Creature Comfort(er)s Perfumes

When I was a child, autumn would always make me sad: it meant not only the end of the long summer break and returning to school, but also the beginning of 6-8 weather-wise miserable months. After I grew up and moved to the SF Bay Area, I started enjoying Fall/Winter season much more than summer for many reasons: it didn’t happen this year but usually I take my vacation in September; it’s never really cold where I live now; all the holidays during that period are my favorite; and I love “winter” perfumes much more than “summer” ones. By Kilian Amber Oud, Chanel Coromandel, Dior Mitzah, Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe are just several of those perfumes, for which I need cold weather.

But on top of all that there are two more words to explain why I like the cooler weather: down comforter.

It is counter-intuitive but, despite the cold climate where I grew up, there were no industrially produced down duvets. There were wool blankets and comforters filled with cotton but the only down comforters I ever saw were homemade ones. My grandmother made a down-filled comforter for me and I used it for years: as a main blanket first and later, when I grew too tall to fit under it, I used it on top of my other blankets to keep me warm during those 6-8 cold months.

I bought my first adult down comforter after moving to the U.S. and immediately fell in love with it. I’m not exaggerating. It was the best comforter I’d ever owned. It cradled me in a soft and warm embrace, weightlessly enfolding my body and protecting me from the cold. During the day in the office I would catch myself thinking about my comforter and looking forward to returning home and going to bed.

Rusty and Comforter

It became a cliché and is considered almost mauvais ton in the Perfumeland to compare perfume to a cashmere wrap. I’ve never been even tempted to do so: not for trying to be original but just because that feeling is not in my active sensations “vocabulary” (a couple more years of “cashmere therapy” should fix it though, I think). But when I recently wore one of my winter (and all-time) favorites – Amouage Ubar – I realized that it evoked tactile sense I get from a great down comforter. Ubar is smooth and warm and enveloping. It feels luxurious and cozy at the same time. Kafka in her review painted a beautiful image calling Ubar “the white (floral) stallion.” I kept this image in my head for a while but over time only the color part stayed: for me Ubar is a perfect white goose down comforter, which I can covertly bring with me to the most formal party. I’m in love with this perfume and I’m glad the weather is finally suitable for both my real and my virtual down comforters.

Amouage Ubar

I have to stop here because “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!” (a hint just for you, my very favorite readers: the object of my affection is on one of the images in this post and it’s neither a cat nor a bottle…)


Images: my own


Body Heat: Perfumes under Extreme Temperatures

There are people who love running, playing tennis or swimming. I heard they can experience a withdrawal if they have to skip several training sessions. It’s not my story. I hate exercising as long as I can remember myself. I do engage in different activities but do it out of the necessity only: if I could get Kathleen Turner’s body and don’t worry about my health without exercising I wouldn’t (I wonder which perfume bottle she’s holding in that scene).

Kathleen Turner in Body HeatWell, since a lean gene wasn’t one of those passed to me from my parents I do my part in at least keeping myself healthy.

At least as much as physical activity, if not more, I dislike heat. I don’t like cold either.  My comfortable zone is somewhere around 24°C (75°F).

All that makes it hard to explain why out of all available types of physical activities I chose Bikram yoga – a system of yoga practiced in a room heated to 40°C (105°F). I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga (with some breaks) for 18 months. I still hate every minute of a 90 minutes class. But I plan to keep doing it.

For me yoga is just an exercise. I do not subscribe to the philosophy. If I follow the breathing instructions I do it only if it helps to maintain the posture. I do not try to clear my mind and concentrate on what I’m doing. I’m not pushing myself too hard. I’m just trying to survive. One of the things that help me through the class is thinking about perfumes – about which I read or plan to write or which I want to try.

For a long time I tried not to wear any perfumes to my classes thinking they wouldn’t perform well in high heat or would bother me or my neighbors. And then one day I didn’t think about the class I had scheduled in the evening. I wore a perfume to the office and even re-applied it mid-day. By the time I started the first breathing exercise I forgot about it. And when my body heated up enough suddenly the perfume started blooming on my skin. It was magical. It was much more interesting than what I experienced earlier that day with the same perfume. It was Serge LutensBoxeuses.

Since then I started experimenting with different perfumes. I apply just a little bit of a perfume in the décolleté area and on my wrists an hour before I go to the class and then during JanuShirasana or Pavanamuktasana I inhale wafts of the hot air mixed with moisture and perfume particles. It makes my classes go by faster and gives them some additional purpose.

Perfumes that performed the best under such strange conditions: another Serge Lutens’ creation – Ambre Sultan, Ubar by Amouage and Alahine by Teo Cabanel.

Tom Ford’s Arabian Wood, Chergui by Serge Lutens and Mitzah by Dior were very nice but didn’t survive Garudasana (approx. 15 minutes into the class). All three were applied from a dab vial so maybe a more generous spray application would produce a better effect – I’ll re-try them when I get those into my collection.

No 19 Poudre by Chanel didn’t work at all. Not possessing a remarkable staying power as is, it disappeared from my skin by the time I unfolded my yoga mat. It was a strange experiment but I thought that maybe it had some hidden powers. It didn’t.

I remember reading on one of the blogs that I always read a topic about a “treadmill scents” (or something to that effect) but now I can’t find that post. If an owner recognizes it from the description or if you covered this topic in your blog, please post a link.

What is your torture of choice and what perfumes (if any) make it more enjoyable?

Image: Kathleen Turner in Body Heat by