Perfume Chat Room, October 8

Perfume Chat Room, October 8

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 8, and we are enjoying a stretch of perfect fall weather. Cool, clear mornings; sunny, breezy days with no humidity; clear evenings when we can see planets and stars emerging from dark skies. Heavenly! I have been enjoying the fragrance of the last flush of roses. One in particular has a strong spicy smell, with notes of cinnamon.

The big news in our almost-done house restoration is that half of our hardwood floors, that were damaged by last fall’s plumbing disaster, have been refurbished and they look great! The floors are original to the house, so they are more than 100 years old, which means we did not have them sanded; they’re too worn to withstand that, and it wasn’t necessary to do it to renew them. Our William Morris carpets come back from cleaning next week, and then the furniture moving begins as we finally put our house back to rights. It’s also an opportunity to re-think what goes back where, and what we do or don’t keep.

Speaking of cinnamon, have you been inundated yet with what retailers think are seasonal scents? I will confess to disliking the artificial apple-cinnamon candles that seem to appear overnight, though I enjoy real apples and real cinnamon.

Perfume Chat Room, October 1

Perfume Chat Room, October 1

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 1, and I can’t believe September is over already! Retailers are in a frenzy of Halloween and harvest, and I’ve started to see displays of Christmas wares. My husband and I are excited about an upcoming trip to New England for a family wedding later this month, though we’ll have to try to remember what layers of clothes we’ll need, as we’ve lived in the South for almost 30 years now. I’m really looking forward to a few days off work, it has been a busy and hectic semester so far.

I mentioned a while back that I had been asked to work with a playwright and composer on a “scent score” for the musical they’re writing; there will be a staged reading of the play this month (without scent for now), which will be exciting. I’m having coffee with the playwright this weekend for an update on the project.

What are you looking forward to this month?

Perfume Chat Room, July 16

Perfume Chat Room, July 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, July 16, and WordPress tells me it is the 6th anniversary of when I registered with them! This blog’s anniversary comes a bit later. I remember that summer so well. I spent it also working remotely, because I had fallen and broken my shoulder while on a June visit to London and couldn’t leave the house. In fact, I couldn’t sleep in my own bed because of the sling I was in and the pain it caused to move too much. I slept in a “medical lift chair” in our dining room! But after the initial week or two, I was able to work online, and one of my colleagues would come over to my house two days a week.

That was the summer I learned how to blog on WordPress and discovered some of my favorite fragrance blogs and bloggers. Some of you are regular visitors here now, and I appreciate that! I had already gone down the perfume rabbit hole in 2014, when I read Chandler Burr’s “The Perfect Scent” and then Turin and Sanchez’ “Perfumes: The A-Z Guide.” Starting my own blog in 2015 was a welcome distraction from my broken shoulder and some very nasty goings-on at work. It was a bright spot in an otherwise challenging year. The name “Serenity Now” originated in my attempts to stay mindful and calm that summer.

Speaking of work, I had my first full day back at my office this past Wednesday. Boy, it was weird to be back other than for a mail pick-up. It was great to see many of my colleagues in person instead of onscreen, though, as most of them are very nice. It’s going to take a while for my introverted self to adjust to being back among groups of people. My SOTD was Pure Grace Summer Moments, a very pleasant flanker of the original Pure Grace that I actually prefer to its predecessor. Yesterday I worked from home again, because I had to teach an online workshop and it’s easier to do that from here (and tbh, I needed to decompress a bit). I felt very contrary, so I wore Chanel No. 19. What a truly great fragrance that is! I know not everyone likes it, let alone loves it as I do, but there’s no denying its greatness.

What does your daily life look like these days? Working? Working from home still? If you’ve returned to an in-person workplace outside the home, how is that going? Have you changed any of your scents or scent-wearing habits?

May Melange Marathon: Mother’s Day and No. 5

May Melange Marathon: Mother’s Day and No. 5

Today is Mother’s Day in the US, and I’m thinking of my own late mother and the perfume I associate most with her, Chanel No.5. No.5 is 100 years old this year, having been launched by the house of Chanel in 1921, which hardly seems possible! Here is the wonderful video Chanel released this year to celebrate No.5‘s centennial:

The version I have is the eau de toilette; in fact, it is the last bottle of No.5 that my mother owned. I brought it home with me, with its few ml of fragrance left, after her funeral and clearing out her home. Wearing a few drops now on the back of my hand, I can still smell how beautiful it is, and think peacefully of my mom.

I wrote about her and No.5 five years ago, in “My Mother’s Last Perfume“. She died in May of 2017; if she were still alive, she would be turning 90 this year — only ten years younger than No.5! We held her memorial service in July of 2017, so that all members of the family could be there, and a memory I find very consoling is that I took charge of working with the florist for the church service. I used to help my mother arrange flowers as part of the church’s “Flower Guild”, a volunteer role that she took very seriously, albeit with some humor. She loved to recount how long it took her to win the approval of the older women in the Flower Guild when she first wanted to join, in spite of her being a member of the church’s vestry! They only let her cut off the ends of stems and hand them the flowers for months.

Because of those companionable times we spent together arranging flowers, I knew her strong likes and dislikes — I don’t think my mom had any likes or dislikes that were anything but strong. I remember telling the florist that we could not have gladioli under any circumstances, because my mom hated them with a passion and she would return from the grave to haunt us all if we had them at her memorial. I was so pleased with our final selections: the roses and lilies she loved; Bells of Ireland, to recall her Anglo-Irish roots and her beloved aunts and grandmother, with whom she spent school holidays; eucalyptus as a reference to her birthplace of New Zealand; and other fragrant flowers, some of which are notes in No.5.

Because I started buying her No.5 in the 1970s, as a child, the version I recall most has the original notes (though I think by then the civet was synthetic): top notes of Aldehydes, Ylang-Ylang, Neroli, Amalfi Lemon and Bergamot; middle notes of Iris, Jasmine, Rose, Orris Root and Lily-of-the-Valley; base notes of Civet, Sandalwood, Musk, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Amber, Vanilla and Patchouli. I’m not sure of the date of the eau de toilette of hers I now have, but it’s probably from the early 2000s. And after an initial “off” opening, it is just lovely.

The aldehydes have survived the passage of time, as have the ylang-ylang and much of the neroli. Lemon and bergamot are no longer detectable. The notes of jasmine and rose are most prominent to my nose in the heart phase, with a gorgeous powdery softness provided by the iris and orris root. I can detect the lily-of-the-valley faintly, but just barely. The drydown is also lovely: it just keeps getting warmer, softer, and sexier, with those beautiful base notes. As many have noted, No. 5 is so well-blended, it is almost abstract. While it is possible to detect single notes, the overall impression is not of a particular flower, which is what perfumer Ernest Beaux and Mme. Chanel intended. No.5 is simply itself, and it is unmistakable to this day.

I don’t often wear No.5, as beautiful as it is, because I do associate it so much with my mom; but I use and love No.5 Eau Premiere as well as No.5 L’Eau. Blogger Neil Chapman of The Black Narcissus described the trio so well in his book “Perfume: In Search of Your Signature Scent” (which I highly, highly recommend!):

Chanel’s enduring, glamorous icon is a scintillation of aldehydes, rose de mai, ylang ylang, orris, jasmine and vanilla (among many other ingredients) — a caress of timeless, confident femininity…. Successful recent reiterations of the No.5 brand that aim to appeal to the younger consumer include Eau Premiere (2007) — which I like for its streamlined primness and muted, statuesque lightness that works convincingly as a chilled, contemporary flanker of the original — and No.5 L’Eau in 2016, which smells as peachy and rosy as the dawn.

I can’t think of another perfume that has had the famous Any Warhol portrait treatment, can you? Do you like No.5, in any of its current versions or flankers? And happy Mother’s Day to all who are celebrating it today!

Bottles of Chanel No.5 perfume by Andy Warhol
Chanel No.5 portraits by Andy Warhol; image from Fragrantica.com.
Perfume Chat Room, April 30

Perfume Chat Room, April 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, April 30 — the very last day of April! Where I live, the April showers have already brought many flowers, including my beloved David Austin English Roses, which are so very fragrant. They will continue into May. Tomorrow, I plan to renew my annual “May Marathon” series of blog posts! This year, the series will be a “May Melange Marathon” with a focus on the May flowers that April showers famously bring. You can expect posts about some new muguet fragrances, some new (to me, at least) rose fragrances, and my favorite green fragrances. Please join the marathon in the comments!

I should note that a blogging marathon is as close as I will ever get to a marathon other than as a spectator. I really, really don’t like to run, though I do enjoy long walks (and my family says I walk very briskly).

What are your plans for May, fragrant or otherwise?

Perfume Chat Room, April 23

Perfume Chat Room, April 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, April 23, and I have a new, fragrant tree to plant! It is called a “buckwheat tree”, it is native to the Southeast, and this particular variety has pink flowers. They’re very fragrant, and I’m having fun deciding where to plant it so we can enjoy its fragrance. Luckily, it doesn’t get very large, so I have options.

I’ve been on a bit of a vintage kick lately; I just got a small bottle of Paco Rabanne’s Metal, which I quite like. It’s a green chypre floral that launched in 1979. Fragrantica lists its notes as follows: top notes are Hyacinth, Aldehydes, Green Notes, Basil and Lemon; middle notes are Lily-of-the-Valley, iris, Jasmine, Cyclamen, Rose, Ylang-Ylang and Tuberose; base notes are Oakmoss, Vetiver, Musk, Amber and Sandalwood.

I have some new green fragrances to review and also a couple of new LOTV/muguet fragrances, so my “May Marathon” will probably be a melange. Maybe that’s what I’ll call it: “May Melange Marathon”! What do you think?

Featured image: Paco Rabanne dress, 1967, collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Perfume Chat Room, March 19

Perfume Chat Room, March 19

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, March 19, and I’m delighted to say that I got my first COVID vaccination shot yesterday! So far, so good; my arm is just a little sore. As hoped last week, my husband and I were able to go on Sunday to my “happy place” full of daffodils; as expected, they were magnificent! And inspired by Undina’s question on her blog, Undina’s Looking Glass, about photographing perfumes, I took my bottle of Ostara with us and took pictures of it in several locations among the millions of daffodils. I will say that I got some puzzled looks from other garden visitors, and one actually asked me what I was photographing as I crouched down to get closer to the flowers and the bottle! He laughed delightedly when I told him.

I’m sad to say, though, that I just found out that one of my favorite fragrance bloggers, Kafkaesque, has recently learned that almost 200 pages worth of her blog content has apparently been appropriated by an “author” in England who self-publishes books on Amazon. She is understandably very upset and angry, as she was never contacted for permission or informed of this use of her writings. Her blog is notable for her extensive knowledge of perfumes and her long, detailed explorations and analyses of them, and I have learned so much from her. She paused writing for some time but the blog was (and is) still up and available to read, and she resumed posting after the November 2020 elections. If you’re new to reading fragrance blogs, hers is very interesting and I recommend it. I don’t always agree with her take on scents, but I always admire her passion and knowledge!

In other news, I was touched to see a lovely article in this week’s New York Times about the late Carlos Powell, aka YouTube’s “Brooklyn Fragrance Lover.” I rarely watch video reviews of fragrances, I much prefer to read about them, but by all accounts, Carlos was a beloved and friendly member of the fragrance community and is missed by many. I really enjoyed reading more about him.

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Penhaligon’s Ostara eau de toilette among daffodils
Perfume Chat Room, January 15

Perfume Chat Room, January 15

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, January 15, and I can’t believe we are halfway through January already! I live in the Southeastern United States, and we can already sense the advent of spring. The days are getting longer, the sun is rising earlier, and some brave flowers are emerging. I have hellebores in bloom, and some hardy daffodils are poking their green shoots up out of the earth, though it will be a while before any bloom. I’m not yet ready to break out the full-on spring floral and green scents I love, I’m still wearing my “warmer” fragrances like L’Ambre des Merveilles, which I finally bought in 2020. This week, I’ve been enjoying Covet by Sarah Jessica Parker, which is between “warm” and “floral”. It is a true bargain beauty, widely available for less than $25 for 100 ml. I found a bottle recently at T.J.Maxx on clearance for $18.

Speaking of T.J. Maxx, where I was delighted to discover a bargain reissue of my beloved Anne Klein II , last week I found a bottle of that same reissue there at my local store, labeled with a price of $49.99. No, no, no! I’ve bought a few backup bottles there and not one cost more than $14.99. The reissue is great, and another bargain beauty, but the vintage original goes for ridiculous prices online. If you’re tempted, make sure you don’t pay vintage-zone prices for the new version; look on the box and the small print will say Made In China and distributed by Palm Beach Beaute LLC.

I read and participate regularly in the comments on a favorite blog, “Now Smell This”, which always has a weekly Friday “community project” in which readers wear a fragrance they have which fits a shared theme. This week’s theme (so creative!) is to wear a fragrance that reminds you of this year’s Pantone “Colors of the Year”, which are currently “Ultimate Gray” and “Illuminating” (a bright yellow). So today, I will wear another bargain beauty, Elizabeth & James’ discontinued Nirvana French Grey. It and its sibling, Nirvana Amethyst, are all over the bargain brick-and-mortar stores for under $20 for 50 ml, and well worth that price. All the Nirvana fragrances have been discontinued, so if you like them and you find them for a great price, stock up!

What’s new in your world, fragrance or otherwise? How is 2021 looking for you so far?

Gifts of the Three Magi: Frankly Frankincense — takeonethingoff.com

Each of the gifts of the three Magi carried a special symbolic meaning – gold representing kingship, myrrh foreshadowing the death of Jesus (myrrh being commonly used as an embalming and purifying ointment in the final sendoff of a soul), and finally, frankincense for divinity. 171 more words

Gifts of the Three Magi: Frankly Frankincense — takeonethingoff.com

Reposting this from a blog I like very much: Take One Thing Off. So many incense-based fragrances! I’ve tried some but not all — which ones have you tried? Any favorites?

Perfume Chat Room, November 13

Perfume Chat Room, November 13

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, November 13 — as if we in the USA needed another Friday the Thirteenth right now! In honor of the day, I am trying my sample of Editions Frederic Malle’s Superstitious, and I quite like it. The opening phase has an intriguing combination of aldehydes and incense which I’m enjoying. Maybe it will bring good luck today.

I don’t know that I’m naturally “superstitious”, but I do use phrases like “fingers crossed” and sometimes I remember to say “rabbit rabbit” first thing on the first day of a new month, lol! Do you have any superstitions about Friday the 13th, or any “lucky” fragrances?

Featured image from ASPCA.