Timeless Beauty

I have a friend whose hobby is to lead guided tours in San Francisco. Last weekend she invited us to join one of her tours – San Francisco Waterfront Walk. I had no idea what topic she had chosen but it didn’t matter because we went mostly for a walk itself and to spend some time with her and her husband later that day.

The tour started from The Palace of Fine Arts. It was designed by Bernard R. Maybeck and constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition as a temporary structure to exhibit works of art. It was intended to last for a year or so and be torn down after the exposition was over. But the Palace was so beloved by citizens of San Francisco that it was spared the demolition. Consistent with his design concept (it was supposed to evoke the impression of a Roman ruin), Maybeck had intended that the Palace should just fall into ruin, and so it did for a long time while serving all possible purposes – housing multiple exhibitions, lighted tennis courts (1934-1942), storage of trucks and jeeps (during the WWII), limousines motor pool for the UN representatives after the war, and other odd uses. By 50s “the simulated ruin was in fact a crumbling ruin” but in 60s it was rebuilt to its current state and is being maintained since then.

 

 

From the Palace we passed the streets that replaced the exhibit halls in the years that followed the exposition. We went by beautiful Art Deco buildings, through blooming jasmine, lilacs and irises, all the way to the Marina from where you can see one of the world’s largest examples of the Art Deco style – the Golden Gate Bridge on the left and Alcatraz Island on the right.

 

Up the hill, through the park and Fort Mason Community Garden, to the Haskell House and back down to the shore. It was a wonderful 3-hour walk on a sunny, breezy and, surprisingly for San Francisco, clear day.

What perfume does one choose for such tour?

 

Paris, 1926. ‘Art deco’ is all the rage, exoticism fascinates, and jazz stirs passions. People dream of faraway lands and precious woods. Once again, Coco Chanel shakes up the history of perfume by launching the first woody fragrance for women. An intoxicating, enveloping, warm, sensual, spiraling scent. It’s all there: the precious woods, the opiate scents and magnificent, languid flowers. The fragrance is a mysterious, faraway continent in itself.

 

That is an old quote from Chanel’s website. They’ve changed the description at least a couple of times over the last several years (I wonder if it coincided with reformulations) but you have probably guessed already that I chose Bois des Iles as my Waterfront Walk perfume. Since I didn’t know any details of that walk in advance, my perfume choice was just a serendipitous one. But it felt just right – airy, with a whiff of lilacs, jasmine, iris and rose, warm, slightly sweet and woody. Same as The Palace of Fine Arts and the Golden Gate Bridge, this beauty has survived all the years and reconstructions and is still mesmerizing and awe-inspiring.

Chanel Bois des Iles

 

Images: my own

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Entertaining Statistics: 2012 Year Round-up

 

Wearing and testing perfumes every day and getting monthly statistics numbers create some general feeling about where you stand on your likes and dislikes but nothing puts it into prospective better than the complete year data. As I was contemplating this post I was both excited and scared: what would I discover about myself when I compile all the results?

In 2012 I wore and tested more perfumes than in 2011: 414 vs. 376 perfumes from 119 vs. 110 brands. But since starting from December 2011 I was recording the type of use – wear1 vs. testing2 I’m able to get deeper into from where those numbers come.

 

Quick 2012 stats:

* Different perfumes worn1138 from 50 brands on 348 occasions;

Brands I wore in 2012

* Different perfumes tested2356 from 114 brands on 572 occasions;

Brands I tested in 2012

* Perfumes I tried for the first time: 245 (it was 303 in 2011);

I wear perfumes I like and own almost every day. Perfumes I reached for the most in 2012 (with times worn): Dior New Look 1947 (11), Chanel №19# EdT & parfum (10), Chanel Cuir de Russie (8), Guerlain Cruel Gardénia (8), Antonia’s Flowers Tiempe Passate (7), Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Vermeille# (7), Yosh Ginger Ciao (7), Hermès Voyage d’Hermès (6), Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Amour (6), Tom Ford Violet Blonde (6), Chanel Bois des Iles (5), Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient (5), Lancome Climat (5), Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling! (5), Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe (5), Tom Ford Amber Absolute (5).

 

Counting my Lemmings (don’t fall asleep!)

In the Weekly Roundup series this year I mentioned 46 perfumes I was looking forward to testing. I still haven’t tried 19 of those (5 haven’t been released yet). My most cherished lemmings are: Ann Gerard Perle de Mousse, Ramón Monegal Impossible Iris, Parfumerie Generale L’Ombre Fauve and Armaini Privé Cuir Noir. I’m still trying to avoid paying for samples so if you have any extras for those mentioned above – let’s swap!

Out of those 27 lemmings that I managed to try I liked 15 and thought that the rest were fine – so no big disappointments.

2012 in Statis Pictures

Seeing 2012 off

Speaking of disappointments, I was surprised to read on many blogs that 2012 wasn’t a good year perfume-wise for many perfumistas. My feeling was that there were many perfumes that I liked. I went through the list of perfumes from 2012 (only those that I’ve tried, not all 1,300+). I liked very much at least 25 perfumes released last year: Amouage Beloved and Opus VI; Annick Goutal Nuit Étoilée; By Kilian Amber Oud, Bamboo Harmony, Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin; Cognoscenti Scent No.16 – Tomato Leather and Scent No.19 – Warm Carrot; Dior Grand Bal; Diptyque Volutes; DSH Perfumes Euphorisme d’Opium, Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour and The Beat Look; Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient and Myrrhe et Délires; Ineke Hothouse Flower; Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay and White Lilac & Rhubarb; Jul et Mad Amour de Palazzo; L’Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l’aube; Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin; Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule; Six Scents Napa Noir and Tom Ford Ombre de Hyacinth. I have four full bottles and seven decants to show for these “likes” and I’m considering several more. Another 15 were not bad; I just didn’t love them.

I’ve done two full years of these monthly stats posts. I wonder if I can still find an interesting angle of analyzing data I collect. We’ll see.  

 

1 For the testing I apply a perfume to one area on my arms easily available for the repetitive sniffing. But, most likely, I’m the only one who can smell it. I can test two, sometimes even more perfumes at the same time.

2 When I wear a perfume I apply it to at least three-four points and usually I plan to spend at least 4-8 hours with the same scent so I’m prepared to re-apply if the original application wears off.

# These were in the Top 10 of 2011 as well.

 

Images: my own

“New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town!”

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I love New York. Every time I go there I feel with utter clarity how much I miss living in a big city.

This time the weather wasn’t the best possible: the temperature dropped significantly the next day after we arrived; then there was a showering rain; it was cloudy and cool for several days and it got a little warmer by the end of our stay there with sun teasing us on the day of the departure. But we were mostly prepared for the weather and it didn’t prevent us from enjoying all the planned activities, of which there were plenty but since it’s a, more or less, perfume blog I want to highlight fragrant parts of my vacation.

I’ll start with saying a big thank you to Robin, Birgit and Gaia who created New York perfume shopping guides: it really helps to know where to look for which brand. If you plan a trip read through those posts, make yourself a list of everything you want to visit (with addresses) and try (with names) – you’ll be glad you did.

Slow down...

To Barney’s I went only to test newly available exclusive line of Serge Lutens perfumes (everything else is available at Barneys SF). All SAs I met there were very friendly and not pushy at all. I walked away with samples of two perfumes I liked the most (out of those I haven’t tried before) – Rose de nuit and Fourreau noir. I would have bought a bottle (one of  several that I want to add to my collection eventually) but why on earth has somebody decided to charge almost twice for those bell jars in the US?!! How does the price 130 EUR including VAT translate into $300 PLUS tax?!! Stupid rich Americans who would eat up anything? I refuse to do that. I’d rather give business to Suzan who charges just 10% on top.

At Bloomingdale’s Chanel‘s SA who was very proud of their perfume testing system – an Olfactive Bar (a mirrored table top with porous ceramic rods immersed into vials with different perfumes), in reply to my question if they had a test rod for Bois des Iles in parfum concentration, told me that 1) it smells exactly the same as EdC concentration; 2) because it wouldn’t have been an Exclusifs if it hadn’t smelled the same; 3) it was created by Jacques Polge and … At this point I told him “Thank you” and left.

The Unseen Censer was a great company for a perfume sniffing at MiN NY. Unfortunately for our visit we chose the day when they held a launch of three perfumes for the new brand – Jul et Mad. I say “unfortunately” because my vSO was promised a comfortable couch where he would be able to relax after our almost six hours stroll through the lower Manhattan while we would do our best to sniff through as many new perfumes as perfumista-ly possible… Instead of it my faithful companion had to spend an hour standing next to the wall and reading his smartphone in a crowd of people having great time. I hope strong cocktails served by nice people from MiN helped a little but I felt bad and we left a little earlier than I’d wanted to (and before I realized how much I liked one of the three Jul et Mad’s perfumes Amour de Palazzo and thought of asking for a sample). Also I think I fell in love with one perfume… But it’s too early to talk about it, I need more time.

Bergdorf Goodman NY

I didn’t plan to go to Bergdorf Goodman but it just happened on our way so I decided to check out Ramon Monegal. They had only seven perfumes from the line. When I asked a SA who was eager to help me with the brand if they had the other 7 somewhere else she was surprised by the fact that I knew about the brand and told me that they didn’t have the complete line. But when I expressed my regret that they didn’t have two perfumes that I wanted to try (Impossible Iris and Cuirelle) she answered me, with a smidgen of indignation, that those seven were the best sellers in the world. Oh well, I shouldn’t be upset if my tastes aren’t aligned with the rest of the world, should I? I didn’t feel like testing any of the seven they had on skin.

On the positive note, SA at By Kilian counter was very nice and even made me samples of three new perfumes from In the Garden of Good and Evil collection. The bottles and the box are as beautiful as they are on pictures. Now I need to test perfumes. My first impression: it doesn’t make much sense to test these three on paper; at least on my skin they developed very different from what I smelled on blotters.

At Saks I finally got to try Bois des Iles in both concentrations. What can I say? They don’t smell the same. But I still don’t know which one I should buy first. I got some other interesting samples there but it’ll be another story.

The last stop on my perfume journey was Henri Bendel. You wouldn’t know it by looking at their website but they have a very impressive and unique perfume selection. I didn’t have much time (I’d tested my vSO’s angelic patience more than enough by then) so I concentrated mostly on Huitième Art – the line I kept reading about but had never tested before. It is a very nice line! I didn’t test any of the perfumes on skin but found at least three I want to – Manguier Metisse, Ciel d’Airain and Ambre Ceruleen.

I haven’t bought any perfumes on my trip (traveling with just carry-on luggage helps fighting sudden perfume urges) but I think there will be at least a couple that will join my collection in future and I’ll associate them with this wonderful trip.

Have I mentioned how understanding and accommodating my vSO was? I have? I just want to say it again because I appreciate it very much. BTW, it was him who on our plane trip to NY pointed out that cartoon above from the New Yorker magazine.

NY Lady Gaga perfume ad 

Images: first one from New Yorker; the rest – my own.