Thursday, October 15, 2009

Joint blog project! Falling in love: scents and treats for fall

I've been more interested in music lately than I have been in perfume (gasp!), so I thought I'd merge two sets of favorites together for this joint best-of-fall project, matching perfume treats with musical ones. Hit the play buttons throughout to hear my fall musical treats, and enjoy! Too bad you can't hit play to smell the scents, too, huh?

These are not new scents, for the most part, but they are ones I've fallen in love with recently, haven't flogged too much already, and are in production. I look forward to wearing them all this fall. I own all but four of them, and would like to own them all, but I doubt I'll ever actually shell out for the spendy Ubar and the Party in Manhattan.

**NOTE** So sorry if the music files aren't showing up! The site on which I stashed the files is telling me I've exceeded the bandwidth limit. I'll do what I can to fix it asap, but you might need to try playing during a time of day with less interwebs traffic. I'm a newbie on posting music files online...

What to wear to live a lush life in some small dive: Diptyque Philosykos

Song: Regina Spektor, "Lady"

Regina Spektor flaunts her technique and quirky humor like the perfumer Olivia Giacobetti. The verisimilitude of the fig tree--including leaves, fruits, and especially dark branches--in Philosykos makes it match up well with Spektor's homage to Billie Holiday's plush voice and thorny life. The lyrics, the timbre, the phrasing of "Lady" are all about art not only stemming from life, but demanding, conjuring more life, especially when Spektor tells us she'll make us "cry little wet tears."

What to wear to howl at the moon: Caron Yatagan
Song: Taraf de Haïdouks, "Hora Din Caval"

Feral wormwood, pine, fennel, patchouli, and leathery goodness, not about to be pushed around by anybody, and certainly badly behaved enough to be sent to bed without dinner. This wild gypsy violin groove by Taraf de Haïdouks is the perfect scented equivalent to wearing Caron Yatagan. "Inside all of us is a wild thing," as Maurice Sendak wrote in Where the Wild Things Are, and thanks be that he did. Wear Yatagan when you want a wolf suit.

What to wear to invoke a goddess: Amouage Ubar
Song: Renee Fleming, "Casta Diva"

I'm sure the connection between this luxurious scent and operatic drama has been made before, but I'll just have to be unoriginal here. There truly hasn't been a fragrance in recent memory that so exquisitely performs its aria; every element--diva, orchestra, chorus--is effortlessly modulated. The lily of the valley note is not screechy, but more like Renee Fleming's perfectly trained and mature soprano voice. This fragrance has that magic of live performance in it. The natural materials are almost tangible, like the feel in your head and your chest of a swelling orchestra in an opera house with world-class acoustics. That feeling can't be captured in an mp3, but Fleming singing "Casta Diva," in which Norma invokes the goddess in Bellini's opera, may be as close as we come.

What to wear to a rite of passage: L'Artisan Parfumeur Passage d'Enfer
Song: Cat Power, "I Found A Reason"

Chan Marshall's voice is achingly tender, heartbreakingly, willfully sentimental and also self-consciously artful. I immediately thought of her, and this song, as a match for a perfume with cedar (this gives the scent a body odor feel that makes it feel imperfect and human, and is the thing that makes me love it) and incense (comforting and hazy), but also with a sweet lily note. I normally despise lily, but welded to incense here it is really sublime. The lyrics of "I Found A Reason," simple and repetitive, include the phrase, "what comes is better than what came before," which links this song to the idiomatic meaning of the phrase "passage d'enfer," a "rite of passage." Sadly, the shortness of the song also matches the lack of lasting power of the perfume.

What to wear for a wistful holiday evening: Diptyque Tam Dao
Song: Nina Simone, "Little Girl Blue"

Luxuriating in sadness with a comforting, Christmasy piano-tinkle in the background. Sticks around too short a time. Guh. I could do a whole series just on Nina Simone songs; she owns me. What more is there to say?

What goes with single-malt scotch and stilettos: Chanel Bois des Iles
Song: The Black Keys, "All You Ever Wanted"

This one, the current parfum of Bois des Iles snuck up on me. When I first sniffed it, I was all prepared to be disappointed in its comparatively modern, spare sandalwood in contrast to the vintage juice. Likewise, I can get a little snobby about preferring old Delta blues over new-fangled rockers "doing" the blues. Bois des Iles won me over like The Black Keys won me. Asphalt and scotch blues that smooths out and writhes its way to an unexpectedly melodic, moan-worthy crescendo. Whew. Seriously satisfying, not to mention all you ever wanted without even knowing it. Thanks, boys.

What to wear to take a call from your ex-boyfriend in the middle of the night
: Coty Wild Musk (perfume oil)
Song: Joan Baez, "Diamonds and Rust"

Protest-song earnestness can get a little boring, if you ask me, but this song is Joan Baez with a little bitter devilment in her: getting a call from an old boyfriend in the middle of the night, swamped with memories and a tinge of resentment over his stratospheric success (since he's Bob Dylan) and emotional distance. Wild Musk is not a "white musk," which is why I like it best among all the old drugstore musks. It has a tinge of that comforting, woody, unwashed scent that reminds me of being snuggled in a musty comforter in some old home hand-built in the 70s as as refuge from the military-industrial complex. I grew up in the 70s and heard Joan Baez from the womb, thanks to my mother, so this is a nostalgia scent for me.

How to be a hard-hearted lover
scent: Ayala Moriel Espionage
Song: Etta James, "Don't Cry Baby"

Unsweetened, commanding, hard-headed soul that softens like Etta James after her initial gun-shot delivery, turning into a woman working her wiles with an unexpected string section.

What goes with gold lame? or, how to be a fame-whore: The Party in Manhattan

Song: The Decemberists, "Los Angeles, I'm Yours"

Okay, it should be "Manhattan, I'm Yours," but this bitingly sardonic, clever hate-f**k of a song is so perfect for this skanky and ultimately hollow wonder that I can't resist. The floral-civet indulgence of the perfume matches the venal self-promotion and greed in gold lamé portrayed in The Decemberists' song. To wit: "but oh the smell of burnt cocaine, the dolor and decay, it only makes me cranky." Wear The Party in Manhattan and you'll feel oddly debauched and dissatisfied.

What to wear to a cabaret of the damned: J'ai Osé

Song: Diamanda Galas, "Twenty-Five Minutes To Go"

Apocalyptically, chokingly tarry, then steadies deliberately into an urgent purr, like the heroine of this live, spine-tingling, avant-cabaret showpiece, who is counting down the minutes before she's hanged. Nina Simone's version of "Pirate Jenny" would also work, and is even more harrowing, but I'd already included one of her songs in the list.

More fabulous blogs are participating in this themed post. Go visit them, too!
Notes from the Ledge

Image credit: Autumn in Sepia by Rick Lundh (via


Mary said...

Love your choices, Aimee! May the goddess bless you in this season of beauty and reflection.

ScentScelf said...

Brava!!! What a fabulous way to explore scents. I'm going to have to spend more time to fully appreciate all of your choices/pairings, but I absolutely love this.

Perfumeshrine said...

What a creative way and how lovely they pair to music!! Had lots of fun with this, thanks so much for playing along :-)

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Mary, thank you so much.
~ Aimee

Aimée L'Ondée said...

ScentScelf, I do hope the bandwidth problem is only temporary, so you can hear these songs soon. They were working this morning, so I'm not sure what the deal is...
But so glad you've enjoyed the post!

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Dear E, thanks for asking me to participate!

Anne said...

I'm now inspired to look into some of these artists. I'm always on the lookout for new music, and pairing each artist/song with a perfume cements them in my mind and makes it even more persuasive. thanks!

Anne said...

I'm now inspired to look into some of these artists. I'm always on the lookout for new music, and pairing each artist/song with a perfume cements them in my mind and makes it even more persuasive. thanks!

Ayala Sender said...

I love your choices of songs and perfumes. And I am EVER so flattered that you have included Espionage on your blog, with Etta James' song!
Have a wonderful fall,

ScentScelf said...

Came back, and the music was here...yay! While I enjoyed every pairing, I got a particular kick out of the Bois des Isles/Black Keys match. I've found a new group, thanks to you...was as you know already firmly in the Bois des Isles camp.

You've made me want to discover more in the J'ai Ose. Next hit I take will be with Diamanda in mind...

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Anne, I hope you find something new (or old) to love! Thanks!

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Ayala, your Espionage fits perfectly on my list of new fall loves, since I bought it in the heat of Texas summer, so I'm really now getting to appreciate it. Lovely stuff, truly. Glad you liked the musical pairing!

Aimée L'Ondée said...

ScentScelf, so glad I've made a convert to The Black Keys. I have just about every one of their albums. Most of their stuff is even more minimal than the track I put up. It's from their latest album.

Flora said...

Where have I been, I did not know you had this blog, it's wonderful, and I love your selections! I will be back!

idomeneus said...

Utterly beautiful, quite melancholic. Taraf de haidouks though – what a surprising memory from my university years! Great! Your words and choices felt so in tune with my senses and sensibilities, I can’t restrain myself from sharing: Shiseido’s Feminite du bois and Damien Rice - The Blower's daughter.

Aimée L'Ondée said...

thanks Flora, please do return anytime!

Aimée L'Ondée said...

idomeneus, that's a good combo! Rice's voice is a good match for femininite du bois, and I never would have thought of it. thanks so much for the response. I do love sad, sad music. I'll have to do regular "music to slit your wrists to" posts. har, sorry, that's probably in really poor taste.

BitterGrace said...

Love this post! I was able to access all the music, and I can't thank you enough for it. Great selections. I love a lot of the perfumes on your list, but pairing Coty Wild Musk with Diamonds and Rust is brilliant. I'm a child of the 70s myself, and I have dear memories of both scent and song.

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Great BitterGrace, so glad you liked it. You put great music up on your blog quite a bit, by the way! Have a great Sunday!

+ Q PERFUME said...

Lovely list indeed.
Although I am linked, I could not send my list in time and it was very sad.
Loved your ideas!!!