Perfume Chat Room, October 30

Perfume Chat Room, October 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, October 30, the day before Halloween. I’m taking part in the weekly Friday community project at the blog “Now Smell This“, which today is to wear a scent that generates emotion in you. Mine is Anne Klein II, which brings back happy memories of being a young adult in Manhattan. However, since tomorrow is Halloween, I may have to switch later to something slightly more sinister. Cabochard, perhaps? I’m currently very intrigued by that scent and am comparing the two most recent versions of both the EDT and EDP (they were reformulated in 2019).

Tomorrow I will probably wear something by Papillon’s Liz Moores, who is an actual modern witch as well as a tremendously gifted perfumer. Maybe Bengale Rouge? But I do love Dryad … decisions, decisions. Will you do anything special for Halloween? Or wear any special fragrance?

Scent Sample Sunday: Byredo Candles At IKEA

Scent Sample Sunday: Byredo Candles At IKEA

A short while ago, multiple media outlets reported that Swedish furnishings giant IKEA would launch a limited edition of scented candles in partnership with Swedish fragrance brand Byredo. Well, perfumistas, here in the USA, the eagles have landed! I went to my local IKEA today, and there they were, although the announcements said they would be available in November.

The series of candles is named, in classically inscrutable IKEA fashion, “Osynlig.” You can find them online by typing that precise name into the search box on the IKEA USA website, which also seems to be selling them now (i.e., before November). Apparently, the scents are designed by Byredo’s Ben Gorham so that all can be burnt alone or layered together, creating your own personal home fragrance. He is also quoted as saying “I really enjoyed the idea of being able to make interesting products accessible to as many people as possible,” in an interview with WWD. Ikea was “one of the few [with which] I could actually develop and manufacture a product of this quality, yet make it available at that type of price point.”

I only started using scented candles regularly a few years ago. These ones are really special; they come in beautiful ceramic pots with different colors that reflect some aspect of the scent. A few of the fragrances are available in small, medium, and large sizes. I haven’t yet tried lighting any of the ones I bought but they smell wonderful! Most immediately striking to me was “Tobacco and Honey”, which does indeed have a strong note of golden honey.

Scented candles at IKEA, limited edition by Ben Gorham of Byredo
IKEA’s Osynlig candles with Byredo scents.

I am so pleased to have “scored” several of these! The ones that are currently available are: Tea Leaves & Verbena, Pomegranate & Amber, Basil & Mint, Fig & Cypress, Peach Blossom & Bamboo, Lilac & Amber, Rose & Raspberries, Cotton Flower & Apple Blossom, Sandalwood & Vanilla, and Tobacco & Honey.

There is one fragrance mentioned in the press, “Swedish Birch and Juniper”, that I did not see on the IKEA USA website or in the store, and it sounds like one I would like. Apparently the other three scents in the collection — Cassis & Freesia, Swedish Birch & Juniper, and Firewood & Spice — will be available in February 2021.

Have you seen or tried any of the “Osynlig” collection yet?

Perfume Chat Room, October 23

Perfume Chat Room, October 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, October 23, and we are about to lose power for the day. I know this, not because I am a weather savant, but because we have asked the power company to turn it off today while carpenters and painters renovate the part of our old house where the main power line enters from the street. Yes, our neighborhood and house are old enough that we have unsightly and lethal power lines above ground, where falling tree branches and gnawing squirrels can do their worst. So if I don’t “like” or respond to comments until tonight or tomorrow, the lack of electricity and internet will be the reason!

One reason we need power off for several hours is that the carpenters are building a shallow wall pergola, sometimes called an eyebrow pergola, over our old porte-cochere where a huge and ancient Lady Banks rose grows. It is currently supported by an ungainly system of metal hooks and wire, with one end of the rose basically resting on — yes — the power line. Time for that to change! This is the general idea:

Eyebrow wall pergola over garage doors
Eyebrow pergola, Southern Woodcraft.

Unlike my other roses, the Lady Banks rose has very little fragrance. As you know if you read my “Roses de Mai Marathon” posts this spring, I love rose fragrances, so this is a slight flaw in an otherwise magnificent plant. Most of the roses I grow are from David Austin Roses, which have been bred specifically for fragrance as well as “Old Rose” flower shapes.

Our Lady Banks rose is very precious despite its lack of fragrance. Our house was owned for almost fifty years by a couple who were passionate gardeners and our 1/3 acre lot has many of their original plantings, including the rose. Its base is as thick as many small trees’ trunks, and strong men have to lift it off the house any time we get the house painted, and rest it on sawhorses made of ladders. We are finally doing the whole-house exterior painting and woodwork repair that are overdue, while we work at home and can supervise, so we’re taking the opportunity to upgrade Madam Lady Banks’ living quarters.

Have you used any pandemic shutdowns to undertake large projects, fragrance-related or otherwise?

Perfume Chat Room, October 15

Perfume Chat Room, October 15

I’m a day early posting this week, because I’m taking today off work! And The New York Times has a great article about scent, which asks: “What Does It Smell Like Where You Are?”, which I thought many of you would enjoy.

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 Thursday, October 15, and I have good news — my daughter, who caught COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago through her job as a teacher, has recovered and is out of isolation! The rest of us will still be in quarantine until Saturday, per the guidelines, but she can join us upstairs again instead of living separated in the basement level of our house. It’s pretty comfortable and has its own bathroom, but she was lonely no matter how much Facetime she did with us and her friends. She has lost most of her sense of taste and smell — that happened about a week into her illness. So fingers crossed those both come back soon. I read an article about using essential oils to re-train someone’s sense of smell, and I’ve been joking with her that I AM READY to help, with my large collection of fragrances.

To emulate the Times, what does it smell like where you are? Even more specifically, the article asks: “What scents would you put in your own ‘personal smell museum?’ What is the smell that, for you, is so singular and specific that you wish you had one word to describe it?”

Here, I smell damp earth still, after all the rain we had last weekend, mixed with the smell of fallen leaves, and occasional whiffs of autumn roses and tomato leaves from what remains of my summer garden. I do think those autumn roses may be the sweetest of all, coming as they often do one at a time, unexpectedly, with the promise of summers to come. Time to pull out my spicier roses, like Rose Flash, Tudor Rose, Cabaret, Elisabethan Rose

What’s new in your world? Any new fall fragrances?

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

I’m a fan of Jeffrey Dame and his fragrances; they are well-crafted, high-quality, and reasonably priced. I love Duality and Black Flower Mexican Vanilla. I really like Vanille Farfelue. The JD fragrances are created with perfumer Hugh Spencer, a longtime collaborator of Jeffrey Dame’s. The JD website lists Mimosa Mixte’s notes as mandarin, basil, bergamot, mimosa, violet, ylang ylang, heliotrope, sandalwood, vanilla and musk. Fragrantica classes it as a “floral woody musk”; a number of commenters refer to it as a “yellow floral”, and I agree with that, given the prominence of mimosa and ylang ylang.

When I first apply Mimosa Mixte, I smell a mix of green and yellow notes, which I believe are the basil, bergamot, and mimosa. I wouldn’t be able to pick out mandarin as a note, but there is a juiciness to the opening that I’m sure it has contributed. The basil note is subtle, but it’s definitely there, which I love. I wish basil appeared in more fragrances! The mimosa continues into the heart phase, while the greener notes fade away pretty quickly. It is joined by ylang ylang, and this is the truly “yellow” stage of Mimosa Mixte. The heliotrope is also noticeable, and it lends a powdery softness to the heart of the fragrance, which is also noticeably sweet. Not sugary, not gourmand, but a sweetness that is reminiscent of honey and nectar. Intriguingly, one can buy “mimosa honey” which is created when bees forage among mimosa trees. The next time I go to a local farmer’s market, I’ll have to see if I can buy some for comparisons.

The heart phase lasts a good while, at least a full hour, and the base notes tiptoe in almost imperceptibly, until one realizes that ylang ylang and heliotrope have made their quiet exit and the mimosa is now accompanied by a pleasantly vanilla-forward base. I don’t really smell sandalwood per se, but there is a pleasant woodiness to the base, softened by musk and vanilla. Longevity and sillage are good but not extraordinary. On the other hand, I’ve been dabbing a small oil sample on my wrist; longevity and sillage might be more extensive if I were spraying eau de parfum (the formulation in the larger bottles).

One commenter on Fragrantica compared Mimosa Mixte to Penhaligon’s Ostara, which is one of my top favorits (yes, I have back-up bottles). I can see why they might remind someone of each other, but I don’t think they are very much alike. What they have in common is their yellowness. But in Ostara, that is based on daffodils and reminds me of pollen, while in Mimosa Mixte, it is based on mimosa and ylang ylang, and it reminds me of nectar.

I like Mimosa Mixte very much! I don’t feel compelled to buy a full bottle to join its siblings in my collection, Duality, Vanille Farfelue, and Labdanum Doux. I would probably go for Black Flower Mexican Vanilla next ahead of this. But it’s very pleasant, a great value, and a fragrance that shows the creative intelligence behind it. If you’re inclined to support an independent American perfumer, any of these would be a good choice!

Do you have any fragrances by Jeffrey Dame? Any favorites?

Perfume Chat Room, October 9

Perfume Chat Room, October 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, October 9, and it has been a wet and gloomy day here. However, that inspired me to pull out a favorite fragrance I haven’t worn in a while: Penhaligon’s Blasted Bloom. Although I often think of a sunlit day when I wear it, today it just suited the somewhat British weather.

In other news, I got my absentee ballot this week, filled it out, dropped it off in an official ballot drop box at the entrance to my local public library, and was just able to confirm online that it has been received and “accepted”! It was very easy and very safe.

How was your week? Any new or rediscovered favorites?

Perfume Chat Room, October 2

Perfume Chat Room, October 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, October 2, and I am so late posting this! My apologies. As you may know, it has been a very weird day today in the United States. And I’ll just leave it at that. I didn’t wear a single scent today — I was swamped by work duties, and just forgot, if you can believe that. How about you? What did you wear today as we begin the month of October?

Scent Sample Sunday: Automne

Scent Sample Sunday: Automne

I said in Friday’s Perfume Chat Room that I would write today about Van Cleef & Arpels’ Automne, and then I realized I already had, a few years back!

Fragrance Friday: Les Saisons Automne.

What special fragrances return again and again to your seasonal rotations?

Perfume Chat Room, September 25

Perfume Chat Room, September 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, September 25, and the weather has suddenly become more like fall, at least where I live. That seems to be the case in other parts of this hemisphere too, because I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts and comments elsewhere about people putting away their more summery fragrances and taking out fragrances they enjoy in autumn.

One of mine is the aptly named Automne, by Van Cleef & Arpels. Fragrantica calls it a “floral-woody-musk.” One thing I like about it is that the dominant notes are lily and sandalwood. I’ll write more about it for “Scent Sample Sunday” this weekend!

Are you having autumnal weather where you are? Or some other change of season with the equinox? What fragrances do you prefer in autumn?

Featured image by Jessica Potila.

Scent Sample Sunday: Bal a Versailles

Scent Sample Sunday: Bal a Versailles

Having read so much about Bal a Versailles in recent years, written about by everyone from Luca Turin to favorite blogs like The Black Narcissus, CaFleurebon, and Kafkaesque (and she’s BACK, even if only briefly!), I knew I would want to try it some day. I wasn’t in a big rush because even in its vintage form, it seems to be widely available for less than soul-crushing prices, and it honestly didn’t sound as if it would be a love for me.

But I came across an online auction for a full 4 oz. bottle of the vintage eau de cologne, which seemed as if it would be more approachable, and no one else had bid on it, so I did. And won it for a very reasonable price, less than one would spend on many forgettable modern fragrances at Sephora, Ulta, and elsewhere. It arrived a few days ago, and I’ve been trying it out since. I like it! My bottle looks just like this (except the label on mine is perfect):

Bal A Versailles by Jean Desprez; image from http://www.fragrantica.com

It is very interesting to me, because at first sniff, I definitely smell it as “perfumey”, which to my nose often means aldehydes. Yet there aren’t aldehydes in BaV, at least none are listed for it. So I’m concluding that another note that smells “perfumey” to me, probably based on my late mother’s perfumes from the 1960s and 1970s, is civet, which was used in varying amounts by the classic French perfumers to bring warmth, radiance, and sensuality to their creations such as Shalimar, Chanel No.5, etc., during decades when women were supposed to charm and seduce.

Probably because I have only cautiously dabbed small amounts of BaV on my wrist, I don’t find its notes unpleasant or overwhelming, or even, as so many have written, “skanky.” As expected in a bottle that probably dates back to the 1960s, any top notes that appear briefly are faint, at best, and blend easily into the middle notes that are more apparent to my nose. So I smell jasmine and rose, but they accompany heart notes like sandalwood, patchouli, leather, ylang ylang, and a hint of orris root.

I definitely smell the animalic note that I assume is civet, right from the start. Vanilla also makes itself know early in my wearing, and a very grown-up vanilla it is, smooth and warm without being sweet. As the drydown continues, the vanilla becomes more and more evident on my skin. And believe it or not, it starts to smell like a longtime favorite of mine, Anne Klein II !

And maybe that isn’t as kooky as it sounds, when I look at the notes for AKII. Its heart notes include jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, and orris root; and its base notes include musk, sandalwood, patchouli, amber, benzoin, vanilla, and yes — civet. Wow. I had never put these two fragrances together in my mind, but the list of shared notes, especially in the base, is remarkable and I doubt it is coincidental.

So while I continue to ponder my new (to me) vintage fragrance, here is some great news. I was already delighted when AKII was reissued last year as a bargain beauty, given that the original from 1985 was fetching absolutely ridiculous prices online. While the reissue smells very close to the original, it isn’t as rich and warm, as I noted, probably partly because my vintage AKII has aged well, but also because ingredients that were allowed in 1985 are no longer used in most modern perfumes. Like civet. But if you crave a richer, warmer AKII, I suggest you seek out vintage BaV eau de cologne. It is much easier to find online and much more affordable.

Celebrities who have worn BaV include Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Michael Jackson, and the list goes on.

Movie star Liz Taylor with bottle of Bal a Versailles perfume by Jean Desprez.
Elizabeth Taylor and Bal a Versailles; image from http://www.townandcountrymag.com.

What do you think of Bal a Versailles? Love it? Hate it? Which formulations have you tried?