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

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“What’s in a name?” Once again about Miss Dior

 

Feeling emotionally connected to Miss Dior perfume for a while I considered risking an eBay purchase of another bottle of it. But then I finally tested a decant of the modern (pre-renaming-nonsense) version sent to me by Natalie (Another Perfume Blog) – and I liked it. So I figured I’d try to find Miss Dior not marked as “Originale.” It might be not as great as the older version but it would have taken away possible disappointment that comes with a spoiled vintage purchase.

Last year, when the news about Dior‘s decision to use the name of this classic perfume for the reformulated beyond recognition Miss Dior Cherie hit the Blogosphere, there was no lack of strong emotions. Perfume enthusiasts thought it was an awful decision that was really unfair towards both consumers and perfume’s legacy. I remember commenting somewhere that the next generation of customers will have no idea they smell a completely different perfume and will be really puzzled reading older reviews.

Little did I know how fast my prediction would come true!

In November I participated in the Perfume Posse’s swap event. It was mostly successful for me (one full bottle and multiple decants exchange). One of the perfumes I tried to add to my collection was Miss Dior. A member who offered a bottle for a swap mentioned that it had been bought from Saks and was definitely not Miss Dior Cherie. Since I was fine with any of real Miss Dior‘s existing formulations I asked only if it came with the original box – and we agreed on the swap terms.

When the package arrived I didn’t even have to smell it (though I did) to realize that I’ve got the officially authorized imposter.

Miss Dior Cherie

The sad thing was that the sender was genuinely surprised: she was sure she had real Miss Dior that just didn’t work for her. Yes, she’s probably not the most experienced perfumista but she reads at least Perfume Posse. There is nothing to expect from a regular consumer. Dior has successfully rewritten the history.

Off to eBay for the vintage Miss Dior hunting.

 

Image: my own.

Rainbow Autumn in Sonoma

From time to time, facing the obvious, we tell ourselves: Of course! How haven’t I seen/thought about it before?! And it’s not a case of an acute hindsight bias but something you’d have realized before if you had just thought about it. But you haven’t.

I’ve been living in San Francisco Bay Area for more than a decade now. I always knew that a downside of the climate that I loved so much was a lack of some defined seasons. Autumn to name one. It’s not summer all year-long here, it gets cold, rainy and windy – our version of winter. But in between, with all evergreen plants common in our area, it’s hard to say where summer ends and winter begins.

Fall in SonomaDid I know that grapevine is a deciduous plant? I did. Many times I saw green leaves when we visited Sonoma in summer and then bare vines during our traditional December trips there. I just never thought what happened in between. Golden, purple, yellow, red and all hues in between grape leaves – that’s what happens in between! Views were just amazing! We couldn’t believe how beautiful nature around us was. During this visit to Sonoma we found autumn that we haven’t seen for more than ten years. From now on we’ll be going to Sonoma in November if we can.

Accommodations

Every time I plan our trip to a wine country I struggle with choosing where to stay. It is so close to home that it feels wrong to spend too much on a room for one night. But at the same time I’m so demanding to where I sleep that I have to try to find the best option for the price I’m willing to pay.

This time we stayed at Marriott Courtyard in Santa Rosa. Pros: price ($135 total cost, no resort fee), location (close to the downtown), clean, good mattress, friendly front desk employees. Cons: old and noisy under the window AC/heating unit, uncomfortable pillows and, the worst part, a very loud bathroom exhaust fan that turns on with the light. I remember reading Vanessa’s horror story about the fan that would work for 10 minutes after the fact of using bathroom’s lights. The fan in our room was on a strict on/off regime so we both voted for relying on our senses other than sight for this night’s bathroom visits. Too bad our neighbors weren’t on board with that decision…

Tasting Rooms

Rusty and bottles of wineAs I mentioned in the post about my recent trip to Napa, in my opinion Sonoma is a much more pleasant place to go wine tasting. And this visit just confirmed my thoughts. The main goal of this trip was to pick up shipments from all the clubs we belong to, so we mostly visited places we like. And I want to share those with my readers.

Suncé Winery is a small family owned and operated winery with Croatian roots (suncé is Croatian for sun). Several years ago a friend suggested we went there. It was a cold day mid-December. We came to a small but warm and inviting tasting room. They fed us hot chicken gumbo and let us try a wide selection of their wines… Three years of a membership in their club later we still like and buy many of their wines (in addition to obligatory bottles) and enjoy every trip to Sunce. All people who work there are so friendly and nice that you just want to go there again and again.

Paradise Ridge Winery is another family owned and operated winery. Paradise Ridge is bigger than Sunce and more formal but that feeling of being welcome is carefully maintained by the staff. In addition to making good wines (not only we like them but also they’re getting all kinds of awards), Paradise Ridge has beautiful grounds (check their website for sculpture exhibits they had over the years). Almost every time we visit we see something new. Also, their tasting room and a picnic area have a breathtaking view.

I urge everybody to visit Sunce and Paradise Ridge if you have a chance. I really hope you’ll like them as much as I do and will have great time there.

The third winery a member of a wine club of which we currently are, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, also has an interesting history, decent wines and nice grounds. What they also have is an excellent marketing department. Unfortunately for us they seem not to be able to handle the results of their marketing success: they are understaffed and just plainly have no time to cater to loyal patrons. We gave them three chances every time hoping it was a fluke. But no, this is how they are now. We’re dropping a membership with them and will choose a winery that cares. But if you do not mind a crowd it’s not a bad place to visit once.

Food

If you like Indian food (which I do) Yeti Restaurant is a good place to have lunch. Ordering chai, make sure to confirm they’d brew a fresh pot. I had to send back a cup of a microwave-heated liquid they tried to pass as chai but after that I got one of the best cups of chai I’ve ever tried. Food was good without any back and forth dances.

Wine country chocolatesOne of the wineries we visited featured local truffles made with one of their wines. I bought one, ate and liked it so much that later we went to that local company’s chocolate tasting room and bought more truffles. Wine Country Chocolates. I’m not sure they are worth ordering online but if you are in the area try them. I plan to go there again next time I’m in Sonoma.

Perfumes

Any trip report wouldn’t be complete without that important part. This time I did something I never do: I wore the same perfume two days in a row. I chose vintage Miss Dior parfum. I figured out that with a small parfum bottle I had a better control over the amount of the fragrance and its placement. It didn’t interfere with wine tasting and I felt happy every time I’d catch a whiff of Miss Dior from my sleeve or scarf.

I brought back something new from this trip but I’ll write about it in my next post.

Overall it was a wonderful trip – a trip to rainbow-colored Fall from my memories.

Fall in SonomaImages: my own

I’ll miss you, Miss Dior

I do not like anything old: I enjoy looking at antique furniture in museums but wouldn’t want to see it in my living room. I acknowledge the significance of black and white classical movies but the only one that I actually like and wouldn’t mind watching again is Twelve Angry Men. I’m completely unemotional about art deco posters. And, as a rule, I do not like vintage perfumes.

Miss DiorHow did it happen that I’ve bought this 7.5 ml half-full bottle of vintage Miss Dior parfum? Why did I decide to buy my first vintage perfume? I didn’t. I didn’t buy a perfume. I bought that bottle. I bought a visual aid to one of my childhood memories.

When I was nine my mother had three small bottles of Dior’s parfums – Diorella, Miss Dior and Dior-Dior. Out of these three Diorella in a blue box with white oval was my absolute favorite (see First Love: Love); Dior-Dior in a light beige box didn’t attract me much (it got discontinued, so I never had a chance later to check if my tastes changed); and Miss Dior in an elegant white box was somewhere in between. I don’t remember how any of them smelled, I just remember that imaginary hierarchy.

When I was nineteen Miss Dior (I think, it was an eau de toilette version) became the first perfume I ever bought. It wasn’t my favorite perfume, as I was buying it, I didn’t even remember how it smelled (at that time in the country where I lived perfume testers were out of question) but I saw it in a store (which on its own was a small miracle at that time) and remembered that I liked it, more or less, in my childhood. And those were reasons good enough to warrant the purchase. If it sounds like something strange and “from another life” – that’s because it was; you might want to look through my very first post in this blog First Love: Perfume to understand better my strange relationships with perfumes in my younger years. The bottle I bought was inserted into the golden metallic case (I haven’t seen that packaging after that here, it must have been either a limited or Europe-specific edition) and the box was still classy white. I didn’t love the perfume but liked it and used up the bottle.

When I was Many-many years later I saw that Miss Dior bottle on eBay I realized that it looked not exactly but very close to the bottle from my childhood, one of those three that my mother used to have. And I wanted that bottle just for the bottle itself; I would have bought it even completely empty. But it still had some parfum left in it. And it smells wonderful on my skin – much better than I remember from my two previous encounters with Miss Dior. It is so smooth and warm that I feel wrapped into that scent every time I wear it. It is so beautiful that it makes me very sad to see how little of it I have left. Should I try to find another vintage bottle? What if it will be of a different formulation (I’m not sure from which decade is my bottle) and I do not like it? Should I try the current version before Dior butchered it again during the renaming and maybe “repatriation” process (read the horror story about the upcoming changes at Grain de Musc)? Which version? If EdT can be found still at Saks, I’ve never seen a tester for the parfum version. Should I buy unsniffed? What if I hate it? Questions, questions… One thing I do know: I will terribly miss Miss Dior if it’s gone.

If you’ve done a review for Miss Dior please post a link to it in your comment.

Image: my own