Perfume Chat Room, July 1

Perfume Chat Room, July 1

Rabbit rabbit rabbit! Happy July 1, and 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 1, and I have peonies on my mind. I also have peonies in my house, thanks to Trader Joe’s, which is currently selling large bunches of them for a very affordable price. So of course, I bought three bunches! I haven’t had a bouquet of peonies in years, and I had forgotten just how gorgeous their natural fragrance is. My cut peonies have opened beautifully; the tightly furled buds I brought home opened within hours to huge, blowsy flowerheads up to 8″ across. Their fragrance is permeating the family room, where I have them in a large green vase on a table by the windows.

I checked my collection against Fragrantica to see if I have any peony-dominant fragrances, as none came immediately to mind. I do: Estée Lauder’s Pleasures and Pleasures Bloom. Of the two, the latter is supposed to be more peony-focused, which makes sense given that its box is covered with pink peony petals. It’s very lovely — the peony really emerges after a fruity opening, a nice combination of litchi and raspberry, with touches of violet and grapefruit (very little of the citrus, though — just enough to brighten the opening). Pleasures Bloom actually smells less “soapy” than the actual flower; it is more evocative of peonies than photo-realistic. Definitely not a peony soliflore.

Do you have any peony fragrances? Any recommendations? And for those who celebrate the Fourth of July, Happy Fourth!

Bunch of pink peony blossoms
Peonies in bloom; image from Southern Living and Getty Images
Perfume Chat Room, June 24

Perfume Chat Room, June 24

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.

This week in the New York Times: “When Did Perfume Stop Being About Sex?”. From the article: “Smaller, independent brands are often more creative in their approach to perfume making, highlighting individual ingredients and notes or using a story to attract customers. Fragrances are often stronger, bolder and more expensive than department store stalwarts synonymous with a ‘free gift with purchase.’”

The article is interesting although I doubt it says anything that you readers don’t already know. If you’re here, you have more than the average interest in fragrance! I thought it was interesting that it mentions more people turning to fragrance during the pandemic.

Turning this article on its head: what is the most seductive fragrance you own? And what makes it seductive? Right now, I would say my choice would be the Shalimar Philtre de Parfum I bought earlier this summer (available online these days for a very reasonable price, btw). Its listed notes are lemon, bergamot, lavender, iris, jasmine, rose, vanilla, tolu balsam and patchouli. Philtre is a summery Shalimar, but it has that warm vanilla that many people find irresistible and that in my experience often attracts compliments from strangers.

Illustration of perfume and perceptions of gender
Image by Miki Kim for the New York Times
Perfume Chat Room, June 18

Perfume Chat Room, June 18

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 Saturday, June 18, and I’m posting a day late because of more travel! Within the US this time, for another wedding (which is what kept me from posting last weekend!). We are at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, which we haven’t visited in several years, since we brought our kids here. The weather has dawned bright, sunny, and 20 degrees cooler than yesterday. That’s not a typo. Much of the Eastern US is having a heatwave. Luckily for this bride and groom, some storms blew through Virginia last night and pushed the heatwave away temporarily. Apparently it will be back up to 100 later this week!

Do you wear fragrances during heatwaves? Which do you find refreshing, or at least tolerable? Probably my favorite hot weather fragrance is Hermes’ Un Jardin Sur le Nil, famously created by Jean-Claude Ellena, as documented by Chandler Burr in the book “The Perfect Scent.” I’m really enjoying Carthusia’s new release, A’mmare.

Stay cool, friends!

The Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg, the Governor’s Palace.
Perfume Chat Room, June 3

Perfume Chat Room, June 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, June 3, and it is the first of my “summer Fridays”! As I did last summer, I am taking Fridays off work in June and July, using up some of my massively underused leave time. To be honest, it has been an exhausting two years, having added COVID-related duties to an already full plate at work, so the long summer weekends were a boon last year. I’m very happy to be able to have them again this summer!

I’m looking forward to doing a lot of fragrant gardening; we just installed a “dry creek” for drainage in our garden, which leads into a “rain garden” to catch excess water. Our soil is very dense clay, typical of this area; and in a wet spring such as we had this year, it gets so sodden with water that we’ve had water in our basement, erosion on a small slope in our back yard, and areas of lawn that haven’t been able to grow any grass for ages. The dry creek is a rock-lined channel that leads to a sunken area filled with gravel, then soil, then planted with vegetation that doesn’t mind wet feet. That’s the rain garden, which holds the excess water until it can percolate down into the soil. I’ve incorporated a number of pollinator-friendly and native plants. The dry creek has a long, low berm alongside it, for plants that need good drainage, which I will plant with creeping rosemary and upright silver lavender, mixed with some fragrant dianthus and creeping phlox as groundcovers.

Close up of lavender plant "Silver Anouk"
“Silver Anouk” Lavender

So that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend, and my hands will smell wonderful after handling all these scented leaves! Speaking of lavender, I used to think I didn’t care for it much as a fragrance note, and now I love it. I think Jicky eau de toilette was the turning point for me. Do you like lavender? Do you have any particular favorite lavender-centric fragrances? What about rosemary? That’s a less common note in fragrance, I think; one of my perfume souvenirs from our recent trip to Italy was a bottle of Carthusia’s new A’mmare, by perfumer Luca Maffei, which has a vivid rosemary top note. It’s a great summer scent, and I look forward to getting to know it better.

Creeping rosemary plants, "Huntington Carpet"
Rosemary “Huntington Carpet”
Perfume Chat Room, May 27

Perfume Chat Room, May 27

Back to our Friday schedule! 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 the start of the Memorial Day Weekend here in the US, which also marks the official start of summer for many people. I returned from my travels last Sunday, having spent a week in Northern Italy, five days in Spain, and a long weekend in New Jersey (college reunion). It was all great fun, but I’m glad to be home! I did get a chance to spend time in the fabulous TWA Hotel, in the repurposed landmark TWA terminal at JFK Airport, which I loved:

TWA Hotel
The Sunken Lounge at the TWA Hotel

Along the way, I did make a few fragrance purchases (I blame the favorable exchange rate): two private-label eaux de parfum at the garden island of Isola Bella, one centered on neroli and the other on roses; Prada’s La Femme and Carthusia’s new A’mmare in Milan; and Santa Eulalia’s Albis in Sitges (a beach resort outside Barcelona). There were a few traditional local perfumeries in Sitges and it was fun to explore them. One in particular, a tiny shop, had a very nice selection of niche perfumes (that’s where I got Albis). I look forward to really testing them now that I’m home. The only semi-blind buy was La Femme; I’ve tried it before and liked it, and I wanted to get something by Prada in Milan, so when I found that at a 50% discount …

Do you have any perfume purchases planned? Any plans for the holiday weekend, if you’re celebrating it?

Perfume Chat Room, May 24

Perfume Chat Room, May 24

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 actually Tuesday, May 24, and I’m late! My apologies — I just got back from two weeks of travel with my husband that included Milan, Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, and Sitges (Spain). I am SO HAPPY to travel overseas again! And yes, I sniffed and bought some perfume along the way. Details of my perfume tourism to follow!

It still feels weird to go through airports and sit on a plane with dozens of other people, but I’m getting re-acclimated to it. Mask and testing requirements differ from country to country, but we figured those out. And we didn’t bring back COVID as a souvenir, thank goodness.

Our remaining travel this summer will be by car, to go to family weddings and visit my father-in-law. None of those destinations will include perfume tourism, which is probably a good thing given that I made a few purchases in May. I’m looking forward to the family gatherings; events of the last two years have brought vivid reminders that a good life is about good relationships with other people.

I’m looking forward to tidying up my garden after two weeks away; right now, I have gardenias and “Confederate jasmine” in bloom, so it’s very fragrant. What is going on in your fragrant world?

Roses at Isola Bella

Perfume Chat Room, May 6

Perfume Chat Room, May 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, May 6, and my roses continue to flourish and bloom! I’ve added more photos to my Instagram account, if you’d like to see some of them up close. Most are “English Roses” by the late David Austin, an amazing hybridizer of roses who brought back the old-fashioned shapes and strong fragrance of older roses, but combined those with the range of colors and repeat-blooming habit of modern ones. One of the fascinating aspects of his roses is that many of them smell slightly different. All their scents are clearly “rose”, but some are more spicy, or fruity, or lemony. As you can tell, I love them.

Some of my English Roses

If you haven’t yet read this month’s “Scent Semantics” posts by the six participating bloggers, the word for May (chosen by Portia) is “brilliance.” You’ll find all the links here: Scent Semantics.

May is full of various celebrations: May Day, Star Wars Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day. I’ve just learned that in the Netherlands, May 5 is celebrated as Liberation Day, marking the end of Nazi occupation. May is the month of the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which I’ve been able to visit twice and hope to visit again, maybe next year.

Chelsea Pensioner, at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

This year, Eid al Fitr (the end of Ramadan) was celebrated in the US in May; the dates change every year. Do you celebrate anything in particular in May?

Perfume Chat Room, April 29

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 29, and Monday is another “Scent Semantics” posting day! The word of the month, chosen by Portia, is a secret until then, so check back next week!

My roses are in full bloom this week and wow, do they smell gorgeous. I’ve posted some photos on my Instagram account.

Thanks to a timely post on Eau My Soul, I bought a very discounted bottle of Shalimar Philtre de Parfum from Costco, which sometimes has great deals on high-end fragrances. I’m very happy with my blind buy, which wasn’t completely blind because I had read that it was reminiscent of Shalimar Eau de Cologne, which I enjoy very much. Indeed it is, though not identical. For one thing, Philtre is an eau de parfum, and it definitely lasts longer. Below is the review of Shalimar Eau de Cologne I posted on Fragrantica some years ago, and I stand by it:

Happy happy happy! I have tried Shalimar EDP several times in department stores, and just didn’t like it. I recognized its quality and its legendary status but it was too heavy, too sweet, too strong, too old-fashioned. Every single time. Then I found Shalimar Eau de Cologne on sale for 24.99 at CVS, read the reviews here on my smartphone and thought, what the hell — let’s do this. So I did. I love it! This version is just yummy without being sweet. I get the vanilla, I get the smoke, I get the cedar, I get the leather. Shalimar EDC is luscious but light. Classic but not stuffy. I am just so pleased with this.

I would say that Philtre has more citrus, and less smoke and leather. It lasts all day (12+ hours) on my skin. I think the tolu balsam base note is a great touch; it adds depth and warmth.

At risk of setting off a torrent of verbiage, do you have a favorite version of Shalimar?

Perfume Chat Room, April 22

Perfume Chat Room, April 22

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 22, and I’m delighted to say that my husband and I will be traveling overseas again next month, for the first time since 2020! We’ve just finalized our plans, and I’m so excited. My May blog posts may be a little spotty as a result — I doubt I’ll be able to do a daily marathon as I have in past Mays. I’ll be able to do a Scent Semantics post on time, though!

Our last international trip was to Jamaica, in the first week of March 2020, just before the world shut down. Our last trip to Europe was in the summer of 2019. Now I’m figuring out all the documentation rules; we’re fully vaccinated and boosted, and we’ll go get second boosters this weekend, but the paperwork for the EU is a bit daunting. And then there’s the requirement to be tested before returning to the US, although that seems to be in flux too. Luckily the second half of our trip is for my husband’s work, and so his office will make sure we have everything we need to comply with return requirements.

Have you started traveling between countries again?

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com
Perfume Chat Room, April 15

Perfume Chat Room, April 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, April 15, and it is Good Friday in my own faith tradition, as well as the start of Passover in Judaism. April 15 is also usually the deadline for filing tax returns, but because it falls right before Saturday this year, the deadline is extended to Monday, April 18. I’m such a procrastinator that there was one year (many years ago) when I actually had to go to the main Post Office in Manhattan, which stayed open until midnight, to mail my return and have it postmarked by April 15. To be honest, it was kind of a festive atmosphere, like a convention of procrastinators, complete with news crews filming and broadcasting our disgrace. My wonderful husband has handled our taxes since we got married, with help from an accountant, which makes sense since he has an MBA. My eyes glaze over when I have to look at too many numbers, lol!

I have so many fragrant flowers in bloom right now! Dwarf lilacs, lilies of the valley, and the first rose blossoms are filling the air with perfume, and I am eagerly waiting for my Easter lilies to bloom (I love Easter). I have a new David Austin English Rose called “Lady of the Lake”; it is just lovely. Pale pink with a yellow eye, and very fragrant (as all his roses are). It’s making me want to break out my rose fragrances, of which I have many, but it’s too soon for another “Roses de Mai Marathon.” What fragrances are calling your name these days?

Pink rose Lady of the Lake, a David Austin English Rose
Lady of the Lake rose by David Austin; image from davidaustinroses.com