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
Perfume Chat Room, September 9

Perfume Chat Room, September 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, September 9, and the news is full of yesterday’s passing of Queen Elizabeth II, at the age of 96. There are many other places to debate the future of the monarchy, the British Empire’s impact, etc. This is not that place, as I know how widely opinions vary on those subjects. Today, I am focusing on Her late Majesty as a unique human being, who was born to privilege but also to lifelong service, including her unexpected ascension to the throne at the age of 25. At her birth, she was not expected to become the monarch but was thrust into the role of royal heir when her uncle abdicated, leaving her father to become King. He and her mother were models of duty and service — before, during and after World War II — and the young Elizabeth absorbed those lessons fully, performing official duties from her childhood until two days before her death, when she welcomed and appointed the UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss. Extraordinary. (Ok, one political side note: I’m glad she lived long enough to see the changes in leadership in the USA and the UK, given the markedly poor manners of the two former leaders).

Full disclosure: I was raised by an English mother who, although she chose to leave England and its post-war constraints when she herself was in her early 20s, kept a high regard for Queen Elizabeth, her contemporary, and even identified with her as the older of two sisters, engrained with that sense of responsibility and duty. Her younger sister, my late aunt, had a personality more like Princess Margaret’s, but they were devoted to each other until my aunt’s early death from cancer in her 40s.

Bringing it back to fragrance, I’ve read that Queen Elizabeth’s favorite fragrances were Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue and Floris’ White Rose. I haven’t tried the latter, but I have and love L’Heure Bleue. I also have a new fragrance that had already reminded me of Elizabeth, and will now be forever linked to her in my mind: Miller Harris’ Violet Ida. I received it earlier this month as a birthday gift, and it is lovely! As regular readers here know, Miller Harris is an English brand founded by London perfumer Lyn Harris. Violet Ida is actually based on iris and heliotrope, with top notes of bergamot and carrot seed, and base notes of vanilla and amber. It was inspired by the heroine of an English novel, whose name was Ida, whom the Miller Harris says “represents goodness, tenacity and morality.” That does seem appropriate for the late Queen as a person; and the pale violet color of Violet Ida‘s bottle evokes one of the pastel shades she favored in her public outfits.

Queen Elizabeth II in lavender
Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

It always made me foolishly happy that the Queen had such a lovely meeting with the late rosarian David Austin, the year they both turned 90, at the Chelsea Flower Show and the display of his gorgeous English Roses, my favorites. I will think of this great lady when I wear Violet Ida. Rest in peace, Elizabeth, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Queen Elizabeth II and David Austin at the Chelsea Flower Show
Perfume Chat Room, Sept. 2

Perfume Chat Room, Sept. 2

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 2, and it is the start of the Labor Day weekend here in the US. It is also the start of a leave I am taking from my job, so yippee! I have some health challenges I need to address before they become dire, and that’s all I will say about that. I’ve been wearing Chanel No. 19 every workday this week, as I patiently explain (again) to my boss how everything will get done; and make it as easy as possible for my small team to actually get everything done. Luckily, most of my colleagues have been very supportive. And I’ve enjoyed No. 19!

Have you come across any great Labor Day sales? I know Sephora is having one; I didn’t see many fragrances that called to me, but they had great prices on some nice hair mists from Tocca and Acqua di Parma, plus some reduced prices on fragrances from those houses.

Labor Day always marks the start of fall for me, although it no longer marks the school calendar as it once did. When I was growing up, school always started right after Labor Day (and it still does, in some Northern states). In the South, school starts in August, sometimes August 1! Nevertheless, there’s something about the start of September and the Labor Day weekend that does mark the start of fall. I’m still wearing hot weather fragrances like Un Jardin Sur le Nil, but I’m gravitating more, as usual, to fragrances that have a bit more spice, depth, and even some woodiness.

We have absolutely no plans for the holiday weekend other than to unwind and relax here at home. Next week, I begin my regimen for better health. Wish me luck! And Happy Labor Day!

Image of workers, wishing Happy Labor Day
Happy Labor Day!
Perfume Chat Room, August 26

Perfume Chat Room, August 26

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 26, and I am choosing to focus on perfume rather than the multiple crazinesses that seem to be hovering about me this week: in the news, in my neighborhood, and at my job. Serenity now!!! Lately I’ve been regularly wearing Tzigana, a beautiful fragrance that I bought with Rosae in Florence, Italy, at Aquaflor, back in 2019. From the website:

Grapefruit and pink pepper tell the story of the first sun on the skin after a long winter. A flowery heart, the most precious absolutes of narcissus, jasmine and rose reveal themselves in their maximum splendor and seduce the sense of smell with magnetism. The impalpable sweet aftertaste reveals notes of heliotrope and vanilla, all accentuated by the unmistakable powdery touch of ambrette seeds. 

It is just lovely! I loved it when I tried it in their Florence store (which my nice husband had to find for me), but I hadn’t really been wearing it, focusing more on Rosae. But in the current state of affairs, Tzigana is both beautiful and comforting.

What are your comfort scents? Have you needed them lately?

Aquaflor Firenze