A Simple Equation Or In the Search for the Perfect Rose

I deadened
The sounds, dissected music like a corpse,
Proved harmony by algebra. And then,
Then only did I dare, with all my lore,
Yield to the bliss of my creative fancy.
A. Pushkin, Mozart and Salieri

In celebration of this Valentine’s Day I brought you a bouquet of the rose stories. They all can be described by a simple linear equation:
Ax + ByWhere x is “a single rose stem” and y is “a colored glass container.” Changing parameters A and B I got three different results.

Ax + By = A Genetic Mystery

One of the rose bushes in my grandmother’s garden bloomed with big dark red flowers with velvety petals. They had a very light and unremarkable aroma but were extremely beautiful and, judging by the reaction of grown-ups, very rare. I don’t remember seeing anywhere else such roses. Or apples, apricots, cherries, tomatoes and many other agricultural wonders. It was a matter of fact that most of my classmates, who was growing in the big city without any relatives in villages or smaller towns, had never seen fruits or vegetables of that quality. But as a child I had never thought of how it came that my grandparents, who lived in a small town in a single family house with some land, had the best produce in the neighborhood where everybody grew those plants – I just was very proud of it. Now I realize that they both were big enthusiasts who were actively seeking good cultivars for plants they wanted to grow and spent a lot of time taking care of them. It was their hobby and they did it in addition to their regular jobs – he was a plant foreman and she was a surgical nurse. And probably thanks to their avocation, unlike many kids, I grew up loving fruits. But I was talking about roses.

As many beautiful things are, this rose was very fickle: it didn’t want to propagate through the cuttings. It didn’t reject the idea outright but it never produced the offspring of the same deep color. From everything I know about this method, it shouldn’t have happened but I saw it once with my own eyes and heard my grandmother’s neighbors and friends’ complaints that their new roses weren’t the same as on my grandmother’s rosebush. Of course, they didn’t grow to be yellow roses with divine scent but you would not be confused that they came from another bush. The picture below is the closest to the color I remember but the shape was different.

Dark Red Rose

A = “dark red”, B = “painted mason jar”: “A single stem of the dark red rose from Grandma’s bush under a painted mason jar” = an unexplainable evolution phenomenon.

Perfume to match: Amouage Lyric. When I wear this perfume I think of the beautiful and capricious rose that I saw last several decades ago and still remember. I wonder if a bottle in RL has that nice deep red color as on pictures. I think it’ll look nice on my shelf…

 

Ax + By = Lesson Learned

The second variety that grew in Grandma’s garden was a Tea Rose. Whereas it didn’t look as gorgeous as the whimsical dark red one it smelled wonderful and I remember it being used in conserves and home-made liqueurs. Have you ever tried rose petal conserve? The taste is nice but not too interesting: it is mainly sugar syrup with rose flavor. But the texture is very unusual: petals get soft during the cooking but they keep some residual firmness. Natural home-made rose petal conserves have light amber color and taste better than they look.

If instead of cooking rose petals were left to ferment (I saw the process many times but was too little to remember the sequence of adding water and sugar) and later fortified with alcohol, the result was a very tasty and beautiful dark-pink colored liqueur. I was allowed to taste some before Grandma would add alcohol.

One of the first perfume experiences in my life was using rose oil. I don’t remember if it was available where I lived but in the smaller town where I spent summers at my grandparents’ you could buy a tiny 1 ml vials on a card with Bulgarian Rose Oil. It wasn’t too expensive: I think you could have it for the price of two ice cream cones. But one can be expected to forfeit only that many ice cream cones…

Tea rose in the garden smelled very similar to the last drop of the rose oil in my vial and since I observed my grandmother’s dealing with all those petals – how hard could it be to make my own perfume?! I picked the most scent rich flower from the bush, tore off the petals, put them in a small cobalt glass jar (somehow I knew that it shouldn’t be transparent) and left for several days to steep. It smelled rather nice during the first day and I had high hopes for the end product… When a week later my grandmother explained (as much as she could – I was 10) the disappointing result of my experiment and bought me another rose oil vial, she allowed me to throw away the jar without trying to clean it. It was the last time in my life when I experimented with making my own perfumes.

Lancome Mille et Une Roses

A = “tea rose”, B = “cobalt glass jar”: “tea rose steeped for a week in a cobalt glass jar” = I still love blue bottles but will stick to buying “ready-to-wear” perfumes.

Perfume to match: Lancôme Mille et Une Roses. Many years ago a friend shared with me a decant of this perfume. She said it wasn’t as good as the original 2000 et Une Rose but I liked it. Since then I’ve added a bottle to my collection. The color of the juice mesmerizes me and even though real blue color is unobtainable for the roses (we won’t count dyed white ones or genetically engineered with blueish hue), the beautiful peppery rose of Mille et Une Roses doesn’t smell artificial.

Ax + By = An Improvised Holiday Decoration

When moving overseas with limited luggage allowance one has to choose carefully what to pack and what to leave behind. Among other things, bringing which was completely out of question, were vases with which I grew up. Those were massive cut crystal vases that alone would have sent our suitcases into the excess baggage category.

When it’s your first apartment in the new country and you need to buy pots and pans and plates and cutlery and bedding and … everything, vases aren’t high on the list. So at least for the first several years the only vases I had were those free ones that came with premade bouquets. One day when I came across Moselland Cat Bottle Riesling, I bought two bottles – white and black – just for bottles themselves. Wine was perfectly drinkable (back then, I’m not sure if I would think so today) and bottles moved with me as we changed apartments.

Rose in a Cat Vase

With A = “red” and B = “white cat bottle” you get “red rose in a white cat bottle” – a romantic single rose bouquet, which is good for any occasion but especially for Valentine’s Day. A = “black artificial” and B = “black cat bottle” result in the perfect Halloween decoration.

Perfume to match: Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Amour. It is not a big favorite in the Perfumeland, you’ll find maybe a couple of reviews and those aren’t too glowing. But I loved it the first time I smelled it in the store, tested it for a while, bought a bottle six months later (which is really fast for me) and enjoy wearing it almost every time I put it on (it doesn’t work in hot humid weather).

There are many other rose perfumes that I like and wear so one day I’ll add their stories to the bouquet. What about you? Do you have any rose [perfume] stories to share?

 

Images: dark red rose from here, all others my own.

Four Stories for the Fourth Anniversary

I love special occasions – birthdays, holidays and other revelries so I’m glad to have an extra reason to be festive – the fourth anniversary of Undina’s Looking Glass. Come over, let’s celebrate.

Happy Anniversary

For the previous anniversaries I told the stories of this blog’s name (and how Undina came to be) and of my falling down the rabbit hole. Today I decided to do a little show & tell session. I bribed Rusty with several treats to help me.

Rusty and Paris-Paris Bottle

This was my first ever bottle of perfume. It was a gift but I can’t remember from whom – my grandmother or my father (I think it was from one of them). I was probably 13 when I got it. I had some vials of perfume oils before as well as was allowed to (or not but still did) use my mother’s perfumes but this was my own bottle. Actually, it was a set – perfume and deodorant. The name was Paris-Paris. No brand. It was a bright floral scent, I liked it very much and used often while the bottle was full. Deodorant went first. Then the perfume was nearing the end and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get another one (perfumes weren’t easily available for purchase even if I could save enough money from my allowance). So I started saving it and would wear Paris-Paris once in a while, for special occasions. During a summer break, when I was away on a trip, my mom used up the remaining drops of it. Back then I was very upset. Now, looking back, I smile softly: not only because I realize that my mother, not having her own perfume at the time, got some enjoyment from using mine, but also because I find some poetic justice in that: as a child I wasted enough of her precious perfumes. And not only for scenting love letters… Over the years I tried looking for this perfume but with the name Paris-Paris and no brand name… Have you ever seen that bottle or know anything about this perfume?

Rusty and Climat Bottle

With the story of Climat by Lancome I started this blog. On the picture above is that first bottle that my grandmother gifted to me when I was 16 or 17. When I moved to the U.S. years later, I left the empty bottle behind but brought it back with me (together with other bottles featured in this post) a couple of years ago when I went visiting there. Decades later, it still keeps a faint scent. If I had to choose just one perfume to use for the rest of my life, Climat would be my uncontested choice. I hope not to find myself in the situation where I have to make that decision but if I have to, I’m prepared:

Lancome Climat

For now I should be alright with a (presumably fake) parfum I bought 12+ years ago, a couple of EdP bottles from the 2006 Lancome’s anniversary re-issue as a part of La Collection and the most recent re-release of EdT version, but I still hope that one day I’ll come across a perfectly preserved vintage bottle of Climat (or win a lottery and allow myself to experiment with eBay’s offerings).

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a post in which Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume), Suzanne (Eiderdown Press) and Natalie (Another Perfume Blog) did a blind test/comparison of my beloved perfume and Amouage Gold. I’ll wear Climat today to mark this anniversary.

Rusty and Miss Dior Bottle

This is an empty Miss Dior bottle that I bought at 19. I told a story of this bottle (and of the bottle on the left in the picture below) in the post I’ll miss you, Miss Dior but then I didn’t have my first bottle to show to you (or to give to Rusty to play with). I still think of adding a pre-“originale” EdT bottle to my collection but for now please meet my Miss Dior family:

Miss Dior Family

The last bottle wasn’t technically mine… I was still living in my native country. My father, who had moved to the U.S. by that time, came to visit and brought us some gifts. I got Houbigant Raffinee but never learned to like it and gave it away to a friend who was ecstatic to get it. My vSO also received a bottle of perfume. It looked kind of masculine. So with English not being even our second language we both never questioned that perfume’s gender designation. Even the scent, which by my today’s views is unisex at best but leaning feminine, somehow wasn’t a giveaway to us. My father said it was a perfume for my vSO – and so it was. There’s nothing strange in the eau de toilette for men being called Black Lace, right? Right??! We both liked it a lot: he – to wear, I – to smell it on him. But not even once I thought of wearing it myself because back then even the idea of crossing gender boundaries with perfumes would have never occurred to me.

Black Lace Perfume Bottle

Black Lace, eau de toilette and “Made in England” were the only pieces of information I had about that perfume. Good luck running that search without a brand name. I tried. Many times. I know all the companies that produced perfumes with that name or had a special “black lace” edition one time or the other. That’s how I finally got a suspicion that most likely it wasn’t masculine cologne after all. I find it ironic that my vSO, who is “into perfume” mostly by association, was the first one in our family to have a gender-bending perfume fling while mine happened only years later.

A couple of months ago, after more than a decade of search, I suddenly found a bottle of “my” Black Lace on eBay. The seller had no idea what it was and was selling it “as is.” I bought it. On the picture above the bottle on the right is the original one, you can barely see the words; the bottle on the left is the one that I bought. Unfortunately, the perfume is spoiled but I can still recognize the smell and I would probably still like it had it been fresh.

Have you ever seen this bottle? Do you know anything about this perfume?

Rusty sniffs Miss Dior Bottle

Two years ago in the anniversary post I suggested you to ask me in two years if writing for my blog got easier over time. Did it? Not really. I think it means I should keep practicing.

 

Images: my own

Entertaining Statistics: 2014 Year Round-up

Year 2014 wasn’t the best year in my life, most of all because some of the negative events can’t be considered even educational. But still it wasn’t all bad and I’m grateful for the good things and look forward to more of those this year.

We’ve got some rain in the last two months of 2014. That hasn’t solved our drought problem but made it a bit less severe and gave us hope.

We got a chance to spend time with one of the friends from our youth whom we haven’t seen for many years. He hasn’t changed much and we already plan our future visits.

I had a relatively close encounter with charming Hugh Laurie.

I enjoyed many mini-trips to the surrounding wine regions; one of them with thoughtful and endlessly generous with her support Suzanne (Eiderdown Press) and her husband.

I received an extremely touching gift from Daisy (coolcookstyle) and hajusuuri (a spontaneous perfume lover who became a contributor on my blog).

I took an obscene number of perfumes to the Hawaii vacation (I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did).

I had good time perfume shopping with Natalie (Another Perfume Blog).

And, finally, despite all the work-related stress and busy schedule I had a wonderful holiday season, which culminated in the one of the most delightful New Year celebrations at our friends’ house in Austin.

NY 2014 Purrmaid

Now let’s see how my 2014 looks in perfume terms (numbers in parentheses are from 2013, for comparison where applicable).

Perfume Testing

In 2014 I tested1 even less perfumes than in years before. It isn’t a complaint, I think I’m testing enough: I pay attention not just to new releases or even perfumes new to me but also I’m revisiting some of the previously tested perfumes. I tested 299 (321) perfumes from 108 (107) brands on 391 (461) occasions. This year there were also fewer perfumes that I’ve tried for the first time – 147 (185) and only 55 (fifty-five!) of them were created in 2014. It’s less than, according to Parfumo, has been released by now from the beginning of this year. Probably I could add 15-20 mainstream perfumes that I smelled at a store on a paper strip and never went for a sample or skin test. But still it’ll barely scratch the surface of the last year’s new releases. 2,646! Can you believe it?! It’s a huge number of new releases and I tested 2% of them. Out of those 55, I liked – more or less – just 11 (20% of tested) but I would consider wearing only 6 (~10%) of them and, most likely, not from a full bottle purchase.

I have a feeling I’ll test even less in 2015: with endless new releases who can follow them?

Perfume Samples

Perfume Wearing

Since I usually end up not liking most of the perfumes I test and, at the same time, the number of perfumes I like and own is enough to wear a new one every day for several months, same as the year before, I mostly wore2 perfumes from my collection (bottles and decants) while using samples just for testing or the final decision stage before [not] buying the perfume I thought I liked. In 2014 I had a better rotation of perfumes than the year before – I wore 156 (142) perfumes from 61 (54) brands – but I used perfumes less often – just on 341 (355) occasions.

Stats 2014: Most Worn Brands

Eight out of twelve brands I wore the most this year are the same as for two previous years, which isn’t a big surprise: those are my favorite brands and I have those perfumes in my collection. More interesting are those brands that moved up. Two out of four got that high with a single perfume from each of the brands: Rajasthan by Etro (I told its story in the How many perfumistas does it take to … post) and Chic Shaik No 30 by Shaik (its story is still waiting to be written). The third brand, Lancome, made it also mostly thanks to one perfume – my first and everlasting perfume love Climat (I bought a back-up bottle and started wearing it more often) but there was one more perfume – Mille et Une Roses – that contributed to the statistics. The last new player on my yearly Wheel of Fortune chart is By Kilian. I finally found several perfumes in this line that I like to wear: Amber Oud, Prelude to Love and Love & Tears (and there are several more promising candidates).

Perfume Statistics

It’s getting harder to come up with new silly aspects of our hobby to present in numerical form for this monthly series. I realize that many of my current readers haven’t read all the previous posts and those who have, most likely, won’t remember each of them, but I still couldn’t bring myself to repeat exactly the same topic. Because of that there were fewer posts based just on my personal perfume-related habits (Perfumes Tested in 2014 by Year Released, How many perfumistas I met in RL, TwitterCounter’s Predictions vs. Reality) and more of those, input for which I asked from you (Ten Niche Brands You Need To Know, What is the main reason for your spontaneous perfume purchase?, 10 Most Popular Brands (based on Olfactoria’s Travels Monday Question), To Wear or Not to Wear a perfume you used to love but don’t any longer if there is no other choice?, Perfume Shopping Mecca, Favorite Amber Perfumes).

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Come back in a month to see if I could think of anything new to count. Hopefully, not sheep.

 

Images: my own

 

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.

Short Conversations About Perfume: Like a Stranger

 

Kiss me
I want you to kiss me like a stranger once again
Kiss me like a stranger once again…

It’s a warm sunny winter day. My vSO and I are driving along the coast. It’s my birthday and he’s taking me on a short [almost] surprise vacation to the beautiful ocean view hotel. Tom Waits’ voice from the speakers – I gave that Bad as Me CD to my vSO for his birthday a while ago but I haven’t heard it until now:

You wear the same kind of perfume
You wore when we met
I suppose there’s something comforting
In knowing what to expect
But when you brushed up against me
Before I knew your name
Everything was thrilling
‘Cause nothin’ was the same

I (turning to my vSO):  You know, I actually am wearing today the same perfume as I wore when we met.
He: Oh, really?
I: Yeah, it’s my favorite Climat. It felt right for the occasion.

Monterey

The next day on the way back I find the same song. My vSO: Are you listening to it again because of the perfume?
I: Yes. And because it’s a very romantic song.
He: It is.
(after a pause)
I: Could you recognize any of my perfumes?
He: (with a sigh) No, I can’t say that I could…

It doesn’t upset me: he never did. So for me “…there’s something comforting in knowing what to expect…” And for him? At least my perfume every time is not the same. “Like a stranger…”

 

 

Image: 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

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.

Déjà vu, Episode 2: huge floral vs. abstract floral

For those … everybody who hasn’t read Episode 1  of my Déjà vu [supposed to be] series, I want to explain that the idea is to feature those perfumes that to my nose are very close smell-alike. Not just a feeling or an association, not just the same genre or several recognizable notes but really close scent resemblance.

What is a perfect starter house for a young perfumista? I’m not talking about a real estate to store all 3 bottles in the collection. A perfume house. If you ask me now, I’ll say L’Artisan, Hermess (Hermessance) or Chanel (Exclusifs). But I didn’t know it when I started my journey so the first niche brand that I tested intentionally on the onset of my hobby was … none of these. I placed my first ever samples order: seven 1 ml vials from the same brand.

The second perfume from the line that I tried was one of the most expensive perfumes I’d ever tried at the time. I read many great reviews and mentions of the house itself and of this perfume in particular. I was expecting a miracle. And it was a miracle… in a way.  In a couple of minutes of wearing it, with astonishment, I realized that to my nose that perfume smelled A LOT like another perfume I knew and liked. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t at home so for several hours I kept smelling my wrist and thinking if it was possible. As soon as I could I applied my perfume to another wrist. My first impression: it wasn’t the same perfume but they smelled very similar. And I liked my perfume more.

I checked available information. Sure, there were some notes in common but it didn’t mean much. I needed somebody else to acknowledge and confirm my discovery. I ran multiple searches and couldn’t find any other mentioning of this similarity. I even tried to contact one of the bloggers who I noticed was familiar with my perfume and wore it but I’ve never heard back from her. When I asked my friend lyu what the perfume I tested reminded her of (if anything) she told me without thinking: “my perfume name>!” But I wanted more.

Rusty Testing

Almost a year later I asked several blogo-friends to participate in a blind testing and contribute their thoughts for this post. I sent each of them two vials. I needed to distinguish them but I was afraid that using numbers or letters would somehow reveal my attitude towards those perfumes or will suggest my preferences. So I wrapped vials with electrical tape – blue and yellow. Here are their thoughts. Keep in mind that these are fragments of e-mail exchanges and not finished reviews. I did some minimal editing trying not to introduce too many errors from me as I was selecting paragraphs to publish here. Emphases (bold, italic and color) mine.

Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume:

I have tried Yellow and Blue about four times now, and have more or less used the samples up, so I thought I should jot down my impressions while I have got them on again and they are relatively fresh on my skin and in my mind!

Firstly, I don’t think they are the same, but I think there are very similar all the same – a bit like the same perfume but with different facets accentuated in one vs. the other:

Both have a powdery (aldehydic?) retro feel, both are florals with a hint of green in them.

Blue has a smoother quality, is a little more green and less aldehydic.  It reminds me a bit of Antonia, but is more powdery and not as vanilla-y or ambery, so it never entered my head that it could BE that.  But the greenness reminds me somewhat of Antonia out of the few perfumes I know that are anything like these two samples.

Yellow, on account of its greater powderiness, reminds me of Chamade, though Chamade is sweeter and fruitier, and somehow a bit more approachable.  Yellow feels very old school, which is why – when I read the reviews and notes of the new SSS Nostalgie – I instantly wondered if it could be that though I haven’t smelt it.

And then the fact that you showed Climat to Natalie at your recent meeting made me think that maybe it [Yellow] could be that (having googled the notes), however on reflection neither of these scents are remotely animalic, whereas Climat has civet.  I like to think I have good radar for civet, but who knows?!  And Climat sounds like it might be a richer scent overall, based on the base, so possibly not such a good contender (plus I have never smelt it either!)  All of which goes to show how suggestible and easily led I can be by something topical, or which looks like it might count as “circumstantial evidence”.  : – )

The other perfume that Yellow and Blue both remind me of, Blue slightly more so, is Niki Saint Phalle.

What I learn from eyeballing all these note lists (Vanessa has included those for all the perfumes listed above but I’ve decided to omit them – Undina) is that the perfumes I think Yellow and Blue smell like, as well as being retro in style, and prickly aldehydic florals (in varying degrees), and green (in varying degrees), they all have LOTS OF NOTES, i.e. they are “busy” perfumes, quite big productions, as used to be the fashion.  These are not contemporary scents, of that I am fairly sure, unless it is a new launch inspired by an earlier era like a Miriam or Nostalgie, but not those (and I haven’t smelt Miriam either!).

(later)

Am at the far drydown stage now, some 7 hrs after application, and the two are not as similar at this point as I thought from previous trials. It could be that my nose cross contaminated the two sites by transferring traces of one perfume to the other hand or it may just be that I am more familiar with them now and hence able to spot differences more easily.

They are both smoother by far now, but Yellow remains markedly more powdery/aldehydic even at this late stage. Blue did get even closer to Antonia as it wore on but I still don’t think it is that, as it lacks the rich ambery vanilla warmth. The smooth green facet is very like it though.

It struck me […] that the more I tried them, the more distinct they became.  Yellow was more powdery and Blue more green – what confused me was the fact that they both felt from the same time, so that in itself was a point of similarity.  And as it is not a category of scent I am very familiar with, it is perhaps all the easier to lump things together.  Like young people’s “old lady”.

Rusty Testing

Suzanne of Eiderdown Press

Both of these smell like one of my very favorite categories of fragrance: rich, aldehydic-floral perfume with a complex bouquet, done in the classic French style.

I opened the blue vial first and my first thought was, this smells like Amouage Gold pour Femme.  Then I opened the yellow vial and things got very difficult because, though there is a difference between the two perfumes, they so smell very, very similar.

After much sniffing, I still think that the blue vial resembles Amouage Gold most closely. It smells a bit brighter in its florals than does the perfume in the yellow vial.  I feel like I can smell the silvery lift of lily-of-the-valley in the blue vial perfume. Not that it smells like a lily-of-the-valley perfume (not at all), but it smells “higher in octave” than the perfume in the yellow vial.  It has a little more lift, while the perfume in the yellow vial smells somewhat deeper to my nose.

To me, the yellow vial smells like it has more of a Chanel base when it dries down: I smell more of that warm jasmine that reminds me of a Chanel perfume (though I’m not necessarily saying this is a Chanel perfume).  A little more musk, too.  This perfume has a slightly more animalic drydown than the perfume in the blue vial.  It reminds me of vintage Chanel No. 5 in its drydown, but its top notes don’t smell quite the same as Chanel No. 5.

(a day later)

I kept thinking about the drydown on the perfume in the yellow vial: there is a urinous tinge to that drydown that I find rather appealing (sexy, even though it doesn’t sound sexy) that reminds me of vintage perfumes.  And I tried to think of other notes, besides jasmine, civet and musk, that can have an animalic tinge to them — and I thought of narcissus.  I don’t know if narcissus used as a perfume note smells urinous, but if you’ve ever smelled narcissus flowers — the ones they call paperwhites — they smell urinous.

Quite some time ago, JoanElaine had sent me a fragrance package that included a small dab vial of Lancome Climat edt. And I remembered that when I originally tested it, it reminded me of Amouage Gold, but the dry down was more animalic (on the urinous side, rather than on the indolic side) and I remember it had narcissus in the base.  So today I dabbed some on my skin and then dumped the remaining drops on a perfume blotter.  On skin, I couldn’t come to any solid conclusions, but on paper — oh my goodness!  The scent really matched up with what you sent me in that yellow vial.

My final assessment — I think the blue vial smells like Amouage Gold.  I think the yellow vial smells like Lancome Climat.  And I think both of them smell very much like one another.

Rusty Testing

Natalie of Another Perfume Blog:

I’m pretty sure the blue vial is Climat. I find it fuzzy, warm, like someone took the idea of Ivory soap and transformed it into a very luxurious-smelling perfume. At the very beginning, there is an animalic touch, but it is slight and does not last very long. On my skin, the whole life of the fragrance is peachy, warm, and golden. I can smell the florals (mostly jasmine and I think lily of the valley), but they are not “white floral diva” to me, because of the powderiness of the fragrance as a whole. The drydown is even more “golden” and I can smell a bit of the sandalwood, but it remains very peachy and powdery.

The yellow vial I don’t recognize. At times it smells very similar to Climat (or the blue vial, I should say) to me, so maybe it is another formulation or concentration of Climat? I suppose it could be, but really I don’t think it is. Although it has similar notes, it actually smells to me as if someone took the blue vial and said “Let’s do this perfume, but focus it on the animalic notes rather than the powdery peachy notes.” This one to me has an almost metallic musk that I find rather unpleasant, and I feel the civet is very prominent. It’s a bit too much for me at the beginning. As it dries down, it gets a lot prettier and more similar to the blue one, but I think I smell more iris in the drydown of this one. Once when I wore it, it almost reminded me of No. 19, but I haven’t ever experienced No. 19 having that metallic-animalic-civet thing going on. Maybe I would have liked this better if I had not always had the Climat/blue vial on the other wrist. :) But I would have to get through the first hour for sure!

I won’t keep you wondering any longer. Let’s see what perfumes Vanessa, Natalie and Suzanne tested.

Blue Vial contained Climat by Lancome (my first perfume love) – created in 1967 by Gerard Goupy, notes include violet, peach, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, bergamot, rose, narcissus, aldehydes, rosemary, tuberose, sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, bamboo and vetiver.

Lancome Climat

Yellow Vial contained Amouage Gold – created in 1983 by Guy Robert, notes include rose, lily of the valley, frankincense, myrrh, iris root, jasmine, ambergris, civet, musk, cedarwood and sandalwood.

Amouage Gold

I thought it was hilarious: Suzanne has identified both perfumes but switched them.

Even though Natalie hasn’t recognized Amouage Gold, she’s being very consistent in her not liking this perfume. And here’s is her review for Climat. (UPD: APB is closed now)

By now I’ve worn both of these perfumes on many occasions, I’ve tested them separately and in parallel again and again. I think that I can tell them apart, at least on some stages. But, in my opinion, they are so similar that could have been, as Vanessa pointed out, “same perfume but with different facets accentuated”.

Twins: Lancome Climat & Amouage Gold

Please give a link to your blog’s post(s) if you reviewed any of these perfumes.

If you’d like to be entered into the draw for two color-coded vials (red and green?) of these perfumes to do your own comparison, please mention it in your comment.

 

Images: my own.