A Week of Mainstream Perfumes

My closest friend (we were friends ON and OFF, but mostly ON from when we both were about 10 years old) lives half the World away. From when we both were young, both she and I liked and wore perfumes, though, as I remember, our tastes always were somewhat different: while my true love was Lancôme Climat, she preferred Magie Noir; and Diorissimo was more appealing to her than my favorite Dior at the time – Diorella.

Since my descent into the rabbit hole of niche perfumery, I periodically try to share my hobby with her in form of samples, decants, minis and information about different perfumes, notes and brands, but we live too far from each other (with no guaranteed parcel delivery and rare “perfume mules” occasions), English is not a language in which she’d read anything for pleasure (hence, no exposure to my blog), and perfume choices where she lives are much more limited. So, all these years later she’s still a “civilian” (© Tara) perfume user.

When she recently asked if I could suggest her anything powdery with a good sillage, one brand immediately jumped to mind: Narciso Rodriguez. Year and a half later after I wrote about my attraction to that white square bottle (Narciso [Rodriguez] Ed[P/T/Whatever]), I still haven’t pulled a trigger on buying it but from my memory it fitted the bill. Then I went to the site of the large high-end perfume chain in Ukraine to see what else to suggest… And I had to excuse myself because I realized that I wasn’t familiar enough with the most of mainstream perfumes that they offer.

 

Narciso Rodriguez Two Samples

 

That’s when my friend asked: “Do you ever try mainstream perfumes for yourself? Or do you consider it a waste of time?” I told her “Sometimes,” but also that I wasn’t that thrilled with the current niche or “niche” perfumes either (and these days it’s harder and harder to decide whether to [still] consider some brands as niche).

That conversation and especially her question provoked my thinking on the topic. These days I rarely try mainstream/mass-market perfumes; and even less often I like them enough to try on skin. But from time to time I come across something that seems nice, I get a sample and think for myself that I need to try wearing it and decide whether I like it enough to buy. Usually I end up designating the sample as “nice, will use what I have” in my database: as a rule, I do not wear perfumes from samples unless I’m trying to decide whether to buy a bottle, or when it’s marked with this category (meaning “do not need more but will wear”). And then I almost never wear those mainstream perfumes that I thought would be nice to wear a couple of times…

And that gave me an idea to do a mainstream week where I’d wear not just any mainstream perfumes but those that I kept in my collection hoping to wear someday.

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Since I recommended this perfume to my friend, I decided to start with Narciso (a “white cube” one). It was still as pleasant as I remembered it from the previous encounter. But I was surprised that in wearing it was much less tenacious than I would expect from such perfume – though, as a (questionable) plus side: I finished my sample while re-applying it throughout the day. And since I still don’t love it, my resolution is: I do not want any more of it.

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I liked Sisley Eau du Soir from when I tried it first from a mini bottle that I got in a Perfume Society box. At some point I even swapped for a travel bottle and thought it was quite suitable for wine tasting trips, but then the bottle went off. That taught me not to do bottle swapping (you never know how someone else had stored their perfumes), and somehow it put me off that perfume. Since I still had that first mini, I decided to wear it again. I still think it’s a very nice chypre, and I liked wearing it – even though I still think it’s a little bit “rough around the edges” but once it starts developing it gets a lot more… sophisticated.

 

Sisley Eau du Soir

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A sample of Marni’s first perfume, Marni, I got soon after it was released. It was getting a lot of love in Perfumeland, and the bottle was cute, so I persuaded myself that I liked it enough to wear at least from a sample that I got. I did it once many years ago, so it just stayed in my “to wear one day” box until I got it out for this project. I can’t say I disliked it, but now I know that I won’t be wearing it any more, and I definitely do not need any more of it.

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I liked Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme when I was testing it for the post several years ago (Mr. & Mrs. Tom Ford Noir). Since at that time it was a new release, I decided that I’d wear it from the samples that I’ve got and wait for it to get to discounters. And I completely forgot not only about this plan, but also about the sample. When I wore it again for this project, I realized that I still liked it very much. I even got a compliment when I wore it (from a dentist’s assistant). I think it’s time to find a, hopefully, highly discounted bottle.

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Seven years ago, I wrote (In the Search for the Perfect Leather) that I would see if I need more of Bottega Veneta Parfum (the first one) once I’m done with a mini bottle that I’ve got. At the rate I’m using it (once or twice a year), it will be a while before I’ll have to decide.

*

By the end of my experiment I was slightly bored, so the last two perfumes I wore in parallel. Luckily, these two weren’t contradicting each other much: Jour d’Hermes and Jour d’Hermes Absolu. It’s one more case when a “peer pressure” and samples that fell into my lap had influenced my decision to keep samples to wear those perfumes (“will use what I have”). If I absolutely had to choose, I would have probably worn Jour d’Hermes Absolu. But since I hope never to be in such situation, I should pass on both samples.

 

Perfume Samples

 

All in all, it seems like a good result: out of 7, I’ll buy TF Noir Pour Femme, will continue wearing from time to time perfumes from two minis that I have (Eau du Soir and Bottega Veneta), and downgrade the other three to the “Library” category (while passing on the remaining samples on someone who might enjoy them more).

What are your relationships with mainstream perfumes?

 

Images: my own

Lock, stock and barrels

Customs official: Anything to declare?
Avi: Yeah. Don’t go to England.
Snatch

I’m lucky not only to live in the area with a great climate but to live really close to two wine regions in California – Sonoma and Napa. Being wine enthusiasts, my vSO and I belong to several wine clubs in Sonoma and three-four times a year we take short trips there “to pick-up our shipment”. Of course, we could use a mail delivery option since if to add up the cost of gas, hotel and meals for those trips there will be no savings whatsoever – quite the opposite. So we use that reason just as a pretext to go away from a daily life for a couple of days.

Napa, CANormally during Sonoma trips we would go to one-two new (for us) wineries, visit two-three places we liked and wanted to see which new wines they’d released and also stop by those wineries where we had a pick-up. This time we decided to stir thing up and go to Napa.

We’ve been to Napa before many years ago and had some warm memories about that visit so the idea was to just spend some time there, do some tasting and go to those places we liked from the previous time.

Accommodations

There are not too many nice hotels to stay in Napa area so I was very proud of myself when I managed to score a “four star” Silverado Resort through priceline.com for $120/night. Plus tax. Plus, as I found out the day we checked out, a $20/day “resort fee” and $2/day “occupancy tax”. Whatever. On the plus side, they had very nice bath robes – not that I needed it since I always bring something to wear in the room, but it was nice. On the minus side, even though the room was clean the carpet was way beyond its natural life span and the fact that we could get some sleep should be attributed entirely to the nice weather (have I mentioned how lucky we are with our climate?): had it been a little warmer or colder, the sound from the cooling/heating unit strategically placed almost above the bed wouldn’t have allowed us any night rest… Well, after some thinking I have to take that “strategically” back: our neighbors’ AC, for all ten minutes they thought it was hot enough to turn it on, produced the noise that wasn’t much less irritating than the unit over our heads did.

Tasting Rooms

St. Clement wineI still remember those times when tasting was free at most places. I didn’t like it because every time I felt obligated to buy something after a nice person poured me some wines and entertained me for ten minutes throwing in appellations, terroir and other very important words. I always felt I’d preferred to pay for trying those wines and then decide if to buy anything on its own merit. Should I have been more careful with my wishes?

We deliberately chose several well-known wine producers and decided to try their reserve/exclusive/etc. lines. We knew about $20-$35 tasting fees non-refundable with purchase and we were fine with that. What we weren’t prepared to was a complete lack of attention and service that you get (should I say “didn’t get”?) for that fee. I can’t believe people who work at Silver Oak’s or BV Private Reserve’s tasting rooms really think that anybody drives all the way out there to drink 3-4 ounces of wine in silence. I could have stayed in the hotel gone to a bar and had a better drink for cheaper (I refer to the process, experience and not the quality since everywhere we went wine itself was very good. Overpriced but good).

Sequoia Grove winery testing roomI want to mention two places that stood out in the positive way: St. Clement Vineyards and Sequoia Grove winery (see picture on the right). At both places stuff was knowledgeable and friendly.

Food

Since this visit wasn’t connected to any events or celebrations we decided not to spend time researching restaurants and both evenings in Napa we just walked in the downtown from one menu to another until we found something we wanted to eat. We enjoyed eating at both places we chose, so I want to mention their names – Zuzu Tapas & Paella and Angèle Restaurant.

Perfumes

As much as I love our trips to the wine country I always struggle with the self-imposed limitations on wearing perfumes to wine tasting. This time I realized the vacation wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it could without perfumes. I decided to find perfumes that wouldn’t interfere too much with wines. The idea was to use perfumes that were as far from the wine smell’s components as possible. I chose La Tulipe by Byredo and Eau du Soir by Sisley.Both scents worked perfectly for the occasion. One night to the restaurant I was wearing Chanel No. 19. This one works for me always.

During our walks in Napa we stopped at the Baker Street Downtown“Tobacconist and Lifestyle store for Discerning Men and Women”. I didn’t realize it was a tobacco store until we were inside and I was about to leave when I spotted some perfume bottles. This store carries perfumes by Lubin. I sniffed them from bottles and then went there the next evening and tried two – Gin Fizz and Idole. Gin Fizz was exactly like I imagined it would be – sparkling, citrusy, uncomplicated. It wasn’t interesting enough for me to pursue it in future even to try again. With Idole it was a different story. I liked it from the first wear. It was woodsy, smoky and spicy. I will try to get a sample to test it more.

On our way back we stopped at the Mill Valey’s shopping center to visit Nicole Grey & Co. gift store. I found it during one of the previous trips. It carries several rare perfume brands: Boadicea the Victorious, Carthusia, Juliette Has A Gun, Profumi del Forte and some others. After a couple of rounds of sniffing from bottles I moved to blotters and then by the elimination process chose four contenders to go on my skin. By the time I arrived home I had a winner: I will be seeking By Night, White by Profumi del Forte for the further testing. I liked it through all the stages – from the top notes to the drydown.

Do I have anything to declare? Yes! Don’t go to Napa. Sonoma is a much friendlier and more enjoyable place.

What is your drink of choice? Does it go with your perfumes?

As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

Images: my own