How Do You Take Your Amber?

We had a really strange winter this year*: it has never actually got cold. When I say “cold” I mean, of course, our Californian cold – something like 10C/50F. Instead of it the average high temperature in February, for example, was 16C/60F. I’m not really complaining especially after hearing about record levels of snow and cold weather all over the world. After all, no matter how much I realize that warm weather in absence of rain makes our drought situation even worse, objectively if feels nice.

But there was one serious negative consequence for me: this past winter I couldn’t wear almost any of my favorite amber perfumes. Even though I do not do a conscious season rotation of perfumes, my wearing habits gravitate towards the commonly accepted practice of lighter scents in summer and heavier members of my collection in winter. So the only amber I wear in hot weather is my amber necklace.

Amber Necklace

As winter approached I was eager to start wearing my favorite ambers again. The first disappointment came when I put on Ambre Russe by Parfum d’Empire. This perfume was on my “to buy” list for a couple of years so I decided to finish the sample I had and finally buy a bottle. Actually, I would have bought it not waiting for the last drop to leave the sample vial if it weren’t for an unavailability of more reasonable 50 ml bottles. Now I think that maybe it was a sign: the last time I wore it from the sample I felt almost like washing it off. Now I’m not sure any more if I even want it.

After that I was very careful approaching the rest of the usual suspects: Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens, Ambre Fetishe by Annick Gotal, Amber Absolute by Tom Ford and Mitzah by Dior – each got just one wear, if that. I didn’t dislike them but I didn’t get the same warm feeling I used to get from them before. Even L’eau d’Ambre Extreme by L’Artisan Parfumeur felt too heavy for the weather.

There were just a couple of ambers that worked better and didn’t scare me. Unexpectedly, two of those were Ambre Orient by Armani Prive and Amber Oud from By Kilian. I am surprised because both have agarwood – the note that is difficult for me. But this time amber + agarwood combination seemed exactly what I needed. One more perfume that suddenly came into favor was Calamity J by Juliette Has A Gun. After I deplete the decant I will consider adding a bottle to my collection.

Despite all that I had more amber in my life this winter than ever before: last New Year I’ve got a gift from my vSO – Black Orchid Diffuser Set from my favorite designer Michael Aram. I’ve never had a diffuser before but was glad to get this one since I have some other items from this collection. Official notes are citrus, floral notes, tropical fruits, cedar, sandalwood and musk but for my nose it smells like a light amber perfume. And for a while, until I realized from where that wonderful scent was coming, I tried to figure out which of my perfumes left those traces and, which was even more important, where?!

Michael Aram Black Orchid Diffuser

So this year I take my amber light or very light. And, it seems, with agarwood. But I really hope that next year I’ll be able to enjoy the “heavy hitters” (© Olfactoria, Queen of Amber) again.

 

How do you take your amber nowadays?

* Ines recently started her post with the exact phrase but I swear I had this part already written by the time I read her post.

 

Images: my own

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Entertaining Statistics: August, 2012

 

August was nice: we had several hot days and the rest of the month was on the cooler side. But perfume wear/test-wise it was a strange month for me: as I was trying to figure out if perfumes contributed to my persistent cough (I think they didn’t) I took a break from any perfumes for a while; in addition to that, at least several perfumes I wore during the month had such staying power that testing anything else the same day was out of question. As a result, I both tested and wore fewer perfumes.

So I decided to entertain you with another type of statistics data.

Do you remember the fun question Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels asked last year: Guerlain or Chanel? and the results we compiled? So when last Monday Birgit asked to choose ten “deserted island perfumes”, I got curious to see if answers to this question correlated to the previous results. But when I started I couldn’t stop just there.

Stats August 2012

Our deserted island will be populated by at least 45 perfumistas, though there was some dissension as to the climate choice: concerns were voiced that not all favorite perfumes were tropic-friendly.

Future settlers named 310 unique perfumes from 91 brands (when a concentration or vintage were mentioned I counted perfumes as unique). See the chart above for the total number of selected perfumes for top 15 brands.

Two most popular perfumes were Guerlain Shalimar and Frederic Malle Carnal Flower11 voices each; Chanel No 5 got 6 votes (including one for parfum); Amouage Lyric, Chanel Coromandel, Lancome Cuir de Lancome, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and Chanel No 19 (counting EdP, EdT, parfum and vintage) got 5 voices each. 79 perfumes were named by more than one perfumista. It means that we’ll have 231 unrepeated perfumes to enjoy ourselves or swap – not bad for a group of 45.

Only 4 out of 10 perfumes on my list were unique (Climat by Lancôme, Tiempe Passate by Antonia’s Flowers, Vert pour Madame by DSH Perfumes and Sweet Milk by Jo Malone). Only Chanel No 19 though was among the most popular selections. The other five were on two to three people’s lists.

Deserted Island Perfumes

I wonder how good my swapping chances would be.

My Blog’s First Anniversary

Most of you are probably familiar with, I’m positive a well-studied and explained, phenomenon of the time going faster as you get older. I wasn’t curious enough to look for those explanations so at some point I came up with the one that seemed logical and left it at that.

In our earlier years time is very discrete and structured: we always know which grade we are in, what semester (or quarter as it was in the country where I went to school) it is and when we’ll have the next break. Our years are distinctive in terms of classes, class-mates and teachers. And each year constitutes a significant part of our self-aware life.

As we get older, finish our education and start working full-time, our lives become more unified,  “continuous” and provide much less range poles for memory to measure against. Also a year becomes smaller and smaller relative to life lived. Small kids might improve that situation for their parents for a while but it’s still not the same and it goes away as they grow up.

First BlogoversaryI didn’t know that at the time, but starting my blog a year ago served as an antidote to that acceleration tendency (probably just a temporary one but still). My life became much more structured. I’m constantly aware of not only a month (“Is it time for a monthly stats post?”) but also dates and days of the week (“I haven’t posted since the last Tuesday” or “I’m reading a six-days-old post – Is it still Ok to comment?”).

This first year was veeery looong and really good for me. I published many more posts than I planned I would. I found many more blogo-friends than I hoped I would. And I discovered many more great perfumes than I thought I would.

I’m thankful to all my friends, supporters and enablers influencers.

Suzanne, lyu, Vanessa, Michael, Ines, Victoria, Ari, Diana, Joanne, Tara, Olga, Elisa, Thomas, Lavanya, Carol, Laurie, Meg, Krista, Asali and Christos – thank you. For reading, commenting, writing inspiring reviews and sharing perfumes. I appreciate every token of your support and value your friendship.

And now a special spotlight on my perfume godmothers:

Five Bottles

Natalie of Another Perfume Blog: as far as I know she was the first one to report on upcoming Chanel No 19 Poudre release. She kept publishing updates and impressions the topic and it resulted in My First Unsniffed Purchase. (UPD: APB is closed now)

Dee of beauty on the outside: after I won a drawing for a decant of Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess perfume on her blog, I liked it so much that I bought the last bottle at the store and then brought it with me on the trip to Hawaii – how often do you haul a FB to a vacation? (if you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the Bronze Goddess’ picture from that trip, I think she looked great).

Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels: she described Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche in such a way that I just had to try it! (well, Birgit does it a lot). I got a sample (thanks to Carrie), tried it and fell in love. So now finally I have a colored Annick Goutal’s bottle in my collection.

Tarleisio of The Alembicated Genie: her beautiful writing resulted in not one but two new bottles in my collection: Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and DSH Vert pour Madame. If you haven’t read The Incomparable Khadine and Vertesimilituda yet I dare you to do so and see if you can resist the urge to try these perfumes if you haven’t tried them yet or re-try if you have.

Mals86 of The Muse in Wooden Shoes: here I told the story about my bottle of Puredistance Antonia and what role Mals played in it.

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What else did this year of blogging give me? A complete realization of how great the climate where I live is.

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Images: my own

Body Heat: Perfumes under Extreme Temperatures

There are people who love running, playing tennis or swimming. I heard they can experience a withdrawal if they have to skip several training sessions. It’s not my story. I hate exercising as long as I can remember myself. I do engage in different activities but do it out of the necessity only: if I could get Kathleen Turner’s body and don’t worry about my health without exercising I wouldn’t (I wonder which perfume bottle she’s holding in that scene).

Kathleen Turner in Body HeatWell, since a lean gene wasn’t one of those passed to me from my parents I do my part in at least keeping myself healthy.

At least as much as physical activity, if not more, I dislike heat. I don’t like cold either.  My comfortable zone is somewhere around 24°C (75°F).

All that makes it hard to explain why out of all available types of physical activities I chose Bikram yoga – a system of yoga practiced in a room heated to 40°C (105°F). I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga (with some breaks) for 18 months. I still hate every minute of a 90 minutes class. But I plan to keep doing it.

For me yoga is just an exercise. I do not subscribe to the philosophy. If I follow the breathing instructions I do it only if it helps to maintain the posture. I do not try to clear my mind and concentrate on what I’m doing. I’m not pushing myself too hard. I’m just trying to survive. One of the things that help me through the class is thinking about perfumes – about which I read or plan to write or which I want to try.

For a long time I tried not to wear any perfumes to my classes thinking they wouldn’t perform well in high heat or would bother me or my neighbors. And then one day I didn’t think about the class I had scheduled in the evening. I wore a perfume to the office and even re-applied it mid-day. By the time I started the first breathing exercise I forgot about it. And when my body heated up enough suddenly the perfume started blooming on my skin. It was magical. It was much more interesting than what I experienced earlier that day with the same perfume. It was Serge LutensBoxeuses.

Since then I started experimenting with different perfumes. I apply just a little bit of a perfume in the décolleté area and on my wrists an hour before I go to the class and then during JanuShirasana or Pavanamuktasana I inhale wafts of the hot air mixed with moisture and perfume particles. It makes my classes go by faster and gives them some additional purpose.

Perfumes that performed the best under such strange conditions: another Serge Lutens’ creation – Ambre Sultan, Ubar by Amouage and Alahine by Teo Cabanel.

Tom Ford’s Arabian Wood, Chergui by Serge Lutens and Mitzah by Dior were very nice but didn’t survive Garudasana (approx. 15 minutes into the class). All three were applied from a dab vial so maybe a more generous spray application would produce a better effect – I’ll re-try them when I get those into my collection.

No 19 Poudre by Chanel didn’t work at all. Not possessing a remarkable staying power as is, it disappeared from my skin by the time I unfolded my yoga mat. It was a strange experiment but I thought that maybe it had some hidden powers. It didn’t.

I remember reading on one of the blogs that I always read a topic about a “treadmill scents” (or something to that effect) but now I can’t find that post. If an owner recognizes it from the description or if you covered this topic in your blog, please post a link.

What is your torture of choice and what perfumes (if any) make it more enjoyable?

Image: Kathleen Turner in Body Heat by allposters.com

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