Perfume Chat Room, August 13

Perfume Chat Room, August 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, August 13 — how has your luck held up? I thought about wearing Frederic Malle’s Superstitious as my SOTD, but work was so busy today that I haven’t worn any fragrance yet! (And that’s also why I’m late posting — apologies!). What’s your SOTD? Do you harbor any superstitions? Do you remember vinyl records from the 20th century?

Perfume Chat Room, August 6

Perfume Chat Room, August 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, August 6, and I am SO READY for the weekend! Even though I had a short work week, I was in my office for three straight full workdays, and I had forgotten how tiring that is. I have to conserve some energy, as our oldest daughter is moving back out this weekend, after having lived at home for the past year because of COVID. She started a great new job earlier this week, and she will be sharing a small rented house with two friends. It’s very exciting! Our second daughter moved out last month, to share an apartment with her bestie from high school. So our chickadees are re-launching! We’re very proud of their perseverance during the past year of challenges.

And now that their belongings will be out of our house, we will finally repaint the several rooms that were damaged and had to be replastered after last fall’s plumbing disaster, including their bedrooms. That is supposed to start next week, and I’m really pleased with the paint colors I’ve chosen. About half will be the same, and half will be variations on the original colors. We’re splurging on doing the living room in a gorgeous dark red from Farrow & Ball, and I’m finally changing our dining room walls from a light taupe to a more greenish neutral, to go better with the William Morris rug in that room. I will rearrange the art we had on the walls in those rooms, and hang more art in the bedrooms, since I have several pieces from my late mother’s house that I hadn’t yet hung. Our youngest (the only boy) will finally get to move into the largest kids’ bedroom, which makes him very happy.

Speaking of happiness, today’s Community Project over at “Now Smell This” is to wear a fragrance that evokes happiness, however you choose to interpret that. I’m wearing Blyss, from Perfumology, the independent perfumery in Philadelphia, PA. It comes in parfum strength, and Perfumology has a discovery set that includes Blyss and three other fragrances commissioned by owner Nir Guy. The set is currently sold out; I hope it gets re-stocked soon!

Have you tried any of the Perfumology scents? What is currently making you happy?

Perfume Chat Room, July 30

Perfume Chat Room, July 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, July 30, and tomorrow is Harry Potter’s birthday! I still remember getting the first book in 1997 and reading it with delight, as a young mother. The books continued to arrive during the same era when my own children arrived. When they were older, we read the earlier books aloud to them and played the audiobooks on long car trips (the American audiobooks, narrated by British actor Jim Dale, are wonderful!). A couple of years ago, I posted about my thoughts on what fragrances various characters from the books might wear. I stand by my choices!

Did you know that Ulta released a “Harry Potter” collection of fragrances last year?? I’m not sure who thought “soothing raindrops” was appropriate for Slytherin. The fragrances chosen by Scentsy for their Hogwarts wax melts seems more apropos:

Gryffindor™: Bravery and Determination
Race through daring smoky woods, while amber and a touch of dapper cinnamon leaf bring warmth to your journey.

Slytherin™: Cunning and Ambition
Forest woods
 hide dark secrets in fresh oak moss and a sweetly sinister layer of deep blackberry.

Hufflepuff™: Just and Loyal
The Great Hall beckons with sweet and steadfast notes of golden applewhipped vanilla almond and cinnamon sugar.

Ravenclaw™: Wit and Wisdom
A clever concoction of suede and sandalwood is mellowed handsomely by a ribbon of smooth vanilla.

Do you have any favorite book characters? What fragrance(s) might they wear?

Featured image from Warner Bros.

Scent Sample Sunday: Juniper Sling and Scenthusiasm

Scent Sample Sunday: Juniper Sling and Scenthusiasm

I’ve been wanting a bottle of Penhaligon’s fragrance Juniper Sling for a long time, since I got a tiny mini bottle of it in a Penhaligon’s gift coffret and sampled it in place of 4160 Tuesdays’ Scenthusiasm, which hadn’t been available to me in 2018 when I read a review of it on the blog “I Scent You A Day.” Happily, since 2018, I’ve been able to snag a full bottle of Scenthusiasm and, now, one of Juniper Sling, in Penhaligons’s summer sale. So I’m fully stocked with gin-inspired fragrances, thank you, to go with a gin cocktail (click the link for a recipe for one made with Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade).

Revisiting my former thoughts on Juniper Sling, I still find that the juniper berries dominate the opening, and that note persists for a while. It lends the fragrance an aromatic aura and adds to the sense that this scent is truly unisex. It’s also an ideal scent for hot, humid, summer weather — herbal and cool. Created by Olivier Cresp, its notes are listed as follows: Top notes are angelica, cinnamon, orange brandy, and juniper berries; middle notes are cardamom, orris root, leather and pepper; base notes are vetiver, cherry, sugar and amber. I like that I can clearly smell the cardamom, and now that I have a full bottle and can really spritz, I can also smell the angelica. Not much cinnamon, thank goodness — I can only take cinnamon in very small quantities in fragrance, much as I like to cook with it. Orris root softens the edges of the herbs and spices. Vetiver is detectable in the base, but I can’t say that I smell cherry or sugar. An amber accord may be there, and there is definitely something warm that balances the vetiver. Juniper Sling is a transparent sort of fragrance, like a limpid pool on a hot summer day — clear and sparkling. It doesn’t last more than a few hours on my skin, but I’ll be more than happy to reapply as needed.

Scenthusiasm, on the other hand, is more floral, though it is also very summery, cool, aromatic, and refreshing. It was created for a Hendrick’s Gin event — not to smell like the gin itself, but to complement the floral and herbal notes in Hendrick’s.

Hendrick's Gin cocktail and recipe
Hendrick’s Gin Cucumber Lemonade

If you like the sound of Gin Cucumber Lemonade, try the recipe and let us know how it is in the comments (or try my recipe linked above, or try both)!

In Sarah McCartney’s own words:

Scenthusiasm is made with natural orris (iris) butter, rose absolute, lemon and orange essential oils, cucumber extract, juniper absolute (of course) and coriander essential oil. To make it last, boost the scents of the naturals and too smooth them out, we blended it with our favourite simple musk, fresh air and white wood note synthetics.  It’s inspired by gin, and has gin notes but mostly it’s a floral at heart: rose and iris, with the herbs dancing around it.

I think Scenthusiasm is also quite unisex, though it may lean a bit more traditionally feminine. Sam at “I Scent You A Day” wrote that the orange and lemon notes risk making it go “a bit Pimms”, but I’m not qualified to judge that! My lack of familiarity with Pimms several years ago resulted in my allowing two of my three children (all under the age of 12, as I recall) choose it as a canned drink to go with their lunches at Kew Gardens, on a day-trip from London. As all the food and drinks were together, I’m sure the checkout cashier thought I was planning to drink the lot myself!

Luckily the older of the two would-be Pimms drinkers took one sip, realized it was alcoholic, and alerted me before her (much younger) brother drank any. Not that it would have killed either of them, of course, but one doesn’t like to render a five year-old tipsy. So having sensibly got for myself a simple lemonade, I switched with the children and drank one of the Pimms, pouring out the other surreptitiously on the ground as both had been opened. It was fine as a summer drink, but on a later trip to London I was introduced to Aperol spritzes, and that is now a favorite (nor does it raise embarrassing memories).

I really love Scenthusiasm. One might say, I am scenthusiastic about it, lol. It’s a delightful summer floral with the unexpected references to gin botanicals, more aromatic than sweet. Definitely not fruity, nor green. The cucumber note is noticeable, and it’s an unusual note to find in perfume. One of the few I’ve been able to find with a prominent cucumber note is a 2020 launch from By Kilian, called Roses On Ice. Lo and behold, it is supposed to smell like Hendrick’s Gin, the original inspiration for Scenthusiasm. I may have to try it some day, but for now, I’m very happy with my purchase from a favorite independent small perfumer.

Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays

I could see a couple wearing Juniper Sling and Scenthusiasm to complement each other’s fragrance. But which would each one choose? Which would you choose? Or would you, like me, say “Both, please!”?

Perfume Chat Room, July 23

Perfume Chat Room, July 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, July 23, and it is my late parents’ wedding anniversary. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have read this post before, My Mother’s Last Perfume, in which I wrote a bit about their long, but not always happy, marriage. Nevertheless, I honor this day because without it, my sisters and I wouldn’t exist! And because my parents made the effort to stay married until the ends of their lives and, in their own ways, they cared for each other. Their happiest times were when they traveled together, which they loved to do; and I too love to travel with my husband, though my marriage is a much more content one than my parents’, I think.

I also have some excitement to share — I’ve been asked by an accomplished playwright in my city to collaborate with her and a composer to create a “fragrance score” for a new experimental musical they are writing! I had taken part in a playwriting group she led over several weeks, pre-pandemic, and we had talked about how fragrance could and should be used more in theater. This is such an interesting creative project, I’m very excited about the possibilities. I will be the creative director for the fragrances, of course, not the actual perfumer. We are applying for a grant to develop the production, so I hope to include in the budget some modest funds to commission some scents from a perfumer eventually. For now, I think we’ll be able to use existing scents.

What are your thoughts on combining fragrance with other arts? I love reading about Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ collaborations with the Denver Art Museum. And the ways actors can use fragrance for their own performances are also fascinating: How Performers Use Perfume.

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?

Perfume Chat Room, July 9

Perfume Chat Room, July 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, July 9, and one of my daughters is moving into her own apartment this weekend! We’re so excited for her. Like many young adults, she has lived at home since the pandemic shut everything down, working and saving money. She started a new job last month, and she will share the apartment with her best friend from high school, who has just moved back from New York. Selfishly, we are very happy that the apartment they chose is in a neighborhood close to our home. So she’ll probably stop in once in a while, if only to visit the dog!

Yesterday I wore Dame Perfumery’s Chocolate Man for the community project at “Now Smell This“, which was to wear a scent that reminded one of ice cream or had some tie to ice cream. I enjoyed it (it’s a great, true chocolate scent) but it also confirmed that I’m not really into gourmand fragrances, at least not in hot weather. So today, I’m wearing a bargain beauty: Philosophy’s Pure Grace Summer Moments, a limited edition issued last year. I like it! I’ve tried the original Pure Grace many times in stores and haven’t been able to connect with it — to my nose, it mostly smelled just soapy. But this flanker is very appealing, and not soapy at all. It has notes of fig, lemon, sage, “green notes”, and “dew drop” (aka aquatic). Fragrantica classifies it as a citrus aromatic. This is much more my style, and it’s very pleasant on this July day that promises to become hot and humid.

Now that we’re well into July, are you turning to any particular “summery” fragrances? Do you wear gourmand scents in the summertime?

Featured image from http://www.travelandleisure.com.

Scent Sample Sunday: Paris-Venise

Scent Sample Sunday: Paris-Venise

Paris-Venise was one of the first three “Les Eaux” fragrances launched by Chanel in 2018, all created by in-house perfumer Olivier Polge. They are eaux de toilette inspired by Coco Chanel’s travels to various cities — what a creative idea! The others were Paris-Deauville and Paris-Biarritz. Since then, the original three have been joined by Paris-Riviera and Paris-Edimbourg, which I haven’t tried yet.

Fragrantica lists the notes of Paris-Venise as: top notes, orange, lemon, petitgrain, bergamot and pink pepper; middle notes, iris, neroli, ylang-ylang, rose and geranium; base notes, tonka bean, vanilla, white musk, orris, violet and benzoin. Sure enough, when I spritz it, I get a lovely burst of fresh citrus notes, beautifully blended. The bright, sunny opening softens within minutes to a gentle floral, also beautifully blended. One aspect of Chanel fragrances (among so many!) that I appreciate is the elegance of how they are blended. Notes merge and segue into each other, dancing with each other to different tempos, stepping forward and backward in the rhythm their combined music suggests.

The Chanel website describes M. Polge’s inspiration as follows: “1920. Gabrielle Chanel falls under the spell of Venice. The glimmer of the Byzantine mosaics and precious gems of St. Mark’s Basilica inspire the designs of her first jewelry collections. Between freshness and sensuality, PARIS-VENISE evokes this legendary city that marks the boundary between East and West.” Having visited Venice for the first time in the summer of 2019, before the world shut down, I would say that M. Polge has done an outstanding job of evoking the city.

My recollections of Venice are of brilliant sunlight glinting off the water of the ubiquitous canals, the welcome breezes off the ocean, the hidden gardens including that of the vacation apartment in a small, restored palazzo where we stayed. Paris-Venise’s citrus-forward opening vividly recalls the sunniness of Venice’s summer climate, while the emerging floral notes remind us that Venice is a city not only of canals and ancient buildings, but also of gardens. (Christine Nagel dwelt on that feature in her fragrance for Hermes, Un Jardin Sur La Lagune). M. Polge did not, in his creation, make reference to the sea or salt water as Mme. Nagel did in hers.

In the middle stage, no one floral note dominates, though I can clearly identify the ylang-ylang, a signature floral note in many Chanel fragrances, including the iconic No. 5. The petitgrain and bergamot linger at the start of this heart phase, adding their bright verdancy to it like sunlight dappling a garden. The rose and iris are also classic Chanel fragrance notes; here, they are fresh and light. I find all “Les Eaux” to be very fresh and youthful, which I’m sure is part of Chanel’s strategy to attract a younger clientele while still appealing to their longtime clients, as they have done with No. 5 L’Eau.

Drying down, Paris-Venise becomes warmer and softer, with a slight spiciness that recalls Venice’s heyday as a entry port to Europe for the spices of the East. A highlight of our visit to Venice was a stop at the Palazzo Mocenigo, which houses a perfume museum as well as artworks and other exhibits (the embroidered fabrics are gorgeous!). Among the perfume-related displays is a massive table covered with spices and resins.

Display at the Palazzo Mocenigo

The base notes include a light vanilla, just a touch of it as this fragrance is by no means “gourmand.” This vanilla smells like the vanilla orchid that produces the actual vanilla beans, so it is more flowery than foody. It combines beautifully with the base’s more floral notes such as violet and orris. All are given a sort of warm airiness by the white musk, like a balmy evening breeze.

I’m very impressed with Paris-Venise. It is ambery without being too heavy or warm — perfect for summer wear even in a climate as hot as Venice. If a fragrance can be slender and elegant, Paris-Venise is that and more. Have you tried any of “Les Eaux de Chanel”? What did you think?