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Archive for June, 2010

Monday, June 21: I’m going to stop bothering to note the weather.  We’re into summer now, and it’s basically going to be the same every day: hot. And humid.  Except when it rains, and then it will be wet and hot and humid.  Of course, it hasn’t rained enough recently, and the grass is getting crunchy, and the wasps are proliferating.  Urgh.  SOTD: Vamp a NY, which I love for being a big flirty happy tuberose-vanilla party.  Complicated it’s not.  Pretty, it is.  Where’s my tropical-floral-print cotton sundress?

Taz’ baseball team lost their tournament game.  They’re done.  It’s over.  Thank goodness, now we can start eating dinner at home every night like normal human beings.  (Okay, fine, I know plenty of people don’t do that.  I mean, normal for us.)

Tuesday, June 22: The CEO and guys have made 340 bales of hay over the past few days – about 70% of an average year’s usage.  And this is just the first cutting!  They’ll make more in August.  These are big bales, too – 6 feet 3 inches in diameter.  They dwarf me.  Gaze went with his dad and helped bale for awhile.  He’s not quite tall enough to reach the foot pedals on the tractor, so he sat on The CEO’s lap and just steered.  The CEO says that it’s a tricky thing to keep the bale even, so that you don’t wind up with lopsided bales that fall apart when you try to move them – but that Gaze is really, really good at it.

SOTD: Vamp a NY again.  Despite my short attention span and despite wearing it for several days in a row, I still like it.  At bedtime it was gone but I still wanted tuberose, so sprayed a bit of TF Voile de Fleur.  Mmm.

Wednesday, June 23: DANGIT DANGIT DANGIT.  My laptop “lost” my review of Vamp a NY (which I wore again today), which was to be posted this morning.  AAAARGGGHH!  I had to go to work with it dangling; only managed to retrieve the file and get the review up on the blog by 11 pm.  Shoot.   

I think Bookworm’s having fun with this PE-class camp thing she’s doing.  Besides basic health, physical fitness tests, and some basic classroom Driver’s Ed, they’ve gone whitewater rafting at the New River Gorge in WV; canoeing on the river; bowling; waterskiing and other water sports at the Boy Scout camp on the lake; and today they went spelunking.  I had not known that there was a cave within a mile of our house, although it shouldn’t have surprised me: most of the local geology is highly karsticLimestone Rock + Underground Water Makes Caves, Duh.  On our farm alone, 610 acres, there are no fewer than three sinkholes, one big enough to swallow a tractor (if you were stupid enough to try to drive a tractor in there).  In any case, she came home utterly covered in mud today, and smiling.

Thursday, June 24: I could have happily worn Vamp a NY again, but decided to wear a sample.  Picked Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee, which is lovely.  I am always surprised by how aquatic it is.  The effect is very Sitting on a Windy Mediterranean Seaside Stone Terrace, Surrounded by White Lilies.  That’s an enviable place to be, even if it is only in my mind.   Is it wrong of me to prefer Donna Karan Gold, which evokes the heady summer blast of my very own stargazer lilies wafting past me as I sit on the front porch swing watching the sunset?  My wallet is happy with my choice.

Oh!  Great news – I just won an advance sample of Tauer Perfumes’ Une Rose Vermeille, which I understand to be the next in Andy Tauer’s Memorables line after Une Rose Chypree, which I liked very much.  It was a random drawing from among commenters on his blog, but I asked Andy if I could review it here and he said, “No problem – just explain how you got your sample.”  So.  There’s that to look forward to.  It sounds great, by the way – red raspberry (I know some of you are covering your ears, but c’mon, it’s Tauer – I can’t imagine fruity mall blah in a Tauer), rose, vanilla, sandalwood, violet.  Sounds soooo pretty.  

Went to sleep wearing a teeny spritz of Teo Cabanel Alahine.  I love that stuff.

Friday, June 25:  In a hurry this morning, I grabbed Mariella Burani for a quick spritz.  It’s such a great wallpaper scent.  The more often I wear it, the more often I smell musk in it – a pleasant, quiet musk that doesn’t smell too laundry detergent.  Yesterday I uncapped my sample  of Serge Lutens Clair de Musc, and in it I found – my mother, of all things.  Of course there is a lot of musk in Chanel No. 5 – but now I’m wondering if she also wore something like Jovan Musk Oil from time to time.  I should call her and ask.  (I should call her and just chat, I don’t do that often enough.)

Saturday, June 26: At the risk of repeating myself once too often, it’s hot.  SOTD:  Welll… nothing, really.  After bringing in the fifth load of laundry from the clothesline, all sweaty, I grabbed my decant of 4711 out of the fridge and spritzed the back of my neck, in the hopes that it would cool me off.  It did, but I still don’t like it.  Luckily, it disappeared within half an hour.  (And the clothes smell great.)  Went to pick up The CEO from where he and Taz had been mowing a hayfield, and they’d picked me some tiger lilies and Queen Anne’s Lace, wasn’t that sweet of them?  They know I love those side-of-the-road specials.

True story: the flowers at my parents’ wedding, 45 years ago today, consisted of armfuls and Mason jars full of Queen Anne’s Lace, picked from every roadside and vacant lot my grandmother and the bridesmaids could get to.  They couldn’t afford anything else.   The life lesson, of course, is that when you can find beauty in the most commonplace things, love lasts.  Congrats, Mom and Dad.

Sunday, June 27:  A momentous occasion – the first-ever unsolicited compliment on my perfume from Taz.  He hugged me and then exclaimed, “Oh, you smell nice!  I like that one.”  The scent?  Parfums DelRae Coup de Foudre.   Taz has good taste.  Review coming sometime this week. 

Top image: My Grandmother’s Perfume Bottle Collection from SourCherries at flickr.  Lower image is New River Gorge Bridge from Wikimedia Commons.

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A new scent from the Honore des Pres house, which specializes in all-natural fragrances. Vamp a NY is part of the We Love NY series, which also includes I Love Les Carottes and Love Coco.

Perfume Review: Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

Date released: 2010

Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti

Sample provenance: sample from Honore des Pres via giveaway at Grain de Musc

Sub-category: Loud dressed-up party composition – except that it’s not all that loud.

As you might have guessed from the post title (if you didn’t already know, because I’m not quiet about it), Tuberose is my BFF. I love it, and tend to feel very comfortable in tuberose scents. When I read at Grain de Musc that Denyse was excited about another new tuberose scent, and that it was very different than L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse but that so well-done that she wanted both, I got excited too. Until I read her review – which mentions the Dreaded Tolu Balsam. If you didn’t already know this little bit of trivial, tolu doesn’t play nice with me. It’s not even a frenemy, it’s a Mean Girl. I sighed a little and decided not to enter the very generous drawing offered by Honore des Pres. I said so in my comments there. But when Denyse gave us the update that HdP had made more samples available and I was eligible for one, I decided to give it a shot. I’m very glad I did.

Vamp a NY starts off with the now-familiar rubber-and-camphor opening of good tuberose absolute, and then there’s a big fruity hit of something – ylang-ylang, with its banana preserves note, perhaps? (Edit: since reading Annelie’s comments about cucumber at Confessions of a Perfume Nerd, I do smell something aquatic-cucumbery in the opening, just after the mothballs. It doesn’t last more than a minute or so, though, and I’m not surprised I missed it the first six or seven times I wore Vamp.) I think there are some other tropical florals (jasmine sambac? frangipani?) in the mix too, although it smells very tuberose-y from start to finish. The heart of this scent, in my opinion, is a big pas de deux with tuberose and coconut, with all the romantic flourishes you could wish for – sweeping violins, purple sunsets, soft caressing winds, crashing waves, golden sands, the whole Tropical Honeymoon deal.

I like it very much. (My own honeymoon was spent in Maine, hiking around small lakes and up granite mountains… in early May. It was cold enough to wear sweatshirts. And on the way home, I’m not kidding here, we made a pilgrimage to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play. Well, The CEO went to see the Red Sox play; I just tagged along. You could say that Capital-R Romance, at least in terms of setting, was a bit lacking, and perhaps I’ve longed for Capital-R Romance ever since.)

Luckily, Vamp a NY delivers. Eventually, up under the tuberose-coconut heart come warm spices and a rich vanilla. I can’t identify the spices (Edit: Denyse suggests the spicy notes are coming from the balsams, so color me shocked – the Dreaded Tolu isn’t bothering me here!), but they assist in keeping the fragrance from becoming unbearably sweet. It is sweet – very sweet – but the vanilla is rich and buttery rather than sugary and marshmallowy, and I just dig this thing right down to the ground.

Back in January, I was testing Havana Vanille and enjoying the way that the very far drydown, some twelve hours after application, seems to be a clear vanilla liqueur, very intense. I dabbed some Beyond Love near the HV, intending to test it, and found that tuberose + vanilla is a gorgeous smell. At the time, I lamented, “Why-oh-why doesn’t somebody make a tuberose-vanilla scent?” Apparently, Honore des Pres already knew how terrific the combination is, and I need search no longer.

Vamp a NY lasts five to six hours with one spray, which is rather long-lasting for me. Of course, it helps that it’s primarily composed of the few notes that tend to hang around a long time on me – but that’s good. Sillage is probably biggest during that fruity stage, but with only one spritz you’re not going to asphyxiate anybody. If I’m going to be at home, I’d do two or three spritzes, but that amount would be too much for work, in my opinion.

I’ve used up about half the generous spray sample HdP sent. I don’t know how big the bottle is, but it’s bigger than the 2ml spray bottles I have on hand – my guess is 3ml? – which is a fantastic size for a sample. I’m impressed, too, by this marketing strategy. Scenario: You’re a niche company, with limited distribution outlets, and you’re bringing out a new scent. How to get cost-effective publicity? You find a way to get your fragrance in front of as many noses as possible – the more fragrance-savvy, the better – and let them tell everybody else how great it is. Genius, my friends, genius. Kudos to Honore des Pres, and I wish the company much success.

I did several testings of Vamp a NY in the same timeframe as I was testing Nuit de Tubereuse, although I did not actually do a head-to-head contest. I found NdT on the “difficult to wear” side – its earthy, rooty nature is odd and borderline unpleasant for me, the tuberose is somewhat muted, and the woody-incense drydown is lovely but not very tuberose-y. Vamp, on the other hand, is pretty much tuberose all the way through, which suits me very well. It’s comfortable and relaxed, pretty and flirty, and is capable of making pleasant conversation. Simply put, it just makes me feel happy. And what’s better than that? If I want intellectual exercises, I’ll wear Jolie Madame, not tuberose.

Quality: A Smells natural, and the notes harmonize well together. Once it gets to where it’s going, it smells the same for quite a long time, but who minds that?

Grab-scale score: 8

Short description: Tropical gourmand tuberose.

Cost: $$  Vamp a NY has not yet been released in the US; the US launch is scheduled for September. However, it is available at Colette now, at 76 euro for a 50ml bottle plus VAT and shipping. (Don’t think I haven’t been monitoring the currency exchange rate.  I’d love a split.)

Earns compliments? Yes. A coworker said I smelled “like dessert, if desserts were made out of flowers.” Three out of four of my immediate family members like it very much. However, the one that dislikes it does so intensely until it settles into its tuberose-vanilla base. The bad news? It’s Gaze that doesn’t like it, and he’s the family member with what I’d call the most discerning nose. He says that when Vamp gets to its drydown, it’s pleasant and smells like candied flowers.

Scent presence: Moderately strong, with moderate sillage. Lasts several hours; after 4-5 hours, the sillage is much less and the scent stays close to the skin.

Review report: Grain de Musc, All I Am – a Redhead, Confessions of a Perfume Nerd, From Top to Bottom – Perfume Patter, Notes from the Ledge, The Perfume Chronicles, Perfume Posse, Scent of the Day, Perfume-Smellin’ Things.

Image of Vamp a NY from Fragrantica.  Second image is “White tuberose” from Buttersweet, and third is Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla Beans from jannza; both are from flickr.

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Due to some technical difficulties (with my laptop), I haven’t been able to post my review of Honore des Pres Vamp a NY.  Please check back later – I hope to have it up by the end of the day.   (As always, please forgive the lack of diacriticals.)  While you’re waiting, feel free to browse my “tuberose series” reviews, if you like.  Or head on over to Grain de Musc, where Denyse – who started the whole feeding frenzy! – has a master list of Vamp a NY reviews posted.

Good news: the vintage Emeraude samples went out in the mail today!  I apologize again for the delay – thanks for bearing with me.  And thank goodness, recreation league baseball is over for another year… whew.

Image is “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date” from Cherishlovespink at flickr.

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Monday, June 14: Ugh, the humidity is dreadful. You walk outside and start sweating… we usually don’t get this kind of humidity until August. SOTD: L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse. Which I can’t make up my mind about, except that it’s fascinating and, well, weird. Wore Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur to bed, mostly because it’s so pretty and I needed a pretty scent for relaxing. VdF is not exactly uncomplicated, but I didn’t get any talons out of it this time, and I’m wondering if it only appears fresh and virginal compared to NdT.

Tuesday, June 15: Hot and humid, threatening rain. Thought the boys’ baseball games would get rained out, but they weren’t. SOTD: L’A Nuit de Tubereuse again. Review of this one soon – and I got a compliment today. The small spritz I put on the back of my left hand was noticeable from four feet away, apparently. (One spritz on one spot, on one hand. Four hours after application, too.) A woman I work with told me that I smelled nice. “Clean,” she added, and while tuberose is not usually my idea of “clean,” it is definitely my idea of heavenly.

The mower’s fixed. Haven’t got the $4000 bill for it yet, but it’s running, so The CEO and the guy that works for him have been mowing/raking/baling hay fairly nonstop.

Wednesday, June 16: Hot and humid, 91F. OTOH, it’s not Washington, thank heavens. SOTD: Yves Rocher Rose Absolue, which is not your typical rose soliflore. It’s an ambery rose that starts out with some spiced rose-berry jam, very sweet and piquant, meanders through a nice simple rose heart (composed of three different types of roses, but simple nonetheless) and then flops headlong into a really pleasant labdanum-tonka featherbed. I had listed it in the Bouquet of Roses post as a soliflore, but I moved it to the Ambery Rose category. Sadly, it doesn’t last as long as it should – it’s an edp but wears more like an edt on me, lasting only about three hours. Surprising when you consider all those base notes in there; tonka typically lasts a long time on me. It might last better when oversprayed (the “spray until wet” technique), but I only have a sample vial. (Note to Guerlain: Yves Rocher just ate your lunch, in comparison to Rose Barbare. No disrespect to Rocher, but in a just universe, this should not happen.)

Good thing it didn’t last, too, because Bookworm made jambalaya for dinner (I supervised), and the kitchen smells are rather overwhelming. I mean, dinner smelled GREAT – jambalaya is but an excuse to combine shrimp, chicken, and smoked sausage in the same dish – but not very compatible with sweet florals. Urgh. SOTE, once the jambalaya was safely stored in the fridge: Coty L’Aimant.

Thursday, June 17: A little cooler today, mid-80s. Wearing Nuit de Tubereuse again. Sometimes I think I really like it, and then sometimes it makes me feel a bit queasy. Once the earthy-rooty-mildewy thing has worn off and it’s mostly tuberose and woods, I’m fine. Tonight is the last of the regular-season baseball games. (Thank goodness. The constant running is making me crazy.)

Friday, June 18: Mid-80s again today. The CEO and Jeff, the “hired guy,” are making hay like there’s no tomorrow, or rather like there were going to be a lot of tomorrows before the cows can eat fresh grass again. (We typically feed cows hay for four months in the winter, but this past winter we had a lot of snow and fed out more than usual. Replenishment of hay inventory is essential.) SOTD: No. 5 Eau Premiere, because I left the house without spritzing, and EP was the only thing I had in my purse. I admit I’ve never regretted putting it on.

The CEO and I had to tag-team the boys’ tournament ballgames. Taz was with me at one field, and Gaze with The CEO at the other. Gaze’s team lost. Taz’s team was losing, badly, 11-4, when the coach of their opponent team suddenly realized that they’d have too few players to play the tournament game on Saturday. So with one out left in the game, they forfeited.

SOTE: my little split of Parfums DelRae Coup de Foudre, which came in the mail today. I won’t say a lot about it yet since I’m preparing a review, but the split host commented, “Rose lovers will not be disappointed,” and she’s absolutely right. It is very lovely.

Saturday, June 19: Taz’s team won. I’m stunned. I was expecting to lose today – this was a very good team they were playing, and the game was pretty close up until the third inning, and then it wasn’t. Dang it. I thought we were done with this. SOTD: Nothing. Too busy.

Sunday, June 20: Happy Father’s Day to my favorite dads: Ron, Joe, Paul, Bill, J.T., Bob, and Kevin. A hot, sticky one today – 93F and humid.  SOTMorning: Vamp a NY, which everyone except for Gaze likes. (I don’t know why he doesn’t like it – he generally likes tuberose.) We celebrated the day with a minor league baseball game, and since my Vamp vamoosed between 1 and 4 pm, I pulled out a sample of Santa Maria Novella Melograno that a friend was so kind as to send me and spritzed it on. This is one weird little scent: tons of aldehydes up top – dry, powdery ones – and then incense. It’s not particularly girly, and it’s not all that friendly, either. Not a single pomegranate-y note in the mix, so why the name? Irony? Oh, and didn’t James Bond discover a bottle of this in the recently-deceased Vesper Lynd’s effects? Innnnnteresting. I think I’m going to have to wear it again. I can see why this friend is, as he says, “wearing the heck out of it” in the heat, though: it’s as cool and dry as a bracingly-scented talcum powder. It doesn’t really smell like Old Spice, but there’s an echo there somewhere. To be honest, it may be because my father used to use Old Spice talc.

Topic: The Smell of My Dad. Discuss, if you wish. My father used to smell of shaving cream and Old Spice aftershave and Mennen deodorant. He wore Old Spice talc for some time, and then switched to Shower to Shower when I was in college. He gave up aftershave in the last decade, since Mom bought him that electric razor, and now smells simply of shaving cream and clean laundry: reliable, thoughtful, quietly pleasant smells that seem to suit him.

Dad, thanks for more things than I could shake a stick at: for the basic necessities, the hugs, horsey rides on your knee, the wildly inventive bedtime stories about talking circus elephants who long for tennis shoes and married rats that live in the house of the Eek-Eek Lady. Thanks for bike-riding lessons, roller-skating lessons, driving lessons (and no, I did not ruin the gearbox on the 1980 Volkswagen 4-speed diesel Rabbit in 1988 – Consumer Reports said VW used to be prone to that little problem, and because, anyway, it was already slipping and even Mom said so), financial advice, college tuition, and for simply sticking around for everything. Thanks for teaching me that a real man takes care of his family. Thanks for really getting to know your grandchildren individually.

I forgive you for missing my swim meets and poetry readings (you made it to my choir concerts and piano recitals). I forgive you for not teaching me to change a tire and use a lawnmower (you can be dead sure that all my kids will get lessons in those things). I forgive you for putting off that DisneyWorld trip. I forgive you for monopolizing the TV by falling asleep in front of NASCAR on Sunday afternoons. I forgive you for telling me I needed to get a degree that would set me up in a profession, instead of studying what I wanted.

I know that when you say, “I think you need a new left front tire on your van,” you really mean, “I love you.” I love you too, Dad.

Image is from parfumgott at flickr.

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I’ve seen several reviews of this scent, and at least one excellent interview (Denyse at Grain de Musc’s interview of Bertrand Duchaufour – warning, the accompanying image is a Matisse nude, probably NSFW) commenting that the reviewers are really enjoying the perfumer’s “new direction.” I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’m not very familiar with his earlier work, and I can’t really address the issue. I like Amaranthine very much, however, and if this is M. Duchaufour’s future, I like it.  To be brutally honest, I like Amaranthine much better – it seems so comfortable – but NdT is fascinating.

Perfume Review: L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse

Date released: 2010

Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour

Sample provenance: split of fresh bottle from retailer, 2010

Sub-category: Ummmm… freaky tuberose? (I just created that one.)

 Notes for NdT:  Tuberose, mango, citrus, cardamom, clove, pink pepper, pepper, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, angelica, gorse, sandalwood, palisander, musks, benzoin and styrax.

After reading Denyse’s tantalizing “guess what tuberose scent I’ve been wearing lately that hasn’t been released yet?” teaser in December, and finding a bottle split active, I jumped right in, unsniffed. (Oh, don’t worry, it was 5ml. And tuberose. How could I go wrong?) And then the decant bottle arrived in the mail. I pulled the cap off and sniffed. “Huh. It smells like… dirt,” I said to myself. “I can tell there’s tuberose in there, but it’s mostly… dirt. Wet potting soil, actually. And maybe… is that mildew?”

(Those of you who are familiar with Duchaufour’s earlier work may stop laughing at me now.  Thank you.)

Put off by the mildew, I tucked my small decant away for several days. Pulled it back out again and smelled the nozzle… nope, still mildew, with something floral under there somewhere. Put it away again for another week. Then received an advance sample of another tuberose scent (yes, yes, review of this one on June 23, I promise) called Vamp a NY, from Honore des Pres’ new We ❤ NY series, which also includes I ❤ Les Carottes, and Love Coco. Vamp was so terrific that I felt I really must give NdT a real chance, instead of just sniffing the cap and getting frightened.

And the next time I picked up my bottle, it wasn’t nearly so mildewy/earthy. I could actually smell the tuberose, just a bit. So, okay, here goes: I sprayed a little on my thumb. And immediately thought of jungles. All that moisture in the air, and on the ground, and in the vegetation… so much vegetation, and every bit of it just this side of rotting.

There is at least one review that relates the opening to “Juicy Fruit gum,” and others that say, “big ripe mango,” and one that veers off someplace else with “neon and electric.” To be honest, I don’t get any of those things. What I get is JUNGLE, and it’s just that little bit scary. It’s borderline grossly overripe, and definitely weird, and I love March’s description of the opening: “The mind grasps at the smell, trying to categorize it as pleasant or unpleasant – and it’s both.” Yep. Exactically, as Tigger would say.  

The more I wear NdT, the more I discover new aspects of it.  On my first wearing, I found it nearly unbearably earthy on the open.  The second wearing revealed a green, sour mango up top.  (Neither experience was enjoyable, by the way.)  But on the third wearing, I got the pink pepper.  Now, you can whine about the ubiquitous pink pepper all you want, but in my opinion that’s like whining about the ubiquitous bergamot.  Nearly everything – particularly classical compositions – has bergamot in it, and it has the advantage of connecting notes you might not think of as connected.  Bergamot bridges fruit and floral, herbal and floral, citrus and herbal, citrus and floral, citrus and incense, floral and woods… you name it.  Pink pepper does that too, since it seems to work well in bridging fruit or citrus to floral, spicy, incense, or woody notes.  In Nuit de Tubereuse, it’s connecting that weirdly aromatic turned-earth aspect to that whanged-out mango and from thence to a muted tuberose and some jungly, moist greenery. 

A few months ago, I tested a tuberose scent from profumo.it (abdes salaam attar) called Scents of the Soul: Night Blossom. From the website: “This olfactory jewel (the tuberose is the most precious of floral essences) is set in a thick tropical night, smelling of humid underwood and strewn with scent traces of freshly trodden grass.”  What it smells like to me, though, is PATCHOULI PATCHOULI tuberose PATCHOULI PATCHOULI.  Nuit de Tubereuse, far from being the “perfume for a secret Parisian summer night,” that L’Artisan describes it as, is really what Abdes Salaam Attar was going for: a sweltering tropical night, where wafts of tuberose float over the “humid underwood.”  There’s no Paris in NdT – no wine, no baguette, no formal perfumey odors, no asphalt, no smells of humanity. 

The longer NdT is on skin, the more it relaxes. The tuberose gets softer and softer and the incense comes out on my skin, and the whole thing gets rather… pretty. It doesn’t seem to be either feminine or masculine, which I suppose is the best description of a unisex scent. The tuberose might make it seem to skew girly, but it’s not, trust me. Robin at NST struggles to define the drydown but calls it very sexy – and I don’t get that, either. I find it to be really pleasant, though, and very comfortable, although I suspect the woody-incense base just feels that way because I’ve recently experienced the hair-raising crypt dirt and jungle mildew of that bizarre-o opening. (It makes me think of the story about the cowboy who always bought his boots a size too small: “Don’t them boots pinch, Clem?” “Waal, sure they do. But it feels so good when I take ‘em off!”)

I really must address a few comparisons to other tuberose scents: the new one from the naturals line at Honore des Pres, Vamp a NY, which I am dying to tell you about but can’t until next Thursday, is another fragrance that takes certain unusual aspects of tuberose and overemphasizes them. But Vamp I found very, very easy to wear, unlike Nuit de Tubereuse. Both are intriguing and bold, tackling tuberose from new angles, definitely Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile Not Your Mother’s Fracas. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Fracas, mind you.) And, of course, I’ll refer you back to my review of Tubereuse Criminelle – another tubey frag with a weird, difficult opening – with the comment that I found TC “difficult just for the sake of being difficult,” and I don’t have any appreciation for the Rotting Raw Chicken of Death that accompanies TC’s otherwise-lovely tuberose. Nuit de Tubereuse, however, is entirely wearable. Weird, difficult, funhouse-mirror freaky maybe in spots, but wearable.

Quality    A   Definitely natural ingredients.

Grab-scale score   Ummmm… 4 to 9, depending on where it is in its development.

Short description   Freaky (dirt, jungle, and incense) tuberose. Maybe mango tuberose, if you get the mango reference (I don’t).

Cost   $$$   And can I just say? I think the bottle is gorgeous.  Oooh.  But we never buy perfume for the bottle, right? 

Earns compliments?   Yes, many – even when I was saying incredulously to my husband, “How can you call that alluring? It smells like mildew!” Strangers commented positively and spontaneously, which never happens to me.

Scent presence    Moderately strong. Moderately wafty sillage, approximately a five-foot diameter. Long-lasting (6-8 hours).

Review report:    Everyone in the world: Grain de Musc, Now Smell This, March at Perfume Posse, Olfactarama, 1000Fragrances, Marla at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, you name it.

I find that the entire exercise, playing up the odd aspects of tuberose absolute, reminds me of one of my favorite TV shows.  I love the Food Network, and am positively addicted to Good Eats.  Host Alton Brown’s show is a wacky combination of Julia Child’s The French Chef (anybody else remember the time she dropped a turkey on the floor?), Bill Nye the Science Guy, Dr. Who, and middle-school plays with bad costumes and terrible puns.  I love this thing.  Where else can you learn about the coagulation of egg proteins and the history of maize, while watching cavemen in glasses eat their first mussels and a giant squid attack a boat? (Seriously, go watch it.  It’s Not Your Mother’s Cooking Show.)

And Nuit de Tubereuse?  An intellectual essay on the less-attractive properties of tuberose absolute, that somehow manages to be quirky, attractive, unsettling and fun all at once.  It’s growing on me.  I’ll mention that The CEO’s comment on it was, “Alluring,” and various unsolicited remarks included, “You smell nice,” and “What smells so good in here?”  Wearing it, I still feel a little bit like I’m wandering a Heart of Darkness jungle – but there’s a light up ahead, and if I can just get out before that creature that’s following me catches up, I can soon be wearing a gorgeous coral silk faille halter dress, sipping a Planter’s Punch on the verandah.  I have hope… there’s that light, see?

Finally got the weird font thing fixed!  Top image is from fragrantica.  Lower one is Tuberose 9517-48 from jane.siet at flickr.

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Monday, June 7: Cool, in the mid-70s F, with low humidity. My desk was piled with stuff from the long weekend, and I wasn’t enjoying work today. SOTD: Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose, which I thought I’d like. Grapefruit and rose? Yum. Perfectly summery. Unfortunately for me, EdPR is an hour of wonderful followed by a couple hours of the Ghost of Cologne. It is basically a classic cologne structure topped off by a citrusy rose, and since I find cologne dull in the extreme, I can’t make a case for this scent for personal wear. I think I’ll go back to DSH Rose Vert (where’s my sample of that?) for citrus-green-rose. Or Moschino Funny!, that was a nice grapefruit-rose.

Tuesday, June 8: Warmer (80s) but still low humidity. If the weather stayed like this all summer I would enjoy summer a zillion times more. Typically we’ve got mid-90s and sticky, and that’s not pleasant. When I was a teenager, I read the following phrase and wondered greatly at it: “The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘summer afternoon, summer afternoon.’” Whoever wrote that has got to be out of his gourd, I thought then – but it must have been written with a day like today in mind. SOTD: vintage Coty L’Aimant parfum de toilette. These vintage 1970s Coty scents like Emeraude and L’Aimant, and even the chypreish Imprevu, are far, far more attractive than their current drugstore iterations.

Gaze is sick with stomach troubles. I’m having trouble getting him to keep anything down, even ginger ale and jello, so we’re off to the doctor’s office tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 9: HOT. 90S and humid. Gaze has “the bug that’s going around,” poor baby. SOTD: Divine L’Ame Soeur, more aldehydes. I really love them in the heat, they’re so sparkly.

Thursday, June 10: Hot again, our standard summer weather. LAST DAY OF SCHOOL, AAAAARRRRGHHGH! Gaze was somewhat better, and I managed to convince him to shower before school today. It was 5th grade “graduation,” and the enticement of coming home right afterwards, as is customary at this elementary school, got Gaze moving in the right direction. I was proud: he had all A’s this year and three perfect scores on his standardized tests. (To be fair, Bookworm took two of the Standards of Learning, or SOL tests this year and made perfect scores on hers as well – and Taz, who’s been downright lazy about homework this past year, made FOUR perfect scores. I’m proud of all of them. Especially since Taz has recently managed to make his cursive handwriting, as opposed to his printing which is dreadful, actually legible. I do get to brag on them a little bit, don’t I? I’m their mommy. Of course I do.) SOTD: Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere, still more aldehydes.

Gaze went to his baseball game and played four innings (two hits, a walk, an RBI, three stolen bases, and two runs scored) before getting overheated and tossing his cookies right behind second base. I felt so bad about that. He’d claimed to be feeling well before the game, and hadn’t run a fever for more than 40 hours.

Friday, June 11: Hot, humid, and miserable. We didn’t get the rain we should have gotten on Wednesday night, so everything is getting crunchy. I’m having to water my hanging baskets every three days. SOTD: Honore des Pres Vamp a NY, from that terrific giveaway at Grain de Musc. You know I love tuberose, and this one is fabbo. I’ve sniffed that little bit of Nuit de Tubereuse which everybody is going on about and been less than impressed (what is that weird opening – wet dirt? Potting soil? Mildew?), but the HdP is just lovely.

Saturday, June 12: Same weather we’ve been having all week. Two baseball games – Gaze (who’s feeling much better!) at the local park and Taz at the one twenty minutes away. As soon as I unlocked the van for Taz to chuck his bat and glove into the back, it started raining – and has really not stopped all day. You can feel the grass go, Ahhhhhh, that’s better. SOTD: L’Aimant again.

The bad news of the week? Busted mower. One of the discs got maladjusted in its timing and started banging into the one next to it, and that caused wear in the gears on the cutter bar (okay, I admit that I don’t really understand what I just said, either). But I understood how much the repair bill’s going to be: $4000. Ouch. This is a mini-lesson on How Expensive It Is To Run a Farm – you have to have some hefty cash reserves, or you’re just toast.

Sunday, June 13: Cooler again, in the 80s. SOTD: testing Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidee Vanille. Which, to be honest, is not very orchidee and lotsa plasticky vanille. I get about fifteen minutes of amorphous floral, um, thingy and then sticky generic vanilla, and I was wondering what was wrong with my nose until I asked the kids what they thought. Bookworm turned up her nose: “Smells like cotton candy, the kind in the plastic tub at the store.” Gaze was more direct: “I don’t like that at all.” So then I go and check out Octavian’s take on it at 1000Fragrances and he says something like, “Cheap generic cotton-candy vanilla.” Vindication!

SOTE: Petite Cherie, straight outta the fridge. It’s the only bottle I keep in the fridge, just because of the accusations of instability in the pear topnote, which is the part I love best. I love this innocent white-eyelet sundress of a scent, and I don’t apologize. Sometimes it’s just what I want.

Image of Guerlain perfumes at perfume convention from parfumgott at flickr. If you get the chance, click on the photo to enlarge it so you can check out what’s there.  I’m lusting after that gorgeous Vega bottle on the bottom left, but there’s also L’Heure Bleue and Chamade and Djedi as well as something I’ve not heard of, Elixir de Guerlain.

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If the only Coty fragrances you’re familiar with are the celebuscents currently available, plus the old standby drugstore fare like Exclamation! and Vanilla Fields, you might be surprised to lay a nostril on an old Coty perfume. Where the newer scents actually smell cheap, with simple formulas and obviously synthetic ingredients, the older versions tend to smell much richer and more complete; they are worked-out ideas that evoke a mood and clearly make use of natural materials.

I have a bottle of L’Origan parfum that appears to be 1950s-era in excellent preservation, a small bottle of 1970s Imprevu, and samples of vintage Coty Paris and Les Muses. I also remember smelling a set of three Coty fragrances in cologne strength at Big Lots, a clearance-type retailer which I’m sure in retrospect was flogging perfumes in discontinued packaging or formulas, in the mid-1980s. There was Muguet des Bois, which I loved and begged my mother to buy me (she said no, I had Chloe and Cachet and I didn’t need anything else), and Les Muses, which I liked as well. The other bottle in the set was Chypre, which I didn’t like at all – which is not surprising for a fourteen-year-old, but how I wish now that I’d bought it then!

L’Aimant – which means both “Loving Her” and “The Magnet” en francais – was released in 1927, and it’s very much the product of its time, as an aldehydic floral. Notes for L’Aimant (cribbed from at least three different sources) include aldehydes, bergamot, neroli, plum, apricot, strawberry, violet, rose, ylang, jasmine, iris, oakmoss, sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla, although I don’t smell all of those notes. My bottle is parfum de toilette, mid-to-late 1970s, in the standard Coty flacon with the gold crown top. It’s the same formulation and bottle as my favorite of the various vintage Emeraudes I own.  Edit: The image up top is very similar to the bottle I bought.

For convenience, I decanted some into a small spray bottle, but I find that I actually prefer to dab L’Aimant. I should have made this point on my Emeraude review, but failed to do so – both of these fragrances become more noticeably powdery when sprayed from a decant bottle. I’m not a big fan of powder, and I find them smoother and less “old-fashioned” when dabbed. This might be a function of the aldehydes, but I’m betting it’s from the vanilla-sandalwood combination; it’s a slightly-musty sort of smell that I associate with scented talc powder and my great-aunt Leacy. My bottle of L’Aimant, which I bought on ebay for a song, may have been kept in less-than-optimal conditions, because my experience with it is that although it’s plenty potent for the time that it lasts, it doesn’t last more than three hours – sometimes four if I “spray until wet.”   Edit: Image at right here seems to be from the 1950s or 1960s.  It is eau de toilette.  I have not tried L’Aimant in this packaging, but I do have an Emeraude edt from this era, and it is very faint.  Of course, it may have suffered age damage; it’s hard to tell from just looking at vintage bottles.

L’Aimant has one of those Waft Vs. Up-close differences that intrigue me very much. Cuir de Lancome does this as well: in the air it smells very different than it does sniffed close to the arm I’ve put it on. At first it smells of aldehydes and vanilla, no matter where I’m smelling it. But the aldehydes burn off rather quickly – in five to ten minutes perhaps, and although it’s definitely aldehydic, it’s much, much gentler than No. 5’s Alde-Overdose opening. If I hoover my arm where I’ve sprayed L’Aimant, I can distinguish separate notes: there’s the rose and violet, there’s the jasmine and iris, there’s the oakmoss. There’s a kinship to YSL Paris in the heart that I notice when I sniff closely, and the base is very classical, with oakmoss and sandalwood.

However, sniffed in the air as I move my arms about, L’Aimant smells like nothing so much as my mother’s peach pie: hot, tangy baked peaches and a hint of pastry dough, plus melting vanilla ice cream. It smells sweet and rather delicious, in the manner of L’Heure Bleue, which in turn was emulating Coty’s own L’Origan (more on that relationship soon, I hope): not entirely gourmand, but both floral and edible at the same time.

I do keep wondering whether there is some unlisted combination of notes in this fragrance that adds up to “amber” – there’s a definite sweetness to it that isn’t entirely attributable to vanilla on its own. In this fashion, it’s closely related to Emeraude, which is a vanillic amber, and also to L’Origan, which has a similar oakmoss-sandalwood-vanilla base. All three, as a matter of fact, clearly share some DNA identifying them as COTY. 

L’Aimant, like my darling Emeraude, is currently in production, but as a mere wraith of its former self. Emeraude is a shadow: thin, facelifted, and chemical, and so is the present version of L’Aimant. Avoid both of them, please.  At left is a picture of the current bottle Coty is using for L’Aimant.

If I could wish for anything from Coty, it would be Daphne Bugey’s reconstructions of classic Coty fragrances that Luca Turin is always banging on about in Perfumes: The Guide. Other than Emeraude, I don’t even know which ones they are. (La Rose Jacqueminot? Chypre?) Even in pricey retro crystal bottles with the Art Deco Coty lettering, and at Lutensian cost levels, I’d probably buy them. Many other vintage perfume fans would probably buy them, too. Please, Coty? Please? I’m beggin’ here. You think if we start a letter-writing campaign and point out to Coty that they stand to make a mint selling L’Aimant L’Original and Emeraude L’Original, they’ll come through? It couldn’t hurt. Here’s a link to Coty’s customer service department.

I’m off to write a begging letter to Coty… and to call my mother and ask her to bake me a pie when the fresh peaches show up this summer. Mmmmm…

Some other reviews of L’Aimant: Fragrance Bouquet, Anita at Perfume Posse, Scentzilla (brief, with a focus on old perfume in general).

Image of vintage L’Aimant parfum de toilette is from eurofinegifts at ebay.  Image of vintage eau de toilette is from millieg2 at ebay, and image of modern packaging is from annsgold at ebay.

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