Are you a Perfume Extrovert or Introvert?

When asked about their perfume hobby some people admit that they are open and outgoing about it, others are secretive – not to be ridiculed, get disapproval or just because they are very private. I’m not sure if personality types are directly connected to how we communicate our love of perfume to the world or if it has a more complex correlation but there are definitely Perfume Introverts and Perfume Extroverts. I am the latter.

Rusty "extrovert"

I was sharing my love for perfume long before I discovered Perfumeland or started this blog. I would talk about new [mainstream] releases with friends and co-workers who expressed any interest in perfumes. I would be finding best online deals when somebody was looking for something (that was in pre- and early-Google times). And I would always try to recruit more followers into this not so secret society.

My tally? Not counting minor wins here and there, I have three success stories.

Two friends – one of whom has never worn perfumes before (because they all were too perfume-y) and one who did it very sporadically – under my influence and with my help found perfumes to love and wear. Interestingly, for both of them those were Jo Malone‘s perfumes – Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Vanilla & Anise and Black Vetyver Café for one of them and Wild Fig & Cassis and French Lime Blossom for the other. That’s why I’m persuaded that Jo Malone is a great “starter house.”

My best friend L., who lives half the world away from me, for many years stayed faithful to her signature scent – GF Ferre Lei-Her. After it got discontinued for a while she was able to find another bottle. When she couldn’t find it any longer, she started exploring the current offerings (very-very mainstream), got completely disappointed (who wouldn’t!) and almost swore off perfume. Last year when I visited her I brought with me more than a dozen samples and decants. That was the first time L. realized that there was something beyond pink fruitchulies that invaded the market. After that we went together to the high(er)-end perfume store (the one she was too intimidated to visit on her own before). There L. surprised me: while she did like some of the perfumes I suggested her to try – Prada Infusion d’Iris, Guerlain Champs-Élysées and Cartier Baiser Volé – she absolutely loved Juliette Has A Gun Midnight Oud and a couple of Montale‘s perfumes – not the most obvious choice for a newbie. She keeps exploring and I’m sure she’s on the right track now.

During her recent visit Suzanne (Eiderdown Press) told me one of her success stories. I liked it so much that I asked Suzanne to write it up to share with you. She did:

My friend M is someone I met in a writing group. It wasn’t even a group, there were only three of us, so we got to know each other fairly well in the space of a year—our literary tastes and styles, first and foremost. M wrote both fiction and poetry, and while her fiction was a poignant lens that allowed one to gain insight into the workings of a person’s mind (into the minds of characters who represented the baffling array of human behaviors), her poetry was different: it was more personal and sensual and often seemed to speak of “home”—of the rites of passage that sisters go through together, or the memories of a stepmother who’d been in Europe at the end of World War II, for instance. Given the nature of her writing—its private turning-point moments that hinge on such things as the remembrance of her stepmother giving M her first ‘perm’ (the smell of the hair perming solution, the fitful way she felt about it, and how it became an anchor for stories her stepmother told during this session)—I was rather surprised at the disinterested reaction I got from her when I first started talking about perfume.

By this time, our writing trio had disbanded because our other friend had moved away, and I was taking a break from fiction to start a perfume blog. I remember M’s puzzled look as she questioned how one would go about writing about perfume—and the look of even deeper puzzlement (the slight snicker and firm wave-off of her hand) when I asked if she’d like to sample some perfumes. I forget her reasons for declining my offer, so perhaps it’s unfair of me to surmise, but I got the distinct feeling that she saw perfume as something that would clash with her professional image (as a senior lecturer at the nearby university, teaching women’s studies and writing). Maybe because I was in the early stages of perfume infatuation … well, I’m not sure why I felt this deep conviction, but I did: I felt that anyone who wrote as M did would have to love perfume—would understand its deep connection to memory, to sensuality, to individuality. If she’d been a science fiction writer, I wouldn’t have bothered to try to convert her, but in November 2007, just before Thanksgiving, when the first snowflakes were floating in the air, I decanted some Chanel Coromandel for her, calling it “an early Christmas present” when we met for lunch. She accepted it graciously but skeptically—and I made sure to be nonchalant. I told her she could give it back if it didn’t suit her—that I simply thought it had a beautiful frankincense note that might appeal. In my head, though, I was convinced that it would be airy enough not to frighten her, and at the same time, have a sense of gravity that would appeal to her serious side—and I was right. M fell deeply for Coromandel and within a few days was requesting other perfume samples. Now, six and a half years later, she has a few other favorites (Montale Black Aoud is one) but Coromandel is pretty much her signature scent.

Hajusuuri, a guest writer on my blog, also agreed to share her success story:

Many years ago, more years than I care to remember, my sister and I went to Boston on vacation. For two shopaholics, there was no better place to window-shop than posh Newbury Street where we chanced upon a small perfumery. While we were not into perfumes, we browsed around anyway. If memory serves me right, that shop sold only custom-blended essential oils, which were available only in roll-on bottles. My sister bought several while I left without purchasing anything. Year after year, she would call the store to place an order to replenish. In 2008, she said that the perfumery moved to Colorado but that she was still able to call Dawn to place her order for China Rain blend and French Lily.

I fell down the rabbit hole around 2010-2011 and have grown a too-big collection of mainstream and indie/niche perfumes. In 2011, I somehow managed to convince my sister that she should expand her perfume horizon and consider checking out better mainstream perfumes because her little perfumery probably moved to Colorado due to a business slow-down, that it probably could not afford to stay in Boston and who knows for how much longer it will be open. Since then, she had acquired Elie Saab, Jo Malone Black Vetyver Café, Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede and Cartier Baiser Vole Essence – a pretty decent collection, don’t you think?

But wait! There’s more!

When Undina first suggested a Success Stories post, I immediately thought of my sister as my success story. Curious as to whether or not I could figure out the name of the perfumery that moved to Colorado, I googled “Newbury Perfume Colorado”. The first entry from that search yielded “Essence Studio – Boulder Colorado”. Clicking through to the entry and then the Visit Website link, I was shocked to be redirected to DSH Perfumes. The “Dawn” my sister spoke with to place her orders turned out to be none other than American perfumer extraordinaire, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz!

Now excuse me while I go sit in the timeout corner…

Rusty "introvert"

Are you a Perfume Extrovert or a Perfume Introvert? Have you converted anybody?

Share your success stories in comments (or give a link to your posts on the topic).

 

Images: my own

In the Search for the Perfect Fig

I love figs. Everybody who lives in my house loves figs including my cat Rusty. When he was six months old once he stole a piece of fig with goat cheese on it and tried to run away. His mouth was hardly big enough to hold his loot, I don’t know why he didn’t just lick cheese off it, but he ran as fast as he could while holding on to that fig. In the end he dropped it but still managed to eat cheese.

Several weeks ago after reading one of the fig perfumes reviews, I realized that even though I love and eat figs in all possible ways – fresh fruits, fig gem, fig yogurt, fig balsamic vinegar or chocolate covered figs – I can’t imagine how figs smell. I know what is considered a fig scent in perfumery – personal and home ambiance fragrances, candles or soaps – but I couldn’t remember a scent of an actual fruit.

I tried to rectify the situation but a fig season was suddenly over, figs disappeared from the farmer’s market and those I found in a store didn’t smell.

Fig on a treeOn my recent trip to Sonoma I found a fig tree that still had some fruits. I took a picture (see on the left), picked the fig, bit it, sniffed it and then ate completely. I couldn’t smell much. Either it was a wrong fig or maybe I’m anosmic to some component of this particular scent but I could vaguely smell some rather vegetal aroma – and that was it. I wouldn’t want to wear that scent realistically recreated as a perfume. Probably I’ll have to settle for eating figs without a smell and smelling their perfume version.

On the way home I stopped by Sonoma Scent Studio and bought a perfect example of such perfume version.

Fig Tree by Sonoma Scent Studio – created in 2011 by Laurie Erickson, notes include green fig, vanilla, cedar, patchouli, tonka and musk.  I loved the scent the first time I smelled it from a sample and knew I would get it for my collection. For real reviews read EauMG. But I want to recommend trying this perfume even to those who used to have problems with SSS’s base: in my opinion, Fig Tree is very different from other Sonoma Scent Studio’s perfumes. It’s sheer enough to be worn in warmer weather but, at the same time, has enough substance for the colder months. I got a very stylish 5 ml purse spray and it’ll do for now: Fig Tree has a fair tenacity on my skin (3-4 hours). For me Fig Tree is a perfect fig perfume.

I also bought a jar of Fig Tree Shea Body cream. It smells exactly the same as the perfume. I enjoy the texture of the cream but since I do not like to use scented body product too often (it’s too much of a commitment for me) I started using Fig Tree shea butter as my hand cream before I go to bed. I think Sonoma Scent Studio’s body products will make great gifts for somebody to whom you want to give a scented present but not sure about their perfume tastes.

Fig Tree perfume and cream by Sonoma Scent StudioOther perfumes with a prominent fig note:

Ninfeo Mio by Annick Goutal – created in 2009 by Isabelle Doyen, notes include citron, lemon, petitgrain, bitter orange, galbanum, lavender, lentisque, fig, lemon wood and musk. I read many positive reviews before I got to try Ninfeo Mio. I liked that matte green bottle and really hoped to like the perfume. I didn’t. I approached it several times: it smells very nice on a blotter. But Ninfeo Mio is one of those Annick Goutal’s perfumes that I just cannot stand on my skin. I was so upset by that fact that I even gave away my sample. Of course, now, when stores around do not carry it any more, I started having doubts: should I test it again? Will I like it more if I try it now? I will test it again one day (it is a beautiful bottle…)

Birgit from Olfactoria’s Travels had similar but milder reaction but for Robin from NST Ninfeo Mio worked much better.

Un Jardin en Méditerranée by Hermès – created in 2003 by Jean-Claude Ellena, notes include fig woods and leaves, orange blossom, bergamot and white oleander. If one good thing came out of my trying Ninfeo Mio resolutely, it was that I finally came around to liking Un Jardin en Mediterranee. It’s not the most straight-forward connection: I just happened to test these too in parallel. I thought they had something in common and while testing I discovered that this Ellena’s creation develops very nicely on my skin. I might even pick up a small bottle of Un Jardin en Mediterranee eventually.

This is Birgit’s review that inspired me to test Un Jardin en Mediterranee again.

Green FigWild Fig & Cassis by Jo Malone – created in 2002 by Jo Malone, notes include cassis, cherry, grass, hyacinth, cyclamen, jasmine, pine tree, patchouli, cedar, amber and musk. That was the second full bottle from Jo Malone line that I added to my collection. It was the first fig perfume I’d ever smelled so it might influence me but Wild Fig & Cassis is probably my most favorite fig fragrance as of now (followed by Fig Tree). I think it is underappreciated. It’s interesting and complex enough to stand in the same line with other more popular fig perfumes. Wild Fig & Cassis is a green and slightly bitter fragrance. I do not detect any sweetness but YMMV since I’m known for not smelling some sweet notes where others get an overdose.

Philosykos by Diptyque – created in 1996 by Olivia Giacobetti, notes include fig tree leaves, wood and white cedar. I know that this one is almost an iconic fig fragrance; Philosykos gets mentioned every time when fig in perfumes is discussed. I was inclined to like it long before I tried it. Then I bought a sample. It is a nice perfume. But it’s a little too… flat(?) for my taste. And a little sweeter than I’d like it to be. So while appreciating this perfume I don’t think I’ll even use up my sample.

For real (and positive) reviews read NST and Olfactoria’s Travels (Birgit also reviews here two other fig fragrances which I haven’t tried).

Winter FigWomanity and Womanity Taste of Fragrance (Le Goût du Parfum) by Thierry Mugler – created in 2010 and 2011 correspondently, notes include citrus notes, green notes, fig, caviar accord, animal notes, aquatic notes, woodsy notes, oriental notes and sunny notes (whatever it means) – for the original Womanity and some marketing variations on the same notes plus “fig chutney” for Womanity Le Goût du Parfum. I find this perfume (well, both of them since after testing them in parallel several times I do not see much difference between them in 15 minutes of wearing) very interesting and unusual. I read many negative reviews and I tried Womanity again and again in spite of them. It smells… interesting. I think Thierry Mugler again managed to create something different, maybe not as revolutionary as Angel but still original enough. But I do not want to wear it. I thought I wanted to buy a small bottle of either version of Womanity for my collection but then after reading Ari’s review and testing both perfumes again I realized I wouldn’t wear any of them.

What is your favorite fig perfume? If you reviewed any of these or other fig-centric perfumes feel free to give a link to you post.

Images: first two my own; last two by a friend of mine lyukum