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, June 25

Perfume Chat Room, June 25

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 25, and we are enjoying unusually cool, dry weather. My husband and I are also indulging in a bit of second-career fantasy/brainstorming, revolving around the sudden appearance on the market of a beloved local nursery business. Maybe I’ll follow in the footsteps of Diane St. Clair, the very gifted founder and perfumer of St. Clair Scents, and combine farming with perfumery! I do love several of her fragrances, like Gardener’s Glove and First Cut. In fact, since I wore her Pandora yesterday for the “community project” at Now Smell This, I think I’ll wear First Cut today, since we were recently in New England and saw the “first cut” of hay.

What scent are you wearing today? Do you ever have second-career or side-hustle daydreams involving perfume?

Perfume Chat Room, June 11

Perfume Chat Room, June 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, June 11, and we are still processing a very enjoyable wedding weekend just past! It was the wedding of our nephew (also our godson), in Baltimore, and we had such a wonderful time! I was able to see my two sisters for the first time in a year and a half (last visit was October 2019), as well as some cousins. My kids spent the whole weekend with all their first cousins on my side of the family, and it was a joy to see how much fun they have together. We spent part of Saturday poking around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which has grown so much in the thirty years since my husband and I were last there, and we ate wonderful crabcakes. The wedding itself was beautiful, as were the bride and groom.

I wore Sonoma Scent Studio‘s Champagne de Bois, from a travel spray that was a kind gift from Undina, and it was just right — thank you, Undina! I am so glad that Sonoma Scent Studio has been revived by a new owner with the original fragrance lines. Support the independent artisan perfumers! They’ve had a tough year. Last weekend was a tonic for the spirit. I’m an introvert and quite a homebody, so I haven’t minded most of the past year in terms of working from home, not going out, etc., but it was lovely to be able to gather, and socialize, and even dance.

Have you been on an airplane recently, or a large gathering?

Perfume Chat Room, June 4

Perfume Chat Room, June 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, June 4, and I had a facial yesterday for the first time in years. I rarely get facials anyway, and of course getting one seemed unthinkable for the last 15 months. But we have a wedding to attend — in person! — this weekend, and my skin was looking dreary, so off I went. What an improvement! No miracles here, just nicely exfoliated skin with lots of healthy oil massaged into it, including my neck and arms. All the products smelled wonderful, too.

I mostly use unscented skin products, so as not to interfere with whatever fragrance I’m wearing, and also because unscented products are supposed to be healthier for daily use. I’m quite partial to products from The Ordinary company, though I don’t use them as regularly as I should. I am religious about wearing sunscreen every day, though. Do you have any favorite skincare products, scented or not?

Perfume Chat Room, May 28

Perfume Chat Room, May 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 Friday, May 28, and it’s the start of the Memorial Day weekend here in the US! I don’t have any big plans but wow, it’s such a relief to have so many of us fully vaccinated so we CAN make plans. What a contrast to Memorial Day last year, when the pandemic was really accelerating and little was known about prevention or treatment. This Memorial Day, I will be remembering the many Americans and others who died from COVID-19, as well as those who have died in the military service of our country, the original purpose of our Memorial Day.

On a more cheerful note, today I am testing one of Chanel’s Eaux: Paris-Venise. I like it a lot so far! Have you tried any of the Eaux? I know Undina has, including the newest one, Paris-Edimbourg. (It feels so weird to spell Edinburgh that way). Or, what else are you sampling this weekend?

May Melange Marathon: Ellenisia

May Melange Marathon: Ellenisia

A brand whose fragrances I tend to enjoy is Penhaligon’s. As befits a venerable English brand, with warrants from the late Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales, they have a very English sensibility and they make both lovely floral scents and elegant men’s fragrances. Ellenisia aligns with their other floral fragrances in being soft, pretty, feminine. The brand website says:

Full-bodied, feminine, and oh so seductive. Vanilla and violet show Ellenesia’s sweet side, but there’s more to discover in this eau de parfum. After all, tuberose only blooms at night…

Ellenisia‘s top notes are Violet Leaf and Mandarin Orange; middle notes are Gardenia, Tuberose, Jasmine and Rose; base notes are Plum and Vanilla. I love the opening — the combination of green violet leaf with juicy mandarin orange is lively and appealing. The white flowers at the heart of Ellenisia quickly step forward: to my nose, the strongest one are gardenia and tuberose, followed by jasmine. I can’t say that I smell any rose.

I’m not a huge lover of tuberose; I have to be in the mood for it, and even then, there are several other floral notes, classics in perfumery, that I prefer. But this is a soft, sweet-but-not-too-sweet tuberose, and it’s very appealing. Be warned, though — if you just don’t like white flower fragrances, you probably won’t like Ellenisia. It reminds me a bit of Dior’s 1985 blockbuster Poison, with a lighter touch. As it dries down, the tuberose and gardenia are still going strong, with an undertone of plums. Some commenters find it “soapy”, and I can understand that. It’s not very soapy to my nose, but there are certainly many soaps that smell of white flowers, and that creates a strong impression.

I think the opening few minutes of Ellenisia are different and special, but they fade quickly, in favor of the tuberose and gardenia. I have one 50 ml bottle of Ellenisia, and that’s plenty for me.

How do you get along with tuberose in fragrances? Do you have any favorites? Or any favorite Penhaligon’s fragrances?

May Melange Marathon: Fragrances That Changed the Field

May Melange Marathon: Fragrances That Changed the Field

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming, because the following New York Times Style Magazine article popped up in my news feed, and I got totally distracted by it! It is called The Fragrances That Changed the Field, by Aatish Taseer. It starts with a childhood memory, from India, of a first encounter with oudh, and travels a winding path from there through the “Orientalism” of fragrances in the 1970s, to the power statement fragrances of the 1980s, circling back to previous centuries and the use of florals and musks in fragrances. It includes insight from several modern perfumers.

I highly recommend this article! You’ll want to set aside a good block of time to read it. The opening paragraph:

I REMEMBER AS IF it were yesterday that distant afternoon on which I first smelled oudh. I was in my grandmother’s house in Delhi. I was 13, maybe 14. We had a family perfumer, or attarwallah, a man of some refinement, who came to us from Lucknow — a city that is a metonym for high Indo-Islamic culture. We didn’t know the attarwallah’s name, or how he knew to follow us from address to change of address. But he came without fail two or three times a year. A slim, gliding figure, with a mouth reddened from paan, or betel leaf and areca nut, the attarwallah produced his wares from carved bottles of colored glass that he carried in a black leather doctor’s bag. He showed us scents according to which season we were in. So in winter, musk and patchouli; in summer, white-flowered varieties of jasmine — of which there are some 40 odd in India — as well as rose and vetiver. In the monsoon, he brought us mitti attar, which imitates the smell of parched earth exhaling after the first rain (“mitti” means “mud” in Hindi). The perfumes came from the medieval Indian town of Kannauj, which is a 75-mile drive west of Lucknow and which, like its French counterpart, Grasse, has a tradition of perfume manufacturing several centuries old. Once he had drawn his perfume out on white cotton buds at the tips of long, thin sticks, the attarwallah lingered over his customers, telling stories of the various scents and reciting the odd romantic couplet of Urdu poetry.

If that doesn’t intrigue you, as a person interested in fragrance, I don’t know what will! Enjoy. BTW, my scent of the day today was Cristalle, and I’ll write about it tomorrow instead.

Featured image from baystreetex.com.

May Melange Marathon: Beyond Paradise

May Melange Marathon: Beyond Paradise

“Melange” is an apt word to use for Estee Lauder’s Beyond Paradise, as it is truly a melange of different florals. In their book “Perfumes: The Guide A-Z”, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez not only gave it five stars, but also close to three full pages of discussion (most perfumes got a paragraph). He calls it a “symphonic floral.” Calice Becker was the perfumer who created it; Beyond Paradise was launched in 2003. The bottle I have is the teardrop-shaped, rainbow-tinted original. The batch number on the bottom suggests it dates to 2013. Fragrantica lists that version’s notes as: Top notes of Hyacinth, Orange Blossom, Grapefruit, Bergamot and Lemon; middle notes of Jasmine, Gardenia, Honeysuckle and Orchid; base notes of Hibiscus, Plum Wood, Ambrette (Musk Mallow) and Amber. The 2015 version in the rectangular bottle is described as having top notes of Blue Hyacinth, Orange Blossom and Jabuticaba; middle notes of Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Orchid and Mahonia; and base notes of Ambrette (Musk Mallow), Plum Blossom, Paperbark, and Woody Notes.

Both versions of Beyond Paradise are meant to be “fantasy florals” with a tropical theme; part of the length of Turin’s review is a long digression into the nature of abstract floral fragrances and how challenging they are to create, with a tip of the hat to perfumer Calice Becker, an acknowledged master of the art. According to contemporaneous press and PR coverage when it was launched, it included “proprietary notes” gleaned from a collaboration with The Eden Project, a fascinating conservation site in Cornwall, which involves massive biospheres located in and above an abandoned quarry and which I’ve had the privilege to visit. It does in fact house many rare and tropical plants, so it must be a great resource for unusual smells.

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May Melange Marathon: Purplelight

May Melange Marathon: Purplelight

I like to seek out fragrance “bargain beauties”, for my own sake and for the sake of readers who may not be able to afford (or want to pay) the often eye-watering prices of niche fragrances. While there is much to recommend the practice of buying only a few, albeit expensive, high-quality fragrances, it is fun to educate one’s nose by trying many different fragrances, especially at the outset of this hobby, and that is how I acquired a number of ‘bargain beauty” fragrances. Luckily, I also have two young adult daughters, currently living at home during the pandemic, and they’re happy to share them! Of course, none would be bargains if they weren’t pleasing at some level, and likely to be used and enjoyed.

One such bargain beauty is Parfums Salvador Dali’s Purplelight. Launched in 2007, the nose behind it is Francis Kurkdjian, usually associated with much more expensive fragrances, including those from his own brand Maison Francis Kurkdjian. While Purplelight is in no way comparable to those fragrances, it is a very pleasant, soft, lilac-centered eau de toilette that works well. Its primary notes are bamboo, lilac, and musk, with companion notes of cherry blossom, jasmine, tiare flower, almond tree, and vetiver, according to Fragrantica. Purplelight followed the house’s 2006 launch of Purplelips, another lilac-forward fragrance, created by perfumers Antoine Lie and Guillaume Flavigny. I really enjoy finding pleasant bargain fragrances that have been created by well-known perfumers; as some of you know, one of my favorite bargain beauties is Adam Levine for Women, created by Yann Vasnier, who has also created fragrances for much more expensive brands like Arquiste, Frassai, Tom Ford, Comme des Garcons, Jo Malone, and others. My most recent bargain beauty fragrance line, which I wrote about earlier this week, is the Zara Emotions line created by perfumer Jo Malone (the person, not the brand). Parfums Salvador Dali has several bargain beauties, well worth exploring.

At first spray of Purplelight, what I smell most is a light green bamboo with watery undertones. As that dies down, I smell more and more of a soft lilac. This is very light also; I like the fact that to my nose, it doesn’t smell soapy, as some lilac scents do. Over a short period of time, a soft, gentle musk appears. Projection and sillage are minimal, but I can clearly smell Purplelight on my hand and wrist for a few hours. It is still possible to find gift sets of the eau de toilette that come with body lotion, and it seems likely that the two used together would increase the scent’s longevity. I enjoy Purplelight as an easy floral for warm weather or bedtime, when one doesn’t necessarily want a powerhouse or anything very challenging.

I can’t fail to mention the charming bottle for Purplelight, which matches that of its sister fragrance Purplelips. It is a rectangular column into which is set a row of concave lips. The juice inside is a light purple, which tints the bottle. The artist Salvador Dali incorporated lips into many of his artworks, and the theme has been carried into many of the bottles of Parfums Salvador Dali.

Have you tried any of the other Salvador Dali fragrances, either the bargain-priced ones or the more expensive “haute” line?

Perfume Chat Room, November 20

Perfume Chat Room, November 20

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 20, and Thanksgiving is next week! Do you have any special plans, given that the CDC is strongly discouraging travel and large family gatherings? One friend of mine with young adult children who no longer live at home has rented a beach house for the week, with elaborate plans for home tests for COVID-19 and a few days of “podding” in quarantine with family meals taken outside. The young adults are traveling by car. If my children lived far away, this plan would tempt me! But two of mine live at home, and the third is at college close by (he’ll return home on Monday for the end of semester, including remote exams, and then for the duration of winter break, as his college won’t reopen until the last week of January.

Our Thanksgivings have mostly included just the five of us anyway (with an occasional friend in need of turkey), since both my husband’s family and mine are based in New England. With two fulltime jobs and three kids, it was never a holiday for which we were willing to travel, after moving South. And the weather here is often very beautiful at Thanksgiving — cool, crisp nights with clear, sunny days. I still have roses blooming!

It’s definitely the season for autumnal fragrances, though. I took out Clinique Wrappings yesterday, which really suited the weather. I’ve been wearing L’Ambre des Merveilles quite a bit, and different versions of Cabochard. What are your favorite autumn scents?

Lastly, what makes you thankful in this weird year of 2020? This blog started out as a way to practice more mindfulness (“Serenity Now”) and occasionally I have posted about “What Went Well“, a gratitude exercise. I’m thankful that my friends and family have mostly stayed safe and well; I’m thankful for one daughter’s recovery from COVID-19 after a relatively mild case; I’m thankful that my children are all here in the same city. I’m so thankful for the dedicated healthcare workers who are showing up every day to help the rest of us. And I’m thankful that so many people drop by this blog to read, whether or not you comment! Thank you!

Featured image from AARP.org; let’s hope they all use hand sanitizer, too!