Scent Sample Sunday: Vol de Nuit

Scent Sample Sunday: Vol de Nuit

Within the last few months, I scored a purse spray of vintage Vol de Nuit extrait de parfum, a Guerlain masterpiece. I had previously been able to buy what I think is actually the most beautiful Vol de Nuit bottle, which doesn’t contain liquid at all — it is the limited edition shimmer powder’s blue-green flacon, the twin of the famous propeller bottle of the original parfum.

Blue green atomizer bottle of Guerlain's Vol de Nuit shimmer powder

Vol de Nuit shimmer powder; image http://www.guerlain.com

Propeller bottle of Guerlain's Vol de Nuit parfum

Vol de Nuit parfum; www.guerlain.com

But honestly, when would one have the opportunity to wear them? What occasion? What ensemble to wear with them?

Last night was the night.

My husband and I went to a benefit auction last night, and after much pondering, I decided that a simple cocktail dress in black velvet with tiny black sequins and short sleeves would be my outfit, combined with a necklace of white baroque pearls that was given to me by one of my dearest friends. I couldn’t decide what fragrance to wear, though. Amouage Gold EDP was a leading contender, as I’ve worn it before to dressy events and I always enjoy it. Then I thought of the Alaia extrait de parfum I bought last year, which is also beautiful. And it hit me — I could finally use the shimmer powder! And now I had the parfum to go with it! So Vol de Nuit it was.

Victoria at Bois de Jasmin reviewed the shimmer powder when it came out in 2011:

The powder itself is tinted a silvery shade closer to mother of pearl than polished metal. It is a complex color, with peach and blue creating an ethereal effect. Although Guerlain suggests using the powder for both face and body, I find that it is too cool for my warm complexion. However, it looks beautiful sprayed lightly on the shoulders and chest. The sparkling particles are quite fine, so the impression is opalescent and soft, rather than disco ball glitzy.

I took her advice and sprayed it on my neck and chest, plus a bit on my arms. It is possible to apply it very lightly, for just a hint of glimmer. I think it’s important to have well-moisturized skin before using it, but the moisturizer should be unscented. as the powder itself is scented, albeit lightly. The baroque pearls looked beautiful against the slight shimmer on my neck.

The parfum went on the pulse points behind my ears and inside my elbows. I often apply on my inner elbows instead of my wrists when wearing short sleeves. It’s easier to control the spray, and I can diffuse it on my skin just by bending the crook of my elbow instead of rubbing wrists together (which some perfumistas discourage).

My theater artist daughter did my makeup for me; I don’t usually wear much makeup, so I’m not the best judge of what will work. I may never look so chic again!

How was the fragrance? It was celestial. Neil at The Black Narcissus has described Vol de Nuit better than almost anyone: “Journey Into Light: Vol de Nuit by Guerlain (1933).”

And yes, this is how I felt, although any resemblance is strictly fanciful and internal:

Ad for Guerlain's Vol de Nuit shimmer powder

Vol de Nuit limited edition shimmer powder from Guerlain.

What fragrance makes you feel most glamorous? When do you wear it?

Fragrance Friday: Parfum et Vous

Last week, I was able to visit Nice, France, thanks to my husband’s work. He had to go for a business trip, I was able to take a few days off from my own job and tag along! During the day, he had meetings and I explored.

I have been to Nice before: once on our honeymoon, and again a few years ago when we took a family trip to the Cote d’Azur. But those trips were both before my perfumania, so I planned much of my week around fragrance. One thing I knew I’d like to try was a perfume-making workshop for beginners. Nice offers options; two different ones with an established perfume house, Molinard, and one with an independent perfumery, Parfum et Vous. I was leaning toward the latter, so when I contacted Megan in Sainte-Maxime to see if we might be able to meet (more about that in another post — such fun!), I asked her thoughts.  She enthusiastically recommended that choice, and she knows the owner, so I signed up. The price included a two-hour workshop to learn about perfume and then make our own scents, using pre-made accords, and one bottle of our own creation. The workshop would take place in a pretty old building in the heart of Nice, a short walk from the famous “Promenade des Anglais”, in the retail showroom of Parfum et Vous.

There were four of us taking the workshop, plus the lovely and vivacious Sasha, owner of Parfum et Vous, and her assistant. Sasha gave a brief introduction and overview about perfume, then had us walk around her small showroom filled with niche perfumes, smelling them and thinking about what genres and notes we might like to try in our own concoctions. Sasha’s wares are true artisan perfumes from niche houses, like Beaufort London, Nishane, NabuccoBarutiPaul Emilien and many others, so there was a wide range of fragrances to smell.

Then we went to a table where there were pre-mixed scents in eau de parfum strength representing categories of fragrance foundations, like “woody marine.” We talked about what we would try to create for our own eau de parfum, and sniffed all of the foundations. I wanted to create a unisex fragrance that would remind my husband and me of our trips to the South Carolina Lowcountry, the marshy coastland that borders the Atlantic Ocean in that state.

Next, we moved to a table that had 22 different accords in large bottles with droppers, divided among top notes, heart notes and base notes, and labeled with identifiers like “iris”, ‘chypre”, “citrus, “spice.” Each one also listed individual notes, e.g. “spice” included cinnamon, clove, and pepper. Sasha started each of us off with a formula to create a foundation for the category we had chosen, specifying how many mls of each accord we should add to our individual 30 ml bottles. I was starting with “woody marine”, so my beginning foundation included marine, citrus, green tea, “oriental woody”, and woody accords. Others wanted to create a gourmand, or a floral oriental, and there were foundations for those and other options.

Then the real fun began! Throughout the process, Sasha had us smell each stage as we added more accords in small amounts, tweaking our fragrances in the directions we wanted. I added notes of jasmine, cyclamen, wild rose, vetiver, and oak moss. As the other students and I added accords, Sasha would have us spray a bit on our skin and she would smell our progress and make suggestions. I got to a point where I wanted to add more heart notes. I was satisfied with the top notes, which by now included a citrus accord of mandarin, orange, and tangerine, the marine accord, and a tiny amount of a fruit accord (grapefruit and apple).

The heart note accords available were: neroli, spices, white flowers, rose, powdery (rice notes and white musk), iris, green tea, and cassis. We thought about adding neroli, but ruled that out. I asked about the powdery accord, and Sasha recommended against it, given the other accords I already had. We settled on slowly adding small amounts of the white flowers accord, which was a combination of jasmine and cyclamen. Then I thought about iris. Sasha was a little doubtful, but when I explained that I wanted that earthier, rooty aspect, she concurred but urged a light hand. In went .5 ml of the iris accord. Sniff, sniff. Wait. Another .5 ml. Sniff. Perfect!

Time to tweak the base notes. I already had accords that included notes of patchouli, vanilla, vetiver, tonka, cedar, and sandalwood. I wanted to add more of the “chypre” accord, with notes of vetiver and oak moss, and Sasha agreed but advised going slowly and adding 1 ml at a time, checking each time to see what I thought. Because of the nature of base notes, which emerge more slowly than the top and heart notes, one relies more on the formulas for base notes; even in a leisurely, unhurried workshop like this, there’s not time to wait for the full progression. Because I love chypre, I ended up adding more of that and no more of the other available base note accords, and I’m very happy with the outcome.

Once we were satisfied with our creations, Sasha had us name and label them. Parfum et Vous keeps a record of our names, and the formula for the specific blend we had created, so one can reorder if one wants. I named mine “Lowcountry Spring”, and I find it charming!

As you can tell, I enjoyed this workshop thoroughly and heartily recommend it. Because of the pre-formulated foundations and accords, plus expert guidance from Sasha, one really can’t go too far astray. It would take deliberate effort to create something that wasn’t pleasing. The atmosphere was fun and informative. I enjoyed meeting my three fellow students; we all helped each other, sniffing each other’s formulas along the way (yes, there were little canisters of coffee beans to help reset our noses, although I find it sometimes works best, when I’m trying many scents, to reset by just putting my nose to my own shoulder). I also really enjoyed seeing and smelling the many interesting niche perfumes Sasha sells in her showroom, some of which I hadn’t encountered before, and others which I had read about but never had the chance to try. If you get a chance to visit Nice, go see Parfum et Vous! Whether or not you have the time or inclination to spend an afternoon in the workshop, it is well worth a visit for the showroom alone, and to meet Sasha.

Have you ever tried making your own fragrances? How did it go?

 

Scent Sample Sunday: Hoarding?

Uh oh. The New York Times is onto us! This is why I need “Thunking Thursday.” Do you feel that your collection of samples is starting to look like hoarding? What (if anything) do you plan to do about those samples?

Scent Sample Sunday: What to Try, What to Buy?

Scent Sample Sunday: What to Try, What to Buy?

Hello friends — this week, I am seeking your advice! I will be in the South of France, and I’d love to know your thoughts on any particular fragrances that are easier or less expensive to get in France than in the US, or any special fragrance “explorations” I should pursue. I am already signed up for a perfume workshop at Parfum et Vous, and I can’t wait! I’ve been to Grasse before and have done one of the factory tours at Molinard (great fun and very instructive). Our group will be visiting Saint-Paul de Vence and Nice. I’ve visited Nice before and plan to wander in the markets there; I’ll probably bring home some of those lovely soaps. Any other suggestions? P.S. We will have one transfer in Charles de Gaulle airport, coming and going, but I don’t know how much time we’ll have there.

white square ceramic ornament

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Scent Sample Sunday: Florist’s Fridge

Scent Sample Sunday: Florist’s Fridge

I have been curious for a while about the company Smell Bent, and its proclaimed mission to “delight your nose and your funny bone.”  One of their lines is called “Frankensmellies“, because they have been assembled from accords that their creator just thought would work well together as a “sketch.” When they had a sale this fall, I ordered a Frankensmellie that had been on my radar: Florist’s Fridge.

Florist’s Fridge appeals to me on a few levels. One, I love florists’ shops and their smell! Two, it smells strongly green, which I love. Three, it really does smell like that blast of mixed scents when one visits a florist and they open the fridge to show you or take out flowers that are chilling in buckets. Four, that evokes happy memories for me of going to the florist with my teenaged son to buy corsages for his dates (yes, that still happens on formal occasions, and those still happen for teenagers in the American South).

Wrist corsages at high school formal prom dance

Wrist corsages for high school formal dance

The listed accords are orchid, hyacinth, and chilled flora. Other commenters on Fragrantica have noted the strong impression of green stems and leaves, and I agree. Actually, to me the floral notes smell more like carnation than hyacinth, but luckily I enjoy both. Florist’s Fridge doesn’t last very long on my skin, but it really is fun, and you can get it for such a good price that you may not care very much about its longevity.  I haven’t come across anything else that smells quite like it, and it has that almost addictive quality of making me want to spritz and smell my wrists over and over. Like a corsage.

Remember to thunk something this week and tell us all about it on “Thunking Thursday“!

Scent Sample Sunday: Thunking

Scent Sample Sunday: Thunking

This is my first “Scent Sample Sunday” post of the New Year, and I have thunking on my mind, thanks to a running conversation on the blog Australian Perfume Junkies (a very welcoming online community, btw, which I highly recommend). I think it was APJ reader Brigitte who coined the phrase, referring to the satisfying “thunk” sound made by an empty vial or bottle of fragrance when it hits the bottom of a wastebasket, having been happily emptied and enjoyed by its owner. Thunk!

The running conversation has been about the readers’ commitments to finishing the fragrances they already have before rushing to buy more. A related commitment is to “shopping in your own closet”, i.e. to rediscover what one already has in one’s fragrance cabinet or other storage, enjoy and appreciate it, and reduce impulse buying.

Count me in! So I’m going to start a new series of blog posts here, called “Thunking Thursday”, and I invite you to join me! I’ll write briefly about something I’ve thunked that week, and I hope you’ll comment on whatever you have thunked, whether that week or earlier. Or even what you plan to thunk in coming weeks! Maybe we can reinforce each other’s New Year’s resolutions — or at least vicariously enjoy each other’s “thunks.” I might award a prize to the reader who describes the most completed thunks here this month if I get a large number, so boast away! Please include a brief description of the fragrance and your experience with it, including whether you think you’ll seek it out again.

I’ll start today, claiming one “thunk point” for my sample of Tiffany & Co. Intense EDP.  I loved everything about it: the strong iris note, the packaging, the ad campaign. Maybe I should have to deduct points from myself, though, since I got a full bottle of it for Christmas based on my love of the store sample! Oh well. We all know what paves the road to … you know the rest.

How many thunk points have you accumulated so far in 2019? If you need a few days to think and thunk, come back on Thunking Thursday and comment there! Happy New Year!

Bottle of Tiffany & Co. perfume Tiffany blue

Photo by Bryan Schneider on Pexels.com

Fragrance Friday: La Belle et L’Ocelot

Fragrance Friday: La Belle et L’Ocelot

In the growing world of niche and “exclusive” perfumes, there are not many bargains. Prices seem to go up and up, into the realm of the ridiculous. And, may I say, some of the most expensive bottles of fragrance are also — if not hideous, tacky. House of Sillage, I’m looking at you, and Clive Christian, you’re not far behind (apologies to any readers who love those bottles, this is imho only!). The House of Sillage bottles look to me like demented cupcakes. I’m sorry, they do.

By contrast, some of my favorite bottles contain inexpensive but enjoyable fragrances. For instance, one of the first fragrances I blind-bought when I went down the perfume rabbit-hole was Vicky Tiel’s Sirene. Its frosted glass bottle, with a bas-relief of caryatids, is just gorgeous; and I like the scent itself very much. It is a rosy floral with a sharp opening and  soft drydown. At about $20 for 100 ml, why not take a chance on it? The bottle alone makes it worth the price.

At Christmas, my kids now ask me what fragrance I’d like them to get me that’s within their price range. I try to keep that under $25, and luckily there are some bargain fragrances out there to be had for that price. This year, my two daughters gave me Salvador Dali’s La Belle et l’Ocelot, in both the eau de toilette and eau de parfum formats. Friends, these are two of the prettiest bottles I own!

 

Bottle and box of Salvador Dali's La Belle et l'Ocelot eau de parfum.

La Belle et l’Ocelot eau de parfum; http://www.parfums-salvadordali.com

Bottle and box of Salvador Dali's La Belle et l'Ocelot eau de toilette

La Belle et l’Ocelot eau de toilette; http://www.parfums-salvadordali.com

And the fragrances themselves aren’t bad either — not strong loves for me, but definitely likeable and wearable. The EDP (2014) is a warm, balsamic, slightly spicy scent, with top notes of Sicilian bitter orange, davana (artemisia), and elemi (a resin), heart notes of osmanthus, rose, night-blooming jasmine, and tonka, and base notes of patchouli, benzoin, and incense. It reminds me a bit of a lighter, less complex Opium or Obsession. Believe it or not, many of its notes are the same as those of Chanel’s Coromandel, which was launched two years later, in 2016. It’s very appealing in this season’s colder weather, and it is light enough that I think it will still appeal even in the summer, especially on warm, balmy evenings.

The EDT is a completely different fragrance from the EDP — not, as the website says, a softer version of it. The EDT’s top notes are apple blossom, nashi pear and grapefruit; heart notes are iris, Turkish rose and Egyptian jasmine, base notes are cedar and musk. Really, the only thing these two have in common is the beautiful design of their bottles. One intriguing fact is that both fragrances are meant to evoke an olfactory recreation of Beauty and the Beast, according to the website, but one can also perceive the EDP as more animalic (“beastly”) and the EDT as more floral (“beauty”). The EDT is a light, soft floral, with some fruitiness but not so much as to make it overly sweet. I think it would wear best in late spring and throughout the summer. I tend to prefer sharper, greener florals generally but especially in the spring, so this would be more of a summer scent for me.

Salvador Dali was well-known for his eccentricities, in his life as well as his art, one of which was that he kept a pet ocelot (which is a kind of tiny leopard) named Babou. He took Babou to many places and was often photographed with the animal:

Artist Salvador Dali with pet ocelot Babou

Dali with Babou

Another fun fact is that the popular culture we most associate now with “Beauty and the Beast” is the Disney Company’s animated film — but in real life, Walt Disney and Salvador Dali not only knew each other, but collaborated briefly on a short film called “Destino.” It was shelved during WWII, and revived in the 21st century by Walt Disney’s nephew, Roy Disney.

I got interested in Dali fragrances first by reading Luca Turin’s review of the original Dali, created in 1983 by Alberto Morillas, which he gave four stars. I have a mini of the parfum, and it is beautiful as a fragrance; its bottle is also lovely, as are all the Dali perfume bottles that are based on the sculptured lips and nose of Dali’s Aphrodite in his work Apparition of the Face of Aphrodite of Knidos. (I must say, though, I think the bottles for La Belle et l’Ocelot are even more lovely). Some well-know perfumers in addition to M. Morillas have created Dali fragrances: Mark Buxton created Laguna (also awarded four stars by M. Turin) early in his career, in 1991, and Francis Kurkdjian created Purplelight in 2007. Have you tried any of the Salvador Dali fragrances? Do you think any are “discount diamonds”?

Featured image: model Donyale Luna with Dali’s pet ocelot Babou.