Perfume Chat Room, October 30

Perfume Chat Room, October 30

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, October 30, the day before Halloween. I’m taking part in the weekly Friday community project at the blog “Now Smell This“, which today is to wear a scent that generates emotion in you. Mine is Anne Klein II, which brings back happy memories of being a young adult in Manhattan. However, since tomorrow is Halloween, I may have to switch later to something slightly more sinister. Cabochard, perhaps? I’m currently very intrigued by that scent and am comparing the two most recent versions of both the EDT and EDP (they were reformulated in 2019).

Tomorrow I will probably wear something by Papillon’s Liz Moores, who is an actual modern witch as well as a tremendously gifted perfumer. Maybe Bengale Rouge? But I do love Dryad … decisions, decisions. Will you do anything special for Halloween? Or wear any special fragrance?

Scent Sample Sunday: Byredo Candles At IKEA

Scent Sample Sunday: Byredo Candles At IKEA

A short while ago, multiple media outlets reported that Swedish furnishings giant IKEA would launch a limited edition of scented candles in partnership with Swedish fragrance brand Byredo. Well, perfumistas, here in the USA, the eagles have landed! I went to my local IKEA today, and there they were, although the announcements said they would be available in November.

The series of candles is named, in classically inscrutable IKEA fashion, “Osynlig.” You can find them online by typing that precise name into the search box on the IKEA USA website, which also seems to be selling them now (i.e., before November). Apparently, the scents are designed by Byredo’s Ben Gorham so that all can be burnt alone or layered together, creating your own personal home fragrance. He is also quoted as saying “I really enjoyed the idea of being able to make interesting products accessible to as many people as possible,” in an interview with WWD. Ikea was “one of the few [with which] I could actually develop and manufacture a product of this quality, yet make it available at that type of price point.”

I only started using scented candles regularly a few years ago. These ones are really special; they come in beautiful ceramic pots with different colors that reflect some aspect of the scent. A few of the fragrances are available in small, medium, and large sizes. I haven’t yet tried lighting any of the ones I bought but they smell wonderful! Most immediately striking to me was “Tobacco and Honey”, which does indeed have a strong note of golden honey.

Scented candles at IKEA, limited edition by Ben Gorham of Byredo
IKEA’s Osynlig candles with Byredo scents.

I am so pleased to have “scored” several of these! The ones that are currently available are: Tea Leaves & Verbena, Pomegranate & Amber, Basil & Mint, Fig & Cypress, Peach Blossom & Bamboo, Lilac & Amber, Rose & Raspberries, Cotton Flower & Apple Blossom, Sandalwood & Vanilla, and Tobacco & Honey.

There is one fragrance mentioned in the press, “Swedish Birch and Juniper”, that I did not see on the IKEA USA website or in the store, and it sounds like one I would like. Apparently the other three scents in the collection — Cassis & Freesia, Swedish Birch & Juniper, and Firewood & Spice — will be available in February 2021.

Have you seen or tried any of the “Osynlig” collection yet?

Perfume Chat Room, October 23

Perfume Chat Room, October 23

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, October 23, and we are about to lose power for the day. I know this, not because I am a weather savant, but because we have asked the power company to turn it off today while carpenters and painters renovate the part of our old house where the main power line enters from the street. Yes, our neighborhood and house are old enough that we have unsightly and lethal power lines above ground, where falling tree branches and gnawing squirrels can do their worst. So if I don’t “like” or respond to comments until tonight or tomorrow, the lack of electricity and internet will be the reason!

One reason we need power off for several hours is that the carpenters are building a shallow wall pergola, sometimes called an eyebrow pergola, over our old porte-cochere where a huge and ancient Lady Banks rose grows. It is currently supported by an ungainly system of metal hooks and wire, with one end of the rose basically resting on — yes — the power line. Time for that to change! This is the general idea:

Eyebrow wall pergola over garage doors
Eyebrow pergola, Southern Woodcraft.

Unlike my other roses, the Lady Banks rose has very little fragrance. As you know if you read my “Roses de Mai Marathon” posts this spring, I love rose fragrances, so this is a slight flaw in an otherwise magnificent plant. Most of the roses I grow are from David Austin Roses, which have been bred specifically for fragrance as well as “Old Rose” flower shapes.

Our Lady Banks rose is very precious despite its lack of fragrance. Our house was owned for almost fifty years by a couple who were passionate gardeners and our 1/3 acre lot has many of their original plantings, including the rose. Its base is as thick as many small trees’ trunks, and strong men have to lift it off the house any time we get the house painted, and rest it on sawhorses made of ladders. We are finally doing the whole-house exterior painting and woodwork repair that are overdue, while we work at home and can supervise, so we’re taking the opportunity to upgrade Madam Lady Banks’ living quarters.

Have you used any pandemic shutdowns to undertake large projects, fragrance-related or otherwise?

Perfume Chat Room, October 15

Perfume Chat Room, October 15

I’m a day early posting this week, because I’m taking today off work! And The New York Times has a great article about scent, which asks: “What Does It Smell Like Where You Are?”, which I thought many of you would enjoy.

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Thursday, October 15, and I have good news — my daughter, who caught COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago through her job as a teacher, has recovered and is out of isolation! The rest of us will still be in quarantine until Saturday, per the guidelines, but she can join us upstairs again instead of living separated in the basement level of our house. It’s pretty comfortable and has its own bathroom, but she was lonely no matter how much Facetime she did with us and her friends. She has lost most of her sense of taste and smell — that happened about a week into her illness. So fingers crossed those both come back soon. I read an article about using essential oils to re-train someone’s sense of smell, and I’ve been joking with her that I AM READY to help, with my large collection of fragrances.

To emulate the Times, what does it smell like where you are? Even more specifically, the article asks: “What scents would you put in your own ‘personal smell museum?’ What is the smell that, for you, is so singular and specific that you wish you had one word to describe it?”

Here, I smell damp earth still, after all the rain we had last weekend, mixed with the smell of fallen leaves, and occasional whiffs of autumn roses and tomato leaves from what remains of my summer garden. I do think those autumn roses may be the sweetest of all, coming as they often do one at a time, unexpectedly, with the promise of summers to come. Time to pull out my spicier roses, like Rose Flash, Tudor Rose, Cabaret, Elisabethan Rose

What’s new in your world? Any new fall fragrances?

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

I’m a fan of Jeffrey Dame and his fragrances; they are well-crafted, high-quality, and reasonably priced. I love Duality and Black Flower Mexican Vanilla. I really like Vanille Farfelue. The JD fragrances are created with perfumer Hugh Spencer, a longtime collaborator of Jeffrey Dame’s. The JD website lists Mimosa Mixte’s notes as mandarin, basil, bergamot, mimosa, violet, ylang ylang, heliotrope, sandalwood, vanilla and musk. Fragrantica classes it as a “floral woody musk”; a number of commenters refer to it as a “yellow floral”, and I agree with that, given the prominence of mimosa and ylang ylang.

When I first apply Mimosa Mixte, I smell a mix of green and yellow notes, which I believe are the basil, bergamot, and mimosa. I wouldn’t be able to pick out mandarin as a note, but there is a juiciness to the opening that I’m sure it has contributed. The basil note is subtle, but it’s definitely there, which I love. I wish basil appeared in more fragrances! The mimosa continues into the heart phase, while the greener notes fade away pretty quickly. It is joined by ylang ylang, and this is the truly “yellow” stage of Mimosa Mixte. The heliotrope is also noticeable, and it lends a powdery softness to the heart of the fragrance, which is also noticeably sweet. Not sugary, not gourmand, but a sweetness that is reminiscent of honey and nectar. Intriguingly, one can buy “mimosa honey” which is created when bees forage among mimosa trees. The next time I go to a local farmer’s market, I’ll have to see if I can buy some for comparisons.

The heart phase lasts a good while, at least a full hour, and the base notes tiptoe in almost imperceptibly, until one realizes that ylang ylang and heliotrope have made their quiet exit and the mimosa is now accompanied by a pleasantly vanilla-forward base. I don’t really smell sandalwood per se, but there is a pleasant woodiness to the base, softened by musk and vanilla. Longevity and sillage are good but not extraordinary. On the other hand, I’ve been dabbing a small oil sample on my wrist; longevity and sillage might be more extensive if I were spraying eau de parfum (the formulation in the larger bottles).

One commenter on Fragrantica compared Mimosa Mixte to Penhaligon’s Ostara, which is one of my top favorits (yes, I have back-up bottles). I can see why they might remind someone of each other, but I don’t think they are very much alike. What they have in common is their yellowness. But in Ostara, that is based on daffodils and reminds me of pollen, while in Mimosa Mixte, it is based on mimosa and ylang ylang, and it reminds me of nectar.

I like Mimosa Mixte very much! I don’t feel compelled to buy a full bottle to join its siblings in my collection, Duality, Vanille Farfelue, and Labdanum Doux. I would probably go for Black Flower Mexican Vanilla next ahead of this. But it’s very pleasant, a great value, and a fragrance that shows the creative intelligence behind it. If you’re inclined to support an independent American perfumer, any of these would be a good choice!

Do you have any fragrances by Jeffrey Dame? Any favorites?

Perfume Chat Room, October 9

Perfume Chat Room, October 9

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, October 9, and it has been a wet and gloomy day here. However, that inspired me to pull out a favorite fragrance I haven’t worn in a while: Penhaligon’s Blasted Bloom. Although I often think of a sunlit day when I wear it, today it just suited the somewhat British weather.

In other news, I got my absentee ballot this week, filled it out, dropped it off in an official ballot drop box at the entrance to my local public library, and was just able to confirm online that it has been received and “accepted”! It was very easy and very safe.

How was your week? Any new or rediscovered favorites?

Scent Sample Sunday: Miss Dior

Scent Sample Sunday: Miss Dior

I always love a good chypre, and I love seriously green fragrances, and those two traits often travel together. So I admit, it’s a little odd that I hadn’t yet tried vintage Miss Dior, given that its vintage formula includes many of my favorite notes and it is most certain a green floral chypre. Well, I was able to get my hands on one of the houndstooth bottles of Miss Dior eau de toilette, and this is love.

Fragrantica lists its notes as follows: Top notes are aldehydes, gardenia, galbanum, clary sage and bergamot; middle notes are carnation, iris, orris root, jasmine, neroli, lily-of-the-valley, rose and narcissus; base notes are labdanum, leather, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, oakmoss and vetiver. To my nose, the most prominent of the opening notes are the galbanum and clary sage, with a soupcon of aldehydes. I don’t pick up bergamot or gardenia at all, and that may be because of my bottle’s age, although it is in excellent condition. Some top notes seem to disappear from vintage fragrances.

Happily for me, the galbanum is alive, well, and kicking! I love galbanum, and that’s a big part of what attracted me to trying Miss Dior. It also suits the weather at this time of year, where I live. Early October is usually dry, with a crisp nip in the air in the evenings and in the morning, bracketing warm sunny days with clear blue skies. In the heart phase of its drydown, I mostly smell carnation, narcissus, iris, and orris root, which is just fine because those are also favorite notes. These floral notes are so well-blended, though, that it’s hard to sense them apart and I don’t doubt that the other listed notes are present.

Among the base notes, the oakmoss is most prominent, which I also love. The final stage of Miss Dior is both warm and cold, in an intriguing way. The warmth is supplied by labdanum, sandalwood, and amber; the cool is generated by vetiver and oakmoss, with patchouli bridging the gap between the warmth and the cooler notes. This is so clever in how perfectly it captures the spirit of the young women M. Dior saw as his ideal models and customers. One author who has written about Dior’s aesthetic notes: “For all its charm, Dior’s vision of feminine style relied on a certain calculated hauteur. But the relationship that he shared with the many women in his life was characterized by an unusual closeness.” The fragrance brilliantly captures both hauteur and intimacy, like the come-hither but not-too-close impression of one of his muses, Grace Kelly. It was named after the woman who may have been his most important inspiration: his own beloved younger sister, Catherine Dior, a genuine heroine of the French Resistance who suffered terribly as a prisoner of the Nazis from 1944-1945. After the war, she turned her love of flowers, shared by her brother, into a commercial enterprise as a broker of flowers.

Victoria at “Bois de Jasmin” has written a wonderful review of Miss Dior that gives a brief history:

The birth of Miss Dior coincides with Christian Dior’s first fashion show held in a salon on the avenue Montaigne in Paris on February 12th, 1947. In a rebellious move against the austerity imposed by the cloth rations and the angular lines of wartime fashions, Dior showcased the strikingly feminine collection of cinched waists, softly rounded shoulders and voluminous ankle length skirts. “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian. Your dresses have such a new look,” remarked Carmel Snow, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar. New Look became a phrase that would symbolize this collection, which resuscitated the French fashion industry and led to Dior receiving the Legion of Honor from the French government.

When I think of how the woman personified by Miss Dior might look, I think of Cate Blanchett’s wardrobe in the film “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” If you’ve never seen that, I highly recommend it. It has a wonderful cast, a twisting, turning plot, and gorgeous design in all aspects: cinematography and wardrobe being standouts. Ms. Blanchett’s character, Meredith Logue, is an old-money American socialite, who wears couture clothes with the nipped waist and full skirt that are so closely associated with Christian Dior and his “New Look.”

I’m really enjoying vintage Miss Dior! My longtime Dior fragrance love has always been Diorissimo, but this little houndstooth bottle of Miss Dior is making me very happy. I know many fragrance aficionados rage against the reformulations of Dior fragrances in recent decades under LVMH’s ownership — do you like any of the current versions?

Perfume Chat Room, October 2

Perfume Chat Room, October 2

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, October 2, and I am so late posting this! My apologies. As you may know, it has been a very weird day today in the United States. And I’ll just leave it at that. I didn’t wear a single scent today — I was swamped by work duties, and just forgot, if you can believe that. How about you? What did you wear today as we begin the month of October?

Scent Sample Sunday: Automne

Scent Sample Sunday: Automne

I said in Friday’s Perfume Chat Room that I would write today about Van Cleef & Arpels’ Automne, and then I realized I already had, a few years back!

Fragrance Friday: Les Saisons Automne.

What special fragrances return again and again to your seasonal rotations?

Perfume Chat Room, September 25

Perfume Chat Room, September 25

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, September 25, and the weather has suddenly become more like fall, at least where I live. That seems to be the case in other parts of this hemisphere too, because I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts and comments elsewhere about people putting away their more summery fragrances and taking out fragrances they enjoy in autumn.

One of mine is the aptly named Automne, by Van Cleef & Arpels. Fragrantica calls it a “floral-woody-musk.” One thing I like about it is that the dominant notes are lily and sandalwood. I’ll write more about it for “Scent Sample Sunday” this weekend!

Are you having autumnal weather where you are? Or some other change of season with the equinox? What fragrances do you prefer in autumn?

Featured image by Jessica Potila.