Gift that keeps on… lathering

Traditionally, before a concept of unisex perfumes appeared, or the notion that everyone can wear what they like re-emerged, perfumes were subdivided into masculine and feminine groups. In my native language, in the past, you would have never called creations for men anything other than “cologne”; while their feminine counterparts were called “parfum” (those were pre-spray-bottle times, which, as I suspect, in that country lasted longer than in the USA or some European countries).

Surprisingly, soaps – in the form we had them back then (I’ve previously shared some insights into experiences of my generation in older days so I won’t repeat it) – were strictly unisex before we even knew that term. There were some special “baby” soaps but everything else that I remember from my childhood was sexless. And even when later we were getting some coveted “imported” soaps – Palmolive or Camay – they were never thought of as feminine, and the most macho men had no issues using those fragrant soaps.

When I discovered soap for men (a German company Schwarzkopf & Henkel in 90s came up with the idea of targeting men with their products), a dark navy box with the inconspicuous name “Fa for men,” it was revolutionary! I loved that soap and bought it more than once, even though it was relatively expensive. It was marbled blue and white, and smelled wonderful though I wouldn’t be able to tell what it smelled of.

Fa Soap

They were probably before their time, so in a while it transformed into Fa Sport for Men first, then into something else (it had happened after I moved to the US, so I don’t know/remember what it was in between and cannot find since it was before mass Internet), and then into Far Energizing (the picture above shows the most recent reincarnation: both the box and the soap of  the original one were darker but this is the closest I could find).

In the US there were enough local mass-marker brands, so I completely forgot about that European brand… until many years later I smelled Caswell-Massey’s Sandalwood Soap on a Rope.

When I blind bought the first bar, I didn’t know what to expect from the scent: I was looking for soap on a rope to hang and use in the shower and liked how this one looked on the picture. Years apart, I cannot say with any certainty that Sandalwood and Fa for Men soaps smelled identical but in my scent memory they were very similar, and that made me predisposed to like Sandalwood even before I started using it.

 

Caswel-Massey Sandalwood Soap

 

Sandalwood soap surprised me: not only it perfumed my bathroom for months, felt pleasant while used and would leave a fine trace of sandalwood aroma on my skin, but it was a much better quality than I expected from that type of a product from some random brand…

Well, in my defense I should say that by the time I arrived to this country Caswell-Massey wasn’t a part of the shopping landscape any longer. But before ordering my second bar from Amazon, I decided to read about the brand. I discovered that, according to Wikipedia, the company, created in 1752, “is the first fragrance and personal care product company in America. […] is regarded as the fourth-oldest continuously operating company in America and the oldest American consumer brand in operation.”

If you’re interested, you can read more about the brand’s history from the link above, I’ll just mention that as of 2017 it was re-launched (still as a privately owned company), and they’ve re-released their perfumes and colognes line (with some “updated formula” – whatever it means).

I bought my second Sandalwood bar as a gift to myself and my vSO for Christmas 2016 – and for almost 16 months since then he’s been using it exclusively and I would rotate between this soap and several shower gels. And it still has probably another month of use in it!

 

Rusty and Soap on a Roap

 

Do you know Caswell-Massey brand? Have you tried any of their products – be that soaps, perfumes or hand creams? Have you ever used any soap on a rope?

 

Images: Fa – from the brand’s site; all others – my own

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In the Search for the Perfect Mimosa, Take 5

Not counting roses and irises that got all the attention (and posts) during the corresponding Months, there is no other note about which I’d write that many times. Not only I like mimosa and its scent, but also I firmly associate it with spring. So every year about this time I get an urge to smell mimosa, wear perfumes with it as a dominant note and to write about it.

This winter was warmer than usually in our area, so I wasn’t surprised much when I saw blooming mimosa in the beginning of February. The tree was in such place to where I couldn’t easily get, so I snapped a couple of pictures but told myself that there would be plenty of opportunities in Sonoma where we planned to go for my birthday.

 

Mimosa

 

There was plenty of mimosa: we saw it everywhere as we were driving by on a highway. But as a cruel joke or some anti-mimosa conspiracy, wherever we stopped – be those wineries, small parks or the ranch where we stayed – there wasn’t a mimosa twig in sight! Think about it: when you want just to look at a tree (any tree, not some special and known one) from up-close, smell it and take a picture or two, there is no a search term you could enter into the map app or a search engine to find that tree. So even though I enjoyed my birthday trip enormously otherwise, I felt a little disappointed about not getting to experience mimosa in all its beauty.

But when I returned home, a pleasant surprise was waiting for me: Lucas (my perfume sibling and the author of the Chemist in the Bottle blog) sent me a birthday present. A couple of weeks earlier he reviewed a new Yves Rocher shower product – Cotton Flower & Mimosa. It immediately piqued my interest but at that time Yves Rocher US site didn’t stock it yet (for those of my European readers who don’t know that, YR doesn’t have B&M presence in the U.S., so the only way you can buy something is either from the website or a catalog). I prepared to wait and see if it gets here eventually (it did!), but Lucas was so sweet and surprised me with that package. Cotton Flower & Mimosa shower gel is wonderful even if you do not get it as birthday present, and it won’t break the bank – so I wholeheartedly can recommend it to mimosa lovers.

 

Rusty and Yves Rocher Cotton Flower & Mimosa Shower Gel

 

But that wasn’t the end of my mimosa saga for this year. A couple of weeks after that I received a package from another perfume friend, a rare guest author on this blog and the third person in our perfume sister/brotherhood, hajusuuri. Among the expected decants from the recent NST split and shared samples, there was another surprising item: a bottle of Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea Mimosa. I remember reading about this perfume earlier and expressing interest, but I don’t remember if hajusuuri was present for that conversation. But she saw Green Tea Mimosa at Marshalls (store similar to TJ/TK Maxx) and thought of me.

 

Rusty and Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Mimosa

 

More than a decade ago I was deeply in love with the original Green Tea perfume. I went through at least a couple of bottles of it. It was light and green and happy. I don’t remember why I didn’t buy the next bottle once my last one was empty, but I don’t think it was because I stopped liking it – most likely, something else (probably Jo Malone’s scents) seemed more appealing at the time. In Green Tea Mimosa flanker I think I recognize the frame of the original scent. And it has a nice mimosa accord once the initial blast of a pleasant citrus calms down. I love it because it was a present. But besides, I know that I’ll get good use of it during the summer. And while if you’re new to the brand and this perfume, there is no good reason for you to hunt this specific flanker, if you were a fan of the original Green Tea and you like mimosa, check your local eBay listings.

Since the last post on the topic of mimosa, I discovered two more great mimosa perfumes. Unfortunately, Sonoma Scent Studio Bee’s Bliss, about which I wrote not long ago, is not available any more, which is too bad since it happened to be one of my most favorite SSS’s perfumes.

The second perfume came to me as a sample (again) from Lucas. He liked Jean Charles Brosseau Fleurs d’Ombre The Poudree and did a great review for it, so since I agree with his take I won’t attempt to find different words to describe Fleurs d’Ombre The Poudree. I’ll just say that only inaccessibility stops me from getting a small bottle for this spring. But most likely I’ll get it eventually. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy ee’s Bliss and all other mimosa perfumes that I accumulated over the last seven years of search: Givenchy Amarige Harvest Mimosa, Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie, Guerlain Champs Elysées, Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom, Prada Infusion de Mimosa and Atelier Cologne Mimosa Indigo (I won’t link to the previous posts but those who are interested can easily find those through My Perfume Portrait or Related posts below).

 

Rusty and Sonoma Scent Studio Bee's Bliss

 

Do you like mimosa perfumes? What is your current favorite?

 

Imaged: my own

SOTD: Choice Overload

Overchoice or choice overload is a cognitive process in which people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with many options.

Many years ago, when my collection was less than 10 bottles, every morning I would just look at all the bottles on my shelf and choose one of perfumes that spoke to me that day.

Angry Birds and 3 Demeter Perfumes

Once I fell through the rabbit hole, and number of perfumes increased, every night before going to sleep I would mentally sort through all my precious possessions and choose what perfume would get my skin time the next morning. Back then I would try new perfumes during the day, so I was equally wearing perfumes from my bottles and from samples. I enjoyed my nightly ritual, and it would save me some invaluable morning time.

As the collection … matured, a concept of wearing perfumes vs. testing them had been introduced: for me to consider an occasion of applying perfume as “wear” it should be a) applied to more than one point and b) at least for a while, be a single perfume on my skin. At that point I stopped wearing perfumes from samples: I had so many perfumes that I already loved and paid money to own that it made no sense to keep kissing an army of frogs instead of spending days with already realized kings. But even without samples the number of choices reached the level where going through them at night would have the same effect as counting sheep…

Serta Sheep

But since I face this first world problem every day (and even more so as the time goes, with every next bottle or decant joining my collection), I keep trying different methods.

Visual Inspection

If I’m not pressed for time in the morning (and sometimes even when I am), I would still try this proven method. The issue with it is that my bottles – still in their boxes – are placed on the shelves in several rows, so even thought I tried to arrange them the way that the taller ones go farther into the shelf allowing the shorter boxes to be visible, it’s not a completely unobstructed view. As to decants, being in drawers, they are not easily “readable” when I look at them from above. I even tried adding two-letter abbreviations on the caps, but good luck figuring out before the first cup of coffee what “AB” or “BA” stand for).

Plagiarism

Sometimes in the morning, while still in bed, I read through the SOTD thread on NST or APJ until I come across somebody mentioning perfume that I feel like wearing that day. The disadvantage of this approach is that a high percentage of the reports are for new releases: many of the participants are still in the phase of testing/wearing just released perfumes from samples, while for me it usually takes a while to get newly released perfumes to join the line-up for wearing (read: become a bottle or decant).

Projects

I participate in at least some NST’s community projects on Fridays but a week-long (as many of participants do) “wear your oddest fragrance” or “wear a perfume by ” is too much for me – though I did a full week of ambers recently to catch-up on wearing those before it got too warm.

Lucas’s A Month of Roses (February 2017), my NovAmber (2016) and A Month of Irises (February 2018) were fun and made it easier to choose what to wear (since I had to plan each month well ahead), but seemed too limiting – so I cannot do those projects too often.

Going Big Small Data

Since I have all my perfumes and their usage recorded in a database, I created a simple query that would produce a list of perfumes that I haven’t worn in the last 2 months. The drawback is that as it doesn’t take into account any additional aspects – season, office-friendliness or occasion (I explained my complex perfumes-for-occasions designation in the first part of this post) – the query would produce still a long list, inevitably trying to steer me into wearing Amouage Ubar (my “special occasion” winter perfume) or Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess (an ultimate tropical vacation perfume) all year round.

Rusty on Laptop

How do you choose what perfume to wear?

Jessica (Bonjour Perfume) recently covered this topic on her blog and told about the unusual precognitions that guide her in this important decision-making.

I do not possess similar abilities, so I decided to try to improve my perfume database to be able to ask that important question. But to get the right answer one should ask the right question – so I’m trying to figure out what question I should actually ask, and I’d like to get your help.

If you could ask an all-knowing Answerer to choose perfume for you to wear on any particular day, what data points would you want it to consider? I’m talking not about guessing your mood or predicting reaction of somebody you’d meet this day, but information about perfumes, your previous experiences with them or any environmental factors that can be put into some formula and calculated.

Images: my own

 

Entertaining Statistics: Februiris 2018

I want to start this post with saying “Thank you” to all of you who participated in the Month of Irises project. I had fun but without you it would have felt really strange to keep updating those posts on a daily basis. Special gratitude goes to Lucas for coining a great name for the month and supporting and promoting this project throughout the month, Tara and Ines for hosting two days on their blogs.

Daily updates… It was harder than I expected it to be but it was an interesting experience: I’ve never done it before for that many days in a row. Though I still like the idea, I’m convinced now that publishing the continuous updates to the same post isn’t the right format for WordPress: without a notification delivered through the channels readers used to get their updates, only the most persistent ones remember to come back regularly. I’ll have to think of a better approach next year for the Month of X project. I mean, we are going to do it, aren’t we?

 

Iris

 

455 Comments

I went through all the comments on the posts for the project on my blog and three Day of Iris posts hosted by others (455 comments, if you were curious) and got together some numbers.

22 Perfumistas

During this February 22 people participated in the project: I counted only those who reported on one of the participating blogs; I saw some people reporting only on the NST, and I was glad it went “viral” but I couldn’t possibly include those in these statistics.

100 Perfumes

Among all the participants, we wore 100 different perfumes, collectively on 212 occasions.

28 Days

I and at least three more people wore iris perfumes for all 28 days – hajusuuri, Chocolate Marzipane (though she cheated a little wearing the same iris perfume as her bed scent) and Lucas (if you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at his beautiful calendar).

9 Project’s Favorites

Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist and Atelier Cologne Silver Iris are two the most popular perfumes (reported by 6 people each). Infusion d’Iris by Prada takes the third place (5 people). Atelier Cologne Iris Rebelle, Chanel 28 La Pausa and No 19 EdT, Hermès Hiris, Prada Purple Rain and Van Cleef & Arpels Bois d’Iris got 4 mentions each.

Undina’s Top 7 Iris Perfumes

Since the idea of this project came  from my blog’s seventh anniversary, I decided to conclude it with the list of my 7 most favorite iris perfumes based on my recent experience with the whole bunch of them (in no particular order):

Chanel No 19 EdT
Le Labo Iris 39
Armani Prive Le Femme Bleue
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise
Frederic Malle Iris Poudre
Prada Purple Rain
Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris

Result of the Month

Interestingly, I did not get tired of iris perfumes and plan to wear at least a couple of them again soon. I got myself a small travel bottle of Atelier Cologne Iris Rebelle. And I think I want to get more of L’Attessa once I’m done with my tiny decant – it grew on me. Oh, and I learned how to make “orrisgami” (© Lucas).

Rusty and Origami

What is your best iris perfume (or three, or seven)?

 

Images: my own

Month of Irises: Week 4 (Feb 22nd – Feb 28th)

I’ll be adding something new in the end of this post during the next 7 days. Come back whenever you remember to read something new, see what perfume I chose to wear, share your SOTD (even if it has absolutely nothing to do with irises) or just talk to me and others.

Can you believe it’s Week 4 of the Month of Irises? I still have perfumes for the next 7 days, and I’m curious to see what others find to wear.

There were no more “takers” for hosting an Iris Day so I’ll be doing all the daily updates (but if anybody wants to take over one of the remaining days, you’re still welcome).

* * *

Thursday, February 22, 2018

SOTD

I enjoyed wearing Chanel No 19 extrait so much that I decided to stay with Chanel for one more day. I will be wearing No 19 EdP.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Rusty got really interested with my origami experiments. I’ll try to add a GIF for tomorrow but meanwhile just a teaser.

 

Rusty and Origami Iris


Friday, February 23, 2018

SOTD

Following Lucas’s lead, Hedonist Iris by Viktoria Minya.

GIF OF THE DAY

If for nothing else, it was worth making those origami irises because Rusty was really taken by those. Probably I should make a couple more for him to play.

 

Rusty Playing with Origami


Saturday, February 24, 2018

SOTD

I’ve been postponing it, but it’s probably time to finish my decant of Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens. I think it is one of perfumes that has such an iconic standing that it is difficult for it to live up to itself.

WINDOW SHOPPING

Have you seen this already? A note pad from Japanese company Triad that reveals architectural models as you keep using it. I do not really use paper notes but I love the idea (and the color! and have you noticed those irises on the base?). If $123 + $21 S&H doesn’t scare you away, click on the picture to pre-order this Omoshiroi Block Japanese Landmark Memo Pad Kiyomizudera Temple, Asakusa Temple, Tokyo Tower notepad or one of several other designs (I’m not affiliated).

 

Omoshiro Block Memo Pad


Sunday, February 25, 2018

SOTD

I decided to give Iris Silver Mist one more wear. While it was nice, I don’t think I like it more than several other irises I have or tried this month. So once I finish my decant (probably one or two more times), I won’t try to get a bottle. Maybe another decant.


Monday, February 26, 2018

SOTD

I wanted to wear Purple Rain by Prada on a rainy day. Unfortunately, February this year was dry. One day when it suddenly rained, I was already wearing another perfume that was tenacious enough to last me through the day. But now we have rain forecast for this Monday, so I’ll be wearing Purple Rain. I wish I had this umbrella to accompany it:

Iris Umbrella


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

VIDEO CLIP OF THE DAY

Recently I was watching (again) Hercule Poirot series and was reminded how much I liked the song used in one of the episodes – Yellow Iris. Unfortunately, from what I managed to find, it had never been released as a stand-alone song, so all you can do is to listen to it in the clip from the episode (in which, by the way, there is a reference to the flower of the month – so I thought it was at least partially relevant). The song is beautiful, and I wanted to share it with you (and I’ll add lyrics under the video – in case some of the words are not clear in the background).

 

I’ve forgotten you,
I never think of you,
The way you walked, the way you talked, the things you used to say.

I’ve forgotten you,
I never think of you,
I couldn’t say for sure today
Whether your eyes were blue or grey.

I’ve forgotten you,
I never think of you,
Your smile, your touch,
Which meant so much,
Somewhere along the way.

I’ve forgotten you,
I never think of you,
I changed my mind , my love was blind ,
Now I’ve forgotten you.

Oh, what a lie!
I shall think of you,
Think of you,
Think of you,
Till I die

 

SOTD 2/27/2018

With just 2 days left in the month I’m going through the remaining list of my iris-centric perfumes choosing carefully what gets a wear within this project. I’m going with my first unsniffed purchaseChanel No. 19 Poudré, even though I suspect it might be a little too cold for it.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

So we are on the last day of A Month of Irises project. After it’s over, I’ll probably do a round-up post with some statistics – so please, keep going, do not give up until the end of the month (and report back).

LINKS, LINKS, LINKS

I thought it would be very fitting to finish my updates for the month of irises, rainbows and perfumes with a link to Asali’s (The Sounds of Scent) review of the legendary Iris Gris perfume – At the end of the rainbow.

 

SOTD 2/28/2018

I started this project with a list of iris perfumes that had more than 28 scents, so it is not a surprise that I had a choice of what to wear for the last day. After going back and forth between a couple of contenders, I decided that Hiris by Hermès would be a perfect conclusion for the month: it is very office-friendly (and I have some meetings in a small office), it is a classic iris perfume, it is the last perfume featured in the picture of the introductory post for this project that I haven’t worn yet, and this mini bottle was a gift from dear Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies).

 

Rusty and Iris Perfumes

 

What are you wearing today?

 

Images: memo block and umbrella – from the sites selling the products, linked (no affiliation); the rest – my own

Month of Irises: Week 3 (Feb 15th – Feb 21st)

I’ll be adding something new in the end of this post during the next 7 days. Come back whenever you remember (WordPress doesn’t have an option to inform the subscribers about the updates) to read something new, see what perfume I chose to wear and share your SOTD.

So, we’re in the Week 3 of the Month of Irises. Do you still have more iris perfumes to wear? Do you feel like wearing them? I’m good on both counts, and I hope you’ll join me regardless of perfumes you choose to wear.

I’ve learned my lesson: no more riddles. I still have some topical bits and bobs to entertain you. And you’ll get to visit a couple of friendly blogs hosting one of the SOTD threads (that is if you actually see the update and follow the link I share).

* * *

Thursday, February 15, 2018

SOTD

I plan to wear Gris Clair by Serge Lutens.  I would like to wear it for a foggy day (or, dare I wish, even a rainy one) but since the forecast has sunny days for at least next 10 days, I decided to go with it.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

After trying to smell, bite and play with irises, Rusty finally generously allowed me to take a picture of him not moving or turning his head away.

Rusty and Irises


Friday, February 16, 2018

DID YOU KNOW?

Iris Croatica (Hrvatska Perunika) is the national flower of Croatia – a home country of Ines (All I am – a redhead), who is hosting today’s SOTD thread. Visit her blog to read her thoughts on several iris perfumes and share what perfume you’re wearing on the last day of the work week.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

SOTD

Yesterday I didn’t have to plan and post my SOTD in advance (since Ines was graciously hosting that day), so I ended up wearing Bois d’Iris by Van Cleef and Arpels. It is nice woody and warm perfume (Vanessa, this might be an answer to both the project and your cravings) but either it actually disappears from my skin within a couple of hours, or I stop smelling it. I re-applied it 4 times during the day – which almost never happens to me even with Jo Malone perfumes.

So, Jo Malone it is for my Saturday’s SOTM. I plan to wear Orris and Sandalwood.

WINDOW SHOPPING

Remembering that weekends are slow, I invite you to do some window shopping with me. One of my favorite designer brands – Franz Porcelain Collection – a necklace from which Rusty helped to demo in my anniversary post, also makes tableware and home decor items. I like to look at them but I can’t imagine most of them in my day-to-day life – even if their price wasn’t higher than I would want to spend on any of that type items. But I can look at them, right? All these items are available from the Wildlife Wonders online store (no affiliation).

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

SOTD

Belles Rives by La Parfumerie Moderne (from a sample from a friend). I like it but I think it’s a tad more unisex than I’d like it to be. And, in my opinion, requires warmer weather to properly bloom. I’ll leave the rest of the sample to re-test it in a month.


Monday, February 19, 2018

SOTD

Ormonde JayneVanille d’Iris. I have not made up my mind about this perfume but something tells me I won’t go beyond the sample I’ve got.

KHOW-HOW

Have you ever tried making an origami? Here are instructions for traditional origami iris flower; and here for the leaves.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Today Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) hosts the Day of Iris. Please attend his very informative lesson A study of iris – from crop to perfume (and share your SOTD in the comments there).

 


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

DID YOU KNOW?

According to the Paula’s Choice Research Team (with the reference to the Botanical Dermatology Database), in skincare products orris root is used “primarily as a fragrant component due to its violet-like scent. It can cause sensitizing skin reactions and there is no research showing it has any benefit for skin.”

I read articles (in different sources including Vogue magazine) mentioning anti-ageing and other benefits to this ingredient in skincare products. But at this point I choose to believe Paula Begoun since, unlike it is in most of those other sources, she puts her name under her (her team’s) opinion.

SOTD, 2/21/18

Suddenly winter is back with a vengeance (4C/39F at night), and our heater stopped working right after the last store where we could get an additional portable heater had closed. A friend brought us his spare oil heater, which hopefully will be keeping Rusty warm tonight. So for the cold day at home while dealing with the heater repairman, I’ll wear Chanel No. 19 extrait.

 

What are you wearing today?

Images: Franz Collection – from the store I linked to above; the rest – my own

Crossover Episodes of SSS and MQS

This month Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) and I decided to run our regular features – my Second Sunday Samples and his Monday Quick Sniffs – on each other’s blogs. Just in case you do not subscribe yet to Lucas’s blog updates, follow this link to see my guest appearance there. And tomorrow come back here to see the new episode of MQS by Lucas.

Week 2 post stays open for SOTD comments, and I will be answering to all comments, but I’m taking two days off from daily updates to celebrate my birthday.

Rusty and Bouquet of Irises