Perfumed Streets

.

Post by Anne-Marie

.

Hi all,
What are the perfumes you notice on other people when you are out and about? Do you recognise specific perfumes, or just a generic ‘perfumey’ aura around your workplace and on the bus?

Perfumed Streets

TerreD'Hermes FragranticaFragrantica

My most memorable moment was in a hotel lift in Paris. I stepped into the empty lift and I could smell Terre d’Hermes so distinctly I could almost touch it. The wearer must have stepped out mere seconds before.

Queuing for coffee at a railway station in Paris I again seemed to catch Terre d’Hermes, but I couldn’t be sure. Railway stations are a cacophony of smells.

Chanel No 5 Parfum Chanel FragranticaFragrantica

I smell Chanel No 5 EDT a fair bit. Once I noticed another mother at a school concert sending clouds of it several rows forward and back. I was surprised that anyone could conjure that much sillage out of No 5. I never thought of it as a sillage monster. Later though  I worked with someone who had No 5 as her signature and it could be smelled EVERYWHERE she had been, or was yet to arrive. Outside her office, up and down the corridors, in the bathroom, in the carpark. Yeeesh!

youth-dew-estee-lauder-fragranticaFragrantica

Once I caught a whiff of something delicious on a woman as I walked past her in a department store. I wheeled back and followed her up the escalator, trying to figure out what the perfume was. This is the only time I have stalked anyone because of their perfume. By the time I got to the top I’d figured it out. It was Estée Lauder’s Youth Dew.

Fragrantica

Smelled Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche on an elderly lady I’m slightly acquainted with. She is a smart, beautifully dressed and fascinating woman and what she was talking about was so interesting I forgot to ask about her perfume. But it was certainly Rive Gauche and it suited her perfectly. I wish now that I had mentioned it because she would probably have had an interesting story to tell about it.

These experiences are relatively unusual for me. Terre d’Hermes, yes. That is so distinct and full of character that you cannot mistake it for anything else. But mostly when I smell perfume on someone I don’t recognise it. I just smell ‘perfume’: a pleasant (or not) floral, sweet, woody or sporty something-or-other.

perfumed-streets-busy_street_in_india-wikipediaWikiMedia

The market is jam packed with smell-alikes, after all, and most people don’t want to make much of a statement with fragrance. I know someone who has a wonderfully quirky style in clothes, but her perfume is Lancome’s La Vie Est Belle. Or at least I think it is; it’s a bit hard to tell when there are so many copies and derivatives in that style.

So – over to you? Are there stand-out perfumes in your world? Or does everyone smell of hotel shampoo these days?
Bye for now everyone, and keep spritzing!
Anne-Marie

Christian Dior: Little Dictionary of Fashion

.

Post by Anne-Marie

.

In my tiny collection of fashion and perfume books, my greatest treasure is a tattered copy of Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion: a guide to dress sense for every woman, published by Cassell & Co in 1954. A friend gave it to me and it seems to be a first edition, which is rather special. It’s written in English. If there was an earlier French edition I’m not aware of it.

The book is arranged alphabetically: A for Accessories … Afternoon Frock … Armholes … – through to Z for … Zest (‘There is no beauty which is attractive without Zest’).

Christian Dior: Little Dictionary of Fashion

Book Review

the-little-dictionary-of-fashion-a-guide-to-dress-sense-for-every-woman-book-depositoryBook Depository

Of course on first opening the book I skipped straight to P for Perfume. Here’s the entry in full.
“Since the beginning of civilisation perfume has always been used and has been considered an essential part of woman’s attraction.
“When I was young, women used much more perfume than they do now and I think that was wonderful and I regret that more women don’t use it lavishly now.
“Perfume, like your clothes, can so much express your personality; and you can change your perfume with your mood.
“I think it as important for a woman to have beautiful perfume as it is for her to have beautiful clothes. And do not think that you need have perfume only on yourself; your whole house can smell of it, and especially your own room.”

The entry is accompanied by a photograph of – of course! – Miss Dior in the amphora bottle in which it had been presented on its release in 1947.

miss-dior-amphora-fragranticaFragrantica

It’s intriguing that Dior thought that women of that time wore less perfume than when he was young (Dior was born in 1905). Was that true, I wonder? Perhaps the women in Dior’s (rather privileged) early life happened to be great lovers of perfume? Or perhaps Dior the salesman was he just being sly, encouraging women to buy more perfume? Preferably his own, of course

The book is sheer delight. Dated, of course, in some of its advice. “In town you cannot be dressed without gloves any more than you can be dressed without a hat.” But whimsical too. “I never get tired of dots.” And sensible. “Too high heels are vulgar and hideous.” I could not agree more.

My favourite is the entry for Elegance: “Elegance must be the right combination of distinction, naturalness, care and simplicity. Outside this, believe me, there is no elegance. Only pretension.” I do believe you M. Dior, indeed I do.

This charming book has been republished under a slightly rearranged title, and is widely available online.
By the way, want some Miss Dior bottle porn? Go here.

Are you a lover of Dior style, in dress and perfume? Do comment!
Until next time everyone, stay elegant!
Anne-Marie

Golden Oldies: Worn For Life

.

Post by Anne-Marie

.

Hi all

What is the perfume you have worn the longest in your life?

Golden Oldies: Worn For Life

Chanel No 19 Eau de Parfum Chanel FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Neroli, bergamot, green notes
Heart: Iris, narcissus, rose, lily of the valley
Base: Sandalwood, leather, vetiver, oakmoss

I’ve worn Chanel No 19 on and off for … ahem … something like thirty years. I don’t know how I could afford it but I bought my first 50ml bottle of the EDT in the mid-80s when I was a student. Between then and 1991 (still a student) I went through that bottle and bought two more. I still have them all; the first completely drained, the latter two are nearly used and rather on the turn now. (Why did I buy a third before the second was drained? I can’t remember.)

In later years I added more bottles of the EDT and EDP to my collection. I still wear it No 19. It’s the perfume I’ve worn the longest, more than half my life.

In those early years I also bought Estée Lauder White Linen, Lancome Magie Noire, Laura Ashley No. 1, and Eau Sauvage (two bottles). Later, after I moved cities, I remember buying Paloma Picasso, Patou Joy, Estee Lauder Pleasures, and Eau de Givenchy. The last was a souvenir of a trip to the UK and Europe in 1996. I bought it in Paris. Squeee!

golden-oldies-trialsanderrors-tour-eiffel-exposition-universelle-paris-france-1889-flickrFlickr

This was all before I had started having children in 1998, and ceased spending money on perfume for several years.

I don’t wear any of those regularly any more. I’ve moved on from the Lauders, as you do. Paloma Picasso has some sad memories. Magie Noire I wear occasionally still. Joy I never really liked and still don’t. I bought it to celebrate the fact that I could actually afford a perfume once touted as ‘the most costly perfume in the world’. By 1993 it wasn’t, but I loved the idea of it. Eau de Givenchy has to compete every summer with a clutch of other eaux, though it is still the best of the bunch probably.

eau-de-givenchy-givenchy-fragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Grapefruit, mandarin, bergamot, mint, red fruit
Heart: Ylang-ylang, honeysuckle, pure jasmine, narcissus, tuberose, lily-of-the-valley, rose, cyclamen, orris root
Base: Sandalwood, musk, cedar, oakmoss

Anyway – I’m wondering what is the perfume you have worn the longest, and which you still wear? What is the perfume to which you keep returning, no matter how many other perfumed paths you have explored?

Does this long-standing choice suggest something fundamental and abiding about your taste? Note, for instance, that my early perfume collection contained no gourmands, and no orientals except Magie Noire which is part-chypre anyway. Note also that I skipped the marine/ozonic perfumes of the 90s altogether. Thank God. I’d rather squirt L’Eau d’Issey in my eye than wear it on skin.
Or, have you completely left behind all your early perfume explorations and discarded those early, embarrassing bottles?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time, keep spritzing everyone!
AM

Scent Of Revenge

.

Post by Anne-Marie

.

Hi all

I’m not an admirer of Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire. Its cherries and berries are too sweet for my taste, and I have no energy for all its forms and flankers. I’m not going to list the notes. All the LPRNs smell the same to me anyway.

I do love the series of animated video ads though. Sassy, witty, they are just so fun to watch. Here’s one – from the Eau de Parfum Couture – but there are several others.

La Petite Robe Noire – EdP Couture – GUERLAIN

Then I got curious about the original song, written by Lee Hazlewood and recorded by Nancy Sinatra in 1966. Here’s the music video, also from 1966:

Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking (1966 Original)

For her sexiness and that knowing look in her eye, this is a smooth, flawless performance from Nancy. She’s not going to be brought down by that loser of an ex-lover. She’s up on her feet and those little black boots are aimed where they can do the most damage. If we follow Nancy’s lead we have to acknowledge that you enjoy revenge most when you can laugh at your enemy. ‘Ha!’ she laughs. ‘Ha!’ indeed.

Scent Of Revenge

revengePDI

Revenge may be sweet but it can also be corrosive. If you let it take over it will consume you. So you may as well have a laugh as you walk all over that useless bastard, and get on with your life.

What would make a good revenge perfume? Ah, this is where I’m interested in your thoughts.

For my money, La Petite Robe Noire will not do. It’s too conventional and too risk-averse. Wit and intelligence are forsaken for easy populism. Once you’ve had your cry, once you’ve wallowed in your comfort fragrances, you need something to get you back on your feet and spritzing in the face of the enemy.

I’d go for a chypre or something in that line of country. There is nothing maudlin about Chanel No 19, for instance. It won’t let you out of the house with a blotchy face or unwashed hair. In YSL’s Rive Gauche you can forget about all the socks you sorted and the cupcakes you baked.

My top choice is Dior’s spicy oriental chypre, Dioressence. It has the essential ‘Ha!’ we see in Nancy: the flick of the hair, the chin in the air, the confident grin of disdain.

Those are my thoughts, but ANYTHING that sharpens your heels will do. So he hated Thierry Mugler’s Angel? Wear it! He liked you in some soft floral like Chloe? Forget it. Wear what YOU want. Chanel No 5 reminded him of his granny? Wear it! (Anyway, his granny was one classy lady, wasn’t she? She probably always thought you were too good for him.)

Bye for now everyone – I’m looking forward to reading about YOU would spritz in the eye of your Ex. Ouch!

Angrius Feminus (Iratus mulieres),
Anne-Marie

Extreme Perfumes

.

Post by Anne-Marie

.

Hi all
I’m interested to know what are extreme perfumes for you? How far can a perfume push a genre for you before it’s too much?

Extreme Perfumes?

What Pushes You Over The Edge?

First Van Cleef & ArpelsVan Clef & Arpels

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Aldehydes, Bergamot, Raspberry, Mandarin, Peach, Black currant
Heart: Carnation, Hyacinth, Orris root, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-valley, Narcissus, Orchid, Tuberose, Turkish rose, Ylang-ylang
Base: Amber, Oakmoss, Honey, Musk, Sandalwood, Tonka bean, Vanilla, Vetiver, Civet

I got thinking about this when I read Portia’s Van Cleef & Arpels’ First post which, as I said in a comment, is too rich and opulent for me. No matter how I wear it or try to dress it down, it seems to demand silks and satins, furs and pearls. I might aspire to that sort of glamour occasionally, but it’s like getting mum’s old patent leather stilettoes out of the dress-up basket and stumping around the lounge room in them. Fun, but I’m not going to step out the front door. Indeed I think that on release in 1976 First took us to the zenith of the aldehydic floral genre, beyond which no fragrance has ever gone since.

la-nuit-paco-rabanne-fragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Basil, bergamot, amalfi lemon, tangerine, artemisia
Heart: Jasmine, rose, peach, pepper, white honey
Base: Oak moss, woodsy notes, patchouli, leather, Virginia cedar, civetta

The civet and oakmoss in Paco Rabanne’s La Nuit make it unwearable for me – me! A chypre lover! But La Nuit out-chypres all chypres and I’m really not surprised that it was discontinued ages ago. Were it released today on the niche market, La Nuit would be a darling of the cognoscenti.

Fracas Robert Piguet FragranticaFragrantica

BaseNotes gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, Mandarin, Hyacinth, Green notes
Heart: Tuberose, Jasmine, Orange Flower, Lily of the valley, White iris, Violet, Jonquil, Carnation, Coriander, Peach, Osmanthus, Pink geranium
Base: Musk, Cedar, Moss, Sandalwood, Orris, Vetiver, Tolu balsam

Piguet’s Bandit and Fracas, now: they both take us to the edge – over the edge – in the leather chypre and white floral families, respectively. I can’t wear either of them. Bandit is too bitter and Fracas just too freakin’ weird for me. I’ve tried them, though. You need to test the boundaries, or you won’t know where your boundaries actually are.

I don’t wear orientals much, or certainly not extreme spicy or skanky ones, but I know that they are out there. Do share your experience with these. Love them or hate them?

And what about extreme powder in fragrances? Where does that take us?

Eau Sauvage Christian Dior FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Lemon, basil, bergamot, cumin, lavender, fruit
Heart: Jasmine, rose, carnation, iris root, coriander, patchouli, sandalwood
Base: Oakmoss, vetiver, musk, amber

Ultimately I think I must believe in that old maxim: restraint in all things. It’s not just a style choice, it’s a fundamental personality trait. I rarely go to extremes in anything. I can stop at two chocolate biscuits, two glasses of wine, and one (okay two) pairs of red shoes. Cheese is harder, admittedly.
Here’s a parting thought. Are there extremes in the citrus cologne genre, or are they inherently minimalist? Dior’s Eau Sauvage (or 4711, or insert your favourite here) may be the very best citrus cologne ever, but no-one is going to back away and call the scent police on you, are they?

Most of these fragrances are available at Surrender To Chance to sample

Bye for now everyone, but do drop in a comment and share your thoughts!
Anne-Marie xx

Lavender: Three Lavenders To Relax With

.

Post by Anne-Marie

.

Hi all

A member of an Australian perfume group on Facebook recently posted this remark:
“I just had a little stress out so I bought myself a perfume. Has this helped you before? My cupboard is full of fragrances.”

So you can imagine the answers. Yes, yes, yes – from many people, including me. (“Better for your health than alcohol or chocolate.”)
We buy perfume to de-stress, and as a little act of self-nurturing to bring beauty into what can feel like a cold, unfeeling world. You know this; I don’t have to labour the point. One member did admit: “I stress out on what to buy and wear so it’s a vicious but good circle.” I can identify with that too. I find owning too much stuff is stressful in itself.

I’m not going to rake over the issues of addiction and obsession today, though. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about what perfumes, or notes, you actually find relaxing. What helps you ride through the stress and anxiety of any given day? I’ll start.

Lavender: Three Lavenders To Relax With

Lavender is widely thought of as calming. Agree? For me it’s a maybe. If it’s very pungent I find lavender distracting and unpleasant.

Boy Chanel Chanel FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Lavender, rose, lemon, grapefruit, rose geranium, orange blossom, sandalwood, heliotrope, vanilla, musk

CHANEL Boy is an exception; there it is too refined to be offensive, and interestingly a lot of lavender sceptics seem to be making allowances for Boy.

Gris Clair Serge Lutens FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Iris, tonka bean, amber, lavender, woodsy notes, incense

And Serge Lutens’ Gris Clair, now. This! A modern classic in the lavender genre. I don’t find Gris Clair cold or ashy, as some people do. One sniff and I lift my mental gaze from daily troubles and look into the middle distance to a calmer place. Lavender-scented clean cotton drying in the sun. Grey early light over green hills, the promise of a lazy summer day. I think I do generally associate lavender with sunshine; or at least, I like lavenders that bring out this quality.

serendipty_soap LUSH CosmeticaLUSH Cosmetics

There must be countless lavender bath and body products but I’ll mention just one: Lush Serendipity Soap. Again, this is a gentle lavender, blended with chamomiles. It’s more restrained than your average Lush product but I notice that the scent does linger in the bathroom and it’s a nice way to ease into the day.

It’s the sense of space and perspective that I value in lavender. It offers thoughts of things bigger than self. Beauty in simplicity. Perfumes can relax us because we just love them. They can have this effect regardless of notes and accords. If you know a perfume well and you have written your story into it, and it into yours, it will greet you like an old friend.

So over to you – what do you reach for when you when the world crowds in on you?
Until next time, relax and keep spritzing!

Tocade by Maurice Roucel for Rochas 1994

.

Post by Anne-Marie

.

Hi all,
Ah … Tocade! This is one of the perfumes forever associated with critic Luca Turin. A bit of ‘harmless fun with roses and vanilla’ is what he called it in Perfumes: the Guide, but so beautifully done from top to bottom, with simple materials normally taken for granted, that it deserves five stars.

Tocade by Maurice Roucel for Rochas 1994

Lullaby of Broadway

Tocade Rochas FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Green notes, freesia, bergamot, geranium
Heart: Magnolia, iris, orchid, jasmne, lily-of-the-valley, rose
Base: Patchouli, musk, amber, vanilla, cedar

I have no quarrel with a perfume that sets out do nothing but please receiving a top rating. Why not? Aren’t Shakespeare’s comedies masterpieces as well as entertainments? Does something have to be cool, dark or moody to deserve the highest accolade? No indeed. No-one – not even me! – can wear Chanel No 19 every day.

That said, I don’t completely love Tocade. It is a bit too loud and too artificial (LT likens it to nail varnish) for me. I enjoy the sillage much more than the scent on skin. Vanilla is Tocade’s key message, and I can only take vanilla in moderate amounts, usually.

There is a darkness to Tocade as well though. I think its ‘pretty, dancing feet’ have seen a few tawdry dance floors over the years. You know that beautiful song ‘Lullaby of Broadway’? It’s been recorded many times but I love Diana Reeves’ version, which pulls the tempo right back to a sweet, wistful imagining the life of a Broadway performer. Behind the ‘hip hooray and ballyhoo’ is a weary existence for a girl who works all night, every night. It’s early in the morning before she can go home to sleep; the ‘milkman on his way’.

Tocade is her perfume. It’s a pretty, showy piece but with a haunting density of patchouli and cedar underneath. The vanilla is smoky as well as sweet. Backstage, as our ‘broadway baby’ she waits for her next cue, she rubs her calloused feet, mends the laced on her dress, and longs for her rest. Sure, her ‘daddy’ buys her ‘this and that’. Perfume, sweets and roses adorn her corner of the dressing room. But when she goes home, she sleeps alone.
Tocade has strong sillage and lasts ages. I snapped up a bottle in the old, crazy packaging, but in 2013 Rochas shoved Tocade into a uniform bottle. I don’t know if the formula has changed, so do comment if you have compared them.

Further reading: Now Smell This and Non Blonde
FragranceNet has the 2013 edition under $50/100ml Before Coupon!
Surrender To Chance has samples of the original starting at $3/ml

The apparent simplicity of Tocade never fails to give me something to think about. And what about you? Do you have a perfume in your collection which is as puzzling as it is beguiling? Sweet but sad?
Until next time, keep spritzing everyone!