Portia Reconnecting with Serge Lutens

Hey crew,

Last time we chatted I told you about bringing my Serge Lutens open, now old style, 50ml export bottles out of their box and onto my easy reach tray next to my desk. It’s been spritz changing, even in these few short weeks. With them lined up before me I think about them much more often and am revisiting long languished loves again. It’s like a fragrant voyage of rediscovery. It reminds me how deeply the brand changed the way I thought about scenting myself. The possibilities, choice and intricacies of scent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fooling myself that every release or even favourite of mine is a boundary pushing masterpiece. Some are merely beautiful, easy wear interpretations of old tropes, but always with an interesting twist and/or perfectly balanced symmetry.

 

 

As luck would have it, I’ve had the opportunity to do two masterclasses in the Yellow Room upstairs in the Palais Royale store in Paris. The first was Jin and I with Elvire. Over the course of an hour or two we were introduced to the entire bell jar range, her favourite exports and the history of Féminité du Bois. It was an unbelievably jaw-dropping event. We already had some orders to fulfill from Aussies, and then I dropped a very large wad of cash on bell jars and travel sets for both Jin and myself. Jin fell madly in love with Muscs Koublaï Khän and is now on his second bell jar of it. He lovingly decants it into a beautiful black octagonal Serge Lutens travel spray and spritzes with gay abandon. I’ve never let him see how much it cost, he’d be horrified.

The second visit a couple of years ago was with a crew of perfume buddies. It was a much louder, more raucous affair and our hosts were not prepared at all to explain fragrance to frag nerds. BEDLAM! It was still fantastic though, and I was reintroduced to a couple of fragrances that I suddenly needed to own immediately. Chene and La Myrrhe. They sit in my collection, still in their cellophane. I don’t want to dab them, and I don’t want to decant them. What I do though is look at the boxes and reminisce. I wasn’t the only one to bust out the credit card and shop. I think there were 16 of us, and everyone purchased at least one bottle. Some people, who knew this might be their only visit to the grande purple emporium, splashed out on much more. While I didn’t learn much on this occasion, it is the one I smile to myself about so much more. Nothing compares to sharing the love of perfume with frag heads, made exponentially magic because we’d come from all over the world to meet in Paris.

 

 

So, I know you’re dying to know what’s been put up on the tray. I’d be chomping at the bit if I was reading your posts and it had gone this far without a list.

Arabie

I love the spicy opening that reminds me of ginger beer. When that settles down, I get a fruity, resinous melange that some days dips into apple pie territory and others into the scorch of spices sizzling in the pan in a sweet curry. Arabie lets me dream of Bedouin life from my comfortable couch.

Bas de Soie

I had been using a decant of this from Surrender To Chance, there was about 1ml left. I sprayed it all on and then wanted more. So I finally opened my bottle and gave myself a dousing. Something amazing happens to Bas de Soie at that level of heft. Suddenly it is a huge breath of spring. Even in our cold, rainy autumn here in Sydney I was transported to a springtime wonderland. Hyacinth, iris and musk blowing on a cool breeze.

Chergui

Chergui is the fragrance I most recognise as a Serge Lutens. It seems to capture and embody the spirit of the brand perfectly for me. Spicy and honeyed herbal opening, sweet tobacco and amber woods to close, and it runs the gamut of olfactory gorgeousness through its heart. It gives me visions of the legend travellers of the Middle East all the way down through Mongolia to the Far East.

Daim Blond

This was my favourite Serge for a while, but along came Bottega Veneta EdP, and I was like “Daim Blond who?” Fruity almonds and leather. It now smells dank and dated to me. Sad face. The dry down of softest, well loved leather is very nice next morning if you wear Daim Blond to bed.

Datura Noir

I wear Datura Noir quite a lot. First in decants and now in a bottle. I thought it wasn’t me. Too clean and fresh, a creamy white floral without the breath or skank seemed pointless. Yet, there I was/am, reaching and spritzing and loving it.

Féminité du Bois

My bottle has less than 10ml left. It’s got the Palais Royale logo on the label. Still smells fabulous, but I rarely wear it because I’m scared to not have it in this eras bottle. Spicy stewed fruits and woods. It’s absolutely heartbreakingly gorgeous.

Fille en Aiguilles

Also in the Palais Royale logo. More stewed fruit, but this time backed by incense and sharp pine. i love this so much for winter that I bought a few bottles and gave them out as gifts to various friends. Every one of them (non-perfumistas all) has re-bought it for themselves after using up that first bottle.

Five O’Clock au Gingembre

My favourite Serge Lutens fragrance so far. 10% into my second bottle. There is something about that opening zing of fruity ginger that I find so invigorating. You know I haven’t read the note list for years, and my nose tells me it is a ginger, tea, white flower and honey fragrance. I’m surprised to see no white flowers or tea mentioned, and find chocolate and patchouli there. WOW! My nose is clearly broken and has been for years.

L’Orpheline

The only notes given for L’Orpheline are incense and musk. To me they miss out on the smell of icy cold, snow filled winds in the monasteries of the Himalayas. Funnily, I get cold incense like you’re standing outside the temple shop, and the breeze is stealing most of the scent but it’s there.

Sa Majesté la Rose

This is not my favourite rose perfume. It does smell like you’ve stuck your nose in a particularly fragrant bloom early in the morning while it’s still got the dew on it and the scent hasn’t had time to burn off. The problem is that I find myself wanting a rose perfume to do a few more tricks than that. I need rose +++. This has rose. When the mood takes me, I look for and wear this but it’s a rare thing.

Santal Majuscule

That creamy, soapy sandalwood smell. So smooth and elegant. None of that rough, eucalyptus like opening of the Aussie stuff. This smells like the grown up, wealthy, settled down, gravitas version of Samsara. I have a really happy memory associated with Santal Majuscule. When it was first released I went in a split and bought 10ml. After wearing it twice I was about to write a review. As I reached for the decant, I knocked it over, and it smashed all over my desk. I was so upset at my clumsiness. Jin rushed in and saw the problem, after asking if I was OK and hearing the story, he said very calmly, “Well, you better buy a bottle. It smells fantastic” or some words to that effect. So I did.

Un Boise Vanille

The last of my Palais Royale label bottles. A thick, rich, crunchy vanilla that goes on strong and stays all day. Its simplicity hides depths and layers, if you bother to look, but for most non-perfumista wearers I imagine it just smells fabulous.

 

So that’s how I’ve been spending my lockdown time lately. Our restrictions ease gradually. One of my club groups got in touch, and they are hoping to reinstate trivia nights in late July. So, I’m a ways off working again. Maybe I’ll finally get to the mending pile on the floor in front of my sewing machine this week. It’s getting so big, I think it might take two full days.

 

What are your favourite Serge Lutens? Which bottles do you have open and use?
Portia xx

Does Good Packaging Make the Perfume?

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence.
Mark Twain

Ukiyo-e, shodō, ikebana, kimono, kabuki… I do not dislike culture of Japan, but I reject the awe some Europeans and Americans have towards it: yes, it is different and has interesting aspects. But by the same token as I do not think that being different means “inferior,” it doesn’t mean “superior” either. It is just different. So, usually I instinctively stay away from anything artificially Japonesque (I must admit, though, that I love California roll sushi that have nothing to do with traditional Japanese food).

Unrelated, I am usually skeptical when brands launch new sub-brands or lines under different names in parallel to their main brand: I see it as a plot to trick consumers into buying more because it’s something new and different.

So, how did it happen that I bought (!) a sample set from Floraiku – an “inspired by Japanese culture, traditions and ceremonies and named after haiku poetry” (©Fragrantica) brand created by the founders of Memo Paris?

In my defense, I can say that I was “vulnerable”: soon after my In the Search for the Perfect Magnolia post, I bought Magnolia Grandiflora Michel by Grandiflora – perfume that I found the most interesting during my magnolia note exploration quest. And, as much as I liked perfume itself, I thought that the bottle was hideous. The paper label looked extremely cheap, and today it seems to be pilling off that not even a year-old bottle. Which reminded me of new design for L’Artisan’s bottles that I saw recently at a department store: the testers were still probably half-full, but those paper labels were already in a dismal state. I have never seen anything like that happening to the original L’Artisan packaging. Greed is ugly.

So, while I was lamenting poor packaging of some nice niche brands, I read Cynthia’s (The Fragrant Journey) review of Floraiku set. I was curious about the line even before, but Cynthia’s praises for the presentation did it for me, and within days I placed my order.

 

Floraiku Sample Set

 

My impressions? Floraiku set is very beautiful, with a lot of attention to details. I’m not sure about names: I don’t like “I-s” and “My-s” in perfume names, so five out of 11 names using that form … is a little too personal. And most of the names seem not to have any connection to the notes used to compose them. I See the Clouds Go By featuring black currant leaves, cherry blossom and white musk – really? OK, maybe if I were to lay down in some garden watching the sky… though, when those cherries blossom, I would get cold quickly laying down.

I know that those note pyramids have very vague connection to what actually goes into those 15-20% of a volume of any given perfume. So I’d be fine with a brand not revealing the notes at all or giving just a general impression for the scent. But listing three notes?! Are they paying royalties to creators per an officially published note? At $350 for the set (50 ml full bottle plus 10 ml travel spray) I feel cheated.

I also do not care for pretend haiku. Actually, I’m not a big fan of haiku per se. I assume they sound better in Japanese, but English attempts usually rather perplex me: why to bother? It’s not poetry… But even more I’m annoyed by pseudo-haiku that do not even follow the formal rules of constructing those mini poems. And all that after naming the brand Floraiku!

The owl is watching
twilight
between two trees

Maybe if to think of them as of an abstract mood-setting description for these perfumes, they are not awful.

But what about the most important aspect – perfumes themselves?

You should read mentioned above Cynthia’s post for more detailed review on these perfumes. As for my impressions, Sound of a Ricochet and Cricket Song are my favorites, which isn’t surprising since they are oriental vanilla and floral (magnolia) woody musk respectively – and I usually like those. Three more – Sleeping on the Roof, Moon and I and My Shadow on the Wall I could probably wear. The remaining six – One Umbrella for Two, I Am Coming Home, I See the Clouds Go By, First Dream of the Year, My Love Has Color of the Night and Between Two Trees – are not something that I find interesting (though, none of them is unpleasant).

 

Floraiku Sample Set

 

Will any of these join my collection? Not unless I come across them at 70% off. I’m not discussing merits of selling these at $350 for 60 ml, it’s just that for me none of them is even close to be worth that price.

But I can wholeheartedly recommend getting the sample set because it is perfect for testing: it will be interesting to try the line, it’s aesthetically pleasing, none of the perfumes is challenging in any way, and, most likely, with any of them you won’t be tempted to get more than a 10 ml travel spray (which can be bought separately).

Eden Square (no affiliation, but I successfully ordered once from them – not this set though) offers the set for $25 + $5 S&H in the US (and you can get 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter).

 

Rusty and Floraiku Sample Set

Images: my own

Portia in the Looking Glass

Hello! My name is Portia, and Undina has invited me to come do some guest posting at Undina’s Looking Glass.

It’s very exciting, and nerve wracking, to jump into another person’s creation. They have worked so hard to produce a brand, and I hope that it’s a good fit for Undina, you and me. We all have perfume in common, and many of you I know already from around the scentblogoshere. Up till now, I have written for a few other blogs, including Olfactoria’s Travels, Perfume Posse, A Bottled Rose and Australian Perfume Junkies. Undina was the very first person I never met to subscribe to APJ, and we have been friends ever since, she has been also brains trust, confidant, blog rescuer and aspirational icon. We also bonded over the naming of her cat Rusty: my very first cat was a gorgeous ginger and white tom called Rusty. Synchronicity! Every time I see pics of him, it brings back some happy memories.

Continue reading

“Love won’t take no reservations…”

I can still remember times when the Perfumeland would buzz with an anticipation of the next release from a handful of niche brands everybody knew and loved. First there would be an announcement. Then discussions/speculations about what it was expected or hoped to be would follow. And then – the first reviews from lucky bloggers who managed to get a sample would create hordes of lemmings for anyone reading them.

After niche field has exploded, our collections saturated, and we spent small fortune on trying the latest new brand or new perfume from a favorite brand or perfumer, we barely register some of new releases, skim through articles and wait for the trip to a store … at some point in the next 12 months to maybe sniff a nozzle of the bottle while deciding if we even want to waste a paper strip.

In the last several years the only reviews for perfumes I read were predominantly those written by bloggers whom I consider friends: not because I am looking for more perfumes to introduce into my life, but mostly because from those people I’d read anything including a holiday menu or even a shopping list. (If you think about it, something like that coming from Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) or Portia (ex APJ) would be hilarious – maybe I should invite them to my blog with a guest post on the topic? But I digress).

Last December I chanced upon Angela’s (NST) review of the new Masque Milano fragrance Love Kills. I planned to quickly go through it, read a list of notes and be done: even though at the time I liked, owned and wore two perfumes from the brand, since none of the stores here carried it, a chance of trying their new perfume any time soon was seriously underfed. And then something unexpected happened: I got enchanted with… no, not with perfume – with Angela’s review:

What I do understand is this: Love Kills is a Birgit Nilsson of a rose soliflore. It’s a rich scarlet rose — maybe an old rose that clings to stone walls and blooms only once a summer. When it flowers, it’s like a full moon. Bees become town drunks, and afternoons in the garden should carry warnings against operating heavy machinery. Girls shut themselves in their rooms and cry, and grown women eye the pool boy with startling interest. Cakes won’t rise. Sinners repair to the confessional, but the priest is unexpectedly away.

Are you familiar with that desire to capture something beautiful with a photo? You see a magnificent rose or a spectacular sunset, and you take a dozen of pictures, even though you have no idea what you’d do with those. But you want to “own” it. I felt something similar when I read that passage. I decided that I needed to buy a sample – if for nothing else, to write about it on my blog and cite Angela’s review on my blog, a sort of “taking a picture” of a beautiful thing to make it mine.

I didn’t expect to love Love Kills. It was going to be a Second Sunday Sample feature (if I ever decide to revive the series) or, maybe, a part in my Single Note Exploration for the rose note. But the first time I put on Love Kills, I knew that it was love (despite of the name that I can tolerate only by reminding myself about the theatrical theme chosen by the brand as their inspiration). Read the rest of Angela’s review if you haven’t tried this perfume yet. But be warned: it’s very convincing. As a proof of that: a beautiful bottle has just recently joined my collection, and I’m amazed how much I enjoy it, even though I already have many exquisite roses in my perfume wardrobe.

 

Masque Milano Love Kills

Image: my own (one of the dozen taken)

Fun in the Car with Youth Dew

Even though there were at least a couple of guest writers on Undina’s Looking Glass, over the last couple of years I was a sole contributor, so for a while I will be reminding my readers to look at the By line (Undina).

* * *

“You’re a perfume snob”. So said my friend as we drove to lunch together. I was quite taken aback, “What, no! I’m not!” but my friend continued on seemingly enjoying herself. “Oh yes, you are, you are absolutely a perfume snob!”

This was hard to take, especially so as I was asphyxiating under a roiling cloud of Estee Lauder‘s Youth Dew, my friend’s favourite perfume. I had given her a bottle as a gift, even though I feared being in just this situation, trapped in a car full of Youth Dew, which I very much disliked. Neither youthful nor dewy to my nose, I thought it did not suit my friend at all but she loved it.

Trying to prove my lack of snobbery I informed her that I was wearing Britney Spears Curious in Control (a pleasant apple custard scent), so therefore I could not possibly be a snob. She laughed, “Oh, you’re 100% a snob!” Ugh, this was getting uncomfortable. I started worrying that offering up Britney as an example of my willingness to embrace  the cheapest celebuscent was actually proof of my snobbery, “Some of my best friends are celbuscents!” But then I got a grip and realized I didn’t have to prove myself to anyone. The word my friend was probably looking for was aficianado aka someone who knows too much and talks too much on a topic other people don’t deem worthy of a conversation. Sometimes (who am I kidding, most of the time) it’s better to just agree that Youth Dew is enchanting without harping on about oakmoss. It’s straight back to my childhood when I thought spouting facts about krill was a good response to a kid saying “penguins are nice”.

I love perfume and I love smells, some days it feels like I love every single smell in the world. I try to appear a little less of a weirdo, to pocket the leaf or cheese rind or odd flinty rock and not inhale them deeply in front of people. I think many of us who started out on this perfume journey because something smelled pretty have ended up here. Nose deep in a stout thinking about oud. Analyzing funk and and oils and laughing when connections are made. Once your brain and your nose start having deep and meaningfuls, there’s no going back.

So I must declare I am not a snob. I am just someone with too many facts and too many opinions on too many topics and one of them is perfume.

 

Gold Plated Bathroom

 

Photo is of my GOLD PLATED BATHROOM. Not really, but did you know that pure gold has no smell of its own?

Better than a New-Car Scent

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

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

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

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

 

Blotters in a Car Vent

 

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

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

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

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

 

Naomi Goodsir Or Du Serail

 

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

 

Images: my own

Paying it Forward: (in) Puredistance Gold

This post is a part of a joint mini project, a.k.a. giveaway, held by Undina (Undina’s Looking Glass), Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume), Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies) – see details at the bottom of the post.

* * *

In this age of advertising in social networks and working through influencers, vloggers and instagrammers (ha! MS Word’s spell checker knows the former but objects to the latter while Firefox browser’s spell checker doesn’t think any of the three terms are grammatically correct), it is hard to justify spending marketing resources on a handful of “old school” bloggers with quirky blogging styles and limited outreach via followers or organic search.

Most brands stopped doing that silently. Some were quite vocal about it (I will not name names now, but will mention that even years later I still hold a grudge – not for the decision not to provide free samples itself but rather for the publicly provided “justification” for that decision, but I digress). And a very few keep doing that through the years for whatever reasons – be that gratitude for the role perfumistas in general or particular individuals played once in popularizing niche perfumery or the brand; or out of sentimental feelings towards the “dying art” of blogging; or even pragmatical calculation that people who spend hundreds, sometimes thousands dollars per year on their hobby and who “talk” to others with the same predisposition might be a better target audience for a “free sample” than an average perfume counter visitor. I don’t know the reasoning, but I know that those brands are still out there.

 

 

Puredistance is one of such brands that – as long as I remember, even before I started blogging – was extremely friendly and generous with bloggers, and not just with press release samples that would promote their newest perfume but with acknowledgement of bloggers contribution to spreading good word about the brand, their time in communications and some unexpected surprises for the brand’s milestones.

Late last year Puredistance sent me a travel spray of their newest perfume Puredistance Gold. As always, no strings attached.

I tied and I liked Puredistance Gold, which made me happy and thankful to the brand for bringing me joy that holiday season. And at the same time, I felt bad because there was no story or topic in my head that I could use for a post, and since I don’t do regular reviews, it meant I wouldn’t be able to make my tiniest input into promoting this perfume to the World.

 

Puredistance Gold

 

And then I thought that even if I were to review this perfume, in my opinion, it wouldn’t be enough because while it is like that for many good perfumes, for Puredistance Gold it is particularly true: to fully appreciate it, one needs to wear it. Even if I were to tell you that it’s great, since the only place where you could test it would be a niche shop with dozens of other perfumes that compete for your attention, you’ll spray it on paper, sniff and, most likely, move to the next bottle.

And that’s how the idea of this joint mini project came to live. We, several bloggers who were lucky to get some preview samples from Puredistance, decided to share what we got – just to make sure it reaches more people who might otherwise never try it.

* * *

Puredistance Gold Sample(s) Giveaway

One ~ 1.5ml handmade sample of Puredistance Gold is offered in a giveaway on each blog for a reader from the specific geographical region:

Undina’s Looking Glass (this blog) – the US and Canada

Chemist in the Bottle – Europe (without the UK)

Bonkers about Perfume – the UK

Australian Perfume Junkies – Australia

 

While you’re invited and encouraged to comment on any/all of the participating blogs, to be entered into the draw you should leave comment on “your” region’s blog following the instructions given there.

If you are in the US or Canada and wish to enter the giveaway, all you need to do on this blog is to state in your comment “I live in [country]. That’s it. The draw on this blog will close on February 23rd. You know all the disclaimers, etc.

Regardless of whether you participate in my draw or not, I would love to know: Have you tried any of Puredistance perfumes? Do you have favorite ones? Are there any you haven’t tried yet but want to?

 

Images: my own

A Week of Mainstream Perfumes

My closest friend (we were friends ON and OFF, but mostly ON from when we both were about 10 years old) lives half the World away. From when we both were young, both she and I liked and wore perfumes, though, as I remember, our tastes always were somewhat different: while my true love was Lancôme Climat, she preferred Magie Noir; and Diorissimo was more appealing to her than my favorite Dior at the time – Diorella.

Since my descent into the rabbit hole of niche perfumery, I periodically try to share my hobby with her in form of samples, decants, minis and information about different perfumes, notes and brands, but we live too far from each other (with no guaranteed parcel delivery and rare “perfume mules” occasions), English is not a language in which she’d read anything for pleasure (hence, no exposure to my blog), and perfume choices where she lives are much more limited. So, all these years later she’s still a “civilian” (© Tara) perfume user.

When she recently asked if I could suggest her anything powdery with a good sillage, one brand immediately jumped to mind: Narciso Rodriguez. Year and a half later after I wrote about my attraction to that white square bottle (Narciso [Rodriguez] Ed[P/T/Whatever]), I still haven’t pulled a trigger on buying it but from my memory it fitted the bill. Then I went to the site of the large high-end perfume chain in Ukraine to see what else to suggest… And I had to excuse myself because I realized that I wasn’t familiar enough with the most of mainstream perfumes that they offer.

 

Narciso Rodriguez Two Samples

 

That’s when my friend asked: “Do you ever try mainstream perfumes for yourself? Or do you consider it a waste of time?” I told her “Sometimes,” but also that I wasn’t that thrilled with the current niche or “niche” perfumes either (and these days it’s harder and harder to decide whether to [still] consider some brands as niche).

That conversation and especially her question provoked my thinking on the topic. These days I rarely try mainstream/mass-market perfumes; and even less often I like them enough to try on skin. But from time to time I come across something that seems nice, I get a sample and think for myself that I need to try wearing it and decide whether I like it enough to buy. Usually I end up designating the sample as “nice, will use what I have” in my database: as a rule, I do not wear perfumes from samples unless I’m trying to decide whether to buy a bottle, or when it’s marked with this category (meaning “do not need more but will wear”). And then I almost never wear those mainstream perfumes that I thought would be nice to wear a couple of times…

And that gave me an idea to do a mainstream week where I’d wear not just any mainstream perfumes but those that I kept in my collection hoping to wear someday.

* * *

Since I recommended this perfume to my friend, I decided to start with Narciso (a “white cube” one). It was still as pleasant as I remembered it from the previous encounter. But I was surprised that in wearing it was much less tenacious than I would expect from such perfume – though, as a (questionable) plus side: I finished my sample while re-applying it throughout the day. And since I still don’t love it, my resolution is: I do not want any more of it.

*

I liked Sisley Eau du Soir from when I tried it first from a mini bottle that I got in a Perfume Society box. At some point I even swapped for a travel bottle and thought it was quite suitable for wine tasting trips, but then the bottle went off. That taught me not to do bottle swapping (you never know how someone else had stored their perfumes), and somehow it put me off that perfume. Since I still had that first mini, I decided to wear it again. I still think it’s a very nice chypre, and I liked wearing it – even though I still think it’s a little bit “rough around the edges” but once it starts developing it gets a lot more… sophisticated.

 

Sisley Eau du Soir

*

A sample of Marni’s first perfume, Marni, I got soon after it was released. It was getting a lot of love in Perfumeland, and the bottle was cute, so I persuaded myself that I liked it enough to wear at least from a sample that I got. I did it once many years ago, so it just stayed in my “to wear one day” box until I got it out for this project. I can’t say I disliked it, but now I know that I won’t be wearing it any more, and I definitely do not need any more of it.

*

I liked Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme when I was testing it for the post several years ago (Mr. & Mrs. Tom Ford Noir). Since at that time it was a new release, I decided that I’d wear it from the samples that I’ve got and wait for it to get to discounters. And I completely forgot not only about this plan, but also about the sample. When I wore it again for this project, I realized that I still liked it very much. I even got a compliment when I wore it (from a dentist’s assistant). I think it’s time to find a, hopefully, highly discounted bottle.

*

Seven years ago, I wrote (In the Search for the Perfect Leather) that I would see if I need more of Bottega Veneta Parfum (the first one) once I’m done with a mini bottle that I’ve got. At the rate I’m using it (once or twice a year), it will be a while before I’ll have to decide.

*

By the end of my experiment I was slightly bored, so the last two perfumes I wore in parallel. Luckily, these two weren’t contradicting each other much: Jour d’Hermes and Jour d’Hermes Absolu. It’s one more case when a “peer pressure” and samples that fell into my lap had influenced my decision to keep samples to wear those perfumes (“will use what I have”). If I absolutely had to choose, I would have probably worn Jour d’Hermes Absolu. But since I hope never to be in such situation, I should pass on both samples.

 

Perfume Samples

 

All in all, it seems like a good result: out of 7, I’ll buy TF Noir Pour Femme, will continue wearing from time to time perfumes from two minis that I have (Eau du Soir and Bottega Veneta), and downgrade the other three to the “Library” category (while passing on the remaining samples on someone who might enjoy them more).

What are your relationships with mainstream perfumes?

 

Images: my own

Liquid Sunshine: Chanel Beige

I do not favor adjectives as perfume names in general, and use of color names feels even less inspiring, though I like, own and wear Amouage Gold, Puredistance White and Bvlgary Black, to name a few. I might have considered perfumes with some of the names Vanessa (Bonkers About Perfume) came up with while discussing a related topic, but as a rule when I see those “Happy,” “Guilty” or especially “Young Sexy Lovely” (don’t start me on punctuation!), I wince.

I read people complaining about Chanel’s choice of the name Beige for that perfume many times (those weren’t objections to the part of the speech, though). And I could never understand it: maybe it’s a “language thing” but in my mother tongue (and culture, which doesn’t exist any longer, so it’s just a recollection) this word and color had a positive connotation. Somehow, it was more noble and superior than, for example, “pedestrian” brown. Also, it might be that in two different countries the color named as such was slightly different. “Beige” I think of is probably darker than the one those who find it too plain imagine. By the way, according to Chanel’s booklet I have, “[Mlle Chanel] loved all shades of this color, which evokes natural elegance and grace.”

So, when I was trying Beige for the first time, I had no preconception about that perfume: my positive feelings towards the color must have neutralized the negative attitude to the adjective use. I immediately liked Beige and bought it.

 

Chanel Beige perfume

 

I’m not sure if my cropping skills have fooled anyone, but just in case I want to clarify that what I bought was just a 4 ml mini (Chanel makes them extremely appealing). While being cute, those minis are not the best format for EdT concentration. For the most of Chanel Les Exclusifs, those splash bottles are nice for a discreet re-application on the go but not for wearing. I should have probably bought a bottle of EdT while I could. Instead, I participated in a split and got a 10 ml decant. I still have some perfume left in both. Once it’s gone, I’ll see what I think of the new EdP formulation.

Years ago, I published Perfume Purrfect?, in which I introduced my cat for the first time on this blog. Among other cat-and-perfume-related bits, I shared that Beige was one of Rusty’s favorite perfumes.

In conclusion I wrote:

While I was writing this post, I came across an article in a Beauty on the outside blog about the same phenomenon. After reading comments there, I realized how lucky I am: my cat at least doesn’t steal my clothes. Well, not yet – as far as I know.

Many years forward… Rusty does not steal clothes per se, but if any article is left where he can get to it, he’ll surely spend some quality time sitting or even sleeping on it. Knowing about it, I recently “donated” to him my old beige cashmere sweater. When he sleeps on it, I wrap it around him. He seems to enjoy it.

 

Rusty and Chanel Beige

 

I presume most of you have tried Beige and do not need any reviews, but I want to share with you what one of the commenters (Petunia) recently wrote on the NTS’s SOTD thread:

We started off the day overcast and gray. We had minor snow storm,
just a few inches.
I put on Beige earlier because it feels like liquid sunshine.

And I agree with her and hope she doesn’t mind my citing it here and in the title: Beige brings up that feeling for me to.

 

Rusty and Chanel Beige

 

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