Perfume Chat Room, November 11

Perfume Chat Room, November 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, November 11, the day on which many Western countries mark Veterans’ Day and Armistice Day (it is Remembrance Day in Canada). The commemoration began after WWI ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, with the declaration of peace. After WWII, the name was changed in the US to Veterans’ Day to honor all who have served in the military. Unlike Memorial Day, which is dedicated to honoring the dead and whose date changes every year, Veterans’ Day honors the living and is always celebrated on November 11.

What fragrance to wear on such a day? I chose Jean Patou’s L’Heure Attendue, translated as “the long-awaited hour”, which was launched in 1946. Elena Vosnaki wrote a wonderful piece about it and other post-war legendary fragrances here: “The Senses on Alert: The Smell of War.” The impulse to celebrate and create beauty when long-awaited peace arrives goes deep. My favorite commemoration of Armistice Day was the art installation of hundreds of thousands of red poppies at the Tower of London in 2014.

Installation of 900,000 red poppies at Tower of London to commemorate World War I
World War I memorial ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’; poppies at Tower of London, 2014; image from TimeOut London.

It is such a poignant reminder of the lives lost, just in Britain, during that dreadful conflict. Both of my grandfathers served during World War I, thankfully not in the horrendous trenches of Europe. My English grandfather was a midshipman in the Royal Navy; my American grandfather served in the U.S. Army at the Mexican border, during the Border War between Mexico and the US.

While I deplore war in all its forms, and I am praying for peace in Ukraine and elsewhere, I am grateful for the service and sacrifice of so many.

Perfume Chat Room, November 4

Perfume Chat Room, November 4

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 4, and I am pondering my newly acquired Guerlain samples, from my visit to the Las Vegas boutique. I think I’ll use them to do another Scented Advent calendar series in December. I have samples of 13 different Guerlain fragrances that are new to me, from the collection L’Art et La Matière. I also bought three bottles of EDT from the collection Les Légendaires (Après L’Ondée, L’Heure Bleue, Vol de Nuit), but to put those in my Advent calendar, I would have to make my own samples, a prospect I find somewhat daunting. Yes, I am a perfectionist. If I figure out how to do that, though, I also have other Guerlain fragrances in my collection that I could add. Or I could alternate samples of Guerlain with other samples I have, which seems more likely because 1) I have many samples I need to review, including ones that some of you have so kindly sent me; and 2) then I don’t have to worry about spilling, if I try to make my own!

What do you think? And are you starting to make any holiday fragrance wish lists? If yes, what’s on your list?

Refillable wooden Advent calendar
My fragrance Advent calendar
Perfume Chat Room, October 28

Perfume Chat Room, October 28

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 NOT Friday, October 28, because I am a day late in posting! We have just wrapped up a week-long visit to New Hampshire, to see my father-in-law who will turn 92 next month. He is doing well, sharp as ever, and we’ve had a lovely week spending every afternoon with him, going right after lunch and staying until his dinner arrives. We’ve enjoyed a week spent in the gorgeous New England fall, though the fall foliage was just past its peak. The reddest leaves tend to fall earliest, from the maples, but there was still plenty of breathtaking orange, gold, yellow and brown to admire. We went on some good walks including a lakeside trail that follows the shoreline and an old railway track.

And of course, I’ve enjoyed smelling the fresh New England fall air, which to my nose is a blend of wet leaves, soil, pine and balsam, damp moss, ferns, chrysanthemums, and lake (I would include sea water if we were on the coast). Probably some petrichor too, as we had a few showers this week.

Rainbow over New England lake

I’ve also been enjoying some of the Guerlain samples I was sent with my order from the Guerlain boutique in Las Vegas. A few I’ve really liked: Oeillet Pourpre, Herbes Troublantes, and Frenchy Lavande. They blend well with the fall air. I like Oeillet Pourpre very much, but I don’t think it is significanty better, to my nose, than L’Artisan’s Oeillet Sauvage, which I love. I might prefer it slightly to Lutens’ Vitriol d’Oeillet, which I also like very much.

I can’t believe that Halloween is upon us! Do you have any special Halloween plans or traditions? Ours, to the detriment of our waistlines, is that I go out and buy far too much candy in hopes of many little trick-or-treaters, then we don’t get as many as I had hoped, and we “have to” eat all the candy. I’m trying to do better this year!

Perfume Chat Room, October 21

Perfume Chat Room, October 21

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 21, and the gathering at our house last night, for which we have been scrubbing, tidying, and cleaning all month, was a big success! It was the first large group of people we’ve had over since December 2019, though we’ve had a friend or two over for drinks or dinner periodically. Now that the house is in good order (at least the main floor and front porch, lol!), and the holiday season is upon us, maybe we’ll do some entertaining. We don’t often do that, but last night was really fun.

In other news, a new precioussss has joined my collection. I rarely do this any more, focusing more on discovery sets and samples, and enjoying the bottles I already have, but I succumbed instantly to the charm of Hiram Green’s Arbolé, upon trying a sample from his discovery set; and having found a bottle online for a very good price, I ordered it. I did wait to experience the whole progression of my fragrance test, to make sure I wasn’t just falling for a great opening! Not to worry — I do love its opening but the whole sequence was delightful.

The official list of notes on the brand’s website is very short: patchouli, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean. This is deceptively simple; there is much more going on here, to my nose. I suspect it is because Hiram Green uses only non-synthetic materials, and natural materials are very complex in themselves and can shape-shift. In addition to the listed notes, I smell anise and heliotrope, for example.

My experience with Arbolé illustrates the value of discovery sets. Its notes list is not one that would have caught my attention in itself. I don’t dislike any of those notes, but the list doesn’t include any florals, for instance, or the strongly green notes that usually lure me in. I had previously tried Slowdive from Hiram Green and while I appreciated its quality and excellence, it didn’t transport me. But I was intrigued enough by the brand to get its discovery set, and voilà! I’m now the happy owner of Arbolé. I think part of the allure is exactly that it doesn’t fit within my usual categories, so it was more surprising to my nose, if that makes sense. Also, anise and heliotrope are notes I like a lot, so the fact that I picked them up in spite of their absences from the notes list was also appealing.

Have you tried anything lately that surprised you, or spoke to you?

Clean house, fragrant flowers, Arbolé
Perfume Chat Room, October 14

Perfume Chat Room, October 14

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 14, and we are having all our windows hand-washed, inside and out, top to bottom! Can you tell that I’m very excited about this? Between procrastination and the pandemic, it has been YEARS since we got this done, and I was lucky enough to find a great company, recommended by other people in old houses (important because old window glass is fragile), and available this week! Timing matters because we are hosting a program at our house next Thursday — the first time we’ve had more than just a couple of friends over since pre-pandemic. So we’re getting the house spiffed up.

I’ve been enjoying this week’s community project at Now Smell This, which is to wear fragrances by independent perfume houses. So I’ve worn Musc Intense, by Patricia de Nicolai, Violet Ida, by Miller Harris, Ormonde Jayne Privé, and today, Futur, by Robert Piguet, which is green and fabulous!

Have you been wearing any perfumes by particular favorite independent perfume houses?

Window washer on ladder
Sunshine Window Cleaning
Perfume Chat Room, October 7

Perfume Chat Room, October 7

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 7, and this week has brought lots of fragrance activity! First, I posted my last monthly “Scent Semantics” post on Monday, focusing on the word “serenity” (which is the first part of this blog’s full title, “Serenity Now: Scents and Sensibilities.” Then, today, my precioussss package arrived from the Guerlain boutique in Las Vegas, which I was able to visit last week. I bought three eaux de toilette from the line “Les Legendaires”: Après l’Ondée, L’Heure Bleue, and Vol de Nuit. The lovely sales assistant who helped me also sent a flock of samples from the collection “L’Art et La Matière”, both boxed samples and a few she made up for me, of fragrances I had liked in the boutique.

My Guerlain precioussses

I am so excited to have these! I love the new bottles, and I loved how these new versions smelled when I sampled them. Elena Prokeva at Fragrantica wrote about the “new” L’Heure Bleue very favorably, and commented that “[i]n general, the entire line of Les Légendaires de Guerlain is magnificent: one gets the feeling that classic fragrances have been dusted off and placed under a magnifying glass, which helps to see their beauty better. It seems they are better than the previous attempts to re-release the same Guerlain classics; the new ones are much more similar to originals, to the best vintage samples.”

I’ll report back upon further testing. Have you had any fragrant adventures or revelations this week?

Guerlain boutique in Las Vegas

Scent Semantics, October 3

This is the end of our year of “Scent Semantics”, monthly posts by several bloggers around the world when we choose a single word and write about a fragrance that it evokes for us. This month’s word is “Serenity”! The full name of this blog is “Serenity Now: Scents and Sensibilities”, and I got to choose this month’s word. So “serenity” it is!

One definition of “serenity” is: “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.” After a recent trip to Las Vegas and a side visit to the Mojave Desert, the scent I’ve chosen to evoke serenity is Byredo’s Mojave Ghost. This is partly because our hotel’s toiletries were all Mojave Ghost, so I was immersed in that fragrance for several days. The other reason, though, is that I was so moved by the serenity of the desert. We went in the afternoon so we could see the sunset, in an area called Red Rock Canyon. It did not disappoint.

Mojave Desert sunset

Our small group was driven in a van by a local guide, whose passion for the landscape was infectious, along a 13-mile scenic loop route. We made several stops along the way, to see some special places and take photos. It’s a cliché to say this, but it is remarkable to this East Coaster how much life and fertility exists — thrives — in the desert. And it is indeed a very serene setting, especially around sunset. The air cools, the breeze quickens, the shadows gradually lengthen, and for a brief moment, even the atmosphere takes on a rosy hue to match the clouds that hover over the horizon. At that moment, the desert feels like one of the “thin places” on earth, where the gap between heaven and earth dwindles and time pauses to catch its breath.

Byredo captured this perfectly in Mojave Ghost. From the brand’s website:

Mojave Ghost is a woody composition inspired by the soulful beauty of the Mojave Desert. In this xeric wilderness, rare are the plants that dare to blossom. With a light and graceful character, top notes of musky Ambrette combine with fresh Jamaican Nesberry. Powdery Violet then unfurls to reveal Sandalwood. Finally warm Chantilly Musk rounds out a base of crisp Amber and Cedar wood, leaving the raw spirit of Mojave Ghost to linger on the skin.

Colognoisseur Mark Behnke wrote about Mojave Ghost in 2014, when it was launched, and explained that part of the perfumer’s brief was to capture the scent of a flower that survives in this desert, the Ghost Flower (Mohavea Confertiflora). One of the notes listed, though, is actually a plant from the tropics, the Jamaican naseberry or sapodilla plant. Mark explains the role it plays in Mojave Ghost, which is to create the slightly sweet, lightly spicy odor of the desert in bloom. Perfumer Jerome Epinette also brings notes of ambrette, violet, magnolia, sandalwood, amber, and cedar into his composition. The dryness of the woody notes evokes the dryness of the desert, while the floral notes, although based on non-desert flora, communicate that there are indeed plants that bloom there.

Mojave Desert flora

My own experience with Mojave Ghost is colored by the fact that for several days, I literally bathed (or showered) in it, via the hotel supplies. Hand wash, body wash, shower gel, body lotion, shampoo, conditioner! I’ve never been so immersed in a single fragrance, honestly. While I’ve certainly stayed in hotels that had lovely, scented, coordinated toiletries, I don’t normally use all of them and I don’t use them lavishly for several days in a row. But on this trip, I slathered myself with lotion twice a day to stave off the dryness of the air; and this hotel had the large, pump containers attached to the wall instead of those itty bitty plastic bottles, so I indulged freely. Back home, I pulled out a sample of Mojave Ghost eau de parfum to confirm my impressions.

Mojave Ghost toiletries

The sapodilla note is very evident at the opening, with the ambrette adding a gentle muskiness that suggests both the landscape and the presence of small, unseen creatures, like those that inhabit the desert. Mark Behnke finds that the sapodilla smells like cinnamon and fruit. I wouldn’t say I picked up cinnamon, but definitely something lightly spicy, a bit like the clove one smells in carnations. The fruitiness is also light, not overly sweet. The floral notes waft in as if on a breeze, supported by dry, woody sandalwood. Finally, the florals fade into amber, and sandalwood gives way to cedar, leaving a warm, transparent wash of fragrance on the skin.

This is not a difficult or demanding fragrance, and it does convey serenity, just as the desert sunset can induce a meditative frame of mind. Some commenters on Fragrantica have found it boring, but others cherish it. I find it peaceful. It doesn’t implicitly hold its wearer to any standard of costume or makeup, unlike some. Mojave Ghost would never remind you to wear lipstick, or stilettos.

Do I want a full bottle? No. But I could see springing for the hair perfume; I think that format would suit the warm yet sheer impression Mojave Ghost leaves.

What fragrance do you find serene? And please check out the posts by my fellow Scent Semantics bloggers:

Perfume Chat Room, September 30

Perfume Chat Room, September 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, September 30, and I have been to perfume Mecca, i.e. the Guerlain boutique in Las Vegas. Shout-out also to the Chanel boutique in the Encore hotel, where a very nice, knowledgeable sales assistant called Yannis chatted with me about Chanel fragrances and where they had the whole Exclusifs line. I’ll write more about that later!

Shalimar, at the Guerlain boutique

This is only my second visit ever to Las Vegas; as I’ve written before, it’s not really my kind of scene as I dislike crowds and noise, and I don’t gamble. But on this trip, I didn’t feel any need to visit or see most of the Strip; instead, I focused on doing a few specific things, including a “field trip” outside the city to Red Rock Canyon, culminating in sunset over the desert — just beautiful. The Guerlain boutique was top of my list of destinations, but I also checked out a number of other fragrance retailers so I could write an updated, longer post about perfume tourism in Las Vegas. Stay tuned!

I can’t believe September is over as of today. It is probably my favorite month, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the fall too. One reason I like the fall is that in my climate, that is the best season for planting in my garden; and it’s the season to plant the spring bulbs I love so much. Of course, it is also hurricane season, and my thoughts are with those who have already been so badly affected, as well as those who will be.

It has become a joke, but “pumpkin spice” season is in full swing here in the US! Everywhere I turn, there are pumpkin spice drinks, desserts, and room fragrances. Luckily, our hotel’s signature fragrance in all the bathrooms and associated products is Byredo’s Mojave Ghost, which I greatly enjoyed. Very apropos, since Las Vegas is in the Mojave Desert — and not a pumpkin in sight.

Hotel toiletries

Do you have any particular plans for October? I plan to keep clearing clutter from our house; and if I get really motivated, to bring some order to my fragrance collection.

Perfume Chat Room, September 23

Perfume Chat Room, September 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, September 23, and I am planning a trip to Las Vegas! My husband is going for work, and I will go with him. Vegas isn’t really my scene, and I’ve only been there once before, but I’m really looking forward to it — for three reasons. One, spending several days in a nice hotel with my nice husband is a treat in itself. Two, we have tickets to see the Cirque du Soleil show The Beatles Love, which we saw on my only prior trip and thought was fabulous. Three, I plan to visit the Guerlain boutique, which I’ve never done before!

Poster for the Cirque du Soleil show "The Beatles Love"
The Beatles Love; Cirque du Soleil.

One my last trip to Las Vegas, I hadn’t yet gone down the perfume rabbit-hole, so Guerlain wasn’t on my must-see list. When I did get interested in Guerlain fragrances, I used to be able to try them at a Guerlain counter at nearby department stores, but then Guerlain closed those. I’ve visited mini-boutiques in duty-free areas of airports. But this will be my first visit to an actual Guerlain Boutique, and I’ve heard that some of the new versions of the classic fragrances are big improvements over the prior reformulations.

So, fragrance friends, what do you recommend I try, and possibly buy??

Perfume Chat Room, September 16

Perfume Chat Room, September 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, September 16, and the weather has finally broken in my part of the world, meaning that we are finally getting cooler nights and less humid days. So I’ve been spending a lot of time in my garden, cleaning up the weedy mess it had become during July and August, when it really was too unpleasant to spend much time outside. We had so much rain this summer that the mosquitoes were just unbearable, no matter what I used for protection (including a fabulous coverup of hooded jacket and drawstring pants made entirely of mosquito netting!).

Anti-mosquito bug jacket, pants, and gloves

The rain also turbo-charged the weeds, which became jungle-like, and when it wasn’t raining, the humidity was almost intolerable, resulting in my being drenched in sweat after only minutes outside. Ugh!

The good part of all the rain was that the lavender and creeping rosemary I planted all along a new berm, that was created as part of a “dry creek” drainage system along the back of our house, have also flourished, and they smell wonderful! They also make the local pollinators very happy. I haven’t had much luck with lavender before, but this elevated berm in full sun is exactly what it likes and mimics the technique used in cultivated fields of lavender.

I used to think I didn’t care for lavender in fragrances, but my Jicky eau de toilette has converted me. I just love it (the EDT more than the eau de parfum, though both are beautiful). Do you have a favorite fragrance that features lavender?

Sprigs of lavender and rosemary
Lavender and rosemary; image by Cora Mueller for Getty Images