Perfume Chat Room, September 17

Perfume Chat Room, September 17

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 17, and we have had several days of birthdays in this household! Mine was at the start of the month and my husband’s was last week, so we’ve had serial and shared celebrations with our kids. And yes, a few new fragrances snuck into the house. The highlight of the shared celebrations was our family trip to see the musical Hamilton, a long-delayed Christmas gift from December 2019. We had seen it once before, all but my son, and it was just as enthralling the second time. My son was blown away by it. This was the first live performance any of us had attended since March 2020, which added to its impact. We also went out for a fancy family dinner on a different night, given that Hamilton was an entire evening unto itself. We tried a new Italian restaurant nearby, and it was terrific! Again, our perceptions may have been enhanced by how long it has been since we really went out to dinner, but we loved this place and will go back.

The birthday fragrances I received (bought for myself on behalf of my family, lol!) were: Jean Louis Scherrer, Mont de Narcisse, Choeur des Anges, and Crepuscule des Ames. A dear friend surprised me with a lovely gift of body lotion and soap from Lili Bermuda, which she recently visited, in my favorite Lily. It’s very difficult to find gifts for my husband because 1) he actually doesn’t want much; and 2) if he does want something for himself, which is rare, he’ll often just get it. But this year, I was able to surprise him with a bottle of a new botanical gin, which we’ll enjoy (slowly) together. We started down this road a few years ago when we discovered Hendricks. Given how rarely we drink cocktails or hard liquor, I expect this bottle will be with us for a long time!

Do you have your eye on any upcoming birthday fragrances? Or have you recently received any?

Perfume Chat Room, August 6

Perfume Chat Room, August 6

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, August 6, and I am SO READY for the weekend! Even though I had a short work week, I was in my office for three straight full workdays, and I had forgotten how tiring that is. I have to conserve some energy, as our oldest daughter is moving back out this weekend, after having lived at home for the past year because of COVID. She started a great new job earlier this week, and she will be sharing a small rented house with two friends. It’s very exciting! Our second daughter moved out last month, to share an apartment with her bestie from high school. So our chickadees are re-launching! We’re very proud of their perseverance during the past year of challenges.

And now that their belongings will be out of our house, we will finally repaint the several rooms that were damaged and had to be replastered after last fall’s plumbing disaster, including their bedrooms. That is supposed to start next week, and I’m really pleased with the paint colors I’ve chosen. About half will be the same, and half will be variations on the original colors. We’re splurging on doing the living room in a gorgeous dark red from Farrow & Ball, and I’m finally changing our dining room walls from a light taupe to a more greenish neutral, to go better with the William Morris rug in that room. I will rearrange the art we had on the walls in those rooms, and hang more art in the bedrooms, since I have several pieces from my late mother’s house that I hadn’t yet hung. Our youngest (the only boy) will finally get to move into the largest kids’ bedroom, which makes him very happy.

Speaking of happiness, today’s Community Project over at “Now Smell This” is to wear a fragrance that evokes happiness, however you choose to interpret that. I’m wearing Blyss, from Perfumology, the independent perfumery in Philadelphia, PA. It comes in parfum strength, and Perfumology has a discovery set that includes Blyss and three other fragrances commissioned by owner Nir Guy. The set is currently sold out; I hope it gets re-stocked soon!

Have you tried any of the Perfumology scents? What is currently making you happy?

Perfume Chat Room, July 30

Perfume Chat Room, July 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, July 30, and tomorrow is Harry Potter’s birthday! I still remember getting the first book in 1997 and reading it with delight, as a young mother. The books continued to arrive during the same era when my own children arrived. When they were older, we read the earlier books aloud to them and played the audiobooks on long car trips (the American audiobooks, narrated by British actor Jim Dale, are wonderful!). A couple of years ago, I posted about my thoughts on what fragrances various characters from the books might wear. I stand by my choices!

Did you know that Ulta released a “Harry Potter” collection of fragrances last year?? I’m not sure who thought “soothing raindrops” was appropriate for Slytherin. The fragrances chosen by Scentsy for their Hogwarts wax melts seems more apropos:

Gryffindor™: Bravery and Determination
Race through daring smoky woods, while amber and a touch of dapper cinnamon leaf bring warmth to your journey.

Slytherin™: Cunning and Ambition
Forest woods
 hide dark secrets in fresh oak moss and a sweetly sinister layer of deep blackberry.

Hufflepuff™: Just and Loyal
The Great Hall beckons with sweet and steadfast notes of golden applewhipped vanilla almond and cinnamon sugar.

Ravenclaw™: Wit and Wisdom
A clever concoction of suede and sandalwood is mellowed handsomely by a ribbon of smooth vanilla.

Do you have any favorite book characters? What fragrance(s) might they wear?

Featured image from Warner Bros.

Perfume Chat Room, July 23

Perfume Chat Room, July 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, July 23, and it is my late parents’ wedding anniversary. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have read this post before, My Mother’s Last Perfume, in which I wrote a bit about their long, but not always happy, marriage. Nevertheless, I honor this day because without it, my sisters and I wouldn’t exist! And because my parents made the effort to stay married until the ends of their lives and, in their own ways, they cared for each other. Their happiest times were when they traveled together, which they loved to do; and I too love to travel with my husband, though my marriage is a much more content one than my parents’, I think.

I also have some excitement to share — I’ve been asked by an accomplished playwright in my city to collaborate with her and a composer to create a “fragrance score” for a new experimental musical they are writing! I had taken part in a playwriting group she led over several weeks, pre-pandemic, and we had talked about how fragrance could and should be used more in theater. This is such an interesting creative project, I’m very excited about the possibilities. I will be the creative director for the fragrances, of course, not the actual perfumer. We are applying for a grant to develop the production, so I hope to include in the budget some modest funds to commission some scents from a perfumer eventually. For now, I think we’ll be able to use existing scents.

What are your thoughts on combining fragrance with other arts? I love reading about Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ collaborations with the Denver Art Museum. And the ways actors can use fragrance for their own performances are also fascinating: How Performers Use Perfume.

May Melange Marathon: Eve

May Melange Marathon: Eve

One of the joys of this fragrance hobby is discovering independent perfumers and their work. One of my favorites is Diane St. Clair, of St. Clair Scents. I’ve loved her earliest creations, like Gardener’s Glove and First Cut. My SOTD is Eve, one of the “Audacious Innocence” collection, which was a finalist for the 2020 Art & Olfaction Awards in the artisan/independent category.

The other fragrance in the collection, Pandora, is a “sister” to Eve. According to the brand’s website, they share most of the same notes, but Pandora shows a darker side, with added base notes of labdanum and opoponax. Eve‘s notes, without those added base notes, are: Top notes of Lemon, Tomato Leaf, Apple, Bergamot and Mandarin Orange; middle notes of Orris, Lilac, Bulgarian Rose, Turkish Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Carrot Seeds and Jasmine Sambac; base notes of Oakmoss, Tonka Bean, Woods, Vetiver, Musk. Both scents come in a parfum extrait concentration of 35%.

Pre-Raphaelite painting of Pandora opening the box
Pandora, by John William Waterhouse

Diane St. Clair sees Eve and Pandora as similar:

The stories of Pandora and Eve, who reached for the forbidden apple, have much in common. Both came to symbolize women who were punished for disobeying orders and acting on their impulses towards curiosity. We believe that women who challenge the rules and follow their curiosity are striving towards creativity, innovation and independence.

The opening of Eve is as lush as the painting that inspired it, above. It smells of all the fruits listed as top notes, bound together by the astringent greenness of tomato leaf and bergamot. This seems so appropriate, since the Garden of Eden, where Eve was tempted to eat the apple, was more of an orchard than a garden. (In fact, I’ve learned that the word “paradise”, often used to refer to the Garden of Eden, comes from an ancient Persian word that means a walled orchard garden). I love green scents, so the tomato leaf especially appeals to me. A good thing, since it is quite strong! As the top notes retreat, the scent becomes more and more floral, with orris taking the lead, though ylang-ylang and roses are right behind it. This stage is rich and lush — almost creamy, but not gourmand at all.

I smell the oakmoss almost from the start, and certainly in the “heart” phase. This is some serious oakmoss, friends. It evokes the shadowy, green darkness under the dense branches of trees. That impression only grows stronger as the floral notes fade away and the other base notes anchor the whole scent to the earth, with their woods, musk, vetiver. I can’t say that I smell tonka much at all. Eve lasts a long time on my skin, several hours.

Sillage is moderate, as one would expect from an extrait, but I would say that a little goes a long way! I dabbed tiny spots of Eve on my wrists, and their scent carries easily and clearly up to my nose. Longevity is excellent. Eve just feels like a high-quality perfume all around; one senses the quality of the ingredients right from the start. Even though it is supposed to be the “yin” scent to Pandora‘s darker “yang”, this is not a light or frivolous fragrance. It is not to be trifled with! Which is why I used the gorgeous Pre-Raphaelite painting as this post’s featured image; it shows Lilith, said in Jewish folklore to have been the first wife of Adam (yes, that Adam), who was replaced by Eve because she was too rebellious. The painting beautifully captures a lush, flowering garden, and I think that’s a perfume bottle by the mirror!

Pre-Raphaelite painting of Lilith, first wife of Adam
Lady Lilith, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Have you had the chance to try any of St. Clair Scents’ fragrances? Do you have any favorite artisan or independent perfumers?

May Melange Marathon: Both Sides Of Clouds

May Melange Marathon: Both Sides Of Clouds

One of the hardest working and most creative perfumers out there is Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. She and her small team have kept the perfume coming throughout this lockdown, in very innovative ways, from using social media (they have a great Facebook page!) and Patreon, to doing online perfume workshops and scent kits. She has a book coming out in September (pre-order available now), co-authored with one of my favorite bloggers, Sam of I Scent You A Day.

My scent of the day today is 4160 Tuesdays’ Both Sides of Clouds. The original Clouds and its sibling, Clouds Illusion, came out in 2019. They were inspired by Christi Long, founder of the Facebook group and very nice online community “Eau My Soul” and her love for Joni Mitchell’s song “Both Sides Now”:

Essentially the same fragrance but made with different materials. Clouds (and Clouds Illusion) was inspired by the song “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell. A contrast of both happiness and sadness, with both gloomy and sunny elements, Clouds represents the sun peaking through gray clouds — a message of hope. Christi suggested the idea to Sarah along with certain fragrance notes which capture the mood. While Clouds has orris butter, vanilla absolute, hay absolute, narcissus absolute, Indian sandalwood essential oil, tonka absolute and citrus fruits including organic bergamot, the second version, Clouds Illusion, replaces some of the expensive naturals with high quality synthetic replacements which offers a more affordable option of the same fragrance.”

The fragrances were crowdfunded, another innovation of Sarah’s, though pre-pandemic; I took part in this particular project, and enjoyed it so much! You can read my review of Clouds Illusion eau de parfum here. I should confess that while I appreciate Joni Mitchell’s sheer genius, the version of the song that I greatly prefer is that by Judy Collins, who was actually the first to release a recording of “Both Sides Now” on her album “Wildflowers.” What a lovely voice she had!

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May Melange Marathon: Purplelight

May Melange Marathon: Purplelight

I like to seek out fragrance “bargain beauties”, for my own sake and for the sake of readers who may not be able to afford (or want to pay) the often eye-watering prices of niche fragrances. While there is much to recommend the practice of buying only a few, albeit expensive, high-quality fragrances, it is fun to educate one’s nose by trying many different fragrances, especially at the outset of this hobby, and that is how I acquired a number of ‘bargain beauty” fragrances. Luckily, I also have two young adult daughters, currently living at home during the pandemic, and they’re happy to share them! Of course, none would be bargains if they weren’t pleasing at some level, and likely to be used and enjoyed.

One such bargain beauty is Parfums Salvador Dali’s Purplelight. Launched in 2007, the nose behind it is Francis Kurkdjian, usually associated with much more expensive fragrances, including those from his own brand Maison Francis Kurkdjian. While Purplelight is in no way comparable to those fragrances, it is a very pleasant, soft, lilac-centered eau de toilette that works well. Its primary notes are bamboo, lilac, and musk, with companion notes of cherry blossom, jasmine, tiare flower, almond tree, and vetiver, according to Fragrantica. Purplelight followed the house’s 2006 launch of Purplelips, another lilac-forward fragrance, created by perfumers Antoine Lie and Guillaume Flavigny. I really enjoy finding pleasant bargain fragrances that have been created by well-known perfumers; as some of you know, one of my favorite bargain beauties is Adam Levine for Women, created by Yann Vasnier, who has also created fragrances for much more expensive brands like Arquiste, Frassai, Tom Ford, Comme des Garcons, Jo Malone, and others. My most recent bargain beauty fragrance line, which I wrote about earlier this week, is the Zara Emotions line created by perfumer Jo Malone (the person, not the brand). Parfums Salvador Dali has several bargain beauties, well worth exploring.

At first spray of Purplelight, what I smell most is a light green bamboo with watery undertones. As that dies down, I smell more and more of a soft lilac. This is very light also; I like the fact that to my nose, it doesn’t smell soapy, as some lilac scents do. Over a short period of time, a soft, gentle musk appears. Projection and sillage are minimal, but I can clearly smell Purplelight on my hand and wrist for a few hours. It is still possible to find gift sets of the eau de toilette that come with body lotion, and it seems likely that the two used together would increase the scent’s longevity. I enjoy Purplelight as an easy floral for warm weather or bedtime, when one doesn’t necessarily want a powerhouse or anything very challenging.

I can’t fail to mention the charming bottle for Purplelight, which matches that of its sister fragrance Purplelips. It is a rectangular column into which is set a row of concave lips. The juice inside is a light purple, which tints the bottle. The artist Salvador Dali incorporated lips into many of his artworks, and the theme has been carried into many of the bottles of Parfums Salvador Dali.

Have you tried any of the other Salvador Dali fragrances, either the bargain-priced ones or the more expensive “haute” line?

May Melange Marathon: La Colle Noire

May Melange Marathon: La Colle Noire

Happy May Day, and welcome to the May Melange Marathon! In previous years, I have written blogging marathons in the month of May, celebrating the lovely lily of the valley in a “May Muguet Marathon“, and my beloved roses in a “Roses de Mai Marathon.” This year, I wanted to write about a number of the green fragrances I love, but I didn’t think I had enough to post about one daily for 31 days. Also, I have some new (to me) muguet and rose fragrances. So the solution is to go with the theme of “April showers bring May flowers” and write about a melange of scents that evoke different aspects of a garden, with a mix of florals and greens.

First up: Christian Dior’s La Colle Noire. Launched in 2016, it is named for the Provence estate of designer Christian Dior, outside the legendary perfume city of Grasse. One of the reasons that Grasse became so important in perfumery is the abundance and quality of the roses that are grown there for their essential oil, especially the “Rose de Mai”, or centifolia rose, also known as the Provence rose. Perfumer Francois Demachy wrote of La Colle Noire:

“In the springtime, the Centifolia Rose takes over the garden of La Colle Noire, Christian Dior’s beloved home in the Grasse region. It is an extraordinary time, when the flower’s plump, honeyed and fruity scent lingers in the air. This fragrance is an ode to that magical place and the unique rose that grows in the land of my childhood.”

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Perfume Chat Room, April 16

Perfume Chat Room, April 16

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, April 16, and spring flowers are slowly giving way to summer blossoms in my garden. I have several roses that have started to bloom; they are almost all very fragrant, as most of the ones I grow are David Austin English Roses, which he hybridized over decades to regain the strong scent and old-fashioned form of the Old Roses. In the 20th century, many hybridizers bred for color and shape, which gave us so many beautiful, classic hybrid tea roses like Chrysler, John F. Kennedy, Peace, etc., but they weren’t as fragrant as their forebears. Other hybridizers bred roses for large-scale landscaping, like the Knockout Roses, but they are barely fragrant at all. So Mr. Austin’s goal was to take some of the best qualities of 20th century roses, like disease resistance, innovative colors, and repeat blooming periods, and marry them to the shapes and scents of old classics like the “Old Roses”.

This week, I was delighted to get in the mail my long-awaited sample of a new, soon-to-be-released perfume from Parfums Dusita, which is the subject currently of a naming contest! Perfumer and brand founder Pissara Umavijani invited members of the Eau My Soul group on Facebook to suggest perfume notes we’d like to see combined, then she chose from among those and created a fragrance. Now members who took part in suggesting the notes have been sent a generous sample of the unnamed fragrance and we get to submit up to three suggestions for names! The winner will get a large bottle of the fragrance.

I just love this project. Ms. Umavijani has done something like it before in 2019, when she launched what became Splendiris, a name I love and a very beautiful fragrance. I think that fragrance was the subject of a similar contest for readers of Fragrantica, if I recall correctly.

This new scent has notes of: petit grain, Rose Damascena, tuberose absolute, white freesia, Jasmine Grandiflora, oak wood, oakmoss absolute, sandalwood, vanilla absolute, and patchouli. I haven’t tried it yet as I wanted to wait until the weekend when I could focus more on it and less on work. Don’t those notes sound gorgeous, especially if (like me) you like florals?

P.S. WordPress has just informed me that this is my 500th post on Serenity Now: Scents & Sensibilities! Wow, that feels like a lot, but it has been so much fun and still is. Thanks for joining me on this blogging journey!

Scent Sample Sunday: Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor

Scent Sample Sunday: Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor

Given how much gardening is on my mind (and under my fingernails) these days, it seems fitting to write about one of 4160 Tuesday’s quirkier scents, Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor. Yes, it is named for the antagonist gardener in the Peter Rabbit stories, and also in homage to Jean-Claude Ellena’s Jardin series of scents for Hermes (all of which I own and enjoy). Perfumer Sarah McCartney writes that it was created during one of her perfume-making workshops, with a focus on the aroma molecule Hedione, which creates an impression of freshness and floralcy, with notes of jasmine and greenness. The goal was for the class to create the scent of a cottage garden in the Lake District.

For those who may not know, the famous author and illustrator of the Peter Rabbit books and many others, Beatrix Potter, played a key role in preserving thousands of acres in the Lake District, including leaving 4000 acres of countryside and 14 farms she owned to the National Trust. She was, of course, a marvelous illustrator, but she was also a gifted botanist, naturalist, gardener, and farmer, and the plants in her illustrations for her children’s books are botanically accurate down to the last details. They include many of the plants mentioned in the notes and materials list for Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor.

Mr. McGregor in his garden, by Beatrix Potter
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