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 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?

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, September 11

Perfume Chat Room, September 11

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 11, a somber day here in the United States. So while I normally try to find an amusing “featured image” for this Chat Room, showing people interacting with each other, today my featured image is of the memorial wall within the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, with its quote from Virgil. I sometimes think I’ve read or watched all I can bear about 9/11; I don’t want to wallow in it, but I do want to honor and try to understand it. Today, I learned something new and beautiful while searching for an appropriate image.

The blue wall you see in the photo is an artwork by Spencer Finch, commissioned for the memorial. From ArtNet:

“Finch’s work, Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning, is inspired by the memorably clear, intensely blue sky of that fateful morning, reports the New York Times. The work covers most of the central wall in the museum’s subterranean exhibition space.

Though it may appear from a distance to be a stone mosaic, the piece comprises individual sheets of Fabriano Italian paper that the artist has hand-painted in different shades of blue with water colors, hung like the missing person notices that filled the city’s streets in the days and weeks following the tragedy. Each of the 2,983 squares represents one of the victims of the 2001 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.”

Every adult I know remembers vividly where they were when they first learned of the 9/11 attacks. I had left New York City nine years earlier, after having lived in or near that city almost my whole life. I was fortunate in that I did not lose any friends or loved ones that day, but hundreds of people I know lost people they knew. Commuter towns where I had lived were devastated, with empty cars left in parking lots of train stations because their owners hadn’t returned.

I feel I should apologize for raising such a sad image, but after all, my blog is partly named “Scents AND Sensibilities.” And that’s what on my mind today. I wish you all health, safety, and happiness.

Photo by Jin S. Lee, for The New York Times.

Scent Sample Sunday: Silences

Scent Sample Sunday: Silences

One of the regular readers here mentioned recently wearing Silences, and Portia from “Australian Perfume Junkies” and I immediately oohed and aahed over it. So today’s scent sample is Jacomo’s classic fragrance, the original Silences.

Magazine ad for fragrance Jacomo Silences

Jacomo Silences, original ad (1978).

Silences was launched in 1978, and it fits right in with the green, woody, chypre vibe of so many classic fragrances from that decade. I’ve realized that my scent tastes seem to have been formed mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was a child; given how deeply scent is linked to our subconscious, it makes sense that the fragrances of one’s childhood have particular impact. (To be clear, I own and love MANY later fragrances, but I find that I am really drawn to chypres, for instance, and to retro florals).

Fragrantica lists its notes as follows: Top notes — orange blossom, galbanum, bergamot, lemon, green notes and cassia; middle notes — iris, jasmine, narcissus, hyacinth, rose and lily-of-the-valley; base notes — vetiver, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss, cedar and ambrette (musk mallow). This list refers to the original and classic Silences, which was reissued in 2004. There is a new version, called Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime, which was issued in 2012. I appreciate, by the way, that the brand didn’t just reformulate and pretend that the new version was the same Silences. It’s easy to tell them apart, both from the name and from the packaging; Silences Sublime comes in a similar iconic round black bottle, but the lettering on it is completely different. It has excellent reviews online, but it doesn’t seem to be widely available in the US, unlike classic Silences, which can be found online for bargain prices. One can order it directly for delivery to Europe and a few other countries from the Jacomo brand website.

And Silences is a true bargain beauty! You have to like dry green chypres to enjoy it, though. It opens with galbanum leading the charge, a soupcon of bergamot floating in its wake. I don’t smell orange blossom at all, and while I’m sure the other listed top notes are there, because the opening is multi-faceted and complex, most of what I clearly smell is the combination of galbanum and bergamot, with galbanum dominating. As it dries down, two of my favorite flowers emerge: narcissus and hyacinth. The dry greenness of the galbanum persists, though I also get a hint of lily of the valley (another favorite flower). There’s a soft green earthiness that I have come to associate with iris root. I don’t smell any jasmine or rose in this middle phase.

Silences has often been compared to Chanel No. 19 in its eau de toilette version and for good reason. Their notes are almost identical, though in slightly different order and emphasis. No. 19 was created by the master Henri Robert in 1970, who also created 1974’s Chanel Cristalle. The perfumer behind Silences was Gerard Goupy, working at Givaudan with Jean-Charles Niel. Interestingly, M. Goupy was also the nose behind Lancome’s Climat, created in 1967, which in its vintage form is another green floral, though its opening is strongly aldehydic, unlike these later chypres. He also created Lancome’s Magie Noire in 1978, which has many of the same notes, also in a different order, but adding notes like spices and incense, honey and civet; it too is considered a chypre but more floral than green or woody. Victoria at “Bois de Jasmin” points out that its particular genius lies in the tension of combining its oriental and chypre accords.

So although one might be tempted to pigeonhole Silences as a bargain shadow of No. 19, it is not. Look at the sequence above: 1967: Goupy’s Climat; 1970: Robert’s No. 19; 1974: Robert’s Cristalle; 1978: Goupy’s Silences. Add in Bernard Chant’s creations for Estee Lauder, 1969’s Azuree and 1971’s Clinique Aromatics Elixir, and you see the fragrance zeitgeist of the time, with several gifted French perfumers exploring facets of dry, woody, green, bitter, mossy, dark, earthy scents — very fitting, for an era that also brought the environmental movement, the first “Earth Day” in 1970, and many landmark environmental protection laws.

Where does Silences fit on the scent spectrum? To my nose, it is more of a bitter green than the others, because of the strong galbanum opening. I love galbanum, so this delights me. It doesn’t have the leather notes that some of the others listed above have, or some of the animalic notes (it does list musk, but that may be based more on the base note of ambrette, or musk mallow plant).  Bitter, yes, but I don’t find Silences aggressive overall, as some commenters do. The opening is sharply green, but its final drydown phase becomes quite gentle and earthy while staying green, probably due to the combination of oakmoss, vetiver and sandalwood, softened by the ambrette. The complexity of its base accord is revealed in that today, I sprayed both my wrists at the same time. One wrist smells more strongly green and mossy, and the other more like a sweetish sandalwood with some lingering hyacinth.

The floral notes in Silences are quite reticent. The only ones I really smell are the narcissus and hyacinth, with a hint of muguet, all of which are quite green in their own right. So if it’s a more floral green you seek, I suggest you try No. 19 or Cristalle. Fruit? Aside from the bergamot opening note, which is subtle, there is no fruit here AT ALL. Sweet? Nope. Look elsewhere for fruity florals, or gourmands.

Have you tried Silences? Do you like green fragrances?

Scent Sample Sunday: Beach Hut Man

Scent Sample Sunday: Beach Hut Man

I recently reviewed Amouage’s Beach Hut Woman, as it was one of the few scents I took with me on our recent beach vacation, so today I decided to wear Beach Hut Man and compare them. It has prompted some introspection on my part, because it smells really “masculine” to me, and I’m not quite sure why! Continue reading

Perfume Chat Room, July 17

Perfume Chat Room, July 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, July 17. Continue reading

Perfume Chat Room, July 3

Perfume Chat Room, July 3

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 3. Happy Fourth of July! Continue reading

Scent Sample Sunday: Lady Stetson

Scent Sample Sunday: Lady Stetson

I have decided to seek out, proactively, some black perfumers and black-owned fragrance brands to highlight periodically, because I’ve been so concerned about the racial tensions in my city, state, and country lately, and this feels like something positive I can do through my little blog (I regularly encounter and try to handle issues around racial justice in my actual job). And someone I have recently discovered is Howard Kennedy, a longtime perfumer and “nose”, who created Lady Stetson and won five FiFi awards for “Fragrance of the Year” during his long career. He is one of the rare black perfumers recognized as having made important contributions to fragrance in the 20th century.

Today’s “Scent Sample Sunday”, then, will be Lady Stetson. Continue reading