Which 20 Would Portia Keep?

Hi there Crew,

Recently Undina (What Are Your Top N Perfumes?) and Tara (My Perfume Collection – Top 15) have done their “which would I keep” posts, following on from from Vanessa (‘Be more Undina’). After you’ve read this go have a squiz at theirs too. Who doesn’t love lists, right? So, I’m thinking “Damnit! I want to do this too.” It’s such a mind blowing, freak me right out, dumb assed thing to want to try because invariably my head explodes. Then the next day I instantly start second guessing my choices and that can rattle around my head for a couple of weeks before my brain lets it go. BUT! I also love doing it, just to see what my head and heart come up with this time.

Jin and I have often talked of buying a van and travelling through Europe for a couple of years. As part of that adventure my mind instantly goes to “How many perfumes would I take and which would they be?” So I’m kind of experienced at it now. Problem is some of them change, HA! Impossible, right. Usually I say 25 bottles and a bunch of samples/decants but in all honesty I think it will more likely be 10. So today I’m formalising my ideas for you all and myself. Subject to change at a moments notice.

You might want to grab a cuppa or a boozy bevy. This post is LONG! Continue reading

Portia’s Bathtime Goodies

Hi there Posse, Beauty Queens Bathe! I don’t know where I originally heard it or if it is my own invention. Either are believable. I seem to be the ONLY person on Insta who has ever used it. Thing is, it utterly describes the way I feel about baths in a tongue-in-cheek way. When you want to feel totally pampered and cleaned then full submersion with a quick rinse at the end seems perfect.

Seriously, even if it’s 1am and I’m dead tired. A good steaming hot soak in a bath full of bubbles for at least 20 minutes then sets me up to sleep deeper and wake up more refreshed, smelling gorgeous. I know it feels like a lot of work (especially at ridiculous hours) but believe me, it’s worth the effort.

Portia’s Bathtime Goodies

FRONT ROW:

Olympic Orchids Amber Labdanum Bath Oil

Want to smell and feel unbelievably gorgeous? Just a few drops in the bath. It coats my skin, and afterwards there is no need for more fragrance, especially if you are going straight to bed. You can drift off in the most delicious, lightly animal amber dreams. It also works perfectly as a fixative for and amber fragrance. I particularly love to wear Mitzah by DIOR after a bath in Olympic Orchids Amber Labdanum Bath Oil.

JOOP! Le Bain

I read a Fragrantica piece about this scent not so long ago. INSTANT lemming. So, off I went looking for some. A small bottle with shower gel was less than a regular niche 3ml decant, so I splurged. It wears like a female veering barbershop, with vanilla and flowers rather than lavender. Softly resinous and not as sweet as the base notes would suggest. I’m eeking out this shower gel because it’s so precious.

Vintage Caron Bellodgia Bath Oil

This popped up on eBay about 10 years ago, maybe more. When I bought it, I thought it was a large bottle, like 150ml. When it arrived I was totally bummed, it had been expensive and come from overseas. Then the smell hit me. O M G! One drop is all I need to put in the bath, and the whole apartment is suddenly awash in the divine smell of vintage Bellodgia. As you can see, the bottle is about halfway empty. When it’s gone, I’ll have the amazing memory of having owned such lavish luxury.

Tabu

OK, I know. This is not a big ticket item. Reminds you of great aunt Agatha who you despise. Stop your bitching a get some. FragranceNet has this regularly for under US$5 before coupon. It smells like a soft version of vintage Tabu and gives excellent bubbles. Another good base for all your ambers but also works beautifully with woods, resins and leathers.

Reem Acra

This fragrance came out to general acclaim by perfumistas in 2012. Radiant white floral with enough bells and whistles to make it interesting as well as lovely. You can buy a bottle at FragranceNet of the perfume for peanuts nowadays and stock up on Shower Gel US$4 and Body Lotion US$7 before coupon! Remember to GOOGLE FragranceNet Reem Acra 90ml and follow the link to get the 35% discount code applied. Currently you’ll get a 90ml EdP, Shower Gel and Lotion for around US$25! (Not affiliated, just LOVE DISCOUNTS!)

L’Occitane Neroli & Orchidee

The only one on my shelf I’m yet to use. It was a birthday gift, and I loved the fragrance when it came out. Will be very excited to have myself a bath in these bubbles.

BACK ROW:

Guerlain Champs Elysees Bath Balls

These are PRECIOUS! A gift from my mate Scotty a couple of years ago. I have only had two baths in them, and the smell is so damn glorious. Every time I go to use them though my TOO PRECIOUS button kicks in. Just seeing them and having them is enough.

Cuir Vetiver

Bought on one of our holidays. Can you believe Yves Rocher isn’t in Australia? I think it was a stand alone store in Budapest, and I went a bit crazy. Their product is super affordable, smells great and makes excellent gifts in a world of multinationals. One of the downside to being able to get almost everything is that it denigrates the fun of shopping overseas for friends. What’s not to love here? Leather and vetiver with a few extras for cohesion. Perfect base for Penhaligon’s Halfeti Leather, vintage Trussardi donna and YSL Jazz.

L’Artisan Premier Figuier

I seriously wish I’d bought 100 of these bottles when I saw them deep discounted as they were being phased out of Australia. I did buy about 20 with a few Chasse and Amber in the mix and then gave most of them as gifts. NOW I’m kicking myself because they are so beautiful. Fig is in a few of my favourites like Premier Figuier & Extreme, Neela Vermeire Ashoka and Mugler Womanity.

L’Artisan Caligna

I just bought a pre-loved bottle of Caligna off a friend’s FB sale doc. I’m yet to wear the fragrance over the shower gel but have high hopes for extended longevity. This is the old style bottle that I bought at the discounters a while ago. The plastic wrap had started to come apart on the box, so I took it as a sign that it wanted some use. Another fig-centric fragrance but this time with lavender and woods. This also works beautifully as a base for CHANEL Boy and Caron Pour un Homme.

LUSH Rose Jam

You all know about this ridiculously beautiful rose shower gel? It is virtually free! Of all the LUSH products Rose Jam is by far my favourite and most used. It is a rich, jammy rose and amps any rose fragrance or can be worn alone as a soft rose wash that lasts a couple of hours by itself. I’ve lost count of how many bottles of Rose Jam I’ve gone through but it must be 10 or more.

Tabac Original

This was my fathers fragrance, and this year marks 30 years since he died. When I saw this freaking enormous bottle for sale, I bought two. Of all the money spent over my life on fragrance and accoutrements Tabac Original is still one of the best scents around. Not only does it smell fantastic but nowadays it is also a rarity to smell someone wearing it. Barbershop done right.

Sea Salt Mimosa

I have a mate, Andrew, in the USA who I send stuff to, and he repacks and forwards it on. TBH I have no recollection of where I bought this and a couple of other C O Bigelow shower gels from. They do some really interesting scent combos though and give huge bubbles in the bath. This one is salty mint. YUM! The fragrance doesn’t last on skin though spa my enjoyment is bath only. This is a good thing if I don’t want my bubbles to wreck my fragrance later.

 

As you can see, I have a formidable arsenal of potions. Part of my lavish bathing adventure is picking the scent.

What do you bathe or shower with?

Portia xx

Entertaining Statistics (and Social Psychology): April 2015

Caron is one of those brands to which I had a very little exposure. So when hajusuuri decided to write about her experience with Caron boutique in New York, I started thinking about a question for this post. I entertained for a while an idea to go with the in-story question about the number of real urns vs. those in reflections but I thought that most people would get the same answer. And then I decided to expand the question beyond what could be seen on a picture. Right after I asked: “How many perfumes do you think Caron has currently in production (in all lines)?” I realized that I didn’t know the answer. I decided to take a guess. My answer was 15.

There were 22 guesses and the most popular answer was 20 (five people). Three commenters guessed 25, two – 18 and 40 and the rest of responses got one answer each.

My Stats April 2015

Several months ago Sigrun (Riktig Parfym) mentioned that she was listening to some courses on Coursera. Before then I hadn’t heard about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). I made a bookmark. Usually those bookmarks live in the browser and die without fulfilling their destiny with the move to the next computer. But this time I didn’t forget about it, checked it out later… and for the last couple of months I’ve been binge watching different courses – mostly unusable for me but interesting. If it weren’t for my work and some other commitments I would have been watching even more: those courses are addictive!

One of those impractical courses I took in the beginning was a course on Social Psychology. I liked it very much and went through almost all lectures: at some point it became too political so I skipped some of those. But mostly it was interesting.

One of the lectures – The Minimal Group: From Dots to Discrimination in 60 Seconds  – covered the topic of “ingroups” and “outgroups”, how little it takes for people to identify themselves as a part of some group and start showing in-group favoritism and outgroup derogation.

In the middle of the lecture, as a demonstration of the topic, the lecturer asked to take a look at the picture with dots for 5 seconds and, without counting, just estimate the number of dots on the screen.

Dots

Next there was a text field to which you could submit your answer and click to continue the lecture. The lecturer on the screen concluded, enthusiastically:

Congratulation! Based on your answer it looks like you are an over-estimator – and we all know it’s better to be an over-estimator than an under-estimator. Right?

Then, after a short pause, in a less cheerful, more regular tone he continued:

Well, no. We don’t. To the best of my knowledge there’s no difference in life outcome between people who overestimate or underestimate the number of dots on the screen. But what Tajfel [the researcher] found is that when people were randomly assigned to get a feedback that they were “over-estimators” or “under-estimators”, regardless of the estimates they gave people tended to show ingroup bias – the tendency to favor one’s own group over the members of the outgroup.

The experiment was lost on me: not only didn’t I feel good in those couple of seconds between the first statement and its subsequent debunking, but, on the contrary, in that short period of time I felt disappointed: I thought that I was very close to the right answer and, if anything, rather underestimated the number of dots than overestimated them. To be right was more important to me than to belong to a group.

My answer was 120. And later, when I got that picture to share with you on this post and counted, I proved to myself that I was right on both counts: I was close and my estimate was slightly lower than the reality: there are 130 dots on that picture.

Hajusuuri still hopes to get an official answer to my question from Caron and I’ll share it with you later if it arrives. But meanwhile I counted perfumes mentioned on Caron’s website (including those available only from boutiques) – 32.

I’m not asking dgambas, I know that even if he’s not feeling good yet, having guessed the right number, he’ll be in a moment when I announce that he also is a randomly (!) chosen winner of the Set 1: samples of Caron perfumes. Set 2: a sample of vintage Caron Bellodgia extrait, a sample of Serge Lutens Boxeuses AND a 4 mL decant of Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin goes to Azar. Winners, please send your mailing address to me or hajusuuri.

Caron Draw Results

I was seriously off with my guess, an under-estimator, which isn’t surprising: I’m usually very cautious. But so were most of the respondents. So now I’m curious: under-estimators, do you feel better knowing that there were 17 of us, even though we guessed wrong? Four over-estimators, you were also wrong, but do you feel special because you were more uniquely wrong? Did belonging to a group make you feel better?

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee: Caron Boutique – New York City

When I was nine, dad took my brother and I out of school to attend a pre-heavyweight boxing championship sparring match featuring Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, boxer in history. I don’t know if my mom knew we played hooky that day and since she does not read this blog, we’ll continue to keep it a secret. Although I don’t remember much about the sparring session itself, I knew that it was a privilege for me to have seen Muhammad Ali and whenever his name or the sport of boxing comes up, I think of dad and that day.

As unusual as it sounds, boxing and perfumery have some things in common: Undina wore Serge Lutens Boxeuses (female boxers in French) to fortify her before meetings and won Round One (and I bet, all rounds thereafter). Lucas over at Chemist in the Bottle wrote a review of Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin, and described the bright red boxing gloves in the ad visual as a metaphor of fighting for his dreams. Coincidentally, I happen to enjoy these two perfumes and have full bottles in my collection!

What does this have to do with Caron? For me, the classic quote by Muhammad Ali “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.” describes the textures of Caron, from the softness and barely there lightness of the down puff to the sharp spiciness of Bellodgia.

My fascination with House of Caron started a little over a year ago. My visit to the Caron boutique in New York City was prompted by reviews of Caron perfumes by Steve, blogger extraordinaire of The Scented Hound. I have never explored the brand and its perfumes; I did not even know there was a Caron boutique, the only one outside of Paris, in my own backyard! And so it was with eager anticipation that I arranged to meet a perfumista friend at the Caron boutique (715 Lexington Avenue @ 58th St. New York, NY 10022; 212-308-0270). To my surprise, my friend was waiting outside the building and she told me that the boutique closed early because of a private event at the Phyto Universe Spa, where the boutique was co-located. Determined to get the Caron experience, I went back the next day and have been back several times since then.

Hidden Caron Boutique

The boutique is on the 3rd floor of 715 Lexington, entrance on 58th Street (see an updated address in the end of the post). You will not see a Caron sign anywhere. You know you are at the right place when you see Phyto Universe. Go through the street level double door entrance; let the receptionist know you are going to the Caron boutique and head straight to the elevator to the 3rd floor. The elevator doors open to a waiting area and – TA-DA – the boutique is on the right.

If you can imagine angels heralding visually with crystals instead of blowing trumpets, it was exactly the feeling I got upon entering the boutique. The chandelier is perfectly centered between spotless right-angled mirrors and brightens the boudoir-like space. Six lion-head claw foot legs support a display counter filled with all sorts of accessories – Caron Picot travel sprays (colored glass, gold covered, Swarovski Crystal-studded in a myriad of colors), Limoges Egg perfume bottle holders, and weightless goose-down powder puffs.

Caron Boutique

Along one wall are a series of curio cabinets filled with more of the travel sprays, unusual perfume bottles and a scale model of the Baccarat Crystal urn that you can own if you have about $4,000 to spare. There are two tables with tester bottles of the Caron perfumes. Of the fragrances that are not dispensed through the urns, my favorites are: Aimez-Moi, Parfum Sacre and Montaigne. Some of the perfumes come in unusual bottles, such as the one for Lady Caron that has a cutout of the head of the Statue of Liberty on the face of the bottle and a pointed cap to represent the crown. The Caron website has several more limited editions that are worth a look.

The iconic Baccarat crystal urns are presented on top of marble pedestals at various heights, and, together with their reflection on the mirrors, makes it look like there’s double the number of urns than in reality. Take a guess at how many urns are displayed!

Caron Boutique

To satisfy my curiosity as to how the urns dispense perfume into a flacon, I decided to purchase a Caron Picot travel spray in my favorite green color. I chose N’aimez-que Moi for this experience. If you look at the gold band on the lower third of the urn, you’ll see a spigot and a swan’s head/neck. With the opening of the flacon directly beneath the center of the swan’s head, a turn of the spigot opens the tap, filling the container. Seeing my travel spray filled with haute couture perfume gave me a thrill. If I have an unlimited budget, I would probably want one of each of the urn perfumes but I want to be there when they’re filled to experience the thrill over and over again.

Caron N'aimez-que Moi

The Caron boutique is a must-see when you’re in New York City. Caron perfumes are not widely distributed and you’ll be glad you visited. For an in-depth write-up on the House of Caron, see The House of Caron: Love, War and Perfume in Fragrantica written by Michelyn Camen.

***

To continue her enabling ways, hajusuuri offers a giveaway. There will be two winners; each will get one of two sets. Set 1: samples of Caron perfumes; Set 2: a sample of vintage Caron Bellodgia extrait, a sample of Serge Lutens Boxeuses AND a 4 mL decant of Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin. This giveaway is open to everyone worldwide. The giveaway is open until 11:59PM PST on May 2, 2015. The winners will be chosen via random.org separately for each set and announced in the next statistics post. Please note that neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for replacing the samples and decants if they were to get lost or damaged.

To be entered answer the question below AND tell in what country you live.

If you do not want to participate in the draws, there’s no need mentioning the country where you live but please answer the question below for Undina’s statistics post.

We’re polling only your perception, there is no right or wrong answer so no need to run any research, do a real count or see what others have answered:

How many perfumes do you think Caron has currently in production (in all lines)?

Caron Boutique

 

Images: hajusuuri

UPDATE: (4/9/16) New address for the boutique:

One Grand Central Place
60 E 42 St  54fl
New York, New York 10165

212-308-0270
877-88-CARON