Better than a New-Car Scent

Do you still remember those times when you could go to a department store, pick up a tester from a counter and spray it on a paper strip or on your skin? …

It was just a joke; I’m not practicing my March 2021 “A year in ‘shelter-in-place’” post. But when I started writing this post, I realized that I wasn’t sure what tense to use. Let’s pretend that life is (or very soon will be) what it used to.

In early days of getting acquainted with niche perfume world, as many of you probably did as well, on a single perfume shop trip I would use 4-5 spots on each arm to try multiple different perfumes after a quick sniff from a bottle or a test strip. But in the last 3-4 years I rarely test more than 2 perfumes at a time, and most days when I find myself at a store where I could try something, I am on my way to somewhere (a party, some theater or other performance or business trip) where I don’t want to reek of a cacophony of random perfumes.

So, what I normally do these days is: after sniffing from a nozzle (yeah, I know, extremely scientific approach), I identify perfumes that I want to try, spray those on paper, walk around, discard those that do not smell promising, try to get samples for a couple of those that I liked the most to test on skin at home and take away with me 5-6 paper strips with scents that I liked the most and want to check how they develop. If one day you happen to be around one of the “perfume centers” of San Francisco/Bay Area and see a woman walking the mall or adjacent streets with a fan of paper blotters in her hand who can care less how it must look like – there is a high chance it would be me. And then, when I get to my car, I use a vent grid to hold those strips separated until I get home.


Blotters in a Car Vent


That was exactly how it went last year when, on the spur of the moment, I went to Tigerlily Perfumery to try perfumes that are hard to get to test for free anywhere else around here. I went through, in my estimate, 40-50 bottles, bought several small samples (I love that they do that! I’d rather officially pay a small amount to take what I want to test at home than do all the dancing for maybe getting what I want) and left with 5 or 6 strips, mostly (but not all) of perfumes samples of which I bought.

At home I re-smelled the blotters and left them on the bathroom counter to re-visit the next day to see what remained from the scents. Samples went into the “to test” box but I wasn’t in a hurry to reach for them: I already smelled all of them in the store, I had them – so what is a month or two before I put them on skin?

But my car smelled wonderfully the next day. And the day after that. And probably for the next couple of weeks from time to time I kept catching a pleasant waft… It took me a while to realize that one of the paper strips fell into the vent and kept emitting an unknown aroma from the depth of my car. But which one was that? I hoped it was one of those that I bought a sample of, but I wasn’t sure. I went on testing, two at a time, waiting for that magnificent drydown.

I got lucky: it was one of the samples that I had. Naomi Goodsir Or du Serail, created in 2014 by Bertrand Duchaufour (BTW, have you noticed that he almost disappeared from the perfume scene last year? According to Fragrantica, there were just 7 perfumes he released for 4 brands – and I’ve never heard of 4 of them. In 2014 there were 15 and in later years there were even more). With Or du Serail it was one of those times when you know that you want that perfume. So, I bought it.


Naomi Goodsir Or Du Serail


Or du Serail is rich and very warm perfume. It’s not timid – it’s loud and strong and present. And I love wearing it. If you want a fuller review, read Kevin’s (Now Smell This) impression. But if you haven’t tried it yet, I think it’s one of those perfumes that is worth trying whether you end up liking it or not.


Images: my own


22 thoughts on “Better than a New-Car Scent

  1. What a fabulous tale. Thank goodness it was one of the samples you’d bought or it would be haunting more than your car haha.

    Naomi Goodsir is such a fantastic line. It’s what niche should be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OH that was a sadness.. I know two places I can try Or du Serail in my city but, of course, I cannot. What wonderful notes! Duchaufour is a favorite.

    I find I’m very quick with my testing now and I only rarely take the papers home. If I really love something I’ll give one blotter a good soaking and return to it over the days. Samples are hard to come by here, impossible in most places. Indeed if everywhere sold them I’d be very happy. I’ll go nozzle, paper, skin but mostly I don’t get past nozzle. If something excites I will return with a clean nose and spray skin abundantly. I rarely mull over things, I make decisions quickly these days and I can usually tell if that very nice scent will bore or annoy me once worn. I tend to pursue houses and notes so I ignore a lot of things that aren’t on my current map.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I have a free access, I’d smell almost anything (well, I mean, niche or high-end; I can skip the lower segment of mainstream without even registering that there is something new). Unfortunately, I don’t get to those shops that carry interesting brands too often, so when it happens, after I discard 90% of what I smell as “not for me,” I need some time to decide whether I want even to try any on my skin – hence walking around with paper strips.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like a lovely scent! I’ve done the same with scent strips, it’s a nice surprise for the following morning when I head out to work.
    I haven’t tested a new perfume in a couple of years simply due to the last few releases seemed very abrasive. Fortunately, I’ve saved a few dollars as well, I can’t afford the aspirational pricing these days!


    • I know! It seems like prices and quality are moving into the opposite directions in the last 5 years.
      I got my bottle on a sale, and I did a partial split. I’m not sure I would have paid full price.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a great idea.
    I can also totally picture the scene of holding a fan of testing strips – that might have been me as well in a few department stores! I’m getting quicker at reducing the number I’m holding at any one time – and, like you, choosing the present tense in hopefulness!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m trying to triage scents quickly. But in the last several years I’ve been so busy at work that I rarely had time to go sniffing – hence every time I go there are too many perfumes, about development of which I’m curious. Often I know that I won’t wear some perfume but I still want to get a fuller impression of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do like to smell whatever is the current buzz in perfume land. It is easier when you don’t have an entire range to catch up with though!


  5. I rarely test anything at a department store, but occasionally order samples from Indigo or Luckyscent. Right now I am on hiatus and not buying anything.

    I do own and deeply love Or du Sérail, as well as Bois d’Ascèse, Cuir Velours and Iris Cendré.


    • I’m going back and forth on Iris Cendre: sometimes I love how it smells and start looking for a bottle; other times I think that I don’t particularly like it…
      I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from Indigo – I need to take a look on what they offer.


  6. That’s a great idea! I never thought of that. I’m still going through some small sample vials and I put them in drawers when they are empty. My clean socks smell really good now! I’ll try using them in the car as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t remember how I came to know about this brand but I knew about it before I first saw it at the store. I think, there were several popular in the Blogosphere perfumes from them. But this was the one that “spoke” to me (from the car vent ;) ).


  7. Pingback: What I Wore Wednesday: Perfume Advent Calendar 2021, Week 1 – Undina's Looking Glass

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