In the Search for the Perfect Magnolia

Those of you who like me grew up in pre-Internet era, probably can remember a phenomenon of knowing about something from books, articles or even songs but never actually seeing those thing or knowing how those looked. I’m talking not about remote planets or exotic places but about rather mundane objects – plants, foods or articles of clothes.

Magnolias came into my life with a song of a popular band Ariel from 70s. It was one of those songs that are catchy and pleasing – as long as you do not think much about the lyrics (translation is approximate, just to give you the impression):

Without sorrow, sorrow, sorrow
Sea splashes in the land of magnolias
Young boys are sitting on the fence
Stirring melancholy feelings in me

Couples are dancing, dancing, dancing
Tune is familiar and even old-fashioned
And sweet sound of a bass guitar
Brings back memories… Oh, well…

If you’re curious, listen 20-30 seconds of this video: this is exactly how I remember hearing this song (though I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it before I found it recently).

 

 

It wasn’t before I moved to the U.S. that I saw the actual magnolia tree and flowers. The first encounter I remember was many years ago in a park to where we went for a walk on my birthday. It was amazing to see those huge and untidy flowers on bare branches mid-February.

Since then I saw magnolias many times and took numerous photos of this unusual bloom but when I realized how many magnolia perfumes I tried and decided to do this Single Note Exploration post, I realized that I didn’t remember how real magnolias smelled. So I waited until I spotted a blooming tree not far from my office, and today walked to it to check the scent of live magnolia flowers. On the positive side, I know now that I wasn’t just absent-minded or not curious: magnolias that grow around here just do not smell. It means that, on one hand, I have absolutely no reference point in my search for perfect magnolia perfume. But on the other, I’m not limited by the realism factor. So, to balance it out, I decided to consider only perfumes that were unequivocally designated by their creators as magnolia-centered ones (judging by the names).

 

Magnolia

 

Two years ago, while in London, I almost bought Tom Daxon Magnolia Heights. The notes include gardenia, violet leaf, ylang ylang, magnolia, jasmine sambac, cedarwood and musks. Perfume was created in 2016. It is a beautiful floral bouquet, and I like it very much but, as I mentioned in the post then, being a floral perfumes fan, I have at least several perfumes in this genre that I like more. But give it a try if you ever come across Magnolia Heights, or if you’re looking for another floral favorite.

 

Tom Daxon Magnolia Heights

 

Perfume that I keep testing and seem not to be able to put off my mind is Magnolia Grandiflora Michel by Grandiflora. It was created by Michel Roudnitska in 2013. Notes include lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, magnolia, vetiver, patchouli and musk. Michele is beautifully blended, and I like the composition though I can’t tell most of the listed notes; maybe some citrus in the opening. And in development it reminds me of tea. I think it is jasmine that gives me that impression. Had the brand launched it as a travel spray, I would have bought it already. But even with the only offered size 50 ml I still might go for it (though I must say that I really dislike their new bottle design and cannot explain the change by anything but a desire to save money on packaging).

A sister perfume, Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine, created the same year by Sandrine Videault, is one of rare perfumes that actually repulse me. It evokes a smell of something overripe, maybe even decaying. Interestingly, for a while I thought that this scent might be characteristic of magnolia flower. Why? Because I smelled it (and disliked there as well) in another magnolia-centric perfume – Sud Magnolia by Atelier Cologne. But as I discovered, Sandrine’s notes do not even list magnolia! So, I’m not sure what smells that unpleasant to me: lemon, grapefruit, white pepper, fresh garden accord, dry wood accord, marine-aquatic accord or musky accord.

As I mentioned, Atelier Cologne’s Sud Magnolia didn’t work for me either. Jerome Epinette who created it in 2015, is a nose behind several perfumes that I like both from Atelier Cologne and other brands, but Sud Magnolia, after starting even nice, develops unpleasantly on my skin. I thought of listing all nine notes mentioned on Fragrantica but since that site doesn’t allow copying, I went to the brand’s site where I learned that the only notes they cared us to know about were Magnolia accord, Grapefruit from South America and Cedarwood from the Americas (sic). Well, since the brand doesn’t want to overwhelm customers with these details (other than with the required by law, I assume, list of used chemicals), I won’t bother either.

 

Magnolia

 

I wanted to love Eau De Magnolia created in 2014 by Carlos Benaim for Frederic Malle: I like the brand, and I was looking for another perfume from them to cross that like/love line. Bergamot, magnolia, vetiver, patchouli, cedarwood, moss and amber sounded promising but, in my opinion, Eau de Magnolia hasn’t become to magnolia what other perfumes of the brand have done to the respective flowers. It is quite pleasant and wearable but I don’t find it memorable.

Bottega Veneta’s Parco Palladino I: Magnolia seems to be even less memorable. Floral perfume with some green notes. It is nice, but I did expect much more from the first perfume in the “high end” collection of the brand whose first perfume was as impressive as their one was. But since the notes list proudly and openly mentions Iso E Super that I like in perfumes (in addition to bergamot, grapefruit, orange, lily of the valley, magnolia, rose, green notes and white musk), I urge you to give it a try if you can do it without paying for it.

After running all these tests, I think I recognize how magnolia note is represented in perfumery. But until I smell real flowers or find perfume that I’d like even more, I’ll consider Magnolia Grandiflora Michel the perfect magnolia perfume.

 

Magnolia

 

Have you ever experienced aromatic magnolias? Do you like this flower in either natural or recreated form? Do you have a favorite magnolia-centric perfume?

 

Images: my own

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Groundhog Day Perfume

Living in the area where the weather is great most of the time (if not to count drought that we had for several years, but it didn’t feel like bad weather, I just knew that it was bad for us), I have only a memory of how awful cold weather might be, and how tired one gets with the winter and wishes it to finally end. But from the time when winter and cold weather were still an unpleasant part of my life, Groundhog Day movie has been one of my absolute favorites. I won’t claim that I re-watch it every year but I watched it more times than most other movies in my life, which is both ironical and symbolic if you’re familiar with the plot of the movie.

What I find interesting about this movie is that while it is a comedy, there are no that many one-liners in it. And still for me it’s one of the best comedies ever.

Just in case you’ve never seen the movie: “Phil Connors, a cynical TV weatherman (Bill Murray) finds himself reliving the same day over and over again when he goes on location to the small town of Punxsutawney to film a report about their annual Groundhog Day.”

In one of the scenes, after many-many repetitions of the same miserable day, Phil says:

I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t I get that day over and over and over?

That made me think about… well, perfumes. Neither I nor most (all?) of you are a signature-perfume-wearer-type. When five years ago I invited my readers to participate in an experiment of [thinking of] wearing the same perfume for a week, most of the readers admitted to not being able to do that. I barely went through the experiment myself (with 1-day interruption). But what if I were to get stuck in February 2nd somewhere away from home (and my collection) on a one-day trip (so no back-ups) – what perfume would I want to be wearing?

Any choice would be an impossible one: I don’t want to be wearing any one perfume for days or months, leave alone years (according to different sources, Phil Connors spent from 8 to 10 years in Punxsutawney). But if I had to choose, I would probably go with one of the original Miss Dior perfumes in my collection.

My Miss Dior Family

And if you were wondering why I haven’t chosen my eternal perfume love Lancôme Climat or one of the later top favorites, e.g., Ormonde Jayne Ta’if or Amouage Ubar: these three are too special for me to wear any of them every day – and I would want to wear perfume even under those dire circumstances, but I’d need something I think I would be able to tolerate for many days. And with Miss Dior I have a long history of warm relationship. So, I hope it would support me during the endless winter (and as an added bonus: I would have never risked running out of it since every morning the bottle would be full to the same level as the morning before).

 

How about you? What would be your Groundhog day perfume choice?

 

Image: my own

Infinity in Blog Years, or Undina’s Looking Glass is 8

This year, as seven years before, I was thinking about what to do for my blog’s anniversary. And then I missed it. I didn’t forget about it, I wasn’t busy with something else (well, I was busy but it wasn’t a reason) – I just mixed dates. Somehow in my mind the 8th anniversary was supposed to be on January 28th whereas in reality I published my first post on 24th, which I realized only two days after the date. For some reason it upset me so much that I couldn’t make myself to finish this post even for the wrongly remembered date. I was I know that I’m not the first blogger to miss a blogoversary. But I find it ironic that I managed to publish something else on the date (though, serendipitously, it was a story about Ormonde Jayne Tsarina – one of the perfumes I previously mentioned in my blog’s sixth anniversary post; back then it was the only perfume in the list without a story).

Anyway, what is a couple of days compared to the infinity of the Universe… or even to 8 years of blogging (which, if you were to tilt your head, would look like the infinity symbol ∞)?

Eight

When I started this blog eight years ago, I didn’t plan to do perfume reviews. The idea was to tell life stories that were more or less related to perfumes. All these years later I still do not think I can do what many of you, my readers, easily do in your blogs or comments to other people’s posts: describe in details how perfumes smell to you. From time to time I venture into putting what I smell into words, especially when it comes to perfumes with which I do not plan to go beyond samples, since that minimizes their chances to become one of my stories. But I do it as an added feature, to be more diverse in topics but not because I ran out of stories: to my surprise, I still have a Word file with pages of ideas for future posts. I just wait for the right time or mood to tell those.

Also, as I was planning this blog, I didn’t know Rusty would become such a star. But I’m glad to have such an adorable mascot (mascAt?).

Rusty MascAt

Since I’ve just recently done a year round-up statistics post, I don’t want to play with numbers for the anniversary post. But out of curiosity I looked up what perfumes I wore on that date in the past: on four occasions I wore Lancôme Climat – purposefully to mark the date; one time for each Chanel No 19, Amouage Lyric, Mona di Orio Vanille 44 and Parfumerie Generale Felanilla. And the day I published my very first post on this blog I wore La Prairie Life Threads Platinum.

In 2010, as I get from my notes, I’d already started the descent into the rabbit hole of testing niche perfumes, so I wasn’t specifically looking for another mainstream perfume to add to my collection. There were other precious metals and gemstones in La Prairie’s perfume lineup, but only Life Threads Platinum attracted my attention, and after trying it several times at a store I ended up buying a box of 1.5 ml samples from eBay (for less than $10!).

La Prairie Life Threads Platinums Samples

I enjoyed wearing it for a while and even thought I would buy a bottle eventually. But then Perfumeland happened. How many of you knows about this perfume or tried it? The brand wasn’t popular with perfumistas. Nobody discussed it or wrote posts about it. And there were so many interesting new perfumes to try and discuss!

January 24th, 2011, the day I published the first post on my blog was the last time I wore Life Threads Platinum. In the following years I shared some of the samples from my box with others during samples exchanges, probably secretly hoping that someone else would also find it interesting and validate my feelings. It never happened. And when I found the remaining 7 samples recently, I discovered that they evaporated leaving just a half-drop of a very concentrated liquid on the bottom of the plastic vial, not enough to do an actual testing but maybe just to give a vague reminder of how it smelled.

Thanks to the records of each wearing that I keep, I can tell that, without comparing them side-by-side, Life Threads Platinum reminded me of Chanel No 19. I checked: they have just 5 officially listed notes in common – rose, oakmoss, galbanum, iris and vetiver. These are 5 out of 7 notes of my rainbow colors mnemonic perfumista-style from my seventh anniversary post.

These days I could buy a bottle of Life Threads Platinum for half of its original price, if not less. I’m tempted but shouldn’t I rather wear No 19 more often? We’ll see. At this point I sniffed the remaining smidgen of perfume from the vial and let Rusty play with it (on the pictures below that out-of-focus object flying off the sideboard is a vial Rusty propelled to the floor and then watched it rolling there before jumping down to continue the hunt).

While writing this post, I came up with an idea for this year February. I previously did a Month of Roses with Lucas in 2017 and Februiris in 2018. This year, if you play with me, I’ll do a “Readers’ Choice Month.”

How would it work? It’s simple. Tell me any date (day, month and year) from the last 8 years that had any significance to you (you can elaborate on why you chose that date or leave it a mystery). I will check my perfume database and one day in February will wear perfume that I wore (or tested) on “your” date, and in the month’s round-up I will reveal perfumes chosen for me and tell you how my impressions of it these days compares to how I felt about it on the date you chose.

 

Images: my own

Change of Plans

For some perfumes you have a mental picture. For me Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess is strongly connected to a tropical vacation, Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt is a stroll on a NorthCal beach, and Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles reminds me of Christmas. And I always associated Ormonde Jayne Tsarina with winter and snow. Why? Beats me. Until last week I haven’t ever worn it in cold weather. Probably, some cultural stereotypes: tsarina -> Russia -> winter -> bears… OK, the last part has nothing to do with perfume but you got the picture.

Winter

Being not a morning person, I try to plan all of my trips to start not too early and prepare everything in advance. So for this New Year’s trip to New Mexico, with a flight scheduled in the afternoon and all our suitcases packed the night before, I felt pretty good: all I had left to do in the morning was to figure out what perfumes to take with me and pack them – after I slept in on my first day of vacation.

That morning, on December 28th, I haven’t heard anything because of the Do Not Disturb mode on my phone, but something made me check it out before it was time to get up. Text messages from the friends who were joining us on this trip from Texas urged me to contact them. A series of calls and messages between them and the other couple in our party painted not an optimistic picture: our friends got from Austin to Dallas, where they learned that their next flight was cancelled… until the New Year Eve. And even though the four of us from California could still fly into the airport 2.5 hours’ drive away from the destination, weather advisory for the area didn’t recommend traveling to there because of the strong snow storm, and our friends from Texas couldn’t get their luggage back from the airline to even attempt driving to the rented house in New Mexico.

It was shaping up to become a disaster instead of a pleasant holiday with friends, so we had to figure out something quickly. We changed everything and had just a couple of hours to get tickets to Austin (luckily, our friends could accommodate four more people at their house), rent a car, re-pack suitcases (clothes suitable for 5F/-15C mountain retreat would be out of place in a mild Texan winter) and choose perfumes for the trip. And same as wool underwear and snow boots, Tsarina didn’t get to accompany me to Austin because it seemed not quite right for the weather there.

Everything came together nicely, and we had wonderful time with our friends, but it was the second New Year trip where I didn’t wear Tsarina even though I planned to: since I was sick during my last year’s trip, I haven’t got to experience Tsarina in cold weather then as well. But at least last year with my friend’s help I managed to get an appropriate winter picture with it.

Ormonde Jayne Tsarina

On my recent short trip to the East Coast I finally managed to find the right weather to wear Tsarina: there was no snow but it was cold-cold-cold! And Tsarina was just right then and there.

Tsarina was created in 2012 for Ormonde Jayne by Geza Shoen. Official notes: mandarine, bergamot, coriander, cassis, hedione, freesia, jasmine, sambac, iris, suede, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla bean, labdanum and musk.

Tsarina is very polite suede, iris and amber perfume with each of the three named players being even more timid than the previous one. I’m not sure what the brand meant when describing it as “a powerhouse perfume” but on my skin Tsarina is gracious and well-behaved – as a true royalty. I wish iris and amber were more prominent but probably for that I’ll have to turn to Tsarina‘s relatives – Ormonde Woman and Vanille d’Iris.

If you haven’t tried this perfume yet and want to know more, read this review by Kafka, who is responsible for Tsarina in my collection: not only she did that nice review but she also shared a sample with me. And I liked it enough to buy travel sprays.

 

Images: my own

Entertaining Statistics: 2018 Year Round-up

Another year is behind us. Once again, it was not that bad for me. Would I want 2019 to be better? I would. But I would settle for it to be not worse than 2018.

Perfume-wise 2018 was a solid year for me. I keep “diversifying”: I wore 196 perfumes (vs. 178 in 2017), from 79 brands (vs. 72) on more occasions (372 vs. 314 in 2017). And if you are wondering how I manage to wear more perfumes than days in a year and also do a lot of testing, just look at the brand I wore the most: with its tenacity I could have worn probably twice as many perfumes if I were to carry extra ones with me to apply later during the work day.

Brands I wore most in 2018

Jo Malone and Chanel keep the first two positions, the next 6 brands changed places but are still on my Top 10 list, and only two brands are new compared to the previous year – Dior and Frederic Malle.

I still rotate perfumes daily, so I do not wear any one of my favorites too often. Perfumes I wore the most often in 2018: Lancôme Climat (10 times), Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (7) and Chanel Bois des Iles (6), which isn’t surprising since the first two are my absolute favorites and the third one was a new bottle purchase this year.

Chanel Bois des Iles

Also, I managed to test more perfumes than I did last year (if to count only perfumes I tested at home): 380 perfumes (vs. 300 in 2017) from 139 brands (vs. 103). Out of these 380 perfumes 145 I tested for the first time.

The only position where I did “worse” than the year before is 2018 releases tested: I managed to try 44 perfumes released last year (vs. 45 in 2017) and liked several of them enough to add to my collection. But I plan to tell their stories in future posts, so for now they shall stay unnamed.

I used 51 pictures of Rusty in posts in 2018 (I didn’t count them before, so I have no comparison point here but you can see all of them if you filter my posts by the “Four legs good” CATegory).

Rusty on the Stairs

How was your 2018 perfume-wise and in general?

 

Images: my own

Orange Cats in My Life – Part… X*: Rusty turns 10

As I told in the story of Rusty coming into our lives (Part IV: Those that have just broken the flower vase…), we consider Rusty to be our Christmas cat and celebrate his birthday on Christmas Eve.

Cats are not dogs, so when choosing a cat as a companion, I knew what would be missing – loyalty, affection and obedience. Obedience is clearly not in Rusty’s repertoire (though I did manage to teach him not to come and ask for food before he hears the alarm clock), but in terms of loyalty and attachment, Rusty is probably the farthest to the right on the long tail of the statistical distribution of these qualities in felines.

Rusty's Tail

Rusty is also an extremely social cat: not only he spends a lot of time with me and my vSO, but he also inserts himself in the middle of any gatherings at our place: if there’s a free chair at the table, he’d sit on it and, at some point, he might feel comfortable enough to try to steal our food.

So this year I decided to invite some of my perfumista friends and their furry kids to the to the virtual celebration of Rusty’s birthday. This still being a perfume blog (at least from time to time), I also asked all of the guests to tell us what perfume(s) they plan to wear this Christmas and, optionally, why.

* * *

H

Hajusuuri, my lovely guest-writer and one of the most generous people in the Perfumeland, is known to many by the avatar of this extremely handsome dog. It’s not her pet but a part of the extended family, so he was invited officially to Rusty’s big 1-O celebration.

He decided to stay anonymous, so we’ll just call him H. Two of his siblings, F. and S., were also invited – not to be left out, you know how it can be in a family…

S, H and F

Hajusuuri: As to what perfume I will wear on Christmas, the theoretical answer is Chanel No. 5 L’eau from my Red bottle. The practical answer is I will be nice to my scent-phobe family members and wear a swipe of Al-Rehab Choco Musk or perhaps a teeny tiny dab of Aftelier Vanilla Smoke.

* * *

Truffle

Meet Truffle, a beautiful three-year old companion of Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume), who (the cat, not V.), when is not trapped in one of the neighbours’ garages, attends to her human in time of need.

If you want to know more about Truffle, her tricks and mischief (or just to see more pictures), take a look at a Christmas post on Truffle as a kitten or a post for her second birthday.

Vanessa: On Christmas Day, after much deliberation and auditioning of samples, I have decided to wear By Kilian‘s Amber Oud. As Undina is the ‘hostess’ of this Christmas post, my selection is a nod towards her recent ‘Novamber’ sniffathon and ongoing love of the note, as well to the fact that she has given me samples of Amber Oud at least twice.;) I like Amber Oud because the older I get, the more my tolerance for sweetness in perfumes increases, and this scent, with its comforting, almost maple syrup-type amber laced with lashings of vanilla, is judiciously tempered by spices, a more austere cedar note, and of course the oud, and ends up less sticky and more sheer. I would never normally be drawn to a scent with ‘oud’ in the name, in case it is too medicinal and sharp, but the blend here is marvellously mellow and will create a warm festive hum around my person on the big day!

* * *

Boxer on his beach chair

Admit that you didn’t expect to see a rabbit at this virtual party. Boxer lives with Suzanne (Suzanne’s Perfume Journal). To keep him fit and healthy, Suzanne developed a special morning exercise routine for him. Judging by the way he looks, it works. After holidays Rusty and I should be probably consulting her to start preparing to the bikini season.

Suzanne: When I think about the perfect Christmas perfume, I think of Caron Parfum Sacre. It has a very beautiful nutmeg note intertwined among its rich layers, and nutmeg always reminds me of Christmas since it’s a featured spice in eggnog, plum pudding and the like. The nutmeg lifts the deep, velvety expression of rose, the bewitchingly syrup-and-evergreen scent of myrrh, and the custard-like vanillic base of Parfum Sacre. There’s even a small, purring amount of civet in this perfume, of which I think Rusty, the Christmas cat, might approve. ;-)

* * *

Vega

Follow the link to learn how a shy rescue kitty who graciously accepted Asali’s (The Sounds of Scent) companionship got her shiny (and perfume-related!) name Vega.

Asali: For Christmas, I will 1) wear the to me unknown perfume of my Advent Calendar#, and 2) wear Nez a Nez Marron Chic.

# Here’s the post about Asali’s DIY Advent Calendar. I’m borrowing the idea next year!

* * *

Paris Jinx Jan 2018

Two handsome greyhounds – Paris and Jinx (can you guess which one was named by Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies) and which one by Jin?) – as Portia informed me, were “so excited that Rusty is turning 10 and wish him many more happy years on this earth with you. Plus all the treats, cuddles, pats and smooches that should go along with being a pampered pet.”

Surprisingly, there’s no dedicated post on the APJ but if you read Portia’s weekly updates, it’s hard to miss that these two guys play important roles in their owners’ lives.

Portia: Nuit de Noel by Caron for Xmas Eve watching the Carols by Candlelight; UR ± Silk 19 by UER MI** for Xmas lunch. It’s a fig tea, jasmine and woods fragrance that seems good for the heat of our Xmas Day.
For Xmas evening Mohur by Neela Vermeire Creations, its spicy rose and woods fits all occasions perfectly for me, adds luster to whatever i’m doing.
Boxing Day will be spent BarBQ-ing and swimming so L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Intense will get a whirl.

** I thought one of the dogs had interrupted Portia, and it was a random set of characters but I checked: it’s a name of actual perfume!

* * *

Meepsy

If you were to scour Val’s, the Cookie Queen, Instagram feed (@armadilloscookiequeen), you would have probably conjectured that this Snow White’s name is actually “Cat” – and would have been wrong. Her full name is Meep Meep or Meepsy (“When she was a tiny kitten she ran around the apartment so fast you could not see her”).

Val: I will be wearing vintage Chanel N°5 parfum on Christmas Day, 25th. It feels very suitable and elegant, like me. Hahahaha. Family will be here, and wearing any kind of leather and smoke would be too much. I’ve been in a N°5 binge.

* * *

Duncan

Duncan, who is just 15 years young, is enjoying an early retirement with his humans in sunny Mérida. Steve (The Scented Hound) says that “for Xmas, I will be wearing my vintage Caron Nuit de Noel (of course).”

* * *

Mila

Mila, the youngest guest on today’s party (so, probably no valerian root beer for her), will grow to be probably one of the most well-traveled pets, as she accompanies her mom, Tara C on her seasonal migration between Canada and the U.S. Look at those ears!!!

Tara C: I normally wear Nuit de Noel on Christmas eve and Chopard Wish on Christmas day.

* * *

Ophelia, Border, Rita and Lucy all live with Marcella. They all decided to join the celebration, and I’m using this opportunity to introduce them to the Perfumeland since their human doesn’t have any public social media accounts where she’d be proudly demonstrating each of these beauties.

Marcella: This year I will be wearing vintage Shalimar perfume. I bought it for myself for my birthday this year. I wore it extensively in the 70’s and nostalgia prompted me to order a bottle. It’s still unbeatable. Absolutely glorious.

Actually, I think I will start off in Parfum de Thérèse which was a pre-Christmas gift from my hubs, and then transition to Shalimar once the cooking is done. Yes. That makes sense!

* * *

I don’t think I’ll surprise anybody who reads my blog for a while if I tell that on the Christmas Eve I plan to wear Climat by Lancome: not only it is my #1 all-time favorite perfume that I wear for special-special occasions, but also it was the first ever perfume that I took a picture of in general and the one with Rusty and perfume in particular (though, not the best or the last one with that perfume). And it was the first post about Rusty on this blog.

For his birthday Rusty got a new pure wool artisanal cat cave “handcrafted by women in Nepal.” He seems to like it.

Rusty in Cave

What a great party (and wonderfully smelling at that)! I’m so happy to have all of my real and virtual friends and their graceful companions to join me in celebration of the 10th Birthday of a very special orange cat in my life who is kneading and purring loudly on my lap as I’m trying to finish this post.

If you’re reading this, and you’re blessed with a furry companion, please introduce them and share a link to their pictures with us – so they could join the party and increase the enjoyment we all get from seeing each others four-legged friends. And, of course, tell me: what is your Christmas perfume this year?

 

Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers!

 

* For those of my readers who hasn’t read the previous episodes: no, I haven’t told 9 stories before this one but I thought that a 10th Birthday is a good reason to skip a couple of numerals.

Second Sunday Samples: YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums

I cannot believe it’s the second Sunday of December: where did the year go?! I was so busy recently that I skipped a couple of Sundays moving posts originally planned for this series to be just posts. Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) and Old Herbaceous (Serenity Now) were smarter about their Monday Quick Sniffs and Scent Sample Sunday correspondingly: they get 4 or sometimes even 5 days per month to choose from when it comes to running the next episode of their series. But since the second Sunday comes just once a month, all I can do is to either make it or wait for the next one. I decided to do the last episode this year, especially since perfumes about which I’m writing fit perfectly to this season – even though by the not observing the back to the Standard Time shift WP’s clock it’s technically Monday already.

When it comes to perfumes and perfumistas, there are luxury perfume brands existence of which we acknowledge and either splurge on from time to time (Tom Ford or By Kilian) or mostly ignore (Creed or Clive Christian). Then there are brands’ luxury divisions which, although added later in the brand’s life, were rather welcomed and appreciated: L’Art et La Matiere from Guerlain, Les Exclusifs de Chanel, Hermessence or Dior’s La Collection Privee (though, it seems that the most recent revamp/rename to the “Maison” collection didn’t get any enthusiasm from the part of Perfumeland that I know). Of course, most of the brands that released their “top shelf” collections were in perfume business probably from the time when their “regular” lines were luxury not easily affordable for most buyers, so with everything being “dumbed down” as well as priced down to fit mass market, it felt somewhat justified that high quality and creativity was elevated into a separate collection and price category.

But that was 2004 – 2007. And then the levees broke: not talking about an avalanche of new super-niche super-expensive brands with real, bought or invented history, but all luxury brands, with or without the regular perfume portfolio, forayed into the luxury perfume space. And most of them are being ignored by the “old guard” perfumistas. Have you tried any of Louis Vuitton or Bottega Veneta’s Parco Palladiano Collection?

Yves Saint Laurent, a brand that had all the reasons and pedigree to be among the first creators of a luxury perfume branch, came to the party really late: they released their first five perfumes in the Le Vestiaire des Parfums (the Perfume Wardrobe) Collection in 2015. The collection name explains individual perfume names: they represent pieces of clothes designed by the brand or, later, once they ran out of significant attire articles, fabric used for those creations.

YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums

I can’t tell you how many times I went by this stand at my local Neiman Marcus without even pausing. The reason was that on those rare occasions when I get to the NM’s perfume area, I usually have something else I want to try, and since I usually do not buy perfumes there, I try to minimize time I do the browsing since there’s only that many samples you can score from the same SAs without making a purchase. I mean, I can sniff my head out at any random place where I do not plan to come again but in the not that crowded local perfume “watering holes,” to which I keep coming back, I try to maintain some reasonable balance.

But recently when I finally decided to make a purchase (for the first time on my memory NM had 20% off, Beauty & Fragrances included, and there was something that I couldn’t buy elsewhere anyway). Can you imagine having all the possible good will from the SA and … absolutely nothing that I’d really want to try? (Our local store isn’t the most impressive in the perfume department.) I desperately looked around… and realized that I had never tried any perfumes in that 2015 YSL’s collection. So I asked and got generous 3.5 ml official samples for 3 perfumes from the original collection as well as small hand-made samples for two later additions.

Tuxedo

Three and Half Sea Stars

Tuxedo (2015, perfumer Juliette Karagueuzoglou – the name didn’t sound familiar to me so I checked: among mostly unfamiliar to me mass-market perfumes, last year she created Un Air de Bretagne for L’Artisan and Savoy Steam for Penhaligon’s) is described by the brand as “smoked patchouli blended with ambergris accord.” To my nose, it’s a warm amber-y perfume on a drier side with a dab of spices added. Based on the history of this garment, I’d expect some tobacco note but it’s not there – either listed or perceived.

Have you seen pictures of women in tuxedos? Even though they might look beautiful and sexy, looking at those pictures you still know that traditionally it’s a part of men’s wardrobe. Tuxedo perfume, in my opinion, is precisely like that: I can imagine a woman (maybe even myself) wearing this perfume but I think it leans masculine. Because of that I gave it just 3.5 sea stars but I plan to try it on my vSO to see if I 4-star-like-it on him.

Trench

Three Sea Stars

Trench (2015, perfumer Amandine Clerc-MarieMDCI’s Peche Cardinal, Mugler Angel EdT and Aura), “a citrus scent featuring dry cedarwood and white musk,” does start with a beautiful citrus that I’d love to keep smelling. Unfortunately, it subsides quickly into a more soap-y scent – still pleasant but not spectacular. Trench is supposed to feature fig and iris but my nose doesn’t catch either – even though these are some of a few notes that I usually easily recognize. Despite that as I said Trench is nice. Not its price-nice but good enough to try if you come across it without paying for it.

Caftan

Three and Half Sea Stars

Caftan (2015, perfumer Calice Baker) is a straight-forward amber perfume. It’s not Ambre Russe or Mitzah-type amber with resins punching you in the nose without warning, and it’s less sweet than, for example, Floris Honey Oud or EnVoyage Perfumes Captured in Amber, which makes it more unisex and easier to wear by a man. I wouldn’t refuse a travel spray of Caftan (it doesn’t come in one, I’m speaking theoretically) but I probably do not need this amber in addition to all the great ambers that I already have in my collection. But do try Caftan if you see it: it might work better for you, especially if you’re not a hardcore amber lover.

Velours

Four Sea Stars

Velours (2016, perfumer Carlos Benaim), yet another amber in this collection (can you even have too many ambers?) proved to be my favorite. I often get black tea note mistaken in perfumes for very supple leather, which happened here. Until I read notes, I was sure that this perfume, despite of the name, contains leather or at least suede note. But tea makes more sense. Velours is not a perfume to win any creativity or originality awards (well, the bottle is very nice – so, maybe for the packaging) but it’s easy to wear, smooth and refined. I saw several people comparing it to Dior Homme Parfum, which is supposed to be a good thing, I think, but since I’m not familiar with that Dior’s perfume, I don’t have that reference point to offer you. Too bad, unlike the original collection, the “de Nuit” addition to it (Velours being one of the three perfumes in it) comes only in 125 ml bottles, with is a lot even if not to consider the price.

Blouse

Four Sea Stars

The latest addition to the original collection – Blouse (2018, perfumer Quentin BischMandarin Corsica for L’Artisan, Mugler Angel Muse and Ambre Imperial for Van Cleef & Arpels) has won me by surprise. Being a floral perfume lover, I probably appreciated finally prominent floral notes in a slew of wood, amber and vanilla ingredients of perfumes I wore for the last month for my NovAmber project and tested from this collection. Despite the name that I find stupid (“Blouse” is such a non-descriptive name, and it’s completely out of sync with the rest of the collection.) and, again, stupid ad copy for the perfume on the brand’s site (they use words “sensual” and “sensuality” six times in a 7-sentences’ description), I like Blouse because it smells of a very natural and delicate (not sensual!) pink rose, and it lasts for a very long time for a light perfume. But I’m not buying 125 ml (again, the only size available now) of a pink (!) rose musk niceness.

– You smell nice. What are you wearing?
– YSL Blouse
– Duh!..

 Rusty and YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums  

Images: my own