hajusuuri just went ahead and, without waiting for the report on the success or failure of my shopping trip, included the sample into the package she was sending me.

The first minute I applied it, I immediately liked it (and that was my #10, undisclosed, perfume on my Best of 2016 list). I liked Stash on its own merit but also because I was reminded of another perfume I used to like – Gucci Rush for Men. These two perfumes aren’t identical (especially since I’m comparing Stash to “vintage” remains of the Rush) but the resemblance was close enough for me to rush (no pun) to ulta.com, which just happen to have a sale…

SJP Stash Set

I enjoy the woodiness and dryness of Stash, and I don’t smell any sweetness in it (I read that some people did). The most prominent note to my nose is cedar but if your nose better than mine in identifying notes, a list of those looks promising: grapefruit, black pepper, sage, cedar, patchouli, white ginger lily, pistachio, olibanum, Massoia wood, vetiver and musk. It is unisex with slight leaning towards masculine perfumes but not so drastically to scare away rabbit hole travelers, though I’m not sure about “civilians” (© Tara).

I didn’t need another 50 ml of any perfume, let alone 50 ml of perfume, another 30 ml of elixir oil and a 10 ml perfume rollerball. But the complete set was on sale for less than the smallest full bottle’s price. How could I resist? Besides, I was curious about the Stash oil, which I would not have tried (or bought) otherwise. I like it but I’m not clear on the body application: after I drop some oil on my skin, what am I supposed to do? Leave it to absorb? That can take forever. Rub in with my fingers? But then everything I touch in the next hour will smell like that perfume. Wash my hands afterwards? Not sure if that would help, but even if it did, I’ll need to add the next step – using a hand cream – to an already getting too laborious application routine… Do you have any other suggestions?

Rusty and SJP Stash

Do you own any celebrity perfumes? Do you wear them?

A giveaway: 10 ml Stash EdP rollerball needs another loving home before Rusty gets to it. If you’d like to be entered into the draw, just say so in your comment – there are no other requirements. The giveaway will be open until 11:59 PST on January 21, 2017. The winner will be chosen through random.org. I’ll ship the prize to any country (with usual disclaimers).

Images: the collage made from official images; the rest – my own

Entertaining Statistics: 2016 Year Round-up

As I was reading farewell posts for 2016 (or celebratory ones for 2017), I’ve noticed that many people were very unhappy with the year and were anxious to see it off. While I acknowledge all the madness and unpleasantness that the year had brought us, on the personal level I don’t have much to complain. All-in-all, it was a good year for me, and I’m grateful for that.

But let me show you my 2016 in numbers.

98% – 100%

Northern California finally got some relief from the drought we are having. It’s still not over, and a part of the state is still in miserable condition, but the area where I live got rainfall between 98 and 100 percent of historic average, which makes me happy (I’m not sure about Rusty, though: since the picture below had been taken, he’s developed an inexplicable phobia of umbrellas – so that he refuses to be in the same room with it. Now I have to dry umbrellas in the garage not to traumatize him any further).

Rusty and Umbrella

164 Perfumes Worn

I wear perfumes on most of the days that I work from the office and on weekends. When I work from home, I tend to use those days to test perfumes instead of wearing my favorites. Since at the new job I get less WFH days, 2016 numbers for perfume wearing went up compared to 2015 (the difference is given in parentheses): I wore 164 perfumes (+8) from 61 brands (+5) on 333 occasions (+29). And before you ask: no, I do not own 164 bottles of perfumes; some of these are travel bottles, minis or decants.

Jo Malone with a Vengeance

For many years I have been a Jo Malone’s fan. It started long before my trip down the rabbit hole but during the first several years of my descent I was so mesmerized by all the marvels of the niche perfumery world that I wore much less of my favorite perfumes from this brand even though I own more full bottles from Jo Malone than from any other brand.

Since I wasn’t doing my monthly statistics posts this last year, I haven’t noticed the tendency, so it got me by surprise when my year numbers showed that Jo Malone was the brand I wore the most often, and it was the highest number for one brand in the last three years: I wore Jo Malone’s perfumes on 29 occasions.

My Stats Year 2016 Brands

Lucky Number 13

This is how many times I wore Lancôme Climat – my all-time favorite perfume in 2016. You might think it’s not a high number for perfume that I love my whole life: just 13 days out of 365… no, actually 366. But look at it from another perspective: this is the highest number for any single perfume I wore during any of the past six years.

Testing… Testing… 275, 100, 361…

Despite being very busy and wearing perfumes more often, in 2016 I did a lot more testing (compared to 2015): I tested 275 perfumes (+ 97) from 100 brands (+15) on 361 occasions (+134). Not all the testing I’ve done was for new perfumes, I do a lot of comparison testing (e.g., a new to me perfume with the one I own or two new perfumes against each other) or just re-testing something I’ve tested before. But I did test 118 new for me perfumes (+26), 31 of which were released in 2016 (+3), and I listed 10 of the new releases that I liked in the last post of the year.

Care to guess, which line I tested the most? Told you – “with a vengeance.” I was surprised myself, and I blame it on their Garden Collection: probably I just couldn’t believe I couldn’t find a single perfume to like in those cute green bottles, so I kept trying them.

A Year of Zen [Gardens]

A year ago I changed jobs and I got myself a desk Zen Garden, about which I dreamed for years. Looking back, I can tell that it was a good decision. On both accounts – the job and the garden. It was a challenging busy year but I enjoy what I do, I like my job, and I still had time for changing my Zen Garden at least seven times (I can’t find a picture of the very first one I made but it was more traditional than the next six).

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As you can see, I used all my favorite things – cats, perfumes, chocolates and holiday decorations. Yesterday I took off Christmas ornaments, and I’m ready for the next chapter in my Zen-gardening. Any ideas for what I should do next?

Zen Garden 8

Images: my own

Best of 2016 and Welcome 2017!

I have never done a traditional “best of” perfume post before. Mostly, because as a result of my “no reviews” blog moto I do not really try to judge any perfumes – be that old or new releases – objectively, weighing their strong and weak points, but rather satisfy my curiosity, figure out whether I like perfume or not and move on. And if there is no story in it for me, there is nothing to tell on my blog.

So why am I doing this post, has anything changed? Not really. But as I was checking out the list of 2016 releases (I’m going to post my regular year round-up statistics post early in January), it occurred to me that this year I could safely name my Top 10 perfumes of 2016 since there were exactly 10 perfumes that I actually liked. So even though any list would be subjective, in this case I wouldn’t have to justify for myself why I put one of the perfumes on the list while leaving others out.

Candles

Puredistance Sheiduna – warm, spicy and addictive, this perfume will most likely join my collection when I’m done with the travel spray graciously sent to me by the brand.

Jul et Mad Secrets du Paradis Rouge is cheerful, with a perfect combination of fruity and floral notes. I can see it as one of my evening tropical vacation perfumes.

Two perfumes from Jo MaloneOrris and Sandalwood and Orange Bitters – made it up for me for the disaster that their limited Garden Collection was. I’ll probably be fine without the iris one (I have enough great irises in my collection) but I’ll enjoy wearing Orrange Bitters while my decant (thank you, hajusuuri!) lasts.

Since mimosa is one of my favorite scents in nature, I’m constantly in the search for the perfect mimosa perfume (to which three takes in my Single Note Exploration series can attest). So it’s not a surprise that two mimosa scents made it to my top 10 list this year. Once I got over the fact that Atelier Cologne Mimosa Indigo has nothing to do with mimosa (instead, it’s a very delicate, if you can use that characteristic for the material, leather perfume), I fell in love with it and welcomed a small bottle into my collection. Prada Infusion de Mimosa is much more about mimosa but this variation still maintains the backbone of the Infusion line, which I happen to like. I got to try this perfume thanks to Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) but it is not available in the U.S. yet, which might be partially a blessing: at this stage of my perfume hobby, I do not need 100 ml of any perfume (though, it might have been easier to buy a decant had Prada brought the perfume to the market here).

The next two perfumes were everybody’s favorites, so I’ll just mention that for the last couple of weeks I keep testing and liking Masque L’Attessa and Hiram Green Arbolé Arbolé. It’s too early to say if I’ll go for any of these two beyond testing but I’ve been enjoying the experience.

Amouage Myths Woman has restored my faith in my favorite brand. For a while none of the new releases really moved me, so I almost accepted that I’d have to stay with my classic favorites from the line. Myths is not just beautiful and happy perfume, but it’s also one of a few from Amouage that I want to wear not in cold weather (the other one is Dia). A decant of Myths I bought in a split should do for now, but I plan to stalk this beautiful purple bottle and get it eventually.

As to perfume #10… It’s getting late so I’ll tell its story (and run a small giveaway) in one of the January posts. Not that I think that you, my friends and readers, need any special incentive to come back next year.

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year to all of you! Whether 2016 was good to you or not so, I wish the new one to be better. Please make a wish at 12 (or before you go to bed, if you do not plan to stay that late), and I wish it to come true for each of you who remembers to do that.

Images: my own

Small Things that Brighten Life. Literally.

It is my favorite time of the year, and many things around me bring me joy. Recently we visited a local street that is known for its Christmas decorations. It’s funny that I lived close to it for more than a decade but have never heard about it until two co-workers from my previous job with whom I met to exchange holiday presents told me about it. We’ve worked together and been friends for years but until this year it just had never come up in our numerous holidays-related conversations.

Over years I saw many decorated houses in the area but I’ve never seen so many lights on private houses on one street before. I loved it! In the neighborhood where I live there are just 5 houses with some kind of outside decorations (including our house, even though Christmas isn’t our holiday). And now we’re thinking about getting more of holiday decorations for our house for the next year: not even close to the extremes we saw on that street but we hope that maybe our festivity will be contagious, and more neighbors decide to follow the suit.

Pictures do not properly reflect the atmosphere of the street but I want to share them with you anyway.

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This Saturday we’ll celebrate the Christmas Eve (it’s not our holiday, but we live here – so why not to celebrate it?), the first day of Hanukkah (it’s not entirely our holiday but every year for this holiday I lit candles on that not the most conventional menorah on the picture below that I bought as a gift from my grandmother Rosa – it will be the first year without telling her about that) and Rusty’s Birthday (we don’t know his exact birthday, but when we got him, we decided that he would be our Christmas cat; he is turning 8 this year, and he doesn’t discriminate any of the holidays either: he equally battles Christmas ornaments on the tree and Hanukkah candles on menorah). I’m going to wear my all-time favorite perfume Climat by Lancôme to make the day even more special.

I invite you to virtually join me in any or all of these celebrations regardless of where you live or what your religion beliefs are. Enjoy this day if you are happy now, or find something to brighten it even if you’re not currently in the best place in your life.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Rusty’s Birthday to all of you, my friends and readers!

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah!

What Are You Wearing?

What is your first association when you hear the phrase I used as the title? I don’t remember if I ever considered it sexy or flirty rather than cheesy, but even if I did, “What are you wearing, ‘Jake’ from the State Farm?” killed it for me forever (for those who isn’t familiar with the reference: 25 seconds you’ll spend watching the ad below will most likely make you smile).

 

 

So no, I didn’t mean it like that.

No matter how busy I get and how little time I have for both my blog, and the selected friends’ blogs, from time to time I still feel drawn to strange public places – such as SOTD posts on the NST blog or even one of the Perfume Groups on Facebook – to where most people come to declare what perfume they are wearing or plan to wear that day and then go away without engaging in the conversation with others. Of course, there are some exceptions, and the most active group of each of the venues interacts with each other, but in general those threads seem a little insane. Recently though I came across references to the studies that say that soliloquies might be rather useful and helpful (if you’re curious, read here and here). I don’t know what positive effect it has on those who posts comments but for me it proved helpful as a pseudo-random selector of perfume to wear the next day.

But SOTD selecting as well as the content of the comments in the above-mentioned outlets weren’t the main focus of this post as well.

What is the topic then, you might be wondering by that point? Reading comments on those threads made me wondering how exactly people in different stages of their perfume addic hobby are using perfumes in our possession.

For years in my youth I wore just one perfume – Climat by Lancôme. Since it was rare and special, I didn’t wear it every day but saved it for special occasions while going scentless most days (I can’t even imagine doing that now!).

Rusty and Lancome Climat

Later I had in my wardrobe 1-2 day-to-day perfumes, so I wore something almost every day still keeping my beloved Climat as a dress-up accessory (and I still do).

Miss Dior, Isa, Black Lace and Paris-Paris

Then my collection increased, and I wore mostly perfumes I owned: about 10 full bottles and some minis. I also wore rare samples that I managed to get from department stores for perfumes that I liked and considered buying (it wasn’t easy: SAs guarded those with their lives back then).

Next I got better at procuring samples: Nordstrom events and a friendly SA came in handy; and I started supplementing my perfume wardrobe wearing perfumes from samples just to have a variety. But on most days I would still be using perfumes from the bottles in my collection.

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And then the proverbial rabbit hole happened. I was in the constant search for new experiences buying lots of samples and testing as much as I could anywhere I could. I would be bringing 2-3 samples with me to the office and apply something to my wrists to test. And in the evening I would do more testing. There were so many brands to explore, so many perfumes to try!

My bottles collection started to grow, but so was the “backlog” of samples to test. And at some point I noticed that I kept neglecting those wonderful perfumes that I already had chasing the hope of even more beautiful scent from the next vial. Once I realized that, I made a resolution to wear perfumes that I already loved at least three times a week.

Several years later – and I wear only perfumes that I consciously added to my collection. Not all of them come in full bottles, I have travel bottles, minis and decants, but I got all of them for the purpose of wearing, not testing. I still do testing of both new perfumes and samples I’ve previously tested but haven’t made up my mind about, but the only time I wear perfumes from samples is if I consider buying that perfume and want to make sure that I like how it wears fully, not just as a speck on the wrist.

What are you wearing right this moment when you’re reading this post? (And please, do not say “Khakis”)

Lace

Jokes aside, what do you usually wear? Is there a difference in how you treat samples and full bottles in your possession?

M.Micallef Le Parfum Couture

Images: all but the last two – my own; M.Micallef Le Parfum Couture from brand’s press release for the perfume

In the Search for the Perfect Vanilla Draw Winner

Sixteen entries were a little too much for me to organize a draw by Rusty, so I went the proven route of engaging random.org, and got the winner:

MdO Vanille Draw Results

It shouldn’t surprise me: #1 is as good as any other numbers to be a randomly selected but every time (the second time on my blog, to be precise) I see it I feel a little surprised. The winner is:

smokeytoes

You have until 11:59 P.M. PST on December 18th, 2016 to send me your shipping address. If not claimed until then, it’ll go to the next person on the list above.

In the Search for the Perfect Vanilla, Part 2

Topic of vanilla perfumes periodically circulates in the Perfumeland, and two-three years ago I could probably be observed commenting on those with the statement of not being a vanilla fan. I never seriously disliked the note, but for a long time I thought that vanilla-centric perfumes weren’t my cup of tea.

In some sense I was right: until recently the only two bottles of vanilla perfume in my perfume collection were Vanille Noire by Yves Rocher and Eau Duelle by Diptyque – a mini bottle and a travel bottle, correspondingly. But the “mystery” vanilla perfume that I came across on the last day of my Maui vacation (see the Part  1* post) has triggered my vanilla cravings. And while I was searching for that brand first and then waiting on the La Maison de la Vanille’s sample set arrival, I discovered that over the years I accumulated a wide variety of decants and samples of vanilla perfumes. So for the next month I wore and tested perfumes with the prominent vanilla note.

There are many great Guides to Vanilla Perfumes in the Blogosphere, so I won’t even attempt to write any serious comparison of the perfumes I tried. I’ll just share some personal numbers, observations and conclusions.

Diptyque Eau Duelle

During that month I sweetened the bitterness of the returning from my vacation with 22 vanilla perfumes. Only one of them – Eau Duelle doesn’t have one or the other variation of the word “vanilla” in the name. But Eau Duelle is unmistakably vanilla perfume, and I like it, especially in the heat of tropics (and that’s where I actually wore it on the onset of my vanilla kick).

Out of 22 perfumes in my experiment, I disliked 11 – so probably I wasn’t that wrong in thinking that I didn’t like vanilla perfumes. I won’t list them all, but mention just several where I have any additional comments. I confirmed to myself that Atelier Cologne’s Vanille Insensée does not work for me, which still surprises me since I find most of their perfumes pleasant even when I do not love them. I also suspect that my sample of Vanille Absolument from L’Artisan Parfumeur is off: though I don’t know how it’s supposed to smell, I don’t think it smells right (or I’ll be extremely surprised since I read many good reviews for it).

Five perfumes I neither liked nor disliked: Montale Chypre Vanille, Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidee Vanille, Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille, Jo Malone Vanila & Anise and M.Micallef Vanille Orient. They were quite nice but all of them were the type that I might wear, in principle, but having so many other great perfumes I would probably never finish even those decants/minis that I have now (Rusty didn’t care much for them either: I couldn’t persuade him to play with them for my camera).

Rusty and Vanilla Samples

That leaves us with 6 perfumes that I quite liked. None of them were new to me: they were my favorites from the previous encounters with them. In addition to the mentioned above Eau Duelle, I liked Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille. I have a decant of it but once it’s gone, I won’t pursue it. Unexpectedly I loved Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford. “Unexpectedly” – because this is one of the perfumes that I love on my vSO but I’ve never considered it for myself. Now I think that once we finish his decant, I should go for a bottle – to share, of course. I also liked Ormonde Jayne’s Vanille d’Iris though I have some uneasy feelings about it since I think I smell Iso E Super** in it. Good news: I do not smell carrot in it any longer. So I might consider getting one of the 10 ml bottles from their travel set. Or not.

By the end of this Single Note Exploration episode I got down to two contenders for the perfect vanilla title – Le Labo Vanille 44 and Mona di Orio Vanille. Thank you, hajusuuri and Suzanne (Suzanne’s Perfume Journal): if it weren’t for your generosity, with me not being a big fan of vanilla perfumes (and absolutely not a fan of Mona di Orio’s creations), I might have never actually tried these two. But I did, found both to be wonderful perfumes and decided to add one of them to my collection. Why not both? Even not talking about the price, these two fit exactly the same niche for me, and I just do not see how I would be deciding every time, which of the two to wear. So after many evenings of the parallel test runs on both wrists, as well as a couple of days of actually wearing each of them, I declared the winner: Vanille by Mona di Orio is my Perfect Vanilla.

Rusty and Mona di Orio Vanille

Now I want to “pay it forward”: I have one 5 ml decant of Mona di Orio Vanille to share. To be entered into the giveaway, let me know in your comment whether you’ve tried and liked it, or want to try it (I assume, if you didn’t like it, you won’t need more of it, but I do not mind your entering into the draw even if that’s the case). There are no other requirements. Open until 11:59 P.M. PST, December 11, 2016.

Question to everybody (not related to the giveaway): Can you name just one vanilla perfume that is hands down your favorite?

 

*I doubt anyone would have noticed, but I wanted to explain that usually, when I re-visit the same note in my One Note Exploration series, I name the consequent episodes “Take 2, 3, etc.” But in this case both episodes were the parts of the same tasting spree – hence Part 1 & 2.

** Recently I finally formulated how I feel about this aroma chemical: while I like it on its own (and have a bottle of Molecular 01 to prove it), and I do not mind it in perfumes, I prefer not to be able to pinpoint this ingredient in my perfumes.

 

Images: my own