[N]SFW Perfumes

Flying on a plane, attending a symphony concert or visiting people in hospital – in all these circumstances we know the space limitations and are trying not to arrive in a nuclear cloud of a killer perfume. But all these situations happen once in a while so it’s easier to be mindful of the surroundings. When it comes to wearing perfumes to the office it gets trickier: we spend there a huge part of our life and we spend it mostly with the same people.

Many years ago I had a co-worker R. who really liked Victoria’s Secret Dream Angels Halo. I liked it too and even bought a small bottle of it, but I never wore it to work because everybody knew it was R.’s perfume: you could tell she was in the office on the second floor once you opened an entrance door on the first floor. As I said, I liked the scent but I was happy that we worked in separate offices. Since she was a senior person (both age- and position-wise) nobody dared to tell her she was going overboard with application. I don’t know if she was done with the bottle or somebody finally decided to speak up, but her next perfume wasn’t as loud. But for me it was a lesson well learned and for many years, long before my perfumista times, I classified all of the perfumes I wore or tried as safe-for-work or not-safe-for-work. DKNY Women, Calvin Klein Truth, Cacharel Noa fleur and later several Jo Malone‘s bottles were my SFW perfumes back then.

Rusty and Cacharel Noa Fleur

During the descent down the rabbit hole, for a while I used most of the time I was awake for testing perfumes. And since testing meant putting on my skin something, with which I was unfamiliar, for both my and my co-workers’ sake I applied them very sparingly (besides, have you seen those Luckyscent’s samples?!). So even though many of the perfumes I tested during that period weren’t particularly SFW-type, with a careful application they didn’t bother anybody much (bar a couple of accidents with a crushed vial and mistaken identity).

But after testing 356 perfumes in one year, I realized that I wasn’t wearing my favorite perfumes from the rapidly growing collection. So gradually I switched to wearing to work perfumes I love and testing in evenings or during weekends. And that’s when I discovered that not wearing Angel or Fracas (other than maybe in homeopathic dozes) wasn’t enough: I had to take into account personal dislikes of people with whom I was sharing space daily for 8-9 hours.

Trying to be a good person, I asked all my office-mates to let me know if any of my perfumes would bother them: with the size of my perfume wardrobe I could afford not to wear some of them, right? Over time I learned that one of my co-workers disliked Tom Ford Amber Absolute (“too kitchen spicy”) and Jo Malone‘s Sweet Milk. I had to let him go: who dislikes Sweet Milk?!! (Ok, just kidding, there were multiple disciplinary infractions.) Another co-worker said that Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient was too strong and “smelled as in Men’s department at Macy’s.” Though I was sad when she left (not because of my perfumes choice!), I was glad I could wear my Encens Mythique d’Orient again.

Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient

Several years ago during our short perfume sniffing walk with Birgit and Sandra (Olfactoria’s Travels) in Vienna in one of the shops Birgit attracted my attention to the brand. Her comment was along the line that she didn’t like it in particular but it was one of the brands that weren’t widely available elsewhere. Prompted by her an SA handed me a test strip with perfume – Chic Shaik No 30 by Designer Shaik.

We visited four shops that day and tried numerous perfumes but that single paper strip came with me back to the U.S. via Paris. Birgit was right: three years ago Shaik wasn’t easy to find in the U.S. But I still managed to get a tiny vial of Chic Shaik No 30 from one of the decanter sites and later tracked and bought a bottle.

Chic Shaik No 30 by Designer Shaik

When I unpacked my purchase, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Pictures cannot properly convey how bizarre everything about this perfume’s packaging was – from a flimsy box à la Ghirardelli-chocolate-packet with that awful bow to the horrendous bottle adornments; with “FROM THE PRINCE IN YOUR LIFE” etched into an unexpectedly good quality coffin-like leather case as an apogee of this disaster. I’m not familiar with Middle Eastern aesthetics so I might be off with my impressions but I do not understand this etsy-worth chic for expensive perfume.

Packaging and name aside (people, you have to be Chanel for the numbering to work and even Amouage got most of us confused with their Roman numerals!), I like Chic Shaik No 30. It combines two of my favorite characteristics: it’s both floral and amber perfume. The brand’s site doesn’t provide any useful information so I’m going with Fragrantica’s notes: bergamot, cardamom, passion fruit, rose, jasmine, patchouli, vanilla, ambergris and tonka bean. As usual, my nose isn’t sensitive enough to recognize most of them but I enjoy the composition.

Chic Shaik No 30 by Designer Shaik

I thought that with a light application Chic Shaik No 30 was a perfectly SFW perfume. But a co-worker with whom I used to share the office took a strong dislike to it. Surprisingly, she pinpointed exactly what bothered her about if: she said it smelled like a souk. She didn’t protest any of my other perfumes, so I had to respect her pet peeve.

I wore Chic Shaik No 30 on my first day at the new job. So far no complaints but only time will tell.

Did you come across any perfume that you considered SFW but got complaints, unfavorable comments or some form of non-verbal disapproval from a co-worker?


Images: my own

The Scent of Music: Carol of the Bells


For the first time I heard this carol many years ago in the Victoria’s Secret‘s TV commercial for one of their perfumes – Dream Angels Heavenly. Since then they’ve used Carol of the Bells in several ads with nauseating texts on top so I’m avoiding those now. But that first one that featured only instrumental was magical. Back then I didn’t know what it was but I liked it immediately.


Music isn’t a part of my day-to-day life. A couple of headsets you’d find in my household are those that I use for Skype meetings and a noise cancellation travel headset, a birthday gift for my vSO from me. From time to time we listen to music – on long car trips or during parties – but I may go for weeks without playing a single song.

But for a month every year I become a music fan: on my work commute instead of talk shows or news I listen to the Bay Area Official Christmas Music Station. I love Christmas music and do not mind listening to numerous versions of The Little Drummer Boy again and again.

You know literary technique “his version of the story – her version of the story”? One of those in our family involves me remembering that my vSO stumbled across a Pink Martini CD while suffering through my shopping at Nordstrom. He insists that it was a more manly neutral location – at a Starbucks. Wherever it was, Pink Martini became one of our favorite groups. I bought all of their CDs. We went to five of their live shows. Some of their songs are original but I like them mostly for finding and performing songs from different parts of the world, in different languages and music genres.

Even though I’ve known for a while that Carol of the Bells was created by a Ukrainian composer based on a folk chant “Shchedryk” I haven’t heard the Ukrainian version of it until three years ago when I bought Joy to the World – a Christmas Music CD recorded by Pink Martini.


Are you still waiting for the scent part? Alright… While many perfumes bring out various memories and associations, the reverse approach rarely works for me: I always have a hard time scenting movie characters, colors or moods. Selecting the song was easy: I think Carol of the Bells is one of the most beautiful Christmas songs, it moves me every time I hear it. But when I tried to match that intense, slightly disquieting and unsettling music piece to any perfume in my collection I failed. And then I thought of a different type of fragrant product that I had in my collection probably from the time I heard Carol of the Bells in that commercial: a Shimmer Body Powder scented with another Victoria’s Secret’s perfume from the same Dream Angels collection – Halo.


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While giving a perfect long-lasting shimmer to skin, Halo powder has a very light scent of that perfume, which doesn’t interfere with wearing any perfume of my choice. And since there are not that many occasions for which sparkles on my skin are suitable (mostly I use it for winter holiday parties) my wand will last for many more years. And now every time I wear it, no matter which perfume I choose to complete my outfit, I will think of a beautiful Christmas carol that came from the same place as me and found here its new home and a new holiday to celebrate – as did I.

Merry Christmas and Happy Winter Holidays!


Read other song-scent pairings in The Scent of Music joint blogging event:

Jingle Bells

Lulajze Jezuniu

Winter Wonderland

O Come All Ye Faithful

In the Bleak Midwinter

Christmas Means Love

Christmas Time is Here

O Little Town

Joint Blogging Event: Three Ghosts of Christmas – Ghosts of Perfume Past, Present and Future


Ghost of Perfume Past

She was 27, single mom and worked as a CEO’s personal assistant (even though she graduated from a university – those were strange times in my native country). From time to time our boss used her real specialty – a translator – during business meetings with English-speaking suppliers. On one of those trips she met and started dating an older American guy. I’d never seen him but heard a lot about him from her.

Looking back now I think he was just a creep who figured it wouldn’t cost him much to get a younger lover in a poor country to where he had to travel on business. But back then both she and I were quite naïve and we both thought about those relationships as real and going somewhere.

On one of his visits he brought her a lot of clothes from Victoria’s Secret catalog (do you know any men shopping that catalog??!) and a perfume. Rapture.

Victorias Secret Rapture

For me it was love from the first sniff. I liked everything about Rapture – the scent, the heart-shaped bottle, that it came from the U.S. My co-worker let me try it once but after that I was tortured by her wearing the perfume I wanted.

Until then I’d never heard about that brand, it wasn’t present in the country. But I wanted to get it so much that I asked a friend who by that time moved to the U.S. for help. It was before Christmas when he’d got to the store and there was some huge promotion happening so I got not only a bottle of the perfume but also some other treasures.

Because of customs, it didn’t make it to me in time for Christmas or New Year. But eventually I got it and owning this bottle that came to me from another part of the world made me happy.

When I moved to the U.S. that bottle of Rapture came with me. For several years I enjoyed wearing it but since it was my “dressed-up” perfume I didn’t go through the full bottle. And then I grew out of Rapture as well as Victoria’s Secret’s other offerings. But I just couldn’t throw away that bottle!

Victorias Secret Rapture

The remaining juice is more concentrated than it used to be and, I think, the smell changed though not much: those were quality chemicals, you know. I need to take a trip to the mall and check out how Rapture smells today though it’s a commitment: once Rapture bonds with my skin it stays there for hours – even 15 years old juice from my bottle.

What is the oldest perfume bottle in your collection (not by vintage but by the time you owned it)?


Ghost of a Perfume Present

What is your favorite color? For many years my favorite color in clothes was black. The reason was rather unpoetical: when you do not own too many items black is the easiest to combine and the most stain resistant. Even now with enough clothes not even to joke about “absolutely nothing to wear” the number of black pieces especially when it comes to shoes is completely disproportional.

When it comes to perfumes, this year I suddenly developed a soft spot for blue/navy bottles and juice.

My Bleu Bottles

Yes, I have a long love story with Angel and its great flanker Angel Taste of Fragrance was a logical continuation of it. My star bottle is old and the color has changed a little – that’s why there is a small bottle of the same perfume in the picture.

Yes, I liked Lancome‘s Mille et Une Roses for a while and used up some samples before snatching a partial bottle on eBay.

Yes, I hoped I’d like Annick Goutal‘s Nuit Étoilée not only because I liked the brand but because I loved the bottle. But at least I tried the perfume before adding that beautiful bottle to my collection.

And yes, I did test Armani‘s La Femme Bleue from a small test vial before deciding if I want to open the bottle I’ve bought un-sniffed.

But there is no reasonable explanation to why I’m browsing Internet for cheap bottles of Van Clef & Arpels’ Midnight in Paris and Feerie: I’m not sure I smelled them – let alone tried on skin.

I am under a Blue Spell.

Will you guess what perfume I plan to test next – solely because of the color?


Ghost of a Perfume Future (aka New Year Resolutions)

From the list of New Year resolutions for the current year I failed mostly on the new bottles in collection limits so for 2013 I made a decision … to remove any limits.

I’m restricted to some extent by a common sense, budget considerations and space limitations – so I think those will be enough for me not to go overboard completely. But otherwise I do not want to restrict or formalize my hobby any more.

I decided not to care how many untested samples I’ve accumulated already – as long as I know that I have them. I’ll get a hundred more (though I’m still not ready to pay for most of them – let’s swap!): one day I might want to test them even if I don’t feel like doing it today.

I will not hold back on publishing pictures of Rusty: he’s one of the best perfumed cats since he spends a lot of time on my lap and doesn’t mind an inevitable transfer of the perfumes I test from my wrists to his fur.

Rusty December 2012

I’m not sure if I’ll make any general NY resolutions but when it comes to the fragrant part of my life my resolutions are to enjoy my perfumes, my blog and my perfume friends.


Images: my own


Take a look at more Christmas Ghost posts on these blogs today:

All I Am – A Redhead
Another Perfume Blog
ChickenFreak’s Obsessions
The Muse in Wooden Shoes
Olfactoria’s Travels
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal