A Month of Roses: Week 2

The second week of the Month of Roses went very fast because it included a 3-day weekend (I took an extra day off to celebrate my birthday) and Valentine’s Day. Rose perfumes felt extremely appropriate.

White Rose

February 8: Floris Snow Rose

Since Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) mentioned in her comment on my A Month of Roses post that her bottle of this perfume, from which my sample came, went off, I felt uneasy as the date scheduled for wearing Snow Rose was approaching: I had just a little of perfume left in the sample after the previous testing, so I didn’t want to try it before the time to wear it came, so I decided to risk having to look for the last moment replacement. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to! I don’t know how it could have happened but a small part somehow had a better fate than a “whole” (whatever was left in Vanessa’s bottle).

I feel bad telling you what an interesting perfume Snow Rose is since it was a limited edition in 2009, and it doesn’t look like they are going to re-issue it. But I want to mention something that attracted my attention: it started out cold and very fitting to the name, but then it melted into very warm and cozy scent.

February 9: Les Parfums de Rosine Rose Praline (Francois Robert)

I had a couple of meetings in a small conference room so I was very discreet with the application. It’s not a bad perfume, and I might even finish my small decant but with many other great perfumes I have Rose Pralines seems a little too ordinary. I would still recommend trying this perfume if you’re looking for rose perfume with just a pinch of gourmand flavor.

Mrs Robert Shewell

February 10: Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady (Dominique Ropion)

Portrait of a Lady is one of my favorite perfumes. Normally I wouldn’t wear it to the office but since Lucas chose a work day for hajusuuri to wear this perfume, I was going to keep her company. But then I couldn’t help the urge to wear my favorite Lieber Gustav for the NTS’s community project (lavender perfumes): not only I love it but it’s much more office-friendly.

I still wore Portrait of a Lady that evening when I came home. It is such strong and elegant perfume! I think it calls for evening attire and pearls, though it might be an interesting contrast to jeans with a turtleneck – just not in the office.

February 11: Juliette Has A Gun Miss Charming (Francis Kurkdjian)

It was a perfect charming perfume for a pre-birthday trip on a beautiful sunny day to a couple of wineries, a brewery and a coffee shop in Santa Cruz. As I previously wrote, Miss Charming is my absolutely favorite strawberry perfume. I enjoy wearing it on any occasion but that Saturday it was just perfect, and it accompanied well roses that were on my mind, cider with a distinct rose flavor that I tried during lunch and my favorite rose truffles that I had with coffee from my favorite coffee shop.

Rose Truffle

February 12: Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (Geza Schoen)

Ta’if is perfume, to which I attribute to my nosedive into the proverbial rabbit hole of niche perfumery. I love this perfume and think of it as my number two all-time favorite. It is so special for me that I wear it only for special occasion – such as my birthday this year. I started my morning with Ta’if oil, then later during the day switched to Ta’if EdP, and for the evening I went with Ta’if parfum. It is such a beautiful rose! I need to come up with more special occasions to wear it.

February 13: Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud (Fabrice Pellegrin)

Judging by the fact that I like this perfume, no real trees had to suffer to produce this agarwood. Velvet Rose & Oud is pleasant and plays nicely on my skin. And Jo Malone just started selling their Cologne Intense collection in slightly more reasonable 50 ml bottles. If they ever go for 30 ml, I’ll probably get it. Until then my small decant should do.

February 14: Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Amour

I chose this perfume because I like it very much, and because I thought it would be hard to find a more suitable name for Valentine’s Day perfume. This is one of a few aldehydes perfumes that work for me. It’s a bright beautiful rose, for which I can see myself buying the next bottle when my current one is empty – it’s not something that I can definitively say about too many perfumes in my collection.

Rusty and Roses Bouquet

With the extra day off and then Valentine’s Day, half of the third week just ran away from me, but I don’t want to crumble extra three days into this post – so February 15-17 will appear on the Week 3 post.

How was your week? Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Or Singles Awareness Day? Did you wear any rose perfumes recently since you commented on one of the previous posts in this Month of Roses series? Did you eat any good chocolate?

Images: my own

Dreaded D-word and Back-up Bottles

Discontinuation is a horrifying word for many of us. More than once I caught myself feeling sad when I heard the news about perfumes being disconnected – sometimes even if those weren’t perfumes I loved or wore.

A while ago in the post on this topic Blacknall wrote:

Anyone who loves perfume tends to complain about the arbitrary way in which one scent after another can bite the dust, but we have to remember after all these are businesses, not revolving exhibitions. Either perfumers manage to stay current with public tastes and fashions or they don’t, and when they don’t, sales decline.

Even though I agreed with her in principle, something bothered me – so I kept thinking.

While discontinuation might be a necessary evil, a conspiracy theorist in me has a lot of doubts. Are those perfumes that get discontinued really worst sellers? Or, with everything else being equal, do companies put on the chopping block something that is more expensive to produce – be that due to costs of raw materials, bottle production, packaging or any other components that affect the bottom line? And isn’t it a negative reinforcement: companies train customers to like simpler perfumes that are cheap(er) to produce, put much more into promoting those – and as a result get lower sales for better perfumes and then discontinue them?

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I’m not even sure that reasons are the same for different companies in the same market. But I’m wondering if it is really in companies’ best interest to silently kill off the scent that didn’t meet whatever criteria are required for staying on the show for the next season. Is there really any downside to letting loyal fans know that the discontinuation is coming, which would allow them to stock up on their favorites? (And if we’re talking about the U.S., those would be acquired at full price since perfumes never go on sale in big department stores here.)

Whatever the truth is, I don’t expect to learn it from any of LVMH or Estee Lauder‘s companies. And since the reasons would be different for those brands, for which economies of scale do not apply, there’s not much sense in asking them either. So I’ll have to keep wondering until somebody publishes an all-revealing memoir.

When I recently heard of three of the perfumes I like being discontinued – Diptyque Volutes, Bvlgari Black and Tom Ford Fleur de Chine, – I realized that I wasn’t ready to buy a second bottle of any of them. Eau de Tommy Sooni II has disappeared with the brand, but even if I could find a bottle now, I’m not sure I would buy it. I might regret it one day but for now it feels like I have enough of them, taking into the account SABLE (Stash Above & Beyond Life Expectancy – Vanessa ©) state of my collection. I thought about it more and realized that Ormonde Jayne Ta’if is the only one, about which with a 100% certainty I can say that I’d buy a back-up bottle (or two) in a heartbeat at the first mentioning of the D-word.

Ormonde Jayne Ta'if

Look at your collection. Disregard decants, samples and “to buy” lists and concentrate only on full bottle of perfumes that are still in production. Now imagine that you learn that those all are being discontinued (not all at once: that would be too cruel even for a hypothetical question). Are there any perfumes for which you would buy a back-up bottle?

Images: my own

Unfashionable me: Past, Present and Future

Last week Natalie of Another Perfume Blog dedicated to me one of her RSP (Runway, Sidewalk, Perfume) posts. She depicted me much better than I am in the real life – so you should go and read it if you haven’t done it yet! (UPD: APB is closed now)

Natalie’s post sent me sorting not only through my closet to streamlining my wardrobe but also through my memories.

I grew up in a fashion-challenged country: there were almost no fashion magazines, no advertising of any kind, runway TV shows or even sales catalogs. Still somehow everybody knew what was in fashion at any given time. And most women tried to follow that fashion. So the whole country would be wearing miniskirts, maxi skirts, banana pants, leg warmers, turtlenecks or wedges. Well, maybe not the whole country but inhabitants of big cities definitely would.

I don’t know how they (we) did it: light industry wasn’t the country’s strong suit (I haven’t decided if to consider that a pun); you couldn’t just go to a department store and buy nice clothes – you had to either come across new arrivals and stand in line for a couple of hours or “know somebody” (a sale assistant or a store manager). There was a third option – engaging in the hand-to-hand sale. The problem with the latter was that it was illegal and very expensive: a pair of fashionable boots, for example, could cost a monthly salary of a school teacher. Nevertheless, many women of all ages managed to get the desirable item into their wardrobe. Peculiarly you could unmistakably tell that year’s “it” from just walking the streets or riding a subway. Interestingly, when it came to fashion, looking like everybody else was considered a good thing.

Soviet Fashion in 60s

For the first several years after I moved to the U.S. I thought I was in heaven: not because of the abundance of nice clothes for almost any price range but because it seemed nobody cared for fashion. Most people around wore whatever they felt like wearing, in many cases just jeans and tops – comfortable clothes. Comfort has never been a priority for me (or my ex-countrymen) but what I actually enjoyed was the newly found freedom to wear what I wanted without the pressure to follow the trend or be like everybody.

Of course later I realized that fashion agnosticism that I, following my previous experience, projected on the whole country, was rather a reflection of the area where I lived: soccer moms and computer geeks are not much into hot couture or even just fashion trends.

I still do not care much for what is in or out of fashion. I like beautiful things and would wear something I like without thinking twice if others might think of it as dated. My taste and wardrobe changed a little over the years but I’m still more on the classic and conservative than modern and hip side. And, most likely, I’ll stay that way. If you want to know more, I touched upon my present attitude towards clothes (including a bizarre classification of things I wear) in the last year’s post For Every Occasion: Jul et Mad Amour de Palazzo.

As for the future, what I’m trying to change about my clothes is what I do already, more successfully, with perfumes: I think I will be happier with twice or even three times fewer items bought for the same money. I like variety but I don’t get as much joy from five $40 mainstream perfumes from a discount store as I would get from one even full price bottle of niche perfume of my choice. Two more issues I’m working on: overcoming my preconception that, borrowing from Mr. H. Ford, shoes might be in any color as long as they are black (an aftermath of having just one or two pairs at a time, which had to go with everything) and almost physical handicap preventing me from buying and wearing anything white, especially pants and skirts (I’m still not sure how people do that while using public transportation!).

I also decide to try my hand at making a fashion collage to pair with one of my favorite perfumes – Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (if you missed it, I told the story of this perfume in this year’s anniversary post Down the Rabbit Hole through the Looking-Glass).

Ormonde Jayne Ta'if Collage

Images: Soviet fashion, shoes and clutch for the collage – borrowed somewhere (can’t find owners), necklace, dress and perfume in collage – my own.

Down the Rabbit Hole through the Looking-Glass

 

I don’t like changes and there have always been many constants in my life. Today, on the third anniversary of Undina’s Looking Glass, I want to write about two things I liked for almost as long as I can remember myself: perfumes and storytelling.

At six my mother and I had a ritual: she would read me a chapter from Alice in Wonderland before bed time and the next day I would tell it in front of my group in a kindergarten. I think our teacher just appreciated 10-15 minutes of the calm time while she didn’t have to entertain us but I felt very proud to stand in front of the other 12-15 kids and tell the next part of the story.

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There I read already on my own when I was nine. I don’t remember if I shared that book with anybody at the time but clearly it imprinted in my mind and many years later transformed into the idea behind the idea of this blog’s name.

Alice in NY

It has been long time since I was a kid but I still like telling stories: not fiction but rather something I’ve read, heard or experienced. And since I have the perfect audience (thank you, my friends and readers!), here’s the next chapter of my perfumed story for you.

Even though perfumes were always in my life, until recently I was mostly familiar with the mass market variety. Over the years I’ve approached the proverbial rabbit hole a couple of times without realizing it (several harder to find or niche perfumes made it into my collection without me knowing the significance of that) but every time I would return to the safe ground of mainstream perfumes.

Four years ago I had a small collection of perfumes, arrogant notion that I knew about most of new releases (my world was limited by local Macy’s, Nordstrom and Sephora) and a firm belief that everything smells like everything else. I still loved and wore perfumes that I owned but I felt apathetic about new releases and didn’t expect to find anything interesting and worth my attention.

In summer 2010 my vSO and I spent four days in London. The trip didn’t start well: due to an oversight we ended up staying in a tiny and extremely hot mansard room. 12 m2 for everything, including a bathroom and the advertised “kitchenette”. It was so tight that the bed was the only place one could spend time on while being inside. So we tried to spend as much time in the city as we could to get back after dark when the temperature inside would become more tolerable.

London Apartment

The idea to visit Harrods came from my vSO: he read about it in the guide book and thought it would be interesting to see the biggest department store in Europe. We were walking there as in a museum for a while before we came across the perfume department – the regular one, I hadn’t even heard about Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie until after we returned from that trip.

I wasn’t looking for a new perfume; I was just leisurely browsing the selection when a new perfume found me. An SA almost forced a scented paper strip on me. I knew nothing about the brand. I had never seen their perfumes before. But it was easier just to take that blotter… The brand was Ormonde Jayne. And the perfume was Ta’if.

I liked it so much that I was seriously considering an on-the-spot purchase but remembering an unpleasant experience described in My First Scrubber I decided that I needed to give it some skin time – 15-20 minutes. I sprayed my wrist, put the blotter in my purse and we went to the next department – just to wait for Ta’if to develop.

That next department happened to be a Jewelry Department. I was looking for anything in that department even less than for a new perfume… You know where the story is heading, right? I found a perfect ring that I just had to have. And the more I smelled my wrist the more I liked that perfume. And the store was closing so I had to decide quickly what I should get. I knew that once you pass on a jewelry you like it would be almost impossible to find it again. And with perfumes you should be able to find anything online and even cheaper (yeah, I told you I was a little arrogant). I left Harrods with a ring.

Shaun Leane Cherry Blossom Ring

Ta’if had transferred in my purse from the blotter to my phone and stuck to it for days (who knew about that property of gorilla glass?!) haunting me but at the same time making my evenings at that shoebox of a room a little better.

I came home, started looking for Ormonde Jayne, realized it wasn’t available in the U.S., and while at it I discovered The Perfumed Court, perfume blogs and the whole world of niche and indie perfumes.

Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne is my White Rabbit following whom I started my adventures in the Perfumeland. Had I been more spontaneous (which I’m still not) I would have gotten that bottle right then and there and who knows when or even if I would have come to where I am now. But it took me a couple of months to find a decant, a couple of years to get a travel bottle of Ta’if EdP and another year to add a bottle of Ta’if parfum to my collection. It took me three years and 240 posts to write my down-the-rabbit-hole story.

Ormonde Jayne Ta'if Parfum

There are many reviews of Ta’if EdP out there so I won’t even attempt to do a review. But I’ll share the opinion on the difference between the two versions – eau de perfume and parfum. They are very similar; the latter is a little smoother and has a slightly better longevity but all that isn’t worth an almost 2.5 difference in price ($126 vs. $300) and especially now when “premium French flacon with a gold OJ motif stopper and Japanese ribbons” are merely a false advertising on Ormonde Jayne website and a plain bottle they sell from the store is simpler than original bottles for EdP (the new version of which, at least on pictures, also looks cheaper). Ta’if is a gorgeous perfume and if you like it go for the eau de perfume concentration.

So this is the story of Ta’if, one of my top three all-time favorite perfumes with the other two being Climat by Lancôme, the story of which started this blog three years ago, and Ubar by Amouage, a story of which I’ll probably tell one day.

 

Images: my own

New Year Resolutions, Part I: 2011 Round Up

New Year resolutions… Crowds in gyms and dance classes usually subside by mid-February allowing regulars to go back to their normal routines. Healthier eating habits get buried under stress of a “holiday-less” life and kitchen catch-all drawers stay in their natural state that makes finding any useful thing we put in there at some point an adventure.

In the beginning of 2011 I decided to see at least one of my New Year resolutions through. The resolution was: I will wear one of my favorite perfumes at least two times a week. By that time I’d created already a database to hold information about perfumes in my collection. So all I needed to add was a diary part where I could record my perfumes usage.

I’m proud to report that in all twelve months of 2011 I followed my NY resolution and gave perfumes in my permanent collection the attention they deserve. In addition to that, my numbers collecting provided me with a lot of interesting though probably not that useful data points which I’d shared with my readers in the Quick stats section of my monthly reports.

I was very curious to see the numbers for the whole year. So, here they are.

Quick 2011 stats:

* Different perfumes worn/tested: 376 (303 tested for the first time and 73 previously tested – see the chart by month) from 110 brands;

2011 statistics: perfumes worn by month* Perfumes I wore just once: 191;

* My Top 10 Brands (perfume house I wore/tested most often): see the chart, click on it for a full size;

My Top 10 Brands in 2011

* My Top 10 Perfumes (those that I wore the most often):

Perfume

Times Worn

№19 EdT by Chanel

16

Heure Exquise by Annick Goutal

13

Tiare by Ormonde Jayne

12

№19 Poudre by Chanel

10

Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder

9

Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle

9

Une Rose Vermeille by Tauer Perfumes

9

Antonia by Puredistance

8

Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens

8

Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne

8

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Coming up in the next couple of days New Year Resolutions, Part II: Perfumed resolutions for 2012.

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Images: my own

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See also year end posts and Top N lists for 2011 from the friendly blogs:

Another Perfume Blog: Best Perfumes of 2011: A Joint Blogging Event

beauty on the outside: Highlights from 2011

EauMG: Best of 2011 – Perfume Blogging Event

eyeliner on a cat: Best Fragrances of 2011

From Top to Bottom: My 2011

Muse in Wooden Shoes: 2011: The Year’s Fragrance Releases in Review

Olfactoria’s Travels: The Best Of 2011 – My Favorite Perfumes Of The Year

Perfume in Progress: Some thoughts as the year ends

Persolaise – A Perfumer’s Blog: The Best Perfumes Of 2011 & Thoughts On Independence

Pieces of paper, squiggy lines: My Favorite Fragrant discoveries of 2011

Scent of the Day: My Favorites of 2011

Scents of Self: Forgotten Fragrances of 2011

The Alembicated Genie: Best of the Best 2011 – Perfumes and Perfumers and Best of the Best 2011 – Worn and Adored

The Candy Perfume Boy: The Candy Perfume Boy’s Best Picks of 2011

The Non-Blonde: 2011 In Perfume- Delights & Rants

A Friend in Need…

I like all kinds of holidays and celebrations. New Year and my birthday are two my favorite occasions and I always try to get the most of them.

For the New Year 2011 my friends and I had a party at our place. It wasn’t too big or loud but it was warm and joyful, with good food, great drinks and a pleasant (at least for me – can’t vouch for everybody else) gifts exchange. It was a wonderful night; I wore one of my favorite perfumes, was very happy and felt great.

Next morni afternoon I woke up really sick with flu. It was the worst sickness I had in many years. I felt awful and had no strength to get out of the bed for a couple of days. In my feverish mind there were two recurring thoughts to which I tried to hold on as if it was really important to keep thinking them. First – I was very glad and thankful to all the forces of the Universe that I hadn’t got sick 24 hours earlier: it would have been a complete disaster for our party and everybody involved. And second – I was happy that by the time I woke up my new perfumed love (Ormonde Jayne’s Ta’if) was already gone: I was dreading to associate the scent I cherished with the misery of that day. So while feeling horrible I felt lucky.

Ormonde Jayne TiareWhen I finally forced myself to get up and start moving, I noticed a wonderful smell coming from my bathrobe’s collar. It wasn’t too strong or persistent, I would catch a whiff of it now and then, but it was so unexpectedly comforting and supporting that I almost cried. With all the testing I had been conducting at the time it took me a while to figure out what perfume it was. Tiare by Ormonde Jayne.

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