Spreading the Negative Word-of-Mouth: Perfumarie

First thing first: if you ever decide to buy anything from Perfumarie, do it at your own risk. I will never do it again.

* * *

A couple of months ago I shared with you how I talked myself into buying perfume when I learned that the brand was going out of business. I was so excited to find one of the last bottles of DelRae’s Coup de Founre out there! I didn’t even think about waiting for a sale or a discount for the fear of missing on it altogether. I should have.

I could have written a couple of pages describing in details how it went on, but I’ll give you a cliff notes version. Perfumarie sent me a brand-new bottle of rancid perfume, refused to deal with it and, when confronted via PayPal conflict resolution center, pretended to respond long enough to satisfy formal requirements but had never addressed the actual issue. PayPal’s resolution was that they couldn’t conclude that the “product was significantly not as described,” so I couldn’t use their “buyer protection.” And since I was leaving for my long trip, I just didn’t have any energy or time left to see if my credit card would be more reasonable. As the result, I’m out of $150 and acquired a bottle that isn’t that nice to use it even on my bottle display.

So, all I can do is to leave a word out there: in my opinion, Perfumarie behaved dishonestly. They didn’t argue that the product was fine (I offered to send it so that they could see it themselves – and they, positioning themselves as a “Discovery studio,” should have been able to tell that my bottle was off), they didn’t suggest any remedy to the situation. They chose a one-time profit over potential long-term relationship with me as a customer. So be warned.

 

Rusty and DelRae Coup de Foundre

 

In addition to plainly getting my hundred and fifty dollars’ worth of negative publicity to Perfumarie (I realize, I’m a tiny blogger but karma, you know…), I wanted to discuss the situation in principle to see what you think, and whether you agree with my arguments.

We all had our share of perfumes that turned while in our possession, as well as vintage “finds” on eBay or estate sales that weren’t what we expected them to be. But buying vintage perfumes and hoping for the best, we acknowledge the risk and are prepared to write off the losses. But what about getting a full-priced brand-new bottle from a real store (either with just online or, especially, with both B&M and online presence)?

What I tried to argue both with Perfumarie and PayPal: while I understand a general return policy for beauty and personal care products, and I, for one, wouldn’t want to buy any product opened and returned (though, in this particular case, I even suggested to Perfumarie that I would take an open tester if they still had it and thought that it was fine), the policy shouldn’t apply to the case of a spoiled product since after being returned that product should not be sold to anyone – be it opened or sealed. And since to determine that this type of a product is spoiled one must open and try it, doing so, logically, cannot void warranty/right to return the product if it cannot be used as intended.

It is impossible to determine that a sealed product without an expiration date printed on it is spoiled. And we all know that some perfumes stay stable for decades, so it’s hard to predict when any of them would go off. So, I understand that, in general, a store cannot really know that they are selling something that is past its prime. But a consumer has even less information to go on by: a store would at least know when they got a batch, how they stored it, and whether there were any other complaints about that batch or that brand. All-in-all, while it is a loss, I would expect it to be a store’s loss, not an individual buyer’s one.

On a separate point, as much as I am against what IFRA does to perfume industry and would prefer it (and similar agencies) to stay away from regulating what can go into perfumes (bar really dangerous ingredients), I would love if one of them would protect our rights by making beauty, cosmetics and perfume companies put production dates on packaging – as Givenchy did with one of my favorite LE perfumes (by the way, it’s still fine, 12 years later).

 

Givenchy Amarige Mimosa 2007

 

Images: my own

A Smell of Home

I was contemplating getting back to blogging for a while now. I want to do it. I miss thinking my posts through, choosing pictures for them, waiting for and then answering your comments. I even have pages of ideas for topics in my “Next” file. But the longer you postpone that next post, the harder it is to choose the “right” topic. After a seven weeks’ silence I couldn’t return with a post about the next lipstick I picked up for the cute name or with the next episode of my “Small Things That Brighten Life” series. I mean, of course I could, but it seemed wrong with this one being a perfume blog.

I traveled half of the time I was absent, mostly for work, and while I brought many perfumes with me and wore them daily, perfumes stayed at the back of my mind. Primarily I thought about staying awake (I hate jet lag!), keeping concentration that I needed to perform my duties (sleeping aids help to sleep but totally mess up cognitive functions) and Rusty who we left with a new cat sitter for such a long time. Rusty looked somewhat sad on daily reports’ photos but at least he was taken good care of.

 

 

Going to Ukraine, I had some hopes to check out their perfume offerings since I had 3 major cities on my itinerary. But time ran away from me, and the only true olfactory experience I got there was an extremely pleasant ambient scent in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kiev. But everything was so hectic that I hadn’t checked if they had anything with that scent in their gift shop (or if they even had a gift shop, for that matter).

And then there was London. It was a wonderful week of vacation that started with what felt like half an hour but probably was three times longer meeting with Vanessa who, once again, arrived at the place we were staying ahead of us, though this time, unlike it happened in Paris, not only she didn’t get to talk to the owner but she couldn’t even get a confirmation from the person holding they keys whether we’d already collected them (to be fair, it wasn’t for Vanessa’s not looking trustworthy or that person being super careful – she just had no idea who I was since the key was dispatched in response to the code, no names asked).

While exchanging small gifts with Vanessa, I showed her some pictures and videos of Rusty who by that time got acclimated with his new nanny enough to enjoy staying on her lap, purring and allowing her to scratch his belly. “Aren’t you jealous?” Vanessa asked me.

 

 

By that time, I was asking myself the same. Every day, seeing the next portion of pictures and video clips, my vSO and I were, jokingly, exclaiming: “Traitor!” But while we acknowledged that we were somewhat jealous, the prevailing feeling was that we were happy that he befriended his stand-in (well, live-in) human and wasn’t lonely. For the first time in many years, while away on a long trip, I wasn’t missing Rusty so badly to want to cut the trip short. But still, I was pining for his company, his fluffy tail, his “meow” language that he trained my vSO and me to understand and the smell of his warm fur.

I rarely read reviews for perfumes that I haven’t tried because I don’t want reviews to influence my impressions of them when I finally test them. But since I usually do not care for hand-made perfumes and rarely get to try them, I read two inspiring reviews for Bengale Rouge, the latest creation by Liz Moores of Papillon Perfumes, published by my friends – Tara (A Bottled Rose) and Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume). I wasn’t paying much attention to notes but I did remember that it was “about the cat” or “Your Cat But Better.” So, when Vanessa shared her sample with me, even though normally I would have preserved “a sample in the hand” for later while fully exploring all opportunities provided by London, missing my cat, I started testing this perfume almost immediately.

I thought I was predisposed to like this perfume. I was wrong: I loved it. Since then I looked up the notes more than once (sandalwood, Turkish rose, honey, vanilla and sweet myrrh), and I still can’t really make them out. But does it really matter? Bengale Rouge is perfectly blended, elegant and complex perfume that purrs on my skin – maybe not as sweet as Rusty sitting on my lap but warm and comforting nevertheless.

When we returned home, Rusty behaved a little strange: he looked like he recognized us but still was not completely sure who we were, and he kept sniffing the air. And only after I showered, changed into clean clothes, put on Bengale Rouge and started smelling of home, Rusty conceded that he knew me.

Had Bengale Rouge been offered in smaller size, I would have bought it already. Actually, I was trying to buy a full bottle soon after coming home but, luckily, it was sold out everywhere I checked. Since the impulse has gone (and no full bottles are available yet anyway), I’ll probably try to buy a decant and then see if I need more. If I’m not the last one who tried it, I do recommend you, keeping up with a cat theme, get your paws on a sample: even if in the end you decide not to buy and wear Bengale Rouge, it’s one of the releases this year that is worth trying.

As I’m writing this, Rusty sits on my lap. And since he’s much more photogenic than an almost empty 1 ml vial of Bengale Rouge, and this post was “about the cat” at least as much as about perfume, I’ll finish this post with his picture – even though the only connection to Bengal cats he has is the animosity between him and a cute neighbor Bengal who comes to the door window from time to time to hiss at Rusty. On a couple of occasions Rusty and I formed a coalition and chased him away (well, I did while holding my indoor fluffy warrior).

 

Rusty on my lap

 

Images: my own

In the Search for the Perfect Lavender, Take II

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

    

Rusty and Lieber Gustav

 

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

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

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

 

Lavender

 

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

 

Rusty and Lavender

 

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

 

Lavender Sachet

 

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

 

Rusty and Lavender Sachet

 

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

 

Diptyque Lavandier Wand 2018

 

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

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

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

 

Lavender Bite Lip Mask

 

Images: all but Diptyque’s wand – my own

Summer Iris

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

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

 

Butterfly Iris

 

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

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

 

Houbigant Iris des Champs

 

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

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

 

Rusty and Houbigant Iris des Champs

 

Images: my own

(Pillow) Talking myself into buying perfume

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

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

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

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

 

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lipstick Ad

 

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

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

 

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lipstick

 

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

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

 

Rusty on a Pillow

Will you miss any of DelRae’s perfumes?

 

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

Yuzu Overload

I came across Demeter Fragrance Library more than 10 years ago while searching for a linden perfume. First I was inspired by the number of different perfumes they offered (as I was researching the brand online) and then completely disappointed by the simplicity of their creations, once I tried some of them at Sephora. Since then I tried several of them, even bought a couple (they were $5/30 ml at TJ Max, so I couldn’t resist but I use them as a room spray), but since then I never considered that brand again for personal perfume.

I’ve never been a huge marmalade fan. Most likely, because those that I tried were too over-processed to the degree where it was just sugar syrup soured by citric acid. But also because it was so far from what I used to love as a child. When I was growing up, lemons were scarce: as with a lot of other things and produce, one had to be in the right place at the right time to buy some. So, of course, nobody would be buying just one or two lemons if they were to happen upon them. But since lemons did not keep well for too long, I remember my grandmother slicing them, mixing with sugar and storing in a jar. And since no heat was involved into creating these preserves, they still smelled and tasted very natural.

 

Citrus and Honey Tea

 

So when a friend offered something that was called Yuzu Hot & Cold Tea and looked like most citrus store-bought marmalade I’d tried before, I was skeptical, but being a polite guest I got a couple of spoons… WOW. I’ve never eaten or smelled a real yuzu fruit before, so I have no comparison point, but that Yuzu “tea” was so fragrant that I wasn’t sure whether I should eat it or slather over my pulse points.

Since then couple of times my friend managed to get me that “tea” from some San Francisco store, but we don’t see each other often enough to make it a steady delivery channel, so I tried to find it around where I live first and then online – without much luck. I don’t remember how exactly I came across Yuzu Marmalade on Amazon, but I decided to give it a try – even though it was a different jar (much smaller) and it wasn’t “tea.” Luckily for me, it was exactly the same taste and aroma. So now I keep ordering it online, even though $11-12 for a 10oz (300g) jar seems a little steep.

Recently, while running a search to see if any other online retailers had it cheaper or in a bigger jar, I discovered that Demeter had perfume called Yuzu Marmalade. Of course I wanted to try it! While I was thinking of checking if Sephora still carried the line, a kind NST’er offered to send me her small spray bottle of this perfume, with which she wasn’t that enamored. From her I got also the idea of the post title, as she wrote in her note:

Not my favorite frag, but I like the experiment of yuzu marmalade overload–in fragrance and on toast.

Despite not that glowing recommendation, I had high hopes: not because Demeter makes great perfumes, but because how hard could it be to create an artificial citrus scent representing just one note, right? Demeter did it so many times to other notes, often relatively convincing even if not the most naturally smelling. I’m surprised to report that Demeter failed miserably: not only Yuzu Marmalade wasn’t even close to that zesty and aromatic marmalade that I had in my mind’s nose, but it barely might be classified as a citrus scent. All I can smell is that over-processed orange marmalade’s flat sweetness. Extremely disappointing.

I’m not even sure if I really want to wear yuzu soliflore, but I would love to find perfume where it’s recognizable. Any recommendations?

 

 

Images: Lemons from my friend’s recipe, (if you’re into cooking, I highly recommend looking through her blog); the rest – my own

If It Looks Like Perfume, If It Costs Like Perfume…

During my trip to Barcelona two years ago perfume was constantly on my mind, which wasn’t surprising since I managed to try about 700 perfumes while there.

One evening, while walking aimlessly in the neighborhood where we were staying, I noticed an interestingly looking small shop with some unfamiliar perfume bottles on display. I came in and tried several perfumes that, as I discovered, were all from the Spanish brand Daniel Josier.

 

 

We walked in, I sniffed perfumes from the bottles and tried some on paper. I liked several but they were quite expensive, and since none of them immediately spoke to me enough to risk putting them on my skin, I kept sniffing. One bottle that I noticed in a slightly unusual basket arrangement attracted my attention.

 

Barcelona Vintage Eyewear Shop

 

I picked it up and started examining… I’m not sure if I would have sprayed it before reading the label but the store owner couldn’t risk it: “Wait! It’s not a perfume!”

 

Chateau D'Estoublon Olive Oil

 

I know, I should have bought it as a souvenir from that trip but somehow it didn’t even occur to me then. I took a picture planning to write about it – and then forgot about it since I had enough perfume-related material for several posts. But recently I came across that brand’s condiments on the Neiman Marcus site. I know that readers do not usually click on the links, but I do recommend checking out this one to see how much all Chateau D’Estoublon products’ packaging looks like perfumes.

But if until that trip I haven’t seen that type of chameleon packaging, since then, as it often happens, encounter one more example of that approach. From a friend of mine I got a Christmas present – a 50 ml bottle of Linea Solitario Limited Edition 8 year old Italian Balsamic Vinegar.

This limited edition, unique and intense flavoured balsamic, aged for 8 years in oak barrels. Linea Solitario Ltd Edition 8 year old Italian Balsamic Vinegar comes in a glass bottle, elegantly boxed with a synthetic diamond on the label. […]

For 160 years, tradition and production secrets have been passed down through the family. Today Massimo, who represents the 5th generation of the family, is the current president of Acetaia Malpighi. Acetaia Malpighi is internationally recognised as “Made in Italy” brand taking its products on the main markets all over the world.

Linea Solitario Balsamic Vinegar

 

As with many of my “special” perfumes, I still wait for the right occasion to try this vinegar. Maybe this upcoming tomato season…

 

Rusty and Linea Solitario Balsamic Vinegar

Have you ever encountered anything that looked like perfume while not being perfume (or some body product)?

 

Images: my own