2020: What Went Well

For the last probably 5 years, as the next new year celebration was approaching, I kept reading/hearing from people that they were glad “this year” was ending and looking with hope for the next one. And all those years I was thinking – and even using it as a celebratory toast more than once – that I hope that personally for me the next year would be at least not worse than the year we were seeing off.

Several years ago, I came across What Went Well Wednesday series on the Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities blog. As Old Herbaceous has described, it is a gratitude exercise when you’re on a regular basis list three things that went well and explain why (“Adding “why” allows one to pinpoint times when acts of one’s own or others contributed to what went well”). I mentally played that game for a while, and even contemplated “borrowing” the idea for my blog but had never implemented it.

As challenging as 2020 was for everyone, believe it or not, I still stand by my New Year mantra: I hope that for me and my loved ones the next year will be at least not worse than this awful, strange, “unprecedented” and totally unexpected 2020. And I want to share with you what went well for me this year.

Health

First, nobody from my close circle of family and friends got sick so far. Mostly, it is just luck (though we all are trying to do our part), and I realize that we’re not out of the woods yet. But I’m glad that until now we’ve been lucky.

Second, an unpleasant health issue that started for me last December has finally resolved (at least temporary) without a surgery that seemed inevitable mid-year. I’m so relieved! I did all I could, including some folk remedies and postponing the surgery until I found a surgeon I trusted (we had a hilarious conversation about those folk remedies, none of us really believing in them but not completely dismissing either) and not going with the one who suggested to go ahead with the surgery right there and then. My vSO was so helpful, supportive and patient through the whole ordeal, that whatever role the moral well-being might have played in fighting infection, he deserves all the credit.

Finally, Rusty who had some stomach issues, seems to be better now when he doesn’t shed as much. And his lab work results are all good, which was a huge load off our minds. But it reminds me that I should brush him more regularly.

Rusty on the Bed

Job

We both stayed employed, and our jobs allow us to work remotely. Moreover, though much better than it was the previous year and with a better staffed team, my work kept me so busy, that I barely noticed the “stay at home” part.

Also, this year I got a great performance review from my manager. I’m mentioning it because it was the first time ever in my life. I’m quite used to not getting any feedback or getting (and, frankly, giving) formal and meaningless reviews. The fact that somebody made an effort and expressed in written words what I know I did good was an absolutely new experience. If I ever write a performance review for anyone again, I’ll need to remember how it feels to get a deserved acknowledgement.

And the last in this section, this year we finally were able to take time off during the winter holidays and get some so needed rest.

Family

Our state was partially open just in time for the local trip that my vSO and I planned for our big anniversary this year. Originally, the plan was just for two of us to get away for several days – spas, wineries, eating out. But after four months at home and most places still take-out only or outside seating, it felt less of a getaway. And since the house we rented was big enough for more people, we invited four of our closest friends whom we knew for decades to join us – and they did. It was a very pleasant mini trip. Picture below is taken from the balcony of the rebuilt tasting room of our favorite winery – Paradise Ridge, that burned down three years ago in the first big North Cal fire. They opened earlier this year, which I also write down in the positive column.

Paradise Ridge Winery

Friends and Hobbies

I’m lucky to have friends to talk to, exchange news and share worries. These are people I’m ready to help, and who is ready to help me. I miss seeing many of them, but I hope we’ll have more time to spend together, to travel and celebrate important events next year or the year after that or…

I’m also glad I have my Perfumeland friends. Not only we share our love of perfume, which is even more important now than it ever was, but we also help each other to stay informed about what’s happening in different countries and parts of the World, which allows us to better understand the situation, compare experience and get prospective.

Thanks to Portia who passed on me the APJ’s weekly Saturday Question series, I got what I always wanted for my blog – a continuous conversation with perfumista friends and loyal readers. And thanks to, again, Portia, Narth, hajusuuri and Christine W, my wonderful guest writers, the blog got more inhabited and diverse. I’m also thankful to all who’s reading this and other posts, commenting or not (though, I would prefer to have a chance to talk to everybody, even from time to time).

Thanks to Tara’s (A Bottled Rose) Beauty Reviews, I revisited my skincare routine. I don’t know if I’m getting any results, but at least it’s something new and it’s a pastime that I enjoy. The next thing will be to follow her and Vanessa’s (Bonkers about Perfume) suit and start reading again.

I’m thankful to Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle), my scent twin (well, triplet with hajusuuri, to be precise), who keeps reviewing new perfumes, even in this environment with limited access to new releases, so that I do not have to wonder whether to get samples for any of those: our tastes do not coincide 100%, but they overlap significantly, especially on perfumes that can be qualified as “unisex.”

And I’m grateful to hajusuuri who, in addition to being an inspiration with her daring 8-spray perfume application, just single-handedly provided me with a month-worth daily testing subjects. So, not only I got a wonderful gift under my New Year tree (see the photo below), but I also have something interesting to look forward to every day in January when all the holidays that I love so much are behind us.

NY Tree and samples

Speaking of Christmas/New Year trees. This year, we managed to decorate not only our house outside (seeing decorated houses makes me happy, so I wanted to help brightening this gloomy year to others who also enjoy holiday decorations) and inside (spending that much time at home, I wanted to make it more festive), but in addition to the big tree in the living room (on the postcard below), I decorated a tiny one for the bedroom (that’s where all those samples went to be safe from Rusty). And for the latter I used ornaments that are more than 4 decades old: my grandmother bought them for my tiny plastic tree when I was a child, and I saved them and brought with me when I moved to the US. The wooden decoration with a reindeer is a gift from Lucas, and the orange cat is an ornament that I bought in Hawaii several years ago and painted to resemble Rusty.

And finally, this year allowed me to wear my favorite perfumes more freely, not worrying whether it would bother my co-workers. I re-tested many of the samples I accumulated over the years, finished some, passed on some, got new ones to test, and found new perfume loves. Same as in years before, I haven’t tested enough new releases to do my own top N releases of 2020, but I will be back early next week with my 2020 Year Round-Up Entertaining Statistics post, in which I’ll mention my favorites from this year.

Rusty and New Year Tree 2021

Happy New Year to all my friends and readers! I will take mine 2021 at least not worse than 2020, but to all of you who felt that this year was too much of a leap (pun intended), I wish 2021 to be kinder, calmer and more joyful.

Will you share at least one thing in your life that went well this year? (But you do not have to stop at one)

Saturday Question: What Perfume did You Wear on Christmas Eve?

It’s the last Saturday of 2020. Some of the winter celebrations are already behind us, but we still have some to look forward to, so let’s keep the spirit of the holidays high and talk about them a little more.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #44:

What Perfume did You Wear on Christmas Eve?

In fact, I’m curious not only what perfume you’ve chosen (for the celebration or just for that day, if it wasn’t your holiday), but I’d also want to know about the reasoning behind that choice.

Also, if you do not mind, share what you did this Christmas Eve. Did you eat anything especially great and worth mentioning? Did you get any gifts that made you happy (not necessarily perfumes, but please share if you got those as well).

My Answer

We celebrated Christmas with our “extended bubble,” even though none of us can “claim” this holiday as ours. But it’s a long-standing tradition for us, so we celebrate it every year. Since I tried my hardest to make this holidays season as great as possible despite everything that’s happening in the World, I chose to wear Ormonde Jayne Ta’if, my all-times love #2, for the holiday that I adopted after moving to the US, saving my #1, Lancome Climat, for the New Year celebration, since that perfume was with me through many new years, some of which were probably even harder for me personally than 2020 was.

When we were much younger, our traditional New Year celebration would start with a festive dinner… around 10 PM to be done by midnight, toast the New Year – and then spend the rest of the night celebrating. As we grew … up, first we stopped going through the whole night of celebration, cutting it short at 3-4 AM first and recently rarely making it to after 1:30-2 A.M. With that, our evening meals started getting lighter and lighter: the older we get, the harder it gets to eat a big dinner 3-4 hours before going to bed. At some point we figured out that Christmas Eve dinner was a much better time to eat all of our traditional New Year celebratory dishes – and that’s what we’ve been doing this year. A highlight of the dinner this year was a roasted duck that our friend cooked.

As a gift I got a funny t-short (see the picture below) that I plan to wear the next time I’m forced to participate in an early morning meeting. I bought a perfume gift for myself, but since it’s not here yet, I’ll tell you about it next year when it arrives.

Since the birthday boy refused to fully participate in my perfume photo shoot (despite my promises to reward him with treats), I made a picture of Ta’if with the Old World Christmas‘s Santa Kitty ornament, which we bought as one of the two yearly additions to our ornaments collection.

What Perfume did You Wear on Christmas Eve?

Rusty the Cat: 12 Years Young (And Merry Christmas!)

I’m positive that even smartest of our feline companions (or even canine, for that matter) do not have a notion of birthdays and celebrations. So, I realize that Rusty is blissfully unaware of his age and surely isn’t expecting anything from us on that day. I mean, not more than he usually expects, daily.

But since we, humans, anthropomorphize, of course my vSO and I feel that we need to do something special for Rusty’s birthday, so again and again we’re trying to find him gifts. How do they call doing the same thing and expecting different results? Yeah, I know.

In almost 12 years I know our cat, he exhibited almost no interest in the cat toys bought at a store. We went through soft and crunchy and bouncy and… (you got the picture) toys with the same result: at best, Rusty would sniff it and, maybe, bat it once or twice – to never touch them again. In the worst cases – like an iPad-navigated running sphere promised to amuse your cat for hours – Rusty would be scared of it and try to hide every time we attempted to play with him.

I rarely react to ads, be that TV, radio or online pop-ups. I’m even less inclined to believe any of those infomercials promising you miracle devices that help you to lose weight, while growing hair and learning a new language. But somehow, I let my guard down while playing one of the games on my phone: they showed how enthusiastically cats played with that toy… And it was just $14.95… (clip below might take some time to load)

Rusty playing with a Toy

To be fair, Rusty might have played with it for longer, had they thought through the mechanics. In a couple of minutes, he figured out that he needed to catch the wire, not the bird. Besides, even if he catches the bird, once he pulls it, the stand falls, and it stops flying. There are stickers on the bottom to stick the base to… not sure, what to, but even if I could figure it out, the issue is that both an ON/OFF switch and the opening to change batteries are there, on the base. So, Rusty played with it a couple of times with my help to reposition it every time after falling, but then both of us got tired.

So, the only store-bought cat toy that manages to hold his attention for quite a while is a simple plastic spring. He went through 20+ of those. We do not know for sure what happens to them in the end: after a day or two of playing, we never see them again. I suspect that once we replace a refrigerator or a stove, we’ll find a plastic springs cemetery. Meanwhile, for this birthday I ordered for Rusty the next set of those springs. They are supposed to be delivered before Christmas – not that Rusty would care one way or the other.

Cat Toy

Below is a collection of pictures of Rusty – one picture from every year of his life. But if you want more, just filter posts by the Category “Four legs good” to see all photos of Rusty that I used in the blog, as well as all the posts about the cat who keeps bringing endless joy to my and my vSO’s lives.

Happy Birthday to our Christmas cat and Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers who celebrate this holiday.

Rusty and Christmas 2020

Saturday Question: Are There Mere-exposure Effect Perfumes in Your Collection?

If you are not familiar with a psychological phenomenon called the mere-exposure effect or familiarity principle, you can read more about it in this Wikipedia article. I am using it rather jokingly, as a conversation starter for this week’s Saturday Question.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #43:

Are There Mere-exposure Effect Perfumes in Your Collection?

The idea behind that phenomenon was: “After repeated exposure, the observing organism will begin to react fondly to the once novel stimulus.”

Do you have any perfumes that you like more now then you liked them when you first bought them or got them as a gift? We’re not talking about the situation when you tested a sample or a small decant, didn’t like it, then tested more, liked and bought perfume. Or didn’t like perfume initially then tested years later and fell in love.

Can you think of any perfume that you liked but didn’t love … until you got used to it?

My Answer

I knew I would buy Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee as soon as I saw an announcement about its launch: I liked the brand, I was very partial to their old-style colored bottles, and especially I liked that dark blue color. So, once I found it at a store, I bought it. It wasn’t a blind buy, I liked it, but at that time there were so many other great perfumes that Nuit Etoilee seemed somewhat simple and … not challenging (?). It wasn’t a statement perfume (I gravitate to those). And for a while I thought that it reminded me of Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles. I even solicited blind testing experiment from three fellow-parfumistas (if you weren’t around then and curious or want to read objective impressions of this perfume from reviewers who didn’t know what they were testing, take a look: Déjà vu, Episode 4: des pairs, dis-pair, Despair).

Rusty and Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee

Starry Night? Where?!!

I wore Nuit Etoilee for a while, but then somehow forgot about it and didn’t wear it for at least 4 years. I didn’t change my mind about it. I didn’t dislike it. I just never chose to wear it.

A couple of months into the lockdown, I thought of wearing it – I don’t remember what prompted it. It was almost a shock: I liked it very much. It surprised me. What was that? Have my tastes changed? Does this perfume seem so much better now compared to endless modern concoctions? Or was it a true case of the mere-exposure effect?

[…] analysis found that the effect is strongest when unfamiliar stimuli are presented briefly. Mere exposure typically reaches its maximum effect within 10–20 presentations, and some studies even show that liking may decline after a longer series of exposures. For example, people generally like a song more after they have heard it a few times, but many repetitions can reduce this preference. A delay between exposure and the measurement of liking actually tends to increase the strength of the effect.

 

Are There Mere-exposure Effect Perfumes in Your Collection?

Saturday Question: What Perfume Is Really Noir?

Have you ever heard anyone complaining that perfume called [Something] Light or [Something] Fraiche wasn’t light or fresh enough? I haven’t. But with rare exceptions, most of the reviews for [Something] Noir ends up mentioning that perfume in question does not live up to the proud “Noir” part of its moniker. So, I got curious: What perfumes in your collection or out of those that you have tried don’t cause cognitive dissonance?

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #41:

What Perfume Is Really Noir?

My Answer

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was … Noirvember.

After playing on this month’s name a couple of times in the past (Perfume Diary: NovAmber and I did it again: NovAmber 2018), I thought of using this new variation to wear in November perfumes with the “Noir” as a part of the name.

I started with the list of such perfumes that I have. My database showed that I either have or at least used to have at some point enough perfumes with that name to sustain me for longer than a month. Unfortunately, most of them were samples that I tried at some point and didn’t like much, so even if I could dig them out from wherever that final destination for such samples that I call “Library” is, I wouldn’t have enjoyed wearing them – and with enough negative things going on in our day-to-day life I decided against making that sacrifice “in the name of science” (besides, who would have patience to read through 30 even one-paragraph descriptions for random perfumes?).

But since I liked the idea (well, mostly I liked the Word), I collected only those perfumes that I either liked or wanted to try again. And while wearing them and writing down my impressions, I realized that out of eight perfumes that I went through for this mini-project, just two or maybe three didn’t feel like a misnomer – Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme (I previously wrote about it in Mr. & Mrs. Tom Ford Noir), SixScents Parfums Nappa Noir (my story here) and maybe Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir.

I’m not sure what makes these three “noir” (and we all understand that when talking about perfumes, we do not think of a literal translation of this French word), but they somehow fit into the image in my head, most likely created by the Film noir genre, definition of which itself is still being debated.

 

Rusty and Sixth Scents Nappa Noir

 

What Perfume Is Really Noir?

Rusty the Cat: On the “Greener Grass”

A man is sitting on a railroad track.
Another man approaches him and says:
“Scooch over! I’ll sit next to you.”
A joke from my childhood*

Over the years, Rusty has learned that my vSO and I have al the things that are better than what he has: pates, meet, cheese, etc. that we eat are almost like Rusty’s wet food but better. The comforter we hide from him in our bedroom is better than the old one (a King size!) that we gave to him. And whatever we use to decorate our living space is a much better toy than anything we bring Rusty from a pet store.

But while he can’t get as much of our food as he’d like to, and our bedroom stays off-limits for him during the work week, there are some other areas of life where Rusty insists on being treated as equal (kind of).

On the sofa where my vSO spends evenings reading, surfing or watching, we have two pillows. During the day Rusty has access to both of them, but usually he prefers other parts of the house. While sitting on the sofa in the evening, my vSO usually uses one pillow to support his back and lays flat the other one for Rusty to sleep there. And every time when Rusty decides to join him on the sofa, he completely ignores the pillow conveniently laying flat, comes to my vSO and starts touching or even clawing the pillow behind his back – until he gives up and relinquishes the pillow. First we thought that Rusty considered one of these two as his and tried to reclaim it. But no: it’s whatever pillow is currently “in use.”

 

Rusty on Pillow

 

In the home office where we both work, if Rusty decides to join us during the work day, we have multiple places where he might sleep, including a special blanket on the desk to the left from my computer (as shown on the picture to one of the previous episodes of this series – Rusty the Cat: On Comfort Temperatures). I even tolerate for a while if he decides to plop himself down on my lap, even though it’s not particularly convenient if I need to write a document or do something else not related to reading or sitting on a meeting. But as soon as I get up from my chair, Rusty immediately occupies it and falls asleep. Knowing this his habit, I tried not to leave it unattended unless I would go to the kitchen (then Rusty would join me there) or plan to work standing for the next couple of hours. But recently Rusty decided that he shouldn’t be waiting for me to leave of my own accord. Instead, he would get on that blanket I mentioned and try to get between me and the seat back or keep touching my arm prodding me to vacate the chair. A coupe of days ago he did it while my vSO’s chair (which is almost identical to mine but without an additional pillow) was unoccupied and completely accessible! I gave in and worked standing for the next couple of hours (I have a sit/stand desk).

 

Rusty In an Office Chair

 

Rusty is so artless and straightforward in his pursuit of comfort, that it’s almost impossible to resist him. So, usually we don’t.

 

* For those of my readers who speak Russian, the characters in the epigraph joke were Pet’ka and Chapayev

Images: my own

Puredistance Rubikona Giveaway Winner

The winner of the draw on this blog is: VerbenaLuvvr! Please contact me with your address.

Puredistance Rubikona Draw

Instagram winner will be announced there soon.

For everybody else – a bonus Rusty shot. In the next second with his claw he pulled the bottle towards himself, played with it for a second, dropped, scared himself and jumped away. I decided not to let him play with it any more because usually the next experiment would be pushing it off the table and hunting it on the floor.

 

Rusty and Puredistance Rubikona

Puredistance Rubikona: Iacta alea esto!

I rarely participate in campaigns when new niche perfumes are launched: if I do not like them, I prefer to keep silence, and if I like them, I go through the careful testing first, then add perfume to my collection, and only after that I would write about that perfume – and only if I have a story. I have a few perfumes in my collection that I love and wear but have never covered in the blog.

With the new release from Puredistance, RUBIKONA, I had a conundrum: while I liked this perfume very much, I would not be buying it any time soon … because the brand sent me a beautiful travel spray of it. At the same time, in the “new normal” situation with perfume sales, any small brand needs all the possible help in promoting perfumes that are worth the attention. So, it wouldn’t be fair to “punish” the brand because I do not have to buy perfume now. Because of that, I am doing this post and a giveaway – as a part of the self-organized mini joint project between my scent triplets – hajusuuri and Lucas (see the details at the end of this post).

 

Rusty and Puredistance Rubikona

 

A couple of days ago Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) published a comprehensive review for Rubikona, so I invite you to read it if you want to get a real review since from me you’re getting mostly impressions and pictures of Rusty.

Perfumer: Cécile Zarokian. Top notes – grapefruit, bergamot and mandarin; middle notes – rose, iris, ylang, clove, orange blossom and creamy notes; base notes – patchouli, cedarwood, vanilla, solar notes and musk.

Sometimes, trying to explain what something is, it is easier to describe what it is not. Puredistance Rubikona is not an exercise in edgy modern aroma creation. It absolutely cannot be described as “nice perfume.” And nobody would mistake Rubikona for an ambiance scent.

 

Puredistance Rubikona

 

I do not get any vintage vibe from Rubikona but at the same time the moment I smell it I know that it is perfume in its classical meaning: it is polished and elegant and complete, without any rough edges or artistic imperfections. Recently I find myself gravitating towards this type of perfume – neither too loud nor a whisper, not obnoxious but with enough confidence, not Angel-like revolutionary but distinct enough not to have close dupes in my scent wardrobe. And Rubikona fits the narrative perfectly.

 

Rusty and Puredistance Rubikona

 

I would like to briefly discuss the price. Historically, perfumes from Puredistance were expensive: these are not something one buys on a whim. But despite the format (spray flacons), these are extraits. And if we were to compare these to other brands’ perfumes in the same concentration, we’d see that Puredistance offers them more than twice cheaper than extraits from mainstream brands – and those sell perfumes in hundreds of thousands of bottles per year, if not more. So, it’s hard to expect a small niche brand to be able to produce high-quality perfumes cheaper.

As much as I like Puredistance’s colorful flacons, I think that even smaller volume of perfume in a glass dabber bottle à la mini bottles for Givenchy Extravagance, Organza or Organza Indecence for the current price would feel a more justified purchase. It looks though, one has to choose what to pay for – a beautiful bottle or high-quality composition.

But at that price, no matter how great and pure ingredients are, one must love perfume to justify paying this sum for a single bottle instead of 3-4-5 “instant gratifications” of discounter bargains or vintage eBay finds. And to have a chance to like it, one needs to try it first. Definitely on skin.

 

Rusty and Puredistance Rubikona

 

To help with promoting this perfume that we all liked, hajusuuri, Lucas and I are running parallel giveaways on blogs (Undina’s Looking Glass for the US and Chemist in the Bottle for Europe) and Instagram (my account is linked on the side (web)/below (mobile) and here is hajusuuri’s account – both for readers in the US). The US readers get to enter into any or all giveaways. Follow the instructions for each of the draws.

To be entered on this blog, all you need to do is to add in your comment that you live in the US. Otherwise, I’ll consider your comment as a “DNEM.”

 

Rusty's Tail and Puredistance Rubikona

 

What do you think about Puredistance bottles? Do you like them? Would you prefer glass bottles with extraits? Do you think they should produce less expensive EdP or even EdT versions of their extraits?

 

Images: my own

Saturday Question: What Are Your Top N Perfumes?

I miss those times when we used to have group posts with several bloggers. From time to time we still try to do it, and there is a great group that does Mood Scent 4 series (Portia at A Bottled Rose, Esperanza at L’Esperessence, Megan at Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha at I Scent You A Day). So, when Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) first and then Tara (A Bottled Rose) posted their Top 20 and Top 15 perfumes correspondingly, I jumped at the chance to use this topic for the Saturday Question.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #34:

What Are Your Top N Perfumes?

We’re using a variation on the “burning building speed grab method”: don’t try to choose perfumes that would cover all possible basis or fit logical categories of “perfumes for work,” “summer wear” or “irreplaceable,” but rather an emotional selection of perfumes that you’d like to “save” from that proverbial burning building, even if all N of them are just a slight variation on the “little black dress” theme.

Name your top 5-10-15, etc., whatever feels right. I suggest to limit the selection by 20 bottles – not because I think we all could live just with that number, but just because otherwise others would probably just skim through your list – and all that after you would risk your other valuable possessions to  save those N bottles!

My Answer

I played this game many times before, but it looks like I’m more or less set in my loves: I selected a list of 30 perfumes I like the most, then sorted it by their importance to me at the moment and chose the top 20 perfumes:

  1. Lancome Climat
  2. Ormonde Jayne Ta’if
  3. Amouage Ubar
  4. Chanel No 19 EdT
  5. By Kilian Amber Oud
  6. Krigler Lieber Gustav
  7. Jo Malone French Lime Blossom
  8. Dior Miss Dior parfum
  9. Guerlain Chamade extrait
  10. Armani Prive Le Femme Bleue
  11. Puredistance Antonia
  12. Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Amour
  13. Tom Ford Fleur de Chine
  14. Jo Malone Sweet Milk
  15. Yosh Ginger Ciao
  16. Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady
  17. Amouage Dia
  18. Guerlain Cruel Gardénia
  19. Serge Lutens De Profundis
  20. Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom

 

 

When I compared this list to the list I did 3.5 years ago, interestingly enough, also prompted by Vanessa’s post, I discovered that today’s list contains 16 out of the 20 perfumes that I’d chosen then. The other four are not new, they just moved slightly up and replaced four perfumes that I still like, so, they are still in the top 30, which also includes several new perfumes that joined my collection since I created the previous list. And while I liked them enough not only to buy but to consider for this important exercise, they haven’t replaced any of my old favorites.

I won’t be linking perfumes in the list to posts I previously published about them, but just in case anyone is interested, they are all linked on My Perfume Portrait page (which reminds me that I need to update it with my new loves I accumulated in two years since the last update).

How about you? How fleeting are your perfume loves?

 

What Are Your Top N Perfumes?

Twice into the same pond*…

Do you remember those times when all Jo Malone perfumes were done in standard transparent bottles with black and white labels and silver caps? They were absolutely uniformed, and the only visual difference was in the name.

 

Jo Malone Perfumes

 

And then twelve years ago Jo Malone released the Kohdo Wood collection. It was a limited edition collection that included two perfumes – Lotus Blossom & Water Lily and Dark Amber & Ginger Lily. The first one came in Jo Malone’s traditional clear bottle with the only difference that the label was transparent. And the second one… The second one was a perfection: a beautiful black bottle with a black label. Especially cute it was in a 30 ml format. As far as I know, it was the first colored bottle for the brand (Cologne Intense collection appeared two years later).

 

 

I liked both perfumes, but back then I wasn’t familiar yet with the limited-edition concept, so by the time I decided to buy them, both were long gone. I hunted down and bought on eBay Lotus Blossom & Water Lily, but all I could get for Dark Amber & Ginger Lily was a decant. So, whenever I would find myself at a Jo Malone counter, I would be asking SAs about that perfume, telling how great it was and what a pity it got discontinued. For a while it was rumored that Jo Malone would bring Dark Amber & Ginger Lily back… and despite all odds three years later they did! I’m telling myself that my voice (well, multiple voices since I did it at different stores with different SAs) made a difference, and I contributed to the brand’s decision to re-release it. Unfortunately, by that time they’ve already had that Cologne Intense collection with all black bottles and only 100 ml (now they have 50 ml as well), so since they didn’t have that 30 ml black bottle that I liked so much, in addition to my decant, I bought their smaller promotional 9 ml bottle – and it’ll be enough for me for a while.

Several years ago, I discovered that my bottle of Lotus Blossom & Water Lily had turned. Since most of the other bottles that I bought myself, many earlier than this one, were still fine, I wasn’t sure whether the issue was with how the previous owner stored it, or if it was perfume itself that had an unstable formula. And because of that I felt reluctant to buy another bottle from eBay. But I liked Lotus Blossom & Water Lily so much that I kept checking Jo Malone’s site hoping to catch it in their Archives collection. No luck so far. (Did you know about it? Only from their site you can order some of the previously discontinued perfumes, including my favorite French Lime Blossom.)

And then a couple of months ago Jo Malone released two perfumes – Yuja Cologne and Waterlily Cologne.

I couldn’t wait for stores to open (and I was right: you still can’t test any perfumes there) and bought 9 ml bottles of both.

I wrote about Yuja in my In the Search for the Perfect Yuzu post. As to the Waterlily

Do you remember Jo Malone used to release from time to time perfume combining sets with one full bottle of their scent and a couple of small bottles of additional notes that could be layered with the main perfume to create a more unique combination. Those additional “notes” were very nice and pleasant but even more simplistic than the main line Jo Malone perfumes, if you can imagine that. Waterlily Cologne reminds me of those “additional notes.” I like the opening: to my nose it has galbanum in it, though it isn’t listed anywhere (official notes: neroli, waterlily and white musk), but in the development it’s very simplistic and just doesn’t want to stay on my skin. I’ll use up my small bottle, but it’s not something I need in my collection, and it doesn’t remind me of Lotus Blossom & Water Lily at all.

But Jo Malone was adamant to continue tempting me: recently they’ve released two more new perfumes – Fig & Lotus Flower and Cypress & Grape Vine. Not only the first one had that “lotus” part in the name that filled me with hope that this one will be “it,” but also the second one was a part of the Cologne Intense collection, hence a black bottle).

 

Jo Malone Fig & Lotus Flower and Cypress & Grape Vine

 

With stores still closed, I just had to buy those cute travel bottles from eBay. So, was the second time a charm? Not really.

I like Fig & Lotus Flower, especially in the opening. It’s a pleasant and light fig perfume, and sometimes in development I can smell vetiver. I don’t know how lotus flower smells, but in this perfume I don’t smell what I perceive as a lotus note in several other perfumes, my illusive favorite Lotus Blossom & Water Lily included. I also compared Fig & Lotus Flower with my other Jo Malone favorite, Wild Fig & Cassis (also available from the Archives collection), which smells drier and more… grown-up (?) than a bright and uncomplicated new scent. I’ll wear Fig & Lotus Flower from my small bottle, but I don’t think I’ll want more after that.

Cypress & Grape Vine had nothing to do with my waterlily or lotus quest, but since I got it as a part of the set, I tested it as well. It is too masculine for me. Cypress & Grape Vine reminds me of very traditional men cologne. But if anyone likes that style, it’s very tenacious (and not just by Jo Malone standards). I’ll see if I like how it smells on my vSO, though it doesn’t seem like his style.

All-in-all, I should probably stop buying Jo Malone perfumes unsniffed, even in smaller bottles: while I still have many favorites from the brand, I rarely like their new creations. But I’ll be checking their Archives Collection hoping for the return of my original favorite.

 

Rusty and Jo Malone Fig & Lotus Flower and Cypress & Grape Vine

 

Images: Kohdo Wood collection – JM official; all others – my own.

 

* I know that I’ve previously used the allusion to this quote from Heraclitus, but the temptation was too strong.