Month of Irises: Week 4 (Feb 22nd – Feb 28th)

I’ll be adding something new in the end of this post during the next 7 days. Come back whenever you remember to read something new, see what perfume I chose to wear, share your SOTD (even if it has absolutely nothing to do with irises) or just talk to me and others.

Can you believe it’s Week 4 of the Month of Irises? I still have perfumes for the next 7 days, and I’m curious to see what others find to wear.

There were no more “takers” for hosting an Iris Day so I’ll be doing all the daily updates (but if anybody wants to take over one of the remaining days, you’re still welcome).

* * *

Thursday, February 22, 2018

SOTD

I enjoyed wearing Chanel No 19 extrait so much that I decided to stay with Chanel for one more day. I will be wearing No 19 EdP.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Rusty got really interested with my origami experiments. I’ll try to add a GIF for tomorrow but meanwhile just a teaser.

 

Rusty and Origami Iris


Friday, February 23, 2018

SOTD

Following Lucas’s lead, Hedonist Iris by Viktoria Minya.

GIF OF THE DAY

If for nothing else, it was worth making those origami irises because Rusty was really taken by those. Probably I should make a couple more for him to play.

 

Rusty Playing with Origami


Saturday, February 24, 2018

SOTD

I’ve been postponing it, but it’s probably time to finish my decant of Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens. I think it is one of perfumes that has such an iconic standing that it is difficult for it to live up to itself.

WINDOW SHOPPING

Have you seen this already? A note pad from Japanese company Triad that reveals architectural models as you keep using it. I do not really use paper notes but I love the idea (and the color! and have you noticed those irises on the base?). If $123 + $21 S&H doesn’t scare you away, click on the picture to pre-order this Omoshiroi Block Japanese Landmark Memo Pad Kiyomizudera Temple, Asakusa Temple, Tokyo Tower notepad or one of several other designs (I’m not affiliated).

 

Omoshiro Block Memo Pad


Sunday, February 25, 2018

SOTD

I decided to give Iris Silver Mist one more wear. While it was nice, I don’t think I like it more than several other irises I have or tried this month. So once I finish my decant (probably one or two more times), I won’t try to get a bottle. Maybe another decant.


Monday, February 26, 2018

SOTD

I wanted to wear Purple Rain by Prada on a rainy day. Unfortunately, February this year was dry. One day when it suddenly rained, I was already wearing another perfume that was tenacious enough to last me through the day. But now we have rain forecast for this Monday, so I’ll be wearing Purple Rain. I wish I had this umbrella to accompany it:

Iris Umbrella


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

VIDEO CLIP OF THE DAY

Recently I was watching (again) Hercule Poirot series and was reminded how much I liked the song used in one of the episodes – Yellow Iris. Unfortunately, from what I managed to find, it had never been released as a stand-alone song, so all you can do is to listen to it in the clip from the episode (in which, by the way, there is a reference to the flower of the month – so I thought it was at least partially relevant). The song is beautiful, and I wanted to share it with you (and I’ll add lyrics under the video – in case some of the words are not clear in the background).

 

I’ve forgotten you,
I never think of you,
The way you walked, the way you talked, the things you used to say.

I’ve forgotten you,
I never think of you,
I couldn’t say for sure today
Whether your eyes were blue or grey.

I’ve forgotten you,
I never think of you,
Your smile, your touch,
Which meant so much,
Somewhere along the way.

I’ve forgotten you,
I never think of you,
I changed my mind , my love was blind ,
Now I’ve forgotten you.

Oh, what a lie!
I shall think of you,
Think of you,
Think of you,
Till I die

 

SOTD 2/27/2018

With just 2 days left in the month I’m going through the remaining list of my iris-centric perfumes choosing carefully what gets a wear within this project. I’m going with my first unsniffed purchaseChanel No. 19 Poudré, even though I suspect it might be a little too cold for it.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

So we are on the last day of A Month of Irises project. After it’s over, I’ll probably do a round-up post with some statistics – so please, keep going, do not give up until the end of the month (and report back).

LINKS, LINKS, LINKS

I thought it would be very fitting to finish my updates for the month of irises, rainbows and perfumes with a link to Asali’s (The Sounds of Scent) review of the legendary Iris Gris perfume – At the end of the rainbow.

 

SOTD 2/28/2018

I started this project with a list of iris perfumes that had more than 28 scents, so it is not a surprise that I had a choice of what to wear for the last day. After going back and forth between a couple of contenders, I decided that Hiris by Hermès would be a perfect conclusion for the month: it is very office-friendly (and I have some meetings in a small office), it is a classic iris perfume, it is the last perfume featured in the picture of the introductory post for this project that I haven’t worn yet, and this mini bottle was a gift from dear Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies).

 

Rusty and Iris Perfumes

 

What are you wearing today?

 

Images: memo block and umbrella – from the sites selling the products, linked (no affiliation); the rest – my own

Month of Irises: Week 1 (Feb 1st – Feb 7th)

Welcome to our Month of Irises project!

This post will be updated continuously during the next 7 days. For more details see here, but in short – come back every day to read something new I added for the day, see what perfume I chose to wear and share your SOTD.

February 1, 2018

DID YOU KNOW?

As I discovered (and more or less confirmed beyond just reading Wikipedia), it is not a coincidence that iris plant has the same name as Iris, the Goddess of the Rainbow: there is an opinion that the name refers to the wide variety of flower colors found among the many species of irises. How many? 260–300, according to the Wikipedia article in English. I’m mentioning the language because, as I noticed by browsing pages in several different languages, the number of species varies significantly from language to language (e.g., it mentions 100 in Greek, 210 in French and 800 in Russian) but only English version has citations for the numbers – so it seems the most trustworthy.

 

 

SOTD 2/1/18

I decided that it would be fitting to start this month with the perfume that serendipitously had all of the notes in my perfumista-style rainbow mnemonic:

Rose, Oakmoss, Ylang Ylang, Galbanum, Bergamot, Iris, Vetiver

As several of you correctly guessed, it is Chanel No 19 EdT. And since it’s one of those perfumes that does not require an introduction, I’ll just leave it at that.


February 2, 2018

SOTD

In how many projects can one person participate with the same perfume on the same day? My goal for today was to fit both this project and NST’s Groundhog Day community project, for which each of us is supposed to randomly choose between “winter” and “spring” perfumes, predicting that way what to expect from this winter.

Since my Winter and Spring iris perfumes come in bottles, it would have been hard to “randomize” them. Instead, I decided to trick Rusty into making that choice for me. Two balls made from tissue paper were to represent Winter (blue) and Spring (green). After careful consideration, Rusty ran away with the green ball (all pictures are from the same sequence, I didn’t touch the paper balls between shots – hover over each picture to see the steps description).

 

 

So, according to Rusty, there will be an early spring – and I’ll be wearing my “alien” Spring perfume Prada Infusion d’Iris EdP. Now let’s wait and see whether Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow.

FUN FACT

Angela Zito, a co-director of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University, screens the film for students in her Buddhism class. She said that ”Groundhog Day” perfectly illustrates the Buddhist notion of samsara, the continuing cycle of rebirth that Buddhists regard as suffering that humans must try to escape (a belief, Dr. Zito noted, that was missed by executives at Guerlain, who, searching for an exotic name, introduced a perfume called Samsara in the 1980’s, overlooking the negative connotations).

Groundhog Day is one of my all-time favorite movies. I own it on a DVD, watched it many times and plan to watch again today to celebrate this day. I expect Rusty to particularly enjoy it too since the only place I can watch it is sitting on the sofa, and he’ll get to spend the whole evening sleeping on my lap.


February 3, 2018

SOTD

Infusion d’Iris that I wore yesterday was great, and I could still smell it through the whole movie we watched but I hope not to be stuck in the same day wearing it…

I know that 6 more weeks of winter was predicted, so to everyone who suffers from cold weather, I’ll cite beautiful lines from Coleridge’s “Work Without Hope” that I noticed today for the first time in the “Groundhog Day”:

And WINTER, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

By the way, I was right: Rusty must think that this film is the best thing… OK, not ever but since Die Hard, which we watched for Christmas.

Today I plan to wear Chanel 28 La Pausa: since it’s a weekend, I plan to try “hajusuuri’s approach” – 8 sprays (or as many as I have left in my sample) to see if it sticks around (and I still can’t stop giggling at Lucas’s comment:“At least it doesn’t need 28 sprays!”).

RIDDLE 1

Saturdays are usually lazy, so I’ll leave you with a short riddle:

What do Pacific Coast, Rocky Mountain and Louisiana have in common?


February 4, 2018

RIDDLE 2

I’m not sure whether nobody saw the riddle (post updates do not trigger e-mail or other notifications, so I don’t know how many readers remember about my “rolling” post), or just wasn’t interested, or didn’t know the answer – so I’ll give the second clue, and tomorrow provide the answer.

Pacific Coast, Rocky Mountain and Louisiana have in common the same thing as Bamboo, Blood, Blue flag and White cemetery. What Is that?

SOTD 2/4/18

While 28 La Pausa was very nice and, applied with a heavy hand, stayed longer than I remembered, I’m glad to report that I do not regret not buying a bottle of EdT while I could. But still – very nice.

I plan to wear Guerlain Iris Ganache hoping that my decant is still fine – I haven’t touched it in a couple of years, which probably means that it was a good idea to buy just a small portion instead of going for a bottle. But I’ll report back.


February 5, 2018

The answer to the riddle: “What do Pacific Coast, Rocky Mountain, Louisiana, Bamboo, Blood, Blue flag and White cemetery have in common?” – these all are common names for irises.

DID YOU KNOW?

Speaking of names, did you know that there is an iris cultivar called Perfume Counter?

 

Iris

 

SOTD 2/5/18

I plan to wear Atelier Cologne Silver Iris – one more decant that I’ve been neglecting. Iris Ganache (older version, not the one re-released last year) was very pleasant but I was right: I don’t need more than I have since there are so many perfumes that I enjoy more.


February 6, 2018

LINKS, LINKS, LINKS

Silver Iris that I wore yesterday was very pleasant but … too office-friendly: not being too strong to start with (just enough oomph for me to find it interesting), it sets down to almost nothing within a couple of hours. But it seems that it behaves differently both for Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) who likes it very much and Angela (NST) who didn’t love it herself but thought it was good perfume to test for those who were “starting out on […] iris quest.”

And this is Victoria’s (Bois de Jasmin) review for Mugler’s Oriental Express – perfume that a couple of readers wore yesterday, even though it doesn’t list iris as an official note. I can confirm that from my own impression it does smell like iris.

SOTD 2/6/18

Since I have a couple of meeting during the day in a small conference room, I need something quiet – so I decided to go with Hermès Iris Ukiyoé.


February 7, 2018

The last, seventh, day of the first week of the Month of Irises. It is probably a good enough reason to have a celebratory drink…

DID YOU KNOW?

Orris root is among the most common botanicals in gin. It is used, mostly, not for its own taste profile but rather as an aromatic fixative that helps to preserve other aromas in gin.

 

Gin

SOTD 2/7/18

Iris Ukiyoé, which I wore yesterday, is probably the most floral of my iris perfumes (as tiffanie perfectly described it in her comment below – “not-iris iris perfume”). And it’s extremely quiet. So today I want something “louder.” I should probably go with Le Labo Iris 39, one of my most favorite iris perfumes.

 

What are you wearing today?

 

Images: from Wiki Commons red iris – KENPEI, orange iris – Kor!An, “green” iris – Simone; the rest – my own.

Know-How: Brands with Perfumista Size Bottles

For years I keep repeating that more brands should release their perfumes in perfumista size bottles – 10-15 ml. Of course, for somebody who has a signature scent or alternates 2-3 perfumes in their day-to-day life, 50 ml, 100 ml or even 200 ml bottles might make more sense both economically and logically. But for anybody who has been “into perfume” for at least several years, not too many perfumes warrant the vats, in which most perfumes nowadays are sold.

Sure, big bottles are great for splits; and decants are nice for getting to wear something without committing your heart or money to a full bottle. But even the best decant – with well-made labels and a good sprayer – is still not as good as a real bottle. And I suspect that, as a rule, it has a shorter shelf life, even if you use parafilm or electrical tape to prevent evaporation: the act of spraying perfume from the original bottle into a smaller receptacle introduces additional oxidation to the juice, which cannot be healthy (should we add a blueberry or two?).

For all these reasons for anything more than 3-5 ml I would rather pay extra price per ml but get a travel bottle from the brand – if the brand has that option.

Surprisingly, when it comes to niche brands, those that offer smaller sizes are still rather an exception than a rule. So I decided to put together a list of the brands that offer smaller (perfumista size) bottles of their perfumes. I won’t include links since those change but it’s easy to find them through a search engine.

Perfumista Size Bottles

The following brands have single bottles for all or most of their perfumes (bottle size is given in parentheses):

  • April Aromatics (15 ml)
  • Frederic Malle (10 ml)
  • Hiram Green (10 ml)
  • Histoires de Parfums (15 ml)
  • Le Labo (15 ml)
  • Sonoma Scent Studio (4 ml & 17 ml)
  • Jul et Mad (5 ml & 20 ml)
  • Cognoscenti (5 ml)
  • Dame Perfumery (5 ml)
  • DSH Perfumes (multiple sizes)
  • EnVoyage Perfumes (15 ml)
  • 4160 Tuesdays (9 ml)
  • Roja Dove (7.5 ml)
  • The Different Company (10 ml)
  • Puredistance (17.5ml)

Several brands have smaller sizes just for some of their perfumes:

  • Atelier Cologne (12 different perfumes in 7.5 ml at Sephora)
  • Juliette Has A Gun (4 different perfumes in 7.5 ml at Sephora)
  • Ineke (15 ml, Floral Curiosities line only)

More brands recently have introduced the “travel” option – probably as a response to the air travel regulations. Unfortunately, those come in sets either of single perfume or of pre-selected (or all) perfumes from the brand. Single perfume sets are easier for friendly splits. Mixed sets defeat the purpose: how often does someone like all the perfumes in the set? I also found two brands that offer customizable mixed travel sets.

Perfumista Size Bottles

Single perfume sets:

  • Neela Vermeire Creations (2 x 15 ml)
  • Ormonde Jayne (4 x 10 ml)
  • Amouage (3 x 10 ml)
  • By Kilian (4 x 7.5 ml)
  • Byredo (3 x 12 ml)
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian (3 x 10 ml)
  • Aedes de Venustas (3 x 7.5 ml)

Perfumista Size Bottles

Customizable mixed sets:

  • Hermès (4 x 15 ml sets for both their regular line and Hermessence)
  • Tauer Perfumes (3 x 15 ml)

Perfumista Size Bottles

Pre-set mixed perfumes sets:

  • Viktoria Minya (5 x 15 ml)
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian (8 x 10 ml)
  • Miller Harris (3 x 14 ml and 2 x 7.5 ml)
  • Aedes de Venustas (3 x 7.5 ml)

If you know any other brands that offer small bottles in one of these categories, please share in comments. And if you agree that more brands should have perfumista size bottles, keep repeating that whenever you publish a review on your blog or comment on perfume reviews and discussions on blogs, forums, FB or Twitter. Somebody might be reading…

Rusty and NVC Pichola

Updates from comments:

  • Maria Candida Gentile (7 ml and 15 ml single bottles)
  • Zoologist (11 ml single bottles)
  • Parfums MDCI (5 x 10 ml customizable set)
  • Memo (3 x 10 ml same perfume set)
  • Imaginary Authors (14 ml single bottles)
  • Maison Anonyme (10 ml single bottles)
  • Olympic Orchids (5 ml and 15 ml single bottles)
  • Soivohle (10 ml single bottles)
  • Ormonde Jayne (10 ml single bottles if you call)
  • Profvmvm Roma (18 ml single bottles for some of their scents)

Images: my own

Secret Admirer, or In the Search for the Perfect Narcissus

When I was growing up, International Women’s Day, March 8th, was a good holiday: unlike most other holidays, it was a non-political one (well, almost); it was a non-discriminatory celebration (it didn’t matter if you were young or old, single or in relationships, with or without kids); and it was a public holiday, so nobody had to work or go to school.

Back then this holiday was like a combination of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day but for women only. In days before the holiday, people would have a potluck lunch/happy hour at work; boys would bring sweets and flowers to girls in their class; there were special programs on TV and radio. On the day itself families or friends would have a celebratory dinner or a party. Husbands, sons, fathers, partners, male friends and co-workers would be presenting women in their lives with flowers and, sometimes, gifts. And did I mention it was a day off?

I was fourteen or fifteen. At that time I didn’t have a boyfriend, so on March 8 I spent half the day out with friends. When I came home, I found there a bouquet of narcissuses waiting for me. My mom told me that some boy dropped them off for me. She didn’t recognize him (it meant he wasn’t from my class since she knew all of them), he didn’t tell his name, and there was no card. Since flowers were expensive at that time of the year and not that easy to get, I was sure it wasn’t a practical joke of any kind. So I was intrigued and thrilled: I had an actual secret admirer out there! You normally read about it in books or see it in movies, it doesn’t happen in real life!

For the next month or so I was trying to figure out who that might be, waiting for him to make the next move, hoping it would be somebody I liked.

Narcissuses

This story doesn’t have an ending – happy or otherwise: nobody ever admitted bringing me that bouquet. But several decades later I still remember those flowers better than I remember many dozens of bouquets I got over years from people I knew and loved.

* * *

After I moved to the U.S., I stopped celebrating International Women’s Day. But since I enjoyed so much our recent Month of the Roses project, I decided to run on my own a mini-project for the first week of March – Week of Narcissuses.

I didn’t realize I liked narcissus in perfumes until I started noticing it again and again in the notes lists of my favorite perfumes. Climat, Miss Dior, Chanel No. 19 – these all have narcissus. But this week I focused on perfumes, in which I thought that note was more prominent.

Hermès Eau de Narcisse Bleu attracted my attention (see Birgit’s review) because it had galbanum and narcissus, and it came in a blue bottle. It is a true spring perfume with wonderful combination of greenness, blossoms and wood. My 15 ml bottle looks cute and will probably serve me for a while.

If Penhaligon’s The Revenge Of Lady Blanche perfume’s opening stage would hang around for at least 2-3 hours, I would have probably be contemplating the purchase of that 75 ml bottle – I love the opening that much (panther head top doesn’t hurt either). But [un]luckily, the opening gorgeousness disappears within the first 30 minutes, if not faster, which would probably justify the size of the bottle but not its price. But you should definitely try this perfume to experience a beautiful combination of iris and narcissus. Galbanum is not one of the notes either listed or mentioned by anybody else, so if I were you I wouldn’t trust my nose, but I smell galbanum there as well.

I sought and tried Parfums DelRae Wit because it had Daphne – my dream note in perfume. While it smelled nothing like Daphne odora blossom, in general it was pleasant enough for me to go for a decant. It’s a beautiful spring bouquet with narcissus prominent enough to fit into this quest for the perfect narcissus. I wish DelRae would finally release their perfumes in 15 ml bottles: I would buy Wit and at least one more perfume from the line in a heartbeat!

I have strange relationships with Tom Ford Jonquille de Nuit: when I wear it, I think that I like it – but then I never choose to wear it unless it’s for some special reason like comparing it to other perfumes, doing a brand week or, like now, for the Single Note Exploration series. Jonquille de Nuit is very floral, with a prominent narcissus note, but despite that it doesn’t read like early spring when blossom aroma interweaves with greenery and earthy scents but rather a warm pre-summer bouquet with everything in full bloom.

Both Yosh White Flowers and Jo Loves No. 42 The Flower Shop I wore from samples. I had White Flowers for years, tested it briefly and completely forgot about it. Recently when I decided to send one of the two vials of White Flowers to a parfumista friend, I tested them to make sure they didn’t turn and was amazed at how much I liked it. It smells beautifully of a lot of flowers, and so does The Flower Shop sample, which I have “on loan” (for testing) from another parfumista friend, and which, in my opinion, is one of the cases of the name perfectly fitting the scent. These two perfumes are different bunches of flowers – thus have different aromas but they both have a similar feeling of the presence of that bunch, and I like both scents. Enough to do anything about it? I’m not sure but I plan to do more testing.

It was Penhaligon’s Ostara that reminded me about my secret admirer and gave me the idea of doing post for this note. This perfume actually epitomizes narcissus flower for me: it’s sunny, and bright, and happy, and uncomplicated. It doesn’t come even close to be worth Penhaligon’s full price but last year’s sale deals invited Ostara into many homes, from what I’ve read on different perfume forums. I bought a bottle for myself. I bought another bottle as a present to my friend. I enjoy wearing Ostara as my spring perfume, and this year I wore it as an anti-#BeBoldForChange: even though it’s not my holiday any longer, I refuse to politicize it because it’s still a nice and loved holiday in my native country. I am a feminist the other 364 days of the year; I do not have anything to fight for on this one extra day.

Rusty And Narcissuses

Do you like narcissuses – in perfumes or in a vase? Did you ever have a secret admirer? Have you ever been one?

 

Images: my own

A Month of Roses: Conclusion, Statistics and the Draw Winner

It was a great month filled with great perfumes. I’m so glad Lucas came up with this idea. While I’m not sure I’m ready to do another month of any particular note, I’m thinking about a couple of note-themed weeks (and even doing one already – but that’s the topic for the next post).

Peach Rose

Rose Perfumes for Week 4

February 22: Le Jardin Retrouvé Rose Trocadéro

A beautiful and extremely realistic in the opening rose. And it has my favorite black currant. I like it and actually plan to wear my sample, which I don’t do too often. But I’m not sure if I want more: it’s a rose soliflore, and it comes only in a HUGE 125 ml bottle. But it’s very nice, and I recommend testing this perfume if you get a chance.

February 23: Keiko Mecheri Mogador

I was supposed to wear another perfume but I couldn’t find the sample in the morning, so I decided to wear Mogador again. Loved it.

February 24: Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme

I had a large sample of Rose Anonyme, which I was testing periodically when I wanted to compare it to something else. When I scheduled it for wearing, I didn’t realize how little I had left in my sample. When I applied it first, very sparingly, I thought that I didn’t like it at all and was surprised since I remembered liking it more. But in the evening when I didn’t try to save it and put on the remains of my sample, it smelled much better – the way I remembered it from before. But I don’t think I need more Rose Anonyme in my life.

Rusty and Ineke Scent Library

February 25: Ineke Briar Rose

This is the only perfume from Ineke’s Floral Curiosities Collection, for which I do not have a travel bottle-book. It wasn’t by choice: they didn’t have it on sale at the time when I bought the other four, mostly just to have those “books.” But I had a sample in the set (the one, with which Rusty is playing on the picture above). I didn’t remember what I thought about Briar Rose but I remembered that Blacknall (aperfumeblog by Blacknall Allen) liked this perfume enough to go through the full bottle at some point. So I decided to give it a go. It’s not bad but I won’t want to wear it.

February 26: April Aromatics Rosenlust

One more change of plans: I got this sample with my purchase and wanted to re-test it. It’s a lemony rose – very natural and beautiful. But it’s just a rose. With many other rose-centric perfumes in my collection Rosenlust does not cross that line from “nice to have” to “need to have.”

Roses

February 27: Lancome Mille et Une Roses

This is one of my favorite perfumes; I enjoy wearing it every time. And I love its color. A couple of years ago I paired it with the second equation in my post A Simple Equation Or In the Search for the Perfect Rose.

February 28: Hermès Rose Ikebana

I left Rose Ikebana for the last day of the month because I thought it would be warm by then. I was wrong. We are having an unusually cold for our area winter (not that I’m complaining: it’s nice for a change; and it comes with long-expected rain), so Rose Ikebana was a little too light for the weather. But it still wore nicely.

February Statistics

Rose perfumes I wore: 27 (but two of them I wore twice)

Rose perfumes I tested: 5 (yes, it wasn’t enough that I wore a rose-centric perfume each day, I managed to test 5 more rose perfumes during that month)

Samples finished: 4

New bottles of rose perfumes: 1 (bought); 3 (being considered)

23 people left 75 comments for the Month of Roses posts. 34 of those comments had mentioning of the rose perfumes worn in the spirit of the Month of Roses – and, as I promised, they all were included into the draw for two bars of local artisan chocolates.

And the Winner is…

According to random.org, the winner is the most diligent commenter – hajusuuri! Congratulations! Now it’s your time to choose whether you want two bars of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or one of each.

Chocolate Fountain

Shall we do it again next year?

 

Images: my own

Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other

I don’t know why stores keep changing floor plans or re-arrange goods on the shelves. I know that there are numerous studies on the psychology of a shopper, on focal points of layouts and foot paths of the people flow. But, provided that the first (or second, or third) time around the store did follow all the best recommendations in their floor plan design, are there people who actually buy more as a result of these subsequent revamps? For me it’s always a hassle to find to where a brand or a type of items I’m looking for has been moved: when I know what I want/need to buy, I prefer to go directly to where that “what” is; and when I’m in the explorative mode, I’ll go around just checking out everything without being forced into doing that while looking for the item, for which I came.

Order of the Addends

Recently one of our local Neiman Marcus stores, after “being open during the construction,” finally reopened completely reworked beauty & fragrance section. After the renovation they’ve introduced several brands previously not available at that location – Byredo, Armani Prive and MFK, which is good. But it seems I cannot find some of the previously available brands, and since the layout changed, I’m not sure if they stopped carrying those, or if I just don’t see them. Since all I want is to sniff new offerings and I doubt I’ll be buying anything there, I’m reluctant to ask – so a couple of times I just left feeling slightly annoyed.

When I visited the store after the renovation, one section just jumped at me: Hermès. I think they always had that brand just scattered among others (I vaguely remember seeing some of the perfumes in the store before), but now it’s a big designated counter with all non-boutique perfumes (I had a hope that they might carry Hermessence line – but no). On that counter – for the first time at a retail store – I saw Rocabar. The bottle was different from the one I knew (it’s now a part of the latest repackaged set of perfumes with ugly plastic caps), but it was there on the counter! I immediately sprayed it on a paper strip … and didn’t recognize the perfume. “Reformulated! They’ve changed it!!!” – I announced with dismay… to my vSO and proceeded with getting a sample to properly test it at home.

***

For the first time I approached Hermès perfumes probably about 15 years ago. At that point I didn’t know much about that house in general, be that their perfumes or anything else. I am not sure if I even knew there was anything else: the brand didn’t make it behind the iron curtain while I was growing up and then, when I moved to the U.S., for a while luxury brands weren’t much on my radar.

I don’t remember which perfumes I tried then, but I assume those were whatever big department stores carried at the time. 24 Faubourg? Caleche? Rouge Hermes? I’m not sure but I didn’t like any of those and decided that this brand wasn’t for me.

Hermes Rocabar

I smelled Rocabar while visiting friends in Germany. Either my friend wore it, or it was a sample that his wife got with some other purchase, but I liked the perfume and returned home with that sample. Rocabar was so much better than all other perfumes my vSO was wearing at the time that it was a very short path from a sample to a full bottle. For several years Rocabar was my vSO’s “dress-up” perfume, and I loved it on him. Later it took a back seat to other great perfumes “we” added to his perfume wardrobe, so the remains of the last bottle stayed hidden in the drawer unused – until I got it to run an impostor shaming parallel test.

***

The conclusion? After years of wearing and testing great perfumes, I am not in love with Rocabar any longer, but I like it enough to still want to smell it on my vSO from time to time. But with two perfumes on my wrists – old and new – I couldn’t tell the difference… Well, not exactly… These two are slightly different but, for my uneducated nose, the difference is not such that I couldn’t explain it by the age of the original bottle. And, frankly, I can’t say that I like one of them more or less than the other. So it must have been that cheap plastic top of the new bottle that suggested the reformulation to my untrained nose.

Rusty and Hermes RocabarIf you haven’t read before about the meaning of the name and are curious why Hermes chose this unusual packaging approach, which Rusty liked so much, read Kevin’s (NST) review here.

In the Search for the Perfect Lavender

Because of the perfume, war clearly was on my mind that day.

When in my office’s vestibule I almost ran into a guy carrying a long box, my thoughts immediately went to the mall scene from Terminator 2:

I’d never seen him in our building before so I was suspicious:

– I hope it’s not a shotgun in there…
– ???
– In the box…
– Oh, no. Those are just fluorescent light tubes.
– Ah, I see. That’s reassuring.

We smiled at each other and, as I passed him, he dropped casually:

– Nice perfume!
– Thank you!

I was wearing Lieber Gustav 14 by Krigler. You might wonder how the perfume, notes of which include lavender, black tea, tonka bean, geranium, leather and sandalwood, prompted those violent thoughts.

I could have told you that it was because the perfumer created Lieber Gustav in memory of his daughter’s fiancé who had been killed in WWI.

Or I could have drawn a complex association “Lieber Gustav” -> “Ach, du lieber Augustin” song that in the war mythology with which I grew up stereotyped fascists played on their harmonicas during WWII. Or…

But everything was much simpler: I chose Lieber Gustav as a perfume for the NTS’s Gender Wars Friday community project.

Krigler Lieber Gustav

While in the U.S. lavender is one of the most ubiquitous scents used in … everything (alongside with lemon/citrus, strawberry and rose), it wasn’t cultivated or widely used where I lived as a child. So until I moved to the U.S. in my late 20s the only thing I knew about lavender was the word itself. I’m not sure if that played any significant role in my affection towards lavender. Or maybe it was thanks to Yves Rocher‘s lavender oil that I used on pulse points when I or my vSO couldn’t sleep – and it seemed to help. Or was it a wonderful gift from a friend – “Do not Disturb” Lavender Spa Relaxation Heat Wrap* – that over years soothed many of my pains and left me feeling warm about that scent? Whatever it was, I like the smell of lavender – in body products, sachets and even food. I was surprised when I realized that I also enjoy lavender in perfumes.

Rusty and Krigler Lieber Gustav

In perfumes that I like lavender can’t be too “simple”: both Yves Rocher’s and Demeter‘s lavender scents went directly to the linen closet.

For a while I thought I liked Brin de Réglisse from the Hermessense collection. I even bought a travel bottle. Unfortunately the first couple of hours of licorice are killing it for me since I strongly dislike licorice in any form. By the time it subsides enough for me to tolerate it (or maybe I just get used to it), like most perfumes from this line it’s barely noticeable on my skin. I should probably consider Brin de Réglisse as my first official “albatross” (© Olfactoria).

Before I tried Lieber Gustav 14, I didn’t know anything about either that perfume or that brand. I didn’t know the perfume had lavender as one of the main notes. A friend of mine gave me a sample and offered a bigger decant later from her bottle if I liked it, in which she wasn’t sure since Lieber Gustav isn’t too popular in the Perfumeland. It was love at the first sniff! I decided not even to go through that illogical stage of getting a decant but saving the last couple of drops and not using it up completely and at the same time not buying a bottle because decant hasn’t been finished yet.

With just the right combination of lavender, leather and woodsy notes Lieber Gustav is a truly unisex perfume. Leather in this perfume isn’t harsh or strong but it’s definitely leather, not suede. Lavender is aromatic but not medicinal. It’s the second perfume in my collection that I equally love on me and on my vSO (I haven’t tried it on Rusty).

Rusty and Krigler Lieber Gustav

Serge LutensGris Clair is another lavender perfume that I like. In several reviews (both positive and negative) Gris Clair was called cool or even cold, which was very surprising to me because it wasn’t how I perceived this perfume. It smelled like lavender and heated… heated… but what? Not soil or grass or road – something cleaner. For a long time it bothered me that I could distinctively smell a certain note but even though the recognition was on the tip of my tongue (nose?) it kept slipping away. And then I found and re-read Christos’ (Memory of Scent) review of Gris Clair. He called it “hot iron note.” Of course! It’s exactly what I smell. And since I like ironing (yes, I know how strange it sounds for most people), I’m not surprised my small decant is almost empty. I’m not sure though what to do next: I recently tried another Luten’s lavender perfume – Fourreau Noir – and liked it even more than I like Gris Clair. And since it’s a bell jar perfume, I should probably save my lavender-allocated budget for it and get my hot iron note directly from the source.

Serge Lutens Fourreau Noir

Do you like lavender? Do you wear lavender-centered perfumes?

Images: all but the special edition Fourreau Noir – my own

* Do not Disturb wrap on the pictures is the “second generation”: after I wore out the first one I bought a new one here (I’m not affiliated).

In the Search for the Perfect Grapefruit

 

I think I was about ten years old when grapefruits first appeared in our grocery stores. Nobody knew exactly what they were but the rumor had it they were a hybrid of orange and lemon. Since beside those two the only other citrus known to the population was mandarin, the information didn’t seem all that absurd.

Masses hadn’t appreciated the novelty: even though it was bigger than an average orange it was too bitter. The idea to peel each wedge didn’t occur to people at first and once it did seemed like too much work.

Fruits were scarce and expensive and there were hardly any I didn’t like. So I liked grapefruits as well.

Rusty and Pomelos

Since then I’ve tried many more different varieties of citrus including grapefruit’s real parent pomelo but grapefruit is still one of my favorite fruits and I enjoy it in many forms.

 

Perfumes

This is a perfume blog so I’ll start with the perfume-related part (though for whatever reason – holidays? – my thoughts are all over the place). Grapefruit is a popular note in both supporting and leading roles so I am not trying to cover even all grapefruit perfumes that I’ve ever tested and still have samples of but will mention only several in-you-face grapefruit fragrances that I liked the most.

Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune by Guerlain is probably one of the best-known grapefruit perfumes. If you want a real review, I suggest reading Suzanna’s (Bois de Jasmine) five-star rated review. If you’re familiar with the perfume, I recommend reading Vanessa’s (Bonkers about Perfume) post Bonkers “In Edinburgh”: The Guerlain Pamplelune Sniff-Off And A Bid To Rescue Birgit’s Grapefruit Scent Squeeze – just for laughs. I like Pamplelune and two mini bottles will satisfy my grapefruit cravings for a while. Once they are gone I suspect I’ll want more.

Guerlain Pamplelune

Not surprisingly, Grapefruit by Jo Malone is the second perfume that comes into the conversation every time somebody raises the topic of perfumes with the homonymous note. Gaia (The non-Blonde) in her review was even more generous towards this perfume than I would have been: I think it’s nice but not interesting enough to tolerate the usual Jo Malone perfumes’ vanishing act and too expensive to use it in, again, usual for the brand’s DIY layering games. But I love Jo Malone’s Grapefruit Body & Hand Wash Gel. My travel-sized bottle is gone so now I’m thinking about buying the real bottle. I do not like the price but I enjoyed taking showers with that gel so much that I might just take the plunge.

JM Grapefruit‘s half-sibling, Pomelo by Jo Loves… (same perfumer but different brand and relations become even murkier if to consider fruits themselves), starts like a juicy grapefruit (well, technically pomelo but those two are close enough) but the drydown on my skin is very similar to the older brother’s one. And with an even higher sticker price this one isn’t making it into my collection. For real review of Jo Loves… Pomelo read Lucas’ (Chemist in the Bottle) post.

Another half-sibling, Assam & Grapefruit by Jo Malone (same brand but different perfumer), much more subtle with grapefruit, was a limited edition a couple of years ago (it’s still available online) so even though I have a bottle of it and wear it in summer from time to time, I don’t think it’s special enough to recommend hunting for it.

Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermès in its opening is an unmistakably grapefruit perfume. Every time I try it, for the first couple of minutes I have to hold myself from leaking my wrist – so believable Eau de Pamplemousse Rose smells of sweet and juicy grapefruit! But then it dries down to a floral skin scent. It’s pleasant but the only reason I might go for a small bottle is because I like those colored bottles from the line. Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) thinks that Eau de Pamplemousse Rose can be trusted to revive the spirits, even if the rain keeps falling.

Rusty and Guerlain Pmplelune 

Drinks

I’m not a tea connoisseur (so if you are please disregard this part of my post) but I like tea and throughout the years I found different teas that I enjoy drinking. One of such teas is Lupicia Grapefruit Green tea. It’s very fragrant and has a very believable grapefruit smell. I bought this tea more than once which I do only with teas that I really liked – otherwise I just move on.

 

Food

Several years ago at Out The Door restaurant in San Francisco I ate Jicama and Grapefruit Salad with Red Cabbage, Candied Pecans and Sweet Soy Dressing salad. It was created by a known master chef Charles Phan (Slanted Door). I liked it and started making a variation of it at home. You can simplify the preparation by buying candied pecans instead of making your own. I found a blog with detailed instructions and pictures for this salad, so I won’t reproduce it here but rather give you a link.

 

Do you like grapefruits?

 

 

Images: my own

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

In the Search for the Perfect Fig

I love figs. Everybody who lives in my house loves figs including my cat Rusty. When he was six months old once he stole a piece of fig with goat cheese on it and tried to run away. His mouth was hardly big enough to hold his loot, I don’t know why he didn’t just lick cheese off it, but he ran as fast as he could while holding on to that fig. In the end he dropped it but still managed to eat cheese.

Several weeks ago after reading one of the fig perfumes reviews, I realized that even though I love and eat figs in all possible ways – fresh fruits, fig gem, fig yogurt, fig balsamic vinegar or chocolate covered figs – I can’t imagine how figs smell. I know what is considered a fig scent in perfumery – personal and home ambiance fragrances, candles or soaps – but I couldn’t remember a scent of an actual fruit.

I tried to rectify the situation but a fig season was suddenly over, figs disappeared from the farmer’s market and those I found in a store didn’t smell.

Fig on a treeOn my recent trip to Sonoma I found a fig tree that still had some fruits. I took a picture (see on the left), picked the fig, bit it, sniffed it and then ate completely. I couldn’t smell much. Either it was a wrong fig or maybe I’m anosmic to some component of this particular scent but I could vaguely smell some rather vegetal aroma – and that was it. I wouldn’t want to wear that scent realistically recreated as a perfume. Probably I’ll have to settle for eating figs without a smell and smelling their perfume version.

On the way home I stopped by Sonoma Scent Studio and bought a perfect example of such perfume version.

Fig Tree by Sonoma Scent Studio – created in 2011 by Laurie Erickson, notes include green fig, vanilla, cedar, patchouli, tonka and musk.  I loved the scent the first time I smelled it from a sample and knew I would get it for my collection. For real reviews read EauMG. But I want to recommend trying this perfume even to those who used to have problems with SSS’s base: in my opinion, Fig Tree is very different from other Sonoma Scent Studio’s perfumes. It’s sheer enough to be worn in warmer weather but, at the same time, has enough substance for the colder months. I got a very stylish 5 ml purse spray and it’ll do for now: Fig Tree has a fair tenacity on my skin (3-4 hours). For me Fig Tree is a perfect fig perfume.

I also bought a jar of Fig Tree Shea Body cream. It smells exactly the same as the perfume. I enjoy the texture of the cream but since I do not like to use scented body product too often (it’s too much of a commitment for me) I started using Fig Tree shea butter as my hand cream before I go to bed. I think Sonoma Scent Studio’s body products will make great gifts for somebody to whom you want to give a scented present but not sure about their perfume tastes.

Fig Tree perfume and cream by Sonoma Scent StudioOther perfumes with a prominent fig note:

Ninfeo Mio by Annick Goutal – created in 2009 by Isabelle Doyen, notes include citron, lemon, petitgrain, bitter orange, galbanum, lavender, lentisque, fig, lemon wood and musk. I read many positive reviews before I got to try Ninfeo Mio. I liked that matte green bottle and really hoped to like the perfume. I didn’t. I approached it several times: it smells very nice on a blotter. But Ninfeo Mio is one of those Annick Goutal’s perfumes that I just cannot stand on my skin. I was so upset by that fact that I even gave away my sample. Of course, now, when stores around do not carry it any more, I started having doubts: should I test it again? Will I like it more if I try it now? I will test it again one day (it is a beautiful bottle…)

Birgit from Olfactoria’s Travels had similar but milder reaction but for Robin from NST Ninfeo Mio worked much better.

Un Jardin en Méditerranée by Hermès – created in 2003 by Jean-Claude Ellena, notes include fig woods and leaves, orange blossom, bergamot and white oleander. If one good thing came out of my trying Ninfeo Mio resolutely, it was that I finally came around to liking Un Jardin en Mediterranee. It’s not the most straight-forward connection: I just happened to test these too in parallel. I thought they had something in common and while testing I discovered that this Ellena’s creation develops very nicely on my skin. I might even pick up a small bottle of Un Jardin en Mediterranee eventually.

This is Birgit’s review that inspired me to test Un Jardin en Mediterranee again.

Green FigWild Fig & Cassis by Jo Malone – created in 2002 by Jo Malone, notes include cassis, cherry, grass, hyacinth, cyclamen, jasmine, pine tree, patchouli, cedar, amber and musk. That was the second full bottle from Jo Malone line that I added to my collection. It was the first fig perfume I’d ever smelled so it might influence me but Wild Fig & Cassis is probably my most favorite fig fragrance as of now (followed by Fig Tree). I think it is underappreciated. It’s interesting and complex enough to stand in the same line with other more popular fig perfumes. Wild Fig & Cassis is a green and slightly bitter fragrance. I do not detect any sweetness but YMMV since I’m known for not smelling some sweet notes where others get an overdose.

Philosykos by Diptyque – created in 1996 by Olivia Giacobetti, notes include fig tree leaves, wood and white cedar. I know that this one is almost an iconic fig fragrance; Philosykos gets mentioned every time when fig in perfumes is discussed. I was inclined to like it long before I tried it. Then I bought a sample. It is a nice perfume. But it’s a little too… flat(?) for my taste. And a little sweeter than I’d like it to be. So while appreciating this perfume I don’t think I’ll even use up my sample.

For real (and positive) reviews read NST and Olfactoria’s Travels (Birgit also reviews here two other fig fragrances which I haven’t tried).

Winter FigWomanity and Womanity Taste of Fragrance (Le Goût du Parfum) by Thierry Mugler – created in 2010 and 2011 correspondently, notes include citrus notes, green notes, fig, caviar accord, animal notes, aquatic notes, woodsy notes, oriental notes and sunny notes (whatever it means) – for the original Womanity and some marketing variations on the same notes plus “fig chutney” for Womanity Le Goût du Parfum. I find this perfume (well, both of them since after testing them in parallel several times I do not see much difference between them in 15 minutes of wearing) very interesting and unusual. I read many negative reviews and I tried Womanity again and again in spite of them. It smells… interesting. I think Thierry Mugler again managed to create something different, maybe not as revolutionary as Angel but still original enough. But I do not want to wear it. I thought I wanted to buy a small bottle of either version of Womanity for my collection but then after reading Ari’s review and testing both perfumes again I realized I wouldn’t wear any of them.

What is your favorite fig perfume? If you reviewed any of these or other fig-centric perfumes feel free to give a link to you post.

Images: first two my own; last two by a friend of mine lyukum