Archive for October, 2011

Sorry for the late posting today (Oct. 31): CEO arranged for an ag lab class to take place at our farm today, so the students could work cattle and give them shots and so forth. Instead of him taking the boys to school, I took them, and then took some school-board-candidate paperwork to the courthouse for him, and then did the weekly grocery shopping. Then I helped move about 15-20 cow-calf pairs out of the Seven Acre Field into the Barn Lot, so I got started on my day at 11:15 am, instead of at 8 am.  Due to the day’s busy-ness, I’ll probably post review of Tableau de Parfums Miriam on Tuesday, Nov. 1.


Tableau de Parfums Miriam, image from Now Smell This. (Review pending.)

Monday, Oct.24: Nice weather today. Poor Gaze forgot that today was an “A” day. He took his trombone to school today instead of his clean gym suit, and had to borrow shorts from the gym teacher. Don’t ask me how the teachers keep up with this alternating A and B schedule – it must drive them nuts. Academic classes are the same schedule every day, but other classes alternate, so that he has gym on A days and band on B days, except that he has band every Friday. Yeah, it’s weird. The high school is weirder: it has a “block” schedule on the semester system, four blocks in a regular class day for each semester, so that students can actually take eight classes over a school year, instead of the seven-classes-every-day schedule that I had in high school, way back in the dark ages. And Governor’s School starts early, so that Bookworm only misses first block at the high school and about ten minutes of second block, which for her is band class.

SOTD: Tableau des Parfums Miriam. Wow. Just… wow, with a halo of sweet contemplative nostalgia. I have been concerned about PETBoy, who’s had such a rough week missing his mother. Spent a good part of the morning just praying for him, because that’s all that’s within my reach right now. He’s still so shy with me.

SOTEvening: DSH Pandora again. It’s so well done, and so luxurious and layered that I am embarrassed to not like it. (I didn’t swoon over Vert pour Madame, either, and I still don’t know why. With Pandora I know why I don’t like it.)

Tuesday, Oct. 25: Another nice clear day in the high 60s. The CEO took off this afternoon for a meeting in Chicago, with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board Nominating Committee. The organization is actually based in Denver, but Chicago turned out to be more central for the people on the committee, especially since most of them were going to have to fly through Chicago to get to Denver anyway. SOTMorning: DSH Pandora, writing a review and giving it another shot. (Nope. Just not my style. Shades of Opium and Youth Dew, my Most Hated Perfumes, in the drydown.) SOTAfternoon: testing SL Vitriol d’Oeillet, which I rather like but cannot imagine actually buying.

Bookworm says PETBoy is better today. He told her that he didn’t want her to worry about him, because then that makes him worry about her. (Gah, men. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.) She told him she’d try not to worry, but he couldn’t stop her caring about him and he’d have to get used to that – so I think they’re okay.

Oh, and that full bottle of Miriam that I won on NST’s drawing? Showed up today. Squeeeee!! Beautiful, beautiful packaging. Lovely bottle. You already know that I love what’s in it, too.

Gaze and Taz, Halloween 2010

Wednesday, Oct. 26: Another gorgeous day! Wore Miriam in the morning and tested SL Chene in the afternoon. I like Chene. If someone sent me a bottle, I’d wear it (and dole out decants to people I like, just to share it around). Again, it’s another one I don’t need to buy. This is in direct contrast to La Myrrhe, which I had to have or die in the attempt, and I treat every milliliter like gold.

The boys got home from school and immediately went back outside to play football. Taz bumped his head and came in wailing (the kid’s addicted to drama), but I convinced him he was going to be okay and he could play a little more if he wanted. He did want. They smelled so great when they came in – that little-boy-outside smell I love so much, and which seems to go away as they get close to puberty. Ahhhh, little boys.

Bedtime scent: Alahine. I love, love Alahine.

Thursday, Oct. 27: Cloudy and chilly today, dry leaves all over the ground. If it were raining, it would be a perfect day for Lancome Climat; if it were windy, I’d want the vintage Magie Noire. As it is, I am testing Serge Lutens Fleurs de Citronnier on one hand and Penhaligon’s Elixiron the other. Neither one is a success. The FdC is citrusy musk, all screechy, and Elixir is rose-geranium-spice-patchouli, a potpourri smell as P:TG says. I tested Elixir because Brian at ISTIA loves it and I adore his brief review of it. I don’t hate it, but is most definitely cinnamon spice potpourri, complete with wood chips.

SOTEvening: JHaG Citizen Queen. Ramping up for NaNoWriMo and trying to get some things done around the house beforehand. The CEO got home late tonight.

Friday, Oct. 28: Happy birthday to The CEO!! Chilly, cloudy, windy, rainy day. Bleargh. SOTD: Tableau de Parfums Miriam. The CEO had some interesting comments about it, and I’ll be sure to add them to my review.

Gaze, The CEO and I worked the concession stand at tonight’s football game. We were cold but dry. It’s Senior Night and 8th-grade Band Night (the 8th graders are invited to sit with the high school marching band in the stands; the high school kids are usually as excited as the younger ones, since it’s a chance to show off how much fun they have in band). Not so much fun tonight, though: pouring down rain. The band came down to the stadium with woodwinds in cases, played the national anthem and the pregame stuff for the football team, then played a couple of stands tunes, and vamoosed for drier places in the second quarter. Bookworm went straight home and jumped in the shower, poor baby. The rest of us left as the third quarter started, since there were hardly any fans left (the score was PCHS 28, BHS 0 at halftime) and it’s tough to sell concessions to people who just want to go home. Nice to see the football team win for once. SOTEvening: SSS Champagne de Bois.

Saturday, Oct. 29: Weather nasty in the morning, but it cleared up by mid-morning. Bookworm left with the band to go to an all-day competition. I took Gaze’s birthday jeans to the mall to exchange them for the right ones, and of course took the opportunity to go sniffing. Stopped by Bath & Body Works for some Dark Kiss body cream for Bookworm. (It’s yummy stuff – a woody-vanilla with plum and dark berries, in the same vein as Hanae Mori Butterfly but slightly less sweet. The vampire-themed name is stoopid, but it smells great.) Sniffed several newer scents there – Paris Amour, Be Enchanted, and Men’s Classic are all dreadful, although the packaging for Be Enchanted is completely adorable.


PCHS band in competition 10/22/11, photo by Nicole Ward. It was quite late in the day at performance time, so the shadows look cool, but apparently on-field visibility was poor. That's Bookworm there in the front-right with her saxophone, Tristen to her right. I can name every kid in this photo, even the ones you can only see a piece of, Band Mom that I am!

Then I went to Belk’s for some department-store sniffery. Tried Estee Lauder White Linen on my skin again, and it was not awful on me this time. I don’t know why – it’s the first time I have not thought it sour and mildewy. Also tried Estee, which was a resounding disaster. (How to put this? Bluntly, it smells like urine, and I mean that in the most literal sense. ) Sniffed Private Collection from the bottle, and it is lovely but not so on me. Beautiful I never liked, and still don’t, but I couldn’t say why. Tried Sensuous Nudeon the other arm and found it inoffensive, though I don’t enjoy it – sweet and musky and blah. I sniffed Rihanna Reb’l Fleur, Taylor Swift Wonderstruck, and Justin Bieber SOMEDAY, all of which were sugary fruit salad and I declined to put any of them on my skin. (Shockingly, the Biebs’ fragrance might be the least sugary of the bunch.) Also accidentally got some Calvin Klein Obsession for Men on me when I stood too close to an enthusiastically-spritzing guy – and you know what? It’s not awful, either. I don’t want it, but it’s not stomach-turning like the women’s version.

Came home and reflected that there is nothing at the mall that smells nearly as good, as solid, as emotional as Miriam. (Okay, Chanel No. 5 is wonderful, though I didn’t request the tester for a spritz. My point stands: nothing I smelled today was wonderful, or even very good.)

Sunday, Oct. 30: Another sunny day in the 40s. Bookworm got in very late (around 2 am!) from yesterday’s band competition, so she went to church with PETBoy while we went to our church’s 9 am service. SOTMorning: Chanel Bois des Iles, beautiful but gone in three hours, even with several spritzes. Sigh. Then I got busy and forgot to put anything else on, so I was mostly scentless for the rest of the day.

Got Taz’ Halloween costume together for him – he’ll be a Viking again. He took the curtain rod that Gaze used as a spear last year and added cardboard, duct tape, and aluminum foil to create an “axe.” (It looks more like a halberd, but I’m not quibbling at this point.)

Celebrated The CEO’s birthday this evening with roast chicken, stuffing, gravy, rolls, green beans, corn on the cob, berries, and Boston cream pie. My mother-in-law, B, and PETBoy came over for dinner as well – we had a nice time. Among The CEO’s gifts was a mini bottle of Comme des Garcons 2 Man, so he smelled very good.

Read Full Post »

I am excited about this one.   Unfortunately, my Internet access time is short since The CEO is working from home today.  Tomorrow, I’ll be gone to a marching band competition. 

Look for the review on Monday afternoon, Oct. 31.

Also, I wish The CEO a very, very happy birthday, with many more to come.

Read Full Post »


Photo from DSH Notebook

Oh, dear. I feel bad about this review… but I’m determined to be truthful. This one’s getting a lot of love from vintage-perfume fans as well as natural-perfume fans all over the perfume blogosphere: Jen at This Blog Really Stinks (who hosted the draw for the large sample I tested – thanks, Jen!), Scent Less Sensibilities, Eyeliner on a CatIndieperfumes, The Non-Blonde, EauMG, Scent Hive, Oh, True Apothecary, Scentual Soundtracks, Perfume Pharmer, Escentual Alchemy.   I love many vintage perfumes too. I like chypres, particularly if they have floral components. I am an AldeHo – if it’s got aldehydes, I’m probably going to like it.   (If I’ve missed some other reviews, please let me know.)

See, the thing is… this is the fragrance that started out as an experiment in naturals, a “modern fragrance in vintage style,” if I’ve got the story right (somebody jump in to correct me if I don’t).

I’m not typically a big fan of “all-natural.” For one thing, I think it’s silly to claim that only synthetic materials can be harmful to the body or the environment. (Oooooh, don’t get me started. The smug attitude makes me grit my teeth in rage.) From a practical standpoint, I’ve been mostly disappointed with the skin longevity of all-natural perfumes, with a couple of notable exceptions (Dawn’s own Rose Vert, and Honore des Pres Vamp a NY). I’m not one of those people who complain all over Makeup Alley that “this doesn’t last, it only stayed six hours and I had to reapply in the middle of the day,” but if I’m not getting three hours’ worth of wear at least, I’m just not interested in spending the money to buy it. I know, too, that all-naturals have different qualities – they tend to sit closer to skin, they tend to “bloom” in unexpected ways rather than lifting slowly off the skin the way fragrances underscored with synthetic materials tend to do – but they’re not qualities that make me excited. I’m always happy to give an all-natural fragrance the good old college try, and I’m willing to make a few allowances, but I’m not predisposed to prefer all-naturals.

I’ll remind you at this point that aldehydes are synthetic. And that I like them.

At some point, Dawn seems to have decided to go ahead and add a few synthetic materials that she felt made Pandora “come alive” – the aldehydes, and a small amount of ozone (unnoticeable to me, by the way). Here’s what she has to say on her blog about the project:

The “Beautiful Evil” is a quote from the story of Pandora as told by the Greek, Hesiod. She is the all gifted, all giving one, a singular woman and synonymous with Eve in many respects. It is she who opens humankind to the knowledge of good and evil and ultimately breaks the utopian ideal. With Pandora, mankind has plagues but also knowledge and maturity. She opens the door to truth and hope.

What began as an all-botanical design for a project changed direction with the addition of a subtle synthetic influence. It made all of the difference. This is also a perfume that also utilizes some new and exotic botanical materials…in Pandora, the ancient meets the 21 century.

The notes feature ruby fruits, bergamot, aldehyde, spices, ozone, violet leaf, davana, cassis bud, green and pink pepper, rose de mai, juhi jasmine, linden blossom, yerba maté, cabreuva wood, orris, green tea, mousse de saxe accord, cyperus, fossilized amber absolute, ambergris, patchouli, vetiver, muhuhu, sandalwood, tonka bean, oakmoss and vanilla.

(Yes, she said oakmoss. Please start breathing again.)

On my skin, Pandora has very good longevity; one spritz will last about four to five hours. There’s no indication on my small sample what concentration I have; the fragrance is available as 15ml parfum ($220, shown above), or as 4ml/10ml eau de parfum ($25/$60).  

The first thing I smell is a cheerfully intense herbal-tea note (if you were worried about the red berries, fear not) under a bright haze of aldehydes. There’s an immediate suggestion that you might accidentally have gotten hold of some vintage Miss Dior, what with the moss and the dry iris in there, and there’s a very old-fashioned air to this stage of the scent. It’s an incredibly layered scent; it contains a lot of notes I can’t identify other than to call them “woody” and “herbal.” Earthy, foresty, and vintage – it’s very pleasant.

A little while later, Pandora segues into a warmer, woody-chypre sort of fragrance with a hint of spice here and there, and I begin to like it a lot less. It’s still layered and complex, but this is not the kind of thing that pleases me. It reminds me somewhat of vintage Magie Noire, but drier and less green, without Magie Noire’s opulent floral heart. There are florals in Pandora – I smell jasmine, definitely, and a bit of rose – but they are not the focus. Instead the focus is on the woody notes and moss.

Eventually the oriental/mousse de saxe base begins to float up through the woody notes, and this is where I have to start gritting my teeth. It’s strikingly reminiscent of several scents that I really dislike: Opium, Youth Dew, Caron Nuit de Noel. Whatever accord it is that those scents have in common, it’s popping up in Pandora, both cloyingly sweet and oily-dusty. It makes the back of my throat ache and I find it unpleasant. But that’s me, my personal taste, and if you like the perfumes I just mentioned you won’t be bothered by it at all.

Pandora is an exceedingly intelligent-smelling perfume, a swirling pastiche of woods and herbs and amber, lightened with a few glints of aldehydes and fruit, a cornucopia of fragrance materials. It is, truly, a vintage-inspired modern fragrance, and if this sort of thing seems up your alley, I suggest that you go get a sample from the DSH website, post-haste! Buy a bottle! Now! Support independent perfumery! (The parfum bottle, by the way, is Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. So elegant – and I do love the beautiful mossy green color of the liquid inside.)

Thing is, Pandora is beautiful… and I do not like it.  This fragrance is not my style, but that doesn’t stop me from recognizing its obvious excellence. A large part of it is natural, and there is something wonderful and solid and complex about natural ingredients. Too, it’s put together in such a way as to create a seamless, smooth, and yet distinctive and bold perfume. Kudos to DSH Perfumes.

My great thanks to Dawn for making the sample available and to Jen at This Blog Really Stinks for hosting the drawing. It is a joy to know that somebody is still making perfume with brains!

Pandora sample on my dresser, next to a tube of Revlon Certainly Red and my favorite garnet-and-pearl drop earrings.

I am happy to be able to pass on this sample to a commenter on this post. It’s a spray sample, approximately 3ml with about 2ml (possibly more) remaining, plenty of perfume left for testing and enjoying! Since it’s a small sample, I’m opening up the draw to commenters outside the US.

To enter the drawing, please let me know if you like any of the other fragrances I mentioned in comparison to Pandora in the review: Miss Dior, Magie Noire, Opium, Youth Dew, Nuit de Noel. Which is your favorite? Do you have any special memories associated with these, either worn by you or a loved one?

Draw will be open until Friday night, October 28, at midnight Eastern Standard Time.  DRAW IS NOW CLOSED.

Read Full Post »

I’ve catalogued all perfume reviews by fragrance house and placed them into one document.  The page tab is just to the right of “Comment Policy,” or you can access it here.


Read Full Post »

Scent Diary, Oct. 17-23, 2011

Monday, Oct.17: Beautiful weather today. Cleaned out the fridge and packed up a few things for Goodwill; changed sheets on the guest bed. Did some planning for NaNoWriMo, which starts next month. I’ve decided: I’m gonna be a NaNo Rebel this year: I’ll be working on a previously-begun work instead of starting from scratch like you’re s’posed to do. The purists will tell you that the idea is to write a novel in one month – but let’s be honest here, hardly any novel is only 50,000 words long. And even if you get the entire plot into 50K, it’ll be so bare bones as to be hardly worth reading. So nyah nyah and so there: just because I’ve already got 9K done on “Bright as Day,” that doesn’t mean my 50K of work in November won’t count. Phlpphhbbllbh!

The mail brought many goodies: a few samples, including one of SL Vitriol d’Oeillet, from lovely Tammy (thank you, Tammy!), a large sample of DSH Pandora I won in the draw at This Blog Really Stinks (thanks, Jen and Dawn!), a 5ml split of Tableau des Parfums Miriam (thanks, Celina!), an order of empty sample vials I’m splitting with some friends, a 2.5ml spray of SSS Jour Ensoleille, and two samples of raw materials, both lactones, that Laurie Erickson at SSS sent me because I was trying to figure out the celery note in her “classic” scent tester (thanks, Laurie! BTW, it’s definitely not either of these). I put a spritz of Pandora on one arm – lovely, and wow, can that thing ever run with vintage Miss Dior parfum! – and one of Miriam on the other. I love Miriam, but then I thought I probably would. The sandalwood in it is To. Die. For. Review coming this week  the week of 10/24.

Tuesday, Oct. 18: Rainy morning, dry afternoon. SOTD: TdP Miriam, which is just as beautiful as it was yesterday. Registered for NaNoWriMo, where it quickly became apparent to me that I am officially a Rebel this year, since instead of starting from scratch, I’ll be writing at least 50K words on “Bright as Day,” which I began working on this past summer. I’ve only got… lessee, about 9400 words written on it, and lots of story left to tell. But for NaNo, you’re supposed to start fresh… so I’m rebelling. I suppose that means I can’t “win.” Grr.

Bookworm tells me that there were spats in the trumpet section at band practice today. Section leader Cooper was out sick, and PETBoy, the other section leader, had gone back to the band room to get something for the director, and two separate arguments broke out among the remaining seven trumpet players. This bodes ill for the upcoming competition.  There was also a tiff in the saxophone section, but it seems to have been a misunderstanding/miscommunication, and has cleared up now with no hard feelings.

Wednesday, Oct. 19: Rain just about all day. (Rats – I was going to mow today.)

SOTMorning: SL Vitriol d’Oeillet. It’s perfectly nice, but not exciting, and not much like a fresh carnation either. Not that it ever promised to be a fresh carnation, but I was disappointed that it was so much more pepper-and-woods than flowers. It’s reminiscent of Old Spice, actually, so much so that I thought I was smelling my dad, ca. 1976, while wearing Vd’O. Old Spice doesn’t smell nearly as good as it used to, I notice. But I think I’d rather have Old Spice than Vd’O, at Lutensian prices. SOTAfternoon: Vivienne Westwood Naughty Alice, which is sort of a cross between Annick Goutal La Violette and the (lovely) benzoin-musk base of Mariella Burani. It’s very pretty and not naughty at all. Gaze had a sniff and said, “That’s nice. It’s very floral, isn’ t it?” Yep.

Then I let Gaze smell a bunch of things I’d gotten as samples or minis from Fragrancenet the other day, without telling him what he was smelling, other than that they were all either specifically marketed to men or designated unisex: Blue Sugar (“Ew. That smells sugary.”), Acqua di Parma Profumo (“It’s… fruity. But not dumb. I like it. It reminds me of something, I can’t remember what.”), Comme des Garcons 2 Man (“Ha, ha! It smells like… a store. You know? Like the furniture store where we got our mattresses last year.”), and Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Paris (“This is nice. Smells like cologne. And… leather, maybe?”). Gaze has a very good nose! I sent him away with the Midnight in Paris mini after putting a drop on his wrist, him saying that it didn’t smell anything like he would imagine midnight in Paris to smell like.

Thursday, Oct. 20: Um… gosh. What DID I do? I wrote some, I know that. Did some laundry. SOTD: Liz Zorn Historical Chypre. Went to community chorus practice, after missing two weeks in a row (middle school football game last week, kid sick the week before).

Friday, Oct. 21: Nice weather. Dropped the boys off at school, did some banking, went by the Walgreen’s for a pharmacy item. I had hoped to sniff that blackberry-vanilla-leather thing that Kevin reviewed at NST this week, Keith Urban Phoenix. I’m not a huge KU fan, but I’m not opposed to him in principle. Walgreen’s did not have a tester for Phoenix, but they did have a long line of testers available: Beyonce Heat, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds, Faith Hill, McGraw, Usher Black, and… something else masculine I can’t remember. Tested Faith Hill on one wrist and McGrawon the other: Faith Hill is not-bad in the waft four inches above my hand, but completely hideous close up, a chemical spill of something that pretends to be lily of the valley and magnolia, but isn’t. McGraw is more successful, an old-fashioned fougere with a tiny hint of leather (not enough, IMO), perfectly pleasant but forgettable. Honestly, Old Spice is far more distinctive.

Baked three pans of brownies for the band bake sale, cut them and bagged them individually. Went over to my late grandmother’s house and moved a perfectly fine, unwanted couch and two chairs to our house, and then spent the afternoon moving furniture around in here. Looks different, but nicer. And now, I see, I really must paint the living/dining/kitchen area. The walls look horrible. SOTD: Jacomo Silences, which was wonderful today, all green and crisp and sweet.

Was supposed to have chaperoned the band at tonight’s football game, but given that there are several kids sick or recovering, and the big competition is tomorrow, the director decided to give them the night off. They had a quick practice, and then skipped off home. Bookworm pulled into the driveway at 5:30, an unheard-of early time for her. She was in bed at 8:30, poor tired baby.

Saturday, Oct. 22: Weather absolutely gorgeous – sunny and breezy, with temperatures in the middle 60s. Spent all day at the marching band festival. SOTD: Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka, an early perfume love of mine that remains my “happy” choice for cooler weather. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a brief description: tangy lime, carnations, spice, a hint of creamy vanilla, and a dry, smoky, piney frankincense. Wonderful stuff.

The high school cross-country team, which includes Bookworm and three other band kids, ran at the district meet this morning before coming to the band competition. Bookworm did not have a good race, coming in 21st or 22nd (we’re still not sure) despite working hard; The CEO told me she threw up as soon as she crossed the finish line. Her time was 87 seconds faster than the last time she ran on this particular course, but our sports district happens to have the most cut-throat competition in the state for long-distance running, and the pace is very fast.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the band kids – maybe the dissension in the ranks earlier in the week took a toll, or maybe they worked hard all morning and by performance time they’d exhausted all their adrenaline, but the show was… flat. In terms of marching, the technical skills were not bad, and the music sounded fine, but there wasn’t any fire to the performance. It wasn’t exciting. I knew that they wouldn’t be given that all-important “Superior” score, and they weren’t. They received “Excellent.” This is like getting a B grade when you wanted an A.   I am unaccountably bummed.  Also, I am pretty worried about PETBoy, who seems to be having a rough week. He looks grim, not his usual expression.

Sunday, Oct. 23: Another lovely day weatherwise.  PETBoy went with us to church but was remarkably silent. I think he’s going through a period of missing his mother badly. (In case you missed the story, she died very suddenly last spring.)

SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. Gosh, I love this. Our church’s worship leader has released a CD, and it’s terrific, so I’ll put in a plug for Cody Davenport. Go buy his worship CD.

Image  of perfume collection is from user fpih at Fragrantica.

Read Full Post »

Remember this post I wrote about two years ago, when Bookworm was new to the high school marching band?  It’s still true.  I am still a Marching Band Junkie.  Cadence still makes my blood itch.

First football game of 2011; photo by David Gravely Photography.

This Friday night, I’ll be riding Band Bus #2 as a chaperone as we head off to another away game.  (Chances are, the football team will go home with their record at 0 for 8.  It’s been a baaaaad year.)    Just heard: the band director has decided we won’t be going to the football game.  It should be chilly and windy, and with several kids either sick or recovering from illness and the big competition tomorrow, he thought it would be wiser to just hold a short practice and then let the kids go home for some rest.  I think he’s right.  Bookworm was going to have to leave and go home with her dad after the pregame show anyway, to get some rest before the District cross-country meet Saturday morning.

And all day Saturday,  I’ll be working at the marching band assessment/ competition our high school band is hosting, monitoring the lower gate by which bands will enter the stadium one by one, on their way to take the field and present their shows for judging.  I’ll be able to hear the bands really well, but not see the shows; this option is more fun than working the registration table or the concession stand, where you can’t see OR hear anything.

I’m addicted: gotta get my band fix every week.  It’s not just the way that my feet start moving on their own when I hear the drumline.  It’s not just the way that the soloists make me proud and the music swells my heart; it’s not just the way that I gasped with delight the first time I saw the show with the horn flips added in (so cool!).  It’s the kids, too.  It’s been great fun getting to know the kids this year:

Cody, head drum major, in Serious Mode.  His mouth is closed.  This is unusual.  Rode a bus for two hours a few weeks ago, with him sitting two seats behind me, and he never, I mean never, stopped talking.  At the last home football game, I happened to catch him directing the band in a stands tune and talking to his girlfriend (Britney, a 2010 graduate, former alto sax section leader) in the bleachers at the same time.  I didn’t even know that was possible.  He plans to attend community college, and eventually to become a state trooper.  Active with Boy Scouts. Plays trumpet.

This is Charlie, drum major, warming up the band for playing at a football scrimmage in August.  Charlie attends Governor’s School and was instrumental in encouraging Bookworm to apply for it.  She’s a smart girl and a real sweetheart, one of Bookworm’s best buds.  She’ll be able to enter a really good college, but hasn’t settled on one yet.  She’s dating a former drum major, 2010 graduate Robbie, who’s now serving in the US Army, posted in Germany.  Loves her cellphone because he texts her every chance he gets. Good friends with fellow DM Cody.  Plays clarinet.

Anybody recognize this guy?  Yep, it’s PETBoy, Bookworm’s swain.  The first time I talked to him was at the marching band competition we hosted last fall, long before I noticed any glint in his eye with regard to her; he was serving as a bike courier and carrying stuff around from band room to stadium or registration table, and vice versa.  First thing I noticed was that he had beautiful eyes.  Second thing I noticed was that he was helpful to the nth degree, polite, friendly, and very responsible.  Last spring, I started hearing his name pop up a lot in Bookworm’s conversation, particularly during drum major tryouts.  The next week, his mother, who had graduated high school with The CEO, died suddenly after a very short illness.  Every band member who could manage it went to the funeral, and I notice that there’s an ongoing, unofficial Take Care of PETBoy movement among the trumpet section and the low brass players.  Bookworm’s grandfather (The CEO’s dad) died only a few weeks later, and I think that led to some serious conversations and increased trust between PETBoy and Bookworm.  In a lot of ways, they’re kindred spirits.  I don’t know of a single band parent that wouldn’t adopt him in a heartbeat.  One of the two trumpet section leaders, along with Cooper (you can see part of Cooper in this photo, just to PETBoy’s left).

This is TJ.  First band kid, other than my own, that I met.   Never met a stranger.  Makes me laugh.  Staunch friend of PETBoy’s, from elementary school on; they attend the same church and TJ often sleeps over at PETBoy’s house.  The only percussion section member who assists in loading the equipment truck with stuff other than his own instrument.  Bass drum.

This is Brittany.  (You can also see half of Bookworm’s face peeking out from behind the band director’s shoulder in this photo, with Rebecca and Gage, tenor saxophone players, in the background.)  Brittany runs cross-country and track with Bookworm.  Honor student.  One of the few kids whose skin is fair enough to turn red when she runs, just like Bookworm.  Loves M&Ms.  Unfailingly cheerful, even in extreme weather conditions.  Flute section leader.

This is Grey.  Goes by his middle name (actually, so do PETBoy and Tuba Dakota; you’d think the place was Redneck Soap Opera).  Runs cross-country with Bookworm, and plays soccer in the spring.  Can be wickedly funny.  Boy Scout and honor student.  This photo shows him at a band carwash fundraiser, after he cut his hair. You should have seen it when it was really long, it needed its own zip code.   Likes to show off his muscles by going shirtless as often as possible.  Once had a crush on Bookworm – which may be why he decided to run cross-country! – but as she said to me, “He’s like another annoying younger brother,” and that wasn’t going to work out, PETBoy or no PETBoy.  Currently dating Mellophone Taylor, who I think has good taste: brains, brawn, sense of humor.  Tenor sax, also plays alto sax.

This is the tuba section: LowBrass Ben*, Kalep, and Tuba Cody, holding Tuba Dakota and about to bust a gut laughing.   I can’t look at this photo without laughing, myself!   The saxophones started this “pick up a section member” stunt, when the Band Booster President was taking pictures of the sections, by picking up Bookworm, their smallest section member.  Then the trumpets picked up Amy, the flutes picked up Brittany‘s leg – she’s really tall, they couldn’t lift her whole body – and the mellophones picked up Courtney.  The tubas, who have more testosterone than they know what to do with, picked up their largest section member just to be funny.

Ben’s been one of Bookworm’s best buds since middle school, when they were in nearly every class together.  He also plays baritone horn and trombone. He’s the kind of person who doesn’t talk a lot but notices everything, and can come out with some really witty saying when you least expect it.  Was dating Holley, from the color guard, but that fell apart recently and Ben is currently dating mellophone section leader Courtney (Bookworm swears she saw that coming two years ago).  Kalep volunteers with the fire department and is a huge history buff.  Currently dating former flute section leader and 2011 graduate LoriDakota and Kalep have been best friends forever – yes, really, BFF! – and despite dressing and talking like rednecks, are honor students along with Ben.  The three of them, along with slender Alto Sax Ben, were responsible for “The Great Chicken Nugget Massacre of 2010,’ when the four of them ate 100 McNuggets in about 15 minutes, on the way to some marching competition.  Cody I know less well, but I know he loves practical jokes.  He’s currently dating mellophone player Stephanie, also known as “Snax.”  All four tuba players are Boy Scouts.

*There’s also Drumline Ben and Alto Sax Ben, as well as Low Brass BenTuba Cody is distinct from Drum Major Cody; there’s Tuba Dakota and Trumpet Dakota.  There’s Trumpet Alex (female), Baritone Horn Alex (male), and Color Guard Alex (female) as well as Mellophone Taylor (female) and Drumline Taylor (male).  This makes me really, really glad we picked a less-common name for Bookworm.  And it’s no wonder Grey and PETBoy use their middle names; their first names are ubiquitous at that school!

I didn’t even introduce you to Jolly, Jamie, and Li’l Bill (“li’l” no more as a 5’8″ sophomore, though he was just topping five feet when he first joined the band as an 8th grader and got his nickname).  Or twin sisters Teddie and Kasey, who went to preschool with Bookworm.  Or Marissa, who’s determined to wring every ounce of innocent enjoyment out of her senior year.  Or Michael B, or Jessi, or Tristen, or the rest of the 72 marching members of the band.

Good kids.  If you’re worried about the future of the country, go meet the kids in your local high school music department.  You’ll be heartened.  Or come visit me and meet “my” band kids – they’re so great!  I’d take every single one of them home with me and let ’em stay.

WBHS Letter Squad, 1984. Photo by Mrs. Manseau. That's me standing, third from left.

I miss my own friends from marching band.  Some of them are on Facebook and I can chat with them whenever I want; some are not and I’d love to check in with them.  I miss Amy and Tracey; I miss Ricky and Steve and Beth.  I miss Sean and Don and Tammy.  I miss Mary-the-walking-blond-joke.  I miss Tommy, AKA “Fig.”  I miss Kelley.  I miss Angela, AKA “Woolly.”  I even miss Jayson and Tana.  I miss my Letter Girls – especially Jackie, Carlynn, Angie, and Trudy.  We had some great times, didn’t we?

Found this prose-poem about marching band the other day:

Marching Band

The glimmer of the stadium lights
reflect again and again from the medals of shakos
proudly bearing their loyalties
and the night falls on the shoulders of those
dark conquistadors in their black and gold
buttons polished, backs straight, ready for inspection
they stand at attention
chins up and eyes cold and dark
faces like stone work
personas engraved in marble
their hands clutching their instruments like weapons
aggression in the crook of thumb and forefinger
and a certain solemnity in their expressions.
This family of midnight strangers
in practice of the night
greet their futures
beneath a blanket of stars.

-Lauren Hatch
September 19, 2007

All photos by Nicole Ward, unless otherwise attributed.

Read Full Post »

The first thing you need to know before you read this review is what I thought of the two earlier perfume-review books by these authors: I own both, frequently refer to them, and occasionally read them for fun and enjoyment, finding the snarky reviews as naughtily delightful as the lyrical ones are angelically so. My early forays into perfume sampling were in some cases guided by Perfumes: The Guide, with mixed results. I would never have ordered a sample of Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete – which has been on my Top Three All-Time list ever since – without reading Dr. Turin’s description of it as being “something close to perfection, rich, radiant, solid”. On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to forgive him for the rave review of S Perfumes 100% Love, which I hated. And I’m not even going to talk about Secretions Magnifiques, which positive review had any number of perfume fans preparing to come after him in a mob bearing torches and pitchforks.  Suffice it to say that as a strict guide to perfume choice, the earlier books were as controversial as they were helpful.  I’m writing this book review from the perspective of one familiar with the authors’ earlier works, as it’s my belief that most of my blog readers will also be familiar with them.

If, by some chance, readers are not familiar with the authors and/or their previously published fragrance review books, here are a few facts: Dr. Luca Turin has a PhD in biophysics, has spent many years studying olfactory science, and authored The Secret of Scent. Tania Sanchez is a writer and perfume aficionado well-known for her reviews on MakeupAlley. The two are married. For more information, please read this interview with the authors on Now Smell This, dating back to shortly after the first edition of Perfumes: The Guide was published in 2008.

The new, hardcover book is slender and handsome, measuring about 8 ¼” by 4 ¾”, with an attractive black dust jacket embellished with white. The endpapers are bright pink, an elegant 1950s-retro color combination that makes me, for one, smile. The book is 107 pages long, including indices, and includes the following features:


Authors’ Note states that they “judge formula changes based on side-by-side tests of previous years’ bottles and new samples, direct from the firms whenever possible.”

A new Foreword by Tania Sanchez points out that “the fragrances reviewed in this book are not the greatest of all time – instead, they are those that struck us as far above their peers in quality, inventiveness, or straightforward beauty when we surveyed nearly 1900 during the writing of Perfumes: The A-Z guide,” and also that this smaller book eliminates the one-line, snarky reviews for which the authors caught so much ire in earlier editions. (The two-word review for Paris Hilton’s Can Can comes to mind here: “Can it.”) I’m glad to see that the reviews that remain are all thoughtful, well-expressed, and darned helpful if you are trying to place a fragrance along the timeline of historical development, or trying to figure out its structure.

The bulk of the book is, of course, the Perfume Reviews. Essentially, this book is comprised of the five-star reviews from the earlier, lengthier editions, with updates for the 2011 version of those fragrances wherever e possible. Some of these fragrances – usually due to IFRA restrictions on raw materials – are no longer the works of magnificence that the authors felt that they were in 2007. Many of the reformulated scents, about 40%, have 2011 updates. I’ll list a few for you here: Guerlain Apres l’Ondee, Chanel Bois des Iles, Chanel Cristalle, Dior Diorella, Robert Piguet Fracas, Guerlain Habit Rouge, Jean Patou Joy parfum, Chanel No. 5 edt and parfum, Yves St. Laurent Opium, Dior Poison Guerlain Shalimar, Caron Le Troisieme Homme. Nearly all the reviews for fragrances known as “classics” do have updates. I was extremely pleased to see – finally! – a dissenting opinion from Ms. Sanchez following Dr. Turin’s rave review of Etat Libre d’Orange’s divisive scent Secretions Magnifiques. I’ll quote that one for you here (and only that one update, since I don’t want to discourage sales to curious people).

[Secretions Magnifiques] 2011: Smells exactly the same. For the record, there always should have been a dissenting view from me on this one: one star, absolutely revolting, like a drop of J’Adore on an oyster you know you shouldn’t eat. Whatever you do, do not allow any to touch your nose when you smell it off a paper strip. I know Luca is a convincing proselytizer, but trust me.

(Amen, sister. Not for nothing is this fragrance generally known among my perfumista friends as Secretions Gagnifiques…)

The authors also note that some of their chosen fragrances have now been discontinued, such as Theo Fennell Scent and L’Artisan Vanilia. Further, the few already-discontinued scents reviewed in the original, such as Le Feu d’Issey and Yohji Homme, are noted as still being discontinued.

Following the reviews, there is a section written by Luca Turin on the Osmotheque, the only perfume museum in the world. It stores and displays discontinued fragrances of “artistic significance,” and allows visitors to smell samples of these otherwise-unavailable joys. The Osmotheque was founded by perfumer Jean Kerleo and is currently directed by Patricia de Nicolai (who created my dear darling Le Temps d’une Fete, included in The Hundred Classics). Dr. Turin suggests that the Osmotheque should sell their reconstructed beauties, with “no reference to the original name, compounded according to the proper formula. The aficion will know its own. Label each bottle with a skull and crossbones and the warning ‘Do not put on skin’ to avoid IFRA trouble. Maybe if they did this they would shame the brands into reintroducing classic fragrances. I’m not holding my breath, not least because I need to sniff my strip of Iris Gris.” I agree. I do love my 1970s Coty Emeraude parfum de toilette, but I’m sure the recreation of the original parfum would put it to shame.

The Osmotheque section includes reviews of four scents only smellable in original (recreated) form at the museum: Coty L’Origan, Coty Chypre, Coty Emeraude, and Jacques Fath Iris Gris. I’d love to compare the Osmotheque’s version of Coty Chypre (not, you understand, the 1980s eau de toilette rerelease, which is pleasant enough) to my DSH Perfumes version of Chypre, which takes my breath away. And Dr. Turin also touches on the reason I love Emeraude so much: “the two halves of the fragrance [minty-fresh topnotes and lavish oriental accord] are so carefully welded together that they form a single deep saturated, transparent hue, not so much an emerald as the name would suggest, more the green starboard light of a ship gliding by in the dark.” I’d have put it more simply: to me, Emeraude smells like itself, top to bottom, all the way through. You can remark on its similarity to Shalimar, but Emeraude does not smell like Shalimar, it smells like Emeraude – a warm, smiling, bosomy presence, plush but clear.

The section following discusses Sources used by the authors to obtain samples: the Osmotheque, samples sold online, major brands, niche firms, specialty retailers such as Lucky Scent and Aedes de Venustas, department stores, and independent decanters such as The Perfumed Court. The authors also recommend, for perfumery raw materials, exploratory kits from The Perfumer’s Apprentice.

The last few pages are made up of a Glossary, Top Ten Lists, and an Index of Brands (fragrances listed by perfume house). These should look familiar to you if you’ve read the earlier books, except that I don’t remember seeing the “Desert Island” lists of each author before, and that was a fun read.

As I mentioned before in the “book review coming” post, I very much doubt that anyone who owns either of the two previous books will find it necessary to own this one as well. The material in it that you haven’t read before is good stuff, from Foreword to updates to Desert Island lists.  However, if you haunt the perfume blogs as I do, you probably already know that, for example, Diorella has been messed with recently, as have most of the classic Dior fragrances – and not for the better (except perhaps Poison, which probably needed to go on a diet, at least by my standards). You probably already know that IFRA has forced changes to the classic Chanels, and although they seem thinner and lack the lovely sandalwood of yore, the reformulations are still in the spirit of the earlier fragrances. You probably already know that Guerlain’s reformulations of their classics are uneven, with a few smelling slightly better these days due to a rebalancing of the formula, a few fragrances noticeably different but still very good, and a few having had the soul stripped from them.

I’d love to keep this book, but I have plans for it: I’m giving it to my local library. That’s my advice for those of you who are still wondering whether you need a copy: buy one (or two, or four), skim it lightly for the new bits, and then give it as a gift to people who are completely nonplussed as to why you love perfume. Buy a copy for your local library – or for your favorite sales associate, if you are so lucky as to have one of those. It’s short enough to be a quick and entertaining read even for people who have little interest in fragrance, and compelling enough to, perhaps, change that.

Not to mention, I want to encourage supporting people who write about perfume for a living. The book is fairly inexpensive, at $18.00 retail and $12.24 at Amazon.   It will be released on October 27, 2011, exactly a week from today, and it is possible to preorder it.  (Please note, if you go to Amazon, the associated reviews are actually for Perfumes: the A-Z Guide, which confused me momentarily.) A publicity copy was provided to me for review from Viking, free of charge.  Please note: Reader Nina clarifies for us that authors receive better royalties when books are purchased from independent booksellers than they get when we order from Amazon (and, presumably, other online sellers).  Keep that in mind when making a decision to buy books.

Also see Dimitri’s review of The Little Book of Perfumes at Sorcery of Scent.  (I love his blog pictures.)  Book image from Viking.

Read Full Post »


You know this is going to be available in a few days, right?  you have heard of this, right?  No?  It’s a trimmed-down, sometimes-updated version of the behemoth collection of Turin&Sanchez reviews we all love to hate/hate to love, plus reviews of four classics only smellable at the Osmotheque in recreated original form (Coty Chypre, L’Origan, Emeraude, and Fath Iris Gris).  Read more about it here, if you want more explanation.

I’ll review it here this week.  I have a publicity copy right here in my hot little hands, and I’ll dish the dirt for you.  The short version: if you’ve already got Perfumes: The Guide in hardback, or Perfumes from A to Z in paperback, you probably don’t need it.  If you’re me (and you own both books), you’ll probably want it anyway.  Just because.

I shamelessly lifted the image of the book from Now Smell This.


Read Full Post »

Monday, Oct.10: Beautiful day!! The CEO’s sister E graciously agreed to drive our Chinese weekend visitors to the DC area on her way home; she took Dr. Men to Dulles Airport, and Bill to the Metro station. SOTD: Le Labo Aldehyde 44. Which, although I am annoyed no end by Le Labo’s pretentiousness, is actually pretty decent smellies, all smooth and confident.

Attended a really long Band Boosters meeting in the evening – our high school is hosting the VBODA marching band assessment & competition for the Western region of Virginia next Saturday, and of course there are serious logistics to be worked out for this sort of thing. Not to mention that there are three band events going on this week.

Tuesday, Oct. 11: Rainy today. (Poor Bookworm got wet at marching band practice this afternoon.) Did the grocery shopping and five loads of laundry, as well as making dinner: taco salad and corn, with fruit. SOTD: Amouage Ubar, the reissue. The original was a bit too woody and not floral enough for me, and the modern stuff is so… thick, so lemony-flowery-civetty-sexy. It’s wonderful.

Wednesday, Oct. 5: Rain in the morning, clearing up in the afternoon. Did some online shopping for birthdays, and wrote some, and did some laundry. Took a shower late in the afternoon, and only then did I grab a fragrance: Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau. Which is, lemme tell ya, pret-ty weird. It’s wearable-weird, but still: weird. I think I like it, though it is a little strange, smelling like burnt-sugar pastries.

Thursday, Oct. 6: Happy 13th birthday to Gaze! Got a haircut and did some shopping. SOTD: Le Temps d’une Fete. Bought birthday presents for Sunday’s brother-birthday-party, and replaced my crappy brown mules with some very nice brown leather shooties, on clearance at the shoe store. Also replaced my worn, elderly brown faux-croc tote purse with a similar one I found at TJ Maxx. Bought two super-cheapies there: a 50ml bottle of Azzaro pour Homme, and a 30ml bottle of Britney Spears Circus Fantasy.

(Yeah, what was I thinking? It was $8, and I’d heard it was the best of the Fantasy flankers, but still. Bad decision. It smells like cardboard dipped in orange soda – not as sweet as the other Fantasys, still pretty sugary. But I didn’t know that beforehand, because my TJ Maxx has taken to locking their boxes of perfume up in individual plastic cases that must be unlocked at checkout. There was also a huge gift box of True Religion, 50ml edt and shower gel for $30, that I almost bought because I know that PETBoy wears it, and that Bookworm thinks it smells great. It does smell good. I might see if Bookworm would like to give it as a Christmas/birthday gift, since PETBoy’s birthday is right after Christmas.)

Azzaro pour Homme – a four-star fragrance in P:TG – was $10, and I figured it was a pretty good deal for something that’s supposedly a classic. I didn’t remember much other than “4-stars” about it, so it was interesting to open the box and spritz away. The first thing that happens is that the lavender lifts a huge hammer and does its darndest to try to kill me with it. If you can make it through that stage (it was hard for me because lavender hates my guts, but I dug deep and did not scrub), it’s pretty good as a classic masculine fragrance. I had thought it might be suitable for Gaze, but he’s not ready for it. It’s very 70s, and to my nose, kinda sexy, the lavender notwithstanding. It’s very nice: lavender, moss, tons of coumarin and amber, essentially glorified shaving cream. Which I don’t want to wear, but would smell happily on a guy. It’s too old for Gaze, I’m afraid. He’ll have to pick out something else. (I’d suggest True Religion, but it would probably be too freaky for Bookworm’s younger brother to start smelling like her boyfriend.)

Then we went to the middle school football game. Our county high school has two feeder middle schools, known as DMS and PMS (please, no jokes. Please. I’ve heard them all.) My kids go/have gone/will go to DMS, who – I couldn’t believe it – won the game handily. The middle school bands were playing at the game, and the high school band members came in and divided up by their middle school background, Bookworm coming over to the DMS side to play a few tunes in the stands, just a row below Gaze and the other low brass instruments. I couldn’t manage to get a really good picture of the two of them together.

The CEO stuck his head into this shot, but both Bookworm (facing backward to talk to the tenor sax player behind her) and Gaze (blue shirt, trombone, blond hair) are visible in the background. Also, a weensy bit of Taz' hair there to the right. Sigh.

At halftime, the high school band performed their show on the field, and then left to march in the local Fire Safety Awareness Week Parade. (It’s locally known as “the Fire Parade,” which makes it sound a lot more interesting than it usually is since nothing, in fact, does catch on fire. Though we did actually have the KKK enter a float one year. I don’t think they found a lot of support, and they haven’t been back, thank goodness.) Right after the game, the skies opened up as we were taking Gaze to Shoney’s for a birthday dinner, and the high school band got absolutely soaked.

Friday, Oct. 7: Posted the Serge Lutens article. Took some stuff to Goodwill. Made dinner early and left at 3 pm to chaperone the marching band at the away game. SOTAfternoon: Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipano – nice, but not really up to the chilly temperatures. Or the heartbreaker football game: our team lost their seventh game of the season, this time by two points. Grrrrr. Too, the band’s uniform capes have not recovered from the previous night’s soaking. They look terribly crumpled.

Saturday, Oct. 8: Cleaned house in the morning. Saw Bookworm off to take the PSAT; she and PETBoy and some other test-taking friends were going to grab some lunch right afterward and then go back to the high school for a pre-marching band-competition runthrough. Lovely weather today: sunny but very, very windy.

Gaze went to a birthday party this afternoon; The CEO went out to canvass neighborhoods in our school district and hand out his School Board candidate handbills; Taz and I did laundry. SOTD: Cuir de Lancome. I have never been unhappy with the choice of CdL, barring that time I wore it to a chorus concert in which I was singing, in May, when temperatures reached the upper 70s and the custodian had forgotten to turn on the air conditioning. It was lovely today – soft and dry, floral but austere.

The band uniforms are still a bit soggy, and they don’t smell good. This bodes ill, in my mind, for the Really Big Competition coming up next Saturday, but there isn’t time to gather up the uniforms and get them dry-cleaned before Friday’s football game. Nor is there enough money: because the football team is so dreadful this year (and because county residents are accustomed to their being good), game attendance is down. This means that concession sales are way down, and the band boosters haven’t earned anything close to the amount they budgeted to receive for football game food sales. Arrrrgh. What are we going to do?

The upshot of today’s competition was that PCHS placed second in their size class (AAA, 50-75 members, a medium-size band), and second overall. Bookworm said she had not felt that the show went well, and she was surprised at the results. She got home at midnight and talked to me for half an hour, which was awfully nice. I feel like I hardly see her these days.

Sunday, Oct. 9: Another gorgeous day: sunny, temps in the low 70s, breezy but not windy like yesterday. SOTD: Cuir de Lancome again, so lovely. Exciting stuff at church today: six baby dedications and four baptisms – and our worship leader Cody Davenport has just released a CD. We went to the 9:00 service, but Bookworm slept in and went to church at 10:45 with PETBoy.

The CEO to me, when we got home from church at 11:00: “Her truck’s still here. [He] must have come by and picked her up.”

Me: “He does that.”

The CEO: “That’s a lot of running for him, especially in that big truck of his. It must get terrible gas mileage. Why doesn’t she just meet him at church? It’s not like they didn’t spend sixteen hours together yesterday.”

Me: “I think it’s part of his expectation of being an old-fashioned gentleman. Guy picks up the girl and holds doors for her and buys her lunch and stuff. I guess it’s worth it to him to blow fifteen minutes and a little bit of gas to come over here and pick her up, just so they can have an extra fifteen minutes to talk in the truck on the way to church. And then of course he’ll take her home, too. Completely smitten. It’s so cute.”

The CEO: “I used to do that for my girlfriend.”

Me: (snort) “Must have been when you were in high school.”

We didn’t date in high school. We knew each other and were friends, but didn’t date until after college, and after The CEO had finished his master’s degree. When we started dating, he was living with his parents here in P. County and starting his farming career, and I was working full-time and living in an apartment in Roanoke, an hour’s drive away. Our phone bills were enormous, but there wasn’t any “drive 15 minutes out of his way to see me” extra, because every time we saw each other was “out of his way”.

Held birthday celebration for Gaze and Taz, with their grandparents and chocolate cake. Yum. SOTEvening: Parfums de Rosine Poussiere de Rose. This is like Feminite du Bois plus a lotta rose, and I like it very much, especially in the drydown.

Top image is from Miniature Perfume Shoppe (a nice source for vintage stuff, especially).

Read Full Post »

Lutens Love?

Photo by JC.

The fragrance house of Serge Lutens may be the most generally-admired among the fragrance community.  You could make a case for Guerlain (or Creed, if you’ve been reading at Basenotes) being that house, but overall, I think there’s been a great deal of adulation pitched in Mr. Lutens’ direction.

There’s been some blame, too, though that seems to have subsided from the peak of indignation about the time that L’Eau Serge Lutens, a super-clean fragrance purporting to smell like a freshly-ironed shirt, was released in 2010, to the horror of many a perfume blogger.  “Serge has sold out!  ‘Clean’ rules us all now!  Perfume is going straight to hell!  I might as well take my toys and go home!”   Mind you, I’m not making fun of those horrified bloggers.  I do hate the idea that fine fragrance is going the way of the laundromat, and anything distinctive and startling – like the quintessential Serge Lutens fragrances – are frowned upon by the public at large.  I hate the idea that any fragrance that doesn’t smell “fresh and clean” might disappear from the face of the earth. 

But I did get the impression, reading various perfume blogs and comments on the fragrance forums (Makeup Alley, Basenotes, Fragrantica), that Serge Lutens was the End-All and Be-All of the scented world, the perfect modern iconoclastic perfume house.  Over and over again I read:  Iris Silver Mist is the best iris fragranceChergui is the best tobacco/honey/amber fragranceBois de Violette is the most perfectly balanced woody floralMuscs Koublai Khan is the musk to top all musksAmbre Sultan is the best amber fragrance ever.  So every time I’ve gotten the opportunity to test a Serge Lutens fragrance, I’ve done so.  For me, that often means buying samples, or begging samples from friends, since there’s no SL distributor anywhere within several hours’ drive of where I live.  The results have been very, very mixed.  

Image from Fragrantica.com.

I absolutely adored La Myrrhe from first sniff of my sample – the first Lutens I got my hands on.  I often see reviews of it that call it “medicinal,” “cold,” and “inexplicable,” but right from the beginning I loved its glowing, scintillating, light-filled quality and the incredible sense of  introspection and peace and comfort I feel when I wear it.   I saved pennies for a 2ml decant.  Then I saved for another one, and waited for a 20% off sale at the decanter.  I now own about 25 milliliters of it, and I cherish every drop.  I wear it when I really, really need a hug but can’t flop on the couch in lounge pants, with an enormous latte, some shortbread, and a favorite paperback.    I wore it to my grandmother’s funeral this past December, and it was such a reminder of inner quiet and strength and beauty. It lifted my eyes.

I was surprised to find, when testing other Serge Lutens fragrances, that I didn’t have strong feelings about most of them.  I loved La Myrrhe, and a few others I despised,  but by and large, I was emotionally unmoved.  It still strikes me as odd that I don’t have more of a love-hate reaction to most of the scents, because they are indeed often described as odd and unpredictable, with twists that make them intriguing and unique among all the J’Adores and Cashmere Mists and Clean fragrances of the world.  It is possible, however, that I haven’t tried enough of the ones that have what people tend to call the “signature Lutens stewed fruit accord.”  Because I’ve had to seek out samples, I lack familiarity with much of the line, and the scents I’ve chosen to sample have tended to be the less polarizing ones.

Here are super-miniature reviews of the Lutens scents I have tried:  Pink, I vaguely like.  Green, I vaguely dislike.  Purple, I hate and despise to the depths of my being.

Bas de Soie – a hyacinth made of aluminum.  In a lab.  Chilly.  Made my back teeth hurt, and yet I did not hate it.
Bois de Violette – neither enough woods nor enough violet for my taste.  Ehh.  I don’t get the reason Luca Turin loves it so much.
Borneo 1834 – Patchouli chocolate. Kill. Me. Now.
Chergui – tobacco, honey, spices and the musty smell of old people’s houses that my grandmother used to drag me to for visits when I was a kid.  Just to the left of Just Right – it goes wrong enough that I can’t wear it because it makes me angry.
Clair de Musc – clean, soft, pretty, boring.  I’d rather have Jovan Musk for Women.  Especially at the price.
El Attarine – La Myrrhe with fruit and wood, and therefore all the clear white light of LM is smudgy.  Not bad, but not my favorite.
Feminite de Bois – nice.  I’d rather have my old Dolce Vita, though – it’s happier.
Gris Clair – another Kill. Me. Now. Lavender nightmare of unending depression.  Eeyore in a bottle.  I had to scrub it off before I decided to end it all and put my head in the oven.  (Luckily, I did remember that I have an electric oven.  And the Tide+unscented deodorant worked.)
Iris Silver Mist – carrots and gray iris. I like it and find it cheerful rather than austere, but it isn’t love.  This is the icy goddess of iris?  Nope.  Iris n’ Carrots, two nice little pigtailed girls playing  “Miss Mary Mack.”
Louve – cherry cough syrup/baby powder.  I recoiled.  I gritted my teeth for 50 minutes before scrubbing.  WTH did they bottle this for? Could successfully be used to torture me.
Nuit de Cellophane – nice.  Forgettable.  When this one was released, when I was still pretty new at this sniffery deal, I was puzzled at how annoyed all the bloggers were with a “pretty” Serge fragrance.   Now I see the point: sure, it’s nice.  But so is J’Adore L’Absolu.  “Nice flowers” has been Done.
Rahat Loukoumseriously? AlmondrosecherryPlay-doh weird.
Rose de Nuit – squeaky rose/geranium with galbanum chewy as dried-up marshmallows.  A Mean Girl.  Smells like one of those glittery-eyed fake smiles that really means, “I’m only biding my time until I can crush your ovaries in my hand.” 
Sa Majeste La Rose  – nice. Pleasant. Pretty.  Upscale version of Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose.  I don’t need it.
Sarrasins – super-indolic jasmine and… wait.  My brain just exploded.  I can’t figure it out.  However, I don’t really want to try to figure it out.   Poop, jasmine, and something that smells like skin?  Wait, my brain just exploded again.
Tubereuse Criminelle – Menthol cough drop + rotting raw chicken of death, followed by sweet pretty tuberose.  NO.  NO NO NO.  Gah.  Kill. Me. Now.
Un Lys – nice.  Forgettable. I much prefer DK Gold, or even FM Lys Med.

And recently tried Jeux de Peau – gave me the giggles and made me hungry by smelling like slightly-burnt palmier pastries drizzled with butter and maple syrup, before settling into this really nice sandalwood.  It’s clever and amusing and intelligent, and if it were priced like a Smell Bent (where it would fit right in), I’d buy it and wear it, no matter if people wondered where the French toast smell was coming from.  At Lutensian prices, I think I’ll give it a pass.  Also, Gaze said he liked the way it smelled, but it gave him an instant headache.

Photo by MS.

The ones I haven’t tried:  Blue, I’d like to try.  Orange, I’ll give it a fair trial.  Brown,I’m not looking forward to.

A La Nuit – not promising, because I’m not much of a jasmine fan.  This is the “death by jasmine” one.  (Result: dislike.)
Ambre Sultan – the herbs and patchouli make me very very wary.   (Result: meh.)
Arabie – I can only take curry in very small quantities.  I’m skeered.  (Result: dislike.)
Bois et Fruits – I might like this a lot, as in my imagination it’s a bit like Mauboussin.  OTOH, I already own some Mauboussin.
Bois et Musc – I have a feeling this will bore me.
Bois Oriental – Sounds boring to me too.
Boxeuses – I’m intrigued.  Could be good.  (Result: dislike.)
Cedre – I love tuberose.  Tuberose-wood sounds a bit dodgy, but I’d still like to try this.
Chene – might be too dry and/or masculine for me, but I’d like to smell.  (Result: enjoyable.)
Chypre Rougenothing about this one sounds nice to me.
Cuir Mauresque – not a big leather fan, either.  I love Cuir de Lancome, but that’s Leather for Wimps.  Hated Cuir de Russie.
Daim Blond – I have a sample and will definitely try.  I like apricot, and I like my leather soft.
Datura Noir – BWF fan that I am, this one might work, though it could possibly go too sweet.  (Result: very nice.)
De Profundis – I’m not encouraged.  “Earthy and chrysanthemum-y” doesn’t appeal.
Douce Amere – I like anise, but I dunno about this.

Funny... it LOOKS harmless. "Lavender flower" from types-of-flowers.org.

Encens et Lavande – I have a sample of this too, but I’m betting that it’ll try to throttle me within the first six minutes.  I hate lavender. (Or it hates me – instant migraine.  Just yesterday, I tested Azzaro Pour Homme, and while it smells pretty darn good, and kinda sexy even, the lavender immediately rose up and tried to smash my head with a rock.)
Fille en Aiguilles – not impressed by pine, and not a huge incense fan either.  Doesn’t sound to my taste.  (Result: dislike.)
Five o’Clock au Gingembre – could be good, with tea and candied ginger.  Would like to sample.
Fleurs d’Oranger – I might have a sample of this lying around.  The cumin alarms me, especially in the context of orange blossom, since I’m not generally a fan of OB either.  (Result: like.)
Fleurs de Citronnier – neroli, iris, and musk?  Probably not going to suit me.  (Result: intense dislike.)
Fourreau NoirPatty from Perfume Posse calls this “Lavender Pancake Syrup with Hookah.”  SO not me.  (Result: KillMeNow hatred.)
Fumerie Turque – another possible winner, though it might go too masculine.  (Result: like.)
L’Eau Serge Lutens – not even gonna bother. 
Mandarine Mandarin  – nothing in the notes appeals.  That said, nothing in the notes doesn’t appeal, so maybe.
Miel de Bois – I predict urinous disaster.
Muscs Koublai Khan – I predict hairy-man-sweat disaster.
Rousse – a possibility.  I like Red Hots.
Santal Blanc – another “might be good.”
Santal de Mysore – woody rum cask?  I’m leery.
Serge Noire – go read Kevin’s review at Now Smell This.  Be amused and repulsed at the same time.  Now try to get past it to try Serge Noire with a fresh nose.  (I can’t.)
Un Bois Sepia – cedar, vetiver, patchouli, and sandalwood?   I’m not enticed; in fact, I’m a little repelled, just from the description.
Un Bois Vanille – if it’s anything like the sweet-woody bits of Smell Bent One, I’ll probably like it, but I can’t imagine needing to own it since I already have a bottle of One.
Vetiver Oriental – y’all know I don’t care much for vetiver.  I predict celery disaster.
Vitriol d’Oeillet – could be good.  Could be dreadful.  My standards for carnation fragrances are very high (DSH Oeillets Rouges and Floris Malmaison).  (Result: like.)

Photo by NH.

If you’d like to read the results of my recent poll on feelings toward the house of Serge Lutens, click here.  The comments are enlightening as well, since many people spelled out which scents they liked.   An informal request for comments among some Facebook perfume friends revealed that similarly, there were quite a few fans of the line, with many more people finding it to be hit-or-miss for them.  Several people remarked that they tended to love the scents released earlier (the Bois series and ones that were described as “stewed fruit”), but haven’t liked the recent releases, with L’Eau and Nuit de Cellophanecoming in for their share of contempt.   Joe A commented that not all the fragrances work for him, but he admires the SL sensibility in making scents that are intelligent and unusual and interesting. 

I think I agree: we need more Weird-but-Wearable in the fragrance world.  I’ll quote Luca Turin in Perfumes: The Guide (yet again), in his review of Le Feu d’Issey:  “[P]erfume is, among other things, the most portable form of intelligence.”  Yes, we need more of that, please.  I think I need to try more of the early, stranger, Lutens scents.  Whatever Uncle Serge is up to lately, I’m still interested to find out…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: