Friday, April 24, 2009

My Top 12 of Summer

I've seen lots of fabulous spring fragrance top 10 lists lately, which I love reading, but here in Texas let's face it: spring was sooooo two weeks ago. It's summer, really. So I thought I'd start a best of summer list, and I can't seem to stop at ten, so here's twelve. Gosh, I can't believe I haven't reviewed all of these yet. I have much blogging to do, don't I?

o1. Miss Dior (recent parfum or vintage edt/edc)
02. Givenchy Le De (This recent reissued edt is so lovely and subtle, it's easy to overlook. Easy like a Sunday morning, baby.)
03. Dior Eau Fraiche (A Dior-lover's heavenly dry cologne)
04. Diorling (This is the recent edt, which is more of a gorgeous jasmine and tobacco fragrance with an astringent top than it is a leather. Addictive.)
05. Guerlain Vetiver (Refreshing, tonic, palate-cleanser)
06. Vent Vert (vintage edt)
07. Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie
08. Chanel No. 19 (The iris and vetiver edt is essential to me for summer, but the parfum works in summer too, with that beautiful galbanum in the top notes.)
09. Prada Infusion d'Iris (Another iris-vetiver combo for when I feel like a more modern, understated mandarin burst in the topnotes.)
10. Worth Je Reviens Couture
11. 1000 de Patou edt (Anyone else find Luca Turin's description of this as "dowdy" just uncalled-for? This has a self-assured, I-don't-need-to-impress-anybody beauty.)
12. Jasmal by Creed

Image is Rome from Mount Aventine by J.M.W. Turner

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Which I Consider a Trip to Paris, Again

On top of the recent Now Smell This report of the Perfumes Exposition taking place in Paris this September, I've have fallen deeply in love with Muscs Koublai Khan, a Paris exclusive from Serge Lutens. Both have me seriously considering a trip to Paris.

As the (lamentedly) ex-perfume-blogger Ina of aromascope described it, Muscs Koublai Khan is my "favorite olfactory pet." And I love that she described it that way, because that sense of a creature with a beating heart connects MKK to another animalic charmer for me: Joy parfum. That jasmine wonder, once I got past the petrol whiff it's jasmine initially gives off, has always seemed to me more closely related to a furry creature than a perfume. I've never "gotten" civet until I smelled it in Joy, and I've never "gotten" musk until I discovered it in MKK. Both seem to take on lives of their own on the skin.

In MKK I have found another pet. I might even "love him and hug him and call him George" (You know you want to watch the classic "Abominable Snow Bunny" Bugs Bunny cartoon if you don't know what I'm talking about). It's salty; it's naughty; it's utterly transfixing. To my nose, it has none of the soapiness of some musks such as Kiehl's, and it's also not the gentle woody musk of Annick Goutal's Musc Nomade. Furthermore, its perfection is further confirmed because it has none of the "soiled underwear" that Luca Turin so accurately describes in Miller Harris's L'Air de Rien. Your mileage may vary, of course, but let me just say I thank my lucky stars that MKK is the scent of my fantasy (i.e. bathed) horseman-warrior revealed by the warm, flickering light of a few beeswax candles. L'Air de Rien is Mick Jagger's skidmarked undies, circa 1968.

I need to go to Paris, obviously. Seems like a reasonable trek to take for such a beautiful beast.

The last time I felt this way, it was brought on by another Serge Lutens beauty: Iris Silver Mist. Hm, a pattern may be emerging here.

I've seen on the fantastic blog Serge Lutens: Nearly All the Facts that MKK may be joining the export range of fragrances this coming holiday season. squeee!!!

Image of a musk deer from A Manual of Materia Medica and Pharmacology, uploaded by

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shaken not stirred: Niki de Saint Phalle

I've had a bottle of Niki de Saint Phalle's eponymous perfume (edt) for several months, but didn't really know what to make of it. I've finally figured out what it reminds me of: a dirty gin martini, straight up, three olives, shaken not stirred. Now I love gin, but with NdSP I understand why some people don't. As soon as I put it on, and continuing through the drydown, it feels too moonshine-ish, too heady-flowery, too high-test. No matter how much I like a good dirty martini, I don't particularly like feeling as if I've bathed in one. That's what NdSP feels like. I guess this all could be summed up as: it wears me, not the other way around.

I hoped it would turn me into the immortal, smart-mouthed Myrna Loy in The Thin Man, martini in hand, but alas. I've heard much about the oddity, the bitter tagetes (marigold), the vetiver. However, it's not bitter in the sense I expected, from my love of leathery chypres like vintage Cabochard and Diorling. Now with those perfumes I feel like I could make an attempt at pretending to be the witty, irresistible Nora Charles. But with NdSP I get only an overwhelming, sharp, woody-flowery spike through my head, which after a while feels not like the buzz, but like the morning after a few too many martinis. Oh well, I'll give it another twirl another time. With my often-changing perfume tastes lately, I may well fall in love with it next time I try it.

Notes: Jasmin, Rose, Marigold, Ylang-Ylang, Vetyver, Sandalwood, Patchouly, Amber, Musk

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mood: blustery

Wallace Stevens can usually be counted on to be right--irritatingly so. We are the weather, he says, and like the weather right now, I'm feeling ambivalent and fickle. Reading Wallace Stevens' Harmonium is perfect for my mood. What's a better description of Spring's blustery changeableness than this:
The sovereign clouds came clustering. The conch
Of loyal conjuration trumped. The wind
Of green blooms turning crisped the motley hue

To clearing opalescence. Then the sea
And heaven rolled as one and from the two
Came fresh transfigurings of freshest blue.
-- Sea Surface Full of Clouds, Wallace Stevens
Some more quickie, fickle Spring fragrance reviews to go with my mood:

Dior Escale a Portofino
A nice orange blossom cologne, with a bit of almondy notes. I have a decant of L'Artisan Parfumeur's Fleur d'Oranger limited edition, though, and this is not as nice. Redundant.

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan
Wow, this is supposed to be intimidating? You cuddly-wuddly warrior-horseman, you. Who's a big, bad Mongol emperor? C'mere.

Guerlain Jicky edt
Hot mess of overbearing lavender and tumid vanilla, completely unbearable to me, sadly. I can't do lavender and vanilla--doesn't work for me in Caron's Pour Un Homme, either.

Guerlain Mouchoir de Monsieur
Like an eccentric and frustrating boyfriend, first repellant (an initial hit of civet, i.e. poo) who becomes more attractive (lemony citrus warmed irresistably by civet). I'm going to try layering this with something floral, since it is a bit too linear once it calms.

Kiehl's Original Musk
Floral, powdery musk, with none of the sweaty tang that makes Muscs Kublai Khan so comforting.

Jil Sander #4 parfum
Smells like panettone, the spiced, raisin-studded Italian holiday bread.

Narciso Rodriguez edt
Floor-cleaner citrus that appears to be not quite well-blended with a barely perceptible (to me) musk.