Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter Favorites

It's best-of-2008 list time! But I'm no good at that. So here's what I'm enjoying the most over my Christmas/New Year's Eve vacation:


Dzing! L'Artisan Parfumeur
This smells like the ultimate used bookshop with leather club chairs. My happy place.

Cuir de Lancome
Saffron-leather, medicinal and buttery in turns.

Joy de Jean Patou parfum
The thing that's so fascinating about Joy parfum is that underneath the satin skin of this jasmine-and-rose lovechild beats the warm heart of a tawny-furred creature. It seems to amplify your own heat, smelling like golden, sun-warmed fur as it dries down. So amazing in the winter.

Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse
I'm such an anglophile geek that I'll read anything by Wodehouse and giggle uncontrollably at any number of newt-fancier jokes. This is a great read so far.

Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyer
There's nothing I love better than devouring a good fantasy series for a relaxing vacation, and this is...well, not exactly that good. It's no Harry Potter, and it gets kinda boring in places. The third book is definately the weakest, but I'm finishing the fourth book, in which Bella *finally* gets to be badass rather than the constant helpless victim. It's about time. But have I also mentioned that I love a good vampire romance? So they shouldn't be rotting teenagers' brains with this stuff, but the scent stuff in this series is kinda fascinating.

So who knew, but vampires are the ultimate perfumistas of human blood. Well, more like the ultimate gourmands, I suppose. But Edward is a gourmet. You see, he's ignored human blood for a century; only the smell of Bella is nearly unbearably "luscious." He can barely control his urge to rip her throat out upon first sniff. How romantic! *snort* Her blood's smell is floral (freesia and lavender are tentatively used to describe it), and as their relationship gets closer, he sniffs her wrists, "enjoying the bouquet while resisting the wine." For all the emphasis on her scent, he barely describes it, really. Her scent is all about the effect it has on him, and about his power and control in resisting its allure. Bella notes more specifically Edward's "strange honey-lilac-sun perfume." Of course scent has nearly always been a way to describe erotic yearning, but as someone obsessed with perfume, I have to say: I love that vampires are perfumistas, too!

Bon Iver = For Emma, Forever Ago
My friend Emily made me listen to this, and I now crave this CD weekly at least.

Morphine = Cure for Pain
When my old friend Jonathan came to visit, it reminded me of nights in Cambridge, Mass. at places like the Lizard Lounge, listening to bands like Morphine and Dirty Three. So I just had to dig up my old CDs. This stuff is still awesome.

Neutral Milk Hotel = In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
"The King of Carrot Flowers" is one of the best songs ever. Glorious, epic family dysfunction.

Andrew Bird = Armchair Apocrypha
"Scythian Empires" mesmerizes me.

MGMT = "Time to Pretend," Oracular Spectacular
The Walkmen "In the New Year," You & Me
I actually had time to dig through some "best of 2008 music" lists and check out some new dance-around-my-house music, and success! These are my newest favorites.

30 Rock, complete first and second seasons on DVD
As the inimitable Liz Lemon says: "nut up, Jack." So by the hammer of Thor, nut up and watch this!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Life Magazine on Perfume

An archive of Life Magazine's photos is now hosted by Google, and I looked up perfume. Here are some of my finds:The Perfumatic perfume vending machine, loaded with Tabu, Chanel #5, Lentheric Tweed, and Yardley (?) Lavender. Possibly the awesomest photo I've seen all year.

Greer Garson spraying perfume on her dogs, which is apparently some kind of veterinary-approved procedure, from the look of it.

Shoveling petals in a perfume factory, 1947.

A perfume vase found in Tutankhamen's tomb.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mitsouko, at last

At last, I get it. You know the holidays are magic when the consumate vintage lover actually falls for the new formulation of Mitsouko edt. I mean yeah, I knew Mitsouko was *important*, yeah I knew it was originally created in 1919, yeah I knew it defined the chypre, yeah I knew it was named after an tragic opera heroine, all that. All those things certainly should have guaranteed instant love from me. They didn't, but I kept trying it over the last couple years.

This winter, though, my skin soaks in Mitsouko like it's thirsty for it, smelling like sex on a bed of moss combined with the yeasty, smoky, nectared smell of... peach pit. It's not fruity, though. It has an earthy quality halfway between bread and wine. It'll sustain you in hard times, this will. In fact, I think of Mitsouko as having vintages like wine does. I'm sure earlier vintages (say a bottle of the 1944 extrait) have greater complexity, I'm sure all you lucky perfume geeks out there who have bottles of vintage juice are scoffing at me, but this one still smoulders with the noble rot and delicious tragedy of great French perfumery.

Does that mean I'm going to stop stalking vintage Mitsouko on the fleabay? Hell no. The vintage juice will be mine eventually. It will be mine.

If you've tried Mitsouko and didn't like it, all I can say is: keep trying. It's been around for almost 100 years now, and there's a formulation for everybody. No pressure, don't feel like you have to love it now, but take it from me, it's inexorable. It'll get you eventually. Other reviews of Mitsouko that you might find as fascinating as I do:

Ode to Mitsouko, Perfume Posse
Mitsouko, Scentzilla
Perfume Memories: Mitsouko, GlassPetalSmoke

Speaking of fleabay, I've recently scored bottles of two jasmine favorites: Joy parfum and La Fuite des Heures parfum. I've written about my love of La Fuite des Heures, but Joy will probably get a review very soon.

First image my own watercolor, Snakes in Trees. Second image is a Mitsouko ad originally uploaded by Scented Salamander.

Monday, December 1, 2008

An enabler's Madini

Now y'all may be familiar with Madini oils, which are of high quality and are sometimes discussed on discussion boards. I've got a bunch of small bottles and samples here, and I just got an email from the Talisman website, which has a 15% off coupon code going right now: HOLIDAY08. So here goes a late Black Monday post for you!

I find oils really fascinating, and I crave their viscous intensity sometimes during this cool, bone-dry winter we're having here in Austin. Oils don't have the note separation of alcohol-based perfumes, and they wear close to the skin, so the florals tend to flatten out, but the balsamic orientals bloom with body heat.

Olive Flowers: Some people call this Madini's version of Shalimar, but I could swear this smells like Vol de Nuit extrait, at a ridiculously tiny percentage of the cost.

Musk Gazelle: Spicy, salty dark musk. Some might smell headshop, but I tend to think this is a cut above.

Hanane: This one is weird. It's got a salty-sour musk quality that keeps me sniffing and wondering "what IS this?" that seems completely unlike it's parts: galbanum, jasmine, rose, patchouli.

Jasmine: A deeply green, almost smoky, fairly indolic jasmine. Flattens quite a bit on the skin after a little while, but remains unsweet and interesting.

Nardo: A rich, heady, camphorous, intense tuberose that tames itself on the skin pretty quickly. On me, the camphor lasts longer than the floral aspects, so kills the joy a bit.

Azahar: At first it's a slightly screechy orange flower, but calms nicely 'til it's green and just the tiniest bit honeyed.

Alma de Alma: Amber headshop oil balanced nicely with a sunny citron oil, but too sweet for me.

Henna: Starts out promisingly, smelling very similar to Chamade's sharp green hyacinth topnotes, but turns into a powdery sweet mess.